Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Time to Make the Cookies

Happy holidays everyone! They are really creeping up fast! Thanksgiving is only 10 days away!!! Before we know it, it’ll be the Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve – and then a whole new year will be upon us! This was always the time for Mom to start baking like a “mad woman”, stock-piling and freezing dozens upon dozens of cookies, fudge and candy confections for gifts and entertaining.

There are so many different types of cookies – “more than Carter has…pills!” Sometimes they’re called “biscuits” or “bars” or “squares”. Some are “baked” in an oven – and even that fluctuates between hard, soft or chewy – while others are “set” in the refrigerator or freezer. Cookies use an array of ingredients including, but not limited to: butter, eggs, oil, peanut butter; plus, various sugars, flours, oats, spices and cocoas/chocolates. Many optional additions include coconut, peanuts, various nuts, candies, baking chips, raisins and many types of dried fruits. Some cookies are frosted or coated in some type of sugar. Mom even developed a cookie recipe a long time ago (as seen at the end of this blog), mixing dry cake and pudding mixes together with mayonnaise!!!

One of my earliest memories, from when I first started going to school, was of being afraid that no one would like me and that I wouldn’t have any friends. Mom gave me a lunch sack full of cookies and told me “the quickest way to their hearts is through their stomachs” and, if I shared the cookies with the other kids, I would surely make friends. It worked! In later years, it worked just as well to help my own kids “break the ice” and make new friends!

There’s no doubt that cookies make people feel good. They are often used as a reward for children, as well as adults, doing good deeds and using good manners, among many other things. Cookies can put a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day like nothing else can. There was a time, when my youngest child was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was withdrawn and anti-social, rarely smiled or showed any kind of emotion – but, mom could always pull her out of her shell, somewhat, with cookies! They were one of the few things that made her genuinely smile.

The following is Mom’s 1983 composition on the subject of “Cookies and Candies”, written for that particular chapter in her book, “The Better Cookery Cookbook”, plus her 1983 make-alike version of the Famous Amos cookies, which appear on pages 214-215 in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

   COOKIES AND CANDIES really bring out the little child within us all. There is something almost rewarding about simple confections that the food industry has also been able to capitalize on the products of this division with great marketing success. The 1st bakery marketing efforts in the American frontier days included delicacies of French origin, Danish breads and cakes, Austrian strudel and pies of truly colonial persuasion. The candies, which were originally for special religious observances, have been taken into the fold of a prospering industry and have continued, despite repercussions of the critics, skepticism of sugar and artificial sweeteners, to please the public… 

…When I compiled my favorite cookie and candy recipes for this section, I was really torn between what to keep and what to leave out. I wanted to share with you every single wonderful memory of a pleasing product, you could hopefully imitate in your own kitchen, as a compliment to the original… 

…In cookie-baking, the spirit of “reward” is still there, as it was when we were youngsters, and remains a tradition – we will always find a place and a reason for having a cookie jar in the kitchen… 

…Years ago, when our 5 children were still in the sandbox set, holding tricycle symposiums in my flowerbeds and declaring our yard a national park for every child in the township, I had this ridiculous maternal notion that a cookie could cure countless conditions. So, I was wrong! Cookies did not remedy a Barbie doll with a missing string in her back or a G.I. Joe without a backpack in the “complete accessory kit”, as promised in the catalog. But, special cookies from a warm and sunny, semi-cluttered kitchen, did take the “bite” out of a scraped knee and the “owie” out of a bump on the head – and even though it wouldn’t bring the pet turtle back to life, a cookie and a kiss from Mom made the world seem a little bit brighter. I doubt that things have changed very much with mothers and their children since my own grew up… Even now…they all check the cookie jar with the same delight as they expressed when they were youngsters.

FAMOUS NAMELESS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

   My original version had a dozen ingredients. Look at how I shortened it! Still, the results are identical! An interesting note on the popularity of these cookies… A few years ago, [around 1980], I received a letter from Dr. Joyce Brothers, in which this was the only recipe she requested. I sent her the longer, from-scratch version. I hope she has a chance to try this version. One thing I noted about the original cookie is that it has a “sugary” consistency to it. It’s almost like a confection. When Amos, himself, was interviewed in Family Circle magazine a few years ago, he offered them the recipe for making his kind of cookie at home. I tried that recipe 3 times and it was NOT one bit like his famous cookies. To be like his product, the cookie must be firm, a little crisp, but not dry, and have a definite brown-sugar-flavor and crunchy-texture to it. You can add chopped raisins to the finished batter and you can double the chocolate chips – but do be sure, if you are imitating the original product, that you include some pecan halves, as well as chopped pecans, for these really “make” the cookie!

18-ounce box yellow cake mix

2 boxes (3 ¾ ounces each) butterscotch pudding powder (NOT instant)

1 ¼ cups mayonnaise

12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

4-ounce package each: walnut chips and pecan halves

   Mix the dry pudding powder with the dry cake mix in a roomy bowl. Combine thoroughly, using a slotted spoon or large meat fork. Then, mix in the mayonnaise; but, don’t use an electric mixer! When well-blended, add the chips and nuts. Drop by rounded spoonful, 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes at 350°F. It’s important to permit the cookies to cool at least 2 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them, carefully, to paper towels to continue cooling. These are very fragile while warm but tend to firm-up while cooling. Makes 4 ½ dozen. Keep at room temperature in a tightly covered container for up to a month! They freeze poorly. Note: If weather is very humid, you’ll note that these become quite limp if they stand out, uncovered, for any length of time. If you store the cooled, firm cookies in an airtight container they should remain crisp despite humid weather.

In February 1988, Mom appeared on The Home Show and they surprised her with an in-person visit from Wally Amos (Famous Amos Cookies), himself. I really wish I could find an actual recording of that show! Mom said he was such a nice man and really loved her version of his product – but made her promise to never go into the cookie business! The following is Mom’s updated make-alike version of the Famous Amos Cookies, from her time on The Home Show, as it appeared on her “Free Recipes & Information” sheet (2000) with an additional “Turtle Sundae Cookies” variation:

Recess Peanut Butter Cups, a make-alike version of Reeses

 

Recess Peanut Butter Cups

The development of this recipe grew from a request made by a local group of parents whose children followed the Feingold diet to arrest hyperactivity. It became one of my most popular recipes across the country – and when I heard from the people at Hershey’s, in Pennsylvania, they were quite upset with my having such a recipe. I assured them that the name “Recess” was drawn from the dictionary definition of the word, meaning “a hidden or secret place” – quite in keeping with the theme of my series. And, because Hershey’s makes the famous product by a similar name (of which there are many in various industries, such as Goodyear and Goodrich both making tires), naturally, I recommended using Hershey’s chocolate in this recipe. I have had recipes sent to me by those who also try to imitate the famous product, but they each contained powdered sugar and were more like a cookie than a candy. I detected no powder sugar in my samplings of the famous product – so I didn’t include it in my imitation.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 24 cups
Author TheRecipeDetective

Ingredients

  • 1 8-oz Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bar
  • 3/4 C peanut butter
  • 4 TB butter or margarine or 6 tablespoons melted paraffin – optional – but I use it, adding it to the chocolate when I melt it with the peanut butter. It’s up to you!
  • 3/4 C additional peanut butter

Instructions

  1. In top of double boiler, over HOT but not boiling, water, melt together the 1st three ingredients, stirring well.

  2. Put ¾ cup additional peanut butter in top of another double boiler over simmering water – or in a heat-proof bowl in a shallow pan of simmering water. Let peanut butter melt just to a pouring consistency.
  3. Have 24 miniature paper liners placed inside cupcake or muffin tin wells. You can place them side-by-side on a cookie sheet, but I like the support that the cupcake tin wells give the papers while the candy is “setting”.
  4. Next, divide HALF of the chocolate mixture, equally between each of the paper liners.
  5. Then, divide ALL the melted peanut butter between each of them, spooning it over the top of the chocolate.
  6. Finally, divide the remaining chocolate over the top of the peanut butter.
  7. Let it stand, at room temperature for 2 hours to “set”. Keep them refrigerated in a covered container up to a week. They’ll keep frozen for months – if they even last that long!
  8. NOTE: if you don’t want to bother with the cups, grease a 9-inch square pan, spreading half of the chocolate mixture evenly over the bottom and then the peanut butter over that and finely the remaining chocolate mixture over the peanut butter layer. Let it set until firm to the touch and cut into neat little squares. Makes about 36 pieces, depending on the size of your squares.

Butter Crust

 

Butter Crust

My Most Dependable &Very Favorite Recipe!
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Cook Time 20 minutes
Author TheRecipeDetective

Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter 1/4-lb
  • 1 TB sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 C all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Prepare a 10-inch Pyrex pie plate by spraying it in Pam. (Pyrex plates work best with this very rich recipe.) If you don’t have Pam, grease the pan in Crisco only! It might stick otherwise!


  2. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan on medium heat until it’s frothy, but don’t let it change color or become the least-bit brown. (I like to put the stick of butter into my heat-proof, 1 ½-quart, glass mixing bowl, placing it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on “Defrost”.)


  3. As soon as the butter is melted, and while it’s still hot, dump in the remaining ingredients.
  4. Turn your electric mixer on high and beat mixture in a bowl for about 30 seconds or until it comes away from the center and hits the sides of the bowl.
  5. Quickly gather mixture into a ball and pat it out to cover the bottom and sides of the Pam-sprayed Pyrex pie plate.
  6. Bake crust at 375°F for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Then, fill as desired. Makes one 10-inch pie crust.
  7. Note: Make one single recipe at a time. Do not double this recipe. The dough becomes difficult to work with as it cools and, then, it crumbles and breaks apart.
  8. To make a top crust for a filled pie: Pat out a single recipe, as given above, on a Pam-sprayed and waxed-paper-lined dinner plate. Invert top crust over filled, crust-lined pan, per recipe of your choice. Lift off plate and peel back waxed paper. Make slits for steam to escape. Gently press crust to rim of pie pan with a floured fork (or a fork dipped in ice water.) Use an egg-wash if you wish (one egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water and brushed lightly – lapping it, rather than pressing it, over top of crust), but the butter in this crust should allow it to brown beautifully without the wash. Bake per filling recipe directions. Generally, the best temperature is at 375°F for 25 to 28 minutes or until filling begins to bubble up through the slits in the top crust in the crust is golden brown.

Big Bucket in the Sky! Fried Chicken

 

Big Bucket in the Sky! Fried Chicken

THIS RECIPE was created on-the-spot when I discovered that my usual ingredients and…most familiar utensils were not ready…to use on The Donahue Show (… July 7, 1981) …I had to adlib the experience, calling upon every possible thing I could remember about good cooking. It was luck! And luck – of course – is when preparation and experience meet opportunity!

There was a toaster oven on the table the staff had set up for me to use during the live–telecast of the show. At 8 o’clock in the morning, the producer of the show was driving around Chicago, trying to find a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant that was open, so that the audience could later compare what I had prepared to what the restaurant prepared. So, I looked at the ingredients I had on hand and tried to improvise with what was there. The on-the-spot recipe was every bit as good as what Paul & I had been publishing and was so much easier, that again we could prove that there will always be more than one way to arrive at a given result!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 4
Author TheRecipeDetective

Ingredients

  • 3 C self-rising flour
  • 1 TB paprika
  • 2 packages Lipton Tomato Cup-a-Soup powder mix see Index of "Gloria Pitzer's Cookbook - The Best of the Recipe Detective" for my “Cup-of-Thoup” recipe
  • 2 packages Good Seasons’ Italian dressing powder mix
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. In doubled plastic food bags, combine all ingredients well, twisting the end of the bags tightly and creating an inflated balloon affect. Shake well to combine.

  2. Spray a jellyroll pan (10 x 15 x 3/4-inch) with Pam or wipe it well with oil.
  3. Run a cut-up chicken fryer under cold water and let excess water drip off, putting all the pieces into a colander to drain a few minutes.
  4. Dredge pieces one at a time in the seasoned flour mixture, by placing each piece in the bag and shaking to coat. Arrange the coated pieces, skin-side up on prepared pan.
  5. Melt ¼ pound margarine or butter and, using a 1-inch-wide, soft-bristled, pastry brush (or one from a paint store with soft hair bristles – NOT plastic bristles,) dab the melted butter or margarine over the floured surface (skin-side only) of each chicken piece until all the melted butter or margarine has been divided between the pieces.
  6. FOR CRISPY COATING: After applying melted butter or margarine, dust pieces with a few additional tablespoons of seasoned flour and drizzle with more melted butter or margarine before baking.

  7. Bake it in a 350°F oven, uncovered, for 1 hour or until golden brown and tender.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Teach a Child to Fish

This memory is not exactly of my mom…not directly anyway. Some of my favorite early childhood memories are of fishing with my dad and two brothers. My brothers didn’t very much care for me tagging along, but Dad was happy with my enthusiastic interest in fishing… especially, I think, because I liked to find the worms with which for him to bait our hooks. I was pretty good at it too!

We were living in the Algonac-Pearl Beach area (of Michigan), on the beautiful St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway), across from the North Channel (west of Harsens Island) that flows into Lake St. Clair. We fished off the end of our dock often, Spring through Fall; for bass, perch, walleye, whitefish, trout, salmon, etc. – whatever was in season at the time.

One day, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, fishing with my dad and brother, Mike; my line caught something that I just couldn’t pull in by myself. Dad came over to help me. I was very excited that I had caught something, and it was apparently BIG because I couldn’t reel it in by myself! After a couple minutes of struggling, even with Dad’s help, we finally got it pulled up to the surface of the water, only to find it was an old shoe filled with mud! Dad helped me to cast my line out again and I patiently waited for a real bite. Then, I got a rather strong pull on my line and Dad had to help me reel it in again – this time it was an old coffee can filled with mud! My brother, Mike, got the biggest kick out of that and roared with laughter!!!

Dad set me back up with a new worm on my hook, to try again on the other side of the dock, hoping I wouldn’t catch another shoe or can of mud. Within MINUTES I had hooked something big and heavy again! Mike teased me that it was another can of mud. But, as Dad helped me, again, to get the object to the surface, we saw it was a HUGE catfish, which broke my line as soon as we got it up on the edge of the dock. It flopped back into the water and swam away quickly. So, I do have a story about “the one that got away” – and it was real!

Mom drew this cartoon in 1971, for her syndicated column, Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer, based on my love to fish, and my brothers’ irritation of it:

When it was raining outside, and I couldn’t go out on the dock to fish, Mom would set me up on our screened-in porch with a large tub of water, a lawn chair and a “pretend” pole she made from a stick, with a piece of rope tied to it and a rock tied to the other end of the rope (as seen in the photo below, with my little sister.) This reminds me of a “meme” (a humorous image, video, or piece of text) that I like, being shared on Facebook in many forms that, basically, says something along the lines of: “When I was a kid… I didn’t have cable, a computer, internet, Nintendo, X-Box, or Wii. My toys were a bike, fishing pole, bat, ball, mitt, sand box, swing set, trees and so much more. My playroom was the outside world and I had a curfew and drank water out of a hose. If I didn’t eat what my mom made me, I didn’t eat. I didn’t dare tell my parents ‘no’, nor did I dare talk back to them disrespectfully. Life wasn’t hard, it was just life… And I survived.”

 Photo taken by Gloria Pitzer (1971)

I love the aroma of a good fish fry!!! Mom had a few good recipes for coating and frying the fish we caught. Below is Mom’s 1983 make-alike version of Long John Silver’s fish batter, as seen on page 111 in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

LONE JOHN SLIVER FISH BATTER – Similar in texture and flavoring to my “Archer Teacher Batter” but made a bit differently. You can pirate your way through a seaworthy voyage of vittles with this crispy fish coating!

½ cup each: flour and biscuit mix

1 teaspoon season salt

½ teaspoon sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons corn oil

about 1 cup club soda, or Busch light beer

grated rind of half a lemon

¼ teaspoon onion salt

   Combine flour, biscuit mix, season salt and sugar. Set aside. Beat egg and oil, adding to half of the club soda or beer. Stir in flour mixture, plus enough more club soda or beer to make it the consistency of buttermilk (as in my “Archer Teacher Batter” recipe.) Stir in lemon rind and onion salt. Tenderize fish fillets in buttermilk as directed in my Treacher recipe (see Index.) Drain fillets and dredge in plain flour. Allow them to dry a few minutes. Dip to coat in prepared batter and fry, a few pieces at a time, in 425°F oil/Crisco mix as directed in my Treacher recipe. When golden brown, remove and keep warm on a paper-lined cookie sheet in a 300°F oven until all pieces have been fried. Serve with my Tartar Sauce (see Index.) Serves 4 to 6 sensibly!

This updated version is from Mom’s “Free Recipes & Information” sheet (2000):

Note: Mom found in later years that the fish coating fried best in 385°F oil.

Lone John Sliver Fish Batter

This make-alike version of Long John Silver’s popular fast food product appears on page 111 in “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a rewrite by Laura Emerich, of “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (self-published by Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, May 1983; 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

LONE JOHN SLIVER FISH BATTER – Similar in texture and flavoring to [The Recipe Detective’s]“Archer Teacher Batter”, but made a bit differently. You can pirate your way through a seaworthy voyage of vittles with this crispy fish coating!

Lone John Sliver Fish Batter

This picture (here) is of an updated version to the version given below, from the Secret Recipe Detective’s “Free Recipes & Information” sheet (2000).  

Note: Mom found in later years, after the development of the version given below, that the fish coating fried best (with coating staying intact) in 385°F oil, as in the later version pictured here.

This make-alike version (below) of Long John Silver's popular fast food product appears on page 111 in “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a rewrite by Laura Emerich, of “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (self-published by Gloria Pitzer's Secret Recipes, May 1983; 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

LONE JOHN SLIVER FISH BATTER – Similar in texture and flavoring to the Recipe Detective's “Archer Teacher Batter”, but made a bit differently. You can pirate your way through a seaworthy voyage of vittles with this crispy fish coating!

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Author TheRecipeDetective

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 C biscuit mix
  • 1 tsp season salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 TB corn oil
  • 1 C club soda, or Busch Light beer
  • grated rind of half a lemon
  • 1/4 tsp onion salt

Instructions

  1. Combine flour, biscuit mix, season salt and sugar. Set aside.

  2. Beat egg and oil, adding to half of the club soda or beer.
  3. Stir in flour mixture, plus enough more club soda or beer to make it the consistency of buttermilk.
  4. Stir in lemon rind and onion salt.
  5. Moisten fish fillets in buttermilk [or water as directed in my Arthur Treacher-style recipe (see Index.)] Drain fillets and dredge in plain flour. Allow them to dry a few minutes.
  6. Dip to coat in prepared batter and fry, a few pieces at a time, in 425°F oil/Crisco mix.
  7. When golden brown, remove and keep warm on a paper-lined cookie sheet in a warm oven until all pieces have been fried.
  8. Serve with Tartar Sauce - Serves 4 to 6 sensibly!

 

½ cup each: flour and biscuit mix

1 teaspoon season salt

½ teaspoon sugar

1 egg

2 tablespoons corn oil

about 1 cup club soda, or Busch light beer

grated rind of half a lemon

¼ teaspoon onion salt

Combine flour, biscuit mix, season salt and sugar. Set aside. Beat egg and oil, adding to half of the club soda or beer. Stir in flour mixture, plus enough more club soda or beer to make it the consistency of buttermilk (as in my “Archer Teacher Batter” recipe.) Stir in lemon rind and onion salt. Tenderize fish fillets in buttermilk as directed in my Treacher recipe (see Index.) Drain fillets and dredge in plain flour. Allow them to dry a few minutes. Dip to coat in prepared batter and fry, a few pieces at a time, in 425°F oil/Crisco mix as directed in my Treacher recipe. When golden brown, remove and keep warm on a paper-lined cookie sheet in a 300°F oven until all pieces have been fried. Serve with my Tartar Sauce (see Index.) Serves 4 to 6 sensibly!