While spring has sprung on the other side of the world, from us; here, in North America, October is welcoming fall in like no other month! Fall is probably my favorite time of year. The crisp cool nights and slightly-warm, sunny days are another reason to love these autumn months, along with the entertaining celebrations of the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays (my birthday falls in there, as well – lol!)
The trees are ablaze like the top of a rainbow, with various shades of yellow, orange and red. To represent the bottom of the rainbow, splashes of evergreen make these colors pop even more! And, if you’re near any one of Michigan’s gorgeous shorelines (especially when the sun is shining), there is a beautiful, azure blue that never ceases to amaze me. Even purple is represented and speckled throughout, by the many fall flowers that are in bloom! The beautiful color-changes of the Pure Michigan landscape is unbeaten in my book!
There is something about autumn that makes many people yearn even more for their favorite high-calorie, high-carb, comfort foods. I surveyed some friends over the last few weeks, asking what their favorite comfort foods were; and here are the top 6 answers I received: (1) pizza, (2) potatoes, (3) chili, (4) macaroni and cheese, (5) fried chicken, and (6) chocolate brownies.
By the way, this week, the first week of October, celebrates National Chili Week, among other things. Thus I’d like to re-share, here, with you, Mom’s famous imitation for chili like the famous fast food chain, Wendy’s.
In fact, it is also National Do Something Nice Day! Therefore, I’ll re-share some more of Mom’s related, comfort food recipes throughout this blog post for the other 5 comfort foods listed above.
Comfort foods seem to have a nostalgic, sentimental value that soothes the soul, giving us comfort and peace in times of uncertainty, stress and anxiety. Different people have different go-to favorites. Mine is probably potatoes – baked, mashed, fried, boiled – any style! What is yours?
These cheesy potatoes (pictured below) were another family favorite of ours. It’s an imitation of one of Bill Knapp’s offerings from the 1970s – another one of Mom’s “Original 200” recipes collection.
These cooler days make it more inviting to turn on the oven and do some baking! Whether it’s homemade bread, cookies, pies, brownies, or something else; fresh baked goods are starting to fill our homes with pleasant aromas. The fall season adds scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and cloves to almost everything. Moreover, the fall month of October incites us to break out our cozy, warm sweaters, while making some belly-and-soul-satisfying, comfort foods.
December 5th will actually be the “official” celebration for National Comfort Food Day! Thus, you may be thinking: “But that’s two months away!” However, fall has arrived NOW and, as the days are getting shorter and colder – who isn’t already having warm thoughts about their favorite comfort foods? We don’t have to wait until December!
I’ve made Mom’s imitation for dime-store-style mac-and-cheese, like Woolworth once served, several times since fall began. I recently shared this recipe for another really big, family favorite, comfort food in our household!
There’s a great article and slide show I’d like to recommend you see, called “America’s Best Comfort Foods”, by Emma Sloley (Nov. 28, 2016), at TravelAndLeisure.com. But I must warn you that it’s practically impossible to read/watch it without getting hungry!
The whole month of October is also celebrating National German-American Heritage Month, among other things. In fact, tomorrow, specifically, (October 6th) is National German-American Day. A lot of great comfort foods come from our German-American ancestors! That’s probably why Frankenmuth, MI is a favorite road trip of mine and my husband, as it was for Mom and Dad, too.
Frankenmuth, Michigan is a city that has been world-famous, for many decades, for their family-style, sit-down, fried chicken dinners with all the side-fixings! Talk about comfort foods – they serve them all and then some! Since fried chicken was mentioned among the top favorite comfort foods (above), here is a re-share of Mom’s imitation for Frankenmuth’s homestyle, fried chicken “like Grandma used to make!”
This wonderful little town is not too far from us for a day trip. It’s located near Saginaw, MI; from where one of Mom’s favorite, regular radio shows still airs – “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio. Tourists flock to this little German-heritage town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get the world-famous chicken dinners offered at either one of the two largest establishments in town – the Bavarian Inn and Zender’s.
The town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, bakeries, fudge shops, hotels, breweries and other quaint little stores 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!
Over the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes as “The Recipe DetectiveTM”, she came up with about a dozen great imitations from the Frankenmuth establishments; including some of the famous restaurant dishes available at the two major restaurants mentioned above, as well as some bakery and confection offerings, from the local bakeries and fudge shops.
October is also National Italian-American Heritage Month – another source for great comfort foods like pizza and pasta. Likewise, it is also National Pasta Month & National Pizza Month! Below is Mom’s imitation of for pizza like Little Caesar, served decades ago, in the Detroit area – as this was also among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes.
‘Food is more than a physical substance. It has an intangible quality that nourishes our spirits. A good dish, lovingly prepared, at some point in the process of tasting and blending, becomes more than the sum of its ingredients.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out at Home Cookbook (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 1)
This year, more than ever, most of us are dealing with an overload of stress and anxiety. Food tends to be one of the few things that comfort us in trying times. That’s probably why the kitchen is, more often than not, considered one the favorite rooms in the house – the heart of the home, even.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 66)
COME INTO THE KITCHEN
FAMILY RESTAURANTS and homestyle meals are returning to popularity. During the war-protesting days of Vietnam, the right to ‘be different’, the right to protest, to be individual made anything even slightly related to ‘family’ and ‘home’ forbidden or corny. People became impersonal to each other…
Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. The family and home have been reinstated…even in our restaurant industry. Today it is changing back to the personal, the warm, the family. The restaurant industry, in its urgent bid for the public’s loyal attention, is trying to make their dining experiences like your home away from home. Hospitality is becoming their badge of honor!
The kitchen… is the best place to be when we’re home! You’ll notice that current home designers are getting away from the formal dining room area… Homes are becoming more functional in design, as well. In our continuing efforts to economize, to restrict energy sources and to bring the family back to the warm, bright, openness of a country kitchen, we have rediscovered the personal advantages of the best room in the house…
The classic country kitchen is coming back, where there is one large working space close to the appliance area and also open to the informal, large, eating area… It was a warm and workable kitchen that reflected a family as a unit… Every inch of it said: ‘Welcome!’ If you were a stranger when you entered, you were a friend before you left.
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 67)
WHAT MAKES A HOUSE A HOME
THE KITCHEN IS THE HEART of our home! It is inelegant to the last detail. But no workable, useable kitchen, one that truly produces the hearty fare to feed the famished affections of a family, should be more than that. Ours is ample.
Only the fantasy fabrications of glossy paged magazines have kitchens that gleam, where cupboards shine, sinks are spotless, refrigerators are free of family condiments, accumulations, papers, notes and such. I personally enjoy my kitchen in our St. Clair home…
And you know what? It was designed by a woman. The builder’s wife designed this home for a big family! I never met her. She died of cancer about the time we bought the house, but I think of her fondly, often, as I enjoy what she planned [seemingly] for us, without ever having met us.
…I realize that I will probably offend the liberationists who work so hard to get the woman OUT of the kitchen, I must applaud those of us who still, by our own choice and out of love, wish to enjoy their homes, families and especially their kitchens!
As sexist as this may sound – for me, my mom, both of my grandmas and most of my aunts; cooking (whether it was for our families or friends or both) is something we enjoy doing for others. It’s one of the best ways we can say, without any words, “I love you” or “welcome” to those with whom we share our tables.
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 40)
CARING & GOING FORWARD
We cannot lose sight of our need to care about each other, to strengthen our values and live by that yardstick. Then wringing our hands with worry when the world seems to be in a state of chaos won’t send us running for synthetic comforts, escapes and restitutions that spell out getting even, rather than going forward. And it was the going forward that I worked on so much in those early days, none of which had to do with ‘getting the money’ or having the fame, the glitter and tinsel that goes with recognition.
All I could strive for then, and still do now, is the consistency of purpose, the honesty in presentation and freshness of the ideas – whether in the form of a recipe to imitate a famous food, or as an uplifting article on how to better understand your real selfhood and your relationship to others.
October is also National Cookbook Month!
In honor of today, also being National Apple Betty Day and this being National Apple Month, here is Mom’s recipe for imitating an Apple Betty dessert like Stouffer’s Restaurant used to offer many decades ago.
As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…
Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 1)
As Mom always liked to say, “Happy sleuthing in the kitchen!” Furthermore, may the table you set, always pale in comparison to the example you set!
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
This week, the first week of October, is also known as National Newspaper Week! I mention that, in relation to food, because newspapers were the cornerstone on which Mom first began to build what eventually became her Secret RecipesTM legacy.
…40 down, 12 to go!