Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Golden Rule

Thank God, It’s Monday, again!  Happy Monday to all! In addition to the many celebrations taking place today, happy Random Acts of Kindness Day AND Week! Plus, on a similar note, it’s also National Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week!

#BrotherhoodSisterhoodWeek

NationalDayCalendar.com explains that National Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week “encourages people of diverse faiths to discuss not only our differences but to recognize how we are all the same—uniting in our human brotherhood and sisterhood.”

The “Golden Rule” is a basic, moral principle for society that encourages us to TREAT OTHERS AS WE WANT TO BE TREATED! It is just a commonsense, moral ethic, by which we should all live on a daily basis. Its core is based on the biblical suggestion from the “Book of Matthew”, which says: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matt. 7:12) According to Wikipedia, the name “Golden Rule” came about “because there is value in having this kind of respect and caring attitude for one another.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84)

MOM’S ANCESTRY STORY

The principal was not sorry he hired me, for the job required filling in for a teacher who would be out about six weeks due to an auto accident in which she was injured. I took over her class and initiated a school newspaper while I was there… That class was a difficult challenge to say the least.

Perhaps, I took still another risk though, when I told the class that whatever their ancestors were, whatever their ethnic or religious persuasion was, they could not use such conditions as excuses for not at least trying to develop their individual talents and skills. It sounded good. The tough kid in the class…[was] amused and decidedly uninterested in anything I could say. He seemed to be in charge and the rest of the students appeared to yield to his lead, so I talked directly to him, but so that the rest of the class could hear.

I told him that calling me a ‘WASP’ was not a description of what I really was. Of course, WASP meant ‘white Anglo-Saxon Protestant’ and it surprised me that he even knew enough to use that term. He finally shut up and found himself listening to me as I then moved around the classroom telling everybody that it was okay to be sore about not getting a fair break, as long as you didn’t take it out on somebody else.

Since I had their attention, finally, I launched right into a story about my own background and how my mother’s parents were originally German, but they were also Jews, and living in Russia at the turn-of-the-century. It was dangerous for any Jew in Russia at that time, so much like the story of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, my grandparents with two small children and my grandmother then expecting a third child, took a crowded freighter to America. They couldn’t speak a word of English and had nothing with them but what they could carry by hand.

On the way over, unfortunately, they came down with what [was] suspected to be TB. A few years following the birth of their seventh child, TB finally took my grandmother. Having settled in Pittsburgh, my grandfather moved on to Cleveland where he hoped to find relatives who would help him with a job and a place to raise the motherless children. It didn’t work out as he expected, however.

The relatives were not where he had last contacted them. The orphanage was overcrowded that he had been directed to, in order to leave the children and seek treatment for the TB that seem to be getting worse for him. Having been turned away by the orphanage, he was about to leave the children all on a street corner, telling them somebody would come along to help them, but that he had to get his train to the sanatorium that the government was sending him to for help. At that point the nuns were passing by on their usual afternoon walk.

What happened that particular day was rather sketchy in details, since all of the children were then too young to clearly recall it; but apparently, as he left the orphanage and was expressing his despair in tears on the street in front of the school, two nuns were passing by on their way back to the Catholic orphanage down the street. They stopped long enough to ask if they could be of help, and upon hearing the story from the older children who spoke English and Grandpa’s broken English, they concluded that the children needed to be cared for.

They took the children to the Catholic orphanage, assuring my grandfather that they would see to it that they went to Temple every Saturday, even though they would be in the Catholic schools and living in the dormitories with the other children. When there was room for them at the Jewish orphanage, they would then be transferred, and the promise was kept. There, they all remained until each one turned 16 years of age, only to be dismissed into the world, like a prisoner, with nothing more than a change of clothing and bus fair to the city.

#BrotherhoodSisterhoodWeek

The compassion of those Catholic nuns and the care they gave the children of that Jewish immigrant, when Jews were hated as much as they ever were in this country, kept me from ever harboring feelings of prejudice toward other people due to the religious or racial background. But there was more in the lessons I derived from my roots, since every one of those seven brothers and sisters became prosperous and famous in their own right.

One [brother] became an attorney, another a famous artist, and another [became] manager of an apartment complex, while still another became a fine professional carpenter. And [there was my] aunt, who danced as a ballerina with a New York ballet company, as well as an uncle who had his own advertising agency.

The Carter Family, Sept. 1943
Clockwise: Eugene, Esther, Gloria and Joy

My mother met my father when she applied for a job as a typist and secretary at his real estate office. My dad was a devout Christian, so when they were married, she easily embraced his faith and was able to pass on to me the best of three worlds, reflecting the Catholic upbringing with Temple on the Jewish Sabbath and, then, the Christian church, where the precepts were strictly followed in my parents’ home during my own childhood.

The story held the attention of the class just long enough… By the time I had completed the story, I led directly into an assignment of bringing in an account of each students own background and heritage or family roots with much discussion and their various religious practices and ethnic customs. It was a successful experience… Until now, I never wrote about this. Perhaps somebody will benefit from knowing about it, however.

The ‘boy’ Mom spoke of in her memories (above) went on to be a writer and he spoke at Mom’s memorial service, a couple of years ago, about the positive impact she had on him over those teen years and beyond. He credited Mom for influencing him to become a writer and for the quality time she spent with him, voluntarily, to encourage and nurture his love for writing.

#RandomActsOfKindnessDay

Today is also, among other things, Random Acts of Kindness Day and yesterday kicked off Random Acts of Kindness Week, which, this year, is February 16th-22nd. However, while this is an awesome day and week to celebrate acts of kindness, in general, being kind and compassionate should happen every day!

After all, weren’t we taught to be good and kind since we were toddlers in Kindergarten, or even earlier? According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,  Fulghum “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children, i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living ‘a balanced life’ of work, play, and learning.

#MakeKindnessTheNorm

Many others thought this way, as well. One group developed a non-profit organization, which has its own website at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org, where they promote making random acts of kindness “the norm”, offering a lot of stories about kind acts and other inspirations of kindness. Additionally, at WisdomQuotes.com , you’ll find “440 Kindness Quotes That Will Make You A Better Person” – more than enough ideas of which to follow at least one every day for the rest of the year! Practice makes perfect – it also creates habits, which will, hopefully, become natural reflexes.

It’s a shame that the simple act of being kind to someone is forgotten by many after they leave kindergarten. If a kindergartner can understand its importance to society, shouldn’t we all? Like Aesop said: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” In other words, a culture of kindness can have a positive ripple effect. However, doing something nice should be a selfless act. That’s what inspires others to pay it forward, in the same fashion. On the other hand, being kind solely for the recognition of it throws a selfish disruption in the whole system.

In fact, we receive many other types of rewards from simply being kind to others, without the want of recognition. NationalDayCalendar.com lists some benefits that performing random acts of kindness give us, as psychiatrists claim, it… “Fuels personal energy and self-esteem… Makes you happier… [Is] good for your heart… [And] helps you live longer…” Even science has proven the health benefits that being kind promotes. You can read about it at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

#RandomActsOfKindnessWeek

I want to pass this on, to do for this week’s celebration of Random Acts of Kindness Week. It’s from an article on StarTribune.com called “Why Being Kind Makes You Healthier”, by Chrystle Fiedler (July 24, 2019): “Try the seven-day kindness challenge. That means, do at least one act of kindness every day for seven days. Ground rules: Do something different each day; push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once and be sure one of your acts of kindness is anonymous — no one should ever find out who did it.”

In so many ways, Mom and Dad, both, set good examples for me to follow. I am so grateful that my family heritage, on both sides, that I know, were good and kind people. I’m proud to do the same, setting a good example for my children to follow (as well as for people that know me) and that they will continue it, as well, making kindness the daily norm. Like a smile, a random act of kindness – just because – can be contagious. But, unlike the coronavirus, that’s a good thing. Plant the seed, every day, and watch kindness grow wild!

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. This is Mom’s copycat recipe for Kentucky-Style biscuits, which was also among her “free recipes” offers.

This recipe is for today, being #NationalCabbageDay! It’s an encore of Mom’s copycat recipe for Kentucky-Style coleslaw…

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

#TGIM

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com says, “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Seven down, 45 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Love and Marriage

Happy Monday and #TGIM, everyone! As I’ve been saying each week, “thank God, it’s Monday, again” because every Monday is another chance.. to write about my mom… impart memories of her talents with the world… and share one (or more) of her great, original, copycat recipes.

#NationalMarriageWeek

This second week of February has a lot of great things going on! To begin with…and what I want to write most about today… February 7th through the 14th (Valentine’s Day) is National Marriage Week! As NationalDayCalendar.com says, “…marriage is more than a day or a ceremony. A marriage requires dedication and commitment that generates a lifetime of rewards.”

Mom wrote often on the subject of marriage. She even had a few cartoon panels on the subject, too. One of Mom’s quotes about marriage can be found, in part, at WiseFamousQuotes.com (as pictured below) – the complete quote, as seen on page 11 of Mom’s book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989) says, in full: “Good marriages are made in heaven, or so it may seem. But, if that’s the case, a lot of the details will have to be worked out, right here, on earth.” Additionally, in her book, Mom went on to say the following:

https://www.wisefamousquotes.com/gloria-pitzer-quotes/

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 11-12)

LOVE & MARRIAGE – ALL IT TAKES IS DETERMINATION!

If good marriages are, indeed, made in heaven – where are all the bad ones made…? Of course, good marriages are made right here, on Earth, by ordinary mortals, like us; and it’s no help to think otherwise.

To take the fatalistic view that a good marriage is a foreordained blessing from On High is merely to evade responsibility for our own choices and behavior. It just decreases our chances of attaining the kind of loving and mutually rewarding relationship that most human beings long for and avidly seek.

To come even close to approximating such a union, one with another, it’s obvious that we have to scrap all the misleading old myths that stand in our way. I can think of no better way to do this than by repeating what may be a new one: ‘When it comes to love and marriage, the only infallible rule is that there are no rules at all!’

NO MATTER WHAT Marlo Thomas Donahue is saying about a marriage becoming anything you want it to be in today’s society… our husbands, who were raised [before the 1950s, believe] ‘women’s work’ is STILL women’s work! Of course, now, I have a workable solution to all of this, which enables a gal to undo whatever nonsense was taught a man along the way about a ‘woman’s place’ in the marriage.

WHAT’S VALUABLE – THE FAMILY

THE FAMILY IS IMPORTANT to this troubled world that seems not to know what direction to go in for comfort and relief. So, I cater, in our publications, mostly to this family, with all of the old-fashioned values I can gather and still not sound corny or even ‘preachy’!

That for which I am most grateful, however, as I see how our family has worked together in helping us to build this dining room table enterprise into a substantial and professional operation, is the friendship that has grown over the years between [Paul, me and] the five children…my cup runneth over!

Like The Beatles sang, “love is all you need”; however, as TheList.com explains in their article, “The Surprising Benefits to Being Married” – that “marriage has so many awesome perks”! In fact, they list 11 major advantages that covers most everything from better finances to more happiness to improved health for married couples. I’ve also heard most of these benefits on several different occasions from multiple news sources; so, I suppose, there must be some merit to them.

When I started to write this week’s blog, I knew what I wanted to write about, but I didn’t have a good title in mind. Then, the more I wrote, I just couldn’t get a certain song out of my head. I kept hearing Frank Sinatra, one of Mom and Dad’s favorite performers, singing “Love and Marriage”! This song was also used as the theme song for the famous, television comedy, “Married, With Children”.

MARRIAGE IS TRULY A COMMITMENT in which two compatible people promise each other “to be faithful…to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part”… as some of the standard, civil, wedding vows commonly recite.

Compatibility, forgiveness and communication are probably among the most major qualities required for the success of a marriage. After Dad retired from the sign company, in 1976, to help Mom manage the business side of their family enterprise, so she could concentrate on the creative side of it; they spent almost every single day together, 24/7/52, for the rest of their lives! Throughout the years, their marriage was tested in more ways than one – but it withstood all the tests… and not until death did they part. And, now, they are together, again for eternity.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, Algonac, MI – 1976

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 62-64)

#Compatibility & #Forgiveness

The most often asked question about Paul and I working together in this family enterprise is how we managed to remain so compatible after 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, since August 1976. The basis, I believe, for every successful relationship is always between two good forgivers. Sure, we get in each other’s way once in a while. But we never stay mad for long.

When we were in Ventura, California, in August 1989, we visited an old Spanish mission that was founded over 200 years ago. In the church edifice was a one-word sign on the wall near the rear of the room. It so greatly impressed me that I thought about it for days. The word was FORGIVE. A powerful message. The essence of The Master’s own message during his earthly ministry nearly 2000 years ago.

FORGIVE – who, why, what for? In forgiving, we free ourselves from the imprisoning thoughts of resentment, of retaliation [and] anger. In forgiving, we let go of bitterness, contempt, even hatred. We are free then to love, to heal, to be healed altogether.

One word – FORGIVE – but 1,000 messages. A dictionary says of this word, ‘to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; pardon (an offense or offender).’ Forgive! It’s final, complete. There are no stipulations, no exceptions in the activity of forgiveness – no qualifications for anyone to meet.

Whatever the offense, we let go of the urge to see the offender punished when we forgive. It’s a cleansing action. It wipes clean the slate of past grievances. The more we remember past offenses, the less likely we are to exercise our freedom to pardon. Sometimes, forgiving ourselves is even harder than forgiving someone else. Forgiving requires loving. And loving is spiritual activity. Spiritual activity is prayer. So, when we are praying, we are also forgiving and, likewise, being forgiven.

Our Heavenly Father forgives us so easily, so completely. He never withholds His forgiveness from His children, His beloved offspring, which include each one of us – you, me, everyone! So, in examining the meaning of the word forgive, I can erase the pain of past offenses. I can put the word forgive into action – put it to work in my relationship with others. It’s remembering to do so that takes a little work and a lot of practice, but before you know what, it becomes a habit!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, 1956

THE LAST THING EVERY NIGHT and the first thing every morning, I whisper a ‘thank you’ to God for Paul. The last thing every night Paul’s arms are around me as we go off to sleep, and I find his arms around me again when awakening in the morning and then, too, my first conscious thought is ‘Thank you, Father, for this good man’s love, for the beautiful partnership we have in our marriage, with our family, in our work… Thank you.’

It’s something I do automatically every night and every morning. Even the laws of physics and physiology can never reveal to us the indisputable way in which the Creator constantly participates in the life of each of us. It points out to me over and over again that the launching pad for successful change around us is actually the change within us!

To be in marvelous accord on a number of important issues in a conversation with someone you love, who loves you back, is grand. But… lasting marriages just do not ‘happen’. They have to be shaped and molded out of the good that one or both who are concerned will see and act upon opportunities to inspire improvements.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, 1956

MOST MARRIAGES begin with the expectation that they will last forever. In marriages that do last, forever is not only a hope, but an ongoing philosophy. The partners simply do not think seriously about divorce as a viable option. This attitude that a marriage will last, must last, tempers their approach to conflicts and imperfections. These people are committed to the marriage, as well as to each other.

They know that love needs time to take root and then expand; that in an enduring marriage, time is on your side. Time allows you the security of taking each other for granted, in the best sense of the term, without having constantly to impress or to prove yourself.

[As for Paul and me,] I don’t know how or when the transformation took place, but it did – gradually, beautifully. I am not sure, but perhaps the Divine hand of heaven moved the family to become more harmonious. We never really talked about specific changes in attitude or behavior…

Most folks don’t like to be ‘preached’ to. [However,] to be ‘ministered’ to is different… When we are ‘ministered’ to, we are cared for, looked after and handled with quiet compassion – but never with pity. We can inspire someone to change but we dare not insist upon it!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, December 1970

When we see those we care about, somehow in conflict, and we know we can’t interfere; we can, instead, give out strong, moral support in silent prayer. Sometimes we focus so much on what is WRONG, that we fail to see how to correct it. We worry too much on WHO is right, rather than on WHAT is right!

In overcoming just the ordinary aggravations of being in business for ourselves, we also had to iron out the little conflicts over who would handle certain aspects of the work and how it would be handled. We were constantly having to compromise. That was the toughest step! Paul’s mother surely would have been proud of us and what we had accomplished together, if she had been able to witness any of this.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, Thanksgiving Day 2005

It is not easy to carry out the details of a demanding schedule and keep harmony at a priority, making every effort to keep the atmosphere healthy and still harmonious. To me, this was of utmost importance. Sometimes, being in complete agreement was impossible, but the error to be corrected was always in separating the act from the person. That, alone, made forgiving so much easier and without that forgiving we could never have worked together all these years – seven days a week… 52 weeks a year.

To be able to overlook the things that are not important has made the compatibility easier to experience, too. Being picky about something, we have said to each other, could only lead to increased discontent and sometimes snowball right into a major confrontation of shouting and fist-clenching. Thank goodness, neither of us ever let it get to that stage, since we both wanted to have the best possible relationship. We work at it!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, summer 2012 (Ohio)

According to Business Insider, Nevada holds the highest divorce rate in the country, advocating the ease of it. Meanwhile, according to RealSimple.com, Hawaii has the lowest divorce rate, which they attributed to less stressful lifestyles.

There are so many reasons why some marriages make it, and some don’t. Even though couples, in general, have many commonalities, every couple is inevitably different. Some are “meant to be”, as Mom would frequently say. In fact, Mom and Dad were always “meant to be.” Now, they’re together forever. I believe my husband and I are “meant to be”, as well; our friendship (and my husband’s patience with me) makes a solid cornerstone in our relationship. The longer we grow old together, the more I think we seem to follow in Mom and Dad’s footsteps quite often.

One last thought on marriage… from one of Mom’s 1973 syndicated panels, called “Could Be Verse©”, which was three or four lines of satirical rhyme or bumper-sticker-type logic… Mom wrote: “All marriages are happy… Love songs and laughter – What causes all the trouble is the living together AFTER!” She also did a cartoon panel about it in her series, Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer, and it can be seen in her “Food for Thought” editorial, on page 52 of My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989).

IN CLOSING…

This year, in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe is also in honor of today, being National Cream Cheese Brownie Day…this recipe is found in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 18).

#CreamCheeseBrownieDay

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

DON’T FORGET – FRIDAY IS VALENTINE’S DAY! Other national week-long observances and celebrations going on, this 2nd week of February, include the Great American Pizza Bake, National Jell-O Week & Random Acts of Kindness Week!

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Six down, 46 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – More Little Steps

Happy February and happy Monday to all! Thank God, It’s Monday, again! #TGIM

February is Great American Pies Month and National Bake for Family Fun Month; plus National Hot Breakfast Month and National Snack Food Month! On top of that, TODAY is National Football Hangover Day and National Carrot Cake Day! Hence, check out the end of this blog entry for Mom’s copycat recipe for a carrot cake like Awrey’s used to offer in our local grocery stores – another one of her “Original 200” recipes that helped launch her success as the Recipe DetectiveTM.

That was the name bestowed on her in the mid-1970s by the radio listeners of Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show heard, at that time, on WWJ-Radio, in the Detroit area. That was a significant cornerstone in the building of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM legacy. She always referred to her business as a “family enterprise”. But it was, truly, Mom’s creation right from its very inception. The recipes, the research, the tests – everything, from the design of her products to the development of their contents to the marketing of it all – that was all Mom! Dad managed the business end and kept all the records (I think that’s from where I got my OCD.) We kids helped Mom with simple tasks, after school and on the weekends… even into our adult hoods, and we continued to help out when business was more than busy for Mom and Dad to handle alone.

However, as with most every other small business, about the time that the internet became a household item for most people, the “Mom and Pop” operations began to dwindle. Likewise, the “hard copy” bookstores followed suit. It wasn’t easy for Mom to give up her life’s work when she retired her newsletter in December 2000, after 27 years of being in print. She had planned to still keep her hands in the industry a little bit, by consulting and free-lance writing among other things. But the newsletter was Mom’s baby!

Last week, I wrote about all the little steps it took for Mom to trail-blaze the copycat recipes movement – but that was only the beginning, as there were many, many more little steps in the journey to her success as the Recipe DetectiveTM. There is so much more to it, so this is my continuing story of Mom’s story, as she wrote about in many of her self-published books and newsletters. But especially so, in 1989, when Mom wrote and published, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop, which was, basically, her story – although, she referred to it as ‘our family’s story’, because she always considered her Secret RecipesTM legacy a “family enterprise”. Mom had, at one time, in 1996, intended on writing a sequel to that book, as I have some of her lay outs for it. They inspire me even more so to re-tell her story!

Since 1974, when Mom began focusing on the development of her copycat-style recipes to imitate popular and famous grocery products, franchise restaurant dishes and fast food items, she subsequently carved out a unique niche in the food industry that brought her much attention; as word traveled fast across the wire services, considering the day and age it was, before common internet – mind you, this was decades before home computers and the world wide web!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 24)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS

IT WAS WHILE I WAS WRITING for the Port Huron Times Herald that I was asked to do the food page column… And found [me] answering a stack of readers’ mail. The first question I came to, really launched what was to become Secret RecipesTM. [1973] A reader wanted to know how to make the sauce like a place, called McDonald’s, puts on their double-deck hamburgers.

‘A place called McDonald’s’ meant a drive into the city, where this place, then, had only one arch. A sample of what they called their ‘secret sauce’ turned out to be a very good Thousand Island dressing, not unlike what Bob’s Big Boy was already using on their double-deck hamburgers.

After a few taste-tests at home, the family agreed that we had come pretty close to their sauce; and, so, I included my version of their product in my food column along with a few other tidbits. The response from readers was so gratifying that the editor was only too happy to have me continue along this path for several weeks to come.

Each week, I took another famous place, similar to McDonald’s, and tried to re-create a dish at home that would come close to what the restaurant called their ‘secret recipe’. I was doing just fine until the week I decided to do a cheesecake recipe – ‘the one that nobody doesn’t like.’ [Sara Lee’s slogan]

Well, those wonderful people [from Sara Lee] had just bought a whole page of advertising in that week’s food section, and they thought it was not only ungrateful, but downright rude of us to run a recipe for a product that was supposed to be just like theirs. I could see their point. The editor was beside himself with worry and immediately told me to drop the column!

I thought ahead to the time when we could… [flatter them with imitation…] But they were hardly flattered. I wanted to talk with the advertisers and try to work out something that would flatter them and their product…

[…which did indeed work in Mom’s favor, later on, with the Hershey’s people; regarding their indignation of her imitation for homemade peanut butter cups, allegedly like theirs, AND using a name for her product that too closely resembled their own…]

…but [for Sarah Lee’s people] the editor would not hear of it. He told me to go back to the old way of doing the food column, which meant lima bean casseroles, plain chocolate cake and recipes with boring ingredients; or, as he told me, I could pick up my check.

Well, I was so sure that the recipe imitation idea would work, if not with his paper, was somebody else’s that I told him to ‘mail it to me!’ …I went home to eventually start my own paper – what is now our Secret RecipesTM Newsletter©, and as the events leading up to and beyond, developed, step-by-step, the learning experiences contributed beautifully to the outcome.

In the opening paragraph of Charles Dickens’ famous novel, A Tale of Two Cities, he wrote: ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…’ Those times were not much different from those which we experienced in small town, mid-America in the 1970s.

Like most Americans, back then (and still), Mom and Dad struggled to make ends meet for our family of seven (plus, a dog and cat, too), even though both of them were working. But, somehow, they always found a way to get through those trying times. Mom was very crafty at making whatever they could not afford to buy, from clothes and accessories to personal products like soap to food products like pet treats and many grocery items from frozen to shelf-stable options. As the old proverb says: “Necessity is the mother of invention!”

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 36)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS (Cont’d)

IT WAS THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME to launch a new business. The unemployment rate was terribly high. There was a newsprint paper shortage. There was a gasoline shortage. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication, however. My confrontation with the editor at the Times Herald over the cheesecake recipe [like Sarah Lee’s], was probably the best thing that ever happened to me – us, as a family, in fact.

I was forced to finally do something that, until then, I had only talked about doing because the advice I had listened to was bent on having somebody else handle my work. Of course, I could not tell Paul what I was going to do – that I was going to publish a newsletter and I was going to try and sell subscriptions to it all without the help of the [publishing and syndicating] agencies to which I had previously been turning.

I was determined to make this idea work, because I knew it was a good idea! It was a service that was needed [and not being met] and one that I could provide without ever having to leave the children again. With the help of the Almighty, I had every confidence that turning out a recipe newsletter was going to be something that would bless everyone concerned: me, the readers, the products mentioned, the reviews of restaurants – every idea was a blessing!

Whenever Mom was told that something was not achievable, her first instinct was to try to disprove it! She always had to at least try, anyway! After all, as Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “You have not failed until you quit trying.” That was the kind of attitude on which Mom was raised. She always had faith in whatever she thought the Lord had planned for her, and she would trudge through whatever she had to face, in order to get where she wanted to be.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 38)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS (Cont’d)

I ENLISTED THE HELP OF THE CHILDREN. I was taking in ironing at the time, at about $5 a basket, and sometimes I would earn as much is $50 a week. The money was supposed to supplement Paul’s paycheck, which – as soon as we found could make ends meet, discovered somebody had moved the ends. So I took what money I could from the ironing earnings and kept the paper, ink and other supplies in stock in order to produce what was necessary to complete the newsletter.

I cut the stencils on my typewriter, added the drawings and fashioned a literary ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’, as my dad would’ve said. The utility room, which was in the back of the house and looked out over the yard and the long driveway to the road was a perfect position to be in when it was time for Paul to arrive home from work at the end of the day. I would post the kids at the window to watch for Daddy so that I would be able to get everything put away and out of sight. I could not tell him what I was doing until I could assure him that it was paying for itself and that I was not going to lose money.

For nine months, I mimeographed, assembled and mailed out about 100 copies a month of my newsletter, the names of the subscribers having come from letters I kept from readers of my columns and from names and addresses given in other magazines where folks were looking for recipes. I mimeographed my own business cards and, as I have already told you, had no qualms at all about cutting them out and inserting them into [other] cookbooks in bookstores or department stores; leaving them in phone booths, in ladies’ restrooms in restaurants or wherever I might find a likely audience. You must take every opportunity when you start out. Some ideas work. Some don’t.

We tread a rather steep path when we attempt to wish on everyone what seems a solution to our own problems. It actually takes courage to think for oneself in a world which appears to have more than its share of profits of despair. I wasn’t listening to any of them. I had my listening thoughts tuned into Angel messages that were leading me in a happier direction. I was never willing to give up. I’m still not!

Mom and I at her 80th Birthday Party – Photo by Paul Jaekel, Jan. 2016

And neither am I, willing to give up what I am doing in Mom’s stead…as many steps as it takes!

IN CLOSING…

This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe is also in honor of National Carrot Cake Day! #NationalCarrotCakeDay

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

#TGIM

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story, again; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Five down, 47 to go!

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