Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Let Us Celebrate Chocolate!

Happy Monday to one and all – and happy first day of the 2019 fall season!

According to the “Foodie Calendar” at OCFoodies.com, September 23rd is National White Chocolate Day; while others, like NationalToday.com, say that National White Chocolate Day was yesterday, on the 22nd. Either way if you ask me, let us celebrate chocolate of any kind, daily! Even if I can’t consume it any more, I can still recall and celebrate it from my memories of its creamy, sweet goodness.

Correspondingly, Wikipedia reports that “White chocolate is a chocolate confection made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. White chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids, which are found in other types of chocolate.” Wikipedia goes on to explain that white chocolate has been around since Nestle first introduced it in 1930, but it took 74 years for the U.S. government to recognize it as an official member of the chocolate family in 2004. You can read about Nestle’s history at https://www.nestle.com/aboutus/history/nestle-company-history.

I didn’t know there were regulations that rule what can or can’t be marketed as chocolate, let alone white chocolate! Furthermore, as Wikipedia explains, “white chocolate must be (by weight) at least 20% cocoa butter, 14% total milk solids, and 3.5% milk fat, and no more than 55% sugar or other sweeteners.” [Their information came from: “Title 21 Chapter I Subchapter B Part 163 of the Code of Federal Regulations”. United States Government Publishing Office. 24 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.]

My mom was a HUGE fan of chocolate, to put it mildly – especially the confections from Michigan’s own fine chocolatiers at Sanders Candy! I think they’re the best too! The official Sanders story can be found at – but, below are a few excerpts from stories that Mom wrote about one of her most favorite companies, of whose products she loved to imitate and of whose friendliness and service she loved to boast!

When Mom developed her copycat version of Sanders’ Hot Fudge Sauce, one of her original 200 copycat recipes that launched her career as the Recipe DetectiveTM, a secret she discovered in replicating it’s creaminess and flavor was that Nestle brand milk chocolate was the key ingredient, as no other brand brought the same flavor and texture that she was trying to achieve. I’ve shared a couple of her copycat versions in the “Recipes” tab on this website. It was always one of our family’s top 10 favorites of Mom’s copycat creations!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 192)

ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS BAKERIES of our time is, of course, the Fred Sanders’ Company. What they’ve created for Detroiters, in the decades of their thriving popularity, have made lasting-memories. Each time I visit with a radio station, anywhere around the country, a displaced Detroiter will certainly always request a recipe that would be for one of the Sanders’ products that they can’t find in their new area. It is, indeed, a complement to a company that they’ve remained a popular favorite over many years.

Sanders Candy logo

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

When memories visit you, years from now, you will probably recall among the famous ice cream places were Dairy Queen, Baskin-Robbins, Howard Johnson’s, Sanders and Friendly’s restaurants – as well as the famous specialties like Sander’s hot fudge topping, Eskimo pies, Spumoni (with chunks of cherries, almonds and pistachios included) – [plus], creamy, thick malts and milk shakes. These will remain favorites of an adoring public of loyal fans, despite the critics and experts who would have us replace all these with bean sprouts, alfalfa and carob products…

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

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

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

Sanders Candy Co. letter to Mom

As I’ve written about several times, in my previous blog entries, every great accomplishment Mom ever had with her writing involved food and family in some manner. In the 1950s and 1960s, Mom won multiple contests on radio shows and in magazines for her recipes and food-related stories that she wrote and entered. In 1963, she bought her first typewriter, with the prize money from one of the contests she won.

“Write what you know”, an old adage (possibly from Mark Twain), is basically how Mom began and succeeded so well as a writer. Recipes, family life, homemaking and the food industry were Mom’s “calling” and passion, even if she didn’t realize it, at first, herself. That’s what kept her writing and drawing and making a living from it for so many decades. As a wife and mother, Mom found us, her family, to be the best subjects from which to draw inspiration for the columns and cartoon panels she developed and syndicated. She was always very resourceful, artistic and sarcastically funny in her interpretations of our lives’ events.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Mom designed a few different columns for weekly syndications on her new typewriter, mailing out samples to the media. Within the year, she was writing a few different weekly & bi-weekly columns (Cookbook Corner, Minding the Hearth and No Laughing Matter) for over 60 newspapers around the country. Mom also created her own cartoon panels (similar to the “Family Circus” series created by Bil Keane), which she called “Full House – as Kept by Gloria Pitzer”, depicting her life as a wife and mother of 5 in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, they were published in a local Michigan newspaper, called The Richmond Review.

When Mom was writing one of her regular food columns, she realized there was a much needed niche in the food industry that hadn’t been explored yet – no cookbooks on the market were embracing making such food “taboos” as junk food and fast food products. So, Mom went to her, then, editors with an idea to change things up from the usual meatloaf and chocolate brownies recipes. They told her to write the recipes that she thought would excite the readers and that’s what she did! Mom’s readers loved it! Nevertheless, the paper’s advertisers from the food industry were not so happy with her inventive ways to make family-favorite, “fast-food” meals like you were “eating out at home.”

The editors told Mom to go back to the average meatloaf and chocolate brownies recipes or pick up her check. But, it was too late…the bug had bitten her, and she realized this was her calling. She told them to mail her the check, and she went home to start her own paper! Mom knew someone needed to give other homemakers, like herself, something more than what was being offered.

Fast food and junk food recipes were not found in any cookbook, newspaper or magazine back then – and these were the types of foods that struggling, middle class families wanted when they could afford a meal out or a splurge at the grocery store. What were families to do when they couldn’t afford to go out or buy such treats? Mom found that she could make them at home, usually at much less of a cost too! She couldn’t wait to investigate all the possibilities there were to offer from this new platform!

P.S. MORE ON…

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

Today is the first day of autumn! Six months ago, on the first day of spring, I adopted a low-carb lifestyle based on the “Atkins Diet”. I have hypoglycemia and my weight had sky rocketed to a personal record of 215 lbs. (and not pregnant!) I felt 20 years older than I should have felt – with a lot of joint pain, sciatica and arthritis problems.

Thus, I decided to make a change in my life, like I did when I quit smoking cigarettes 13 years ago. I chose to live without bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and sugar – you know, all the good stuff that messed with my blood sugar levels; not to mention, my weight! After starting out at a 20-gram-carb-limit for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far.

I miss chocolate, on this low-carb lifestyle. Sugar-free chocolate is not the same! I won’t even waste spending my allowed carbs on it. However, while I miss chocolate (and other carbs), I don’t miss the 50 pounds that I’ve lost thus far! I don’t miss the back and joint pains in my hips, knees and feet, which carried my extra weight and have, since, evaded me.

I’ve reached my original weight loss goal, now I just need to tone and maintain it. I also need to figure out what’s my new clothes size, because all of my clothes hang on me like tents. I keep taking them in and raiding my local Goodwill store for smaller sizes, but they continue to just hang on me. I’ll figure it out one of these days!

IN CLOSING…

#LetUsCelebrateChocolate

CHOCOLATE ALMOND BARK – Like Sanders!

By Gloria Pitzer, part of her original 200 recipes collection, developed in the early-to-mid 1970s.

[As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 233).]

When you look at all the marvelous candies that Sanders offers, be sure to look for their almond bark. If you are not in an area where Sanders products are available, you can try my “poor man’s” version; which, while I was living in California, and couldn’t find Sanders products, was sufficient to remind me of the days when I had a Sanders right around the corner – and loved it!

Ingredients:

12-ounce package Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate chips [Note: for a white chocolate bark, use the Nestle’s brand of white chocolate chips]

14-ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

1 cup chopped almonds

Instructions:

In top of double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate and stir in the milk. When piping hot, smooth and completely melted, keep water in lower pan turned to lowest possible heat point and allow chocolate mixture to cook that way for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and scraping down sides of pan often. Then remove from the heat and add almonds. Spread over bottom of greased jellyroll pan, 10 x 15.5 x 1”, to a very thin layer. Allow to harden at room temperature. Break into pieces and store in covered container away from warm places or humidity. Makes oodles!

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

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