March is, among other things, National Women’s History Month – which, according to NationalDayCalendar.com, was “established in 1987 as a way to celebrate women across the nation and their efforts to make the country, and world, a better place for women of all ages and races.”
I’m especially joyful today, regarding sharing Memories Of My Mom, as Mom’s pioneering efforts to imitate America’s favorite junk food, fast food, and other famous restaurant dishes – in a roundabout way, making home a better place, first, and emulating that into the community, the country, and the world – most certainly SHOULD be celebrated as historical!
Unfortunately, Mom didn’t make “the list” of “Top 100 Women of History”, by Jone Johnson Lewis (updated July 3, 2019), as seen at ThoughtCo.com; who used internet searches as a parameter. Likewise, Mom didn’t make “the list” in “Famous Firsts in Women’s History” (by History.com editors – updated Feb. 4, 2021) either.
Nevertheless, many of Mom’s own mentors and idols were on those lists – great women such as Maya Angelou, Lucille Ball, Jackie Kennedy (Onassis), the Bronte sisters, Anne Frank, Julia Child, Oprah Winfrey, and Erma Bombeck! That brings to mind the hilarious rantings about famous people who “never got a dinner” by Red Buttons, as a frequent guest “roaster” on many of the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roast shows.
Mom never won a Nobel Peace Prize or a Pulitzer Prize, nor had she written the “great American novel”. But, for over 40 years, she was a journalist, writing and self-publishing hundreds of food-for-thought articles and newsletters; as well as over 40 cookbooks, unlike any others on the market! My mom was a pioneer in the food industry, being the first person (let alone, the first woman) to carve out the “copycat cookery” niche – but she “never got a dinner”!
Mom didn’t make great scientific contributions, like Marie Curie or Florence Nightingale; however, she was the FIRST to develop recipes that imitated many American’s favorite foods like KFC Chicken, McDonald’s Special Sauce, Wendy’s Frosty, White Castle’s Hamburger “Slider”, Famous Amos’ Cookies, and THOUSANDS more! Mom made countless meals in her lifetime that tasted like we were “eating out at home” – but Mom “never got a dinner”!
Mom developed her own “secret recipes” for “famous foods from famous places”, right at home – and shared those secrets in her books and newsletters! Mom often gave away “free samples” of her work through the mail, on TV and radio talk shows, as well as in newspaper and magazine interviews – and “never got a dinner”!
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mom wrote and syndicated her own columns for newspapers and magazines, geared toward the Women’s-Lib-Movement-fence-sitting-housewives-turned-homemakers (like herself). Starting in the early 1970s, Mom was imitating the coveted (yet taboo) fast foods, junk foods, and convenience foods – taking the “junk” out of the “so-called” junk foods – but she “never got a dinner”!
Mom wasn’t a women’s rights activist, like Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. In fact, she often had a few choice words for Women’s Lib (satirically speaking)…
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in… “No Laughing Matter”; a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer
(date unknown; circ. 1970s)
GIVE ME LIBERTY OR…
WITH ALL DUE RESPECT to Women’s Lib, I don’t think they can help me. I think they’ve done enough for me already! Frankly, I think I was doing alright before they came along. At least I could get a seat on a bus. Now I’m lucky if a man will offer to hold my packages for me.
I can also remember when cutting the grass was considered “man’s work”. These days my husband flips me two-out-of-three to see which of us gets the lawn mower and who will fix the iced tea and sit on the patio chair to watch.
Last week, I was visited by a new militant group of women in our neighborhood who are protesting the proposed 4-day work week for MEN. They advocated a simple test. If you cannot get through a two-week vacation and the Christmas holidays with a man who over-waters your house plants and alphabetizes your refrigerator then how can you get through a three-day weekend, 52 weeks out of the year?
For you must then decide if you have to run the sweeper [aka: vacuum] while he’s taking a nap, or does he have to take a nap while you’re running the sweeper. Arguing with a husband (especially when he’s your own), is like taking a shower/bath in a scuba outfit. But I have a theory!
There are some things in this liberated life, which a woman just cannot control. You have tasted instant failure when neither of you can agree on who gets custody of the only controls on the electric blanket; and if it’s fair that she who makes the garbage must also carry it out; and whose mother calls more – yours or his?
Mom always felt that all of us could and should make the world a better place. It all counts – even in the smallest ways! Mom did it, herself, in all of her creations, through her comical cartoon panels, food-for-thought articles and food-for-the-soul inspirations; not to mention her very UNIQUE food-for-the-table recipes. My mom was a “creative guru” at whatever she attempted – but she “never got a dinner”!
She wore so many hats in our family – as cook, maid, chauffer, nurse, seamstress, counselor, mentor, teacher, and so on. Additionally, in her dining-room-table-based “family enterprise”, Mom was the recipe developer, author, illustrator, layout creator, publicist, promotion specialist, public speaker/lecturer and (again) so much more! She was a “Wonder Woman” – who “never got a dinner”!
As a semi-modernized, yet somewhat old-fashioned, working “housewife”-turned-“homemaker”, during the 1970s – amidst the Women’s Lib Movement – Mom felt extremely blessed to be able to do what she loved most, WRITE; while being able to do it from home, balancing and juggling her many hats as “Mom”, “Wife”, and “Business Woman”. Yet she “never got a dinner”!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 295)
A MEAL BY ANY OTHER NAME
FAST FOOD RECIPES were not published in the best-sellers – and these were the restaurants where families were apt frequent if they wanted a meal that was affordable!
Paul and I could take all 5 of the children to Capri’s, an Italian restaurant down the road from us in Pearl Beach, and we could feed the whole family for less than $10, providing we ordered the large pizza with only pepperoni and cheese on it and one soft drink for each of us. It was not for substance that we ate out. It was for entertainment.
We could take the kids to McDonald’s and it did the same thing for us that going to the movies did for our parents. It was an affordable pleasure. It was a diversion from meatloaf and pot roast and peas and carrots.
It was a treat. We looked forward to it. We felt good about the experience and even better after it was over. It carried us through a long week of paying the utilities, insurance, house payments and car payments and grocery expenses.
When we had to have our 10-year-old station wagon repaired, we had to skip eating out that week. If one of us had to see the dentist, it might be 2 or 3 weeks before we could afford to eat out again. We made do with what we had. We could make the most of what we had. In the 50s and 60s and early 70s, this is the way parents raised their families, budgeted their earnings and allowed for their pleasures.
Things changed, as well they should. Women went out to work. If they weren’t working to supplement the family income, they went to work for their own satisfaction. Whatever the reasons, families changed. Eating at home became less and less appealing – and less and less convenient. Homes were built with smaller kitchens and bigger bathrooms. Microwave ovens were more affordable – and defrost and heat became more popular.
WE WANTED OUR CAKE AND WE WANTED TO EAT IT, TOO!
We wanted to eat out at a price we could afford; and, when we couldn’t afford to eat out, we wanted to dine-in as if we were eating out! At the time, there were few recipes for this kind of cooking. We wanted to spend less time preparing the foods and less money on the ingredients and still serve a dish to those who shared our table with us that would be equal to – if not better than – anything we could buy in a restaurant or from a supermarket.
For all of these reasons, I have pursued the investigations of the food industry with the greatest joy and the utmost care, translating into recipes, those secrets that I have been able to decipher.
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 141)
BREAD-BAKING has filled my house with the most delicious aromas – on those occasions when I have ventured into the catacombs of conscious cookery. I was taught by a grandmother who believed that the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach; and, if you kept your man well-fed and loved and listened-to, everything else would fall into its proper place in perspective. Well, we can’t all be right all the time. Grandma tried.
Bread-baking was not the Elmer’s “Glue-All” of my marital bliss and stability. In fact, on occasion, it might have threatened our harmony – considering that, before I learned a few chosen shortcuts to better baking, I could (at the drop of a hat) clutter the countertops with every bowl, dish, spoon, pan and ingredient possible! This, of course, necessitated having to “eat out” on those nights when there was no place to prepare a deserving dinner at home.
It reminded me that somewhere there should be a clause in every cookbook warning young wives with old-fashioned morals about marriage that there are some things Mother never told us… Or if she did, I just wasn’t paying attention!
In any case, I recommend cooking as being thoroughly therapeutic! Bread-baking includes the energetic kneading of the dough – which enables one to work off pent-up emotions that one cannot otherwise rid themselves of verbally.
Whenever I had problems to work out (which was like every other minute or so) I would either be in the kitchen, cooking something, or at the typewriter, writing about cooking something! Kneading a large batch of yeast dough is a great way to unwind and relieve tensions.
Of course, it didn’t always solve my problems, since most of them were directly related to my finding my utensils, which I had to locate before I could start relieving myself of unwanted tensions. I’ll bet I was the only woman on the block who had to sift through the kids’ sandbox before I could set the table or bake a loaf of bread!
I’ve also created a list of links to all of our monthly WHBY “Pitzer” Podcasts, thus far, including Mom’s recipes that I’ve shared with Kathy’s audience. See the “Media Friends” tab on this website, as I will be updating the list monthly with more links and recipes of our radio visits.
[Our next visit is scheduled in four weeks – Monday, March 29th!]
In honor of National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, today, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for Peanut Butter Pie like that of Ohio’s Goody-Goody Restaurant; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 239)
AND HERE’S AN ENCORE of Mom’s “secret recipe” for RecessTM Peanut Butter Cups, as seen in her “free recipes” offerings – also, part of her “Original 200” collection!
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
March is also…
Furthermore, one of the many celebrations for this whole week is aimed at National Procrastination Week – which is actually celebrated during the first TWO weeks in March (or whenever it’s convenient)!
Friday, March 5, is… National Cheese Doodle Day; and as the first Friday in March  it’s also National Day of Unplugging, National Dress in Blue Day, National Speech and Debate Education Day, and National Employee Appreciation Day!
Saturday, March 6, is… the kick-off of International Women’s Week [which starts the first Saturday in March]! It’s also National Frozen Food Day, National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, and National Oreo Cookie Day! In honor of the latter, here is Mom’s famous imitation of the famous sandwich cookie:
Sunday, March 7, is… National Flapjack Day, National Be Heard Day, National Cereal Day, and National Crown of Roast Pork Day! It is also the start of the 1st FULL week in March (7th-13th for 2021), which celebrates National Girl Scout Week, Words Matter Week, and Read an E-Book Week (see below)!
…9 down and another 43 to go!