Do kids even do that anymore? With all the different play food items there are in stores today, do they even need to try to enjoy the fun of making mud pies?
Our granddaughters have all kinds of play food items, plus all kinds of kid’s kitchen appliances, cooking utensils, plastic dishes, etc. They like to see what they can put together for each other, and what “meals” they can make for mommy and daddy and their dolls, but the “food” they “cook” with is plastic, perfectly shaped and colored to resemble real food, from ice cream to pizza to cakes and pies and burgers and hot dogs. And everything in between, or so it seems.
They don’t have to imagine they’re making something that doesn’t really look like what they say it’s supposed to be. Everything is “served” looking like what it is, and no one has to guess what they’re being “served”.
I’d have loved to have had all the fun food toys we bought for our daughter to play kitchen and tea parties. And our granddaughters have even more, or so it seems, especially since they have most of what we’d saved from their mom’s toys.
But having all the play food and kitchen toys didn’t instill any love of cooking in our daughter, but that’s a whole other topic.
But maybe it’s because she never really learned the art of making mud pies. Even though she’s an only child, she spent a lot of time with other kids at daycare as well as with other kids in our neighborhood. They didn’t make mud pies either. She never really wanted to. It just didn’t interest her.
Maybe it was the times I grew up in, as well as being an only child with not a lot of other kids my age to play with living nearby. And not having the huge selection of toys that kids have today. I had a small set of play food, but it wasn’t anything like what kids have now. And my dolls did seem to enjoy it.
But I sure enjoyed making mud pies. That’s actually one of the memories I do have from being a little girl. I pretended for hours I was really cooking, and was so proud of myself when I presented my mother with all of my goodies.
My mom actually let me use one of her old saucepans that was clearly beyond its useful life. And she found a few small aluminum pie plates and cake pans that I could use to “bake” my creations. And a couple of very old kitchen spoons.
In my little girls’ world back some 60+ years ago I didn’t need anything more to make my creations!
I carefully mixed the dirt I dug up from different areas of the flowerbeds, making sure I didn’t leave a gaping hole that my mom would see, or step in. We had several water spigots outside where I could get just enough water to make my “batter” the right consistency. Experimenting taught me that the thinner batters made for better “cakes” and “pies” while the thicker batters were better for “cookies” and “biscuits”.
“Baking” was really important, and it took forever (so it seemed) to get them done. You see, when making mud pie creations you have to let them bake in the sun. And sometimes that takes longer than you’d think. You had to check them often to make sure they didn’t crack.
And of course you had to serve them in the pans you prepared them in. Otherwise it would be a disaster. I can still see them in my mind. Of course most likely the actual creations look nothing like I remember, but we didn’t have digital cameras then, so there are no pictures to compare them to.
As my mud pie baking skills improved I’d add bits of decoration to them. I started with grass in the cake tops to look like coconut. That was interesting. Then I tried adding dandelions (I knew not to bother my mom’s flowers) to the top. They looked good at first but the next day…not so great.
Rose petals looked good, too, but I was careful to use the ones that had already dropped on the ground. I also experimented with putting pebbles in the “cookies”, you know, sort of like chocolate chip cookies?
And when my mom “tried” them, she was always so pleased with my creations, and said they were delicious! Thank goodness we all had enough sense not to really eat them!!
You’d think with all my “baking experience” I’d have really gone all out when I became an adult, making and decorating cakes and cupcakes. Unfortunately my talent was in the actual baking, not the decorating. That’s not my forte at all. But I do like to make cookies, and I use that talent every Christmas.
But maybe this spring I’ll start to teach our granddaughters the fine art of making mud pies. At their parents’ house of course. And remind them their baby brother won’t be quite old enough to help yet.
They’ve already learned how to decorate real cookies with tons of sprinkles, so I’m sure they’ll be good at mud pies. And I’m sure they’ll end up wearing a lot of mud like they did the sprinkles.
Anybody have some favorite mud pie “recipes” to share with the girls? Maybe they can even put together their own cookbook!