Mud Pies and Other Recipes

The seed catalogues are arriving daily. All my favorite magazines are filled with gardens from around the world in all their splendor. I'm receiving emails from garden designers about the up coming spring . As I look out the window alas my garden is covered with the last snowfall and another storm is now being discussed as "on the way".
So how does a gardener,lover of nature and an addict of summer remain hopeful? I day dream.
As a child I remember that feeling when spring was on the way and  that first 60 degree day came .It was glorious.You could smell the soil. You could practically hear the crocuses breaking thru the ground. For me it meant flowers, birds, a new Easter dress and my best friend Gwen and I setting up our outdoor kitchen in the woods behind our houses.
The inspiration for this kitchen came from a treasure of a book that Gwen's grandmother bought for two very bored little girls one summer." Mud Pies and Other Recipes ",by Marjorie Winslow.
Gwen's grandmother was like having our own Aunt Bee (Andy of Mayberry). She would pack us a picnic lunch or present us with cookies for no reason at all.She drove a gray VW bug and could hardly see over the steering wheel . She wore an apron all day and had the most beautiful silver curly hair .She always had on red lipstick.Her blue eyes sparkled every time she saw us running in the house for that perfect container for  our kitchen.
Gwen's parents worked all day.her Grandmother who lived with them Mrs. Ward watched her.Her Grandfather was a retired writer/illustrator who did crossword puzzles in the afternoons. Her parents were happy people who would singa d play the piano.They laughed alot.Her dad always came home from work whistling up the driveway in his plaid seersucker shirt and carried a black lunch box. She had two older sisters. Her sister Robin was either at the library or reading under a tree .Her oldest sister Barrie played the piano and filled the neighborhood with Broadway show tunes. Sometimes the neighbors would grab a lawn chair and park themselves on their front lawn just to listen.

Our kitchen had three tree stumps and a large flat stone placed in the sun which served as our oven.We had an old tin percolating coffee pot whose glass knob shimmered thru the dappled sunlight in the woods. Various containers served as our canisters .They were filled with loam soil from the woods, sand from the beach and acorns from the woods. We would gather sawdust from the floor of Gwen's fathers wood shop.
There was a wooden crate for our dishes, which were anything from an old pie tin to a milk carton.We had mismatched cutlery and sticks that were perfect for stirring.
My favorite dish to make was the Sawdust Upside down Cake.It had to sit over night. We would return the next day and anxiously turn the cake over. With a sigh of relief we would garnished them with fresh honeysuckle flowers that I would pick from my fence on my way to the woods.
Hours went by like seconds as we followed each and every recipe. At days end we would pick another recipe for the following day. We parted saying " don't forget to bring the acorns", or " bring your watering pail tommorrow ". We never forgot .
On hot summer days we would be at the beach. Collecting shells and other treasures for future recipes. When one of us would be given a chipped tea cup or an orange juice can by our moms to take to our kitchen we would be giddy with our new addition.
Now every time I put my trowel into the soil that joy of digging, picking flowers and collecting acorns comes back to me.
When I walk the beach I still return home with treasures I have found. I still get that same feeling of peace and calm as I leave them on the table of our  porch.A piece of  beach glass, a weathered piece of driftwood or a pocket full of Jingle shells can make my day.
Many years ago I gave my daughter Krishtia her own copy of Marjorie Winslows book. I recommend this book for any child.if you do buy it prepare for them to get a little dirty.
This past June I became a grandmother for the first time. A little girl! Just the other day I asked my daughter " Do you still have your copy of Mudpie's and Other Recipes?" I'm happy to report she does. My copy is a bit worn but oh the  fun my little grandaughter Maya and I will have!
* Note from the Riverdale Press

Marjorie Winslow was an author and editor

Marjorie Shreeve Winslow, a former Riverdale resident, died in her Duxbury, Mass. home on Nov. 30. She was 89.
Born in Muncie, Indiana, Ms. Winslow moved to Phoenix, Arizona when she was 3 years old. She attended DePauw University in Indiana, graduating in 1945.
While a senior, she entered Vogue’s prestigious Prix de Paris competition and was among the winners, receiving a job as a copywriter at the magazine. She became a fashion editor, working in that capacity for both Vogue and Mademoiselle, in both Los Angeles and New York, for several years. She married Richard K. Winslow, a newspaperman, in New York in 1950. The couple raised their three children in Riverdale.
Ms. Winslow’s accomplishments were many and varied, according to her family. She wrote and published a children’s book, Mud Pies & Other Recipes, in 1959, which has been in print almost continuously ever since. The New York Review of Books Classics issued a new edition in October, 2010. 
Often ahead of her time, she started a Mexican food business in New York in the 1960s.   She was also a carpenter, upholsterer, clothing designer, excellent cook and was known by friends and family for her dry wit.