(Video link here.) Friday is the day we usually publish a recipe, hoping that it will prove a delicious weekend activity for our readers. While we recommend your checking out the menu and recipe links for the birthday dinner we’ll be cooking for a friend (at bottom), we can think of no better Spring activity than making mud dumplings and other seasonal, outdoor creations, both real and imaginary. To get you going, here are two big hunks of inspiration…

 Jason Arnold /Makezine
Jason Arnold /Makezine

In the video, artist Bruce Gardner demonstrates the meditative practice of hikaru dorodango or “Shiny Dumpling”, an Japanese art in which a perfect sphere is formed out of mud and gradually shined using only fine dirt and water.  Although there’s little explanation as to the “how” of Shiny Dumplings, we’ve found more specific intructions at Makezine (as well as WikiHow). If you really can’t deal, you can by a Hikaru Dorodango kit here. The gist:

1. Make your mud.
2. Form your core.
3. Form your first layer.
4. Create your dorodango sauna.
5. Dust your dorodango.
6. Make it shine.

Apparently the practice has become both meditative for adults, and addictive for kids. A teacher in Kyoto devised a method that could be followed even by small children, who love it.

Jason Arnold/Makezine
Jason Arnold/Makezine

While your mind is on outdoor ingredients, we also recommend one of our very favorite cookbooks: Mud Pies and Other Recipes by Marjorie Winslow.

mud pies and other recipes cover

We believe that it’s introduction on equipment, and recipes such as Fried Water, were part of the early origins of our improvisational mindset:

mud pies and other equipment

Beloved recipes include…

mud pies and other asorted hors doeuvres


mud pies and other recipes boiled buttons

…which you can make in your mind as easily as in the park or garden…


Maria Robledo
Maria Robledo

Meanwhile, this weekend we will be making the following menu (more or less) as a BIG-number birthday dinner for a friend. You’ll find recipe links to some of the dishes.

Grilled bread rubbed with olive oil and garlic

24-month Prosciutto de Parma
Olli black truffle salame
Pan Fried Artichokes with Crispy Sage and Garlic
Steamed asaparagus with homemade butter and chives

The Big Macaroni (Penne with Wild Mushroom Ragu and Ricotta Salata)
Frisee Salad and Watercress Salad with Walnut Oil, Homemade Wine Vinegar and Toasted Walnuts   (Satur Farms Frisee was sadly TERRIBLE, so we switched gears)
Arugula with Baby Cress and Lemon Needles

Birthday Cake (TBD)
Bequet Sea Salt Caramels


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2 replies on “Shiny Mud Dumplings, Pies + Other Favorite Spring Recipes

  1. What it made me think of :

    “We’re having a special treat today,” said the king as the delicious smells of home-made pastry filled the banquet hall. “By royal command the pastry chefs have worked all night in the half bakery to make sure that -”
    “The half bakery?” questioned Milo.
    “Of course (..) Where do you think half-baked ideas come from? ..” (…)
    “They are very tasty,” explained the Humbug, “but they don’t always agree with you. Here’s one that’s very good.” He handed it to Milo and, through the icing and the nuts, Milo saw that it said THE EARTH IS FLAT.
    “People swallowed that one for years,” commented the Spelling Bee, “but it’s not very popular these days — d-a-y-s.”

    (from The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster )

  2. Thank you for the perfect excerpt. That is one of my favorite books. I’ve got post-its marking it’s many revelations…

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