Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Small Screen Significance

Happy Monday to all and #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#WorldTelevisionDay

Saturday, Nov. 21st, was the celebration of World Television Day! Did you know that people have been watching television for almost a century?! Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, most people have been sort of forced into seclusion and television has become a whole new kind of lifeline for them!

Many people use television for more than just entertainment, especially these days. Watching television is a popular way to get your local and world news, as well as unwinding from a long workday or temporarily escaping a stressful life! People of ALL ages also use television as a learning tool, from pre-school age through adulthood.

Today, I want to share with you some more memories of Mom’s experiences regarding television! The following is sort of a timeline of television appearances Mom had as the Recipe DetectiveTM, which I’ve gathered from excerpts of Mom’s writings.

Nov. 14, 1974 – Mom’s very first television appearance was on “AM Detroit”, with host, Dennis Wholley; at WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 in Detroit, MI.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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. 38-39)

THE HAPPY COOKER

All I was doing was breaking even when Dennis Wholley, at channel 7 in Detroit, received a copy of my September newsletter of that first year of publishing. He called, though, and asked me in the family to appear on one of his broadcasts of ‘A.M. Detroit’, which we did – and which also opened up a brand-new door to opportunities I did not dream of encountering so quickly.

Of course, then, I did have to tell Paul all about the newsletter, what I had been doing and why I could not confide in him, knowing how skeptical he would have been about it. He practically agreed with me that, yes, he would’ve doubted that it would have had a future for us. Today, however, he’s willing to see it quite differently.

December 31, 1974 – On New Year’s Eve day, just across the river from Detroit, Mom appeared with Bob Hines on his television show on CKLW-TV, Channel 9 in Windsor, Ontario (Canada).

When I sent Dennis Wholley a copy of the newsletter, I also sent a copy to Bob Hynes, who then was host for the afternoon movie with CKLW-TV, channel 9, across the river [from Detroit] in Windsor, Ontario. There was no response immediately from CKLW, but the day after I appeared on Dennis Wholley’s program, Bob Hynes called and asked if we could visit his show on New Year’s Eve day [December 31] (1974) and bring the entire family too.

The movie that day, I remember, was ‘Tammy and the Bachelor’ with Debbie Reynolds. His guests for the intermission was Lynn Redgrave, who was there to plug her new movie, ‘The Happy Hooker’. When I introduced myself to Miss Redgrave in the studio that day, I said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Redgrave. I understand you are the happy hooker. I’m the happy cooker!’

…It was a thrilling experience. Then several weeks later, with the appearance on Bob Hynes show… The appearances on both of these shows brought us so many subscriptions to the newsletter and as the response increased, so did the amount of time that Paul gave me to processing the orders. He could see that I could not do it alone. Every evening, every weekend and even his two-week vacation from his job at the sign company, were given to working on the recipe orders with me.

Dec. 24, 1976 – Christmas Eve, the following year, Mom agreed to an at-home interview with Jack McCarthy of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

‘Jack McCarthy’s TV interview with us on Christmas Eve [1976], however, for channel 7 in Detroit, was one of the highlights of our experiences.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 68)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 298-299)

THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW

It was 1977, and we were considering a move from Pearl Beach [MI] to St. Clair [MI], since our 80-year-old house was already packed, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, with recipe books and newsletter inventory. Just about the time we planned our move, the Phil Donahue Show called and invited us to… appear on their program…

I had to decline. We already had more work than we could handle, and I had found that television appearances were merely food demonstrations that I did not enjoy experiencing. I enjoyed my radio work more, and the number of stations on which I had become a regular participant had grown to include over 100, across the country and in Canada.

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

We were settling down in our new house, in St. Clair, with our office in the basement. [However,] we outgrew that arrangement in a short time and rented a larger office uptown. But the books became more successful than we anticipated, and the newsletter circulation was growing to over 10,000. Soon, I found that we had to put the [office] back into our home.

I couldn’t depend on being in a writing mood between our regular ‘office’… hours of 8 AM to 5 PM. Some of the radio shows that I took part in were on-the-air at midnight, especially my favorite visits with KMOX in St. Louis and WGY in Schenectady.

With my files and reference materials at the office and me, at home, on the telephone with the radio shows, the arrangement was not satisfactory. So, Paul and our 2 sons remodeled our two-car garage, [which was] attached to the kitchen, and we moved the operation back there; where, for the next 4 years, the business ran quite smoothly.

We were receiving about 1,000 letters a day from the radio shows that I took part in and the newspaper stories that I was more-or-less an acting consultant on subjects related to ‘fast food’. In the spring of 1981, our old friend, Carol Haddix, ran a story about our new book of ‘Homemade Groceries’ in the Chicago Tribune, where she had just been assigned the food department.

Winter, 1980-1981 – Mom did another at-home interview – this time, with PM Magazine’s Detroit area TV crew. Mom also appeared on WDIV-TV’s “Noon News” show, on Channel 4 in Detroit, MI

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

July 7, 1981 – Mom’s first appearance on a nationally syndicated show was on “The Phil Donahue Show”. Mom thought it would also be her last (see also: 1993 – below).

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF!

The Donahue Show people called once more and requested our appearance. We had just done a PM Magazine show with Detroit and had declined an invitation to appear in New York on Good Morning America, as well as declining an opportunity to have People Magazine interview us…

I still wonder why in the world I said I would do the Donahue show! On July 6 [1981], Paul and I flew to Chicago, staying at the Hyatt O’Hare, and did the Donahue show, live – for an entire hour – on July 7th, flying back that same afternoon. The next day, 15,000 letters waited for us at the St. Clair post office.

And every day, for 4 months, we picked up THOUSANDS of letters – having received, by Christmas, well over 1 million letters, requesting information on how to acquire our books, which were still available only by mail from our address. We were bogged down with an unexpected response. It was an experience of mixed blessings!

OVERWHELMING RESPONSE

If you’ve ever seen one million letters, you know how we felt when we tried to handle the overwhelming response! It was exhausting! Our home, which was both our office and our sanctuary, became like a factory, with people helping us to process the mail; eventually having to return thousands of orders to customers with our deepest regrets that we could not, in all fairness to them, delay their order. The onslaught of mail had forced us to do this.

We were all working from 7 AM until 1 or 2 AM, the next morning, just to open and read the mail. Our phone bill had been buried in some of that mail and in a month’s time, being something like 23 to 24 days behind in opening the mail, our phone was shut off for non-payment of our bill.

As soon as we realized what the mail was doing to us, we tried to get Donahue’s people to stop the continued scheduled showings of our appearance. But that show remained on their repeat schedule for almost a year, playing in the Panama Canal zone, Greenland, Iceland, Australia and on hundreds of small-town stations.

Most of the letters requested a sheet of ‘free’ recipes that were included with the order blank [in exchange] for a self-addressed stamped envelope… The offer would have been good for us, if it had only been shown that one time – the day on which we appeared on the show – but for nearly a year afterward, the requests still came, as did the complaints and the threats to report us to postal authorities for not having sent those ‘free’ recipes, tore us apart emotionally and physically!

Some people did not include their self-addressed-stamped envelope. Some envelopes were addressed to themselves, such as Joe Smith, but in care of OUR address instead of THEIR address. It was a confusing mess! Some people wrote threatening letters that they hadn’t received their orders and were turning us over to the postmaster general as frauds!

I laid my head on my desk many a time, in tears of anguish and fatigue. The family was falling apart. We couldn’t print our books fast enough, to fill all the orders! Then the post office, in delivering the thousands of books that we DID mail out, lost some, destroyed some, and delayed and even miss-directed other orders.

For most of the year, following that 1981 appearance, our family faced the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of Dad and Mom’s family-operated, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We were definitely not set up for that massive response! Secret RecipesTM was really just a FAMILY AFFAIR!

Other than a full-time Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend, it was just my parents that took care of the day-to-day operations of their publishing and mail-order business. Every now and then, they’d need me and my siblings for a little extra help. That is, until the 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 temporarily help out with the extra mail that was coming in, as well as going out.

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 people sent in, per the offer that aired on that Donahue episode. We were also sending out thousands of more newsletter issues than before, because of the extra subscription orders that came back from those “free sheet” mailings.

However, as hectic as it was, in the end, it opened a lot of doors for “The Recipe DetectiveTM” that might never have otherwise happened. It brought Mom’s unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of eyes around the world, as that 1981 episode re-ran for about six months or so after its original air-date, on July 7th!

Feb. 1988 – This was Mom’s first appearance on ABC’s “Home” show (Los Angeles, CA) with host, Rob Weller. It was set up by Mom’s long-time friend, Carol Duvall. The show surprised Mom with meeting Wally Amos in person!

May 1990 – Mom did another at-home-interview – this time with CNN News on Memorial Day, plus they came back the next day to tape even more.

Oct. 1990 – This was Mom’s first appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

Mar. 19, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on ABC’s Home show (Los Angeles, CA), with Carol Duvall. For Mom, it did not seem to go as well as the first appearance.

May 8, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

Surprisingly, in 1993, when the “Donahue” people called again, Mom agreed to return for another episode but only under the condition that the show not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event for the Donahue Show, as its most requested transcript of all time, SHATTERING its previous record!

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 “grainy” segments. I just wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s 1981 appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, email me at: therecipedetective@outlook.com!

1993 – “Ask Mike” was an infomercial developed by Guthie-Renker Corp. (also, produced & directed by Positive Response Television) for Secret RecipesTM and the Recipe DetectiveTM, including food demonstrations and guest appearances by Wally Amos, as “the-man-in-the-street”, conducting blind taste test with random people. Our family received copies of the infomercial when it was finished but it never aired on television; and Mom decided to never do television shows, again, after that experience.

‘I had found that television appearances were merely food demonstrations that I did not enjoy experiencing. I enjoyed my radio work more, and the number of stations on which I had become a regular participant had grown to include over 100 across the country and in Canada.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 298)]

ONE LAST THOUGHT

BE GRATEFUL

Mom believed that life’s best experiences often came out life’s biggest disappointments by, simply, turning “a let-down into a set-up” for something else – something better – something out there, through the opened window. She also believed that every new day was a turning point and that each experience (good and bad, alike) eventually contributed in some way to our growth and happiness. For that Mom was always grateful.

‘…The opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity, or weary from over-work… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you are in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.’– Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)].

In honor of Thanksgiving, this week, here are THREE of Mom’s favorite, Frankenmuth “secret recipes” – for stuffing, fruit bread and cranberry relish; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 15)

#Frankenmuth

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

#WHBY

Next Monday (around 11:08AM CT/12:08PM ET), I’ll be on the Good Neighbor show, once again; reminiscing about Mom, with Kathy Keene, on WHBY in Appleton, WI. You can listen live, or listen later, through the station’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…47 down, 5 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fast Food Fix

#TGIM! Happy Monday to all and happy National Fast Food Day! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#NationalFastFoodDay

Today is National Fast Food Day! What a spectacular day to celebrate! Mom wrote, illustrated and self-published about 40 cookbooks (+/-) and hundreds of newsletter issues, on the subject of imitating fast food and junk food, as well as other restaurant offerings and grocery products at home. How appropriate, now, especially for this year’s Covid-19 restrictions!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

In a time, not unlike what we are in now – with political upheaval, low wages and high costs of living – Mom found a niche that people wanted! “Eating out at home”, she called it – as she investigated how to imitate fast food, junk food, & restaurant dishes at home; as well as, shelf-stable grocery items. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too.

Mom was reportedly included in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first to recreate “fast foods” at home. The people from ‘Guinness’ were particularly interested in Mom’s copycat recipes for “The Colonel’s” secret spices, McDonald’s-style “special sauce” and Arthur Treacher’s-style fish batter. Those are only a few of the hundreds of recipes that are among Mom’s original imitations of “fast food”, starting back in the early 1970s.

Mom’s collection of recipes, from over almost half of a century of developing and collecting, were in the thousands! I’m still working on a master index of all of her recipes and writings for this website. You’ll find copies of those recipes, mentioned above, under the “Blog” tab, in some of my other blog posts; as well as under the “Recipes” tab, which I am continuing to update as well.

#NationalFastFoodDay

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6-7)

IT ALL STARTED WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN

DEAR FRIENDS,

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 [home-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!

In the early ‘70s, I was trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, homemaking and a newspaper column syndicated through Columbia Features, when it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a single cookbook on the market that could help me take the monotony out of mealtime. There was not a single recipe in the newspaper’s food section that did not smack of down-home dullness!

‘Okay,’ they said at the newspaper I worked for, ‘YOU write the column on foods and recipes that YOU think would really excite the readers and make them happy!’ I did, but that didn’t make the Editors happy, because it made their [food industry] advertisers miserable.

When I was told that I’d have to go back to monotonous meatloaf and uninteresting side-dishes that made mealtime a ritual rather than a celebration or ‘pick up my check’, I told them to ‘MAIL it to me!’ I went home to start my own paper!

‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’– Seneca (Philosopher, mid-1st century, AD)

It was probably a dumb thing to do, amid an economic recession with the highest rate of unemployment I had ever experienced, but it was worth the risk. I was a dedicated writer that knew someone had to give homemakers something more than what they were being given in the colored glossy magazines, where a bowl of library paste could even be photographed to look appetizing!

There had to be more to mealtime than Lima beans and macaroni and cheese with Spam and parsley garnishes. There also had to be more to desserts than chocolate cake recipes that came right off the cocoa can. The food industry gave us more appealing products than did the cookbooks we trusted.

THEY LAUGHED! THEY DOUBTED! They even tried to take me to court when some famous food companies insisted that I stop giving away their secrets. They couldn’t believe me when I said that I did NOT know, nor did I want to know, what they put in their so-called secret recipes.

[However,] I did know that there are very few recipes that can’t be duplicated or imitated at home. And we could do them for much less than purchasing the original product. I proved…it can be and should be done!

‘Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.’Charles Caleb Colton

FAMOUS FOODS FROM FAMOUS PLACES have intrigued good cooks for a long time – even before fast foods of the 1950’s were a curiosity. When cookbooks offer us a sampling of good foods, they seldom devote themselves to the dishes of famous restaurants. There is speculation among the critics as to the virtues of re-creating, at home, the foods that you can buy ‘eating out’, such as the fast food fares of the popular franchise restaurants. To each, his own!

#WorldTelevisionDay

Who would want to imitate ‘fast food’ at home? I found that over a million people who saw me demonstrate replicating some famous fast food products on The Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981) DID – and their letters poured in at a rate of over 15,000 a day for months on end!

And while I have investigated the recipes, dishes, and cooking techniques of ‘fine’ dining rooms around the world, I received more requests from people who wanted to know how to make things like McDonald’s Special Sauce or General Foods Shake-N-Bake coating mix or White Castle’s hamburgers than I received for those things like Club 21’s Coq Au Vin.

A cookbook should be as exciting as a good mystery! Most are drably written by well-meaning cooks who might know how to put together a good dish but know nothing about making the reader feel as if they’re right there, in the kitchen with them, peeling, cutting, chopping, stirring, sifting and all the other interesting things one does when preparing food.

It is my intention, in [my] book of the food industry’s ‘Secret Recipes’, to make you feel at home in my kitchen, just as if we’re preparing the dishes together…to later enjoy with those who share our tables with us…

Fast food and junk food recipes weren’t found in any of the cookbooks offered back then – and these were the types of restaurants that struggling, middle class families would frequent when they wanted an affordable meal out. What were they going to do when they couldn’t afford to take their family out for such a treat? Mom knew! Make it at home! And she went to work, investigating all the possibilities there were to offer from this new platform; which grew exponentially!  

#NationalGratitudeMonth

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 306)

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BETTER COOKERY

IF THE GOOD LORD HAD INTENDED FOR ME to be a gourmet cook, I would’ve been born with Teflon hands! Don’t misunderstand – I like to cook! But I do not wish to spend more time in the preparations than is necessary.

NO ONE APPRECIATES good food as much as I do. Don’t ask me how I know – I just do. It does not concern me how a dish has been prepared, if it tastes great and looks good on the table! A gourmet cook would never agree with this philosophy.

However, anyone can become a gourmet cook, that is, if that is what you wish. All you need are numerous ingredients of good quality, a lot of time and patience and twice as much money – not to mention, and unblushing candor for admitting without modesty you are a ‘gourmet’ cook. This admission will intimidate many people just as easily as being faced with the admission that somebody is a terrific dancer, a great singer or an exceptional parent.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

And while it is perfectly acceptable and not the least bit conceited to say one is a ‘gourmet’ cook, there is still a tendency to back off from them because you know how many failures you have experienced and how skilled you would like to be in the kitchen, if only you had the time and the energy – and a generous allowance with which to buy all the right ingredients.

BETTER COOKERY is my answer to the ‘gourmets’, who insist that ‘fast food’ tastes like cardboard – and, sometimes, the various menu selections really do! But there are many family-type restaurants within the division of the ‘fast food’ industry that turn out exceptional meals for very reasonable prices, even giving senior citizens discounts and paying careful attention to how children are serviced.

When you’re a gourmet cook, you naturally have a throbbing desire to enjoy perfection with every dish, whether you’re preparing it, or someone else! To a gourmet cook, compliments go with the territory – failures don’t! They expect EVERY dish to be perfect enough to warrant a complement!

#NationalGratitudeMonth

By the way – who isn’t grateful that they can still get their fast food fix during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions – whether by drive-thru or curbside pick-up or delivery service or making it at home, ourselves?

#WorldTelevisionDay

Saturday, Nov. 21st, is World Television Day! Thus, next Monday, I’ll share with you more memories of Mom’s 20 years of experiences on television – from 1974 through 1993 – including our own local Detroit (and Ontario, Canada) area programs, as well as national shows like ‘CNN News’, the ‘Phil Donahue Show’ and ABC’s ‘Home Show’!

#FunWithFondueMonth

The whole month of November is also celebrating National Fun with Fondue Month! There are three main types of fondue – cheese, oil, and chocolate. With a little imagination, each type has an endless variety of possible options to change it up from the basic fondue sauce. Mom was a master at taking a basic recipe and turning it into an imitation of one of our favorite restaurant offerings, fast foods, junk foods, or grocery store products.

In honor of #FunWithFondueMonth, below are two versions of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating #BarCheeseLikeWinSchuler’s product; as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 275). Mom’s was imitating many of Win Schuler’s products from the very beginning of her Secret RecipesTM legacy. These will be great for the coming holiday celebrations!

*NOTE: The original recipes from the Win Schuler company, for Schuler’s Heritage Cheese Spread & Schuler’s Seasoning Salt, can be found at https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/longtime-restaurant-tells-its–year-story/article_9b6908aa-3553-52ac-8125-0f549ae6b398.html

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

#WHBY

My next interview on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…46 down, 6 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Kindness Begets Kindness

Happy Monday to all and happy World Kindness Week! #TGIM I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#WorldKindnessWeek

#WorldKindnessDay

Today begins World Kindness Week, and this Friday is World Kindness Day, which is celebrated on November 13th every year. In fact, it was November 13, 1998 when the “World Kindness Movement” (involving over 28 nations) launched the first World Kindness Day. That event later evolved into a week-long celebration that came to be known as World Kindness Week, which starts on Monday of the week in which World Kindness Day is celebrated.

Kindness helps others feel valued. Showing even the smallest amount of kindness can go a long way. Like Aesop said: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

Many believe that kindness has the potential to change the whole world. Its contagiousness often sets off a pay-it-forward ripple effect. Subsequently, I want to promote spreading kindness, especially this week.

BE A RIPPLE – from shore to shore!

Being kind can change lives – not only the lives of the receivers, but also those of the givers. Kindness is commonly known to have physical (and mental) health benefits for, both, givers and receivers. It is truly an essential part of society, bridging the divides of race, religion, gender, and other such things – even politics. This is an excellent week to celebrate kindness! With all of the political upheaval going on in our country, we need this more than ever.

Many psychiatrists concur that some healthy benefits of kindness include empowering our own personal energy and self-esteem. It makes us happier and that is good for our hearts, thereby, helping us to also live longer. Science has proven that there are many health benefits to being kind. You can read more about them at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

I want to pass this on once again, to do for this week’s celebration of World Kindness Week – it’s from an article on StarTribune.com called “Why Being Kind Makes You Healthier”, by Chrystle Fiedler (July 24, 2019). Chrystle writes:

‘Try the seven-day kindness challenge. That means, do at least one act of kindness every day for seven days. Ground rules: Do something different each day; push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once and be sure one of your acts of kindness is anonymous — no one should ever find out who did it.’

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 30)

MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY

Have you ever had your day suddenly turn sunshiny because of a cheerful word? Have you ever wondered if this could be the same world because someone had been unexpectedly kind to you. You can make today [that way] for somebody! It’s only a question of a little imagination, a little time and trouble. Think now, ‘What can I do today, to make someone happy?’

IS A SINGLE HEART REJOICING over what you did or said?

Does the one whose hopes were fading, now with courage, look ahead?

Do you waste the day or lose it? Was it well or sorely spent?

Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?

As you close your eyes in slumber, do you think that God will say,

‘You have earned one more tomorrow, by the work you did today.’?

‘Happy is the person who has a good supply of the milk of human kindness and knows how to keep it from souring.’– Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 17)

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

#MakeKindnessTheNorm

In fact, we receive many other types of rewards from simply being kind to others. One non-profit organization that I mentioned in a February blog post, RandomActsOfKindness.org, promotes making acts of kindness “the norm” in life and in society. The website offers a lot of inspiring ideas and stories about various acts of kindness.

I can’t say it enough – being kind and compassionate should happen every day! After all, we’ve been taught to be good and kind since we were toddlers, starting school, or even younger. It’s a shame that the simple act of being kind to someone is forgotten by so many after they leave Kindergarten. If a young child can understand the simple importance kindness has in society, shouldn’t we all?

According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum, “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children, i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living a balanced life of work, play, and learning.”

The “Golden Rule” is a basic, moral principle for society that encourages all of us to treat others with kindness, as that’s how we would want to be treated, as well! It’s a simple, reasonable code, by which we should all live, daily.

Like I mentioned above, a culture of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on society and, thus, doing something kind inspires others to pay it forward, also. And, at WisdomQuotes.com, there is “440 Kindness Quotes That Will Make You A Better Person” – which is more than enough ideas from which to follow at least one a day for more than a year!

In so many ways, Mom and Dad, both, set good examples for me to follow. I am so grateful that my family heritage, on both sides, were good and kind people. I’m proud to do the same, setting a good example for my children to follow (as well as for people that know me) and that they will continue it, as well; making kindness a “daily norm”.

Like a child’s laugh or a heart-felt smile, acts of kindness can be contagious. However, unlike Covid-19, that’s a good thing. Plant the seeds, every day, and watch kindness grow wild!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 52)

THE PENTAGON RECIPE

[aka: Kindness Begets Kindness]

One of the reasons that I always liked President Ford, was that he seemed more like the rest of us – but with strong convictions on doing the right thing when he had to…

But his first televised press conference, after his inauguration, was the incident that led to my receiving a letter from President Ford and, later on, the recipe from the Pentagon.

When the President opened his press conference on television, he explained there had been a mix-up!. Betty Ford had scheduled her first press conference for the same day – and, naturally, one of them had to postpone theirs.  

So, the president explained that like any married couple, he and his wife sat down to discuss it logically, intelligently and sensibly, as to which one of them would postpone their conference. Betty’s conference, it was decided, would be held the following week; and, in the meantime, the President explained, he would be making his own breakfast, his own lunch, and his own dinner!.  

I fell off my chair, laughing, when he made that announcement; thinking how human, how normal, how great! But my fellow journalists, in their usual humorless vein, didn’t even chuckle. They thwarted questions at him and the joke went unappreciated by probably everyone but me!

So I sent President Ford the copy of the cookbook I had then published [September 1974] with a note of sympathy that, if he were going to be doing his own cooking, perhaps he could use some help. And this was the letter I received from him:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Washington, D.C.

September 12, 1974

PERSONAL

Dear Mrs. Pitzer:

I was pleased to receive an inscribed copy of your cookbook together with your kind note. It is indeed heartening to have the good wishes of so many Michigan friends and the support of fine people like you is a source of strength and encouragement to me.

With warm regards,

Sincerely,

GERALD R. FORD

In the meantime, I had a lovely note from Betty Ford, saying how much she had enjoyed the copies of my newsletter that she had been loaned by one of the congressmen’s wives. I gave her a complimentary subscription until she and President Ford left the White House and asked, in return, if I could impose on her to impose on her husband to use his influence in the Pentagon to acquire a copy of the Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast recipe that was served at Langley AFB, in Virginia, in about 1951.

It was the only thing my husband, Paul, would eat in their mess hall! Within a week or so I received the recipe and a kind note from Betty Ford, wishing me luck in breaking it down from 380 servings to a reasonable portion! It was a challenge! But I did it and Paul still enjoys it!

The giving of the best of ourselves should be done without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude! It is through acts of kindness and giving from our hearts that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of our national election day last week and Veterans’ Day tomorrow, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for…

Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast, like Langley AFB (VA)

As seen in… The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 53)

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

Food For Thought…

#NationalScrappleDay

Today is also National Scrapple Day. According to Wikipedia.com, scrapple is “the first pork food invented in America. For those not familiar with scrapple, it is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal, wheat flour, and spices, such as sage, thyme, savory and black pepper. The mush is then formed into a semi-solid loaf, sliced and pan-fried.” Scrapple is also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name pon haus… Local settlers adapted the dish to make use of locally available ingredients.

#WHBY

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

If you missed my last session with Kathy Keene, you can listen to the recording of it at https://www.whby.com/2020/10/26/laura-pitzer-emerich-5/!

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…45 down, 7 to go!

(Christmas and the year’s end are coming fast!)

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Stories

#TGIM! Happy Monday and happy November to one and all! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

I LOVE November for many reasons! First of all – just as Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season, likewise – November is the unofficial start of “the holiday season”, which is most certainly a season of entertaining! Even if we have to keep it small for the continued Covid-19 threats and restrictions.

Growing up, as one of “The Recipe Detective’s” children, I learned a lot from Mom about entertaining, for which I am eternally grateful. Most of our family’s “entertaining” occasions were during the fall and winter holiday seasons – when, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of her hat, Mom could whip up hors d’oeuvres and drinks, as if out of thin air, and on a moment’s notice for unexpected guests that popped in to say hello and visit for a bit.

Whether Mom (and Dad) were entertaining for a few unexpected friends or a scheduled, big family (and friends) event, Mom had a whole “Rolodex” of entertaining ideas in her head from which to draw. That was how Mom grew up, as her mom was the same – and that’s how I was brought up, as well. I’m so grateful for my family!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#FamilyStoriesMonth

All November long, there is a national celebration of Family Stories Month! I have a sign, hanging proudly, near my dining room table that reads: “There’s a room in every home where the smallest events and biggest occasions become the stories of our lives.”

The table is the same one I grew up with in the 1960s and 1970s. It always seemed to be my family’s favorite spot in which to gather and eat and talk and laugh – about all the many events of our lives; making plans for our tomorrows and creating what became, at least for me, great family stories.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s

In our household, every event, even the smallest, involved food! Imagine how great it was when there were planned events and parties such as for Halloween or a birthday, or even Thanksgiving dinner with a dozen relatives and guests on top of our own large brood. I loved to help Mom in the kitchen!

Lists were made and checked and revised and checked again! It was a circus of juggling time and magic acts all rolled into one! All 5 of us kids had to pitch-in and help on big events, especially us girls…sexist or not, that’s just the way it was back then.

Along with, and related to, Family Stories Month, November is also National Life Writing Month!

According to NationalDayCalendar.com: ‘The goal of National Life Writing Month is to encourage people to write about themselves and their life as they have experienced it thus far (it’s sometimes known as Memoir Writing Month.) Now is the time for you to dedicate yourself to writing personal and family stories, memories, traditions, significant events, and anything else you feel is worth adding to your life story.’

#LifeWritingMonth

That’s basically what I’ve been doing, here, EVERY MONDAY for the past couple of years! However, Mom was practically a life-long-writer-of-life, journaling on the significant events, surrounding her and her family on a DAILY basis. In fact, Mom had been journaling about her life and that of her family since she was about 10 years old until shortly before she passed away – over 70 years – greatly influenced and inspired by the Bronte sisters, whose family story she saw in the 1946 film, “Devotion”.

Devotion” as well as many other events and people influenced Mom as a pioneer and a trailblazer in her field. Mom was a writer, satirist, cartoonist, publisher, marketer, and more – still proud to be a homemaker and yet have a “paying” career (from home) too, where she could cleverly combine the two! Regardless of the WLM (Women’s Liberation Movement), Mom set to work, focusing her topics of writing toward the fence-sitting, semi-liberated homemakers like herself.

Mom wrote, published and marketed her own newsletter (as well as her MANY dozens of cookbooks) for more than a quarter of a century – January 1974 through December 2000.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

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. 23)

IN THE BEGINNING

At the time the assignment was handed to me by the newspaper editor for whom I then worked; I knew more about cooking than anyone else on the staff. I was also the only ‘married lady’ on the staff, which in those days of homemaking, housewives and the Donna Reed show, automatically qualified me to handle the food page at the newspaper (when I had been a feature writer and columnist for a long time.)

I accepted the challenge wholeheartedly because I did want to write for the paper. If they had told me to do the obituaries, I would’ve given even that assignment my best effort. The food page was a challenge for me, in view of the fact that there was no test kitchen at the newspaper. I would be testing the recipes in my own kitchen at home. There was a small compensation in my paycheck at the end of the week for the groceries I used, but not enough to fully reimburse me. I accepted what they gave me gratefully, however…

Of course, I look back now in amazement at what I was able to do for a whole week with a 3-pound package of hamburger. How it began as spaghetti sauce, then sloppy Joe mixture and, with the addition of red kidney beans and some other seasonings, chili concurrently… It was fun, too, now that I recall those early days.

MAKING TIME FOR OPPORTUNITY

But some of the thoughts of which I wished to write were never properly developed on paper and published because there just wasn’t enough time. Later, when I could have made the time, there wasn’t a market for [it]; so, here I am [Dec. 1989], 17 years after the first recipe collection [Jan. 1973] was an outstanding success, still looking for the time and opportunity to write the book I have always wanted to write.

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

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. 42 & 44)

THE HOMEMAKERS’ NEWSLETTER

THE NEWSLETTER BEGAN with the mimeograph in our utility room where I cut the stencils, Inc. the drum by hand, applied the stencils and ran the copies off, a few hundred at a time, allowing them to ear-dry on the dining room table in the next room.

The dining room table was a door to which Paul had affixed for table legs. It was seldom clear of our work. I never gave any thought, then either, to the number of hours that we put into producing the newsletter. We simply worked until the work was finished, or we found a good ‘breaking-off’ point. (p. 42)

BELIEVE ME, it is not easy putting out your own newsletter, and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint or floor plan to follow that will promise instant success… (p. 44)

#InspirationalRoleModelsMonth

Moreover, November is also celebrating National Inspirational Role Models Month! Outside of her family, Mom was greatly influenced, throughout her life, by many talented women – comedians and writers like Carol Burnette, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball top the list. Other talented ladies to whom Mom looked up include Erma Bombeck, Carol Duvall, Betsy Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer; just to name a handful.

As mentioned above, Mom had a lot of great influences among her peers, but they weren’t the only role models to whom she looked up and respected. I mention this here because a lot of people, like Mom (and myself), have role models that are from their own immediate families and ancestors too!

Mom & Dad with each of their moms – December 1985

Mom’s first two (and biggest) influences in homemaking were, of course, her own mom; as well as my dad’s mom – since, when they were first married, Mom and Dad lived with Dad’s parents for a short while. Below is a picture of the “inspiration” story that Mom wrote many decades ago and re-printed in one of the last issues of her newsletter.

When it came to entertaining, food was usually the “guest star” in our house. Whether it was an hors d’oeuvre or a main entree, Mom never just served from the pot or “threw” it on a dish. She cared about how it was presented because she cared about everyone with whom she shared her table.

Additionally, Mom never made “just enough”, because in our household, you never knew when unexpected guests would pop in or the dish would be such a hit that we’d all want second helpings! If Mom over-planned and there were left-overs, she was also a sorceress at re-inventing left-overs into a whole new meal.

I’ve always tried to do the same as a mom & wife, myself. Like Mom, it makes me feel good to make others feel good – especially through food. It’s a universal icebreaker and relationship-builder. That’s what Mom taught me since I was young and afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends at school. She gave me extra cookies in my lunch to share with the other kids and assured me that and my smile was all I needed. It worked!

#NationalGratitudeMonth

Again, that’s still not all that November is celebrating. In relation to the others I’ve mentioned so far, it is also National Gratitude Month! For me, Mom is “that source” from which I derive most of my own inspiration. And I am grateful for all that she’s given me, all that she’s taught me and all that she continues to teach me throughout her everlasting writings. They truly are “the stories of our lives”!

EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 113)

GRATITUDE

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, was always my mother’s advice to me when I would try to bend a sympathetic ear, imploring her to comfort me and keep me company in my occasional misery. And, of course, misery does love company!

But counting my blessings was the last thing in the world I felt up to doing when the world seemed to be so hopelessly bleak, and whatever problem I had at the time, seem so devastating to me. Now here I am telling my own children the same thing. Only I tell my own children to count their opportunities, for an opportunity is just a blessing in disguise!

I wish I had known this years ago. What frustrating disappointments I could have avoided, or at the upmost, handled better. I would’ve used the enthusiasm and the optimism that I acquired during the last two years or so to work off those petty resentments that separate us from folks whom we could really care about, if we only get to know them better, and perhaps understand why we’re in conflict.

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Naturally, if we judge everything by what we see on television, we’d know that’s impossible – that people in conflict can’t resolve their differences, or so the reports indicate in those real-life fantasies that exaggerate greed, envy and contempt as if the motivation for these traits were purely justified. I don’t think they ever are!

Preparing your assortment of thoughts and feelings in a compatible mixture, in order to produce successful relationships, is really no different than preparing an assortment of compatible ingredients in a recipe for a dish that promises to be a stunning success on the dinner table.

Whether it’s a recipe for preparing a very good dish, or a very good relationship, the basics are still the same – compatible ingredients, attention to detail, thinking about what you are doing, and making logical adjustments as you go!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of today, November 2nd, being National Deviled Egg Day and National Ohio Day, here are TWO of Mom’s “secret recipes” – one for Deviled Eggs, as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 68); and another for her version of Ohio Buckeyes, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Reprinted – June 2002, p. 72).

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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…44 down, 8 to go!

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