Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan Made

Happy Monday and happy National Michigan Day Eve! I look forward to each and every Monday, as they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalMichiganDay

Tomorrow is, among other things, National Michigan Day! Michigan is a treasure trove of great places, people, products, iconic food and more! I love writing about the wonderful things this state has to offer. Michigan is home to an abundance of history, beautiful sights, famous people, renowned restaurants, etc.

Michigan has the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S., at 3,288 miles. It borders four of the five Great Lakes. Regardless of water type, Michigan is second only to Alaska in total length of coastline (sea or fresh). If you’re near any one of Michigan’s gorgeous shorelines when the sun is shining, the water shimmers in a beautiful shade of azure that always amazes me.

I was born in Michigan – not far from where I live now. My husband was born even closer, and we live in his boyhood home. It was also his dad’s boyhood home, built by his dad’s dad. Each of our parents were born in Michigan and most of our relatives still live here, too. We love Michigan and we’re proud to call it home for four generations, now.

Almost two weeks ago, on one of my local news shows, a newscaster* mentioned that over 65% of born-and-bred Michiganders tend to remain in Michigan; which is more than any other states’ residents, remaining in the states of their births, with the exception of Louisiana (at 72%).

[*NOTE: Derek Kevra, Jan. 5th (2022); FOX2 News, Detroit area. I didn’t hear what his source was, but I found similar information, online, at https://stacker.com/stories/2462/states-most-born-and-bred-residents and https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-05/mobile-vs-stuck-who-lives-in-their-u-s-birth-state.]

Like the rest of North America, Michigan is a multicultural “melting pot”; its residents immigrating and migrating from all over. Manufacturing and the auto industry attracted a large variety of immigrants, who wanted to live the “American dream” here. Yet, wherever we go, in life, Michiganders are forever kindred spirits!

During the countless radio show interviews that Mom used to do around the country and internationally, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, she often received requests for imitating Michigan-based recipes. The appeals were usually from listeners who were re-located Michiganders that couldn’t find or enjoy their favorite, Michigan-made, iconic foods!

Michigan-based restaurants that Mom would frequent to taste-test their dishes and develop imitations of them at home included delights such as the Bavarian Inn & Zender’s restaurants in Frankenmuth, from whose world-famous menus she imitated about a dozen dishes and bakery delights.

Other requests were for famous noshing choices from Michigan-based restaurants like the Cheesecake Factory, Olga’s Kitchen, Bill Knapp’s, Win Schuler’s, Elias Brothers’ Big Boy (from whose menus Mom developed over 50 imitations), and J.L. Hudson’s (no longer in business, but from whose menus she developed about three dozen imitations) – just to name some of her own favorite places.

Mom’s copycat cookery revolution took the nation (and world) by storm – mostly thanks to the 1981 Phil Donahue Show that she was on (she appeared again in 1993)! Ever since her newsletter and early cookbooks on the subject were first released in the mid-1970s, Mom referred to her imitations as her own solutions to “eating out, at home”!

Word spread like a wildfire that a small town, Michigan housewife was duplicating famous foods from famous places and sharing her secrets in her own self-published newsletter and cookbooks! Radio stations, newspapers, magazines and television – they all picked up on the story and it snowballed from there.

Sometimes, Mom received letters from her readers, people across the country and around the world, who didn’t have the same products in their area that Mom used in some of her recipes, asking what they should use in its place. That inspired her to create even more recipes for ingredients that were expensive or hard to find in certain regions.

I grew up on (and still enjoy) many awesome, Michigan-made products. Many of which were among Mom’s catalog of famous imitations – such as Mackinac Fudge, Vernors Ginger Ale, Kellogg’s cereals, Sanders’ sweet confections, Win Schuler’s products, J.L. Hudson’s and Frankenmuth’s restaurant dishes; as well as many others!

#PureMichigan

An old proverb, “home is where the heart is”, originally attributed to “Pliny the Elder” (A.D. 23-79), has many interpretations. “Home” has come to mean more than just a structure! Wherever we go in life, “home-sweet-home” memories are deeply engrained in our Michigander hearts, like Norman Rockwell paintings.

I have many fond, childhood memories of my family’s Michigan vacations. Mom and Dad took us to so many beautiful places around our state – such as the Tahquamenon Falls and the Soo Locks, both in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (aka: the U.P.); as well as iconic beach towns like Alpena, Petoskey, and Mackinaw City in the “Tip of the Mitt” region. But my favorite vacations were on Michigan’s magical Mackinac Island, in Lake Huron, between the two peninsulas.

The best time to discover Michigan, depends on your interests. If you like winter activities, Michigan has it in spades, December through March – skiing of all kinds, snowmobiling, sledding, ice fishing, skating and more! May through October is when Michigan’s weather is most pleasant. It’s generally warm in the spring and fall, while the mild, summertime heat is great for enjoying a vast array of other activities.

#MichiganMapDots

Just as my parents used to do, after a long work-week, my husband and I LOVE to go on road trips to different places around our scenic state. We really enjoy traveling the sparkling, blue water shoreline that surrounds most of our state; as well as exploring the in-land lakes, rivers, parks, forests and farmlands throughout Michigan, too.

Last year, I wrote about a fellow Michigander who’s literally been collecting map dots, traveling to every town in our state. I want to mention him again, because he has an awesome Facebook page, called Scott’s Michigan adventures, where he’s been depicting his “map dot” travels. It’s very inspiring, as my husband and I love exploring Michigan, also! If you’re a Facebook member who’s interested in finding marvelous Michigan towns to visit, I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

LAST THOUGHTS…

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Here’s 10 random trivialities about Michiganders:

    1. Many Michiganders go mushroom hunting (for morels) in mid-to-late spring.
    2. “Opening Day” is an unofficial Michigan holiday, celebrating the first day of rifle season for hunting our state animal, the white-tailed deer.
    3. Wherever they go, Michiganders literally carry a map of the state in their hands.
    4. Michiganders refer to the lower peninsula as the “mitten” and the upper peninsula as the “U.P.”
    5. Those from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are called “Yoopers”.
    6. Yoopers refer to Michiganders from the lower peninsula as “Flatlanders” and “Trolls” (because they’re under “The Bridge”).
    7. Michiganders refer to the Mackinaw Bridge as, simply, “The Bridge”.
    8. “The Thumb” (where I’ve lived for almost all of my life) is the lower peninsula’s southeast quadrant.
    9. Michiganders call a sliding-glass door a “door-wall”; and carbonated soft-drinks are called “pop”, rather than “soda”.
    10. Only those who drive in Michigan understand how to make a “Michigan left”, which involves a special lane for making a U-turn, and then turning right.

IN CLOSING…

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

In honor of January, being National Oatmeal Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Oatmeal Muffin Cookies, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 213). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

#NationalOatmealMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of January’s observances include… National Blood Donor Month, National Hobby Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Mentoring Month, National Slow Cooking Month, National Soup Month, and National Sunday Supper Month!

Starting yesterday, the third week of January is celebrating, among other things…  World Kiwanis Week, Hunt for Happiness Week, National Healthy Weight Week, and National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week!

Today is… National Bootlegger’s Day and National Hot Buttered Rum Day! In honor of the latter, here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation.

#HotButteredRumDay

Plus, as the third Monday in January, it’s also… Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  Additionally, January 17th-21st (for 2022) is… No Name-Calling Week!

Tomorrow is also… National Peking Duck Day and National Thesaurus Day!

Wednesday, January 19th is… National Popcorn Day!

January 20th is… National Buttercrunch Day and National Cheese Lover’s Day! Plus, as the third Thursday of the first quarter of 2022, it’s also… Get to Know Your Customers Day!

Friday, January 21st is… National Granola Bar Day and National Hugging Day!

Saturday, January  22nd is… National Blonde Brownie Day and Celebration of Life Day!

Sunday, January 23rd is… National Handwriting Day and National Pie Day! Plus, as the fourth week of January it’s also… Tax Identity Theft Week!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…3 down and 49 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Hobby & Devotion

Happy Monday and happy National Hobby Month! Personally, I look forward to every Monday because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalHobbyMonth

For now, my blog writing is more of a hobby than a vocation since I don’t make any money from it. However, like I wrote last week, regarding Mom’s love for writing, “It was her profession, career, and livelihood; but it was never her ‘work’ – not to Mom – and certainly never a hobby!” Mom felt like writing was, above all else, her purpose, her function, and her role in life.

Mom’s passion for writing began when she was about 10 years old, after watching a 1946 Warner Brothers movie about the Bronte sisters, called “Devotion”. That was when she started journaling daily. In fact, throughout the rest of her life, Mom continued journaling, which amounted to more than 71 years of chronicles – now that’s DEVOTION!

My passion for writing began around the same age as Mom, when I first fell in love with poetry, essays, and other creative writing. Actually, I’ve written hundreds of poems, myself, but I’ve never tried to publish them (other than a few, in some contests I entered as a teenager).

Like Mom, when I was young, I often thought about writing “the great American novel”. For me, it came about after reading the “Little House” series by Laura Ingles Wilder. However, that’s as far as it went. I started to write a book a few times but always failed to follow through with it. I was never confident enough to put myself out there – to believe in myself or my abilities.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 66)

CONFIDENCE COMES FROM WITHIN

THERE IS A CERTAIN amount of confidence that comes with every risk we take and are able to turn the risk into a success. When I began my newsletter some 12 years ago or more [1974], there were at least 20 newsletters like mine on the market, with which I did compete in a neighborly and mutually helpful way.

Today [in 1986], not one of these remains in print or in circulation. I feel it depends on how badly you really want to do something, how deeply you truly want to succeed whether or not you will make it. In the last pages of this collection, I take you ‘Behind-The-Scenes’ of our operation as a family enterprise and cover some of the ground we had to break, some of the rugged way that we had to follow in order to continue with our work.

There was always a new and more stunning publication being introduced into the mail-service marketplace, giving me one more reason to wonder if what I was offering could survive on the merits of my loving what I was doing more than I loved the money it would bring or the recognition it might merit.

Just this week, I received a letter announcing that one more of the [other] recipe newsletters would be going out of print after March of next year [1987] so that the editor could compile and publish a cookbook. It was like a message to me from a Divine Source to whom I had been recently appealing for help to give our readers what they could not find anywhere else and to do it with the spirit of friendship, rather than customer appeal.

I was putting the finishing touches on this collection, knowing it had to be at the printer within the week, had about 50% of a new cookbook ready to offer in time for Christmas and the next two issues of the newsletter on the drawing board, not to mention a collection of my mother’s recipes; which she was presenting in a folder, for sale by the holidays, and we were publishing for her.

So many irons in the fire and still it would never occur to me to put any of it away, or put it aside, even temporarily, as we were forced to do after the one MILLION letters we received from the Donahue TV show [five] years ago [1981]. The confidence that comes to those who have the desire to offer their very best to the public, comes from within, from the desire to do their best, and to do it happily.

Mom re-kindled my passion for writing almost seven years ago, when she asked me to help her re-write one of her self-published cookbooks. In fact, the whole re-write collaboration put our mother-daughter relationship on a whole new level, in more ways than one.

Mom once compared writing and publishing her own books to going through all the highs and lows of pregnancy and then giving birth. Even after having my own children, I didn’t completely understand what she meant. Not until I actually went through the whole process with her, in re-writing one of her books..

I helped Mom re-format and re-write her favorite, self-published cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 3rd Edition, Nov. 1983) for a new digital generation to enjoy; because she couldn’t re-write it, herself, in the Microsoft Word format that’s required for publishing these days, nor could she go the self-publishing route again.

With some help from my brother, Mike, and after doing a lot of research on the internet, we chose Balboa Press to publish it. To Mom’s surprise, the company only wanted to change a couple of things – one of her illustrations and the title, itself. They made some suggestions, but Mom and I came up with our own version. The book went to press shortly before Mom passed away, under the new title, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018).

TheRecipeDetective.com website was developed years ago by my brother, Mike, to help bring our parents’ Secret RecipesTM business into the digital age. I remember when Mom got her first (and only) computer. She tried to learn how to operate it (with lessons from one of her grand children), but she couldn’t even get open her email. Frustrated by the “new technology”, she just gave the computer to her grandchild. My brother, Mike, managed TheRecipeDetective.com website for Mom and Dad, from where he lived, on the west coast; including their online orders and emails.

Even though she didn’t understand the internet, herself, Mom was so happy about reaching a whole new generation of people with her recipes and stories again! It’s ironic that it took Mom a couple years to write the original book (which she first self-published in May of 1982) and it took me a couple years to re-write it and re-format it for her!

After Mom passed away, in 2018, Mike passed the website on to me that summer. I had begun learning how to blog so that I could write about Mom, in an online forum, reaching as many people as I could. I wanted to get her the recognition I thought she deserves for having been the pioneer (and the GOAT) of copycat cookery.

LAST THOUGHTS…

Since this is the second Monday in January, it’s also… National Clean Off Your Desk Day! This is something I would celebrate but not Mom. In fact, any given Monday, I’m usually cleaning the weekend’s accumulated pile of stuff off my desk!

#CleanOffYourDeskDay

IN CLOSING…

In honor of January’s observance for National Slow Cooking Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Apple Butter, using a slow cooker; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 279). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

#SlowCookingMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of January’s other observances include… National Blood Donor Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Mentoring Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Soup Month, and National Sunday Supper Month!

Starting yesterday, this second week of January is celebrating, among other things… National Mocktail Week, Universal Letter Writing Week and National Pizza Week!

Today is also… National Bittersweet Chocolate Day and National Oysters Rockefeller Day!

Tomorrow is… National Arkansas Day and National Milk Day! Plus, as the second Tuesday in January, it’s also… Shop for Travel Day!

Wednesday, January 12th is… National Curried Chicken Day and National Marzipan Day!

Thursday, January 13th is… Korean American Day and National Peach Melba Day!

Friday, January 14th is… National Dress Up Your Pet Day and National Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day!

January 15th is… National Bagel Day, National Booch Day, and National Strawberry Ice Cream Day! Plus, as the third Saturday in January, it’s also… National Use Your Gift Card Day!

Sunday, January 16th is… National Fig Newton Day, National Nothing Day, and National Religious Freedom Day! It’s also the start of the third week of January, which celebrates, among other things… World Kiwanis Week, Hunt for Happiness Week, National Healthy Weight Week, and National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…2 down and 50 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – New Beginnings

Happy Monday and happy 2022 to everybody! As I’ve been saying for the past couple of years, #TGIM! That’s because I look forward to every Monday. Each year, they’re my 52 Chances, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#TGIM

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

Today is the first Monday of the first month of the new year! More than any other Monday of the year, today represents new beginnings! Today is also celebrated by many as National Thank God It’s Monday Day! Mondays are more often thought of as the beginning of a new week, rather than Sundays.

I love how NationalDayCalendar.com says we should… “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.”

Mondays have been my favorite day of the week for years, especially since I started writing and posting these blog posts on Mondays, in the fall of 2018. Thus, I’ll continue to reiterate my 2020 New Year’s resolution, to celebrate every Monday (especially today) as my own 52 chances per year to share my mom’s story with everyone!

I do this, still, in hopes of stirring up more wonderful cooking memories (which many readers have shared with me); as well as to re-inspire love in the kitchen, in the home, and in the family. I hope, in turn, that love will spread throughout the neighborhood and around the world; because, as Mom used to say, “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

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.

Don’t count your days, make your days count!’ – source unknown

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Reading more and learning something new every day have been other successful New Year’s resolutions of mine, which I continue to repeat each year. Mom instilled in me, when I was very young, the importance of knowledge and to Learn Something New Every Day! As the old adage indicates, knowledge is wealth!

There was a time when women and girls weren’t even ALLOWED to read or learn anything other than how to be a good wife and homemaker. Unfortunately, I think that’s still so in some places around the world. So even evolution, itself, is still evolving.

Over the past few years, in my own quest to Learn Something New Every Day, NationalDayCalendar.com has been one of my favorite go-to-sources for information. Something is celebrated every day of the year even if it’s not a federal holiday and I’ve found National Day Calendar’s website to be a really great source of information about what’s being commemorated (and how) each day, every week, and in all months!

Some of January’s month-long observances include… National Blood Donor Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Mentoring Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Slow Cooking Month, National Soup Month, and National Sunday Supper Month!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Since January is also National Hobby Month, I want to re-share one of Mom’s stories (aka: memories) about her dining room table, family-based business not being a hobby. It was her profession, career, and livelihood; but it was never work – not to Mom – and certainly never a hobby!

#NationalHobbyMonth

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. 53)

RISKY BUSINESS

THERE ARE MANY RISKS involved with going into business for yourself, no matter what product or service you intend to offer. If I had thought more about the risks, than I did about the possibilities, I never would have moved an inch toward doing any of the things about which I now write. My husband is not a risk-taker. I am. We complement each other well. He still becomes uneasy and anxious about every new idea I have for another book or another project, on the basis that ‘we can’t afford it.’

I have learned, over the years, to keep many of my projects to myself until they are completed; which, in the long run, saves Paul from worrying unnecessarily about something that will very likely turn out well, and keeps me from worrying that Paul is worrying.

When I have been asked about goals or destination, it is been my feeling that every corner I turn has a new goal, a new destination awaiting us. I have never thought of any one point as being the top. Life has so many wonderful opportunities for each of us to take advantage of, that it does not seem reasonable that I should give myself the limitations that would determine just how far I should be able to go.

Because this was never a hobby, never WORK, never a job, I have had no problem with the worry or concern that accompanies a position from which one expects to retire. I would not want to give up what I have been doing [writing] since I was a child. It would be unfair to have to give up doing something that has also brought so much pleasure and good information to so many people.

It was, however, only when I realized WHAT I should be writing about and what I should be sharing with the readers – what I knew best – that things really began to happen. Of course, my husband wisely reminds me, when someone asks about writing their own cookbook, that WRITING it is the easiest part. Knowing how to SELL it is the hard part!

LAST THOUGHTS…

Starting yesterday, this first week of January began observing, among other things… National Diet Resolution Week, National Celebration of Life Week, and National New Year’s Resolutions Week! Next week’s celebrations include… National Mocktail Week, National Folic Acid Awareness Week, Universal Letter Writing Week, and National Pizza Week!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Chocolate-Covered Cherry Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade Chocolate-Covered Cherries AND two related recipes (for Truffles and Vanilla Candy Icing); as seen in her self-published cookbook,  The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, pp. 199 & 220).

#ChocolateCoveredCherryDay

#JoyOfNotCooking

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Today is also… National Drinking Straw Day, and National Fruitcake Toss Day!

Tomorrow is… National Missouri Day, National Spaghetti Day, and National Trivia Day!

Wednesday, January 5th is… National Bird Day, National Keto Day, National Screenwriters Day, and National Whipped Cream Day!

Thursday, January 6th is… National Bean Day, National Cuddle Up Day, National Shortbread Day, and National Technology Day! 

Friday, January 7th is… National Tempura Day! Friday is also Mom’s birthday! This year she would’ve celebrated the 50th anniversary of her 36th birthday!

Saturday, January 8th is… National Bubble Bath Day, National English Toffee Day, and National Joy-Germ Day!

January 9th is… National Apricot Day, National Balloon Ascension Day, National Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, and National Static Electricity Day! Plus, as the second Sunday in January (2022), it’s also… National Sunday Supper Day!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…once again, one down and 51 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Resolutions Start And Stop

Happy Monday, once again! It’s the last one of 2021. I can’t tell you enough, how I always look forward to Mondays; as they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

With the Christmas hustle and bustle in the rearview mirror, in advance of New Year’s Resolutions Week, which starts next week, now is the time that many of us are focusing on our New Year’s resolutions for 2022 – what we want to stop or start or change about ourselves. Do you have goals you want to attain, during 2022? You’re not alone. Almost everyone makes at least one New Year’s resolution each year. resolve

According to Wikipedia, making a New Year’s resolution is a more common tradition in the Western world than it is in the Eastern one. Supposedly, the tradition originated over 4,000 years ago, when the ancient Babylonians would make year-end promises to the gods, so as to earn their favor in the coming new year.

Most people make resolutions with the best of intentions. However, it’s actually extremely rare to keep a New Year’s resolution all year, let alone all winter. In fact, around 80% of resolutions fail by mid-February, according to an article from Dec. 29, 2015, by Joseph Luciana, that appeared in The U.S. News. Yet, we continue to traditionally make them, in spite of all that.

‘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)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Pearls of wisdom and other excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…

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

SUCCESS

VIEW YOUR OWN accomplishments, not in terms of how far you still have to go, but of how far you’ve already come. Once you’ve made that first little change in whatever it was that you were doing wrong, you’ve found living proof that change is possible. You don’t have to cover a mile at each stride. The tiny space between a negative act and a positive act is an incalculably large distance. Once you set your mind to believing in yourself, the results may amaze you! (p. 38)

ACHIEVEMENT v. SUCCESS

HELEN HAYES, the great actress, said her mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. Her mother advised her that ‘achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that’s nice too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for the achievement and forget about the success.’ (p. 43)

NOW’S THE TIME TO MAKE A DREAM COME TRUE.

WHAT WOULD YOU attempt if you knew you could not fail? Probably nothing that you couldn’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. (p. 52)

In order to improve my success, in achieving the goals or resolutions I want to set for 2022, I’m taking the extra time now to plan how to stay focused on my end-goal until it’s attained! Usually, that’s easier said than done! For me, creating small steps to reach a goal is always a helpful method to use.

Additionally, it’s helpful to tell others about your goals for accountability or just for support. Working on common goals with a relative, friend, or group of people has also been known to help stick to a goal or resolution, as well. Another aid is in having a reward system for completing each step. This will greatly improve your odds of staying on track, until the final goal is reached. In the end, the biggest reward is the ACCOMPLISHMENT!

‘Refuse to build for yourself… great monuments of nothing. Rather, use the tools at hand and build for yourself – and for prosperity – lasting monuments of achievement, service, and success.’ – William Arthur Ward

The most common New Year’s resolutions are usually involved with wanting to achieve some kind of physical self-improvement goal(s). Among the most common resolutions that people make are to quit smoking, eat healthier, lose weight, and/or start exercising.

Other bad habits people resolute about quitting are drinking, gambling, spending, and so on. Should you start a resolution and fail to follow it through to the end, remember these old classic adages: “if, at first, you don’t succeed; try, try again” and “never quit quitting!” They’re trite but true!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 53)

GET WHAT YOU REALLY WANT OUT OF LIFE

IT’S HARD TO SAY which is worse, the person who doesn’t know what he wants and won’t be happy until he gets it, or the one who knows what he wants and can’t get it.

ENTHUSIASM

VERY LITTLE CAN STOP the person who is on their way to where they want to go in life. They’re motivated by enthusiasm for what they want to accomplish. I’m thinking now of the blind woman who was determined to learn how to cook. Each day she worked with her ingredients, tasting each and marking the containers so that she would know how to find them.

She worked and worked with the stove and how to regulate the heat so that she would not undercook, nor overcook anything. With each new day, she set for herself one thing she would learn to do. Her exhilaration at the small successes only made her more anxious to tackle a bigger accomplishment.

Within six months, she proudly entered her from-scratch chocolate cake in the county fair, and took home the blue ribbon, awarded to her by six judges who tasted 25 other entries and did not know that she was blind.

Enthusiasm is the tool of accomplishment. A genius is not someone who was exceptionally intelligent – as if made in some other image than from which the rest came, but merely someone driven to constructive action by a great enthusiasm. The essence of enthusiasm is that we feed on challenge!

There aren’t any written “rules” about making resolutions. 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. There’s nothing to prevent you from changing the start date and/or deadline, making a new resolution, or reiterating one you’ve already made but haven’t accomplished yet. More often than not, many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned at the first sign of failure.

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.

I’ve found that the change needs to come from within me and only for my own satisfaction – not to please anyone else. Thus, the mind-over-matter approach works best for me. I must also be committed! It takes the power of positive thinking and commitment, among other things, to succeed in anything.

Believe in yourself! The important thing, for success, is to “get back on the horse.” Mom used to tell me that it’s not will power that leads to successful resolutions, it’s the WON’T power. I won’t give up! I won’t give in! 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, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Issue 183, Nov-Dec 1997; p. 10)

LAST THOUGHTS…

The traditional New Year’s Eve anthem, known as Auld Lang Syne,  originated in the 18th century; as an old Scottish poem, written over 233 years ago, in 1788, by Robert Burns. However, the poem was made even more famous, in the 20th century, by Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians’ musical version.

He and his band traditionally sang it every New Year’s Eve for almost 40 years (1939-1977). Even now, it’s still played/sung every New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight to say goodbye to the old year and to celebrate the new one.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And auld lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne.

We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.’

Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)

The most commonly sung parts (or should I say “mis-sung” parts – in our own drunk interpretations) of Auld Lang Syne are the first verse and chorus. The song, in theory, begs the question, “Should we leave ‘it’ behind us and forget about ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ may be)?” When I think about it, I can’t help but ask myself, “how can I learn from my mistakes if I forget about them?”

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 (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Issue 146, Sep-Oct 1990; p. 7)

In honor of TODAY, being National Fruitcake Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Hawaiian Hilton Fruitcake; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 14)

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of December’s month-long observances include… National Write A Business Plan Month, National Pear Month, Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

Tomorrow, December 28th is… National Chocolate Candy Day, National Card Playing Day, and Pledge of Allegiance Day!

Wednesday, December 29th is… National Pepper Pot Day!

Thursday, December 30th is… National Bicarbonate of Soda Day, Falling Needles Family Fest Day, and National Bacon Day!

Friday, December 31st is… National Champagne Day, National Make Up Your Mind Day, and New Year’s Eve! Plus, being the last work day of the year, it’s also… No Interruptions Day! Additionally, from 11:30 p.m. on December 31st to 12:30 a.m. on January 1st of each year, it’s the… Universal Hour of Peace!

Saturday begins a whole new year – 2022! To start, some of January’s month-long observances include… National Blood Donor Month, National Hobby Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Mentoring Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Slow Cooking Month, National Soup Month, and National Sunday Supper Month!

January 1st also celebrates… New Year’s Day, National Bloody Mary Day, and National Hangover Day! Plus, for 2022, it’s also… National Play Outside Day, which is always the first Saturday of EVERY MONTH!

Sunday, January 2nd is… National Buffet Day and National Cream Puff Day! Additionally, the first week of January celebrates, among other things… Diet Resolution Week, Celebration of Life Week, and New Year’s Resolutions Week! 

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…52 down and a whole new year to go, starting next week!

I’ll see you next year!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Last Minute Christmas

Happy Monday! I always look forward to Mondays. They’re my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

This Friday is Christmas Eve and Saturday is Christmas! Plus, the following weekend is the start of the new year – 2022! I don’t know where the time went but it sure flew by quickly! I feel like this is a last minute Christmas kind of year. I’m just getting our holiday cards out in the mail today. Usually, I have them written out and in the mail by Cyber Monday.

I did decorate our house – early – but I still haven’t made my annual holiday cookies and fudge, yet. I didn’t even START my Christmas shopping until a week ago. I still have a little more to get before I can wrap up that “to do” checkbox! I’ll also have to hurry this week to get my cookies and fudge made – or buy them or skip it, altogether.

Have you done all your cookie baking and treat making? Have you stuffed the stockings and wrapped the gifts and decked the halls? Or do you do it all at the last minute? According to an article by People’s staff, from this time last year, a survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Punchbowl, questioning 2,000 Americans about their gift-giving and holiday celebration habits. Some of the survey results showed that…

…51% admitted to last-minute-holiday-shopping.

…33% admitted to losing track of time (as to why they shopped late).

…50% admitted to buying gifts on Christmas Eve.

…39% admitted to buying gifts on Christmas Day.

…37% admitted to leaving a party to buy a gift because they forgot to bring one.

…60% admitted to struggling to find “the perfect gift”.

…46% admitted to being bad gift-givers.

…60% admitted to being overwhelmed by the number of gifts they need to buy.

…59% admitted that holiday shopping felt more like a chore.

…58% admitted that sending holiday cards felt like a chore, as well.

…60% admitted to only sending holiday cards to those from whom they receive holiday cards.

…68% admitted to embracing and promoting gift-card-giving.

Additionally, according to the poll and People’s staff’s article, the top three places at which to get last-minute gifts (and I agree with all of these, as well) are, first and foremost, our local grocery stores (at 41%). Second place went to drug stores (at 33%), and third place went to liquor stores (at 30%).

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer as seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Issue 147, Nov-Dec 1990; pp. 1 & 8)

THE EASIEST COP-OUT for those who put a price tag on the pleasures of the holiday & insist that the success of the celebration depends on the amount of money spent on the preparations and gifts. If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends…

Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about trivials… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.

THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations!

I also agree with (and want to share) the top 10 choices for stocking stuffers, last minute or otherwise, according to Gifts Likely To Be Put In Family’s Christmas Stocking In The U.S. In 2021, published by D. Tighe (Nov 15, 2021). I’ve stuffed many stockings, over the past 35 years, with all of these items! Tighe’s wonderful article gives more than ten choices – thus, I recommend checking it out for yourself – but I’ll share the top 10 picks, which are as follows.

      • Note pads, pens, and pencils at 35%
      • Crayons and coloring books tied with jewelry or wearable accessories at 37%
      • Arts, crafts, and creative stuff (that’s not coloring) at 38%
      • Cash at 42%
      • Toothbrushes and oral care products at 49%
      • Packaged snacks at 50%
      • Gift cards at 54%
      • Lip balm at 59%
      • Small toys at 63%
      • Candy, chocolate, and/or gum at 83%

I remember one Christmas, when my kids were young, and our household income was so tight that we couldn’t afford to buy each other any gifts. Instead, we gave of ourselves, by making each other “coupon books” for our gifts – offering our time and services for doing someone’s chores or some other special favor – which could be redeemed at some future date throughout the new year.

Another year, for one of our Pitzer family Christmas Eve gift-exchanges, we all agreed (me, my siblings, and our parents) to make each other gifts, because we were all struggling to make ends meet in our own families. I’ve always thought that the homemade gifts were the best ones!

EVEN 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!)

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, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!

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 Christmas 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 celebration of the moments worth remembering continues to have its place.’Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Winter 1994/95).

LAST THOUGHTS…

Almost 30 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about her and my dad’s plans for a Christmas present to me and my four siblings, of a cassette recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their most dearly remembered and cherished moments over the decades.

They intended to discuss the memories they had of their grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know. There was also to be other stories about our current family and past generations that we could pass on to our own future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. I know it would’ve been priceless to me, at least, and to my own children, as well as to my grandson.

If only hindsight was foresight! I wish now, that I had written down more of Mom’s stories about our family’s history; or, better yet, that I had recorded those conversations during her last few years. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. I need to put together something like that for my own children, before it’s too late!

IN CLOSING…

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

In honor of Saturday, being National Pumpkin Pie Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade From-Scratch Pumpkin Pie Filling; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 245). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

#PumpkinPieDay

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of December’s month-long observances include… National Write A Business Plan Month, National Pear Month, Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

Today is also… National Sangria Day!

Tomorrow, December 21st is… National Crossword Puzzle Day, National Humbug Day, National Maine Day, National French Fried Shrimp Day, Winter Solstice (which changes annually but is always between December 20th and 23rd, being the 21st for 2021), and Yule (which is always on the day of the Winter Solstice)!

Wednesday, December 22nd is… National Date Nut Bread Day and National Forefathers Day (which is always on the 22nd, unless it’s a Sunday, then it’s on the following Monday)!

December 23rd is… National Pfeffernusse Day, National Roots Day, Festivus, and National Re-Gifting Day (which is always the Thursday before Christmas)! In honor of the latter, here’s a “re-gift” of Mom’s quick, 3-to-4-ingredient, Christmas Fudge recipe, as she gave out in her and Dad’s 1994 Christmas cards! It’s my personal favorite!

#NationalRegifting Day

Friday, December 24th is also… National Eggnog Day! In honor of that, here is Mom’s secret recipe for “Egg Not” (also seen in her last book, mentioned above, on page 277)!

#NationalEggnogDay

Saturday, December 25th is also… the first day of the Twelve Days of Christmas (which is always December 25th through January 5th)!

Sunday, December 26th is… National Candy Cane Day, National Thank-You Note Day, and Boxing Day (in Canada)! Plus, this is the start of Kwanzaa Week (which is always the 26th–January 1st)!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…51 down and only 1 more to go for 2021!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Celebrate Mondays

Happy Monday everybody! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

For decades, my mom looked forward to every Monday, too; because that was the day of her weekly visits with Bob Allison on his radio program, “Ask Your Neighbor”, which, in its early years, was heard on Detroit’s WWJ Newsradio station.

In fact, the title of “Secret Recipe Detective”, which Mom later trademarked, was first bestowed on her in the mid-1970s by Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” listeners because she could decipher what combinations of ingredients and techniques could be used at home to imitate many favorite restaurant dishes and fast food items; as well as packaged “junk foods” and other supermarket products, for which people were searching to duplicate.

Mind you, Mom never knew the real “secret recipes” of the “specialty” restaurants and food companies (except for a select few that actually shared their recipes with her). However, Mom had a knack for coming up with her own ingredient combinations and techniques, in developing her own recipes, which imitated the famous dishes and products that people craved! In those days, nobody else was doing anything like that – but many copycats soon followed the ORIGINAL “copycat cooker”.

Mom had appeared on some famous TV shows during the first decade of her recipes business. There was even a Jeopardy question made about her. However, radio was the solid cornerstone in the foundation of building what Mom often and lovingly referred to as her family’s cottage enterprise, a dining room table operation. And when it came to promoting her work through radio shows, Bob Allison was the first radio host to offer Mom that opportunity!

#MondayMotivation

Why do people find Mondays to be the most difficult day of the week? It seems to be the most detested of all the days. People should have a more positive attitude about Mondays. Personally, I greet every Monday of each new week with energy, motivation, and freshness! Of course, it helps a lot if you love what you do on Mondays!

The most common reason people give for hating Mondays is simply because it follows their two days off of work, for enjoying freedom and fun; thus, they dread going back to their unhappy work lives. On the other hand, many other people know that weekends are not necessarily fun and freedom for everyone.

For people like me, the weekend, or any days off of work, are usually spent catching up on “chore time” responsibilities that get neglected because of my employment outside the home; such as yard work, housekeeping, laundry, cleaning the car, grocery shopping, fixing things around the house, and so on. Personally, I call those responsibilities my “domestic” or “non-paying” job.

However, according to an article by Influence Digest, Sunday is supposedly the most important day of the week. Why Sunday Is The Most Important Day Of The Week (Aug 29, 2017) claims, “It is the day that 99% of North American society wastes away but it is also the day that the 1% of society uses to prepare for the week.”

Truth be told, Mondays are marvelous! They’re more often thought of as “new beginnings” than Sundays! It’s a common day for setting goals, starting a new activity like exercising or dieting, or ending a bad habit like smoking. Many new businesses have their grand openings on Mondays. Here are some positive thoughts to keep in mind about Mondays.

Do things on Mondays that make you feel happy – listen to music, dance like no one’s watching, see a funny movie, watch the sun rise (and set), read a new book, or watch cute puppy videos on YouTube; which, by the way, was born on a Monday – February 14th, 2005!

Start your week off on the right foot and be positive! However, if you’re a “lefty”, start your week off on the left foot and be upbeat! At work, instead of bringing donuts in on Fridays to celebrate the coming weekend and TGIF, make Mondays “donut day” or some other kind of special treat day to celebrate being back together – TGIM!

Another reason Mom loved Mondays (at least, September through mid-June, when my siblings and I were young) was because we went back to school and got out of her hair so she could concentrate more on her writing.

EVEN 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. 55)

RADIO AND BOB ALLISON’s ‘ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS!

RADIO TURNED OUT TO BE the most appropriate way by which we made people aware of what we were doing. Again, my involvement with the wonderful world of radio actually came about without any specific intention of becoming a regular part of the broadcasting field.

For one thing, I didn’t know I had what is considered a ‘radio voice’. I had never heard my own voice, at least, recorded. Heaven knows, our five kids will, to this day, even in their adulthood, testify to the fact that, on occasion, during their upbringing, I have been known to discover conditions that would prompt me to accelerate vocally in a pitch that only dogs in the next county could hear!

My introduction to radio began with Bob Allison and [his] nearly 30-year-running [at that time] ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show. I was folding diapers at the kitchen table, waiting for my favorite, daily segment of ‘My True Story’ to come on the air, when, instead, WWJ announced that it had been replaced with a NEW show.

This new show turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. To this day [December 1989], almost every Monday morning I visit with Bob Allison and his neighbors, now [in 1989] heard weekdays at 10 AM (EST) over WEXL-radio (Royal Oak/Detroit, Michigan), 1340 on your AM dial.

When ‘My True Story’ was replaced by Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show, weekday mornings, I was, at first, very disappointed. [Recipes,] household hints and problems around the house that you cannot solve yourself, seem like just too much homemaking information to please me.

I soon, however, became ‘hooked’ on the show; as almost everybody does, to the point that, on Fridays, when Bob would sign off and say he would talk to us again on Monday, I was spending the weekends, just looking forward to the show on Monday.

I called the show about two or three times a month for the first year or two to ask questions of Bob’s ‘neighbors’ that my newspaper column readers were asking me. When I could not find the answers from consulting other sources, I knew I could rely on Bob Allison’s ‘neighbors’ to come up with the right answers for me. In return, I would often than phone and an answer that I occasionally had in reply to one of their questions or recipe requests.

Bob did not recognize my voice as a regular collar until I had initiated the newsletter, however. He asked me where the recipe came from that I was giving in reply to one of his listeners requests, which is how his program has always worked. Nobody simply calls in a recipe because they like it. They must, first, be replying to a request made by another caller and, secondly, must have personally tried the recipe.

On rare occasions, Bob will accept a recipe that is NOT tried by the caller, providing it comes from a truly reliable source or has been asked for and not answered for a long time. They also cover services that people are looking for or products that they cannot locate. This is what has always made Bob Allison’s format so unique, when compared to others like it on the air.

In mentioning that the hamburger sauce recipe would appear in the next issue of my monthly newsletter, which I had given in response to one of his listeners previous requests, Bob reacted with great interest and curiosity. ‘You have a newsletter, do you?’ He asked. ‘Well, tell us about it and how much it is and where our neighbors can get it.’

That was all it took to get us well-acquainted with Bob’s ‘neighbors’ and, in no time at all, our subscription orders went from a few too many. Sight-unseen was hardly appropriate to ask people to buy a publication that they could not first examine.

So I spent all of one day and most of the next, thinking about and trying out a single page description with a few sample recipes from the publication that I could send out to interested in perspective subscribers. To this day, we still use the same procedure, and it has worked very well. We offer, for a self-addressed stamped envelope, 15 sample recipes and, on the other side of the page, all the [ordering] information on our books and newsletter.

LAST THOUGHTS…

According to NationalDaysToday.com, “When people have a more positive attitude towards Monday, they will be able to transform the rest of their lives by embracing change.” So don’t procrastinate or drag your feet. Jump up! Be thankful! It’s a new week! It’s a new chance to make a difference! Give Mondays your all!

But, if you’re still not pumped up yet about Mondays, then just remember this – it’s only four more days until Friday!

IN CLOSING…

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

In honor of TODAY, being National Cocoa Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade Hot Cocoa Mix; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 266). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of December’s month-long observances include… National Write A Business Plan Month, National Pear Month, Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

Today is also… National Violin Day and the U.S. National Guard Birthday!

Tomorrow is… National Bouillabaisse Day and National Alabama Day! Plus, this day is also the start of… Christmas Bird Count Week[s] (which is a 3-week celebration that always starts on the 14th and runs through January 5th) and Halcyon Days (which is a 2-week celebration that always starts 7 days before the Winter Solstice and runs until 7 days after; being the 14th-28th, for 2021)!

Wednesday, December 15th is… National Cupcake Day, National Bill of Rights Day, and National Wear Your Pearls Day!

Thursday, December 16th is… National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day (see my re-share of Mom’s Reese’s imitation below)! Plus, this day is also the start of… Las Posadas, which is a 9-day celebration that always runs December 16th through the 24th!

#ChocolateCoveredAnythingDay

December 17th is… National Maple Syrup Day. Plus, as the third Friday in December, it’s also… National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day and National Underdog Day! Plus, this day is also the start of… National Saturnalia Week (which is always the 17th-23rd)!

Saturday, December 18th is… National Twin Day, National Roast Suckling Pig Day, and National Wreaths Across America Day – which changes annually – December 18th for 2021)! This day is also the start of… Gluten-free Baking Week (which is always the 18th-24th)!

Sunday, December 19th is… National Hard Candy Day and National Oatmeal Muffin Day!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…50 down and only 2 more to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Experience Is Preparation

Happy Monday and happy December, too! I LOVE Mondays! I always look forward to each and every one of them, as they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#WriteABusinessPlanMonth

Among the many things celebrated during the month of December, this is also National Write A Business Plan Month! If Mom had received a dollar for every time she was asked how she started her business or how someone else could do what she does, she probably would’ve been among the most wealthy business women in the country.

As Mom used to say, there was no blue-print for how to successfully do what she was doing. She got to where she was through many little steps that took her in a direction she didn’t really plan but, which she felt, was the Lord’s plan for her. Mom’s faith was unyielding!

Mom was always mystified on how to come up with an easy answer for people, asking her advice on how to write and publish a cookbook or how to start their own newsletter. She always wanted to create some kind of easy, step-by-step plan. However, there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all answer that she could come up other than these three basic steps:

(1) write about what you know best

(2) know who your target audience is

(3) follow through or sell it to them

Mom always believed that only the trials and tribulations of one’s own real experiences were the best guides by which to set, plan, and accomplish their goals.

Thirty-two years ago, instead of composing a “How To…” guide for writing and self-publishing, Mom wrote “our family story” in her self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989); in hopes that it might help inspire someone else. Here’s a medley of excerpts from that book, which Mom wrote on the subject of creating your own newsletter or book.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

The following is a medley of excerpts from Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her self-published book…

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

THE EXPERIENCES

THE EXPERIENCES WE’VE ENCOUNTERED in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio broadcasting 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, our five children…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)

AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK…I am asked how I got into this business, how it all started and how somebody else can write their own book [or newsletter] and get it published. If there were a formula for our kind of success…I would be happy to share the information… (p. 14)

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…[those were some to whom I shared ‘thank you’ notes in some of my past blog posts.]

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 as well as food for the table. It continues to arouse interest and delight in, both, our readers and radio listeners all over the country, as well as the world! (p. 15)

‘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 & 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 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. (p. 20)

EXPERIENCES & RADIO

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)

COPYCAT

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. (p. 25)

HOW TO…

WITH…WRITING AND MARKETING, it’s all based on individuality, on experience being the best teacher and on having a responsive audience…it also begins with a sale. You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that – you either know or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light!

You have to let your light shine – and part of the preparation of communicating with your readers is to know how to talk to them, what they need from your [books or] newsletters that will enrich them or make their lives better. (pp. 43-44)

BLUEPRINT

BELIEVE ME, IT’S NOT EASY, putting out your own [book or] newsletter; and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint… to follow that will promise instant success. My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 48)

THE CARTOONS & JOHN McPARTLIN

THE CARTOONS… HAD BEEN the very beginning of my work in newspapers, as I provided ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’ and, later [in between which I was writing at the ‘Algonac Courier’], the ‘Richmond Review’ with a cartoon panel I called ‘Full House, As Kept By Gloria Pitzer’. The cartoons were published every week for four or five years.

At the same time, I was also giving another paper a panel entitled ‘Could Be Verse’, which was three or four lines of rhyme or bumper-sticker-type logic. One, for instance, read: ‘All marriages are happy… Love songs and laughter – What causes all the trouble is the living together AFTER!’

They were silly verses but fun to do at the time. From that, came [my] column entitled ‘No Laughing Matter’, which ran weekly for about six years; and, during some of that time, it was syndicated by Columbia Features out of New York. (p. 52)

I often receive email solicitations, wanting me to pay “them” hundreds of dollars to market Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018). Generally, the emails point out that writing and publishing are only two minor steps in the whole “book-making-process”.

An author’s biggest challenge is probably the marketing step because it involves so much more personal time and effort since you’re not just selling your product, you’re also selling yourself – your talents and expertise.

I believe that! Throughout Mom’s career as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, she put in 12-hour work days all the time – doing restaurant reviews, product testing, developing imitations and many re-tests, writing, self-publishing, and self-promoting were all a part of her everyday life for almost 40 years.

I suppose the hours involved in just promoting something could justify (for me) how much it costs to pay the professionals to do it for me. It’s also saving me from the anxiety of the marketing challenges since I’m not a sales person and never really wanted to be one. However, for me, if I really love a product, use it myself, and believe in its value, that makes selling it to others a bit easier!

LAST THOUGHTS…

But I need to find a plan of action that works for me. And how do I know what’s the value (or cost) of my time? My experiences are a drop in the bucket compared to Mom’s. I’m sure it’s value is far less than that of the marketing professionals – but then “you get what you pay for”, as the old saying goes!

Granted – paying them would save me from all that stuff! But, when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on that kind of stuff, in the first place; sometimes, you just have to learn how to do it yourself. Nowadays, you can find YouTube videos on how to do just about anything! Mom didn’t have YouTube to help her. She succeeded on her accumulated experiences in the newspaper business and her own basic instincts.

IN CLOSING…

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Since this is National Pear Month, here is Mom’s secret recipe for Apple (or Pear) Crisp; from her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 240). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

#NationalPearMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of December’s month-long observances include… Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

Today is… National Microwave Oven Day, National Gazpacho Day, and St. Nicholas Day! Today it also the last day of Chanukah 2021.

Tuesday, December 7th is… National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, National Illinois Day, and National Cotton Candy Day!

Wednesday, December 8th is… National Brownie Day! In honor, here’s a re-share of Mom’s secret recipe for imitating Hostess Style Brownies & Fudge Frosting (from her “Original 200” recipes collection.)

#NationalBrownieDay

Thursday, December 9th is… National Pastry Day and Christmas Card Day!

December 10th is… Dewey Decimal System Day, National Lager Day, National Human Rights Day, Nobel Prize Day, and National Salesperson Day – which is always the second Friday in December!

Saturday, December 11th is… National App Day and National Noodle Ring Day!

Sunday, December 12th is… National Ambrosia Day, National Gingerbread House Day, and National Poinsettia Day!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…49 down and only 3 more to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Cyber Shopping

Happy Cyber Monday! Personally, I always look forward to every Monday because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#CyberMonday

Today is, among other things, Cyber Monday, which is always the Monday after Thanksgiving. “Cyber Monday” was officially named so by the NRF (National Retail Federation) in 2005, when consumers had noticeably increased shopping online; particularly at work, after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ironically, the virtual shopping tradition was initially conceived by retailers to encourage people to shop online for what they wanted when they couldn’t find it at their local brick-and-mortar stores or couldn’t even get to the actual stores at all, due to other responsibilities, such as work.

Since early in the new millennium, the increase in online shopping has been causing a falling Dominos effect on many stores and malls across America. Consequently, store and mall owners have been forced to close their brick-and-mortar doors permanently – and at alarming rates.

The large department store chains that “anchored” the malls, like Sears, JC Penny’s, and Macy’s, started depleting first. With the advancements made in the world-wide web, the way of shopping and peoples’ needs and wants had, once again, evolved – a new generation of “convenience” cyber shopping was embraced, especially among teens and young adults.

According to DepartmentStoreHistory.net, “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.” It’s no wonder they were commonly used for mall anchors nationwide.

Austrian architect, Victor Gruen, designed the first fully enclosed, American mall. The Southdale Center, in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota, opened in 1956. Most of the smaller storefronts faced inward, while large “anchor” stores (i.e. JC Penny’s, Macy’s, Sears and others) were placed at each end, attracting shoppers and creating foot traffic to the smaller stores in between.

Inside the mall, Gruen created a European-style central court area with an aviary, sculptures, and an open-air-style café. The mall was an island, surrounded by a sea of parking places designed to accommodate the masses. It was also designed to provide local employment and economic growth to the area.

By 1960, there were 4,500 malls nationwide. They were built to house dozens (even hundreds) of retail stores and restaurants in one conglomeration. They were envisioned for the middle-class consumers’ socializing and shopping conveniences. Even in ancient Greece, societies tended to congregate in central marketplaces.

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. 43)

MARKETING INSPIRATION

To make the mimeograph pay for itself, I even printed up my own business cards on it, using dime-store construction paper and then cutting the cards apart with scissors until I had neat little stacks of about 50 and a total of 200 or 300 cards. These I distributed at the mall whenever and wherever we might be in one. Paul did not know I was doing this, at first, either, or he would’ve disapproved.

It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too.

I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.

From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [areas] in the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores. From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response.

By the 1980s, American malls were thriving, out-shining “Main Street”, and taking over pop culture. But, like other rising sensations, this one wasn’t going to last either. Between the rise of online shopping and the setback of the recession in 2008, there was a significant drop in sales and foot traffic at big-brand retailers and malls, alike.

Around 2010, consumers began turning in larger numbers to Amazon and other online retailers. The steep, nationwide drop in sales for brick-and-mortar stores has been accelerating in recent years, but the pandemic put their decline into overdrive.

The entire district has been devastated as consumers have lost the habit of shopping and browsing in person, while the Covid-19 pandemic and related shut-downs have just about hammered the last nails in the shopping mall’s coffin. Except that people are itching to get out again, making it appear that malls are being resurrected. But stores are still struggling, and malls are not as full as they used to be.

According to The Week’s staff article, The ‘Retail Apocalypse’ (Aug. 7, 2021), “Roughly 40 percent of the nation’s department stores have closed since 2016, including every Lord & Taylor store and nearly all Sears and Kmart stores. Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney have filed for bankruptcy; Macy’s has shuttered dozens of stores and will close 125 more by 2023.”

Because of the internet, the way people socialize has also evolved, just like their shopping customs. For many decades, malls were more than just shopping and dining hubs. They were the new public squares and market places for social gatherings of average, middle-class Americans.

I think malls are memory-makers! I remember when Lakeside Mall opened in 1976 in Sterling Heights (MI). Mom took me and my sisters there on the weekends to shop and eat, as well as help her advertise her newsletter and cookbooks – a story I’ve mentioned in some of my other blog posts.

It was so exciting to ride up and down in the glass elevator that overlooked the beautiful, 3-sided, waterfall fountain. I loved getting to toss a coin into the fountain and making a wish. I remember getting my ears pierced, there, for my 12th birthday, too!

I also remember taking my own children to the “new” Birchwood Mall, in Fort Gratiot Twp. (MI) in the 1990s, for entertainment. We had play-dates and lunched near the carousel. Sometimes we went to the movies or did some shopping. We usually got our annual family pictures taken at one of its anchor stores, like Sears or JC Penny’s, to include in our Christmas cards for family members and close friends.

MORE 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. 43)

YOU’VE MADE A FRIEND

A SMILE IS the universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!

People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.

A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!

LAST THOUGHTS…

These days, everything – even socializing – is being done online more than in person, just like shopping. Unfortunately, for the brick-and-mortar retailers, the ease and expediency of online shopping caught on quicker than anyone anticipated, increasing its popularity considerably over that of hands-on, in-person shopping.

Josh Sanburn wrote in his article, Why the Death of Malls Is About More Than Shopping (July 20, 2017), “Malls were designed for leisure, abundance, ambling. You parked and planned to spend some time. Today, much of that time has been given over to busier lives and second jobs and apps that let you swipe right instead of haunt the food court.”

‘Malls were built for patterns of social interaction that increasingly don’t exist.’ – Leonard Schlesinger, Business Professor at Harvard University

Since department store and mall eateries are just another niche in the vast food industry from which Mom found inspiration in imitating “famous foods from famous places” and since this is still Spinach and Squash Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for imitating Hudson’s Spinach Pie; as seen in her cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret RecipesTM Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 17).

#SpinachAndSquashMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some November month-long observances still going on include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Historic Bridge Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Family Stories Month, National Life Writing Month, National Gratitude Month, Inspirational Role Models Month, and National Novel Writing MonthNational Native American Heritage Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Yesterday was the start of Chanukah – which lasts for eight days and changes annually (November 28th for  2021)!

Today is also… Electronic Greetings Day!

Tomorrow is… National Personal Space Day, National Mason Jar Day, National Mousse Day, National Mississippi Day, and National Day of Giving (which is always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving)!

Wednesday begins the month of December! Some December month-long observances include… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

Additionally, the first week of December celebrates National Cookie Cutter Week!

December 1st is also… National Eat a Red Apple Day, Day With(out) Art Day, Rosa Parks Day, and National Package Protection Day (which is always the Wednesday after Thanksgiving)! Plus, it’s the first day of Operation Santa Paws (which always runs the 1st through the 24th)! In honor of Wednesday, also being National Pie Day, here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation of Aunt Jenny’s Pumpkin Pie, from her “Original 200” recipes collection.

#NationalPieDay

Thursday is… National Fritters Day, National Mutt Day, and Special Education Day!

December 3rd is… National Roof Over Your Head Day! Plus, as the first Friday in December, it’s also… Faux Fur Friday and National Bartender Day!

December 4th is… National Dice Day, National Sock Day, and National Rhubarb Vodka Day (which is always the first Saturday in December)! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month, it’s also… National Play Outside Day! Plus, in honor of Saturday, also being National Cookie Day, here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation of Wally Amos’ famous cookies; which appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheets that she used to give out in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

#NationalCookieDay

Sunday is… National Sacher Torte Day! Plus, as the beginning of the first week of the month, it’s also the start of… National Cookie Cutter Week!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…48 down and 4 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – An Ounce Of Gratitude

Happy Monday and happy “Thanksgiving Week” to everyone! As I mentioned last week, I’m always grateful for Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalGratitudeMonth

‘Gratitude turns what we have into enough.’ – Aesop

Just as “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – an ounce of gratitude is worth a pound of good cheer! Like the ripples from a pebble tossed into the water, a simple “thanks” and a smile can go a long way. It’s well-known that gratitude is associated with positive emotions and good experiences, which are both linked to happiness; and that, in turn, is connected to good health and well-being.

In other words, gratitude improves our physical and psychological health, as well as our self-esteem. Did you know that it can also enhance empathy and reduce aggression? Gratitude helps us deal with adversity and build strong relationships. In connection with all of this feel-good stuff, it can likewise help us sleep better.

Mom loved to write about finding the blessings in everything – any given day or moment; good or bad! That’s just how she was raised, being grateful for something everyday – not just for Life’s gifts, but also for Life’s challenges. Mom willingly confronted and overcame those challenges, empowering herself to do more rather than discouraging herself to fail.

Unfortunately, just when we start feeling comfortable and happy about how life is going, we find that happiness doesn’t happen without intermissions. These are the times in which we should take stock of our lives and be grateful for the good, as well as the lessons. From time to time, we forget that nothing in life is guaranteed to any of us.

Mom was always grateful for her readers, listeners, and fans who kept her inspired with their requests to find the “secrets” to making this dish or that grocery product at home. She was also very thankful to all the media sources that interviewed, wrote, and talked about her imitations of famous foods (from radio and TV talk shows to newspapers and magazines).

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 57). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

I’M VERY GRATEFUL TO CHILI!

ONE OF THE NICEST THINGS about making chili is that it goes so far! After I had walked out of the newspaper editor’s office, telling him to ‘mail me my check,’ I didn’t know if he had fired me or if I had quit! But to go home and start my own paper was an impulsive reaction, if not foolish.

It was a nice job for a housewife with 5 kids. The money wasn’t ‘good’, but it did buy the kids a few things we couldn’t otherwise afford. Paul was working as a draftsman for a sign company in Mt. Clemens and that weekly paycheck was spent on house payments, utilities and insurance even before it was cashed. The money I earned from writing helped and I gave it up because of pride and integrity.

The first thing I did with my writing, at that time, was to take all the recipes I had published in my newspaper column and all of the articles on recipes that I had sold to ‘Lady’s Circle’ and ‘Home Life Magazine’, and secured permission to re-print my own material in a small cookbook. With Free Press columnist, Bob Talbert, to ‘plug’ the little book, I sold all 1,000 copies in a month!

Rather than re-print it at the ‘Quickie-While-You-Wait’ printer shop, I decided I would put those recipes into a monthly publication – not exactly my own newspaper, but certainly worth the opportunity to try it and see if it would pay. We lived on a lot of chili in those days…  

It fed our family of seven nicely – night after night – when there was no money for much else but hamburger and beans! And because I only owned 4 cooking pots – small, medium, large, and the no-life-guard-on-duty size, making chili and any of its spin-offs was substantial fare for us for the time being.

It was a good thing that I kept a complete list of names and addresses of those who wrote to me at the newspaper, requesting recipes, and all of those who purchased my first little cookbook, ‘The Better Cooker’s Cookbook’, for I invited each one by post card to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

The response was sufficiently enthusiastic to cause me to take on the commitment – but, without Paul knowing anything about it, for he surely would have put his foot down and said, ‘NO!’ Until the newsletter could pay for itself, Paul thought what I was earning was coming from the ironing I did each week for other people at $5 a basket.

Since Paul worked late many nights and bowled two nights a week, he couldn’t keep an accurate account of how much ironing I really did. What I scraped together from the ironing money, I used as a down payment on a hand-cranked mimeograph machine so that I could print my own newsletter.

For nine months, I kept this from Paul; and, with our daughter Debbie’s help, put out the publication, paid off the mimeograph and saw my subscriptions reach 100 readers. That is when I was invited to appear on Dennis Wholley’s television program, ‘AM Detroit’, on WXYZ-TV. I had to tell Paul! He took it rather calmly, I thought; but now, in retrospect, I believe he was suffering from a mild case of shock from it all.

Being grateful for anything and everything is as much a part of the preparation for Thursday’s big celebration as the turkey and all the trimmings that will grace our tables as we gather together, with family and friends, to feast and be joyful. Are you ready for these coming days?

Have you paused to consider GIVING thanks – not only in prayer before your Thursday meal but also directly to everyone you come in contact with throughout the week? Thank your cashier at the busy grocery store this week and the stocking clerk who found an item for which you were looking.

Thank the person who delivers your mail, as well as those who collect your weekly trash. Thank the officers and fire fighters that protect your neighborhood. The list can be endless, but it takes only two seconds to say, “thank you”.

Life is short and fragile. All it takes is one unexpected moment or small event to change everything! What do you take for granted? Focus on the simple things that surround you and be grateful for all you have. Send an appreciative ripple to someone or simply enjoy the one someone else gave to you!

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. 11-12)

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!

LAST THOUGHTS…

This is the season of hustle and bustle, now! Keep in mind that the stresses it includes can bring out the worst in some people. But always remember that this season of giving also brings out the best in MOST people! An ounce of gratitude is figuratively worth a pound of gold.

And, as Thanksgiving approaches, I can only hope that everyone remembers those people or things for which they are grateful and, whenever possible, tells them! Start by saying “thank you” whenever possible. Everyone appreciates being appreciated!

Additionally, as you gather around the turkey-laden-table with family and/or friends, try not to let the commercialism of the other up-coming holidays interfere with your heart-felt thoughts of gratitude. As for myself, I’m eternally grateful for everything Mom gave me and taught me.

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

IN CLOSING…

Since this is still National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, here are TWO of Mom’s secret recipes for peanut butter treats – Peanut Butter Fudge from Mom’s cookbook, The Second Helping Of Secret Recipes (Nat’l Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1978, p. 12) and Peanut Butter Cookies Like You’ve Never Had Before! The latter recipe can be seen in Mom’s last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 225). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

#PeanutButterLoversMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some November month-long observances include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, National Family Stories Month, National Life Writing Month, National Gratitude Month, Inspirational Role Models Month, and National Novel Writing Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness MonthHistoric Bridge Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Spinach and Squash Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Additionally, this week is… National Bible Week, National Game & Puzzle Week, and Better Conversation Week (which are always celebrated the week of Thanksgiving)!

Furthermore, today is also… National Cranberry Relish Day; thus, here’s a re-share of Mom’s copycat recipe for Frankenmuth-Style Cranberry Relish!

#NationalCranberryRelishDay

Tomorrow is… National Cashew Day, National Eat a Cranberry Day, and National Espresso Day!

Wednesday is… National Sardines Day! Plus, Tie One On Day and National Jukebox Day (which is always the day before Thanksgiving)!

November 25th is… National Play Day with Dad, National Parfait Day, Shopping Reminder Day, and Thanksgiving Day – which is always the fourth Thursday in November!

Friday is… National Cake Day! Plus, as the day after Thanksgiving, it’s also… National Day of Listening, National Native American Heritage Day (plus, it’s National Native American Heritage Month), National Black Friday, National Buy Nothing Day, and National Maize Day!

November 27th is… National Bavarian Cream Pie Day, National Craft Jerky Day, and National Small Business Saturday – which is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving!

November 28th is… National French Toast Day!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…47 down and 5 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Homemade, With Love

Happy Monday! Personally, I’m grateful for Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away! This is considered to be a “special” time of year, for giving thanks for all we have. Many people do that EVERY day but there’s even more of an emphasis put on it now, through New Year’s Eve, which is now less than seven weeks away!

I’m grateful for all of our “homemade holidays”, while I was growing up. Money was usually tight for our family of seven (nine, if you count the dog and cat!) Therefore, a lot of what we enjoyed during the holidays – be it costumes, toys, cards, food, gifts, decorations, clothes, etc. – was usually homemade, by Mom, with a lot of love.

That meant so much to me, so I often tried to make my own children’s holidays “homemade, with love”, too. Like Mom, it was partly necessary, to ease the household budget; but I also wanted to create special memories for their future, as Mom did for our family.

These days, through the internet, you can find instructions and videos for making just about anything and everything simply by typing a few key words into a search box. The knowledge of the world is, literally, at our finger tips! You don’t even have to be a super crafty person – some things are really so simple!

You really don’t need to be crafty to create anything homemade – from food to gifts to decorations and so much more. Barely more than a few decades ago, home computers were not a common thing – we didn’t have the endless ideas and concepts that are inundating the internet, like we have now.

My favorite inexpensive, homemade gifts and decorating ideas often use something as simple as canning jars! Any size or style you choose, these jars are so versatile – and reusable too!  They can be filled with dry mix ingredients and a recipe card for making/baking the product.

They can also be filled with natural elements (like pine sprigs, cinnamon, etc.) for decorative potpourri to simmer in a pot of water on the stove. Likewise, they can be filled with homemade candles, soaps, or salves – there are so many “how to” sites on the web, from which to gather many inspirations and instructions.

Pinterest is one of my favorite search engines for homemade ideas that I can’t find in my Mom’s books, first. My own personal page at Pinterest, which I started many years ago, has a large eclectic collection of boards, as my interests are quite diverse.

The official Pinterest page of The Recipe DetectiveTM is another tribute I made for Mom, regarding her interests and talents. Keep in mind that I haven’t added much lately. I’m still building up boards for Mom’s page – so it’s a continuous work in progress, as is this website, too.

Everything Mom made was done so with love. I remember, when I was very young, Mom made my sisters and I a lot of “furniture” for our Barbie dolls’ “homes”, as well as their clothes and linens. She often made our own clothes and blankets, as well. Her attention to details in everything she created showed how much thought and love she put into her homemade endowments.

As I wrote in a blog post last month, Mom even used a crafty, homemade format in the designs of her newsletters and cookbooks. Much of her crafting talents were influenced, in part, by her favorite crafter, Carol Duvall; who had her own “Craft Letter” (as she called it), in the 1970s, to which Mom subscribed. Carol, likewise, subscribed to Mom’s newsletter and, when she retired her own “Craft Letter”, she recommended Mom’s newsletter to her subscribers.

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!)

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, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!

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 Christmas 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 divine principle of good cooking is not a secret! It is taking pleasure in the activity; in the information previously retained and called upon through the facilities of memory. The spirit of good cooking is individualistic. It is not shrouded in mystery – but in love, for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it!’ – Gloria Pitzer, ‘Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter’ (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep-Oct 1987, 128th Issue, p. 1).

Even when it wasn’t the holidays, our family-meal-times were especially fun when we were taste-testing some of Mom’s famous, homemade. make-alike dishes; such as KFC-style chicken, Arthur Treacher’s-style fish and chips, Win Schuler’s-style meatballs, Woolworth’s-style macaroni and cheese – you name it!

The “duds”, as we fondly referred to those samplings that weren’t quite right enough to make it into Mom’s newsletters or cookbooks, were still made with just as much love as the final products that did…and they all tasted wonderfully delicious!

From Mom making our family budget stretch by developing homemade imitations of what could be purchased to sharing those ideas with others came the “legend” that the public came to know as The Recipe DetectiveTM! Mom loved to imitate famous foods from famous places so we could all enjoy eating out – right at home – and at less of a cost!

Homemade fast foods and junk foods – who would’ve thought it would become so popular when all the critics warned against consuming such things, for all kinds of health reasons from heart disease to diabetes. But Mom found that making homemade imitations puts the cook in charge of the ingredients, thereby, taking the junk out of junk food!

LAST THOUGHTS…

I really LOVE the old-fashioned (and priceless) homemade holidays of my childhood. When my own children were growing up and money was tight for our family, we always had homemade holidays, as well. I still have (and treasure) all the artwork and ceramic/clay creations that my kids made for me every holiday, when they were young.

Likewise, I remember Mom’s homemade gifts, from my own childhood, more often than any of the store-bought ones. My all-time favorite was a “rag” doll she made for me from scraps of material, yarn, ribbons and buttons. Oh, how I wish I still had it! Now, in hind-sight, I realize just how much love Mom poured into all of our homemade holidays.

Of course, nowadays, with the internet (and enough money), we can order just about anything we want, from just about anywhere in the world, and have it all delivered to our doorsteps. But sometimes, to me, making and receiving something homemade, with love, is priceless!

IN CLOSING…

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

#NationalFastFoodDay

Since tomorrow is National Fast Food Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Wednesday’s Hot & Juicy Hamburgers; as seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 17). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some November month-long observances include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Historic Bridge Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers MonthNational Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Spinach and Squash Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Additionally, starting yesterday, this week is also celebrating… National Book Award Week (which is the 14th-20th for 2021)!

#BookAwardWeek

Furthermore, today is also… National Bundt (Pan) Day, National Philanthropy Day, National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day, National Raisin Bran Cereal Day, and America Recycles Day!

Tomorrow is also… National Button Day, and National Indiana Day!

Wednesday is… National Baklava Day, National Take A Hike Day, and National Homemade Bread Day! Plus, it’s also the start of National Deal Week (which is the 17th-23rd for 2021)!

November 18th is… National Vichyssoise Day and the Great American Smoke-Out Day (which is always the third Thursday in November)!

Friday is… National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day! Plus, it’s also the start of National Farm-City Week (which is the 19th-25th for 2021)!

Saturday, November 20th is… National Peanut Butter Fudge Day and National Child’s Day!

Sunday, November 21st is… National Gingerbread Cookie Day and National Stuffing Day! Plus, as the beginning of the week of Thanksgiving, it’s also the start of National Bible Week, National Game & Puzzle Week, and Better Conversation Week!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…46 down and 6 to go!