Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Make A Plan

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! Even though this is the last Monday of 2020, I am looking forward to 52 more chances in 2021!

It’s still December for a few more days. That means it’s still National Write A Business Plan Month! The pandemic effect on 2020 has left many people out of work and others having to close their businesses for good. And, as we start planning our resolutions for the new year, what a great time it is to think about starting a small internet business venture.

There wasn’t internet around when Mom suddenly switched gears and went from a syndicated columnist to a self-published journalist. Additionally, the 1970s were going through major challenges – food shortages, paper shortages, sky-rocketing unemployment, and so forth. But FATE was steering Mom into a particular “business plan”, even though it wasn’t exactly what she had planned for her future writing career when she was young.

#WriteABusinessPlanMonth

‘It was all leading to my eventual work in the food industry – but I couldn’t see that at the time – I could only see that I had to write and with any luck at all, luck would be when preparation and experience met opportunity. The opportunity was close at hand.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)]

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, it was almost half of a century ago when Mom left her newspaper job and began her own family owned and operated, cottage-style, dining room table business. In the fall of 1973 Mom started putting together her first newsletter, titled Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter, following the earlier release of her first, self-published, cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (1973), which was compiled from a collection of recipes she had developed while writing her syndicated, food-for-thought and recipe column called “Cookbook Corner”.

The following excerpts are Mom’s account of how her fate-driven business plan came about…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

[MY] FIRST TELEVISION APPEARANCE [1974]

IT WAS THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME to launch a new business. The unemployment rate was terribly high. There was a newsprint paper shortage. There was a gasoline shortage. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication. It was something I had always wanted to do. I couldn’t tell Paul. I knew that! He would have been far too practical to have approved of my starting my own paper, so I enlisted the help of our children.

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

For 9 months, I mimeograph, assembled and mailed out about 100 copies a month of my newsletter. Bill and Mike helped assemble it and Debbie help me test the recipes and address the copies. I don’t know how we ever kept it from Paul for that long, but I couldn’t tell him what I was doing until I could assure him that I could make a profit. All I was doing was breaking even.

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

Then Dennis Wholley, at Channel 7 in Detroit, called and said somebody had sent him a copy of my newsletter. He was tickled with the crazy names I gave the recipes and the home-spun format. He wanted the entire family to be his guests on his “A.M. Detroit” show on November 14 – which was also our Laura’s birthday.

I couldn’t keep it from Paul any longer, because I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to promote the paper on a popular local television show. He took it quite well, considering the state of shock he must have been in at my announcement. But we took all 5 of the kids with us across town, in a blizzard yet, with Laura having a bout of car-sickness during the hour’s drive there.

And, during that experience, we met Coleman Young, the recently elected mayor of Detroit, who was also a guest on the show. All of Pearl Beach must have been tuned into a.m. Detroit that morning, with half of the population gathered at the Pearl Beach post office, watching the portable set there.

Gloria Pitzer, mimeographing in her early years as the Recipe Detective [TM]

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

My list of ‘Secret Recipes’ had grown to 200 and we offered them, on 4×6-inch cards [that I printed on my mimeograph], at $.25 each or 5 for a dollar. It was quite a packaging process to fill the combinations of orders, so I put all those recipes into a book. It was going to be our only book on the subject, since most of the recipes were fast foods – but, as it turned out, it was only the first in a series of five books. After ‘Book One’ took off and became a very good seller, I did a Bicentennial American Cookery book as a limited edition and was pleased when the Henry Ford Library at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan ordered copies for their Bicentennial collection. That was July 1976…

‘Apparently, it’s true, that LIFE is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.’– Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292).]

If someone were to copy our so-called ‘success’, I could give them no blue print for that condition. Each one of the little steps that we had to take to develop the kitchen table activity into a professional business operation, are like the grains of sand that the oyster requires in order to form a pearl. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 25)

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)

HOW IT BEGAN (1973 – 1974)… CRITICAL EARLY ADVANTAGE

THE MIMEOGRAPH did give me the advantage of being self-sufficient without having to go into debt. Paul failed to see the importance of my having to have this, until I showed him the receipt for it having been paid-in-full, and the bankbook that showed him exactly how much I had earned from having printed a newspaper column on the machine, then selling them to 11 newspapers around the state.

John McPartlin had loaned me his newspaper directory, from which I drew the names and addresses of those weekly papers that had a circulation sufficient to afford a dollar per column, per week. Considering the mimeograph only cost $79.95, I feel I did pretty well, skimping and scraping to get it paid for. Paul was skeptical, however, that it would ever be anything then an expensive hobby. I think I must have tried so very hard to be the best I could be, to prove to him that he was wrong about me.

THE NEWSLETTER BEGAN with the mimeograph in our utility room where I cut the stencils, inked the drum by hand, applied the stencils and ran the copies off, a few hundred at a time, allowing them to air-dry on the dining room table in the next room. The dining room table was a door to which Paul had affixed four 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.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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. 43)

MARKETING INSPIRATION

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

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

From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [areas] in the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores.

From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response. What I had at that time was a little book entitled ‘The Better Cookers Cookbook’ [1973], as opposed to our current popular book, ‘Better Cookery’. [May 1983, 3rd Edition – the one I rewrote for Mom.]

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

IN CLOSING…

#ChocolateCandyDay

Since today is National Chocolate Candy Day, here is Mom’s imitation for making homemade ‘Mounds’ candy bars, which she called ‘Patter Paul Ounce Bars’; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 223). Enjoy!

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

Learn something new every day!

Some other celebrations for this week include:

Tuesday is National Pepper Pot Day!

Wednesday is Bacon Day! Here’s an encore posting of my Aunt Hazel’s Hot Dog & Bacon BBQ… Enjoy, again!

Thursday is New Year’s Eve & National Champagne Day!

Friday is New Year’s Day 2021 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Saturday is National Buffet Day (Remember those things?) & National Play Outside Day [which is on the first Saturday of every month!]

#WHBY

Today would be my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show – but it had to be postponed to Thursday, the 31st. I will still be on during the first half-hour of the show – starting around 12:08pm (Eastern Time). Check it out live, on New Year’s Eve, (or 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/

…52 down, a whole new year to go!

Happy 2021 to everyone! May it be a more contented and healthier one for all of us!

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

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Yule-Solstice & Humbug-Festivus Days

Happy Monday and happy National Humbug Day! Additionally, happy Winter Solstice and Yule! And let’s not forget #TGIM – as 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!

#HumbugDay

We’re coming into the hustle-and-bustle of the last stretch of the holiday “to-do’s” before Christmas, which is just around the bend – and today happens to be the national celebration of Humbug Day!

To begin, this is usually a very stressful time of year for most people…having unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and excessive commitments, to name a few examples. Now add on the Covid-19 pandemic spikes everywhere and all the related restrictions on top of that and the Christmas/Yuletide season has become an even more stressful time of year. Some people wallow in the stress and anxiety with their bah-humbug attitudes, while others will put on their boots and forge their way out of the muck, making the best of what they have.

#Festivus

And for the rest of us, Wednesday is Festivus – an alternative outlet, in which “hum-buggers” can air their grievances for the feelings of pressure from the commercialism of the season! Originally, this celebration was formed as an outlet for one family’s pent-up frustrations over the annual chaos of the holiday season. After it was incorporated into an episode of Seinfeld, it became a national sensation!

But this time of year is really such a wonderful and magical season of LOVE! While there will always remain those who like the Scrooge-ish, “Bah-humbug” attitude; I think I come across a lot more people, who are actually spreading around the good cheer than those who are spreading the “hum-bug”.

Mom used to tell me, “the most valuable gift you can give is to be a good example!” This time of year seems to bring out the best “good examples” in most of us. It’s a good kind of contagious “bug” and seems to flow right into the new year. More people are volunteering their time for “good deeds” and helping out those in need by donating money, food, coats, toys and so much more.

Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we ‘own’ or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM  Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 147, Nov-Dec 1990; pp. 1 & 8)

THE CHRISTMAS FEELING

THE EASIEST COP-OUT for those who put a price tag on the pleasures of the holiday & insist that the success of the celebration depends on the amount of money spent on the preparations and gifts. If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about ‘trivials’… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more… (p. 1)

[THE CHRISTMAS FEELING] is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations! (p. 8)

#WinterSolstice

#Yule

Also happening today are the national celebrations for Winter Solstice and Yule. The Pagan Yule celebration existed thousands of years before the Christians began celebrating Christmas! In fact, most of the traditional ways for celebrating the Christians’ Christmas, were actually derived from the Pagan Yuletide traditions of the ancient Nordic and Celtic people.

Ye ol’ Yule’s 12 days of festivities included bonfires, music and dancing, ritual sacrifices (such as lambs), large communal feasts, and gift-giving; as well as decorating with holly, mistletoe and the fresh-cut branches of evergreens. Do you see any resemblances to the traditions of the Christians’ Christmas season celebrations?

The Pagan’s Yule festivities, which is still celebrated in some regions, last for 12 days; beginning with the winter solstice, which usually is somewhere from December 20th to the 23rd, as it changes from year to year. The Christians similarly celebrate the “the 12 days of Christmas”, which takes place annually December 25th through January 5th.

The Yule “log” for the bonfire was actually a whole tree that was meant to be burned for the duration of the 12-day celebration. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the winter solstice and that in keeping the Yule log burning for the whole 12 days encouraged the sun to move, making the days longer.

The largest end of the tree was fed into the hearth first and wine was poured over it, being lit with the remains of the previous year’s Yule log. Everyone would take turns feeding the length of timber into the fire as it burned down, because they believed that letting it burn out would bring bad luck.

The Celts believed that mistletoe possessed healing powers, as well as powers to ward off evil spirits. Today mistletoe is used to encourage the spirit of love.

Additionally, the Vikings traditionally decorated evergreen trees with gifts of wood-carvings and food for the tree spirits, encouraging them to return in the spring. Likewise, the Christians decorate their Christmas trees (also evergreens – fake and real ones) – with ornaments and lights.

And, according to Norse tradition, “Old Man Winter” would visit homes to join in the Yule festivities. The Viking god, Odin was a wanderer with a long white beard and an eight-legged horse. Odin is considered to be the first “Santa Claus”, “St. Nicolas”, or “Father Christmas” – over the centuries and around the world, he has gone by many names.

[NOTE: In the Norse culture, “Jul” (a possible origin of “Yule”) refers to the god, Odin.]

In Yule celebrations, the Norse children would go from house to house with gift baskets of apples and oranges spiked with cloves, resting in sprigs of evergreens. Additionally, the Viking children would leave their shoes by the hearth on the eve of the winter solstice, along with sugar and hay for Odin’s eight-legged horse.

Now Christians go caroling from house to house, including the children; who later “hang their stockings…with care” and set out milk and cookies for Santa, along with carrots for his eight reindeer.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 183, Nov-Dec 1997; p. 9)

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Whenever we feel we aren’t strong enough to handle some challenge, we can be sure that there’s, within each of us, a natural spirit, an inner strength upon which we can draw. Even when we feel nearly crushed by overwhelming challenges, we can prevail.

When loving others is involved and our being concerned for their welfare is uppermost, we can’t always stop doing whatever is necessary for us to do to overcome hard times. Our love for those in need won’t let us rest until their needs are met, their burdens eased.

It is tremendous to see what takes place when people act out of their concern for others, for the sake of goodness, an unselfish nature that promises no personal reward for efforts exercised. This, in deed, is the Spirit of Christmas.

‘THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good…’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 8)

According to WorldHolidayTraditions.com, in Holiday Traditions of the United States…, our current holiday traditions come from our world-wide melting-pot ancestry. For example, the tradition of “feasting” during the holidays is characteristic of all nations’ celebrations.

Only the elements of the menus would be different from one nation to another. We get many of our current combination of traditions from our diverse ancestors, who immigrated here from so many different countries, bringing their various customs with them.

As the article explains, a great number of our Christmas carols came from England and Australia. Likewise, the decorated evergreens are from our German ancestry influences (which supposedly influenced our traditional Christmas village displays, as well).

The man in the red suit, whom we’ve come to know as Santa Claus [aka: Father Christmas or St. Nicholas], may have originated in Scandinavia. Likewise, his arrival down the chimney to fill stockings with fruit and nuts is reminiscent of the Netherlands.

Mom and ‘Santa’ 2016

Over the years, America’s influence has fattened up Scandinavia’s red-suited “jolly old St. Nicholas” and blended all the different traditions so that he magically came down everyone’s chimney on Christmas Eve, leaving gifts and stockings filled with treats.

Additionally, “St. Nick” traveled in a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer – as in the classic holiday story, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas. At some point, a ninth reindeer, with a shiny red nose, was added to the sleigh-pulling team. The myth of the reindeer-drawn sleigh began in Switzerland. Additionally, our annual American holiday parades may have been inspired by the Latin nation’s holiday processions.

‘If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about [the] trivial… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 1)

IN CLOSING…

#FrenchFriedShrimpDay

In honor of National French Fried Shrimp Day, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating the Berville Hotel Secret Shrimp and Shrimp Cocktail Sauce, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 109 & 110). Also pictured is a copy of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, which I shared in a previous blog post as well.

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Tuesday is National Date Nut Bread Day

Wednesday is (also) National Pfeffernusse Day & National Roots Day  

Thursday is National Eggnog Day & Christmas Eve

Friday is National Pumpkin Pie Day, Christmas & the start of the Twelve Days of Christmas [December 25 – January 5]

Saturday is National Candy Cane Day, the start of Kwanzaa [December 26 – January 1] & Boxing Day (Canada)

Sunday is National Fruitcake Day

#WHBY

Next Monday would be my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show – but it had to be postponed to Wednesday, the 30th; still during the first half-hour of the show. Check it out live, or 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/

…51 down and ONLY 1 MORE to go for 2020!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Plan

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!

It was 47 years ago, this month that Mom put together her first newsletter, which she titled Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter; following the release of her first, self-published, cookbook, titled The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (1973), which was compiled from recipes she developed while writing various, syndicated, food-for-thought and recipe columns.

In honor of December and National Write-A-Business-Plan Month, I want to share with you how Mom just kind of fell into a business plan that she accredits to a higher power, as it wasn’t exactly what she had planned for her future writing career when she was young.

#WriteABusinessPlanMonth

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292)

BEHIND THE SCENES

PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR OF SECRET RECIPES and ‘The Recipe Detective’ are the names that my friends in radio and newspapers have given to me, and I enjoy living up to that assignment! I enjoy working with these recipe secrets, but most of all, I enjoy writing about them.

I’ve been writing all my life… Going way-back to when I was in grade school. I was always writing a book, or a poem or a short story. It was a way of life from my earliest memories – a way over which I seem to have no personal control! I had to write… Preferably about what I knew best at the time. Little did I know that what I would come to know best would be cooking!

The one year that I spent at Michigan State (when it was still a college, mind you – you figure that out! Sophia Loren and I are the same age – and while we may have the same measurements, 36-28-36, mine are neck, wrists and ankles, I’m afraid) … Was one year in which I learned 2 important things – I could not pass my Creative Writing course and I was “kicked out” of Home Economics!

My Creative Writing instructor told me that I typed a neat looking paper and probably should be a secretary, for I would never make it as a writer. My Home Economics instructor advised me to spend the rest of my life having my meals delivered, for I was always finding fault with the way so many cookbooks were written.

I took a position with the J Walter Thompson Advertising company in Detroit, working as a secretary to the copywriters. I met my husband, Paul, there when he returned from a 4-year tour of service with the Air Force. We started dating and one year later we were married.

That was 1956. Bill was born over a year later, and then Mike came 20 months after that, and Debbie came along 20 months after that. I lost 3 babies in the next 3 years, but Laura was born in 1964 and Cheryl came 20 months after that. During those years, Paul was working for a sign company in Mt. Clemens, Michigan – where, in the 20 years he spent with them, he did everything from drafting to purchasing agent to account rep!

I kept up with my writing, always working for one of the suburban papers and constantly free-lancing to magazines. When Redbook sent me $500 for my ‘Young Mother’s Story’ submission in February 1963, called ‘We’ll Never Live with In-Laws Again’, I put part of the money into a typewriter, as I had always had to borrow one before that. I wanted a typewriter more than Reagan wanted to be president!

I put a lot of miles on that $39.95 machine – I designed a column for weekly newspapers and mailed out samples to over 300 newspapers. Within a year, I had acquired 60 regular papers for my “No Laughing Matter” column and another column I called ‘Minding the Hearth’.

Columbia Features in New York offered me a contract, and, for a year, I allowed them to syndicate the column in competition with a new humorist, Erma Bombeck! (Right church, wrong pew for me!) When a big city paper carried Erma’s column, Columbia placed mine in their competing paper. I split with Columbia on a 60/40 basis (I took 40) and finally, by mutual agreement, we broke the contract. I was on my own.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

HOW SECRET RECIPES BEGAN

When Columbia Features and I parted company, they had acquired only 2 additional papers from me and lost several more. Within 6 months, I had regained all my original papers and was syndicating the column from our dining room table, where we then lived in what my friend, Bob Allison, called ‘beautiful downtown Pearl Beach’ – a town so small that I told people City Hall was over a Dairy Queen, our McDonald’s had only one arch and, if we had a Howard Johnson’s, it would’ve had only 3 flavors!

We had a 9-year old station wagon at that time. It burned oil and barely got Paul to work and back without something breaking down! I rode a bike to and from the Pearl Beach post office every day where I mailed out my columns and then looked for responses to ads I had placed in the Tower Press and Grit magazines for recipes on 4×6-inch cards that enabled you to imitate famous dishes at home.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

BOB ALLISON’s ‘ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR

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

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

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

So, in December 1973, I put together my first issue of what came to be my “Secret Recipe Report”, a newsletter that, for 106 consecutive monthly issues, brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry.

The Better Cooker’s Cookbook – written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Algonac, MI; 1973)

I probably wouldn’t have done the monthly, except for a falling-out I had with the editor of a small-town paper for which I was writing a food column. I had published some of my first attempts at duplicating famous dishes in that column and the response was beautiful, until I offended one of the papers biggest advertisers with a rendition of their cheesecake… “The kind that nobody doesn’t like.”

The editor told me I would have to go back to standard recipes like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf or chocolate cake – or I could pick up my check. I told him to MAIL it to me. That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own paper. That afternoon, I put out my charter issue, sending samples of it to those whose names and addresses I had on file from having written to me at the paper. That was the beginning of “Secret Recipes”!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)

THE DIRECTION WAS ALREADY DETERMINED FOR ME!

WHEN I LOOK BACK now, I realize that I was so busy trying to prove that others were wrong about me, I couldn’t see how events were taking place that would sooner or later put me where I had always wanted to be – writing for a worthwhile living, while making living worthwhile! In high school, I pestered the school newspaper sponsor, Mr. Rosen, to let me be on the staff. He had no hope for me at all as a reporter!

I was secretary of the Senior Class, [graduating] January 1954, and Judy Guest was secretary of the [graduating] June 1954 Senior Class. Judy was on the staff of the paper; but, even then, it was well-known that she hoped to write ‘the Great American novel’ –  and that she did, 20 years later, with Academy Award-winning ‘Ordinary People’! Judy’s great-uncle was Edgar A. Guest and Bud Guest, a famous radio commentator, was her uncle. It was only natural that writing would run in her family.

We were friends because we liked each other and were both involved with the same school activities. I was always glad that we continued to keep in touch, if only at Christmas, for nobody appreciated Judy’s eventual success with ‘Ordinary People’ as I probably did, knowing how long she had wanted to accomplish that work.

Somehow, despite my personal objections to the direction in which I appeared to be going, it was just as likely that I would accomplish a properly written cookbook. Even in high school I was put on two-weeks’ probation with the cooking class instructor, for having disregarded the recipe for a pie crust we were assigned to prepare in class. Mine was a recipe that I still use – and have published in this book – for the ‘No Rolling Pin’ crust. Apparently, it’s true, that ‘Life’ is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.

DIVIDENDS

Every successful accomplishment with my writing, after high school and the one year in college, was involved with recipes and cookbooks and restaurants. But I couldn’t see that it was a kind of calling. I saw it only as an interest that temporarily kept me writing and making a worthwhile living at it.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

WDEE-Radio, in Detroit, gave me a portable radio or a recipe that took first place in a contest they conducted – and in 1962, it was WBRB, in Mt. Clemens, that gave me a check for first place in their recipe contest. Soon after that, Better Homes & Gardens sent me a check for a recipe in a contest they had conducted.

WJBK-Radio gave me a maple stereo and radio set for their most unusual experience while listening to the radio, in 1964, when I wrote them about our ‘Picnicking in the Snow’. Again, the story was food related, including recipes for having a cook-out on the beach at Metropolitan Park in the middle of winter, with the radio going to keep us in the proper mood.

It was all leading to my eventual work in the food industry – but I couldn’t see that at the time I could only see that I had to write and with any luck at all, luck would be when preparation and experience met opportunity. The opportunity was close at hand.

LAST THOUGHTS

Only two and a half weeks until we ring-in a new year! As I wrote in our Christmas cards last week, I can’t help but reminisce over all of 2020’s trials-and-tribulations compared to those in previous years. The Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions and changes in how we normally lived our lives made 2020 a rough one for all of us.

On the other hand, it gave us cause to re-evaluate what is most important to us. We are all different, so everyone’s “important things” will most likely vary from each other’s; at least, to some degree. We will probably never completely return to those days and those ways. Sometimes, it’s best to just move forward and adapt, as that is how we evolve as a human race.

As 2021 gets closer, I’ve been reflecting on the goals I made earlier this year – the ones at which I succeeded, as well as those at which I failed. It seems to me that it really doesn’t matter when you start a resolution. The important thing is to see it through and commit yourself to its eventual success… The same as you would for a business plan!

IN CLOSING…

#RootVegetablesAndExoticFruitsMonth

December is National Root Vegetables And Exotic Fruits Month! Root vegetables include celery root, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc. They are multi-beneficial to us, providing complex carbs and high-fiber, which aids in weight loss.

Root vegetables and exotic fruits also contain a massive amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. However, while the U.S. produces vast amounts of root vegetables, exotic fruits are a bit harder to come by here, which is why we call them “exotic”. However, you may find them in specialty produce places. These fruits contain large amounts of antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C, iron, and phosphorus.

In honor of National Root Vegetables And Exotic Fruits Month, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #PotatoDumplings; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 103)

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

Learn something new every day!

Some other celebrations for this week include:

Today is National Bouillabaisse Day

Tuesday is National Cupcake Day

Wednesday is National Chocolate-covered Anything Day

Also on Wednesday, through Christmas Eve, is Las Posadas, https://nationaldaycalendar.com/las-posadas-december-16-24/ which is a 9 day Mexican Christmas tradition based on the story of Mary, Joseph, and their search for a safe place to stay before Jesus was born. This has been a tradition in many Latin countries for more than 400 years.

During Las Posadas, communities come together for nine days and nights to festively decorate their homes and make traditional foods and drinks such as corn tamales and “ponche”, a hot drink that is made of fruits like apples, oranges, lemons, prunes, and guava.

Each day is filled with song and prayer, but the main attraction is the group of people who act out and relive the nativity scene. The celebration begins with a procession at night, where participants carry candles, sing, and act out the nativity… And the kids even get piñatas!

Thursday is National Maple Syrup Day

Friday is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

Saturday is National Hard Candy Day & National Oatmeal Muffin Day

Sunday is National Sangria Day

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…50 down and only 2 more to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Holiday Cards Share Kindness

Happy Monday and happy December! Additionally, happy holidays to all and to all #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!

http://therecipedetective.com/category/blog/

#ChristmasCardDay

Wednesday is national Christmas Card Day! Last week, I wrote about Mom’s annual, homemade Christmas card/letters. And that, for an added “gift” of kindness, she would also include some of her favorite holiday recipes.

Additionally, last week, I shared a few of those recipes (from Mom’s 1994, homemade, Christmas card) on-the-air with Kathy Keene – on her “Good Neighbor” show on WHBY in Appleton, WI. If you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast at https://www.whby.com/2020/11/30/laura-pitzer-emerich-amy-albright/.

[NOTE: I’ve included pictures of four of Mom’s 1994 Christmas card recipes (which I shared with Kathy last Monday) throughout this blog post. Happy holidays and happy cooking!]

#WHBY

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

The history/custom of sending Christmas card greetings seems to have begun in England, around 1843, by Sir Henry Cole. The first known Christmas “card” was sent to King James I of England in 1611. Possibly inspired by that holiday greeting, Sir Henry, along with his artistic friend, John Callcott Horsely, created the first “published and sold” Christmas cards; encouraging others to share good memories and holiday greetings between family, friends and others!

Today, even with electronic or e-cards available, we still mail more “hard copy” cards through the postal service – and a wide variety of them too – especially during December! These holiday greetings may be in the form of family pictures or professional photo cards or even a one- or two-page letter that highlights the family’s “big” events for the year.

Another idea that I’ve personally done in past years (before the internet came along), when money was tight, is to send holiday postcards! Postcards have a photo on one side, a simple message on the other side, and are suitable for mailing without an envelope. Plus, they cost less in postage, as well. Holiday postcards are quick and easy to make by recycling previously received Christmas cards.

Holiday greeting cards may be the only communication we send to/receive from a specific friend or family member all year long. These annual greetings touch people’s hearts with an extra bit of meaning during this time of year. It’s even more special when we take the time to say, “We’re thinking of you.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)

Sending Christmas cards has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…

What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.

…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.

I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…

December, and all the holidays within it, was probably one of Mom’s most favorite times of every year. ‘Tis the season of Faith, Hope and Love! ’Tis the season of sentimentalists, as well. Mom said, in the memory above, ‘I am one of those annoying sentimentalists’… I don’t find it annoying to be a sentimentalist, as Mom wrote, and I never have – but, then again, I’m in that sentimentalist club too!

‘Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly, Winter 94/95.

This year, as I write our messages in Christmas cards, from my husband and I to all of our friends and family, I can’t help but reminisce over this past year’s  trials-and-tribulations compared to those in previous years. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a rough one for all of us. It has certainly given us cause to re-evaluate what things are most important to us. Everyone’s “important things” will probably vary since, as I said (above), “We are all different…”

Please excuse my coffee stain (above)!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue 147 (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, pages 1 & 8)

If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about [the] trivial… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.

[The Christmas Feeling] is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations!

The importance of the personal gatherings over the tangible gifts has become more significant this year. The giving of the best of ourselves – without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude – is what true “Santas” do. My kids never learned “there’s no such thing as Santa Claus”, because I taught them something different, ever since they were each toddlers.

Similar to The New York Sun’s answer to Virginia, I taught my kids that the “spirit of Santa” lives on in each of us through selfless acts of giving from our hearts. It is with this kind of selflessness that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE! With that, there will ALWAYS be a Santa Claus!

Before Mom passed away, while dealing with Dementia, she often reminisced about our ancestors from her childhood memories. She couldn’t understand how she could remember such things so clearly, like they happened yesterday, but couldn’t remember who she saw or spoke to in the previous day.

If only hindsight were foresight! Now I wish I had wrote her stories down – or, better yet, recorded the conversations. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. Over 27 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about plans that she and Dad made for a “someday” Christmas present to us kids of a recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their favorite, cherished moments.

Mom also mentioned sharing memories of their own grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know; as well as other stories about the family that we could pass on to future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. It would’ve been priceless to me and my own children, as well as to my grandson.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)

Breaking through the barriers of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!

The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!

The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but, not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)

LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!

We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of loving the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.

But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…

So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for loving – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!

Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the Christmas season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!

You don’t need to be crafty to create your own homemade holiday cards, gifts, and decorations. Nowadays, ideas and instructions for making just about anything can be found on the world wide web by typing a few key words into a search engine like Google or Bing. The knowledge of the world is, literally, at our finger tips!

My favorite low cost, homemade, gift ideas usually use canning jars – any size or style you want! These jars are so versatile – and reusable too! They can be filled with a homemade dried seasoning mix or baking mix ingredients and a recipe card for what to add and how to use the mix.

Canning jars can also be filled with natural elements like pine sprigs, cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc. for a homemade potpourri that can easily be simmered in a pot of hot water on the stove. They can also be filled with homemade candy, soaps or lotions – there are so many “how to” sites on the internet, from which to gather ideas, inspirations and instructions.

Aside from Bing and Google, Pinterest is often the first source I tap for these kind of ideas and inspirations, as well as YouTube. My own personal page at Pinterest, ldemerich, (which I started many years ago) can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/ldemerich and has quite an eclectic collection of boards.

The OFFICIAL Pinterest page of the Recipe DetectiveTM, which represents Mom and her cookbooks and her legacy, can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/therecipedetective. Keep in mind, however, that it’s only a couple of years old and I’m still building up boards there. It is a continuous work in progress (WIP), as is this website.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of December being #NationalPearMonth, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #CinnamonPearCup; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 6)!

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

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Today is National Cotton Candy Day

Tuesday is National Brownie Day

Wednesday is also National Pastry Day

Thursday is when Chanukah Begins

Saturday is National Ambrosia Day, Gingerbread House Day, & Poinsettia Day

Sunday is National Cocoa Day

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…49 down, 3 to go!

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