Fairy Gardening: Making Mud Pies and More

| 7/19/2012 5:06:41 PM

L.G.WalshLiza Gardner Walsh is a children’s librarian in Rockport, Maine. She has been a high school English teacher, writing tutor, museum educator and holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College. Through it all, she has made tiny houses for mice, fairies, trolls, snails and other little creatures. She lives in Camden with her family. Check out her book Fairy House Handbook, published by Downeast.  

In Maine it often rains during early summer, and we are faced with an abundance of mud. Luckily, mud is "nature's glue," as one of my fairy-minded friends have said, and so creating mud projects is the perfect antidote to sludging through a muddy pathway.

Despite the rain, my children always seem to make their own mud, even during the recent hot July days, and they delight in concocting their own mud-based recipes. To do this yourselves, simply gather a bowl of dirt from the garden and pour the garden hose right over it. My mother gave us a wonderful book called Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow. This lovely book was originally published in 1961 and republished by the New York Review of Books in 1989. It is delightful. The contents include appetizers, soups, salads and sandwiches, main dishes, pastries and desserts, beverages, and suggested menus.

Mud Pies Book 7-19-2012 

One of my favorite recipes is for Boiled Buttons—"A hot soup that is simple but simply delicious. Place a handful of buttons in a saucepan half filled with water. Add a pinch of white sand and dust, 2 fruit tree leaves, and a blade of grass for each button. Simmer on a hot rock for a few minutes to bring out flavor. Ladle into bowls."

And it goes on and on: Gravel en Casserole, Left-Handed Mudloaf, Pine Needle Upside-Down Cake and the infamous Pencil-Sharpener Pudding. This is exactly what my younger daughter made a few weeks ago featured in the picture below. But she added a rolled-up ball of mud on the top for a bit of flourish.