Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Homesteading

Happy Monday to all! Mondays are my #52Chances each year! So, #TGIM – because it’s another chance for me to share “Memories of My Mom”!

Homesteading was a big part of our roots. Do you think it will be a big part of our future, too? Over the past century, we’ve all experienced some hard times in our lives at some point, or the fallout from it. Especially our ancestors, who lived through the eras of the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 1930s’ Great Depression, just to name a couple.

These are unprecedented times for us. Everywhere, people are being asked to work from home if they can and consider social distancing, if they can’t; plus, thorough hand washings, often, among other recommendations… No more non-essential travel, gatherings or activities are becoming the new norm for us, while toilet paper and cleaning products are being hoarded beyond need!

We are a society of gatherers and we’re used to our freedom to do so. We take our freedoms for granted, making it so difficult for so many of us to physically separate ourselves from others. However, at least now, we have the internet and things like “Facebook Live” and “Face Time” to continue interacting with others. So, we’re all alone together!

My area, recently, had a run on bread that was quickly followed by a run on yeast, as people are resorting more and more to making their own. Given our current circumstances, I think we’re all going to be trying to learn more about old-fashioned “homesteading” skills now. That’s why, last week, I shared my homemade disinfectant recipe with you, as disinfecting sprays and wipes were also becoming a rare commodity – and, as Mom would say, “because great recipes need to be shared!” (Asking only for proper credit if you do!)

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

This week, if you want to make your own bread and can’t find yeast, I have one of Mom’s wonderful copycat recipes for you at the end of this blog entry. It’s called “Beer Bread” and it’s from page 152 of Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018). The element of yeast is already in the beer and the alcohol content evaporates with the cooking process, creating an awesome bread! (Again, asking only for proper credit if you share it!)

Who would’ve thought that Mom’s original ideas, back in the 1970s, about duplicating famous dishes in our own kitchens and “Eating Out At Home”, as well as creating “Homemade Groceries”, would be so popular, yet again, as restaurants across the country have been closing their dining rooms in an effort to help squash the spread of the Covid-19 virus through gatherings in their establishments.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

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. 4)

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

WE ALL EXPECT life to be good to us – most of the time. That isn’t too much to ask, now, is it? But when things don’t work out the way we had planned or [as we had] hoped… the tendency is there to feel [that] life gave us lemons. The best experiences often come out of the biggest disappointments. So, when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade – turning a ‘let-down’ into a ‘set-up’…

Norman Vincent Peale once said that God never closes a door that he hasn’t opened a window. But the opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity or weary from overwork… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.

To seize every opportunity to express your very best effort is the kind of motivation with which I grew up and have passed on to our five, now-adult, children. When they all lined up for this Memorial Day snapshot [in 1969 (below)], before we left to march in the big parade in beautiful, downtown Algonac; little did we know how beautifully our [lives] would tun out. How little did we know what big challenges would tempt us to give up [and] to succumb to defeat.

Photo by Gloria Pitzer (1970-ish)

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. 40)

‘We must not let the snags overcome us and render our lives a misery instead of a blessing.’ – Gloria Pitzer

THE MIRROR OF LIFE reflects much more than we see. Writer, David Meisel, said, ‘Life itself is a story that only God knows in its entirety.’ In living our own personal story, each one of us must see the need to minimize fear and magnify hope, to minimize anguish and magnify patience. Truth, in its simplicity, proves that we are best served by periodic self-examination – our thought, our internal rules, our face in the mirror; and what we each believe to be true, what we perceive is life lived for good – for others’ good as well as our own.

My mom was a groundbreaking innovator, starting the COPYCAT/HOMEMADE fast food, junk food and famous restaurant dishes concept. She also taught her readers how to stretch food & reinvent leftovers; plus how to make a lot of their own groceries! Her critics thought it was a passing fad that wouldn’t last.

Not only did it last but it also grew by leaps and bounds! Mom created a movement of people wanting to make their own fast food, junk food and grocery products at home. The concept was so contagious that there were many copycats who were copying the ORIGINAL copycat – some were even to the point of plagiarism!

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. 70)

BACK IN 1976, when The Guinness Book of World Firsts included my discovery of re-creating fast foods at home, it was encouraging. They were most concerned about my version of the Colonel’s ‘secret spices’, McDonald’s ‘special sauce’ and Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, which were among the first recipes that I attempted to imitate. I had been warned, however, early on, by critics, skeptics, newspaper reporters who wrote articles about us and even food experts who contacted us, that my ‘Secret Recipes’ would probably be a short-lived venture, as would the fast food industry itself.

FOR THE PAST 17 years [1973-1989], not a day has gone by without a generous amount of mail or phone calls, expressing an enthusiastic interest in what our family has been doing with the recipes we’ve developed and published, as a kitchen table enterprise. Under the able direction of my husband, Paul, and his full-time management, we have gone from a hand-operating mimeograph machine in our laundry room, to a full-fledged office – staff and all – back, again, to the simplicity of [home and] a two-person operation.

We like it best this way, and we’ve had it all – the sophisticated and expensive means by which we would distribute and publicize our books and newsletter to the exclusiveness of working with radio. I have been invited to do videotapes for TV and VCRs but the filming of our recipes, I have learned, is not as essential to the success of using them, as the critics have insisted. This is proven true through our lending our work, without charge, to the Braille Institute and Books for the Blind, Talking Books. The conversational way in which our recipes are presented, makes a picture unnecessary!

Mom always felt blessed for being able to work from home, doing what she loved most – writing! She often said that she made a living from her writing, but it was the writing that made it all worthwhile! Whenever I sit down to write anything for this blog, I have to say, it certainly feels like the best part of my day!

I love that I can do this blog from home (or anywhere, for that matter)! Unfortunately, it doesn’t make a living for me – not yet, at least. Meanwhile, my “paying job” is considered part of the “essential services” workforce that has been allowed to remain working because it provides a service for the grocery and pharmacy stores’ support systems.

My work takes me all over, to various stores in my county; thus, when I have to work, I remain conscious of my surroundings and practice all the recommended hygiene and disinfecting guidelines. I also try to keep my social distance from others and stay out of close/confined public areas, whenever possible. I don’t want to contract the virus, nor be a carrier of it. But, unfortunately, the bills don’t stop coming in because of this 2020 virus pandemic and they still need to be paid.

BEER BREAD By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018; p. 152)

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, beaten

12-ounce can Busch Light beer

Instructions:

Mix the flour and sugar together with a fork and set aside. Beat the egg and beer together in an accommodating cup. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquid. Mix it only until all dry particles have been moistened, like a muffin batter should be mixed. Do not over-beat! Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350°F for about 30 to 35 minutes or until you can insert a thin wooden skewer through the center to the bottom of the pan and remove it without any traces of wet batter. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Wipe top of loaf with melted butter and dust lightly with sugar. Slice when cooled.

NOTE: If the bread appears to fall or sink while cooling, it means you didn’t bake it long enough. If it’s heavy and moist, it means you over-beat it. If it turns out dry and crumbly, it means you didn’t beat it enough – so don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the recipe has only 4 ingredients that you can slap it together and have it turn out beautifully. Combine ingredients with care!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

#NationalStressAwarenessMonth & #StressAwarenessMonth

April is just around the corner and it’s considered National Month of Hope & National Stress Awareness month! Why not “Spring forward” and start observing it today – because, as NationalDayCalendar.com says, “this month, we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.” The website also lists 5 great ways to “de-stress” if you find yourself overwhelmed by your current situation with this pandemic or some other situation.

Shout out to MarcAndAngel.com at https://www.marcandangel.com/2015/02/25/7-ways-to-stay-strong-when-everything-goes-wrong/, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”, that really applies to these current, troubled days that we’re all facing! I found the following excerpt from it especially inspiring:

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt; you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.”

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: 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 and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. 12 down, 40 to go!

 

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Forward To Healthy Cleaning

As always, happy Monday to everyone and happy St. Patrick’s Day Eve! #TGIM! Today is a new chance for me to share memories of my mom! #52Chances!

Spring 2020 will begin Thursday night and National Cleaning Week starts on Sunday! However, with the growing spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), like many others, I started my spring-cleaning regimen early and am doing an even more in-depth cleansing of everything, from top to bottom!

I’m one of those “weirdos” that love to clean – and, also, to organize! I’m not sure why – maybe I inherited it from my Dad, as Mom “strongly disliked” cleaning and organizing. It’s not that she didn’t do it, Mom just didn’t LIKE to do it. Not everyone gets a joy out of things like cleaning and organizing. In fact, most people probably would agree that they don’t care to do it, themselves, any more than they need to – and they will often find excuses to put it off or avoid it all together.

While I really enjoy the finished “accomplishment” of a good and thorough cleaning job (I’ve always loved the smell of chlorine bleach for as long as I can remember), organizing is more like a favorite hobby to me. I’ve been known to dump things out just to re-organize them – like re-doing a puzzle over and over.

For her own office space, Mom preferred, what she called, an “organized mess”. She kept a sign on her desk (as pictured above), which she picked up somewhere after I took it upon myself, one time, to clean and organize her office and desk as a good deed.

#NationalCleaningWeek

Weeks ago, before the Covid-19 virus became such a pandemic, here, I had heard that National Cleaning Week was coming up soon and I actually got a little giddy and started writing down my spring-cleaning-to-do list – as it was soon going to be time to move the furniture around, flip the bedroom mattress and rotate the seasonal clothes – just to name a few of the things I usually do when the spring and fall seasons roll around. I know I’m weird – and that’s okay – just living my true self!

With the run on cleaning products at all the stores, I’ve resorted to making my own disinfectant from water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol – something I learned about 30 years ago, from a local community program, when all of my children were small. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it, adding about ½ tablespoon of peppermint or lemon essential oil for a better scent, as the vinegar and rubbing alcohol can be potent in a small enclosed area, like a bathroom.

However, an ingredient in essential oils is poisonous to cats, so I really don’t use it anymore. I’ll share my “recipe” with all of you, (pictured below) in case anyone else is having difficulties buying disinfecting sprays or wipes these days. As always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

I read at NationalDayCalendar.com that the average American spends about six hours a week cleaning their home. By taking on one room of our house a day, as the website suggests, and cleaning it from top to bottom for one hour, I can burn a lot of calories! Suggested cleaning tasks, by the website, include dusting ceiling fans, door moldings and window tops to begin. I also wipe down the door knobs, light switches, ceilings and walls, as well!

One of the cleaning tasks, which the website mentioned, that people put off or try to avoid the most is dusting. That’s my most hated cleaning job because it seriously effects my allergies and I have A LOT of “tchotchkes” to dust! Additional chores that are most commonly avoided by people include: mopping, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. I remember a couple of Mom’s least favorite cleaning tasks were washing the dishes and making the bed. Everybody is different and, yet, we’re all the same!

#CleaningWeek

HowStuffWorks.com has a great article, called 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. about which I’ve written before. It lists the calorie-burning benefits of many daily chores and cleaning tasks! Since, at that time, I had recently started trying to lose weight and get healthier, it made me love cleaning all the more.

The article claims that 30 minutes of dusting burns 80 calories, 30 minutes of mopping burns 153 calories, 30 minutes of folding clothes burns 72 calories and 30 minutes of ironing burns 76.5 calories. Although, who really irons anymore? These days, I think I only iron “once in a blue moon”, like when I’m quilting.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Other household “activities” that the article claims burns calories includes moving furniture for one hour to burn 504 calories, sweeping a broom back and forth for 10 minutes to burn 28 calories, vacuuming for 20 minutes to burn 56 calories and, surprisingly, preparing dinner for 30 minutes to burn 74 calories. I wonder if Rachel Ray knows that her 30-minute meals have that perk too!

In addition, the article maintained that three hours spent on house painting will burn a massive 1,026 calories! It just so happens that I began repainting each room of our house this weekend. I started in the living room and have already spent many 3-hour sessions on it, so far. Next is the dining room, then the kitchen, followed by the bathroom. It’s been seven to eight years since any of these rooms were last painted.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

For a little comic relief from all the virus and cleaning concerns, here’s a reprint of one of Mom’s satirical, “No Laughing Matter” articles, called “Eat Your Heart Out Mr. Clean!”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan; Feb 14, 1974)

‘Eat Your Heart Out Mr. Clean!’ – by Gloria Pitzer

Many of you have written, asking what shortcuts I recommend for getting through the hang ups of housework. I thought you’d never ask. And I’m happy to share with you some of the lesser known household hints that you are not apt to find in the elegant publications…

Now, my household hints are NOT necessarily recommended by GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, Dr. Seuss, my mother-in-law, the neighbors, Mr. Clean…but they do work! Unless, that is, you’re expecting miracles.

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS: If, while they are in the refrigerator, leftovers become as hairy as hedgehogs at bay, don’t try to throw them out. Feed them dead flies and keep them as pets!

WHAT TO DO ABOUT COBWEBS: If you have cobwebs in your corners and can’t figure out why, because you don’t have a cob in the house; ignore them if you can’t reach them. If somebody calls them to your attention, exclaim with pride, “Oh! I can’t touch those. They’re my son’s science project!”

WHAT TO DO ABOUT JAR LIDS THAT REFUSE TO BUDGE: Tell a 4-year-old not to touch them!

IF YOU HAVE OVER-SIZED HIPS: Wear Jodhpurs. They’ll go out where you do!

IF YOU PUT ON WEIGHT EASILY: Let out your couch!

TROUBLE FALLING A SLEEP? If you can’t count sheep… try talking to the Shepherd!

CONCERNED ABOUT SHORTAGES? Help conserve water… bathe with someone you love! Help conserve paper… stamp out bumper stickers! Get an education… drive a school bus! Eat a beaver… save a tree!

TO CONSERVE ENERGY: Don’t hold post-mortems, brooding over your mistakes. The faster you make one, the less apt anybody is to notice it.

BEFORE GOING TO THE EXPENSE OF REDECORATING YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE: Move!

TO PREVENT SCRUB WATER FROM RUNNING DOWN YOUR ARMS WHILE WASHING WALLS: Hang from your feet!

CLEANER FLOORS: If you have tried the miracle product as advertised on TV and you still can’t get your floors to look as clean as those seen on the commercial, write to the manufacturer of that cleaner and have them send you that mop!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

SHORT ON SILVERWARE AT MEALTIME? Delegate a search party of children to check out the sand box, toy chest and cold air returns. Chance are, you’ll find them!

TO REMOVE CHEWING GUM from a new, white bedspread, apply peanut butter by rubbing with vigorous motions. If it still doesn’t come out, get a new bedspread!

TO AVOID HAVING YOUR HUSBAND USE THE GUEST TOWELS to clean the carburetor…hang only cleaning rags on the bathroom towel racks!

#CornedBeefAndCabbageDay

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, as it will also be National Corned Beef & Cabbage Day, the following recipe comes from Mom’s last cookbook (the ONLY one that’s currently in print) for her good friend’s, Julia Lega’s, legendary Reuben sandwich, as served at Johnnie Lega’s Restaurant & Tavern!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

THE REUBEN – According to Julia Lega

AS SEEN IN… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 187)

The best Rubens can be ruined by the worst sauerkraut. Most of us open a can and heat it up. My good friend, Julia Lega – who’s well-loved sauerkraut put ‘Beautiful Downtown’ Pearl Beach, MI on the world map of favorable fare – suggested this method and I love it!

Open a can of sauerkraut and dump it into a colander. Squeeze out as much of the liquid in which it is canned as possible and run it under cold water, rinsing it well. Then, squeeze out as much of this water as you can. Put the sauerkraut in an accommodating, oven-proof, sauce pan – or kettle, depending on how much you’re preparing – and add just enough chicken broth to keep the sauerkraut submerged.

Next, for every quart (4 cups) of the “squeezed-out” sauerkraut, stir in a 12-inch length of kielbasa cut into bite-sized pieces and 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar. Then peel, core and grate an apple into this. Cover it and place in a 350°F oven for about 45 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes or so.  When the kielbasa is tender, well-browned and appears to have absorbed the apple and the liquids, add 1 medium-sized, raw potato – peeled and grated.

Return pan to oven for another 30 minutes or until you have no traces of potato in the mixture. It should almost dissolve into a smooth sauce-like gravy, which keeps the sauerkraut smooth. At this point, taste-test and adjust the seasonings to taste, adding a pinch more sugar, or salt and pepper if you like. Remove the sauerkraut from the pan with a pair of tongs to add to the sandwiches as you prepare them.

To assemble the Reuben sandwich: butter both sides of 2 pieces of dark rye bread or Russian black bread. Place about ½ cup of the drained and prepared sauerkraut on one slice and then add a slice of Swiss cheese and 3 to 4 ounces, thinly sliced, corned beef (see Index for my homemade Corned Brief recipe in this chapter.) Add top slice of bread and grill on a lightly buttered skillet until the outer surfaces of the assembled sandwich has nicely browned on both sides. Serve at once with a Kosher dill spear.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

#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 and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world… 11 down, 41 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 – Every Day is an Opportunity

As always, happy Monday to everyone and #TGIM!

EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY – a turning point, a gift, an opportunity! And every Monday is another chance for me to tell Mom’s story. This week is International Women’s Week, which started yesterday, on International Women’s Day. And, as I mentioned last week, the whole month of March is also National Women’s History Month! As the old saying goes: “We are women – hear us roar!”

#WomensWeek

My mom was a “creative master” at whatever she attempted. I wish I had half of her talent. Mom wore so many hats in our family and in the “family enterprise”, as she called it. In our family, Mom was cook, maid, chauffeur, doctor, seamstress, counselor, mentor, teacher, and so on. In her dining-room-table-based family enterprise, Mom was the recipe developer, author, illustrator, layout creator, publicist, promotion specialist, public speaker/lecturer and (again) so much more! She was a “Wonder Woman” who devoted every day to balancing all of it!

From the unique design of her works to her “Food-for-Thought” and “Food-for-the-Soul” articles to her “copycat” recipes to her thousands of radio interviews, Mom inspired and touched so many lives through her pioneering years as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Since starting the blog and social media pages in Mom’s honor, I’ve received many emails and Social Media messages from people who remember the joy Mom brought them and their families through her cookbooks and newsletters. That inspires me!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

The following excerpts are from…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 41 & 43)

EVERY DAY IS A TURNING POINT

We always look for a turning point in our lives when things have not gone smoothly. I’m beginning to believe that every day is a turning point – that each experience contributes to our eventual goals and growth. I caution my newsletter readers, even today, not to think in terms of ‘forever’. Think of now and forever will take care of itself. Most of us worry too much about what my mother calls ‘the loaves and fishes’. ‘We worry too much’, Mom insists, and rightly so, ‘about having something to live ON – and too little about having something to live FOR!’

It is not so much where we have been or where we are going but where we are NOW that matters. I look back only to find comfort in those never-again moments during which our five children were growing up and our family enterprise was just getting started. I can only remember how Paul looked when I told him I had bought my own mimeograph machine and how I was using it. BOOM!

1974, Gloria Pitzer mimeographing her newsletter and recipe cards.

MARKETING INSPIRATION

To make the mimeograph pay for itself, I even printed up my own business cards on it, using dime-store construction paper and then cutting the cards apart with scissors until I had neat little stacks of about 50 and a total of 200 or 300 cards. These I distributed at the mall whenever and wherever we might be in one. Paul did not know I was doing this, at first, either, or he would’ve disapproved.

It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too. I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.

From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [areas] in the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores. From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response. What I had at that time was a little book entitled ‘The Better Cookers Cookbook’ [1973], as opposed to our current popular book, ‘Better Cookery’ [1983].

The distribution of information on the book included my mailing a copy of it along with a letter explaining how and why it was written, to several of my favorite newspaper columnists and friends. One with whom I had contact on various subjects before, was Bob Talbert of the Detroit Free Press. He mentioned this little book in one of his columns as ‘for a buck-and-a-half-and-a-belly-laugh’. It worked!

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

HOW TO LAUNCH A NEWSLETTER

Whenever I am asked by somebody wanting to launch a newsletter of their own, how to get started, I wish I could just send them a blueprint or a floor plan, like you would when you build a house or a garage. With newsletter writing and marketing, it’s all based on individuality, and experience being the best teacher and then having a responsive audience. It all begins with the sale.

You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that. You either know how or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light! You have to let your light shine and part of the preparation for communicating with your reader is to know HOW to talk to them, what they need from your newsletters that will enrich them or make their lives better. 

 There’s a powerful wisdom we don’t understand. It comes down to believing…to having faith.’ – Gloria Pitzer

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, pp. 47-48)

THE BEGINNING OF THE FAMILY ENTERPRISE

I had used a recipe in one of my newspaper columns at the Port Huron paper for a sauce like McDonald’s used on their hamburgers. It was such a hit with the readers… It seemed so obvious… Repeat the recipes that were so popular at the paper for those few weeks, only this time putting them into my own newsletter.

I couldn’t wait to get home and get started putting together all of the recipes I could find that had anything at all to do with fast food restaurants or franchise eateries. Nobody, but nobody had done that yet. There were cookbooks on how to do it the way the gourmets did and recipes from famous inns and restaurants with wine stewards and parking valets, but never from a hamburger palace or a pizza carry-out! Those were considered SECRETS. One thought led to another and soon the whole format was taking place on the paper in front of me.

HOW TO SELL IT – RADIO

The request for more and more came almost as immediately as the recipes would circulate, mostly through Bob Allison’s [radio] show, but as well through our newsletter, which was then growing to a circulation of nearly 1000. The idea soon developed to put these famous secrets on index cards and sell them as, I explained earlier, we did prior to the first series of books.

One step led to another and each step came from having absolute faith that failure was impossible. When you unselfishly search for something to do, something to share, I have learned from first-hand experience, you never come away disappointed. I wasn’t looking for the rewards or gratification – only the service for the product. That, I believe, is why it all worked out so beautifully.

1985 Gloria Pitzer

One of the first radio affiliations that I had, other than my regular visits with Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ [radio show], was with Warren Pierce at WJR in Detroit. In those early interviews we talked with Warren’s listeners, answering questions about imitating famous foods and one of the most often requested recipes on that show was for hot fudge like Sanders (Fred Sanders Confectionery Company).

It was right after I had given the recipe on the air and immediately after Carol Haddix had printed my recipe for that ice cream topping in the Detroit Free Press that a letter came from Jack Sanders, Chairman of the Board of Sanders and great-grandson of the company’s founder. At once, I looked at the envelope and imagined trouble because I had come so close to the original with my recipe.  

But quite the contrary! It was an invitation to Paul and me and our family to visit the Saunders plant and headquarters in Highland Park (Michigan) and to see, he wrote to us, ‘if it doesn’t spoil your fun’ how their products were really made. We became good friends after that exciting tour and in our ‘Fast Food Recipe Book’ I give you some 16 pages of information and history, plus recipes that have been inspired by Sanders products.

Obviously, doing an e-newsletter requires a long-time commitment; as well as devotion, responsibility and dedication whether I’m doing it for a few people or for thousands of people. Once I commit to writing an e-newsletter – whether it’s weekly, monthly or something else – I need to have a goal or purpose for how it will fit into my “big picture”. I also need to gather and collect good subject matter for it. Most of this, I have; but, not all!

After setting a goal or purpose and collecting the content for it, next, I would have to create my own template or choose a template from a “host” such as MailChimp, MailerLite or ActiveCampaign, to name a few in this market. This is where I get lost, as I am not tech-savvy! My brother, Mike, set up this website – not me. I just learned how to work with the WordPress and GoDaddy systems that he set up for me. And, trust me, it’s not easy…not for me, anyway.

I’ve looked at so many articles and videos on “how to create an e-newsletter” (even the ones “for dummies”), yet, I still feel overwhelmed and inadequate to understand and follow all of the required steps to achieve this ambition of mine. I used to be a “quick study”, always able to learn things on the fly and fairly easily. After I passed 50 years old, it’s become harder and harder, every year that goes by. Sometimes you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and sometimes you can – it just takes a lot longer.

Thus, I’ve decided to shelve the e-newsletter idea, for a while. I don’t feel I am ready for the time and dedication involved in learning how to create AND execute such a project. I’m still occupied with building up this website to how I’d like it to look and function, as well as writing the “Memories of My Mom” blog every week, while working a “money-paying” job that helps compensate some of our household bills.

#NationalMeatballDay

On another subject – March 9th, is (among other things) National Meatball Day! When it comes to meatballs, at least in Michigan, the first name that comes to mind is our famous Schuler family. Win Schuler’s was one of Michigan’s longest-established, family-owned restaurants, spanning four generations and having celebrated their 110th anniversary just last year, before selling the company to a long-time associate and close, family friend, Sue Damron, in Oct. 2019.

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay 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, and, hopefully, re-inspire love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. 10 down, 42 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – March is Women’s History Month

Happy Monday and happy March to everyone! As usual, thank God it’s Monday – #TGIM – as it’s another chance for me to share Mom’s story with the world, again!

#NationalWomensHistoryMonth

March is National Women’s History Month!  According to NationalDayCalendar.com, “National Women’s History Month was established in 1987 as a way to celebrate women across the nation and their efforts to make the country, and world, a better place for women of all ages and races.”

So, what better time is there to tell my mom’s story? Mom was a pioneer in the food industry, as she was the first person (let alone, the first woman) to begin the copycat cookery movement, back in the 1970s, imitating the “secret recipes” of “famous foods from famous places”, right at home!

Mom always felt that we could and should, all of us, make the world a better place – she liked to do it through her food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul articles, as well as her UNIQUE (at that time) food-for-the-table recipes.

In the mid-1970s, Mom was nicknamed the “Recipe Detective” by the radio listeners of Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” call-in program, because she could decipher what combinations of ingredients and techniques could be used at home to imitate many favorite restaurant dishes and fast food items; as well as packaged “junk foods” and other supermarket products, for which people were searching to replicate. Later, Mom trademarked the nickname, as it became her signature format.

Fast food (and junk food) items were the most requested recipes for which Mom was asked to decode and devise a copycat version. Those types of recipes weren’t found in any other source being published at that time and people were clamoring to find out how to make their favorites at home. After all, fast foods epitomized the very restaurants where most American families, like ourselves, were apt to patron if they wanted an affordable meal!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p.293)

I was a regular participant on Bob Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighborradio show that aired 5 days a week for 2 hours in the morning. I used Bob’s program for asking for food information that I needed for my weekly columns. Bob’s audience was very helpful in supplying me with answers. To reciprocate, I would reply to some of the requests made by his audience when they called into Bob’s show.

It was a unique format in that one could not simply call in a recipe or information simply because they wanted to share it with others. The information or the recipe had to, first, be requested by a previous caller. Many of my first ‘Secret Recipes’ were developed because of requests made by Bob’s callers for such dishes as The Colonel’s secret spices, Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, Sander’s hot fudge, Win Schuler’s bar cheese and so on.

At the suggestion of one of Bob’s callers that I should put all my column recipes into a book, I wrote my 1st edition [1973] called ‘The Better Cooker’s Cookbook’. In less than a month, I had sold 1000 copies. I wasn’t satisfied with the book, so I didn’t reprint it – but, decided that it might work out better if I could do those recipes monthly.

So, in December 1973, I put together my 1st issue of what came to be my ‘Secret Recipe Report’; a newsletter that, for 106 consecutive monthly issues, brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry. I probably wouldn’t have done the [newsletter], except for a falling-out I had [at the time] with the editor of a small-town paper for which I was writing a food column.

I had published some of my 1st attempts at duplicating famous dishes in that column and the response was beautiful, until I offended one of the paper’s biggest advertisers with a rendition of their cheesecake… ‘The kind that nobody doesn’t like.’ The editor told me I would have to go back to standard recipes like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf or chocolate cake – or I could pick up my check. I told him to ‘MAIL it to me!’

That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own paper. That afternoon, I put out my charter issue, sending samples of it to those whose names and addresses I had on file from having written to me at the paper. That was the beginning of ‘Secret Recipes’!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p.296)

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. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication. It was something I had always wanted to do. I couldn’t tell Paul. I knew that! He would have been far too practical to have approved of my starting my own paper, so I enlisted the help of our children.

I was taking in ironing at the time, at $5 a basket, and sometimes earned as much as $50 a week. The money was supposed to supplement Paul’s paycheck, which – as soon as we found could make ends meet – we discovered somebody had moved the ends. So, I took what money I could from the ironing earnings and bought a mimeograph. I kept it in a big box in the utility room under my sewing table. Paul would hardly pay attention to what I wanted him to think was only sewing paraphernalia.

For nine months, I mimeograph, assembled and mailed out about 100 copies a month of my newsletter. Bill and Mike helped assemble it and Debbie help me test the recipes and address the copies. I don’t know how we ever kept it from Paul for that long, but I couldn’t tell him what I was doing until I could assure him that I could make a profit. All I was doing was breaking even.

Then Dennis Wholley, at Channel 7 in Detroit, called and said somebody had sent him a copy of my newsletter. He was tickled with the crazy names I gave the recipes and the home-spun format. He wanted the entire family to be his guests on his ‘A.M. Detroit’ show on November 14 [1974] – which was also our Laura’s birthday. I couldn’t keep it from Paul any longer, because I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to promote the paper on a popular local television show. He took it quite well, considering the state of shock he must have been in at my announcement.

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

But we took all 5 of the kids with us across town, in a blizzard yet, with Laura having a bout of carsickness during the hour’s drive there. And, during that experience, we met Coleman Young, the recently elected mayor of Detroit, who was also a guest on the show. All of Pearl Beach must have been tuned into ‘A.M. Detroit’ that morning, with half of the population gathered at the Pearl Beach post office, watching the portable set there.

It brought us many new orders for our newsletter, and it wasn’t long before CKLW’s Bob Heinz asked us to appear on his show on New Year’s Day. We, again, took the family [to Detroit and] over to Windsor, Ontario – across the Detroit River – for another exciting experience and hundreds of letters that followed, wanting to subscribe to the newsletter. By that time, Paul was giving me every evening of his time when he came home from his own job at the sign company, plus all the weekends just to fill the orders.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

My list of ‘Secret Recipes’ had grown to 200 and we offered them, on 4 x 6” cards [that I printed on my mimeograph], at… 25 [cents] each or 5 for a dollar. It was quite a packaging process to fill the combinations of orders, so I put all those recipes into a book. It was going to be our only book on the subject, since most of the recipes were ‘fast foods’ – [as it was considered a ‘fad’ that wouldn’t last long] but, as it turned out, it was only the 1st of a series of, then, 5 books.

After ‘Book One’ took off [in 1975] and became a very good seller, I did a Bicentennial American Cookery book as a limited edition and was pleased when the Henry Ford Library at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan ordered copies for their Bicentennial collection. That was July 1976…

Mind you, Mom never knew the actual “secret recipes” of the “specialty” restaurants and food companies but she could come up with her own combination of ingredients and techniques in recipes that imitated the famous dishes and products that people craved! In those days, nobody else was doing anything like it.

Mom didn’t write recipes for the usual, ordinary things that other cookbooks offered, at that time, such as ordinary chocolate cupcakes and fried chicken. Instead, Mom was the trail-blazer who brought us the SPECIAL recipes for making imitations of things like Hostess’ Cupcakes and “The Colonel’s” Fried Chicken. Mom often titled her imitations to sound similar to the original inspirations from which they were derived. For example, Mom’s cupcake imitation was called “Hopeless Cupcakes” and her chicken imitation was called “Big Bucket in the Sky Chicken”.

There was a bottomless well of “secret recipe” imitation ideas and inspirations within the food industry, that Mom could tap into – and she did – between supermarket shelves, delis, fast food chains and restaurants, just to name a few. Her self-published books and newsletters stood out from all the others – from the subject matter, itself, to its presentation and promotion!

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

Some of the other national, month-long (March), food-related observances being celebrated this month include Celery Month, Caffeine Awareness Month, Flour Month (with Nat’l Flour Day on the 20th), Frozen Food Month, Noodle Month, Nutrition Month, Peanut Month and Sauce Month, among others. Again, not food-related but close to my heart and Mom’s, as well – it’s also going to be National… Craft Month and Small Press Month!

Yesterday, March 1st, began National eBook Week! Don’t forget to get your copy of Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, available in eBook form, through the publisher, Balboa Press, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253.

Also, in hard copy, through the publisher, Balboa Press, for $20.99 each, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252.

#ThankGodItsMondayDay 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, and, hopefully, re-inspire love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Nine down, 43 to go!