One of my favorite recipes is called Fried Water:

Melt one ice cube in a skillet by placing it in the sun. When melted, add 1 cup water and saute slowly — until water is transparent. Serve small portions, because this dish is rich as well as mouth-watering.

It’s from a book I had as a kid called Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow. “This is an outdoor cookbook,” reads the Foreword, “The market place, then, will be a forest or a sand dune or your own back yard.” It’s a cookbook for a kid’s world outdoors, even if the kid, like me, never actually acted out the recipes. Like the best children’s books, it fueled my imagination and painted a world rich with possibilities:

“You can use a tree stump for a counter. The sea makes a nice sink; so does a puddle at the end of a hose. For a stove there is the sun, or a flat stone. And ovens are everywhere. You’ll find them under bushes, in sandboxes or behind trees…Cooking utensils should, whenever possible, be made from something that would otherwise be thrown away…

In my mind I made Boiled Buttons, Grabgrass Gumbo, Pine Needle Upside-Down Cake and Stuffed Sea Shells:

Scoop up a shovelful of sand that has just been licked by a wave. Pack this into the tiniest sea shells you can find. Sprinkle these with a pinch of dry sparkling sand and serve.

…not to mention my own concoctions, which I am still making, to this day.

Mud Pies and Other Recipes is the book I give to every little kid I know. I thank the stars for alibris and other out-of-print booksellers, like amazon and  barnes and noble who make it possible to find treasures that publishers don’t see fit to keep printing. You can always find it online…though perhaps with a different jacket…(It’s had a few different versions over the decades.)

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One thought on “perfect kid’s book: mud pies and other recipes

  1. Hello, I love your review of this book. We’ll actually be bringing this book back into print as part of the New York Review Children’s Collection (October 2010).

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