Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Cookbooks I Collected were Collecting Dust!

I can’t find it in me, today, to say, “Happy Monday!” as I usually do in my blog openings. Today is Memorial Day – a solace day, not a happy one. I do hope that families are getting to spend the extra long holiday weekend together though! But, before I get into my blog subject, I want to address the very special meaning of today, as it tends to get lost among the “almost summer” celebrations and activities…

The Real Meaning of Today, Memorial Day

Memorial Day (aka: Decoration Day) was established as a U.S. federal holiday in May of 1971, to remember and honor all those who’ve died, serving in our Armed Forces. However, it unofficially originated, in the spring following the end of the Civil War. That’s when people began noticeably honoring the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves; usually with fresh, spring flowers. There’s a lot of great information (brain food) to be found about Memorial Day at History.com!

From 50 years ago! Illustration by Gloria Pitzer, May 28, 1969

Another website that inspired me with Memorial Day food for thought is Thanksgiving.com, where I found some great ideas and traditions to incorporate into our current commercialized celebrations that Memorial Day has come to encompass; as many Americans, myself included, have regarded this day to be the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.

Commercialism has disguised the holiday! Nowadays, parades and picnics are abound! Nonetheless, pre-summer vacations, backyard barbecues and other outdoor gatherings are among the “new” customary activities that families usually enjoy this holiday weekend. As such, the real reason we observe this holiday and the old traditions that were once practiced in honor of it have become lost.

This holiday weekend generates a burst of patriotic colors, as everything gets decorated in red, white and blue, from sea to shining sea, now through Independence Day! However, that’s not why Memorial Day is also known as “Decoration Day”.

We may celebrate our freedoms but let us never forget by what cost! So, I want to share 7 thoughts on old traditions I learned from Thanksgiving.com, to impart to the new generations…and to always remember! Any one of these things or all of these things – there’s something that each of us could/should put into practice for why we really observe Memorial Day in the first place:

Background from 47th Bomb Wing Assoc., Ltd. An invitation for the B-45 Tornado Dedication

Now, onto The Cookbooks I Collected were Collecting Dust!

I’ve written many times about my mom’s inherited love affair with writing and the unexpected journey on which it took her, starting in high school – from working for “small town”, local newspapers (doing almost every conceivable job) to syndicating her own “hot topic-style” columns and cartoon panels to writing and publishing her own newsletters and cookbooks – when her original, girlhood dream was to write “the great American novel”. But, every success Mom had in writing usually had something to do with food and home, rather than dramatic sagas and love stories.

So many of Mom’s self-publishing talents stemmed from all of her ‘small town’ newspaper experiences.

As a swimmer, growing up in our beautiful “Great Lakes” state of Michigan, Mom knew she couldn’t successfully swim against the current; so, she learned to swim with it. Likewise, rather than fight against Fate’s “meant-to-be” moments, Mom put her faith in “Fate” and went where “It” led. As a result, came the birth of the famous Recipe DetectiveTM and, almost simultaneously, all of her children – the recipes, newsletters and cookbooks!

Similarly, the “meant-to-be” powers of Fate have taken me (and my own inherited love for writing) on this unexpected and incredible journey of “blogging” to honor Mom’s legacy. As I mentioned in my very first blog, I had pondered many times in the previous few years, “to blog, or not to blog”; wondering if I could make a living from home at it, as my mom did with her Secret RecipesTM business.

Creative writing has always made me feel so much closer to Mom, as she was always my biggest fan and encouraged it in me for most of my life. Call me a nerd, but English was one of my favorite subjects in school and I always LOVED the essay assignments best! I used to write poetry when I was younger. I included one, dedicated to my mom, in one of my blogs from a few weeks ago. I have enough poems to fill two or three nice size books. But, I’ve never done anything with them – as far as publishing or marketing them. Mom tried to inspire me, but I just didn’t have the self-confidence to promote myself or my talents like her.

In as much as I love to write, I hadn’t done much creative writing for a couple decades. Therefore, when I started helping Mom rewrite her favorite cookbook a few years ago (so it could be republished by Balboa Press for a new digital generation), it rekindled that flame in me. Now, this blogging venture has kind of fallen into my lap and steered me in this direction… However, I’m not making a living at it… Not yet!

Those who aren’t familiar with any of Mom’s cookbooks would probably be wondering, here – how is a cookbook creative writing? That’s because Mom’s cookbooks were not your ordinary counter-top collection of recipes. My mom’s hunger for more than just the ordinary recipe collections that were being offered to people, led to her own personal, but seldom used, collection of “humdrum” cookbooks collecting dust…they just weren’t inspiring her enough.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

So, Mom decided to write her own cookbooks…and, when the publishers rejected her creations because they weren’t the picturesque, routine and monotonous cookbooks they thought the public wanted; Mom was only more determined to publish it, herself! After all, she was part of the public too! Plus, she thought, if she wanted more and her recipe column readers wanted more and her increasing, radio fan base wanted more; then maybe she should just create it and publish it herself!

Hence, in each cookbook, between the hundreds of recipes that Mom developed to imitate fast foods, junk foods, restaurant dishes and grocery products; she also tucked in bits of wisdom, inspiration, humor, helpful household hints, kitchen tips and tricks, food-for-thought editorials and even some entertaining and interesting background/historic information on some of the companies/people whose products and dishes she imitated. Thereby, Mom’s cookbooks stood out from all the rest (offered at that time) – no others were like them (unless they copied her; and some did) – because they were just as much coffee table or bedside table reads as they were assemblages of recipes.

1973 – Promotional ad Mom developed and sent to various newspapers and magazines for syndication, marketing her own talents.

My inspiration for this week’s blog (titled after one of Mom’s old syndicated columns) came from an email solicitation I recently received, to pay this company to market Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018), which is mine now.

Basically, the email tried to point out that writing and publishing are only minor steps in the whole “book process” compared to marketing; which, it proclaimed, is an author’s biggest challenge because it involves so much more personal time and effort. Thereby, I suppose, justifying how much it will cost me to pay them, the professionals, to do it for me; thus, saving me from the challenge and all of the time and effort that it costs!

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, like me; sometimes, you just have to suck-it-up and 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 guide her… So, she succeeded on her past experiences in the newspaper business and her own basic instincts.

WSGW-790, Saginaw MI

While marketing may be a challenge for me, I don’t think it was for Mom. I think she really enjoyed the promotional schedules of radio talk shows after each of her cookbooks (and newsletter issues) “premiered”. To Mom, her radio “visits” across the country, even internationally, probably felt more like having an “after party”, over and over again! Like any proud mom, she loved to talk about her babies (the recipes, newsletters and cookbooks)!

Mom briefly ventured into television talk shows for some of her cookbook promotions – as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs – most renowned were the 2 times she was on the Phil Donahue Show (in 1981 and 1993). However, Mom always felt more at home on the radio. I guess that’s because she usually was at home, doing most of her radio roundtables by phone. Although, when my parents used to travel (especially with their “Good Sam” friends), Mom would sometimes find a way to fit in a “live, in studio” radio visit whenever she could.

Mom and Phil Donahue, 1993

Mom was a natural at marketing herself, her talents and her products. I may have inherited her loves for writing, art and creativity in general; but I think I’m lacking in her many marketing talents! I get anxiety just from the idea of interviews!

Regarding: blessed with enthusiasm

I think I’m more fluent at writing than speaking, because I have more time to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it. Then, factor in that I’m OCD – so that, alone, at least doubles the time it takes me to write (and rewrite and rewrite again) my thoughts and ideas, trying to put them in a “CDO order” – as my kids and husband would always tease me about being OCD, because I like things in alphabetical (and numerical) order. One of my “dream jobs” as an adolescent was to be a Librarian – call me a nerd, but I’ve always thought the Dewey Decimal System is fascinating!

I know, from my own personal experience, that writing can be a long and, sometimes, personally draining process; as much so as marketing! In addition, I grew up with Mom’s authored and self-published creations and accomplishments. Each one became like one of her own children through the whole birthing process!

Similar to the development of life, creating and producing something can be a stressful AND beautiful AND rewarding time – all rolled into one! I felt that more than ever, when I collaborated with Mom to rewrite her favorite cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983), which consumed a couple years of my own life; let alone, the couple of years it took Mom to write the original version. Now that Mom’s last cookbook’s royalties are mine, I need to learn how to promote it, myself, (since I’m not rich enough to pay someone else to do it, as in the solicitation I received in my email). Either that or let it gather dust!

To order a copy of Mom’s last cookbook:

MILD SALSA, INSPIRED BY CHI CHI’S

MILD SALSA, INSPIRED BY CHI CHI’S

– By Gloria Pitzer, The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990, p. 45)

Ingredients:

4 medium tomatoes, unpeeled & chopped

3 medium onions, chopped fine

2 fresh banana peppers, chopped

2 TB oil

½ cup lime juice

½ cup V-8 juice

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate in a tightly covered container for at least 4 hours to allow the flavors to blend, before serving with corn [or tortilla] chips or as a sauce for tacos or burritos. Serve hot or cold. Makes about one quart. [You can also spice this up with your favorite hot sauce!]

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Food for Thought

Happy Monday everyone! Welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom by Laura (Pitzer) Emerich.

This is a weekly blog series that I began 8 months ago to honor the legacy of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM and founder of Secret RecipesTM. My mom investigated the alleged mysteries and furtive formulas of the food industry, and discovered how to imitate their famous, popular products and dishes at home!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Mom was becoming known, world-wide, for busting the mysteries behind making fast food and junk food fare at home! She reasoned that she could take the junk out of junk food if she controlled the ingredients that went into the cuisine in the first place. Mom developed thousands of recipes, imitating the trendy menu choices from many popular chain and fine-dining restaurants, in addition to well-liked, shelf-stable grocery products!

All of these recipes she put into over 35 of her self-published cookbooks and her hundreds of newsletter issues; sandwiching in snippets of satirical humor and caricature illustrations, household hints, “food for the heart and soul” commentaries, her timeless Food for Thought and No Laughing Matter editorials and background/historical information on various companies, chefs, products or dishes as well.

Those are the kinds of things that made Mom’s cookbooks stand out from all the rest, back then; besides being the first to pioneer the copycat recipes movement and carve out such a unique niche, as to capture the public, the critics and the food industry by storm! Each of Mom’s cookbooks and newsletters were designed to be just as much of a coffee table or bedside table read as it was a collection of recipes for the kitchen!

Food for Thought and No Laughing Matter were the titles of two of the news columns that Mom wrote in the late 1960s through the late 1970s, for local newspapers and syndications across the country. Other columns Mom wrote included Pitzer’s Patter and Cookbook Corner. As I’ve mentioned previously, there was also a series of humorous and satirical cartoon panels that Mom drew for The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI) in the late 1960s and early 1970s called Full House as kept by Gloria Pitzer. I’ve been including pictures of some of the panels (as well as Mom’s other illustrations) in many of my blogs.

Photo by Laura Emerich

It seems that Mom’s cartoon panels, either, inspired or were inspired by the various subject matters of her columns. Like the chicken and the egg analogy – I’m not sure which came first (as some are not dated but matched in subject matter). Food for Thought is also part of the title of one of Mom’s few self-published books that were not cookbooks. In fact, Mom called it This is not a Cookbook – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986)!

Mom was always keenly aware that sustenance for our brains (aka: brain food, information, food for the mind or Food for Thought) is just as important for our well-being as are food for the soul and food for the body – as each of us are the sum of mind, body and soul! But, there was not a single cookbook on the market that could give all of that to the readers…not until Mom’s cookbooks came along, that is!

According to UrbanDictionary.com, Food for Thought means: “Learning new information that you never thought was important to think about. It enables you to have a greater intelligence in every aspect of life while feeding your mind.”

Similarly, Merriam-Webster.com says Food for Thought is “something that should be thought about or considered carefully.” Likewise, Dictionary.com declares, besides being “an idea or issue to ponder”, Food for Thought is also a “…metaphoric phrase, transferring the idea of digestion from the stomach to mulling something over in the mind…”; adding that it “dates from the late 1800s, although the idea was also expressed somewhat differently at least three centuries earlier.”

That last little tidbit of information was news to me! Is it to you? Anyway, the moral is that we should follow a well-balanced diet of brain food, as well as soul and body foods, on a daily basis, in order to be truly (and literally) fit from head to toe!

#OneSizeDoesNotFitAll

Speaking of “diet”, earlier in March, I wrote two blogs about dieting, food-choices, lifestyle changes and losing weight. Since then, I’ve been saving bits and pieces of ideas, or Food for Thought, on dieting about which I wanted to write further in a future blog. Now, it’s time to revisit the subject, answering the questions – “What diet will work for me?” and “What is BMI?”

As for “What diet will work for me?” There are so many diets out there, and all are as individual as are we! Thus, everyone considering dieting should do their research and feed their brain with information first; but, beware – not all of them are legitimate or safe! Nor, are they all a “one-size-fits-all” approach, from which to simply pick one and run with it! So, first, be informed; but, also, do so by reliable sources!

The U.S. News recently identified 41 of the best and most popular diets, assessing their target audiences as well. You can find a lot of brain food (aka: information) about the different diets on these two links: https://health.usnews.com/best-diet and https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall. In addition, before starting any such endeavor, consult your doctor for recommendations also!

As for “What is BMI?” AND why we should know more about it or should we even be concerned with it at all? Just the other day, I saw a report on my local news show’s health segment about this very thing! Hence, I wanted to include this link at http://www.fox2detroit.com/health/stepping-on-the-scale-can-be-scary-but-we-can-t-ignore-the-number-it-shows for you, as the report contained a full course meal of great information to consume without the worry of counting its calorie, fat or carbohydrate contents!

We all have certain numbers that the health experts say we should know. One such number is called BMI (Body Mass Index), which is generally calculated (using the metric system) by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height. Most medical professionals will tell you that a generally calculated BMI below 18.5 can indicate conditions of being underweight, signaling that you could be malnourished or have some other underlying medical condition.

On the other hand, if the BMI is in the range of 25-29.9, it indicates being overweight; while any score of 30 or more is considered to be obese. BMI numbers in the higher ranges are indicative of being at risk for possible, future metabolic diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease – even type 2 diabetes is within the realm of indicators. BMI is considered the most common measurement for identifying the obesity level.

Believers in the BMI formula feel it is important because of its widely accepted indicators for one’s chances, of having a longer and healthier life, being more favorable if the number is in the so-called “healthy range” of 18.5-24.9. A large body of research supports the idea that people with higher BMIs are more prone to a number of health-related complications. Additionally, experts found that being overweight or obese at middle-age (about 40) is associated with a significantly increased risk of dying prematurely.

Regardless, critics of the BMI formula claim that the formula doesn’t paint an accurate picture because it doesn’t consider other variables of our body make-up such as our activity level, gender, age and race. In addition, it does not distinguish between weight attributed by muscle mass and that which comes from fat, as the latter is lighter than the former. Consequently, someone with more muscle mass than fat mass will have a deceptively higher BMI number.

Additionally, BMI is not always accurate in the elderly either, because these people often have LESS muscle and bone mass than do younger subjects. So, the build and activity level of a woman age 55-60 years old and in menopause, for example, does not (and cannot) compare to the build and activity level of a woman who is 25-30 years old, let alone to men in the same age brackets. Plus, there are inherited biological differences among the various races that can also impact the BMI method!

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

This is Day 62 of my new low-carb (Atkins-like) life-style that I started on the first day of spring. I changed my eating habits and choices and aimed to keep my carbohydrate intake within a 20- to 25-gram target area. I stay completely away from certain carbohydrate sources, such as potatoes, legumes, rice, pasta, breads and sweets…as well as anything else made with flour/sugar. Having hypoglycemia (but not diabetes), this low-carb life-style is good for me, anyway; since my body doesn’t process those types of carbs properly, causing sudden drops in my blood-sugar levels.

So far, I’ve lost about 22 pounds! I had been losing about 3 pounds per week, on average! But, for the last week or two, I seem to have hit a “plateau”. Admittedly, I have yet to add any REGULAR exercise regimen into my already busy days – maybe, because I hate to exercise! Thus, I’ve procrastinated at re-prioritizing things that take up my time in order to make room for exercise, by mis-associating being busy with being active and thinking it can wait. But, sitting and typing at my computer (when I’m not earning a part-time paycheck) are not big calorie burning activities – not even close!

Healthfully.com claims that a 185-pound person will burn about 61 calories sitting at a computer and typing for 30 minutes. Using their calculations, I found that I burn about 130 calories per hour when I’m working on my blogs and this website, even when I’m pinning on Pinterest or posting on my various social media accounts.

However, there’s also a great calorie-burning chart at NutriStrategy.com, where I found that weeding and cultivating my garden this weekend burned about 393 calories per hour for someone my size – and I spent three hours in my vegetable garden getting most of my transplanting completed before it began to rain and storm!

About the only other kind of exercise regimen that I don’t mind doing, besides gardening, is walking! It’s about 1.7 miles around my “block” and it takes me about 30 minutes to walk it at a brisk, 3.5 MPH stride. My 30-minute “brisk” walks burn about 166 calories, given my size, according to NutriStrategy’s chart. I just don’t do it regularly or often enough. Below is a picture I made of information, or Food for Thought,  I assembled about what to do if you’re on a weight loss plateau.

#NationalBurgerMonth, #NationalSalsaMonth and #NationalSaladMonth

In closing, for all of you food-lovers out there, I’d like to add that May is host to many food celebrations, including National Hamburger Month, National Salsa Month and National Salad Month – 3 celebrations that, together, make up a great food-for-the-body taco salad! Even though the National Hamburger Month celebration is focused on the sandwich-style “burger”. I would just grind up my seasoned, grilled “burger”, since I can’t have bread/buns anyway, and toss it together with some homemade salsa (see Mom’s recipe below) and shredded lettuce; topping it with some grated cheddar-jack cheese, sliced black olives, and a sprinkling of finely chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and onions to create a marvelous, low-carb taco salad that can also be served on/in a low-carb tortilla.

The following is a picture of Mom’s mild salsa imitation, inspired by Chi Chi’s. This recipe title was one of the original “free” recipes offered on this website before my brother passed the website on to me to cultivate for our Mom’s legacy. However, I don’t know if this was the same version offered then as the recipes didn’t transfer to my site host. The version below is not in her last cookbook, as it was not in Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (1983 edition), from which that one was rewritten. But, I did find this version (below) in The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990, p. 45)… as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

Orange Brutus

Orange Brutus

By Gloria Pitzer – part of her “Original 200” recipes collection.

This particular version can be seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

Remember, Brutus is the fella who ‘did in’ Julius! The 3 original versions of this frozen orange concoction were first printed on page 52 of Gloria’s Secret Fast-Food Recipes (1977) cookbook. This is the way it used to taste, like an orange Creamsicle, when it was first introduced in the 1920s. Today it’s a little different, and easier to recreate at home!

Ingredients:

3 cups orange juice

1 envelope Dream Whip powder

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 1/2-oz box instant vanilla pudding powder

3 additional cups of orange juice

Instructions:

Combine ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and add 3 more cups of orange juice. Serve over cracked ice for 6 lovely drinks!

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – A Rose by Another Name

Happy Monday to all and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom! I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful, memory-making Mother’s Day yesterday!

I’m Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started these blogs last September to channel the memories I have of my mom and how she impacted my life – as well as the lives of so many others the world over. I’m one of five children of the trailblazing pioneer who originated the copycat recipe movement, as my mom is Gloria Pitzer; aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator of Secret RecipesTM. As such, my inherited love for writing, which came from my mom’s genes, took me on this incredible journey, down a new and diverse path of blogging to honor her legacy.

In the back, left to right, is Cheryl, Debbie, me & our dad…In front, left to right, is Lady (under the table), Bill and Mike. Pitzer family photographed by Gloria Pitzer, March 1973

TheRecipeDetective.com website was originated by my brother, Mike, years ago to help bring our parents’ Secret RecipesTM business into the digital age, on the internet. I remember when Mom got her first computer…she tried to learn how to operate it, even just to get into her email; but, she was too frustrated by the new technology and ended up giving the computer to one of her grandkids, who new what to do with it. Mike managed the website and email until he passed it on to me last summer, because I wanted to start these blogs about our mom, in tribute to her legacy!

Mom passed away over a year ago – in January of 2018. Shortly before her passing, Mom’s last cookbook was published by Balboa Press. I worked, together, with Mom for over two years to write it. It’s actually a rewrite of Mom’s favorite self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (May 1983, 3rd Printing), freshly formatted and somewhat updated for a new, digital generation. The writing/rewriting collaboration put our mother-daughter relationship on a whole new level.

In the process of publishing the new/old cookbook through Balboa Press, they REQUIRED us to change the book’s title (or they wouldn’t publish it) because it too closely resembled the title of another cookbook by the famous Betty Crocker! It was supposed to! Regardless, I failed to get through to the publishers that the whole premise of the entire cookbook was a parody of IMITATIONS, from the title of the book, Better Cookery Cookbook v. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, to the recipes, themselves – Hopeless Twinkles, for example, is similar to Hostess Twinkies; and Wednesday’s Chili sounds similar to Wendy’s, the fast food chain.

Balboa suggested calling the new book Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook, but that wasn’t good enough for Mom and I. Thus, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places – the Best of the Recipe Detective”, grudgingly became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – the Best of the Recipe Detective, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places” remaining. I suppose, contrary to Charles Colton’s famous quote, imitation isn’t always considered flattering!

As a matter of fact, there were a lot of food companies that were totally offended by a small-town homemaker, not only imitating their products in her own kitchen, but also naming her recipes to sound like theirs! As well as, sharing her recipes with the public, so they could also “eat out, at home!” Many companies complained of copyright infringements and threatened her with lawsuits, but none of them actually took her to court. One company, however, started an ad campaign, using a 1970s, stereotype housewife with a claim that even she can’t make their product at home!

Stouffers’ and Orange Julius’ attorneys were among the worst of the top 10 complainers in that offended category. Continuously, the Orange Julius people threatened Mom with lawsuits regarding one of her “Original 200” make-alike recipes, “Orange Judas”, as found (in 3 versions) on page 6 of her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurants Recipes Book (Jan. 1977). In fact, neither company liked it when Mom AND the media referred to her recipes’ finished products as being like their products, nor did they want her recipes’ names to sound anything like their own products’ names.

Mom renamed her “Orange Judas” recipe a number of times, and still couldn’t appease that company! Regardless of their lawsuit threats, she finally settled on “Orange Brutus” for the recipe’s name. In a way, Mom turned that “lemon into lemonade”, so to speak; since, as she promoted it, “Brutus was the one who ‘did in’ Julius!” [See Mom’s recipe at the end of this blog.]

All the fights between the companies saying she infringed on their copyrights and Mom wanting to pursue her right to create her own homemade versions and promote them, just spurred her on all the more! She felt that, if all of these companies’ attorneys were persistently huffing and puffing to blow her house down, she must be on the right path and she must have gotten pretty close with her imitations too!

On the other hand, some food companies, such as White Castle and Sanders Chocolates, were honored by Mom’s efforts at flattery by imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey and General Foods corporations happened to be a slight mixture of both. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe titles, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups” and “Shape & Bake”, for they too closely resembled their trademark names, “Reese’s” and “Shake & Bake”, as to cause confusion between the products; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.

To the Hershey corporation, Mom explained the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat); she also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s chocolate in the recipe. In the original version of this recipe, Mom used Nestle’s brand and noted not to substitute on the brand. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer.

Mom also worked with the General Foods corporation, changing the title of her coating mix to “Shook & Cook”, with which General Foods was, likewise, pleased. Mom had sent General Foods a copy of an editorial page from her newest cookbook (at that time), The Joy of NOT Cooking…Anymore than You have To (1983). In the editorial, Simple Reproductions, Mom wrote about her recipe imitations and their effect on certain “big” companies, comparing her opposite encounters with General Foods’ attorneys and Stouffers’ attorneys.

Gloria Pitzer, the Recipe DetectiveTM

General Foods was pleased with Mom’s editorial compliments on their helpful approach and even offered Mom complete cooperation at any time with any of their products that she used as ingredients in her recipes. As Mom said in the editorial, “now that’s a BIG company – big in spirit and in customer relations. I purchase all of their products as often as I possibly can to show my approval of their efforts not to alienate a customer.” Unlike Stouffer’s hammer approach, General Foods took a scalpel approach to reach a remedy that could benefit, both, them and Mom.1 There was no problem with the recipe Mom presented as an imitation of their product, they just wanted a different title for it to protect their trademarks and copyrights.

As I wrote about in an earlier blog, ImitationMerriam-Webster.com says that imitation means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…” and Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” Thus, Mom often referred to herself as “the Rich Little of recipes”. Rich Little was a famous, stand-up comedian and extremely good imitator of celebrity voices; while Mom was a comedic writer and cartoonist, as well as an imitator of “famous foods from famous places”!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I found it ironic – and still do – that over the years, since Mom officially started her Secret RecipesTM enterprise in 1973, so many people have imitated her, the ORIGINAL famous foods imitator. It’s a niche Mom originally carved out in the early 1970s. But, not all of those who have followed since have given Mom the appropriate credit due her for being the original sleuth to uncover the supposed secrets of the food industry, imitating the “famous foods from famous places” at home! Kudos to those who have given Mom the proper credit, though!

In other news…

#Women’sCheckupDay

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, among some of the national celebrations taking place right now, today is National Women’s Checkup Day! According to the website, there are five healthy habits “they” recommend women do to improve their well-being… (1) maintain regular checkups, (2) be physically active, (3) stick to a healthy diet, (4) don’t smoke and (5) follow general safety rules. Use #Women’sCheckupDay to post your tribute to women’s health on social media.

#NationalStrawberryMonth

In addition, for foodies and gardeners, alike, NationalDayCalendar.com says that May is also National Strawberry Month! The website suggests that, to observe the holiday, you could visit a “pick-your-own” strawberry farm (or go to your local farmers’ market), plant a few strawberry plants of your own (or in a community garden) and/or prepare a recipe that uses strawberries. The website also gives a few links to some good strawberry recipes.

However, I have a great recipe for you, here, with a strawberry alternative! As discussed above, this famous frozen drink imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the beginning of her self-publishing business in 1973, as it’s one of her “Original 200” recipes. It has appeared in several of her cookbooks, in a few different versions and under a few different names; but, all of which Mom personally created. This form (pictured below) can currently be found in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

NOTE: Mom’s strawberry version of this Brutus drink appeared in her cookbook, The Three-In-One Book of Less Fat and Sugar & Best Bread Recipes (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 11), which is no longer in print, but used copies may be found on Amazon or eBay. This strawberry version calls for 7-Up or Faygo Red Pop and a strawberry Kool-Aid type of drink powder instead of the orange juice or Tang ingredients that some of her other versions include. I posted one of those other versions in a previous blog, Recipes and Radio, back in November of last year.

The cookbook also offers a version of just the “powdered mix” to jar up and mix, by tablespoonful, with individual glasses of your own chosen liquid. Mom’s recipes were often quite flexible in this way, as she recognized (having 5 children and a husband to feed) that a lot of peoples’ tastes vary, and good recipes should be able to accommodate such taste variances.

1 References to scalpel and hammer are from a former television show, Person of Interest (Season 3, episode 12), when Shaw says, “There’s a time for a scalpel and a time for a hammer. It’s hammer time!”

2 The earliest written form I can find of this proverb is a reference by William Shakespeare, in his 1600 play, As You Like It, when Rosalind asks, “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Mother, May I?

Happy Monday, to all, and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom!

I’m Laura Emerich and this collection of blogs is dedicated to the legacy of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, whom the world knows as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM – pioneer and innovator, carving out the original niche for the ‘copycat recipes movement’. However, Mom has rarely ever received credit for its inception – other than a mention of it in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first to recreate “fast foods” at home! When I searched for the term, ‘copycat recipes movement’, on Bing, I received 1,360,000 results – and Google brought me about 1,520,000 results! If that’s not a movement, what is?

Another search on Bing, for “Gloria Pitzer”, brought me about 92,300 results – seems there’s an attorney by the same name! When I searched for Mom’s name, on Google, there was an amazing 247,000 results! Regardless of what Todd Wilbur would have you think; long story, short… he actually got his start in the copycat recipes movement by ordering a copy of my mom’s cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes, in April 1989 and, then, proceeding to copy and even plagiarize my mom’s recipes; basically, passing her story off as his own!

Eventually, Wilbur may have developed some of his own copycat recipes that were different from my mom’s – unless he was also plagiarizing other people’s work as well! Check out this great 2002 article about Mom, including the updated end response from a reader, about Todd Wilbur stealing from Mom, at https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2002/aug/15/how-can-i-enjoy-big-mac-without-actually-leaving-h/#

#GloriaPitzer, #SecretRecipes, #RecipeDetective

Mom and Phil Donahue, 1993

The title to this week’s post, Mother, May I?, just kind of came to me as I sat down at my keyboard. In part, because it’s May; but, also, because Mother’s Day is coming up in less than a week. So, I wanted to write a special tribute for my mom, as well as for all mothers, since they are our first and most influential impression – nurturing us, teaching us and molding who we become as adults, ourselves.

Out of curiosity, I searched Bing for “What can be learned from ‘Mother May I’?” I know it develops interpersonal skills, as well as enforces good manners, but what else… Ironically, I found an interesting article called What We Can Learn From The Game ‘Mother May I’ [Margaret’s Message For May] by Gerry Gavin (May 05, 2016). The website describes the author thusly…

Gerry Gavin is the Author of ‘If You Could Talk to an Angel‘ and ‘Messages from Margaret.‘ He hosts a weekly radio show on Hay House Radio, where he channels the angel Margaret, bringing down-to-earth angelic advice to the world. Here is this month’s life changing advice for the readers of HealYourLife.com.

Given my mom’s faith in God, she would call this happenstance a “meant to be”, as Hay House also happens to be the parent company of Balboa Press, the publishers of Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Jan. 2018). That book is, basically, a re-write (by me, for Mom) of her favorite, self-published cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; 1982).

Mom and I collaborated on the new edition for over 2 years – such as what to keep and what to leave out, since some information was obsolete for the new digital generation that was going to be able to enjoy it as an eBook 35 years later, as well as for those who still like the traditional, hard-copy book. The collaboration lead me and my mom to see each other in a new and even more creative way than ever before. Anyway, out of that rabbit hole…

Mother’s Day is May 12th!

Our last Mother’s Day with Mom, at Cheryl’s place in 2017. Left-to-right: my mom (Gloria Pitzer), my sister (Cheryl), our oldest daughter (Tara), her son (Gage), me, my husband (Dave) and our youngest daughter (Patti). The photo was taken by our oldest son (Paul).

Please allow me to repeat myself as I boasted previously, in my first blog, A Legacy of Love, about Mom…

Over the years, [she] personally inspired me in so many ways…as a writer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook, mother, teacher… How she managed to juggle all of these same hats with a husband and 5 kids, for which to take care, always amazed me…

[Mom’s] taste buds and culinary skills, combined with her creative writing skills and sarcastic sense of humor, developed into their own super power… she found a niche that people wanted – “eating out at home”, she called it – and she set to work, discovering how to mimic fast food & restaurant dishes at home; as well as, shelf-stable grocery items. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too…

                                                                                  

She was a trailblazer… writing her own [copycat] recipes and marketing her talents through newspapers, magazines, local television talk shows…but, especially through radio talk shows. For nearly 40 years she was a regular on a few local [Southeastern Michigan] radio talk shows such as ‘Ask Your Neighbor’, hosted by Bob Allison on WWJ-Radio, which still airs out of the Detroit area today and ‘Listen to the Mrs.’, which is still hosted by Art Lewis on WSGW-Radio in Saginaw, MI… Mom did radio shows all over the country – mostly by phone, from the comfort of home.

I wish I had half of my mom’s talents in marketing! However, I do have her drive to learn! I also share her passion for writing, although I’ve never kept daily journals like Mom. I love her so much and I’m eternally grateful for all she has taught me and given me throughout my life (along with my dad, but his day comes next month!) Furthermore, Mom continues to teach and give to me, even from beyond – not only through my memories of her, which writing these weekly blogs strongly inspires, but also through all of her self-published and marketed writings, artwork and recipes – about which I’ve been writing for almost 8 months, now, and will continue to do so for as long as I’m able!

This may not make sense to someone who hasn’t lost their mother, but I feel that the more I read and re-read her work, the more I feel like I’m “with her” again. I know Mom’s always with me…but, I don’t feel like I’m always with her until I delve into all of her works…the way I felt even closer to her when I was working on the re-write of her Better Cookery Cookbook.

The best I can do, to pay tribute to my mom…and the best way any one can pay tribute to their mom, as well, is to pay it forward – all that she’s sacrificed, given and taught – passing it on to the next generation and hoping they do the same is the best any of us can do! Nowadays, like Mom did in her writings, I want to bring “my readers” a smile and a laugh, as well as bits of knowledge (Mom always said I should “learn something new everyday!”). Also, I want to pass on all the memories, traditions and teachings that my mom gave me, hoping it benefits someone in some way as much as it has me, even if it’s only an added smile to their day!

I, too, would like to know why pickles (and so many other odd things) are honored for a whole week, while mothers (our givers-of-life) only get one day to be honored! Mothers, all around us, are the most influential and compelling people, the world over – not only in how they impact our own personal lives, but also in how they diligently apply themselves to positively impact the world!

#NationalMothersMonth

We should all honor our mothers and fathers regardless of the day…always! However, this Sunday, go over and above that to honor your mother most importantly! This should be National Mother’s Month! We should start a campaign… #NationalMothersMonth! According to the United Nations Foundation, they “know how important mothers are in promoting prosperity, success, and growth in communities around the world.” They also give us 5 important things to remember on Mother’s Day – check it out on the blog at unfoundation.org!

A 4-generation photo from my mom’s last Mother’s Day celebration (2017) at the Community Wesleyan Church in Marysville, MI.

In wrapping up, since May is also National Stroke Awareness Month, I‘d like to re-mention that Mom’s love for writing and journaling helped her, to some degree, in dealing with the dementia, from which she suffered, following a double stroke and grand mal seizure in 2015. The love she held for writing was as much a form of therapy for Mom’s memories as it was just a natural reflex for her to relax, reflect and meditate. A lot of what Mom wrote about was regarding finding the blessings in any given day or moment; good and bad, alike. That’s just how she was raised, being grateful everyday – not just for Life’s gifts, but also for Life’s challenges that she confronted and overcame, empowering her to do more rather than discouraging her to fail. Failure was never an option her faith would allow in!

#StrokeAwarenessDay

Mom penned her feelings and memories in journals for most of her life. My younger sister, Cheryl, has all of Mom’s journals that still exist. Some were lost or destroyed over the years. But, Mom also recorded a lot of her feelings and memories in all of her publications too. Over the past year, since Mom went to her heavenly realm, I have really enjoyed re-reading all of her “Food for Thought” memories that are sprinkled throughout her cookbooks and newsletters, of the copies I have. I still use all my books of Mom’s – all the time!

Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s “free” recipes with each one. During Mom’s over-40-year era as the Recipe DetectiveTM, she promoted her business by offering (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free sample recipes, along with information on how to order her currently available (at that time) products…cookbooks, newsletters, bulletins and more! The sheets changed every so often over the years; as the product offerings changed so did some of the free sample recipes.

I thought I had recently exhausted all the “free” recipes from Mom’s information sheets, of which I have copies; but, I found more!!! I still continue to work on updating the Recipes tab on this website with all the recipes that used to be on here before my brother transferred it to me last year. Plus, I’m adding all of these “free sample recipes”, which I’ve been posting in my blogs, from Mom’s ordering information sheets over the years.

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, here is a photocopy of one of Mom’s favorite recipes; her famous “Little Seizure Pizza”, which can be found in many of her cookbooks, including on page 79 of her last one, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, which available for sale through the publisher, Balboa Press at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252, as well as in eBook form at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253.

This pizza imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the inception of her Secret RecipesTM business in 1972-1973. It’s one of the “Original 200” recipes that Mom created to imitate the highly sought-after fast-food and junk-food products, launching her famous career as the Recipe DetectiveTM. This version was found in a media promotion that Mom sent out in 1983…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!