Although I hate to cook and don’t bake, I once thought I could be a world-famous pie maker.
Granted I was quite young at the time and most likely trying to emulate my mother who back those many decades ago actually made pies for the church that Dad would go and buy back. She would make lemon meringue pie, cinnamon laden apple pies and, in season, wild blueberry pie. Lordy they did taste good.
I fear my medium for experimental pie making was the problem. I do recall using a glass pie plate, which was cool as you could see everything you put in it from the outside! I also absconded with a muffin tray thing from Mom’s kitchen to make tarts in, and of course I needed the pie cutter.
Interestingly I did not take any flour or shortening or fruit of any kind. I do believe I took some spices though.
You might be wondering what exactly I used to create my masterpieces? Mud. Yes, mud. You can create magnificent works of art in mud like statues or castles, but I believe pies were my first creations.
I never liked runny pies so I did not put a lot of water into the mixture, and I liked to select my dirt specifically. Colour means lot and depending where you live you can find a large palette of dirt colours. Although I could never make layered Jell-O, I could make a distinctively layered mud parfait in a glass.
Leaves, fresh and green make a superb crust, which is literally only needed to contain the filling, right? Large supple leaves are best, and just to make it more decorative you arrange the stems to stick up evenly around the pie plate. Fall leaves of course invoke the hot apple or pumpkin style pies. The fruit texture depended on whether you had any gravel in your alley. People didn’t decorate with stones like they do now but so finding enough pea gravel the right size for your blueberry pie could take a while to collect. Whereas large fruit pies like apple or peaches were much easier to create with more regular-sized gravel.
Of course, if you were planning on eating the mud pie, going for a pumpkin pie which was just dirt, thickened with sand, was cheaper as you normally couldn’t break a tooth on the fruit.
Spices made a big difference to your pie and cinnamon was always a favourite in our house. The top crust could be decorated with designs carved into it or with a great assortment of seeds, flowers or even shells. To be very creative, leave the crust slightly damp and find a live snail as their movement on top of you pie will leave very weird designs.
Cooking time, if you were not allowed to light the gas oven, took much longer in the sun, especially if you added too much water.
Did I eat my pies? I do recall eating a mud pie once so it must have been a Pumpkin Mud Pie. I must confess, I always preferred eating sand more than mud. (The grittiness also helped keep down tooth tarter.)
Although I am sure you are mesmerized by my initial culinary talents you should know this experience only resulted in the attempt to make one real pie for my husband after we were married… and he asked me not to make another. That worked for me as real pies never tasted good!
You are all still shuddering from my muddy creative talents I am sure. Back then our parents rarely denied us the pleasure of playing outside especially on rainy days when mud beckoned. We were allowed to come home dirty; allowed to experiment! After all, what else were outside hoses for but to hose down the mud on us.
You don’t scoff at mud packs do you?? So, do not scoff at playing in the mud for there is actually a scientific reason why people should play in it and why children are drawn too. It makes them feel good.
The dirt contains mycobacterium vaccae which stimulates the production of serotonin in our brains, which in turns allows us to feel happy, relaxed and positive. You don’t have to eat it to have it brighten your day.
Mud bricks are easy to make with a side of grass and from that you can create any building in the world in your back yard or even a functional fire pit. Really.
This weekend, take your hose, create a mud pit and play in it with the kids. Go crazy with your mud then enjoy hosing everyone off. What fun you will have.