Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter

Happy Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM – because Mondays are my #52Chances a year to share my memories of my mom with all of you!

This week, I’d like to revisit “the beginning” – when Mom started her “cottage industry”, “family enterprise”, “dining room table operation”. It was about 47 years ago, in 1973, when mom was putting together her very first cookbook, entitled The Better Cooker’s Cookbook, comprised mostly from recipes her readers shared with her, as well as those she had developed and printed in her syndicated column, “Cookbook Corner”.

The self-published and self-promoted cookbook, written and illustrated by Mom, came out in 1973 and sold out within a couple of months. I’m not sure how many copies were printed but I remember getting to help color in Mom’s illustrations with colored pencils on hundreds of books. I was about nine years old and it was VERY important to always “stay within the lines”!

But there were so many more recipes in Mom’s collection that she decided to print them on individual index cards and sell them, through mail-order, for 25-cents each or five for a dollar. She also started putting them in a monthly newsletter format that could be collected in a 3-ring binder – a set of which would create a whole book.

“Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter” launched in January 1974 as a 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 12-page, monthly “magazine” full of food information, editorials and news related to “homemakers” and their families, entertaining stories, humorous illustrations, and witticisms; plus, readers’ comments and requests, reviews of products, restaurants, and other publications or similar entities, with about 16 unique recipes (give or take) sandwiched in between.

The newsletters sold for 50-cents each or $5 for a yearly subscription. Mom retired the newsletter in December 2000, with issue number 219. Over the decades, it had evolved to an 8 ½” x 11”, 8-page format with twice as many recipes, writings, and reviews than with which it began.

Some of Mom’s editorials covered the backstories of various fast food and fine-dining restaurants along with recipes for imitations of their most popular dishes. The recipes were developed and tested, personally, by Mom. Of course, the family pitched in also – especially when it came to taste-testing! I can’t recall a “dud” I didn’t like! The “duds” were the recipes Mom never printed because, while they were very good, they weren’t just like the original dishes/products she was trying to mimic.

The “duds” may not have been exactly the same as the products she was trying to replicate but they were always great, nonetheless. I sure wish I had those “dud” recipes now. What a magnificent cookbook they would make! Regardless, Mom wouldn’t stop there, when she was trying to “replicate” a dish as close as possible to the real thing. She was always refining her imitations until she felt they were spot-on! And then, sometimes, for various reasons, she’d revamp them again, proving that there was usually more than one way to reach the same goal.

One of Mom’s early promotions (in 1977) for her monthly newsletter depicted her wry sense of humor, claiming: “Gloria Pitzer is cooking with laughing gas as she explores the world of eating out in order to create recipe-adaptations for dining in. From her dining room table, she and her family write, illustrate, distribute and kitchen-test the recipe creations of the restaurant industry. Only the names of the recipes have been changed to protect the guilty. Any similarities between Gloria’s recipes and the original dishes is purely intentional.”

Another of Mom’s satirical promotions said: “The Pitzer Family’s Publications is a purely relative operation staffed by Paul and Gloria Pitzer and their five children, who also contribute the illustrations to, both, the family’s monthly newsletter and their series of original recipes. Paul and Gloria feel they know their readers more as friends than as customers.” Mom always said, about her monthly newsletter, that “it’s like getting together once a month for coffee with friends.”

The premise of Mom’s reproductions was based on the adage, by Charles Colton, that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Mom believed that, while the restaurants’ dishes and food companies’ products didn’t really come out of test tubes and laboratory beakers, they did come from “scientific” combinations of ingredients (and, in some cases, techniques.)

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

Mom theorized that there were only a few basic recipes from which most everything derived, with the additions of certain flavorings/seasonings and techniques that made one dish distinct from another. She would often try out many different combinations of ingredients, since trial and error usually produced the best results.

Basically, none of the copycat recipes that Mom published during her 40 years, working as “The Recipe Detective” (1974-2014), had been given to her by any of the restaurants or companies. They were HER versions of THEIR dishes/products. She never knew what THEIR “secret” recipes actually were. Furthermore, Mom felt that being able to make these items at home added more loving care to the preparation and controlling the ingredients eliminated the “junk” from the “junk food”.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

Additionally, Mom believed that cooking (and baking) was as much of an art as it was a science – often working like a chemist in the kitchen, trying to identify the various ingredients within a product through scent investigations, visual exams, taste tests, and other experimentations.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977)

FAMOUS DISHES aren’t really all that difficult to duplicate. The first thing you have to do is stop thinking of yourself as a COOK and start thinking as a CHEMIST! You want to take a substance and try to discover its individual components – whereas most cooks… [start] with one ingredient, building around it.

Your task is to take the final result and break it down… in other words, working backwards from the creation of the skilled cook, who usually stirs up a piece of culinary artistry with just a ‘pinch’ of this and a ‘dollop’ of that and a ‘dash’ of something else.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Start with questioning yourself about the food you wish to duplicate… What color is it? What is the texture like? How is it flavored? How is it prepared? You must have something to which you can compare it – a basic recipe from which you can draw the ingredients that lay the groundwork for a duplicated masterpiece.

The only way to duplicate a dish is really to taste and test – over and over until you eventually achieve what you feel are satisfactory results… Restaurants do not always cook from scratch so don’t be disappointed when you find that a ‘duplicated’ recipe employs the use of prepared mixes, because that is the way most of today’s food service businesses do it.

Most of what you eat in the corner diner where the truck drivers stop for good, home cooked, hot [meals] is the same basic food you would also be served in a fine hotel, supplied by the same food manufacturing firms that also stock our supermarkets… The secret of the restaurant’s success is more in the management than the food.

Whenever Mom attempted to duplicate a dish or product, her two initial concerns were, first, being able to do it at home (without special gadgets or hard-to-find ingredients) for less of a cost than purchasing the original; and, second, being able to do it with only a minimal investment of time and labor. Mom always said that she never liked to cook but she did, however, LOVE to eat out!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977)

BUT, WITH A FAMILY of seven, who ate like 20, it wasn’t financially practical to have restaurant outings too often. It just seemed a shame that all of those delicious dishes that were served in restaurants had to be kept secret when families like ours could be enjoying them at home for a fraction of the cost of eating them out.

Our ‘National Homemaker’s Newsletter’ wasn’t using too many recipes in the beginning and those we used seemed to be just frosting on the cake. But each time I discovered the secret of duplicating a recipe from a favorite restaurant, the requests for more poured in. Soon enough, it became, not just the frosting, but the whole cake!

Mom always thought it was strange that it was okay to mention a company’s brand name in her list of ingredients, as companies thought of it like “free advertising” or “recommendations”. However, if she put their name in the title, at the top of the recipe, it was considered “infringing on their trademark” – or so their lawyers threatened with their “cease and desist” letters.

Although not all the companies whose products Mom attempted to imitate felt that way! There were many that accepted Mom’s imitations with honor, as the compliments they were meant to be. The critics predicted that Mom’s style of cookery wouldn’t last very long but it continued because it had merit! In fact, Mom pioneered a movement of copycat cookery for 40 years, until she fully retired in 2014.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977)

FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS, we had only a hundred readers or so. Then, because some good folks in the media took a liking to the newsletter and mentioned it, subscriptions picked up. Bob Allison of Detroit’s WWJ-Radio [show], Ask Your Neighbor, probably gave us the most enthusiastic reception, which led to our becoming a sponsor of the show and caught the attention of the ‘Detroit Free Press’ ‘Newsweek’, ‘National Enquirer’ and many others until we found our circulation had jumped…to nearly 4,000 in a little more than a year.

The duplications of the famous name recipes stirred the [public’s] interest. It was a service that apparently had not been offered to the public yet, and one we were most happy to supply. The humorous columns I had [been syndicating] to newspapers just a few years before became a popular attraction in the monthly newsletter…

The operation grew so quickly that it had the whole family working seven days a week, just to keep up with the orders. All of our five children helped to assemble, staple, address, and mail out the copies under my husband’s supervision, until we reached about 3,000 readers and then we found it [to be] such a full-time activity that my husband resigned from his position of 20-some years as an account t executive for a sign company… just  to devote all of his attention to running my ‘office’.

It was such a joy to be doing something for people that brought them so much happiness and our own family such a sense of unity. When our oldest son, Bill, went off to college… and our [other] son, Mike… we had to replace them. It was pure luck [or Divine intervention] that one of my friends, and the wife of one of the Little League coaches that Paul had worked with in baseball, here, in town, was anxious to help us out.

Sherry Ellis joined us, and I can only describe her as ‘bubbling like a happy brook’ – the best thing that this office could have hoped for. Debbie, our oldest daughter, continued to help us after school and our two younger daughters, Laurie and Cheryl… It even included my mother’s assistance and, you’ll note, I have used some of her recipes. Without her, I never would have learned to boil water properly. She’s a superb cook!

[As of] January 1977, we will publish our 37th monthly issue of the ‘National Homemaker’s Newsletter’ and we [now] have close to 5,000 readers. We say that getting the newsletter is just like getting together once a month for coffee with friends!

It was a bittersweet day when Mom produced her last newsletter in December 2000 – after 27 years of visits with her thousands of readers. By the way, it wasn’t always produced monthly. Sometimes it was produced bi-monthly, offering double the number of pages, recipes, editorials, household tips, and more,. During a few years, it was produced quarterly; again, offering even more pages of writings and recipes than the bi-monthly issues!

#CountryCookingMonth

Continuing, one last time, in the honor of National Country Cooking Month, here are Mom’s copycat recipes for griddlecakes and syrup, like Pancake House; as seen in her cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; June 1977, p. 32). Enjoy!

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

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Sweet Summertime

Happy Monday AND happy summer! I hope all the dads out there had an awesome, memory-making Father’s Day with their kids yesterday! As always, #TGIM – I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year to share these memories of my mom with all of you!

Summer officially arrived over the weekend! I hope everyone got out – in the “Great Outdoors” – and celebrated the Summer Solstice! I’ve been writing a lot about June, being National Country Cooking Month. But, did you know June is also National Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month, as well?

#GreatOutdoorsMonth

After being cooped up, to some degree, as usual, for the winter months, (which, in Michigan, is usually 4 months long instead of 3 – all of December through all of March) people are usually “biting-at-the-bit” to get out and enjoy spring! But this spring turned out to be a 3-month-long (and more extreme) extension of our “winter hibernation”, because of all the pandemic restrictions and closures. So, I ask: “Who isn’t ready to get outside now and explore the “Great Outdoors”?

My husband and I love to enjoy the outdoors by going on a nature hike, or by taking a long scenic drive around Michigan’s “Thumb Area” and having a picnic by the lake or checking out a small village eatery. We also enjoy camping whenever we can get away for the weekend – Michigan has a lot of beautiful campgrounds, parks, and state land to enjoy and explore.

#NationalCampingMonth

I, myself, have been spending more quality time outdoors, this month, going for long walks or working in my gardens, as the weather has been getting warmer. I pulled out our cushions for the backyard furniture and made it “visitor-ready”. In fact, we had a backyard campfire with a few friends to welcome in the summer solstice.

I’ve also started organizing all of our camping gear and going over my checklist so it’s “ready to go” (except for filling our coolers) whenever we are ready to go. We usually go camping a few times a year – spring, summer, and fall. We missed our usual springtime excursion – so we’re really looking forward to our annual summer get-away! How do you like to enjoy your summer?

Photo by Gloria Pitzer, 1964

An online survey of Americans, conducted four years ago, in 2016, by the National Recreation and Park Association, found that the three most commonly preferred summer activities, among all the different age groups, were walking/hiking, going to the beach and having a picnic/barbecue. That sounds about right, still, today! It was interesting, though, that the survey had also found that Millennials preferred going swimming in a pool over walking/hiking.

If you’re one of those who are working out of their home all the time, like Mom and Dad did – or as many have been doing, temporarily, for the past 3 or 4 months because of the Covid-19 restrictions – that can also make you want to “get out and about” every once in a while.

Mom and Dad loved to take a day just to go on a scenic road trip to unwind from the workload at home and refresh themselves. Sometimes, however, work would manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat. Mom always managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home.

FRIENDS ARE A TREASURE and, when we count our blessings, we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered. – Gloria Pitzer

Mom and Dad seemed to make friends everywhere they went. Some trips were just for relaxation and fun. But other trips involved some Secret RecipesTM work too, as Mom really did enjoy what she did and it was easy to incorporate a restaurant review and an imitation of a dish (or two); even an occasional, in-studio, radio show interview, instead of through the phone lines, as Mom usually did.

Mom with Sue Smith at WSGW-790, Saginaw MI

Mom and Dad also loved to spend a weekend, here and there, camping with their “Good Sam” friends around Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. In fact, Mom wrote about that in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61); saying: “Recipe seminars that I have conducted for the Good Sam RV organization in, both, Michigan and Ohio, have given me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country relative to their recipe interests and food needs.”

Mom often said that her writing made living worthwhile. But her legacy of Secret RecipesTM gave her so much joy that, for the most part, it wasn’t like “working” at all.

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. 100)

MORE THAN FRIENDS

Some of our best ideas that come from our friends and we happily share the good they have offered. But even before the recipes were a part of our livelihood, I was learning from friends, holding dear the wonderful ideas they offered. From Dolores Garavaglia, one of my first friends when Paul and I were married, I learned how to make a terrific Italian spaghetti sauce.

We were visiting Ray and Dolores at their cottage, recently, near Houghton Lake [MI], and laughing over the dramatic shortcuts we’ve learned to take since those days, over 30 years ago, when we cooked ‘from scratch’ and thought nothing of an 18-ingredient recipe. From Harold and Anna Muzzi, we have derived a sense of appreciation for a friendship that goes back to Paul’s childhood when Harold [Muzzi] and Ray Garavaglia were his best friends and neighbors.

Julia Bulgarelli, another long-time dear friend, has always given me good ideas and she came from the cottage next door to Ray and Dolores to share an ‘oven stew’ recipe with me that we used in our January-February 1990 issue of our newsletter. Our files are full of such wonderful dishes. But, in addition to that, we learn about living and about loving from our friends. There is a reciprocation that blooms with affectionate exchanges, whether by mail or with personal visits.

Sherry Ellis came to my aid more than once when I was bogged down and needed another pair of hands. I appreciate her sparkle and enthusiasm for just about everything. Sophie Wesley and I have been super friends since we bowled together years ago and, when I least expect it, and needed it the most, a card would come in the mail from Sophie, reflecting the beautiful thoughts that comfort when comfort is needed.

Betty Pumford and I became friends through Flossie Taylor, who passed away a few years ago. Flossie [also] introduced me to Elsie Masterton’s cookbooks, which I truly treasure. Some of Flossie’s recipes dated back to her childhood when she remembered visiting her Aunt Clara and Uncle Henry [Ford] at ‘Fairlane’, their home in Dearborn, Michigan. Betty and I had wonderful lunches with Flossie and after Flossie was gone, carried on the happy tradition, also exchanging some great recipes along the way, as well as understanding and happy conversations.

Since our camping experiences with the national RV organization, ‘Good Sam’, we have truly adopted their slogan… ‘In Good Sam there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!’ How very true. What would we have done had we not been blessed with meeting Irv and Helen Henze [or] Helen and Chuck Mogg? How much we miss Chuck since he passed away. Friends are those people who know everything there is to know about you, but like you anyhow!

Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ [From “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING” by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]

To Good Sam RV Club (MI & OH Branches): Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country, relative to their recipe interests and food needs… Since our camping experiences with…’Good Sam’, [Paul and I] have truly adopted their slogan, ‘In Good Sam, there are no strangers – only friends we haven’t met yet! – from Gloria Pitzer (1989)

FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT

Since my dad passed away in the fall of 2014, Father’s Day has become one of those days when I miss my dad more immensely than others! Like any daughter might feel, he was and will always be my hero! Thus, being that yesterday was Father’s Day, I want to share with you an old, satirical editorial that Mom wrote about Dad called “Father’s Day (or) the King and I!” Below is a photocopy of the article, which I found in Mom’s June 1974 newsletter issue.

There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football.

MORE FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT

#CountryCookingMonth

When I shared the following passage in last week’s blog post, I knew something about it sounded familiar. The “Texas Fruitcake” and “Horton’s…family” referred to in Mom’s story were that of Puddin Hill fame.

Grandpa was holding a full house, trying to beat the town’s commercial Baker, and Grandma’s competitor. When Grandpa ‘called’ him, Hartwig Horton was holding a flush of diamonds, but confessed he couldn’t pay Grandpa in cash. However, he would call the debt squared, if Grandpa would agree to take, instead of cash, a much-coveted recipe for his family’s ‘Texas Fruitcake’ that Grandma had been trying to duplicate for years; the secret formula closely guarded by Horton’s Texas family [as in ‘Puddin Hill’]. Grandpa agreed. – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 42)

Mom’s “imitation” of this famous fruitcake was in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 279); which was a rewrite of her famous, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).

It’s unclear if Mom developed this recipe, herself; or if she may have gotten it from “Grandma’s Kitchen Journal”, which she has mentioned a number of times in her “family folklore” stories that I’ve been sharing with you the last few weeks. I’m sure Mom would like to spin another yarn about this being THE recipe, won in a West Virginia saloon poker game! But I’m pretty sure it’s Mom’s own development.

#NationalOnionRingsDay

These recipes, pictured below, are worth repeating. In honor of today, being National Onion Rings Day – here is Mom’s copycat recipe for the BEST ONION RINGS IN THE WORLD! It’s the same batter she used for her imitation of Arthur Treacher’s fish. Both of the recipes, in the photo below, were on Mom’s sample sheet of recipes that she gave away years ago in exchange for a SASE. They were also among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes – the cornerstones of her Secret RecipesTM legacy. Enjoy!

http://therecipedetective.com/2019/04/16/archer-teacher-fish-chips-plus-onion-rings-option/

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

THIS IS COMING UP NEXT WEEK…

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…25 DOWN, 27 TO GO!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Backdoor Bakery

Hi everybody! Happy Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM because I continually look forward to Mondays as they are my #52Chances a year, in which I have to share memories of my mom!

Over the past few months of having been under “stay home, stay safe” orders for the Covid-19 pandemic, many people started learning the art of bread baking – if they didn’t already know it – in part, because of food shortages in the bread department; as well, it was something to do (with a lot of time on our hands) and bread baking has been known to relieve stress! Here is what Mom has to say about that subject…

For the last few weeks, I have been writing about and sharing some of Mom’s stories (her memories) about my paternal ancestry. I found a few more of Mom’s folktales about “Grandma” and her “Backdoor Bakery”. This series of stories that Mom wrote, about 40 years ago, are based loosely, in part, on some family fables that have been passed down through the generations. I call it her “kin-folk-tales”!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 3)

THE BACKDOOR BAKERY

(The family saga, as written by Gloria Pitzer, based on ‘kin-folk-lore’.)

Grandma never intended to bake for profit. She did it because Grandpa couldn’t keep a job. He was a talented man – restless and easily bored with the same job for very long. When the oldest daughter, Vivian, went to work in the city at the hospital, she always had something good for lunch that Grandma had baked; and, after a number of the doctors and nurses in the employees’ lunchroom had sampled the baked goods, Vivian was taking home requests to bake special orders for a fair price.

Word spread very soon about Grandma’s baking talents. If somebody wanted a wedding cake or special coffee cakes for holidays or other celebrations, Grandma took the order and filled it promptly. They finally had to turn the back ‘washroom’, next to the kitchen, into a storage and working area to accommodate another stove and more counters and cupboards.

If someone came to the house, usually up the walk to the [front] porch, and rang the pull-cord attached to the clapper on the milk-wagon bell, somebody would answer the door and direct the prospective ‘customer’ down the walk, around the flower beds, and along the gravel driveway to ‘the backdoor’.

Of course, at the back of the house, there were two doors. One went to the cellar and the other into the new kitchen room. So Grandpa hammered up a sign in the appropriate place reading: ‘This is the backdoor.’ – with an arrow pointing to it.

Soon afterward, Knowles (or Butch, as we called him – one of the older boys) added a hand-carved sign that said: ‘Bakery’. From then on, it was always called ‘The Backdoor Bakery’. And when they moved into a building in the business district of town, years later, Grandma picked one with a nice back entrance to a little traveled side-street so that the sign would be easily transferred to it.

In the introduction for the “Breads” chapter of Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018), she says: “Homemade bread can be anything you want it to be, depending on the amount of time and effort you put into it. The ingredients are simple for a good white bread. In fact, the first time I worked with this recipe [see end of blog post], making notes of what I put in the batch, I thought I had left something out when I discovered that the final product was light and lovely and evenly textured. But after 3 or 4 more tests, I was perfectly satisfied that this was going to be my favorite white bread recipe for lack of a better name I called mine… Thunder Bread!”

Mom wrote about the secret of good bread, being in the kneading and rising of the recipe’s process; and that, given enough time, bread will rise anywhere – whether it be in the refrigerator, on the sink top, or in a dark closet! Mom advised that the more you allow kneaded dough to rise and punch it back down again, the better the texture will be.

Some fascinating pointers that Mom offered, in the practice of bread making, includes:

    • Not enough salt in the dough will make it course.
    • Too much shortening will make it heavy.
    • Not enough shortening will make it dry.
    • Eggs will make it soft like a coffee cake.
    • No eggs at all will make it spongy like old-fashioned bread.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 24)

[Below, cont’d from p. 24]

They bartered for the baked goods when they didn’t have the cash to pay. A bushel of apples or a peck of potatoes might be a fair-trade for bread, sufficient to feed a large family for a week. From the batter bread recipe, many versions of baked goods were created. Greased cupcake or muffin wells half-filled with the batter produced a good dinner roll (when baked at 375° for 20 to 25 minutes.)

Grandma insisted on one test for ‘doneness’ – tapping the crust with a finger. If it made a hollow sound – it was done! Grandma and the five girls were up at 4 AM to begin the baking each Saturday. During the bristling winter days at her ‘Back-Door Bakery’, there was a large enamel pot of lemonade keeping hot on the back of the stove.

She sold [the warm lemonade] for a few cents a cup to go along with a doughnut or cookie to those customers warming their hands over the heat of the stove before departing. When Jasper Fillmore turned up, she noted in her journal, there was a slug of Grandpa’s favorite whiskey added to it – providing no local ladies from the Temperance Society were about.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 42)

HOMESTEAD, HOTEL AND RESTAURANT

(The continuing family saga by Gloria Pitzer, based on ‘kin-folk-lore’.)

INSTINCTIVELY, GRANDMA KNEW what food combinations had to be ‘balanced’. She didn’t know why, nor did she anguish over the possibility that somebody in the family might be suffering from nutritional deficiencies. She didn’t fret because she lacked a formal education in the science of food chemistry or dietetics.

She just knew that 11 children grew healthy and strong with one soapy hot tub bath a week, baking soda-brushed teeth once a day, church on Sunday, school attendance without excuses – except for illness (and being sick of school was not an acceptable excuse) – combined well with definite daily chores, hot food, ample drinking water, sufficient sleep and loving tolerance of each other in spite of personal faults.

Cheese and eggs were both important ingredients in Grandma’s cooking. The eggs came every other day from Cousin Nell, who had a lucrative ‘egg route’ for many years, sufficient, in fact to feather her nest nicely with an all brick house of nine rooms and a live-in housekeeper and a handyman to tend to the chickens in the coops on the back of the 20 acre parcel where she resided.

No one knew what happened to Cousin Nell’s husband, Regis, who (some whispered) had up-and-left-with one of the saloon girls on a train heading for St. Louis. Nell pulled herself together quickly when she realized she had no one to look after her and the four children. She tended her garden, started selling the eggs from a dozen hens until she had enough money to buy more laying-hens from a hatchery and the business grew.

The cheese, in grandma’s kitchen, was homemade if it were the soft type that could be used within a few days. But she bought the hard cheese from the Mercantile in town once a month. She would wrap it in smaller portions, in wine-soaked cloth, or dip some in melted paraffin to keep even longer. These were interesting ingredients in the products of her ‘Backdoor Bakery’.

WHEN GRANDMA SLICED warm, fresh bread in her ‘Back-Door Bakery’ and made sandwiches for her customers, she kept it simple, using her homemade cooked salad dressing, sliced cheese – and their choice of apple butter, marmalade, or walnut butter with. Together, with a cup of hot cinnamon tea [or lemonade], from the enamel cattle (which I have now, sitting on the hearth in our living room) – no customer had to brave the chilly April rain without a warm cup of tea before leaving.

The food industry today markets their products in a more sophisticated method than Grandma did when she packaged her baked goods in brown paper and string, neatly piled in a large basket – sometimes in several baskets – and delivered by carriage over some hairpin curved roads between Grafton and Morgantown in West Virginia…

As for Nell, Grandpa’s brother’s girl, life was difficult at first. When the egg route began to support her nicely, there was talk around town that most of Nell’s money came from the card games she would sit in on when she delivered eggs to the hotel. No one ever confirmed it, since Nell was a handsome woman, to be envied by many of the matrons whose husbands found her attractive – and a good listener when they needed one.

The Homestead Hotel was the only place in town to stay – if you had to stay in town. And Vivian told how she ‘spent a week there one night’, when a snowstorm kept her from returning home from town. That was the night that Grandpa was with her – and Nell was sitting in on one of those ‘naughty’ poker games.

Grandpa was holding a full house, trying to beat the town’s commercial Baker, and Grandma’s competitor. When Grandpa ‘called’ him, Hartwig Horton was holding a flush of diamonds, but confessed he couldn’t pay Grandpa in cash. However, he would call the debt squared, if Grandpa would agree to take, instead of cash, a much-coveted recipe for his family’s ‘Texas Fruitcake’ that Grandma had been trying to duplicate for years; the secret formula closely guarded by Horton’s Texas family.

Grandpa agreed. But there were other hands dealt that wintry night, as Nell took on Morris Weismann, a few others, and came away holding the mortgage to the hotel as her winnings. The rather scarlet details of the all-night card game between Nell and the men, have been lost in verbal translation among aunts and uncles who still recall the excitement of it.

We only know that Nell and her four children, in their teens by then, moved into the hotel, staffed it themselves and kept the 20 upstairs guest rooms with the five baths between them, continuously occupied and tidy. Meanwhile, grandma worked out an arrangement with her niece to furnish the hotel restaurant with all of its baked goods for a fair price if Nell promised to shut down the saloon and the card games.

In honor of National Country Cooking Month, here is another one of Mom’s homemade bread recipes (an imitation of Wonder Bread) from page 60 of her cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997).

#CountryCookingMonth

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

COMING UP, IN 2 WEEKS! #WHBY!

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https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…24 down, 28 to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Heirlooms

Happy Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM – I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

In general, heirlooms are a great source of history for families, as well as communities and museums. Family heirlooms are great “treasures”, whether they have monetary value or not; simply, because of the priceless memories and family folklore attached to them. Heirlooms such as a wedding ring, a grandfather clock, a rocking chair, a painting, a homemade quilt or afghan, the family homestead; as well as, journals, photo albums, scrapbooks, and even recipes preserve these special stories for generations.

I came upon a really interesting article, last week, regarding common heirlooms that get passed down, through families. “21 Most Common Family Heirlooms”, which was written by Linnea Crowther, Senior Writer at Legacy.com, on August 12, 2019, can be found at https://www.legacy.com/advice/21-most-common-family-heirlooms/ and I highly recommend checking it out! Interestingly, between the two of us, my husband and I have something from almost all of the 21 common heirlooms listed in the article, in some form.

However, one passage, regarding “heirloom recipes”, struck a particular chord close to home for me. It reads: “Recipes are a very special kind of family heirloom. While things like jewelry and furniture can only exist in one family member’s home at a time, everybody can conjure up memories of a lost loved one by cooking their heirloom recipes. The handwritten recipe cards are especially sentimental for many of us, as seeing that familiar handwriting brings back vivid memories even many years later.”

I certainly can relate to this one and many of my friends, who lost their mom’s too, can relate, as well! After Mom passed away, I got a lot of her albums and scrapbooks (as well as those of my grandmas that she had). I, personally, have scanned tons of photos, recipes, cards, letters, and other bits of our “family history”, which Mom and both of my grandmas felt were important enough to them to save; so that my siblings could have copies and share in the memories too.

#CountryCookingMonth

As I’ve mentioned in my last two blog posts, June is Country Cooking Month. It is a fairly new observance, as it has only been around for the past few years – since 2017. Nonetheless, June seems to be a fitting choice, since it’s usually the first month when most people tend to spend more time with family – such as on vacations or at reunions, picnics, weddings, graduation parties and so on.

One common element among ALL of these family and friends events is food! We almost always get to enjoy some good, old-fashioned, country cooking from someone’s heirloom recipes. They are the “secret” recipes (and methods) of the family’s favorite dishes that are usually passed down from one generation to the next generation, with each one possibly adding a little of their own flavorings of memories and love into each serving. Heirloom recipes are what down-home, country cooking is all about! There is always some dish that goes over with a bang and everyone wants the recipe for it!

So much heart and soul and love goes into down-home, southern-style cooking! When I think of “country cooking”, I am reminded of the many satisfying, comfort foods I enjoyed while growing up as a daughter of the Recipe DetectiveTM, as well as those we enjoyed on special family trips to visit relatives in West Virginia. Some of the best foods we ate were either fried or barbecued or full of sugar!

The family reunions always included the best fried chicken! But let’s not forget to mention other country-style favorites like sweet iced tea, coleslaw, potato salad, corn-on-the-cob drenched in butter, peach cobbler, strawberry-rhubarb pie, and pecan pie! Like many people, my husband’s favorite country-style breakfast always includes a big meat-and-cheese-lovers omelet, with a large side of sausage gravy and biscuits!

As much as I love all of those “country-style” carbs, I can’t have them any longer. Over a year ago, I made a committed choice to live a low-carb lifestyle based on the Atkins Diet. Thus, as a daughter of the Recipe DetectiveTM, I’ve been going through some of my old, favorite recipes and developing my own new, favorite, low-carb imitations (a few I have shared in previous blog posts); which brings me to mention the following fun ideas for Country Cooking Month.

NationalToday.com suggests three great activities. First, they recommend taking your favorite “heirloom” recipe and putting your own personal, updated spin on it, for something new and exciting. (Check!) Second, they propose making your own recipe booklet out of your personal favorite “heirloom” recipes, with your own twists added. (Check!) Third, they endorse breaking out your grill or smoker and hosting an outdoor cookout. I was already working on the first two suggestions. But the third is something my husband and I enjoy doing every summer, in late July, for our anniversary.  We’d like to make it a family reunion thing!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pages 141-142)

BREAD-BAKING

In Great-Grandma’s day, baking bread was as much a part of a woman’s household routine as was the laundry or the dusting. In colonial days, bread was often the main dish, used like a sponge to soak up whatever broth or gravy might accompany a meager meal, which most of colonial cuisine consisted of on the frontier.

BREAD-BAKING has filled my house with the most delicious aromas – on those occasions when I have ventured into the catacombs of conscious cookery. I was taught by a grandmother who believed that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach; and, if you kept your man well-fed and loved and listened-to, everything else would fall into its proper place in perspective. Well, we can’t all be right all the time. Grandma tried.

Bread-baking was not the Elmer’s ‘Glue-All’ of my marital bliss and stability. In fact, on occasion, it might have threatened our harmony – considering that, before I learned a few chosen shortcuts to better baking, I could (at the drop of a hat) clutter the counter-tops with every bowl, dish, spoon, pan and ingredient possible! This, of course, necessitated having to ‘eat out’ on those nights when there was no place to prepare a deserving dinner at home.

It reminded me that somewhere there should be a clause in every cookbook warning young wives with old-fashioned morals about marriage that there are some things Mother never told us… Or if she did, I just wasn’t paying attention! In any case, I recommend cooking as being thoroughly therapeutic! Bread-baking includes the energetic kneading of the dough – which enables one to work off pent-up emotions that one cannot otherwise rid themselves of verbally.

Whenever I had problems to work out (which was like every other minute or so) I would either be in the kitchen, cooking something, or at the typewriter, writing about cooking something! Kneading a large batch of yeast dough is a great way to unwind and relieve tensions. Of course, it didn’t always solve my problems, since most of them were directly related to my finding my utensils, which I had to locate before I could start relieving myself of unwanted tensions. I’ll bet I was the only woman on the block who had to sift through the kids’ sandbox before I could set the table or bake a loaf of bread!

THE SECRET OF GOOD BREAD is in the kneading and rising. If given enough time, bread will rise anywhere – in the refrigerator, on the sink top, in a dark closet! The more you allow the dough to rise, until it is doubled in bulk, and the more you punch it back down again to let it rise once more, the better the texture. Not enough salt in the dough will make it course. Too much shortening will make it heavy. Not enough shortening will make it dry. Eggs will make it soft like a coffee cake. No eggs at all will make it spongy like old-fashioned bread. Homemade bread can be anything you want it to be, depending on the amount of time and effort you put into it.

The kitchen has always seemed to be my family’s center hub. The place where we all gathered, ate, laughed, talked about the events of our days, made plans for our future, and created happy memories. I have a sign in my kitchen that reads: “There’s a room in every home where the smallest events and biggest occasions become the stories of our lives.” Ours is usually the kitchen!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 25)

LIVING AT HOME

(A story by Gloria Pitzer, based on family folklore.)

CROOKED PATH was a mid-western, sage brush hamlet, settled shortly before the Civil War by pioneers in covered wagons. Grandma was born there a few years after the war – the oldest daughter of her father’s second marriage.

Fortunately, for Grandma, her father dabbled in a little of this, a little of that; owning the saloon in town, a boarding house, and the town’s mercantile [store]. Her diary tells how she learned to cook at the boarding house, where she met Grandpa, who was renting a room there.

He married her in the parlor – much against her parents’ better judgement. On her 16th birthday and 17th birthday, they were blessed with the births their first two of eleven children – six boys and five girls. We were never quite certain what work Grandpa was in, but it took them from the plains of Nebraska to Ohio, to West Virginia and, eventually, to Michigan, with abbreviated residencies in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

From her ‘Recipe Journal’ notes, it seemed clear that Grandma’s ‘Back Door Bakery’ supported the family’s income rather substantially for many years. Grandpa was probably a professional handyman from what we’ve been able to piece together from Grandma’s ‘Recipe Journal’. She made meticulous notes on recipes, to the effect: ‘This is the pie I baked from the California lemons that Gus Maxwell gave Pa for fixing his plow.’

[Another entry said:] ‘The hens Pa got in payment for the book cases he made for Judge Burns made a fine stew, good soup, and six loaves of chicken sausage.’ [And another said:] ‘The sack of brown sugar Yostman gave Pa for mortaring up his stove pipes made a good caramel pie – sent to ailing Bessie Forbes, down the road.’

From studying the quill-pen entries, I gather that work was the most essential part of life 80 years ago. By contrast, today’s workmanship is inferior to anything produced by the craftsman of yesterday. I wonder why people, today, are so unhappy with their own work – as if the tedium of labor is not really the problem; and isn’t it typical that those who hold work to be without value are, themselves, empty? To imply, today, that work is without meaning is actually to also imply that life is without meaning – which most of our social influences do rather thoroughly.

Grandma’s cookery appears to let nothing go to waste. The broth from Judge Burns’ hens also made the gravy for the stew, the meat portion made the sausage and the bones from the carcass were ground fine and buried in the vegetable plot in the back of the firewood shed.

Apparently, Grandma and Grandpa were considered among the prosperous of their community because they were productive, although, never wealthy. At least, we do know that they were indeed happy. But the definition of ‘happiness’ in Grandma’s own handwriting was: ‘Happiness sometimes comes from ignorance – from not knowing how much better our life might be.’

One of the aunts confided that Grandma placed great importance upon the strength of her family and the respect they gave their father because her own life, with her parents, was less than memorable. Her life centered around her family – the heart of which seemed to be the kitchen. Their nourishment, however, was not [solely] food but [also] love that came from ‘actions’ rather than lip service!

‘The healing meadows of memory lift more than spirits.’ – Unknown

#StrawberryRhubarbPieDay

In honor of tomorrow’s national observance of Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Big Boy-Style Strawberry Pie, as seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7). PLUS, 2 BONUS RECIPES to go with it! Enjoy!

WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

I HAVE 2 BONUS RECIPES FOR YOU THIS WEEK!

SPECIAL NOTE: For the strawberry jam, in the above recipe, try Mom’s freezer jam recipe below, which she learned from my dad’s mom (my grandma)! And, for the pie shell, I highly recommend Mom’s personal favorite heirloom recipe, from her own mom (my grandma), for “Butter Pie Crust”, which follows the jam recipe, below.

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

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/
https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/
…23 down, 29 to go!
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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fortunate

#TGIM! Happy Monday AND happy June to one and all! As always, I look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances per year, in which I have to share Memories of My Mom!

Last week, I shared Mom’s experiences and memories from the first time she appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, in July 1981. The whole year, following that appearance was, probably, the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of Mom’s family-run, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We were definitely not set up for that massive response!

Secret RecipesTM was JUST A FAMILY AFFAIR! Other than one full-time Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend, it was just my parents, taking care of the day-to-day operations of their mail-order business, with a little help, now and then, from me and my siblings. That is, until that summer of 1981! Then my parents needed to bring in a lot of extra help. Even some of my high school friends were asked to help out, temporarily, with all of the extra mailings we had.

We sent out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets, in exchange for the self-addressed stamped envelopes that came in, per the offer that aired on that Donahue episode. We were also sending out thousands more newsletter issues than previously, from all of the extra subscription orders that came back from those “free sheet” mailings. But even with the extra help, we just never seemed to get totally caught up, as every day the hundreds of trays of mail kept piling up!

However, as frenzied as it was, in the end, it really did open a lot of doors for Mom that might never have happened otherwise; bringing Mom’s unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of new eyes. The 1981 episode reran for about six months or so, after the initial airing on July 7th, appearing on television screens, WORLD-WIDE!

There’s no denying that Mom pioneered a ‘movement’, so-to-speak; carving out a NEW niche in the cookbooks and food industries! There was nothing else like it, on the market, at that time. But, soon enough, many “copycats” certainly followed, copying Mom’s focus on imitating the “junk food”, fast food and restaurant industries’ products that so many people craved – some followers even copied Mom’s work, to the point of straight-up plagiarism!

Amazingly, when the Phil Donahue Show people called again, 12 years later, in 1993, Mom agreed to return for another episode; but only with the stipulation that they not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event! It turned out to be the show’s most requested transcript of all time, shattering the last record into tiny bits! The Donahue Show sent Mom a congratulatory letter and plaque to commemorate the historic event. It’s unfortunate that the show ended it’s 29-year stretch (1967-1996) a few years later.

There are recordings of that 1993, hour-long episode on YouTube, in a series of 5 “staticky” segments. In fact, I have my own “staticky” VHS tape of it, as well! Though, I did get it copied to a DVD, a couple of years ago, before it was no longer playable. Nonetheless, I wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s July 7th, 1981 appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, send me an email at: therecipedetective@outlook.com – and thank you, in advance!

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. 68)

BIG SHOWS & INTERVIEWS

AFTER DONAHUE, PM Magazine, The Home Show, even being mentioned on Jeopardy and complementary reviews in Catholic Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Campus Life, Mother Jones, National Observer, as well as The National Enquirer (absolutely accurate, too, I swear!) Plus, a write up in Playboy Magazine [and] Home Cooking. We said no to People magazine. We did not want another 1 million letters [like we received after the Donahue show] and surely that would be inevitable, considering their circulation.

On a side note: Michael Neill, a writer at People Magazine, was persistent about wanting to interview Mom and she eventually gave in. His story, ‘For Gloria Pitzer, Unlocking the Secrets of Fast-Food Recipes is Easy: Just Fake and Bake’, appeared in People Weekly’s May 7, 1990 issue, on pages 81-82; including a couple of Mom’s recipes and the two photos of Mom, below, by Susan L. Tusa, but not Secret RecipesTM exact contact information.

Still, the article contained enough information, that a large amount of mail and orders arrived anyway for Mom and Dad at the St. Clair Post Office, during that spring/summer season; just not quite as massive an amount as the bombardment that followed after the first Donahue episode.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

[BIG SHOWS & INTERVIEWS – Cont’d]

We knew that making a lot of money in a big hurry was not what we wanted, even though it might have been what others thought we should have done. We were afraid, then, that our cup would REALLY have run over. We also declined an invitation to be on Good Morning America the week after we were on ‘Donahue’.

And just as recently, we declined to appear on the Will Shriner Show… Also, I never did the ‘Kelly and Company‘ show at channel 7 in Detroit, even though they had invited me to be on with them several times. Jack McCarthy’s TV interview with us on Christmas Eve [1976]… for [‘Friday Feast’ on] Channel 7, in Detroit, was one of the highlights of our experiences.

And a few months ago, [I had] an even more enjoyable experience with Erik Smith, doing a segment in our kitchen for their ‘Friday Feast’, during which we prepared the hot fudge [sauce] like Sanders’ and the ‘McFabulous Biscuits’, from our information sheet of sample recipes.

Of all the wire services and all of the hundreds of newspaper stories about us across the country in the past 14 years [1975-1989], since our fast food recipes have become popular, I can still honestly say that I prefer radio to it all.

On another side note: Eventually, as with the Phil Donahue Show and People Magazine, persistence paid off, again; because John Kelly and Marilyn Turner, the husband-and-wife hosts of “Kelly & Company”, eventually interviewed Mom – and, yet again, not just once but twice!

Mom insisted that she would never do another NATIONAL television show, after the fallout from her Donahue experience. But, when her good friend, Carol Duvall, called to ask Mom to give ABC’s “Home” show (aka: “The Home Show”) a try, Mom couldn’t say no to her friend. It was a new show in which Carol, herself, had come to be involved. It turned out to be a really rewarding experience for Mom; especially when she was surprised by Wally Amos, being there, in person, to taste her imitation of one of his “Famous” cookies.

ABC’s “Home” show began as a half-hour program in mid-January 1988. Mom was a guest in February 1988. Following a 60-minute trial run in September 1988, “Home” expanded permanently to an hour-long series in January 1989. After the show ended in 1994, host, Rob Weller formed a production company with someone else and, together, they developed “The Carol Duvall Show” which aired on HGTV from 1994 until 2005, when it moved to the DIY Network in 2005 and ran for another 4 years.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 68)

THE HOME SHOW & WALLY AMOS

The Home Show, however, in February 1988, were wonderful to us [Paul and me]. They flew us to Los Angeles, and we appeared with Rob Weller and Sandy Hill in a one-hour segment that re-created some of our recipes. They were very specific that I do our ‘Famous Nameless Cookies’ and I could not see the reason they absolutely insisted on that recipe. I had trouble finding the right ingredients an hour before airtime, but we made compromises there and came up with an even BETTER version than before.

What had happened, without my knowing it, was Wally Amos, himself [was there]. They flew him in from Hawaii to taste-test my version of HIS product. What a delightful man! What a warm and generous soul. He brought me a tin of an assortment of his favorite cookies and, after tasting my version of his product, made me promise that I would never go into the cookie business! Meeting Wally Amos was one of those cherished memories that I will always look back on warmly.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 86)

FORTUNATE

I LOOK BACK NOW… and realize how FORTUNATE I was to have had my life touched by so many helpful people – so many famous people! It’s almost incredible that what started out to be merely the frosting on the cake, of my monthly newsletter, soon became the whole cake!

While duplicating the secrets of the [fast] food and restaurant industry was only going to be a part of the publications I was writing, it was a surprise to me that the interest and the response from the public led to my specializing in the fast food division entirely!

http://therecipedetective.com/2019/01/24/1985-gloria-pitzers-secret-fast-food-recipes/

I thought my first book was going to be my ‘only’ book on that subject, but – six books later – I was still seriously, but lovingly, engaged in the pursuit of new information and challenging recipe imitations. I’ve been asked by restaurants to give them permission to use my recipes and say so on their menus. I’ve been asked by ‘People Magazine’, at least once a month for six months – even before the Donahue show appearance – to grant them an interview.

The fact that I had declined the invitation because I couldn’t handle any additional mail, made the columns of the Detroit Free Press, when their ‘Tip-Off’ columnist said it was ‘classy’ to turn down People Magazine – refusing publicity in a national magazine because I did not want to ‘get big’!

[NOTE: As mentioned previously, Michael Neill’s story, ‘For Gloria Pitzer, Unlocking the Secrets of Fast-Food Recipes is Easy: Just Fake and Bake’, appeared in the May 7, 1990 issue of People Weekly, on pages 81-82.]

In Mom’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1982), [which is the book I helped her to rewrite and republish (with Balboa Press), now called Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018)] she wrote about some of the unhappy experiences she had with various companies and their legal advisers.

Their threats of lawsuits had Mom and Dad quite frightened at one time or another for attempting to duplicate their secrets in her own kitchen. But, truth is, Mom didn’t know their actual secrets unless they shared them with her. She could only make educated guesses and experiment with different combinations of ingredients until she came up with a good imitation.

However, others like Wally Amos (the former “Famous” Amos), Harland Sanders (the original “Colonel” of KFC fame), Jack Sanders (famous Michigan chocolatier), Arthur Treacher (actor turned restaurateur), the people of White Castle, General Foods, Hershey’s, and McDonald’s own Paul Duncan appreciated Mom’s flattery attempts to compliment them through her personal imitations of their products, even to the delightful caricature names that she gave her own creations. Those are the ones that made what she did all worthwhile!

In honor of June being National Country Cooking Month, here are TWO of Mom’s copycat recipes – one for Betsy Ross’ Custardy Cornbread! [As seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7)] AND a repeat of Mom’s Kentucky Biscuits imitation, which she prepared on ABC’s “Home” show in February 1988!

#CountryCookingMonth

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

#ThankGodItsMonday

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…22 down, 30 to go!

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