Columnist for Monday, 5/28 - Wanton Hussy

Mud Pie

It was a surprising moment in my life when I discovered that mud pie and dirt cake were real, edible foods, that grown up gourmets enjoyed. I don 't have any idea how old I was, but I know that it was elementary school and that it was a pretty severe shock. And only recently have I actually tasted these bizarre creations of grown-ups pretending to be children, to recapture their lost youths playing outside with the dirt.

Mud pie seems to be coffee ice cream on an Oreo crust, frozen into a pie shape. I'm not sure why. Since I'm generally not fond of coffee flavored anything, it took me a while to try this dessert. I'm nonplussed. It's ok, but basically just a way to overcharge for coffee ice cream, which I'm not thrilled by anyway. And let's be honest, the presentation hold nothing to my own mud pie, recipe below.

Dirt cake is far tastier, but I'm still somewhat upset by the fact that it's not cake at all, but pudding. Well, pudding and a lot of extra stuff added to the pudding. Sure, sure, it's at least inspired by childhood creativity, especially those people who go all out and put it in a flower pot and put a plant in the top, and some gummy worms. It's a kid-approved dessert, no doubt about it. But it's still not dirt cake. There's no DIRT in it. Duh. It's grown-ups playing with food, not kids playing with dirt.

Which is an interesting juxtaposition: it's ok as an adult to consciously play with your food, so long as it's actually food and you' re playing in the kitchen or at the table. It's no longer ok to sit in the mud and play with the mud and pretend to eat it or feed it to others. There are BAD THIGNS in the dirt. Dirty things. Things like chemicals and animal poop and slugs and worms and nasty things. It's only ok to play with those things if you're gardening. Which is probably a big huge part of why I like gardening even though I still approach it as Work To Be Done. Somewhere when I wasn't playing attention, I turned into a serious grown-up. I flunked Childhood 101 and my inner child has gone to live with her other parent.

I think I need to ground myself. No TV, no friends over, no books. Just playing outside, in the dirt.

Mud Pie

1 Frisbee, preferably red

1 C hose-water

3 C garden dirt

5 sea shells (various)

3-12 marbles, all colors


grass/twigs/flowers (for garnish)

Invert Frisbee and use as pie plate/mixing bowl. Mix water and dirt together until pudding-like consistency is reached. Do not overmix. Sprinkle top with dry dirt, to absorb any excess moisture. Arrange shells and marbles around edges. Arrange grass/twigs/flowers on top for garnish. Bake in strong sun for 2 hours and serve at tea parties with dolls and younger siblings.


Dirt Cake

1 flower pot or decorative metal pail


6 C garden dirt (depending on size of pail)

1 C hose water, plus 2 TBSP


Wet pot or pail and dust with sand to "grease." Mix dirt with just enough water to form a dough-like consistency. Put in pail. Bake in medium to warm sun for 90 minutes. Invert Pail onto plate (or Frisbee) and carefully remove pail. Dust cake with sand and decorate with flowers. Serve at similar occasions as mud pie.

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