Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Summertime Vacation Time

Happy summertime 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!

We’re almost to the middle of summer and those hot and humid “dog days” continue to hound us, with no relief in sight. These are the days that a lot of Michiganders like to head “up north” to vacation in a slightly (usually) cooler and drier atmosphere – especially when close to one of the Great Lakes!

I have so many fond memories, from my childhood, of some of our own Michigan, summertime, family vacations. Mom and Dad took us to so many wonderful places around Michigan like the Tahquamenon Falls and Soo Locks in the U.P., as well as Petoskey, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island in the “Tip of the Mitt” region.

Other “nearby” trips (to where we lived in the “Thumb Area”) included Sandusky’s Cedar Point Amusement Park and Aurora’s SeaWorld, both in Ohio; as well as Grand Bend, Toronto and Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. I tried to expose my own children to, at least, most of these wonderful places as well… Making memories!

Every summer that I can remember, while growing up in the “Thumb Area” of Michigan, there was usually a couple of these family trips; along with some special one-day-events like a festival, going to the beach, picnicking at a park and backyard barbecues that filled our summers with a lot of fun memories.

1970, Pitzer summertime vacation time at Fort Mackinac

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in “No Laughing Matter”, by Gloria Pitzer (no printed date available)

HOW I’M SPENDING MY SUMMER VACATION

I am really trying to enjoy this summer vacation, even though I have the feeling I’m just a first grade version of ‘See Mother Run’. Most of the vacation weeks (and I use the reference loosely) were spent wandering through aspirin lectures asking perfect strangers: ‘How many more days until school opens?’

We didn’t try to vacation anywhere with the children this year, considering how we spent two weeks on the Turnpike with them last summer and lived to tell about it.

…There are positive virtues to the ‘nine-to-three’ schedules, which leave mothers five days a week, from September through June [minus the long Christmas and Easter breaks], during which they are not answering dumb questions.

For one thing, it is none of the kids’ business why I look pale and plump in a bathing suit. I knew the minute I walked into ‘Chubby Chicks Swimwear Boutique’ that summer, for me, would mean running under the lawn sprinkler in very dark glasses and a body shirt, cleverly created out of a porch awning by some ‘shut-in’ from ‘Green Acres’.

Actually, it was all my husband’s idea. For, out of consideration for the neighbors, he only lets my sit on the patio in my bathing suit after dark. He claims I even discourage mosquitoes. This is the same man who will also stand on the porch whenever I sing so the neighbors can see he isn’t beating me!

The same man who can come home from (and I quote exactly) ‘an exhausting day of fishing’ and ask, seriously, when am I going to clear off the top of the refrigerator, will I write to his mother, did I have fun at the ‘book mobile’ with the five kids, and is it alright if we ‘eat out’ tonight… meaning, of course, hot dogs in the backyard!

He doesn’t understand why I spend my [summer] vacation counting the days until school opens again. But he doesn’t have to find band-aids for bra-less Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes, who have been sucked up into the vacuum cleaner hose.

He doesn’t have to wander through a vast wasteland of ‘Pop-Tart’ wrappers and ‘Mr. Misty’ cups, while 37 neighborhood kids motorbike their way through the yard, the flower beds, and into the center of a national noise abatement program, sympathetically excused by three probation officers who don’t have to live around here!

Summer VACATION – as some teachers laughingly refer to the 10 weeks, during which ‘families who stay together, get on each other’s nerves’ – is NOT a vacation! It’s enough to make a mother look like a wire service [‘Wanted’] photo that, by all rights, should be printed under the caption: ‘NEVER MIND SENDING HER KIDS TO CAMP… Help send this mother away!’

It’s mothers who need the vacations – not the kids! Ten weeks of kids at home [all day] and Mother can develop a personality of a dental drill with a voice to match! But, as I told the kids the other day, ‘as soon as Daddy gets home, everything will be all right.’

Sometimes it’s not easy on a mother to come up with the answers to questions all by herself, like: ‘How many more days until school starts?’ … ‘Can I have a Coke?’ … ‘Did you see my sneakers?’ … ‘Can I have a popsicle?’ … ‘How come you’re always yelling at me?’ … ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’ … ‘Can I have my allowance?’ – but, compared to all of the questions the kids ask me during the day, I can take THOSE [above] from my husband.

He means well, even though he doesn’t understand that a mother’s vacation doesn’t begin until school does in the fall!

Mackinac Island, Michigan is a very nostalgic place – the summer vacations that I spent there with my family are my most memorable ones. Except for the smell of horse dung (which, besides bicycles, horses are the popular mode of transportation on the island, as motor vehicles aren’t allowed), baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many DIVINE scents!

From the variety of flowers in the beautifully kept gardens everywhere to the yummy, sugary confections being made in the fudge and candy shops to the mouth-watering aromas wafting from the open windows and vents of the island’s restaurants and bakeries that line the downtown streets where the mainland ferries bring millions of tourists every spring through fall (as the island is closed to tourism during the winter months).

Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; to me, as with many others, it was always a magical trip back in time! That was especially the case one summer, in 1979, when we were staying at the Grand Hotel while the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience; plus, we all got to meet Jayne Seymour, Christopher Plummer, and Christopher Reeves!

[On a side note – long before Somewhere in Time was filmed there – in 1947, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel called This Time for Keeps. The famous leading actress in that movie, Ethel Merman, swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of it there; thus, as I learned during one of our family trips, the pool was named after her.]

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in “No Laughing Matter”, by Gloria Pitzer (no printed date available)

VACATION RETURNS (OR THE LAST RESORT)

It is only upon returning from a vacation that we realized just how much we could use one! Ours was nothing to write home about, so all of you out there, who were looking for a postcard from us, now know why you didn’t get one.

If – when I [was] at home, among conveniences, and circumstances used to force me to once write those ‘please-excuse-my-child’ notes in lipstick on the back of a Citizen’s Federal Savings [bank] slip, and take telephone messages down in the dust on the end tables – you just know that any postcard I’d be apt to send from our vacation would probably be written in campfire charcoal on the back of a Handi-Wipe!

I still hate to refer to it in the strictest sense as a ‘vacation’. I mean, a cross country trip by station wagon with our five kids would be anything BUT a vacation! And somehow, I recall that the cross country trip got even more cross as we crossed the country, when we were traveling with the kids – especially on the way back [home].

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

We spent more time deciding which child got to sit next to the window than we ever did reading the road maps – and that was just in the driveway before we even left home! Upon reading those maps, however, we would be forced to make the crucial decision – deciding which fork in the road to take. Usually, [we chose] the wrong fork in the road – but then, we had never been lost that way before!

Once in a while, and even to this day, when Paul and I travel alone, without the children to distract us, we’ll find we’re lost on some turnpike off ramp and, when out of state we’ll hope to see another vehicle with a Michigan license plate and start to follow them because we’re convinced that they know where they’re going and will probably, at least, get us back to the state line. But, in our case, [we] could use a bumper sticker for the car that reads: ‘Don’t follow me. I’m lost too!’

When the children were vacationing with us, in the old days, it seemed that ‘who-sits-next-to-the-windows’ is an on-going debate. The argument got so sticky at one point that I simply buried my face in a AAA tour book and pretended not to hear them until, from the midst of the back seat crowd, came a tortured voice, which pleaded in anguish, ‘But I HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Nonsense!’ I said, without looking up. ‘Give me one good reason WHY you HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Because’ said the voice with some agitation, ‘I’m driving! I’m Daddy!’

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Even the cost of a simple vacation has been affected by the national inflation, I see today. You might say the cost of getting away, has gotten away; because, if you really wish to relive your vacation, the only way you can do it these days is to show your friends colored slides of all of your traveler’s checks!

We did learn a few things, though, about our trips [that] I’m perfectly willing to share with you. We now realize that the same vacation conveniences that would cost us $90 a day, while traveling, we could have had for free if we had stayed home.

Besides, nothing can deflate your ego, or undermine your significance as a person, like returning from a 3-week vacation; and, as you begin to carry the suitcases from the car into the house, have your neighbor greet you with: ‘Hi there! Going someplace?’

All we have to recall of our last vacation is the vivid memory of how the best restaurant to eat in was always just a block down the road from the one we stopped at and thought it would be the last one we’d come to before dark.

But I will always remember how Daddy would lie on the beach about how he was missed at the office! And…that hitchhiker we picked up, who, within 5 minutes, begged us to let him out of the car because he had been suddenly drenched with a Dairy Queen milkshake and 6 popsicle sticks were poked into his fringe-sleeved, suede jacket.

As I said, if you’re traveling with children and you think you need the vacation you’re about to take, it’s nothing compared to the one you’ll be ready for when you get back!

However you choose to spend your summertime vacation time – I hope you make a whole bunch of happy memories and enjoy it to the max!

IN CLOSING…

#NationalChickenWingDay

In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for chicken like Popeye’s…

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is TODAY around 11:08am (CDST)/12:08pm (EDST)! Be sure to check it out, as we’ll be discussing cookies!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…30 down, 22 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – National Junk Food Day Eve

Happy Monday to one and all! Today is also the eve of National Junk Food Day! And as always, #TGIM – since I continually look forward to Mondays as my #52Chances per year to share these MEMORIES OF MY MOM with all of you!

Mom wrote, illustrated, published and promoted all of her 40+ cookbooks (and her newsletter, which ran 1974 through 2000) – mainly by herself but she incorporated our whole family into it in one way or another. It was a cottage-style, dining room table operation. Her cookbooks and newsletters were all quite unique and special in presentation and content!.

My mom built most of her recipe collection (starting in the early 1970s) on the taboo subjects of fast foods and junk foods, when all the food critics were warning the public to stay away from these things, lecturing about how bad they were for our health. That may be so, but as Robert Redford once said, “Health food may raise my consciousness, but Oreos taste better!” – a quote that Mom personally loved and, thus, put it on the first page of her cookbook, Eating Out at Home (Nat’l Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1978).

[Note: See the “Recipes” tab on this for Mom’s imitation of the Oreo-Style sandwich cookies. Mom calls her version “Gloreo’s”.]

Junk is in the eye of the beholder. Thus, Mom found a way to have her cake and eat it too, by TAKING THE JUNK OUT OF JUNK FOOD, making her own imitations at home, where she controlled the ingredients. It was a break-through that had many food companies, like Stouffers, Hostess, Sarah Lee, and many others up in arms! The idea that someone could possibly duplicate their products at home and then share these secrets with the public was as troublesome, if not more, than the competition they faced in the food industry, itself.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in…

Eating Out at Home (Nat’l Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 2-3)

SECRET RECIPES

YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW exactly how the original dish was prepared by the commercial food chains. All you need is a basic recipe to which you will add that ‘special seasoning’ or that ‘secret method of preparation’ that sets one famous secret recipe apart from those similar to it…

When I work to duplicate a recipe so that the finished product is as good as (if not better than) a famous restaurant dish, I begin by asking myself a series of questions: I want to know what color the finished dish has…[and] was it achieved by baking, frying or refrigeration?…What specific flavors can I identify?… and about how much of each may have been used…

Similar tests are used in chemistry…[to]…break down the components of an unknown substance and try to rebuild it. So the cook must work like a chemist (and not like a gourmet; who, most of the time, never uses a recipe – but, rather, creates one.)

The most remarkable part of the duplication of famous recipes is that you can accept the challenge to ‘try’ to match their [dish or product]. Sometimes, you will be successful. Sometimes you will fail in the attempt. But, at least, it can be done [‘practice makes perfect’], and it certainly takes the monotony out of mealtime when, for reasons of financial inadequacy, we cannot always eat out…even if we could afford to eat at all or most of our meals away from home, wouldn’t that become monotonous in time?

Stop cheating yourself of the pleasure of good food. Eat what you enjoy, but DON’T OVER eat…This is what really causes the problems of obesity and bad health – rather than believing the propaganda of the experts that ‘fast food’ is ‘junk food’…It is not! Poorly prepared food, whether it is from a fast-service restaurant or a [$20-plate in a] gourmet dining room, is ‘junk’, no matter how you look at it…if it is not properly prepared.

TO DEBUNK THE JUNK…don’t think of Hostess Twinkies as junk dessert but, rather, the very same cake ingredients prepared in the Waldorf Astoria kitchens as the basis for their “Flaming Cherries Supreme”. All we did [to imitate the product] was shape the cake differently, adding a little body to the filling and putting it INSIDE the cake, rather than on top, as the Waldorf did!

Happy #NationalJunkFoodDay Eve!

National Junk Food Day is celebrated every year on July 21st, and it is all about indulging in your favorite junk foods – from the grocery store shelves to every “plastic palace” drive-thru – for one day, without guilt. However, keep in mind, National Junk Food Day is not to be confused with National Fast Food Day, which is celebrated on November 16th.

#NationalFastFoodDay

More times than not, “fast food” is considered to be synonymous with “junk food”. But nowadays, a lot of “fast food” places (which Mom called “plastic palaces”) are trying to change up their offerings and some are actually considered to be healthy. According to an article I read at MDLinx.com, “Healthiest Fast Food Options”, some of the “healthy fast food” nominations go to Chick-fil-A’s grilled nuggets, Wendy’s grilled chicken wrap, Taco Bell’s grilled steak soft taco, Subway’s tuna salad sub, and Chipotle’s steak burrito bowl – just to name a few.

In other words, one can say with some certainty that not all fast food is junk food AND not all junk food is fast food! By general definition, “junk foods” are considered to be those foods that are heavily processed; typically containing high amounts of either trans fats, sugar, corn syrup, fructose, or salt (or a combination of any of those). Additionally, junk foods are high in calories. Beware – they are also very high in luscious, tasty delightfulness!

NOTE: Next time you push your cart up and down the aisles of your favorite grocery store, keep in mind that if the food is in a can, box, plastic wrap/package, or the like; it is most likely “junk food”. A lot of grocery store “convenience” foods contain highly processed ingredients.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6)

I DO, WITH RECIPES, WHAT RICH LITTLE DOES WITH VOICES!

Imitating the ‘Secret Recipes’ of the food industry has been an exciting experience for me. The critics felt that ‘fast foods’ and restaurant dishes were not worth the effort to duplicate at home, when you can just as easily buy the products already prepared!

The critics who contend that ‘fast foods’ are ‘junk foods’ and not good for us, have probably never prepared these foods themselves. Certainly, they have no access to the closely guarded recipes from the food companies that created these dishes, as there are only a few people in each operation that are permitted the privilege of such information! So, 99% of the critics’ speculations are based on their own opinions.

To know what these dishes contained, they’d have to be better chemists than I, as I have tested over 20,000 recipes with only the finished product as my guide to determine what each contained. ‘Fast foods’ are not ‘junk foods’ unless they’re not properly prepared. Any food that is poorly prepared (and just as badly presented) is junk!

Unfortunately, ‘fast food’ has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are ‘harmful’ to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘finer’ restaurants with wine stewards, linen tablecloths, candlelight, coat-check attendants, and parking valets; which separate the plastic palaces of ‘fast food’ from the expensive dining establishments.

One ‘eats’ at McDonald’s, but ‘dines’ at The Four Seasons. Steak and potato or hamburger and French fries – the ingredients are practically the same. How they are prepared makes the difference!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (Nat’l Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1)

DE-BUNKING THE JUNK

What’s the truth about junk foods? Food experts have been referring to many snack foods and fast food products as ‘junk’ in an attempt to disqualify their value when compared to foods containing high amounts of proteins and vitamins.

No one has confirmed a definition of the expression ‘junk food’. Yet, the public has been conditioned to accept any snack foods, sweets, candies, confections, baked goods and even many beverages as being a member of the junk food family; when, in reality, these are not without nutritional value.

The junk food paradox has caused school systems and other public institutions to ban the sale of any foods we would consider ‘snack’ items, making it illegal, in fact, in the state of Michigan (and some others) if such items are sold to children through vending machines on the premises.

This is infuriating to the good cooks and the more intelligent food chemists among us who know that JUNK FOOD is any food, which is poorly prepared. All food has nutritional value. Some just seem to have more than others. But, in the final analysis, it is purely personal taste that will determine the popularity of one food over another. The fast food industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! 

Junk foods and fast foods are also considered “comfort foods”. Science has shown, time and time again, that emotions and food are very much linked together. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” will often make you feel better. These foods provide a nostalgic or sentimental value but have very little nutritional value, if any at all. Cooking is also a great source of heart-and-soul happiness. Between the cooking AND the eating, I get to happily enjoy food twice as much!

For some of us, every day is “Junk Food Day” but for the rest of us National Junk Food Day is a special opportunity to eat our favorite junk foods – supposedly without the guilt. Speaking for myself, as a “junk food junkie”, they’re ALL my favorites and it’s very hard to choose; so I would most likely ravish myself on everything!

DISCLAIMER NOTE: Junk food may be hazardous to your health! Thus, indulge at your own risk! To me, that’s like telling a former smoker or an alcoholic or a compulsive gambler to “indulge responsibly” in whatever their “crutch” may be – after all, it’s just for a day.

According to TimeAndDate.com: “Studies have shown that consuming junk food ONCE-IN-A-WHILE does not have a negative effect on health – it is only when one eats junk food for a majority of their meals that their diet can be considered unhealthy. Consuming large amounts of foods considered to be ‘junk’, can lead to several health problems, including a high risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart issues.”

On a side note regarding junk food, I’d like to add that You Tube has a really good video called “Junk Food Junkie”, by Larry Groce (1976) at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLiVeRJTtqo. I also found a lot of information and ideas for celebrating this awesome event tomorrow at Chiff.com.

In honor of National Junk Food Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for an 8-inch fudge cake like Aunt Jenny’s, as seen in her cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 4). Enjoy!

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is next week. Be sure to tune in – Monday, July 27th around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST) – as we’ll be talking about one of most Americans’ favorite junk foods… COOKIES!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…29 down, 23 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Dog Days Of Summer

As always, happy Monday to everyone and #TGIM! I constantly await Mondays, with anticipation, for they are my #52Chances a year to share MEMORIES OF MY MOM with all of you!

Two weeks in and the dog days of summer (which refers to the hottest and most humid time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere – usually in July) have definitely been “hounding” us, so far, this month! It’s the kind of sweltering heat that makes me want to sell my stove in my next yard sale! Break out the cookbooks for microwaves, crock pots and grills!

Sometimes, like now, summertime is just too hot in which to cook anything in the oven. When our Michigan weather is hot and humid outside, the last thing any of us want to do is turn on the oven or even stand over a hot pot on the stove-top. Thus, taking the cooking outdoors is the natural solution. You can cook just about anything on the grill – far beyond the “meat family”. Just about everything tastes better when it is cooked on a sizzling hot grill and, with a little oil and foil, you can create some pretty awesome side dishes, as well!

Photo by Gloria Pitzer, 1964

#NationalPicnicMonth

On these types of days, when it is too hot to cook, I like to eat out… As in outside! Who doesn’t love backyard picnics with wonderful, char-grilled food on beautiful, sunny, summer days? Besides, July is, among other things, National Grilling Month!

The Great Lakes region, in which I live, is all about celebrating summer. We, Michiganders, really appreciate the summer months – especially after a long, Michigan winter! This year, our usual winter “hibernation” period was extended throughout the spring months, with the Covid-19 pandemic and “Stay Home” orders all across the nation.

The Pitzer children in July around 1970 (left-to-right): Laura, Michael, Cheryl, Bill and Debbie

#NationalGrillingMonth

Most everyone, like us, is so tired of being cooped up that all we need is ANY EXCUSE for a backyard cook-out! Therefore, happy National Grilling Month! Whether you use gas, propane or lighter fluid and charcoal… whether you have a small, tabletop hibachi or a large, deck-sized apparatus… JULY IS SUMMERTIME… and summertime is practically synonymous with grilling.

These days, the smells of charcoal and lighter fluid, along with sizzling burgers, chicken, hot dogs or steaks seem to drift through all of the neighborhoods around me. Whenever you light up your grill this month, know that you are part of an ongoing celebration for National Grilling Month. Thus, share any or all of your grilling ideas and creations on social media with #NationalGrillingMonth. However, take note that July is also considered the driest and hottest month of the summer. So, also, be careful and mindful of the dangers of fire!

1970, Pitzer Vacation at Mackinac Island, MI

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI)

SUMMER CAN BE FUN – BUT NOT FOR MOTHER!

(Published in the Port Huron Times Herald; Aug. 18, 1977)

Inasmuch as this is an election year, I wish the governor would include me in a kind of relief program to cover mothers of children who are on vacation for the summer. After two weeks of muddy blue jeans and wet towels, my Biz Bag turned in a letter of complaint and left for Yellowstone. And the refrigerator door has not closed since school did.

‘With Avon, you get personal service’, they tell me on TV. Well, since the kids have been home on vacation, my Avon lady asked me to pick up my order…in a locker at the bus terminal.

Of course, summer has not always made me feel like a wart on a hog at bay. In the days of my energy, I could spend a languid afternoon with the entire family at the beach and frolicking through the sand, could sally forth to the Good Humor truck, with brood in tow, while each one took 20 minutes to decide which flavor they would take.

I know you won’t believe this, but I could then bring myself to embrace a child with all of the tranquilized sweetness of Doris Day and plead: ‘Please, Michael, tell Mommy where you buried Daddy!’ I wouldn’t have minded so much except Daddy was carrying the money for the Good Humor man in his swim trunks pocket.

And it was completely unreasonable to expect the Good Humor man to accept one of the children as collateral – or ALL of them for that matter – until we could uncover Daddy. For these are the same children who follow you through the souvenir pavilion, commenting candidly: ‘Look, Mommy. That Lady has her wig on crooked.’ And “doesn’t that man have funny looking knees?’

At moments like these, I know I was never meant for motherhood. It can be very depressing. But gone are the days when I approached summer vacation with the children as if I had the unfailing cheer of Betty White and Ralph Edwards.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I wasn’t meant to spend my life serving Kool-Aid and Crispy Critters to swarms of children who embark on our porch like occupational troops in the Berlin Airlift.

I always found that, just as I was about to walk the gangplank of gloom, a cheerful neighbor (probably the mother of ONE) would enumerate for me all the blessings of having the children at home and prescribe how to enjoy them while they’re small – which is exactly like trying to tell me the only way to save money in Las Vegas is to step off the plane and walk directly into the propellers.

I mean, how can anyone live with children, who think all it takes to open a limeade stand is the garden hose and a sack of lime; who now slam the same door all summer they left open all winter; who, for the entire 87 days of summer [vacation] will ask questions like: ‘Why can’t we go see FRITZ THE CAT? It’s a cartoon – isn’t it?’ And ‘Why do you have that twitch in your neck, Mommy?’ Or ‘Can I put a band aid on this worm?’

If a summer relief program is out of the question for mothers like me, I personally feel that the least the governor could do is declare me ‘A Depressed Area!’

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I have SO MANY, great, childhood memories of summer vacations with my family to places like Tahquamenon Falls, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island (as pictured above), all in Michigan; as well as Cedar Point, in Ohio, and Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada just to name a few.

Every year, while my siblings and I were growing up in the Algonac/Pearl Beach (MI) area, there were always picnics and various backyard barbecues to have or to attend. Our parents created so many awesome memories, about which we can happily reminisce – well, speaking for myself, anyway.

Summertime also had another special meaning for our family, as Mom and Dad’s first born and last born children – my oldest brother, Bill, and my younger sister, Cheryl – ironically, share July 3rd as their birthdays (9 years apart)! The rest of us, Mom and Dad included, have wintertime birthdays (during November, January and March). The summertime memories that Mom and Dad created for us, as we were growing up, will last a life-time!

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. 103)

THE LOAVES AND FISHES

MY RELATIONSHIP with Hazel is among those blessings I always count twice! Even though we had different moms but the same dad, we were very close as sisters. In all of the many years that we’ve spent vacations together, even live together, we’ve never had one crossword between us. The worst part of our relationship has always been not being able to say goodbye when it’s time to part at the end of our yearly visits.

Hazel has always given me such enthusiastic support about my work, and such compassion for the events in our family, with our children. Even though there is an 18-year difference in our ages, you’d never know it by looking at us. In fact, you’d probably take HER for the younger one! She has incredible energy and we love to do the same things – even to having the same taste in furnishings and decorating our homes.

One example Hazel set for me to follow was her gracious ability to offer hospitality, to make the unexpected guests feel welcomed and sincerely wanted. Some people need a month’s notice before they can even have you stop for pie and coffee! Not Hazel!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer with Hazel & Chris Allen; Torrance, CA – May 1982

I have seen her carry off a steak dinner with all of the trimmings that started out for just the four of us (Hazel, Chris, Paul and me) and before the event was over, included six others, stopping by a few at a time, unexpectedly. In which case, we simply pulled up another chair to the table and set out another plate, while Chris put another steak from the freezer into the microwave to defrost and then onto the grill on the patio.

With each guest, who arrived unannounced, we added a little more lettuce and a few more tomatoes to the salad and [put] another potato into the microwave to bake. When we discovered there were only eight potatoes, however, and there would be 10 at the table, we improvised. We sliced each baked potato in half, lengthwise, and arrange them on an oven platter, cut side up, dusting each in a little grated Parmesan, a few parsley flakes [and] a little paprika.

Then, drizzling these in a bit of squeeze-bottle margarine, we popped the tray under the broiler for a minute just before sitting everybody down to eat. We opened three cans of assorted fruit and dump this into a pretty glass bowl, sprinkling some coconut over the top of it and by breaking each of the long ears of corn in half, we pulled off the best feast since ‘the loaves and fishes’ and with leftovers, yet. Nobody went away hungry that evening and we enjoyed so much being together. It was wonderful!

#NationalHotDogMonth

As seen in Mom’s syndicated column series titled “No Laughing Matter”, from the 1970s. The full article is called, This Cook is Rated X (or) Yes, Gloria! There Really is a Colonel Sanders (no publishing data available): “At our house ‘eating out’ meant roasting HOT DOGS in the front yard. But then, we didn’t know of many restaurants where 5 children, who hated green vegetables and spilled catsup on the tablecloths, were welcomed. I had to learn to cook by default…the way I saw it, as long as my husband could get marvelous fried chicken at home, why should he take me to Colonel Sanders’?”

#NationalCulinaryArtsMonth

SUMMERTIME COOKING… As seen on the cover page of Mom’s July-August 1988 newsletter: “Shaker cooks, whose culinary skills I admire, place ears of husked and ‘de-silked’ corn in a large pot of cold water, seasoned with the barest pinch of sugar (never salt because it toughens the tender fibers) until the water boils. At that point, they cover it and cook it for one minute more – or as long as it takes to recite ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. Then they drain and serve the ears as fast as they can, with lots of sweet butter, salt and pepper.”

IN CLOSING…

#NationalIceCreamMonth

#NationalBlueberryMonth

#NationalPeachMonth

#NationalIceCreamDay

In honor of the National Ice Cream Month celebrations going on for July – and Sunday is National Ice Cream Day too – here is Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade ice cream like Baskin Robbins, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 252). You can substitute just about any frozen fruit, such as BLUEBERRIES or PEACHES, for the strawberries that are listed in the following recipe. The possibilities are endless!

Above recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks. Be sure to tune in – Monday, July 27th around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST) as we discuss chocolate chip cookies, like Bill’s Brother’s Mother’s or Tom’s Mom’s; which, Mom claimed, were even better than Mrs. Field’s!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#ThankGodItsMonday

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

…28 down, 24 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – It’s A Finger Licking Good Day!

Happy Monday, happy July, and happy National Fried Chicken Day! 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!

I can’t believe it’s July already! I hope everyone enjoyed the nice, long Independence Day weekend in some way, safely. A lot of people around us, were having their own backyard celebrations all weekend.

#NationalFriedChickenDay

As I mentioned above, today is National Fried Chicken Day – which makes it a finger licking good day in my book – and tomorrow will actually be the 39th anniversary of when Mom FIRST appeared on the Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981); demonstrating, among other things, how she imitated fried chicken like the Colonel’s right at home!

As I’ve written about previously, that show was definitely a milestone event, to say the least – for our family as well as our community! Because of Mom’s appearance, our small post office in St. Clair was swamped with about a million letters, throughout that summer and fall. The requests and orders generated from that show, as it aired and re-aired around the world for about a year, just kept pouring in! It was truly an overwhelming response that none of us ever expected.

Donahue 1981 promo

Mom has written many stories about her experiences, on TV and radio shows, related to her KFC-style chicken imitation, which she called “Big Bucket In The Sky! Chicken”. Below is just one of those stories, from her book, My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop, and a copy of that recipe.

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. 71-72)

KFC & THE COLONEL

HISTORY BOOKS have said little of the one person who really put the state of Kentucky on the map, namely the gentleman whom will always be associated with ‘finger-lickin’-good’ fried chicken, Harland Sanders. He was born in Henryville, Indiana in 1890, and died in late 1980.

Harland was one of the food industry’s most successful men. In 1956, Harland Sanders was an out-of-work 66-year-old [man]. When he died, he left a multi-million-dollar food empire. One survey said that, next to Santa Claus, he was the world’s most recognized personality.

When he founded KFC, he had taken his Social Security check, a pressure-Fryer, a can of spices and herbs and set out across the country to show a few restaurant owners how to fry chicken the ‘right’ way! If they liked it, he promised to supply them with the secret coding.

He was a born salesman! And successfully so, considering the number of jobs he held in a lifetime. Once, over WFAA-Radio, in Dallas, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Colonel and it was that conversation, set up by the host of the show I worked with every Thursday, that gave me the clue on how to season flower at home so that it would taste like the Colonel’s coating on his Kentucky fried chicken.

He had just sold that business to the Heublein liquor and food conglomerate, for around $2 million and it was (quote) ‘the dumbest thing I ever did do!’ He complained that the gravy tasted like ‘wallpaper paste’ and the chicken was ‘dry as cardboard’ and that his recipe and technique had been so terribly altered that he was sick about it.

But he was also being taken to court by the company to which he sold KFC. To prove his point, he told me, in court, he prepared his chicken the right way and passed it out to the jury, the judge and the court along with the bucket of chicken purchased down the street from a KFC unit. The court ruled in his favor.

He told me he had read about our recipes in the Corbin, Kentucky newspaper and that he was flattered with my version of his product, but that I didn’t have to go to all of the trouble of imitating 11 herbs and spices.

He said he wanted to see just what kind of a detective I REALLY was, so he told me to go to the supermarket and find one product in a (quote) ‘package’ that would do the same job as those 11 herbs and spices. And I was to report back to him on the radio show the following Thursday. We tested a dozen or more products during the next six days. And finally I found Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix! It was wonderful!

Original illustration by Gloria Pitzer; edited by Laura Emerich

‘You really are a detective after all,’ Colonel Sanders told me on the air that next week, by telephone from his home in Kentucky. I was on the phone from our home in St. Clair. So it was, indeed, the Colonel himself who put me on the right track with this recipe, and with thousands of people listening in the Dallas area. I am so grateful for this wonderful experience. My cup runneth over!

It was also in the conversation with the Colonel that I was urged not to sell my business as long, he told me, as I had the energy and the aptitude to run it myself. At the conclusion of the lawsuit, I was pleased to see that the company was moved to improve the product and give it back its original goodness. Harland remained as a public relations representative for them until the time he passed away.

Most interesting about his background was that he was eight years old when he was turning out entire menus of American delicacies for his widowed mother, while he took care of the house and did the cooking so that she could work.

He said he went on to become a streetcar conductor, a farmhand, (to Cuba as) a soldier, a railroad fireman, section hand, insurance agent, a steamboat promoter, gaslight manufacturer, tire salesman and, finally, as a service station operator in Corbin, Kentucky.

When they could, Harland and his wife, Claudia, enjoy dining at the Elmwood Inn, in Berryville (KY), where as you might expect, his favorite dish was chicken! Given the honorary title of ‘Colonel’ by the state of Kentucky, for his contributions to its cuisine, he remains one of the most respected and recognized figures in the food industry.

Our ‘Better Cookery Cookbook’ [which I rewrote for Mom and it was republished under the title ‘Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective’, in January 2018 by Balboa Press] contains my versions of his products, which you can re-create in your own kitchen from those recipes.

I also tell you in detail, in that book, about our visit to The Donahue Show when I was asked to prepare the famous chicken on camera for millions of viewers and, instead of a deep fryer, the staff provided me, by mistake, with a toaster oven.

Still shot from mom’s Phil Donahue appearance 4-16-93

The recipe had to be revamped right then and there on camera. It worked out so well that we have, since that experience, included the ‘oven-fried’ version on our sheet of sample recipes, which we have probably sent without charge, just for a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to over a few million people!

Here is a copy of that “Big Bucket In The Sky! Chicken” recipe, as I’ve given out in a previous blog post and, also, posted under the “Recipes” tab, on this website:

See also http://therecipedetective.com/2018/11/06/big-bucket-in-the-sky-fried-chicken/ for another version included in this story.

#NationalPicnicMonth

July happens to be National Picnic Month, among other things. When I pack up a summer picnic for me and my husband, I like to use the same classics that Mom used to always make. I can’t eat them now, but I always loved her homemade fudge brownies, chocolate chip cookies, coleslaw, potato salad and, of course, fried chicken (which is always great, hot or cold)! My husband still enjoys them, on my behalf, while I now make low-carb dishes for myself. Our favorite picnic standards are very similar to those listed on HowStuffWorks.com, in Sara Elliott’s informative article, Top 10 Picnic Foods.

At our house ‘eating out’ meant roasting hot dogs in the front yard. But then, we didn’t know of many restaurants where 5 children, who hated green vegetables and spilled catsup on the tablecloths, were welcomed. I had to learn to cook by default…the way I saw it, as long as my husband could get marvelous fried chicken at home, why should he take me to Colonel Sanders’? – Gloria Pitzer [“No Laughing Matter”, This Cook is Rated X (or) Yes, Gloria! There Really is a Colonel Sanders (no date available – circa 1970s)]

Frankenmuth, Michigan is a city that has been world-famous, for many decades, for their family-style, sit-down, fried chicken dinners. This wonderful little town is not too far from us, near Saginaw, MI – from where one of Mom’s favorite radio shows still airs, “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio. Not now because of the pandemic, but normally tourists flock to this little German-style town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get their world-famous chicken dinners at one of the two largest establishments in town.

The two major restaurants in Frankenmuth that serve the famous family-style chicken dinners are Zehnders and the Bavarian Inn. The town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, hotels, breweries and quaint little shops that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland (which is all Christmas, all year) to the Frankenmuth Brewery!

Mom and Dad loved to take road trips to Frankenmuth, as do my husband and me. Although we can’t right now because of Covid-19 restrictions – we’re looking forward to a great day trip there in the future. I miss all the German culture experience that this small tourist town has to offer! Over the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes as “The Recipe DetectiveTM”, she came up with many imitations from Frankenmuth of some of the famous dishes available at the two major restaurants mentioned above; plus, some bread and confection imitations from the local bakeries and fudge shops, as well.

IN CLOSING…

#NationalFriedChickenDay

In honor of National Fried Chicken Day, here is Mom’s wonderful copycat recipe for Fried Chicken, Like Frankenmuth…Happy cooking!

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

#WHBY

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

If you missed last week’s show, you can listen to it at https://www.whby.com/2020/06/29/laura-pitzer-emerich-open-show/!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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