Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Golden Rule

Thank God, It’s Monday, again!  Happy Monday to all! In addition to the many celebrations taking place today, happy Random Acts of Kindness Day AND Week! Plus, on a similar note, it’s also National Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week!

#BrotherhoodSisterhoodWeek

NationalDayCalendar.com explains that National Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week “encourages people of diverse faiths to discuss not only our differences but to recognize how we are all the same—uniting in our human brotherhood and sisterhood.”

The “Golden Rule” is a basic, moral principle for society that encourages us to TREAT OTHERS AS WE WANT TO BE TREATED! It is just a commonsense, moral ethic, by which we should all live on a daily basis. Its core is based on the biblical suggestion from the “Book of Matthew”, which says: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matt. 7:12) According to Wikipedia, the name “Golden Rule” came about “because there is value in having this kind of respect and caring attitude for one another.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84)

MOM’S ANCESTRY STORY

The principal was not sorry he hired me, for the job required filling in for a teacher who would be out about six weeks due to an auto accident in which she was injured. I took over her class and initiated a school newspaper while I was there… That class was a difficult challenge to say the least.

Perhaps, I took still another risk though, when I told the class that whatever their ancestors were, whatever their ethnic or religious persuasion was, they could not use such conditions as excuses for not at least trying to develop their individual talents and skills. It sounded good. The tough kid in the class…[was] amused and decidedly uninterested in anything I could say. He seemed to be in charge and the rest of the students appeared to yield to his lead, so I talked directly to him, but so that the rest of the class could hear.

I told him that calling me a ‘WASP’ was not a description of what I really was. Of course, WASP meant ‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’ and it surprised me that he even knew enough to use that term. He finally shut up and found himself listening to me as I then moved around the classroom telling everybody that it was okay to be sore about not getting a fair break, as long as you didn’t take it out on somebody else.

Since I had their attention, finally, I launched right into a story about my own background and how my mother’s parents were originally German, but they were also Jews, and living in Russia at the turn-of-the-century. It was dangerous for any Jew in Russia at that time, so much like the story of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, my grandparents with two small children and my grandmother then expecting a third child, took a crowded freighter to America. They couldn’t speak a word of English and had nothing with them but what they could carry by hand.

On the way over, unfortunately, they came down with what [was] suspected to be TB. A few years following the birth of their seventh child, TB finally took my grandmother. Having settled in Pittsburgh, my grandfather moved on to Cleveland where he hoped to find relatives who would help him with a job and a place to raise the motherless children. It didn’t work out as he expected, however.

The relatives were not where he had last contacted them. The orphanage was overcrowded that he had been directed to, in order to leave the children and seek treatment for the TB that seem to be getting worse for him. Having been turned away by the orphanage, he was about to leave the children all on a street corner, telling them somebody would come along to help them, but that he had to get his train to the sanatorium that the government was sending him to for help. At that point the nuns were passing by on their usual afternoon walk.

What happened that particular day was rather sketchy in details, since all of the children were then too young to clearly recall it; but apparently, as he left the orphanage and was expressing his despair in tears on the street in front of the school, two nuns were passing by on their way back to the Catholic orphanage down the street. They stopped long enough to ask if they could be of help, and upon hearing the story from the older children who spoke English and Grandpa’s broken English, they concluded that the children needed to be cared for.

They took the children to the Catholic orphanage, assuring my grandfather that they would see to it that they went to Temple every Saturday, even though they would be in the Catholic schools and living in the dormitories with the other children. When there was room for them at the Jewish orphanage, they would then be transferred, and the promise was kept. There, they all remained until each one turned 16 years of age, only to be dismissed into the world, like a prisoner, with nothing more than a change of clothing and bus fair to the city.

#BrotherhoodSisterhoodWeek

The compassion of those Catholic nuns and the care they gave the children of that Jewish immigrant, when Jews were hated as much as they ever were in this country, kept me from ever harboring feelings of prejudice toward other people due to the religious or racial background. But there was more in the lessons I derived from my roots, since every one of those seven brothers and sisters became prosperous and famous in their own right.

One [brother] became an attorney, another a famous artist, and another [became] manager of an apartment complex, while still another became a fine professional carpenter. And [there was my] aunt, who danced as a ballerina with a New York ballet company, as well as an uncle who had his own advertising agency.

The Carter Family, Sept. 1943
Clockwise: Eugene, Esther, Gloria and Joy

My mother met my father when she applied for a job as a typist and secretary at his real estate office. My dad was a devout Christian, so when they were married, she easily embraced his faith and was able to pass on to me the best of three worlds, reflecting the Catholic upbringing with Temple on the Jewish Sabbath and, then, the Christian church, where the precepts were strictly followed in my parents’ home during my own childhood.

The story held the attention of the class just long enough… By the time I had completed the story, I led directly into an assignment of bringing in an account of each students own background and heritage or family roots with much discussion and their various religious practices and ethnic customs. It was a successful experience… Until now, I never wrote about this. Perhaps somebody will benefit from knowing about it, however.

The ‘boy’ Mom spoke of in her memories (above) went on to be a writer and he spoke at Mom’s memorial service, a couple of years ago, about the positive impact she had on him over those teen years and beyond. He credited Mom for influencing him to become a writer and for the quality time she spent with him, voluntarily, to encourage and nurture his love for writing.

#RandomActsOfKindnessDay

Today is also, among other things, Random Acts of Kindness Day and yesterday kicked off Random Acts of Kindness Week, which, this year, is February 16th-22nd. However, while this is an awesome day and week to celebrate acts of kindness, in general, being kind and compassionate should happen every day!

After all, weren’t we taught to be good and kind since we were toddlers in Kindergarten, or even earlier? According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,  Fulghum “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children, i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living ‘a balanced life’ of work, play, and learning.

#MakeKindnessTheNorm

Many others thought this way, as well. One group developed a non-profit organization, which has its own website at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org, where they promote making random acts of kindness “the norm”, offering a lot of stories about kind acts and other inspirations of kindness. Additionally, at WisdomQuotes.com , you’ll find “440 Kindness Quotes That Will Make You A Better Person” – more than enough ideas of which to follow at least one every day for the rest of the year! Practice makes perfect – it also creates habits, which will, hopefully, become natural reflexes.

It’s a shame that the simple act of being kind to someone is forgotten by many after they leave kindergarten. If a kindergartner can understand its importance to society, shouldn’t we all? Like Aesop said: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” In other words, a culture of kindness can have a positive ripple effect. However, doing something nice should be a selfless act. That’s what inspires others to pay it forward, in the same fashion. On the other hand, being kind solely for the recognition of it throws a selfish disruption in the whole system.

In fact, we receive many other types of rewards from simply being kind to others, without the want of recognition. NationalDayCalendar.com lists some benefits that performing random acts of kindness give us, as psychiatrists claim, it… “Fuels personal energy and self-esteem… Makes you happier… [Is] good for your heart… [And] helps you live longer…” Even science has proven the health benefits that being kind promotes. You can read about it at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

#RandomActsOfKindnessWeek

I want to pass this on, to do for this week’s celebration of Random Acts of Kindness Week. It’s from an article on StarTribune.com called “Why Being Kind Makes You Healthier”, by Chrystle Fiedler (July 24, 2019): “Try the seven-day kindness challenge. That means, do at least one act of kindness every day for seven days. Ground rules: Do something different each day; push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once and be sure one of your acts of kindness is anonymous — no one should ever find out who did it.”

In so many ways, Mom and Dad, both, set good examples for me to follow. I am so grateful that my family heritage, on both sides, that I know, were good and kind people. I’m proud to do the same, setting a good example for my children to follow (as well as for people that know me) and that they will continue it, as well, making kindness the daily norm. Like a smile, a random act of kindness – just because – can be contagious. But, unlike the coronavirus, that’s a good thing. Plant the seed, every day, and watch kindness grow wild!

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. This is Mom’s copycat recipe for Kentucky-Style biscuits, which was also among her “free recipes” offers.

This recipe is for today, being #NationalCabbageDay! It’s an encore of Mom’s copycat recipe for Kentucky-Style coleslaw…

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#TGIM

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com says, “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Seven down, 45 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Love and Marriage

Happy Monday and #TGIM, everyone! As I’ve been saying each week, “thank God, it’s Monday, again” because every Monday is another chance.. to write about my mom… impart memories of her talents with the world… and share one (or more) of her great, original, copycat recipes.

#NationalMarriageWeek

This second week of February has a lot of great things going on! To begin with…and what I want to write most about today… February 7th through the 14th (Valentine’s Day) is National Marriage Week! As NationalDayCalendar.com says, “…marriage is more than a day or a ceremony. A marriage requires dedication and commitment that generates a lifetime of rewards.”

Mom wrote often on the subject of marriage. She even had a few cartoon panels on the subject, too. One of Mom’s quotes about marriage can be found, in part, at WiseFamousQuotes.com (as pictured below) – the complete quote, as seen on page 11 of Mom’s book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989) says, in full: “Good marriages are made in heaven, or so it may seem. But, if that’s the case, a lot of the details will have to be worked out, right here, on earth.” Additionally, in her book, Mom went on to say the following:

https://www.wisefamousquotes.com/gloria-pitzer-quotes/

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 11-12)

LOVE & MARRIAGE – ALL IT TAKES IS DETERMINATION!

If good marriages are, indeed, made in heaven – where are all the bad ones made…? Of course, good marriages are made right here, on Earth, by ordinary mortals, like us; and it’s no help to think otherwise.

To take the fatalistic view that a good marriage is a foreordained blessing from On High is merely to evade responsibility for our own choices and behavior. It just decreases our chances of attaining the kind of loving and mutually rewarding relationship that most human beings long for and avidly seek.

To come even close to approximating such a union, one with another, it’s obvious that we have to scrap all the misleading old myths that stand in our way. I can think of no better way to do this than by repeating what may be a new one: ‘When it comes to love and marriage, the only infallible rule is that there are no rules at all!’

NO MATTER WHAT Marlo Thomas Donahue is saying about a marriage becoming anything you want it to be in today’s society… our husbands, who were raised [before the 1950s, believe] ‘women’s work’ is STILL women’s work! Of course, now, I have a workable solution to all of this, which enables a gal to undo whatever nonsense was taught a man along the way about a ‘woman’s place’ in the marriage.

WHAT’S VALUABLE – THE FAMILY

THE FAMILY IS IMPORTANT to this troubled world that seems not to know what direction to go in for comfort and relief. So, I cater, in our publications, mostly to this family, with all of the old-fashioned values I can gather and still not sound corny or even ‘preachy’!

That for which I am most grateful, however, as I see how our family has worked together in helping us to build this dining room table enterprise into a substantial and professional operation, is the friendship that has grown over the years between [Paul, me and] the five children…my cup runneth over!

Like The Beatles sang, “love is all you need”; however, as TheList.com explains in their article, “The Surprising Benefits to Being Married” – that “marriage has so many awesome perks”! In fact, they list 11 major advantages that covers most everything from better finances to more happiness to improved health for married couples. I’ve also heard most of these benefits on several different occasions from multiple news sources; so, I suppose, there must be some merit to them.

When I started to write this week’s blog, I knew what I wanted to write about, but I didn’t have a good title in mind. Then, the more I wrote, I just couldn’t get a certain song out of my head. I kept hearing Frank Sinatra, one of Mom and Dad’s favorite performers, singing “Love and Marriage”! This song was also used as the theme song for the famous, television comedy, “Married, With Children”.

MARRIAGE IS TRULY A COMMITMENT in which two compatible people promise each other “to be faithful…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part”… as some of the standard, civil, wedding vows commonly recite.

Compatibility, forgiveness and communication are probably among the most major qualities required for the success of a marriage. After Dad retired from the sign company, in 1976, to help Mom manage the business side of their family enterprise, so she could concentrate on the creative side of it; they spent almost every single day together, 24/7/52, for the rest of their lives! Throughout the years, their marriage was tested in more ways than one – but it withstood all the tests… and not until death did they part. And, now, they are together, again for eternity.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, Algonac, MI – 1976

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 62-64)

#Compatibility & #Forgiveness

The most often asked question about Paul and I working together in this family enterprise is how we managed to remain so compatible after 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, since August 1976. The basis, I believe, for every successful relationship is always between two good forgivers. Sure, we get in each other’s way once in a while. But we never stay mad for long.

When we were in Ventura, California, in August 1989, we visited an old Spanish mission that was founded over 200 years ago. In the church edifice was a one-word sign on the wall near the rear of the room. It so greatly impressed me that I thought about it for days. The word was FORGIVE. A powerful message. The essence of The Master’s own message during his earthly ministry nearly 2000 years ago.

FORGIVE – who, why, what for? In forgiving, we free ourselves from the imprisoning thoughts of resentment, of retaliation [and] anger. In forgiving, we let go of bitterness, contempt, even hatred. We are free then to love, to heal, to be healed altogether.

One word – FORGIVE – but 1,000 messages. A dictionary says of this word, ‘to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; pardon (an offense or offender).’ Forgive! It’s final, complete. There are no stipulations, no exceptions in the activity of forgiveness – no qualifications for anyone to meet.

Whatever the offense, we let go of the urge to see the offender punished when we forgive. It’s a cleansing action. It wipes clean the slate of past grievances. The more we remember past offenses, the less likely we are to exercise our freedom to pardon. Sometimes, forgiving ourselves is even harder than forgiving someone else. Forgiving requires loving. And loving is spiritual activity. Spiritual activity is prayer. So, when we are praying, we are also forgiving and, likewise, being forgiven.

Our Heavenly Father forgives us so easily, so completely. He never withholds His forgiveness from His children, His beloved offspring, which include each one of us – you, me, everyone! So, in examining the meaning of the word forgive, I can erase the pain of past offenses. I can put the word forgive into action – put it to work in my relationship with others. It’s remembering to do so that takes a little work and a lot of practice, but before you know what, it becomes a habit!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, 1956

THE LAST THING EVERY NIGHT and the first thing every morning, I whisper a ‘thank you’ to God for Paul. The last thing every night Paul’s arms are around me as we go off to sleep, and I find his arms around me again when awakening in the morning and then, too, my first conscious thought is ‘Thank you, Father, for this good man’s love, for the beautiful partnership we have in our marriage, with our family, in our work… Thank you.’

It’s something I do automatically every night and every morning. Even the laws of physics and physiology can never reveal to us the indisputable way in which the Creator constantly participates in the life of each of us. It points out to me over and over again that the launching pad for successful change around us is actually the change within us!

To be in marvelous accord on a number of important issues in a conversation with someone you love, who loves you back, is grand. But… lasting marriages just do not ‘happen’. They have to be shaped and molded out of the good that one or both who are concerned will see and act upon opportunities to inspire improvements.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, 1956

MOST MARRIAGES begin with the expectation that they will last forever. In marriages that do last, forever is not only a hope, but an ongoing philosophy. The partners simply do not think seriously about divorce as a viable option. This attitude that a marriage will last, must last, tempers their approach to conflicts and imperfections. These people are committed to the marriage, as well as to each other.

They know that love needs time to take root and then expand; that in an enduring marriage, time is on your side. Time allows you the security of taking each other for granted, in the best sense of the term, without having constantly to impress or to prove yourself.

[As for Paul and me,] I don’t know how or when the transformation took place, but it did – gradually, beautifully. I am not sure, but perhaps the Divine hand of heaven moved the family to become more harmonious. We never really talked about specific changes in attitude or behavior…

Most folks don’t like to be ‘preached’ to. [However,] to be ‘ministered’ to is different… When we are ‘ministered’ to, we are cared for, looked after and handled with quiet compassion – but never with pity. We can inspire someone to change but we dare not insist upon it!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, December 1970

When we see those we care about, somehow in conflict, and we know we can’t interfere; we can, instead, give out strong, moral support in silent prayer. Sometimes we focus so much on what is WRONG, that we fail to see how to correct it. We worry too much on WHO is right, rather than on WHAT is right!

In overcoming just the ordinary aggravations of being in business for ourselves, we also had to iron out the little conflicts over who would handle certain aspects of the work and how it would be handled. We were constantly having to compromise. That was the toughest step! Paul’s mother surely would have been proud of us and what we had accomplished together, if she had been able to witness any of this.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, Thanksgiving Day 2005

It is not easy to carry out the details of a demanding schedule and keep harmony at a priority, making every effort to keep the atmosphere healthy and still harmonious. To me, this was of utmost importance. Sometimes, being in complete agreement was impossible, but the error to be corrected was always in separating the act from the person. That, alone, made forgiving so much easier and without that forgiving we could never have worked together all these years – seven days a week… 52 weeks a year.

To be able to overlook the things that are not important has made the compatibility easier to experience, too. Being picky about something, we have said to each other, could only lead to increased discontent and sometimes snowball right into a major confrontation of shouting and fist-clenching. Thank goodness, neither of us ever let it get to that stage, since we both wanted to have the best possible relationship. We work at it!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, summer 2012 (Ohio)

According to Business Insider, Nevada holds the highest divorce rate in the country, advocating the ease of it. Meanwhile, according to RealSimple.com, Hawaii has the lowest divorce rate, which they attributed to less stressful lifestyles.

There are so many reasons why some marriages make it, and some don’t. Even though couples, in general, have many commonalities, every couple is inevitably different. Some are “meant to be”, as Mom would frequently say. In fact, Mom and Dad were always “meant to be.” Now, they’re together forever. I believe my husband and I are “meant to be”, as well; our friendship (and my husband’s patience with me) makes a solid cornerstone in our relationship. The longer we grow old together, the more I think we seem to follow in Mom and Dad’s footsteps quite often.

One last thought on marriage… from one of Mom’s 1973 syndicated panels, called “Could Be Verse©”, which was three or four lines of satirical rhyme or bumper-sticker-type logic… Mom wrote: “All marriages are happy… Love songs and laughter – What causes all the trouble is the living together AFTER!” She also did a cartoon panel about it in her series, Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer, and it can be seen in her “Food for Thought” editorial, on page 52 of My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989).

IN CLOSING…

This year, in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe is also in honor of today, being National Cream Cheese Brownie Day…this recipe is found in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 18).

#CreamCheeseBrownieDay

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

DON’T FORGET – FRIDAY IS VALENTINE’S DAY! Other national week-long observances and celebrations going on, this 2nd week of February, include the Great American Pizza Bake, National Jell-O Week & Random Acts of Kindness Week!

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Six down, 46 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – More Little Steps

Happy February and happy Monday to all! Thank God, It’s Monday, again! #TGIM

February is Great American Pies Month and National Bake for Family Fun Month; plus National Hot Breakfast Month and National Snack Food Month! On top of that, TODAY is National Football Hangover Day and National Carrot Cake Day! Hence, check out the end of this blog entry for Mom’s copycat recipe for a carrot cake like Awrey’s used to offer in our local grocery stores – another one of her “Original 200” recipes that helped launch her success as the Recipe DetectiveTM.

That was the name bestowed on her in the mid-1970s by the radio listeners of Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show heard, at that time, on WWJ-Radio, in the Detroit area. That was a significant cornerstone in the building of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM legacy. She always referred to her business as a “family enterprise”. But it was, truly, Mom’s creation right from its very inception. The recipes, the research, the tests – everything, from the design of her products to the development of their contents to the marketing of it all – that was all Mom! Dad managed the business end and kept all the records (I think that’s from where I got my OCD.) We kids helped Mom with simple tasks, after school and on the weekends… even into our adult hoods, and we continued to help out when business was more than busy for Mom and Dad to handle alone.

However, as with most every other small business, about the time that the internet became a household item for most people, the “Mom and Pop” operations began to dwindle. Likewise, the “hard copy” bookstores followed suit. It wasn’t easy for Mom to give up her life’s work when she retired her newsletter in December 2000, after 27 years of being in print. She had planned to still keep her hands in the industry a little bit, by consulting and free-lance writing among other things. But the newsletter was Mom’s baby!

Last week, I wrote about all the little steps it took for Mom to trail-blaze the copycat recipes movement – but that was only the beginning, as there were many, many more little steps in the journey to her success as the Recipe DetectiveTM. There is so much more to it, so this is my continuing story of Mom’s story, as she wrote about in many of her self-published books and newsletters. But especially so, in 1989, when Mom wrote and published, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop, which was, basically, her story – although, she referred to it as ‘our family’s story’, because she always considered her Secret RecipesTM legacy a “family enterprise”. Mom had, at one time, in 1996, intended on writing a sequel to that book, as I have some of her lay outs for it. They inspire me even more so to re-tell her story!

Since 1974, when Mom began focusing on the development of her copycat-style recipes to imitate popular and famous grocery products, franchise restaurant dishes and fast food items, she subsequently carved out a unique niche in the food industry that brought her much attention; as word traveled fast across the wire services, considering the day and age it was, before common internet – mind you, this was decades before home computers and the world wide web!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 24)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS

IT WAS WHILE I WAS WRITING for the Port Huron Times Herald that I was asked to do the food page column… And found [me] answering a stack of readers’ mail. The first question I came to, really launched what was to become Secret RecipesTM. [1973] A reader wanted to know how to make the sauce like a place, called McDonald’s, puts on their double-deck hamburgers.

‘A place called McDonald’s’ meant a drive into the city, where this place, then, had only one arch. A sample of what they called their ‘secret sauce’ turned out to be a very good Thousand Island dressing, not unlike what Bob’s Big Boy was already using on their double-deck hamburgers.

After a few taste-tests at home, the family agreed that we had come pretty close to their sauce; and, so, I included my version of their product in my food column along with a few other tidbits. The response from readers was so gratifying that the editor was only too happy to have me continue along this path for several weeks to come.

Each week, I took another famous place, similar to McDonald’s, and tried to re-create a dish at home that would come close to what the restaurant called their ‘secret recipe’. I was doing just fine until the week I decided to do a cheesecake recipe – ‘the one that nobody doesn’t like.’ [Sara Lee’s slogan]

Well, those wonderful people [from Sara Lee] had just bought a whole page of advertising in that week’s food section, and they thought it was not only ungrateful, but downright rude of us to run a recipe for a product that was supposed to be just like theirs. I could see their point. The editor was beside himself with worry and immediately told me to drop the column!

I thought ahead to the time when we could… [flatter them with imitation…] But they were hardly flattered. I wanted to talk with the advertisers and try to work out something that would flatter them and their product…

[…which did indeed work in Mom’s favor, later on, with the Hershey’s people; regarding their indignation of her imitation for homemade peanut butter cups, allegedly like theirs, AND using a name for her product that too closely resembled their own…]

…but [for Sarah Lee’s people] the editor would not hear of it. He told me to go back to the old way of doing the food column, which meant lima bean casseroles, plain chocolate cake and recipes with boring ingredients; or, as he told me, I could pick up my check.

Well, I was so sure that the recipe imitation idea would work, if not with his paper, was somebody else’s that I told him to ‘mail it to me!’ …I went home to eventually start my own paper – what is now our Secret RecipesTM Newsletter©, and as the events leading up to and beyond, developed, step-by-step, the learning experiences contributed beautifully to the outcome.

In the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities, he wrote: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…’ Those times were not much different from those which we experienced in small town, mid-America in the 1970s.

Like most Americans, back then (and still), Mom and Dad struggled to make ends meet for our family of seven (plus, a dog and cat, too), even though both of them were working. But, somehow, they always found a way to get through those trying times. Mom was very crafty at making whatever they could not afford to buy, from clothes and accessories to personal products like soap to food products like pet treats and many grocery items from frozen to shelf-stable options. As the old proverb says: “Necessity is the mother of invention!”

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 36)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS (Cont’d)

IT WAS THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME to launch a new business. The unemployment rate was terribly high. There was a newsprint paper shortage. There was a gasoline shortage. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication, however. My confrontation with the editor at the Times Herald over the cheesecake recipe [like Sarah Lee’s], was probably the best thing that ever happened to me – us, as a family, in fact.

I was forced to finally do something that, until then, I had only talked about doing because the advice I had listened to was bent on having somebody else handle my work. Of course, I could not tell Paul what I was going to do – that I was going to publish a newsletter and I was going to try and sell subscriptions to it all without the help of the [publishing and syndicating] agencies to which I had previously been turning.

I was determined to make this idea work, because I knew it was a good idea! It was a service that was needed [and not being met] and one that I could provide without ever having to leave the children again. With the help of the Almighty, I had every confidence that turning out a recipe newsletter was going to be something that would bless everyone concerned: me, the readers, the products mentioned, the reviews of restaurants – every idea was a blessing!

Whenever Mom was told that something was not achievable, her first instinct was to try to disprove it! She always had to at least try, anyway! After all, as Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “You have not failed until you quit trying.” That was the kind of attitude on which Mom was raised. She always had faith in whatever she thought the Lord had planned for her, and she would trudge through whatever she had to face, in order to get where she wanted to be.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 38)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS (Cont’d)

I ENLISTED THE HELP OF THE CHILDREN. I was taking in ironing at the time, at about $5 a basket, and sometimes I would earn as much is $50 a week. The money was supposed to supplement Paul’s paycheck, which – as soon as we found could make ends meet, discovered somebody had moved the ends. So I took what money I could from the ironing earnings and kept the paper, ink and other supplies in stock in order to produce what was necessary to complete the newsletter.

I cut the stencils on my typewriter, added the drawings and fashioned a literary ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’, as my dad would’ve said. The utility room, which was in the back of the house and looked out over the yard and the long driveway to the road was a perfect position to be in when it was time for Paul to arrive home from work at the end of the day. I would post the kids at the window to watch for Daddy so that I would be able to get everything put away and out of sight. I could not tell him what I was doing until I could assure him that it was paying for itself and that I was not going to lose money.

For nine months, I mimeographed, assembled and mailed out about 100 copies a month of my newsletter, the names of the subscribers having come from letters I kept from readers of my columns and from names and addresses given in other magazines where folks were looking for recipes. I mimeographed my own business cards and, as I have already told you, had no qualms at all about cutting them out and inserting them into [other] cookbooks in bookstores or department stores; leaving them in phone booths, in ladies’ restrooms in restaurants or wherever I might find a likely audience. You must take every opportunity when you start out. Some ideas work. Some don’t.

We tread a rather steep path when we attempt to wish on everyone what seems a solution to our own problems. It actually takes courage to think for oneself in a world which appears to have more than its share of profits of despair. I wasn’t listening to any of them. I had my listening thoughts tuned into Angel messages that were leading me in a happier direction. I was never willing to give up. I’m still not!

Mom and I at her 80th Birthday Party – Photo by Paul Jaekel, Jan. 2016

And neither am I, willing to give up what I am doing in Mom’s stead…as many steps as it takes!

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe is also in honor of National Carrot Cake Day! #NationalCarrotCakeDay

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#TGIM

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Five down, 47 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – All the Little Steps

#TGIM! Once again, thank God, it’s Monday!  So, happy Monday to everybody!

I still want to create a small email newsletter, similar to what Mom had created 46 years ago (Jan. 1974) when she started her own newsletter, Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter©. However, my “paying” job has suddenly become so hectic that, for now, I don’t have time to follow through on my own projects – and while my husband is laid off for the winter, I need to take advantage of this short-term opportunity. If money was not an object by which we need to live, I would gladly give it all up to just do this.

I truly understand Mom’s feelings that writing made her living worthwhile. I just wish I could make a living with it, myself. I’m most happy and content when I’m writing and artistically creating like Mom. I can feel her angel hugs around me now, while I’m typing this, as she whispers in my ear, “be patient.” I’m disappointed by the delay but I know that this busy time in my “paying” job will subside in a month or so. I just need to be tolerant of it until I can get on with my preferred plans. In the meantime, I do what I have to do, as dreams and desires don’t pay the bills! I’m not giving up on my aspirations, just putting them on hold temporarily.

It takes a lot of little steps to get where you want to be – literally and figuratively. I see all of my little steps in this process coming from all the years of helping Mom and Dad with their “dining room table operation” to the last few years of Mom’s life, when I was helping her to re-write her favorite, self-published cookbook – Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Printing) – in order for it to be re-published for a whole new digital age of people. And, even now, in writing this blog series, Mondays & Memories of My Mom, I am taking more little steps in learning about social media and our digital means of how we do most things.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)

ON PATIENCE…

Sometimes, we force ourselves into making hasty decisions; when, it turns out, this can be a misguided attempt to try to shape an event that just isn’t ready to be shaped yet! Encouragement to be patient and consider all of the options was always one of the supportive ways that my parents tried to see me through the rough times, when I was growing up.

No matter what the problem, the emphasis was always on being patient; on letting my listening thought be receptive to new ideas, right ideas. I was never disappointed when I waited. I might have been a little impatient, but the more experiences I had with waiting, the easier it [became]. (p. 20)

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

ON JOURNALISM…

Journalism is a peculiar profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since 1954]. I’ve worked among writers who wrote to live, while the rest of us lived to write. We had to communicate to reach out to someone with ideas, with thoughts, with reasonings and [remembrances].

Somehow, we had to make a difference, touching others with some good – like the single stone tossed into the still waters of a shimmering pond, the ripples begin, as they always do, where the stone touched the water’s surface and responded around and around, until the widest circle touched the grassy edge [of the shore], again and again.

While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire – not if they are truly writers. Editors retire. [Even] reporters retire from their work at some given point. But old writers never die, they just run out of words.

There is great joy in an exchange of ideas; specifically, when you have something of value to share. when that exchange of ideas flows from a mutual appreciation of the good in human life, there is no doubt that the abundance of good continues to unfold around us from only one Unlimited Source. We don’t think too much about that Source until we’re in real trouble. Then, we’re willing to reach out because, after all, what have we got to lose?

Too bad we don’t tap that Source when everything is going well and exercise our ability to think [and be grateful], which is something very few people take the time to do. One of my favorite writers, Norman Cousins – a contributing columnist in The Christian Science Monitor – talks about our ‘taking the time to think’ in many of his own writings. He talks about our leisure hours, now, exceeding our working hours and how foolishly we waste that time; because we’ve managed to persuade ourselves that we are too busy to think [and] too busy to read… He reminds us that [‘too busy’] is a national excuse! (p. 22)

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

[Unfortunately, Mom ran out of words on January 21, 2018.]

Nevertheless, the words that Mom put in print will live on for generations to come. Thus, I’m here to carry her torch onward by re-telling her story and all the little steps she took in becoming the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM. For me, Mom is “that source” from which I derive my own inspiration, as well as gratitude for all that she’s given me, all that she’s taught me and all that she continues to teach me throughout her writings. Thus, in re-telling Mom’s story, I will draw from her own writing of how it all began for her…

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 23)

IN THE BEGINNING

At the time the assignment was handed to me by the newspaper editor for whom I then worked; I knew more about cooking than anyone else on the staff. I was also the only ‘married lady’ on the staff, which in those days of homemaking, housewives and the Donna Reed show, automatically qualified me to handle the food page at the newspaper (when I had been a feature writer and columnist for a long time.)

I accepted the challenge wholeheartedly because I did want to write for the paper. If they had told me to do the obituaries, I would’ve given even that assignment my best effort. The food page was a challenge for me, in view of the fact that there was no test kitchen at the newspaper. I would be testing the recipes in my own kitchen at home. There was a small compensation in my paycheck at the end of the week for the groceries I used, but not enough to fully reimburse me. I accepted what they gave me gratefully, however…

Of course, I look back now in amazement at what I was able to do for a whole week with a 3-pound package of hamburger. How it began as spaghetti sauce, then sloppy Joe mixture and, with the addition of red kidney beans and some other seasonings, chili concurrently… It was fun, too, now that I recall those early days.

MAKING TIME FOR OPPORTUNITY

But some of the thoughts of which I wished to write were never properly developed on paper and published because there just wasn’t enough time. Later, when I could have made the time, there wasn’t a market for [it]; so, here I am, 17 years after the first recipe collection [Jan. 1973] was an outstanding success, still looking for the time and opportunity to write the book I have always wanted to write.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Every book and newsletter Mom ever penned was, in fact, those which she wanted to write; and, in doing so, enjoyed; as ambitions change and evolve with time and experiences. Mom believed that everything in our lives happens for a reason, as do I; so, when Life puts detours in my way, I just need to be patient, learn from those unexpected turns and, then, recalculate my course in order to get where I want to go (which seems to be easier to do, in my mid-50’s then it was 20-30 years ago.) It takes a lot of little steps, along with patience – but, it’s all about the journey, not the arrival! Like Mom, I would much rather have the joy than the job.

FINAL THOUGHTS FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 8)

CHALLENGES & PATIENCE

Surely, after all of this is now presented to us in the form of treasured memories, I can see that life’s challenges teach us to be compassionate toward others [and] ourselves. Whenever we must sometimes face the harsh circumstances of human living, in which there [doesn’t] seem to be any clear-cut answers to even the smallest events, as well as the big [ones]; patience and great moral courage are needed in every case, in order to overcome defeats.

Certainly, the effort put into the service of every business, whether it is a flourishing corporation or – like ours – just a dining room table enterprise, is more important than how much money you’re going to make at what you do. When the money is more important, the journey becomes a job instead of a joy!

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe is Mom’s imitation of Sanders’ Fudge Cake & Buttercream Icing, also representing National Chocolate Cake Day, which is today… Happy #ChocolateCakeDay!

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

To read more of Mom’s “Food for Thought” editorials on how it all began, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it is 52 CHANCES to re-tell Mom’s story, again; and, hopefully, re-inspire love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Four down, 48 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Dreams Come True

Happy Monday to one and all! As this begins another new week – thank God, it’s Monday! #TGIM

It’s also Martin Luther King Day! For great information about the history and celebrations going on today, in his honor, check out https://www.kidsdiscover.com/quick-reads/celebrate-martin-luther-king-day/ and https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/martin-luther-king-day.

People from all different races and backgrounds take time on this day to come together and to work together, celebrating our similarities as well as our diversities. Today is a special day to “love thy neighbor” and to lift others up. According to TimeAndDate.com, “Recent federal legislation encourages Americans to give some of their time on Martin Luther King Day as volunteers in citizen action groups.

In other words, MLK Day is nationally recognized as a day of service, as so many hundreds of thousands of people across the country observe this day by giving back to their communities, as the reverend, Dr. King, did during his short but impactful lifetime. It’s such a great, positive way to begin the new year, by making a commitment to your community to make it a better place.

What will you do to honor this day? Some people organize and hold food and clothing drives to help the homeless and downtrodden. Others have  peace parades/marches to celebrate equal rights for all. Museums, schools and other such organizations teach people about the history of oppression and segregation in our country and what we can still do to keep the doctor’s “Dream” alive and thriving.

Mom was actually a big advocate for loving our fellow man/woman. Mom was always questioning why we all just can’t get along, as we’re all God’s children. So often, as Mom and I (and my husband) have experienced, personally; people can’t even find friends within the same family unit these days. Mom always felt that the cohesive family unit was so important to our troubled world. Nonetheless, she continued to hope, as do I – still.

Mom emphasized throughout many of her “Food-for-Thought” articles and editorials, the importance of really caring about each other. She held a strong faith in LOVE and all the things it could overcome and yield, including dreams coming true. Now is the time to make dreams come true! What would you attempt, if you knew you couldn’t or wouldn’t fail? Mom would have answered, “probably nothing that you couldn’t [or wouldn’t] attempt, now, without a reasonable chance of success. But, by removing the risk you might attempt things that were a bit more daring or slightly more challenging.”

‘I take risks because anything worthwhile is worth taking a risk for… You can’t stay in bed your whole life.’ – Carol Burnett

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 24)

DREAMS COME TRUE

THE BEST PART about having a dream is knowing that it just may come true – or, at least, we hope it will. Having a dream, having a goal, gives us hope; and it is hope that keeps us going, enabling each of us to meet whatever the world dishes out. Having a dream that fills us with hope is not… the same as living in a dream world, which often separates us from the reality of what’s happening around us.

I have a whole pile of dreams that keep me going, day-after-day, hoping that one of these will materialize. I fall back on one of these dreams when the ugly side of reality threatens to subdue me or appears to take a valued feeling away from me. I pull out my dreams every so often, whenever I feel I need the renewed strength of knowing that there is something I can look forward to that will be better than what has already transpired.

Dreams come true when they are within the realm of what we are capable of making happen. Dreams are the myriad opportunities that lie just beyond our smallest hope that we can [be, do and/or] have something better!

Everyone should be or, at least, have a good example to follow. As Mom once wrote, about her mom in her self-published book, This is not a Cook Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8), which I shall repeat from me to Mom – as this is a perfect example of loving inspiration – ‘My mother is another good example I’ve followed. Her best gift, and greatest asset, is that she’s always been a patient listener and a wise adviser. She was absolutely loyal to my father…The world could turn [its] back on her children, but she would always be there for them when we needed her. She’s given me an example that’s going to be tough to equal.’

‘I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book… (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer from…

My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 11 & 40)

IN CARING & LOVING

EVEN IN MY WRITINGS, I am quick to talk about caring and loving, because [it seems] we just don’t have enough of it. [I am] anxious to convey, through my writings, the real need to care about each other and to keep on caring, even when it [appears] to be useless and without the love being returned.

One quote that I have enjoyed sharing with my readers on this subject, which is unrelated to food for the table but very much a part of the FOOD FOR THOUGHT that I include in all of my writings, was something that I heard at a lecture years ago. The [speaker] advised [us] that sometimes we must love people, even when we DON’T want to, until we DO want to, in order to feel the full effects of that love. (p. 11)

We cannot lose sight of our need to care about each other, to strengthen our values and live by that yardstick. Then, wringing our hands with worry when the world seems to be in a state of chaos won’t send us running for synthetic comforts, escapes and restitutions that spell out ‘getting even’ rather than ‘going forward’. And it was the ‘going forward’ that I worked on so much in those early days…

All I could strive for then, and still do, is the consistency of purpose, the honesty in presentation and freshness of the ideas – whether in the form of a recipe, to imitate a famous food, or as an uplifting article on how to better understand your real self-hood and your relationship with others. (p. 40)

‘While I always spiced [my] columns with humor, I tried to make a point in each that would emphasize that we [should] care about each other [and] be more forgiving too. Whether it is cooking or companioning, my newsletters…carry articles, good thoughts and even suggestions on how to best show that we care about others.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 20)

ONCE MORE, FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts, written by Gloria Pitzer, from…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, pp. 25 & 29)

ON LOVE

Just as a mirror reflects the image in front of it, so it seems that loving people in our midst, bring out a loving nature in those around them. To reflect that kind of feeling is the greatest peace and the best tranquilizer! ‘There may be peace without joy and joy without peace but the two, combined, make happiness.’ – Lord Tweedsmuir [aka: John Buchan] (p. 25)

Life’s most precious gifts don’t come in packages. They come from the heart, wrapped in love… We seem to be living in a ‘keep-your-distance’ and ‘don’t get me involved’ world! People who are potentially caring, compassionate individuals should, but don’t always, care about each other! Some people profess to accept this kind of relationship with others. They endorse the indifference of people who make no demands on each other, who offer no depth, no devotion and no dimension in their relationship. And, by golly, a lot of people are willing and able to settle for cardboard communication when, with a little effort on their own [part, they] could have a perfectly lovely, lasting experience with another potentially caring human being! (p. 29)

Additionally, Mom also printed the following poem (pictured below), in part (the latter half), on page 30 of her book, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986) – however, I could not find an original source, nor author for it.

ONCE MORE, FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts, written by Gloria Pitzer, from…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 34)

WHEN YOU HEAL THE HURT

IT HAS BEEN SAID that ‘when God closes a door, He opens a window’ – for those who have the wit to discover it. Among the ill, the handicapped, the disfigured… are an astonishing number of people who have found their ‘windows’. In quiet resurrections, they have risen out of their pain and despair and shattered hopes to new ambitions, new satisfactions and new happiness.

Though largely unsung, these men and women have in them the stuff of heroes! Their battles of necessity are fought alone… in endless hours and days and months. But, in these battles, they somehow develop a special kind of courage and, sooner or later, the breakthrough comes. Then, in spite of all the odds against them, they dare to say: ‘I may not have much candle left but, with what I have, I’ll shed a light.’

So, if you can’t be a lighthouse – be a candle! Let your light shine so that those on whom it may fall, will be blessed; and, like a springboard, bounce right back to make you feel good about it… There’s an old English verse that always comes back to me… [in picture, below – I could not find an original source, nor author for it, other than “From the wall of an old inn, Lancaster, England by Anonymous”] …when I think of how nice it would be if this were not a ‘keep-your-distance’ and ‘don’t get me involved’ world!…

DON’T GIVE UP

PEOPLE NOWADAYS give up too easily. They’ll donate a dollar to an anonymous recipient of any given charity, but won’t give two words to an offended neighbor – the two most important words of successfully living side-by-side – ‘I’m sorry.’

You don’t throw away the patient because the bandage needs changing. You try again… and again for some common ground of understanding. Otherwise, how will we, as a society, ever be able to love our neighbors across the world, until we have first learned to love those across the street? (p. 50)

IN CLOSING…

This year, in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe, which also represents today as National Cheese Lover’s Day, is for Mom’s imitation of a baked cheesecake like she had, once, at Neiman Marcus…#CheeseLoversDay 

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#NationalHealthyWeightWeek

National Irish Coffee WEEK

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

As I’ve mentioned for the past couple of weeks, NationalDayCalendar.com recommends that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, this year, Mondays are 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again, and share another one of her copycat recipes; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Three down, 49 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253 – ENJOY!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Que Sera, Sera!

TGIM! Thank God, it’s Monday, again! Happy Monday to everyone!

I mentioned last week that I plan to make every Monday of this year a memorable beginning to my week – and, hopefully, to yours as well! This week, my focus is on my New Year’s plan, which I mentioned at the end of my blog last week, in the “P.S.” section. For 2020, I want to start a mini e-newsletter, including more of Mom’s “Food-for-Thought”, food-for-the-soul and food for the table inspirations; as well as some of my own too.

I don’t have a “launch” date set for the e-newsletter, yet; as I am still in the process of learning how to create an email list, first. The whole digital process is in no way the same as or even similar to what Mom did by hand for 27 years; the last time being more than 20 years ago. The layouts Mom created and published, herself, were all of her own design. The family helped to label all of the thousands of newsletter issues by hand, then Mom and Dad took them all to the local Post Office and mailed them out to their subscribers by what is now referred to as “snail mail”. That was January 1974 through December 2000!

If you’re not already – you can follow me on Facebook @TheRecipeDetective, on Twitter @recipedetective, on Instagram @recipedetective and on Pinterest @therecipedetective – for that’s where I will be announcing all of my future updates and posts to therecipedetective.com website, as well as when I’ll be launching my new email sign-up list and the e-newsletter!

When the time came to retire Mom’s Secret Recipes© NewsletterTM, Dad was ready to fully retire, himself, from all of his work in Secret RecipesTM; of course, he was 70 by then and beginning to struggle with his own physical limitations. Mom, being a bit younger, though, never really wanted to “fully retire” from the recipe business, herself. She was a writer – and, as she would often say, “writers never die, they just run out of words.” Well, even Dad would’ve attested that Mom NEVER ran out of words! However, after she had her stroke in 2015, which resulted in her having dementia, Mom struggled with words and writing for a while.

Nevertheless, both, writing and faith were in her blood. Mom had journaled every day, since she was about 10 years old. Her deep-seeded love for writing helped her immensely in the therapy for her dementia, following the stroke, as she couldn’t remember recent events very well. But, by re-reading her journal entries from previous days, it helped her to, somewhat, deal with the forgetfulness.

However, she could never understand why she could remember her youth like it was yesterday but couldn’t remember yesterday; and why she didn’t recognize herself in the mirror or in recent pictures.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 6 & 7)

REDISCOVERING [MEMORIES]

Writer, David Mazel, in a Boston newspaper, talked about looking at old photographs, as if gazing into a lost world, and I know exactly how he feels. I was shuffling through a shoebox full of photos from years ago, feeling it was some other world entirely than the one in which we now lived… where warm memories could stir and awaken me to consider just how well we did with so little, as Paul and I and our five (now, adult) children developed our family enterprise.

Over the years, some images, of how [our] recipe business began, have remained indelible. Others, however, have changed; like the shifting patterns in a rotating kaleidoscope… From that very first article that I wrote for the Royal Oak Tribune [in 1950], when I was 14 years old, to the [last] issue of our Secret RecipesTM Newsletter©…the work has been, truly, a labor of love…

I must have spent hours studying the pieces I wrote in my early days – remembering where I was [and in] what I believed and expected from life when I wrote them. There was always a certainty in each article [and] every book begun but not always finished, then, that life was good and surely God was a loving presence. This always carried me through. It still does.

Just as history tends to repeat itself, once again, the fates had other plans for Mom than she had for herself…as she, instead, began writing just to help herself remember things later. Unfortunately, Mom’s plan to continue writing and advising as the Recipe DetectiveTM had to come to an end…or maybe not – as I became her surrogate writer.

Mom loved Doris Day’s song from the Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956): Que sera, sera! Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera! What will be, will be!’ Mom called those certain, unexpected events in our lives “meant-to-be” moments or happenings – “what will be, will be!” She had complete faith that it was all part of the Lord’s plan (not hers, nor anyone else’s) – and, as she would quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson, ours is not to reason why…

During the last few years of Mom’s life, after her stroke, I got to know her in a whole new way – one that I missed out on during my self-centered teen years in the early-1980s. It was late-2015, when I started the 2-year long process of helping Mom to rewrite her favorite cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition). First, it all had to be edited and re-typed into Microsoft Word in order to be re-published for a whole new digital age of people.

For decades, Mom never wanted to let any of her books be published by a company that wanted to alter her creations. But times changed, as did situations and attitudes. This time, Mom was willing to let someone else do the rewrites and someone else be the publisher.

1974, Gloria Pitzer mimeographing her newsletter and recipe cards.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 16)

[A REAL PUBLISHER,] of course, one would surmise…is one who can put your book into print and get it sold for you. Having no actual count of the number of copies we’ve printed and sold, over the years, right at my fingertips; I can only say that we probably give away a good number of what we print [too].

I’ve thought all along that if I could possibly find another way by which to earn the money to pay our bills, I would gladly give my work away free, just for the joy of doing what we do! I have no intentions of ‘retiring’ from this endeavor and my husband, Paul, is slowly accepting this as something that, while it may make us a worthwhile living, also makes that living worthwhile!

WHEN THE MIMEOGRAPH was turning out the pages of my books… I did not look too far ahead to a more sophisticated technique. I took each day as it came and each idea for a cookbook as they also came (and a few of them were NOT cookbooks), trying to present the books with honesty and sincerity and a special enthusiasm that nobody else could give it for us.

My cup had been filling up and running over for a long, long time and I hadn’t even realized it. And that kind of abundance had nothing whatsoever to do with money or fame, but with a sense of direction and yielding – all the rugged way!

Mom and me at her 80th Birthday Party – Photo by Paul Jaekel, Jan. 2016

After researching quite a few publishers, we chose Balboa Press; who, actually, did not want to change much of anything except the title (because it too closely resembled the title of The Betty Crocker Cookbook – as it was intended to, in the first place) and a few illustrations (because they had the “likeness” of “The Colonel” on them.) Additionally, I had to change the layout slightly but not because of the publisher, it was simply because of the digital revolution and the printed format we chose for the final product.

Together, Mom and I chose some parts of the original book to be totally omitted from the new re-write due to their lack of current information, relatability or something else similar. Re-reading Mom’s creative “Food for Thought” articles throughout the book and discussing them with her, brought us closer in a whole new way, with our shared love for writing. Mom loved to mentor those who shared her same love for writing!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 75)

The care and concern that an author has for their readers is part of the pleasure of presenting interesting ideas in either an entertaining way or in an informative way. I try to balance my own presentations between the two.

When I am broadcasting over the numerous radio stations around the country, sometimes around the world, I try to lift the listener to a new height of interest and enthusiasm, and I leave the serious side of nutrition to the experts, who have the medical background to support their claims.

My hope is to present my recipes in such a way that cooking is a joy and never a job! I try to present these recipes with the same concern as I do [when] giving a gift to a special friend. Each of our 5 children, who have grown up helping Paul and me with these recipes, have gone out into the world with this legacy of love and enthusiasm. We can only hope that they use what we have given them…

Of course, I can only hope that I’ve made Mom proud of what I’m doing with her legacy of love – her family treasure of Secret RecipesTM and all it entails. While Dad was happy to retire the business, Mom never did want to stop what she was doing. However, at some point in time, our bodies and brains reach a moment when they just can’t do what they used to do. Now, even after the finish of her book, I still continue to write for Mom. I am honored to carry her torch in her memory and continue to inspire people in the kitchen, in the home, in the family and throughout the world.

I want this blog, the website and Mom’s last cookbook to reach new pinnacles in the digital market – in her honor and memory, with all the love and passion that I inherited from her. I’ll be honest, though, it has been (and still is) a work in progress and, while I love to write, promoting and selling are not my forte; as, equally, are not my computer skills. I guess you could say that I am a work in progress also! Something else I inherited from Mom – I love to learn! Unfortunately, the older I get the longer it takes me to learn something new. But that doesn’t stop me! You can teach an old dog a new trick, it just takes a little longer!

Nowadays, knowledge is literally and instantaneously at our finger tips! There’s so much information out there from which to learn – it makes our old sets of encyclopedias look like microscopic drops of water in an ocean! You need to be self-motivated and self-inspired to grab the book or the computer and open the “pages”, reading and soaking it up like a sponge! Of course, you also have to be able to differentiate between what’s fact and what’s fiction because not everything on the web is factual but that’s something you learn with experience.

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe is Mom’s imitation of dark fudge like Mackinac Island serves!

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
#CleanOffYourDeskDay

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day! To that, Mom would say, “don’t touch the mess on my desk or you’ll goof up my system!” I, on the other hand, love organization! It’s actually one of my OCD passions.

EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES
Excerpts from…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)

WHILE SOME FOLKS claim to have been born under a sign related in some way to the stars and other heavenly bodies, I wish to establish, right here and now, the sign under which I must have been born. It reads: ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE MESS ON THIS DESK OR YOU’LL GOOF UP MY SYSTEM.’ From this, you can imagine how astonished I was when, one day, it occurred to me that Heaven had certainly poured me out a blessing and my cup was running over. But I couldn’t find my mop! That has more or less (actually MORE) been the story of my life…my cup runneth over and over and over. (pp. 14-15)

It is with appreciation that, in spite of my lack of organization, Mary Ellen Pinkham https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Ellen_Pinkham, the famous household hints author, took an interest in our recipes…I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me. (p. 119)

#TGIM
#ThankGodItsMondayDay

To repeat last week…NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” This year, for me, Mondays are 52 CHANCES to re-tell Mom’s story; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home, in the family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Two down, 50 to go! I hope you’ll share this with your family and friends and return next Monday for more!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – 52 Chances for Memorable Beginnings

Happy 2020 and happy Monday! In fact, happy National Thank God It’s Monday!

As NationalDayCalendar.com claims: “Mondays are often full of new beginnings.” This being the very first Monday of 2020, makes it an extra special, national day celebration all about new beginnings! Beyond today, the website suggests, “Not only does the observance focus on the first Monday in January, but on every Monday throughout the year.” I LOVE that! Especially since I write these blog posts, in memory of my mom, every Monday and they always energize and inspire me for the rest of my week’s workload (paid and unpaid.) I can only hope that they energize and inspire others as well.

Since I started these blog posts, writing has become very therapeutic for me, just as it always was for my mom. I’ve written, at least, a few blogs about Mom’s love for writing ever since she was a young girl and how it bloomed into a legacy of love, as the Recipe Detective; investigator of the secrets of the food industry. Mom loved to tell everyone that, for her, writing made a worthwhile living, but it also made living worthwhile.

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives… of meeting new people.” This year, I will see it as 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world… for, as Mom loved to recite: “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in excerpts from…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)

EXPERIENCES & MAKING A DIFFERENCE

The experiences, [which] we have encountered in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry that has been our [family’s] only source of income since August 1976, have occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio broadcasting, [TV] and newspaper exposure and our own publishing efforts. If someone can benefit from our experiences, all the better! Mostly, though, this is just a story of our family… and how we made a dent in the hard shell of the publishing industry… (p. 2)

All of this should have started somewhere, at a particular place in my life, because most important things DO have MEMORABLE BEGINNINGS. But I’m hard put to come up with that one event, that singular moment, when I knew that our Secret RecipesTM would touch other people, not just across the country but [also] across the world. And, in doing so, would make a difference. That’s what really counts – doing something that will make a difference for the good of others. (p. 7)

EXPERIENCES & PLAGIARISM

There are paperbacks that attempt to imitate what we are doing and some that down-right plagiarized our recipes; [every] period, paragraph and semi-colon. It appears that the publishers who started out to ‘borrow’ my work, and even those who deliberately swiped it from me, didn’t give me much credit for knowing how to stop them. After all, a housewife in a [small] town in Michigan…who mimeographs her [own] books in her laundry room [and sells] them at [the] dry cleaners and neighborhood butcher shop, couldn’t be a threat.

This is all perfectly true! I did, indeed, mimeograph my books in the beginning; and I did, indeed, sell them at the Algonac Meat Store and the dry cleaners, in the Quonset hut down the road from us. At least once a week, maybe more often than this, I am asked how I got into this business, how it all started and how somebody can write their own book and get it published.

If there were a formula for our kind of success… I would be most happy to share the information; but, since there is no clear-cut formula, I can only give you some of the memorable highlights of our life since our Secret RecipesTM became our only means of income and, if from these personal and special recollections, somebody can derive some good, all the more power to them! Isn’t that why we are all here anyway – to bare each other’s burdens, to help and to care? I hope so! (p. 14)

‘I felt as if the hand of Providence had poured me out a blessing and it was pressed down, shaken together and running over.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 15)

EXPERIENCES & SUCCESS

The experiences that comprise the success and longevity of our Secret RecipesTM include some very wonderful people who have gone out of their way to make it easy for us to present our work to the public…[as] over the years it has been, not a job but a joy to continue investigating the secrets of the food industry, combining this information and recipes with the logic of the heart, the food for thought [and] food for the table. It continues to arouse interest and delight [among], both, our readers and radio listeners all over the country, as well as the world. (p. 15)

Michigan Supreme Court Justice, Dorothy Comstock Riley said, best, what I feel about my own past when she… described hers: ‘…by nature, I am not inclined to look back and second guess why things happened. Guessing other people’s motivations exhausts your energy but, by working hard and becoming passionately involved, you might be able to succeed at what you want.’ (p. 17)

‘While I always spiced [my] columns with humor, I tried to make a point in each that would emphasize that we [should] care about each other [and] be more forgiving too. Whether it is cooking or companionship, my newsletters… carry articles, good thoughts and even suggestions on how to best show that we care about others.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 20)

EXPERIENCES & PREPARATION

The exact chronological order, in which each of my writing experiences have occurred, are not clear in my memory now. However, each step [and] each experience was, on second thought, [neither] a delay nor a setback, as I used to believe. It was, instead, only preparation and the gathering of experience…

[Other than I, myself,] there has been no ‘real’ publisher, no public relations agent or the expensive efforts of professional promoters. [Their] ideas of how to publicize what I have to offer would only conflict with what I felt should be done. My cup runneth over because I have been blessed with an enthusiasm for promoting my own work and have been twice-blessed with the support and partnership of, probably, the most honest man in the world; who knows, from his own valuable working experiences, exactly how to manage and protect this enterprise.

All of the blessings I derived from having stumbled my way through the [not so] meaningless jobs of the many newspapers for which I once worked, eventually paid tremendous dividends, as I was able to put those learned skills into practice with this family enterprise of ours. Each bit of experience contributed to what I would, later, be able to do without the help of professionals.

EXPERIENCES & RADIO

I am blessed many times over but, when I count my blessings, I count my radio friends twice. [Even] as I share our story, with you, in these pages; you will not be able to fully appreciate the generous support that we received from radio personalities and their listeners.

While the critics snickered that my fast food imitations would run its unhealthy course in a short while [and] that my ability to turn out copy would, soon, be exhausted; I continued to look to a Divine Source for [my] daily supply of, both, energy and ideas. I have never, yet, been disappointed or without something good to share with our family of readers and our radio listeners. My cup does, indeed, run over! (p. 21)

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

Making every Monday as my memorable beginning to each week is how I plan to proceed through this new year. Remember, it’s “52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives… of meeting new people.” This year, for me, it’ll be 52 memories of my mom and 52 CHANCES to tell her story, again. I hope you’ll be back for each one of them!

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of “52 Chances for Memorable Beginnings”, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe, which is a copycat of the Detroit area’s famous Greenfield’s Restaurant’s pumpkin pie, also happened to be among Mom’s “Free Sheet” recipes that she gave out in 1988.

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

Among my plans for the new year, I want to start a mini email newsletter of Mom’s “Food-for-Thought”, food-for-the-soul and food for the table.  So, stay tuned, as I will be starting an email list soon!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Resolutions

Happy Monday to one and all! ‘Tis the eve of New Year’s Eve – a time that most of us spend, recalling and reminiscing about the events that happened in our lives during the past year.

As 2019 comes to an end and 2020 is about to begin, I find myself, reflecting on the goals I made and accomplished this year; like living a low-carb lifestyle and losing 50 pounds – even though I didn’t start that resolution until late March. It really doesn’t matter when you start a resolution. The important thing is to see it through and commit yourself to its eventual success. Additionally, I am considering how I can more-improve them, during the coming year. No one is perfect, nor can we ever humanly be so; but we can strive in that direction, at least.

Furthermore, this time of year, I try to remember all the goals of which I’ve fallen short, such as those related to what I want to do with this blog and website but have yet to accomplish. I make a decision to reiterate them, reasoning and resolving what went wrong, previously; then, deciding how I can do it better this time! As I see it, if I don’t own my mistakes and shortcomings, as well as my achievements, how am I to learn from and improve on any of them? Even though, as I said, real perfection is not achievable, it doesn’t mean we should quit “reaching for the moon.”

‘You never realize what a good memory you have until you try to forget something.’  – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 146, Sep-Oct 1990; pg. 7]

Establishing New Year’s resolutions is a commonly practiced tradition, world-wide; in which people make conscious determinations to change undesired mannerisms or behaviors, to accomplish personal goals or to, otherwise, improve their lives or the lives of others. However, according to The U.S. News’ blog (from Dec. 29, 2015), around 80% of resolutions fail by mid-February. I can attest that I, myself, have had more than a few failures in that 80-percent.

So, to improve my success of achievement, as I’m making my New Year’s resolution(s) for 2020, I’m taking the extra time to plan how to stay focused on my end-goal until it’s attained! Usually, it’s easier said than done! Creating small steps to reach a goal is always a helpful method to use. Telling others about your goals or even working on common goals with a family member, friend or group of people has been known to help, as well. Additionally, a reward system for completing each step will also improve your odds of staying focused and inspired to continue to the next step, until the final goal is reached – and, of course, the big reward, which is ACCOMPLISHMENT!

‘Success is not in never failing, but in never fearing to begin again.’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 14)

In general, most people who make resolutions, do so with the best of intentions to achieve some kind of physical self-improvement goals. Eating healthier, losing weight and getting more exercise are among the most common resolutions that people make, along with quitting bad habits like smoking and drinking soda. Even if you start a resolution and fail to follow it through to the end, remember the adages, “if, at first, you don’t succeed; try and try again” and “never quit quitting!”

There are no rules to the resolutions game – nothing to prevent you from changing deadlines, making new resolutions or reiterating the resolutions you’ve already made, which have fallen short. Most New Year’s resolutions are, more often than not, abandoned at the first sign of failure. It might feel comforting to know that it’s extremely rare to keep a New Year’s resolution all year, let alone all winter. But, the rewarding feeling of ACCOMPLISHMENT, when you’ve reached the goal(s) you’ve set for yourself, can’t be beat! So, take a mulligan and continue on. Believe in yourself! The important thing, for success, is to “get back on the horse.”

If someone were to copy our so-called ‘success’, I could give them no blueprint for that condition. Each one of the little steps that we had to take to develop the kitchen table activity into a professional business operation, are like the grains of sand that the oyster requires to form a pearl. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 25)

I’ve tried the “fake it ‘til you make it” approach many times – it just doesn’t seem to work for me in the long run. I’ve discovered, within myself, that I’m not going to change anything – not for very long anyway – if I don’t truly want to change it in the first place. It needs to be wanted from within myself and for my own satisfaction – not to please anyone else. In other words, for me, the mind-over-matter approach works best; and I have to commit to it, as well! It takes the power of positive thinking, among other things, to succeed. But, in addition, according to Mom, it’s not a “will” power that leads to any resolution’s success, it’s a “won’t” power – such as, “I won’t give up or give in” and “I won’t quit!”

‘When you’re wishing for a happier, fuller life, a life with real meaning, there’s a need to remain steadfastly receptive to intuitions & inspirations that whisper to the listening thought of hope & courage.’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 183 (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1997, p. 10)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 1)

Paul and I are suddenly rattling around in a house that, just a few years ago, didn’t seem big enough for us; when all five of the kids were still home. I sometimes walk from room to room, remembering the bustle of activity when they were buzzing in and out, to and from their various activities [and] helping me to assemble the mimeographed pages of the newsletters or recipe books.

Those were good times but difficult times. We were just starting out and not knowing if what we were doing would succeed. I didn’t think about failing. I did, however, consider that succeeding might take a little longer than I originally anticipated. But I never accepted the idea of failing. I am convinced that is why we did succeed…Paul could not understand how I could continue day after day, with such untarnished enthusiasm when we were putting in so many hours and deriving so little money for it.

My siblings and I in the late ‘80s (left-to-right: Bill, Michael, Debbie, me and Cheryl)

IN CLOSING…

#BaconDay

Did you know that today, December 30th, is National Bacon Day https://nationaldaycalendar.com/bacon-day-december-30/? What an awesome food! Thus, I say, “Let’s celebrate bacon!”

Just outside of Michigan’s famous German town of Frankenmuth is the village of Birch Run, which is home to a legendary restaurant, called “Tony’s”. The restaurant is quite famous among Michiganders (and passers through) for its extra-large servings, especially when it comes to bacon! Mom & Dad went there often, when visiting the area, as do my husband and I. At peak dining hours, there is usually a line out the door, waiting to be seated. It’s worth the wait! The restaurant has a sign in one of its windows that promotes “The 12 Rules of Bacon” by which to live. I love the first one, which states, “There must always be bacon in the fridge. Always.”

I remember when I was quite young and Mom and Dad were struggling to make ends meet (before Mom began her own business), we hadn’t had bacon at breakfast for quite a long time. Bacon was one of my top favorite foods. One day, when my Grandma Carter (Mom’s mom) came for a visit, I told her that and I asked her, “Grandma, do they still make bacon?” Mom overheard me and ever since, we always had bacon at breakfast. Truth be known, it was one of Mom’s top favorite foods, as well.

In honor of #BaconDay, I highly recommend sprinkling some bits of cooked and crumbled bacon into your tomato soup (as in the recipe given above!) In addition, you can serve it up with some grilled cheese and bacon sandwiches! Plus, here’s a rerun (from June) of one of my favorite bacon snacks from Mom’s sister, my Aunt Hazel. I especially love it because I can substitute the ingredients with low-carb versions and enjoy many of them for only a couple of grams of carbohydrates. This is quite simple to make and a great finger food to serve at a New Year’s Eve party, too!

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Happy Holidays!

Happy Monday to everyone! Likewise, happy holidays to most of us and “happy Festivus for the rest of us!”

Personally, I don’t understand why some people get so upset by the greeting, “happy holidays!” – as opposed to “Merry Christmas!” Some of those people say that the greeting takes away from the “reason for the season”, which (to them) is only Christmas and the birth of Christ.

There are other holidays going on during the same week as Christmas and they all have their own “reason for the season” too. For example, the celebration of Hanukkah, which began at sundown yesterday and continues for a week; celebrating the “Festival of Lights”, which commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Additionally, the Kwanza celebration starts this coming Thursday, along with the Amish’s “2nd Christmas” celebration, both of which go on for days! Of course, there are others who don’t celebrate any holidays at all!

Obviously, we can’t please all. As I just said, there are others who don’t celebrate any holidays, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We can’t pick them out of a crowd any more than any other person of any other faith – with the exception of if they’re wearing certain clothes that are directly associated with particular religions. Recently, I’ve seen pictures of shirts and pins on Facebook that say, “You can tell me ‘Merry Christmas!’” I guess, if it upsets you that much when someone says, “happy holidays”; then, maybe, you should invest in one of those shirts or pins and wear it every day of December.

There are many Christians and non-Christians that do not celebrate Christmas. As I mentioned, some Christian groups do not celebrate any holiday at all, as they claim that “celebrations” are pagan rituals. Additionally, there are others, Christians and non-Christians alike, who do celebrate Christmas, but not as a religious holiday. I am among the latter group who takes “part in all the holiday fun without buying into the religious aspect of it”, as discussed in another informative article, “Christian Groups that don’t Celebrate Christmas”, at TheOdysseyOnline.com.

Obviously, no one can tell, just by looking at someone, which holiday they celebrate or if they celebrate any at all. Thus, saying a generic “happy holidays” greeting covers all the bases for those who do celebrate something this season. Why do people have to be so narrow-minded and upset about it?

Mom’s mom (my Grandma Carter) was raised in the Jewish faith and converted to Christian Science when she married Mom’s dad (my Grandpa Carter.) When the holidays came around and both sides of my grandparents’ families gathered together, both holidays, Hanukkah and Christmas, were observed and celebrated in unison; without any animosity towards differences in beliefs. Instead, the focus was on the commonalities. LOVE (and food) is the universal “reason for the season” for everyone – even for those who chose not to celebrate holidays at all.

Why can’t we all just get along and respect that we are all different – with different beliefs and traditions – and, yet, the same and it’s okay! Mom wrote a story about her mom’s side of the family, the Klein’s, in her self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop! (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84). Below is an abbreviated version of Mom’s story about her mom’s Jewish family heritage, as I posted previously, in my blog entry, “It’s all Relative!”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop!

(Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84)

…my mother’s parents were originally German, but they were also Jews, and living in Russia at the turn of the [20th] century. It was dangerous for any Jew in Russia at that time – so much like the story of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’; my grandparents, with two small children and my grandmother expecting their third child, took a crowded freighter to America [around 1906]. They couldn’t speak a word of English and had nothing with them but what they could carry by hand.

On the way over, unfortunately, they came down with what suspected to be TB [Tuberculosis]… years later [around 1915], following the birth of their 7th child [my mom was their 4th child, born in 1909], TB finally took my grandmother. Having settled in Pittsburg, my grandfather moved on to Cleveland where he hoped to find relatives who would help him with a job and a place to raise the motherless children. It didn’t work out as he expected, however. The relatives were not where he had last contacted them.

The orphanage was over-crowded that he had been directed to, in order to leave the children and seek treatment for the TB that seemed to be getting worse for him. Having been turned away by the orphanage, he was about to leave all the children on a street corner, telling them that somebody would come along to help them, but that he had to get his train to the sanitorium that the government was sending him to for help. At that point, the nuns were passing by on their usual afternoon walk…on their way back to the Catholic orphanage down the street.

They stopped long enough to ask if they could be of help and, upon hearing the story from the older children, who spoke English, and [from my] Grandpa’s broken English, they concluded that the children needed to be cared for. They took the children to the Catholic orphanage, ensuring my grandfather that they would see to it that they went to Temple every Saturday, even though they would be in the Catholic schools and living in the dormitories with the other children.

When there was room for them at the Jewish orphanage, they would then be transferred – and the promise was kept. There, they all remained until each one turned 16 years of age… The compassion of those Catholic nuns and the care they gave the children of that Jewish immigrant, when Jews were hated as much as they ever were in this country, kept me from ever harboring feelings of prejudice toward other people due to their religious or racial backgrounds…

Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we ‘own’ or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)

Consequently, like Mom, I grew up without prejudices – with an open mind to all of us being different and yet the same and that it is okay, respecting our differences. As a result, I brought my children up in the same manner – to not be prejudice and respect others’ beliefs, too.

As seen in an article, titled “How to Appreciate Diversity During the Holidays”, written by Simma Lieberman at TheBalanceCareers.com (updated April 4,2019) “Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time with friends and family to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others.”

The following is a repeat worth repeating, from Mom’s memories, as I posted a couple of weeks ago in my blog entry, “Homemade Holidays”.

Photo by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book

(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)

Breaking through the barriers of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!

The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!

The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but, not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)

Pitzer kids, group shot – Christmas Eve, 1969

LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling…

We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of LOVING the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.

But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…

So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for LOVING – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!

Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the…season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!

The legend of Santa Claus has been around, in many forms, since as early as the 4th century. Every year, for centuries, American society has promoted the story of Santa Claus! I have found that many Christians who believe the “reason for the season” is to celebrate the birth of Christ also bring up their children to believe in the story of Santa Claus. Many theologists debate if December 25th is even Christ’s true birthday.

To me, the selfless “Santa-Like” giving is the “reason for the season.” As Mom often said, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.” For whatever your reason to celebrate the season, if you do so, just be you and respect that we, all, are not just like you! Rejoice in your family and friends and neighbors and co-workers, as well as the strangers you have yet to meet. Peace, love and joy to you all!

IN CLOSING…

Today is the eve of Christmas Eve – for those who celebrate Christmas – time to wrap up the baking, candy-making and last minute gifts. These little treats are quick and great to have around, during the holidays, to offer guests who drop by…

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

Did you know…

…“When did Christians begin to celebrate Christmas?” – Check out the answer at http://www.hcna.us/columns/history-of-christmas.htm!

…“President Ulysses S. Grant declared Christmas a legal holiday in 1870.” – Check out the story at https://www.americanfreedombybarbara.com/2013/12/congress-declared-christmas-to-be-legal.html!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252.  It’s also available, instantly, in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253. Great for last minute gifts – literally!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Cover it in Chocolate!

Happy Monday! Today is December 16th and time to celebrate National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day! Although there is no history to be found about the who-when-and-why of the holiday’s origin, it’s still a wonderful concept to celebrate – especially during the coming holidays!

There are many national holidays that celebrate chocolate – and why not? It’s probably the most enjoyed flavor of all-time! You can make just about anything, food or drink, taste better by adding or covering it in chocolate (bacon, too – but, that’s another celebration.)

Stress wouldn’t be so hard to take if it were chocolate-covered. – Origin un-known

Nonetheless, it seems like it’s only during the winter holidays that you can find the really good “specialty items” that are covered in chocolate and ready for unique gift-giving (even if it’s only to yourself) – spoons covered in fancy chocolate designs (for stirring into your hot coffee or cocoa); pretzels, crackers, cookies and fruit to name a few examples that are dipped into special chocolate-coatings that harden as they cool.

However, we don’t have to wait for the holidays to enjoy anything that’s covered in chocolate. You’d be surprised at how easy and quick some of those “specialty”, chocolate-covered treats are to make – thus, maybe, add some to your homemade holidays (as I discussed in last week’s blog entry – of the same name!) They make great gifts for friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, care-givers and so on. Again, as I did in that blog entry, I highly recommend Pinterest for a wide-variety of great ideas and inspiration from which to unsheathe!

Michiganders know all about the creamy, luscious, milk chocolate covered delights that are created by Sanders’ Chocolatiers! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times – Mom was a big chocolate-lover! Especially, when it came to the confections made by Michigan’s finest chocolatiers at Sanders Candy! The official Sanders story can be found at https://www.sanderscandy.com/about-us.

Way back when… during Mom’s radio show interviews across the country, as the Recipe DetectiveTM, she often heard requests for Sanders’ treats from listeners who were re-located Michiganders that couldn’t enjoy Sanders Candy where they were now living. Of course, nowadays, we have the internet and we can order just about anything we want, from just about anywhere, and have it all delivered to our doorsteps! But, sometimes, homemade is just better.

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. – Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump)

I’m sure everyone has some childhood memories of special chocolate delicacies, which tickle them with feelings of love, content and comfort. According to an article by Richard Davies, called 10 Amazing Facts about Chocolate, it is widely believed that chocolate consumption releases a chemical into your body, which is very similar to what is produced when you’re in love.

Other fun facts I found about chocolate, in that article, include…

Did you know that…

…chocolate is lower in caffeine than tea, coffee and Coca-Cola?

…chocolate contains antioxidants which may help prevent cancer and heart disease?

…the shelf life of a bar of chocolate is approximately one year?

For some more fun facts, I found the following information, below, in an article, called 10 Fun Facts about Chocolate, at RighteouslyRawChocolate.com. However, I didn’t see an author listed for whom to give credit.

Additionally, did you know that…

…chocolate comes from the beans of a fruit tree?

… each cacao tree produces approximately 2,500 beans?

…it takes about 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate?

[FYI – that equals 6.25 pounds of chocolate produced per tree.]

… a farmer must wait four to five years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans?

… chocolate has over 600 flavor compounds?

What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate. – Katharine Hepburn

When Mom developed her first copycat version of Sanders’ Hot Fudge Sauce, in the mid-1970’s era, it was part of her “original 200” copycat recipes that launched her career as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Sanders was one of a handful of companies that were flattered (rather than infuriated) by Mom’s imitations and she became great friends with the Sanders family, in the process.

A secret Mom discovered, in replicating the creaminess and flavor of Sanders’ hot fudge sauce, was to use Nestle brand milk chocolate, as no other brought the same taste and texture that she was trying to achieve. I’ve shared a couple of Mom’s copycat versions of Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce in the “Recipes” tab on this website. Her hot fudge sauce was always one of our family’s top 10 favorite treats from her homemade copycat creations!

#ChocolateCoveredAnythingDay

You can use the hot fudge sauce to cover ice cream, brownies or pies – to name a few. Likewise, you can dip cookies or chunks of fruit into the sauce, like a fondue! It all sounds like the makings for a party to me! I wish I could indulge in the real thing. I probably miss Mom’s hot fudge sauce more than any other treat that she made.

#ChocolateCoveredAnythingDay

I have a lot of great childhood memories of when Mom created her homemade, copycat versions of Sanders’ special treats for our family – and it was especially fun to help her make the hot fudge sauce! I remember, as well, when I made this treat with my own kids, when they were small – and it was a big treat for all of us to have Sanders style hot fudge sundaes! In honor of National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day, here is Mom’s favorite make-alike version of their hot fudge sauce:

HOT FUDGE SAUCELike Sanders

By Gloria Pitzer

[Recipe Number 1my own favorite!]

INGREDIENTS:

14-ounce can Eagle Brand milk

14 ounces light corn syrup (use EB milk can to measure)

¼ pound butter*

(*per the “free sheet” directions; the cookbook – as it was written in 1983 – calls for ½ pound)

12 ounces Nestlé’s milk chocolate candy bars – Do not substitute on brand of candy!

a few drops vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

In top of double boiler, over simmering water, combine all ingredients as listed, stirring about 15 minutes until smooth and melted. Cover and continue cooking for at least 30 more minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes. Cool and put through your blender in small portions, using on/off agitation on high speed until mixture is satiny-smooth. Makes 1 quart. Keeps refrigerated up to a month – reheat in top of double boiler over simmering water. Freezes well up to 6 months.

AGAIN, FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 252-254)

SANDERS’ HOT FUDGE [SAUCE] was one of the nicest experiences I had in working with imitations of the famous recipes, for John (Jack) Sanders, the grandson and president of the company founded by his grandfather, Fred, was one of the sponsors of Warren Pierce’s [Detroit area] radio show. Imagine my reluctance to share, with his listeners, my version of Sander’s hot fudge.

I had previously had so many threatening letters from food company lawyers that I didn’t know what to expect if I heard from the Sanders people! To my amazement, the letter we anticipated did arrive only 2 days after I gave my version of their hot fudge [sauce] to Warren’s listeners. The letter, however, said – if it wouldn’t ruin my fun in trying to duplicate these famous dishes, would Paul and I and all the kids kindly accept an invitation from Jack Sanders to tour their Oakman Boulevard Bakery and Confection plant and meet their Head Chef, Edy Mader.

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, between my Secret Recipes and Fred Sander’s products and, I learned, encouraged many out-of-state orders for their products whenever I talked about them during my frequent radio visits around the country. As the slogan for Sanders’ Restaurants, Bakery and Candy company said, ‘When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big, big treat…’

When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big treat. – Sanders’ Candy Co.

As I said in my blog entry on July 1st, “Sanders doesn’t just create chocolate delights – while they do have a large variety of products – the best things that they create are the memories!” Here is another memory from Mom about the Sanders family, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 256).

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 256)

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Schulz

From song to movie to soap opera titles, we’ve heard how “love is a many-splendored thing.” Oddly enough, many people find love and happiness in chocolate. Mom often demonstrated how to make her version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, when she appeared on various talk shows over the decades, because it’s so quick and easy – and one of her most requested recipes.

As with her fudge sauce imitation, Mom determined that Hershey’s brand chocolate (of course) is the best chocolate with which to re-create their peanut butter cups at home. In fact, this is another one of our family’s top 10 favorites of Mom’s homemade treats and it, too, was part of her “original 200” copycat recipes!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

As I mentioned earlier, only a handful of companies, like Sanders Candy, were flattered by Mom’s efforts at imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey corporation happened to be a slight mixture of, both, frustrated and flattered. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe title, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”, because it too closely resembled their trademark name, Reese’s, “as to cause confusion between the products”, they said; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.

Then, Mom explained to the Hershey corporation the meaning behind her title and the use of the word recess (as in a retreat). She also offered to only use and promote Hershey’s chocolate in her recipe. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer…and they lived happily ever after!

So, with National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day and the up-coming holiday celebrations in mind, I’d like to re-share with you Mom’s make-a-like version of the famous peanut butter cups that she called “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”; again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing. – Milton Hershey

IN CLOSING…

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

The Christmas pie (above) would taste even more awesome covered in chocolate! PLUS…

FOR A GREAT GIFT-GIVING IDEA…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253