As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 16)
‘NOBODY DOES IT LIKE McDONALD’s CAN’ – [was] the popular television jingle that advertised some of the best French-fried shoestring potatoes to come down the pike in a long while. The French did not invent French fries – American fur trappers did. Potatoes were not well-thought of in the early days of this country. But, fur trappers would melt down bear grease in large open kettles over their campfires and, when the grease began to bubble, they’d spear chunks of their dressed game meat, roots and potatoes on the end of a sharply pointed stick, setting them in the hot grease to cook to the individual’s liking and then eat off the stick – much like modern-day shish kabobs or fondue.
TO MAKE FRENCH FRIES at home – long, white Russets work best! Peel and cut in half lengthwise. Place cut sides on a cutting board and remove a thin slice from each end, as well as from the rounded long-sides. You now have sort of rectangle blocks to work with. Slice these into 1/4-inch thick strips and place in a deep refrigerator container. Mix 1-quart water with ½ cup vinegar and pour over potatoes, repeating this process until you have enough to cover the potatoes. Cover and chill for several hours to draw out the starch that makes a fried potato hold the grease and become limp.
After chilling, drain them well on paper towels. Drop a few at a time, using a French-frying basket, into 425°F oil that’s at least 4” deep. A good combination is 1-pint corn oil to 1 cup Crisco, using as much as is needed for the amount you are preparing, keeping it 4 inches deep; and, if the oil is not hot enough, the fries will turn out greasy. Let the potatoes “Blanche” in the oil rather than fry completely, removing them after just one minute. Drop them on a cookie sheet and put in your freezer for 10 minutes. Return them to the oil to fry until golden brown and drain them well on paper towels. Salt them as you wish, which also helps to evaporate any excess grease on the finished potatoes. Most of the salt will fall off when the fries are transferred to serving plates.
Put it all into a blender on high speed, using an on-off pulse to agitate for 2 minutes or until smooth. Let batter stand for 10 minutes before using it. Allow ¼ cup of batter for a 6-inch round pancake prepared on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Makes 16 pancakes. The batter freezes well, to use within 3 months.
As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 91)
These are chicken wings, split at the joints, with the boney wing-tips discarded. Arrange them side-by-side in a single layer in a greased, shallow baking pan. Coat liberally in any barbecue sauce. Bake at 375°F, uncovered, for 20 minutes per pound of chicken (3 pounds will serve 6 to 8.) About every 10 minutes or so, apply additional barbecue sauce to the pieces as they’re baking, without turning them.
[*The ingredients of this fudge are similar to those of traditional penuche.]
1 cup butter
2 ounces baking chocolate
1 cup brown sugar, well-packed
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 cup honey
Dash of salt
1 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
In an accommodating saucepan, melt butter and chocolate.
Stir in the next 6 ingredients, as listed, and bring just to a boil. Immediately, reduce heat, stirring and cooking at just below boiling point for 10 minutes. Then, cook without stirring, on simmer, for 2 more minutes or until it’s reached the soft ball stage (when a little fudge, from tip of spoon, dropped into cup of cold water, forms a soft ball.)
Remove from heat, stirring in vinegar and vanilla.
Let it cool for 1 hour, then, beat until it can be kneaded to a smooth consistency.
Shape into rolls, about 2 inches in diameter (or flatten into 2×2-inch “logs”. Wrap in wax paper and chill 12 hours before slicing.
Stir beer (or Club Soda) and oil together with a sturdy mixing spoon in a large bowl. Add flour and beat vigorously until smooth and moist. Dump dough into middle of Pam-sprayed, 12- or 13-inch, round pizza pan. Spread dough evenly with back of a large, wet spoon. (Note: Dipping spoon into cold water keeps the dough from sticking.) Use the spoon to patch any holes in the dough.
Bake the crust, empty, for 10 minutes at 400°-F; then, remove and, immediately, add your favorite sauce while it’s warm. Top with cheese and other favorite garnishments. Return to oven to bake for another 20-30 minutes or until toppings are bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the crust appears golden brown around its rim.
Melted butter (enough to brush 8 biscuit tops twice)
In a 1 1/2-qt mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer on medium-speed, beat together the first three ingredients, adding the Bisquick a little at a time and working in the last cupful with a sturdy mixing spoon until you form a soft dough.
Dip your hands in a bit of extra Bisquick to divide and shape dough into 8 patties; making each about 1-inch thick, and placing them close together in a Pam-sprayed 9-inch or 10-inch Pyrex baking dish.
Using a pastry brush, wipe all the tops with a bit of melted butter. Bake at 400-degrees (F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown. At once, after removing from oven, wipe the tops in a bit of melted butter again.
As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press, January 2018; 1st Printing, p. 88)
THE FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE that first called attention to my recipes nationally – through the ‘National Enquirer’, ‘Money Magazine’, ‘Catholic Digest’, ‘The Christian Science Monitor’, ‘Campus Life Magazine’ and, yes, even ‘Playboy Magazine’ – was this following combination of ingredients. The method is quite unorthodox and the original idea for developing it in this manner, came from a conversation I had with ‘Col. Sanders’ over the air with radio station WFAA in Dallas when I was a regular guest on a talk show with them for several months. We discussed the secrets of the food industry with listeners by phone from our homes. The Colonel was fascinated by the publicity I had received for my ‘Big Bucket in the Sky’ fried chicken recipe and agreed that I was on the right track if I’d add more pepper. He loved pepper! He also suggested browning the chicken in a skillet and, then, oven-baking it until tender to achieve a likeness more to the original recipe he had created in 1964. He told me to look around the grocery store for 1 packaged product to replace the 11 spices – which I did diligently – and discovered that powdered Italian salad dressing mix was the secret!
So, I set to work to revamp the recipe. My original recipe was quite close to the famous Colonel’s product, but the coating kept falling off – because, as he explained, I couldn’t get the oil hot enough. He liked peanut oil, himself, but suggested that I could achieve a similar result by using corn or Crisco oil – with 1 cup solid Crisco for every 4 cups of oil. He talked about the quality in his product changing after turning the business over to new owners.
When Heublein Conglomerate bought out the franchise, they paid a few million dollars for ‘The Colonel’s’ recipe and technique. It seemed unlikely that a home-kitchen-rendition of such a famous product could be had for the price of my book. But the letters came in – ‘best chicken we ever had’; ‘l-o-v-e-d that fried chicken recipe’; ‘our favorite chicken recipe – so, please don’t change it’; and ‘maybe the colonel should have YOUR recipe!’
3 pounds of chicken fryer parts – cut small
2 packages Good Season’s Italian Salad Dressing mix
3 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 ½ pints of corn oil
2/3 cup Crisco solid shortening
1 cup milk
1 ½ cups boxed pancake mix combined with: 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp powdered sage and 1/4 tsp pepper
Rinse chicken and wipe pieces dry.
Make a paste out of the first five ingredients. Brush to coat chicken evenly with the paste…the underside as well. Stack pieces in a large refrigerator container, seal in foil and refrigerate several hours or, better yet, overnight.
1 ½ hours before serving, heat oil and Crisco, until melted, in a heavy saucepan. Put just enough of this into two large heavy skillets so that it covers the bottom of each 1-inch deep and just set the rest aside, as the oil will have to be replaced as you remove fried pieces and continue to fry more.
Dip each pasty chicken piece, 1st in milk and then in pancake mixture (having combined it as directed above with the last three ingredients.) Dust off excess mix and place skin-side down in the very hot oil mixture.
Brown the chicken on each side until golden. Then, place browned pieces in shallow baking pans, single-layered with skin-side up. Spoon remaining milk over pieces. Seal with foil on only 3 sides of the pan.
Bake for 40 minutes at 375°F or until chicken is fork-tender, basting with milk and pan drippings every few minutes. Remove foil and bake another 8-10 minutes or until crispy. Serves 6-8. Leftovers keep up to a week refrigerated.
Happy Monday! According to NationalDayCalendar.com, August 19th is National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day! To celebrate, I’ll be including Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade soft-serve ice cream, like Dairy Queen’s, at the end of today’s blog entry.
Dictionary.com says that nostalgia“is a wistful desire to return in thought… to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.” Just like the memories I write about my mom every week. In fact, the 1-year anniversary of Mondays & Memories of My Mom is coming up next month! The time is flying by so fast… and, it seems, the older I get, the faster time flies!
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 204)
IT’S NO SECRET!
James Dewar started out driving a horse-drawn wagon in Chicago and, by 1930, was manager of the Continental Baking Company’s Chicago establishment. [That’s when] he invented the ‘Twinkie’, a sponge-type cake with a creamy vanilla-flavored filling. It has been called the ‘Grand-daddy’ of modern snack foods. Today, the finger-sized cream-filled cake is as big a confectionery sensation as it was when Dewar first introduced his creation to American cuisine. The company that put out the Twinkie was originally called [Ward Baking Company, then] the Continental Baking Company and later became the Hostess company.
At the time, he wanted to give the public something reasonably priced, for the Great Depression of the 30s brought grave times to this country. Treats like the cream-filled Twinkies, would be a luxury to people who couldn’t afford otherwise. For decades, the appealing factor about the Twinkies national popularity has been that it is affordable! Dewar put 2 cakes in each package, selling them for 5-cents a pair. For the price of a nickel, it was quite a bargain.
Dewar remembered how the Continental Baking Company was selling small finger-sized shortcakes for strawberry season in the 1930s. The pans they used to bake them in were not being used except for the spring promotion to produce the shortcakes. He, therefore, came up with the idea of preparing the same shortcake in those pans, but filling each cake with an injection of vanilla cream.
The Twinkies became an immediate success! The idea for the name, on the other hand, came while he was on a business trip to St. Louis and saw a billboard advertising ‘Twinkle Toes Shoes’, which was, then, a terrific sales pitch. The name ‘Twinkies’ was a spinoff of that shoe advertisement. From then on, the cakes took off.
When Dewar retired from Continental in 1968, he boasted often to the press that he ate scores of Twinkies® every day. That’s not a bad endorsement for the critics who claim junk food will shorten your life span.
Do you remember the run on Twinkies® in November of 2012? The Hostess Brands company had announced it was going out of business and utter chaos ensued as the masses swarmed the stores to buy all the yummy, cream-filled, sponge cakes (and other Hostess cakes & breads) that they could find! Twinkies® were actually being auctioned on eBay for THOUSANDS of dollars!
I remember Mom laughing about all of the hype on auction-bidding for Twinkies® and hearing someone say (although I don’t remember the who-when-and-where of it all) that if people had cared as much about the Hostess cakes years earlier, as they were then [in November or December of 2012], Hostess wouldn’t have had to close their doors in the first place!
When the announcement was first made, almost 7 years ago, that Hostess was closing for good, I wasn’t worried about never having Twinkies® again… of course, I couldn’t have them anyway because I’m hypoglycemic. But that’s beside the point, which is… that my mom taught me how to make my own!
My mom was the first to develop homemade, make-alike versions of junk food, like some of Hostess’ famous cakes – which were among her early 1970s, “original 200”, recipes collection that she printed on index cards, with a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room; and they were sold through the mail for 25-cents each. Mom also printed her junk food, make-alike recipes in her newsletters, beginning in January 1974 through December 2000.
Using the name “Hopeless” instead of “Hostess”, Mom included three Hostess Brand make-alike recipes in her first copycat-cooking book, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; January 1977). Later that year, Mom included another five copycat recipes of Hostess products (again, using the name “Hopeless” for her versions) in her very next cookbook called The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977).
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1-2)
DE-BUNKING THE JUNK!
What is the truth about junk food? The food experts have been referring to many snack foods and fast foods as ‘junk’ in an attempt to disqualify their value when compared to foods containing high amounts of protein and vitamins.
No one has confirmed a definition of the expression ‘junk food’, yet the public has been conditioned to accept any snack food, sweets, candies, confections, baked goods and many beverages as ‘junk food’ when, in reality, these are not without nutritional value.
All by itself, a raw carrot could hardly support the human system substantially; neither could a cup of yogurt. Yet, a candy bar or a small piece of cake or a hamburger on a bun is considered, by some of the food industry’s most prestigious experts, as having little or no food value in our daily diets.
The junk food paradox has caused school systems and other public institutions to ban the sale of any foods we would consider snack items, making it illegal, in fact, in the state of Michigan and some others, if such items were sold to children through vending machines on the premises.
This is infuriating to the good cooks and… food chemists among us, who know that JUNK FOOD is actually any food that is poorly prepared. ALL food has nutritional value. Some just seem to have more than others. But, in the final analysis, it is purely personal taste that will determine the popularity of one food over another.
The ‘fast food’ industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! I say, ‘baloney!’
‘There really are very few recipe secrets!’ – Gloria Pitzer
As a very believing public, we have been spoon-fed a good deal of shrewd publicity by some very skilled… advertising people, who count on our susceptibility to commercial advertising campaigns to buy their products. Whether we’re buying a hamburger in one of McDonald’s restaurants… or a Twinkie off of the grocer’s shelf, we still believe that these products can’t be equaled by any other company in the industry, nor by the average cook in a standard, home kitchen… AND this is wrong!
‘You’ll be amazed at the number of recipes you can duplicate in your own kitchen – and those you can, at least, come close to imitating – with far more success than the advertising people give us credit!’ – Gloria Pitzer
MY “DIET” UPDATE:
I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet) 153 days ago – no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff! I admit, I am a carbohydrate addict; but, by limiting my carb-intake to 25 grams a day, I’ve lost 40 pounds so far! I’d like to lose 5-10 more pounds yet. I just keep working on it one day at a time. It takes a lot of will power, as well as a lot of “won’t power” – I WON’T give in to the urges!
I went camping with my husband and a group of our friends over a week ago – and it was tough not to roast one single marshmallow or indulge in one of my best friend’s yummy baked goods. Except for Pork Rinds, most of my snacks consist of sugar-free gelatin, extra creamy Cool Whip, meats, cheeses and veggies with ranch dip… all of which needs to be kept cold.
So, we had to take an extra cooler this summer. I miss the kind of “convenience” snacks that are easy to just “grab-n-go”. We still tent-it with a couple of others, while most of our friends have “moved up” and into campers and motor homes – with refrigerators and freezers… when you have electricity! I’d like to get a camper, someday, like my parents’…
In honor of National Soft Ice Cream Day, I’m sharing the following recipe, which is actually from Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 257) and not one of her “free offer recipes”… but, I guess it is now; so, happy National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day!
DREARY QUEEN FROZEN CUSTARD
Here is an at-home imitation of the very popular soft-serve custard ice cream product that has made many restaurant names famous [since the 1950s]!
Prepare a 3 1/8-ounce package vanilla pudding (NOT instant) with only 1 2/3 cup milk and one egg yolk beaten into it. Stir mixture in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth and mixture “just” comes to a boil. Remove from heat at once and stir in 2 tablespoons butter until melted and smooth. Chill pudding in freezer for about 45 minutes. Beat together ½ pint whipping cream, a dash of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until very thick and stiff. Beat chilled pudding with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Don’t mind the darkened coating on top of the pudding – that blends right back in when you beat it well. Then, thoroughly STIR (do NOT beat) the whipped cream mix into the smooth pudding. Transfer to a 6-cup freezer container. Freeze until firm. Break it up in a chilled, stainless steel or aluminum mixing bowl, using chilled beaters on an electric mixer. Beat 2 egg whites, in a small bowl, until stiff but not dry; adding 3 tablespoons corn syrup. Set aside. Beat the whipping cream mixture until smooth and creamy. Fold egg white mixture into that, using lowest speed of mixer. Freeze until firm enough to scoop. Makes 1 ½ quarts. Freezes up to 6 months.