1/3 C. liquid drained from any canned green vegetable
½ C. powdered creamer (like Creamora)
½ C. non-fat, dry, milk powder
3 TB lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
4 TB sugar
In blender, combine briefly [everything, as listed, except bleu cheese], until smooth. Stir into it 4-oz. crumbled bleu cheese or Roquefort cheese and refrigerate, tightly covered, for a few days. Freeze to use within a few weeks. Makes 3 cups.
2 C. mesa harino (corn flour) or plain, all-purpose, white flour
1 1/3 C. lukewarm water
1 tsp. salt
Combine [all ingredients] by mixing well with your hands. Dough from this mixture must be moist but stiff enough to hold its shape.
Divide dough into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a ball and [placing them each] between two pieces of waxed paper – flattening them very thin, to about 1/8-inch thick.
To transfer circle of dough to a hot, [lightly] greased skillet or griddle [eliminating any extra grease with a paper towel, first – should be almost dry], remove top sheet of waxed paper and invert onto prepared pan, peeling off other sheet of waxed paper.
Brown until underside appears lightly brown, when you lift it to peek, and slightly puffed on top. When edges begin to curl up, remove without turning and wrap in [lightly] greased sheets of foil – or wrap in damp cloth and keep warm in a 200°F oven only until all have been browned as described.
*Fill [tortillas] with taco mixture: Combine 1-lb. ground beef, browned briefly in skillet with 2-3 TB oil, until pink color disappears and add 1 small onion (chopped fine), ¼ of a green pepper (chopped fine), ½ C. tomato juice (or… spicy V-8 Juice), pinch of thyme, dash cayenne pepper, dash chili powder, bit of salt, and pepper (to taste).
Bake at 450°F for 5-8 minutes, or until piping hot, and serve promptly. Serves 6 sensibly.
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her column, ‘Secret Recipes From… Gloria Pitzer’ (Times Herald, Port Huron, MI; August 3, 1978)
The introduction of a breakfast menu to the fast food franchise was also their idea and they probably do it better than others because of their organized food-planning concept. Try making scrambled eggs for your next big family breakfast like the ‘Golden Arches’. This recipe, from our ‘Secret Restaurant Recipes’, [aka:] ‘Book #1’, has been adopted by many smaller restaurants and used quite successfully.
½ tsp. salt
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter (or margarine), melted and cooled
Break eggs into a large bowl. Avoid using plastic (I prefer earthenware), for plastic seems to discourage fluffiness when beating eggs… Beat on low speed with electric mixer for two minutes.
Add salt and milk – continue beating another minute. Beat in butter (or margarine), adding a little at a time until blended.
Lightly butter bottom and sides of a double boiler top [piece] and place over gently simmering water in the bottom [piece]. Pour in egg mixture and cover. Allow to cook on low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes.
After time is up, turn congealed portion of eggs into middle of pan; cover and continue cooking another 5 to 6 minutes or until all of eggs are in large, congealed pieces. Serve on heated platter. (I run mine under hot water or leave in dishwasher for one minute on dry.) Serves four.
Combine first 3 ingredients, beating 4 minutes with electric mixer on high speed. Sift next 5 ingredients together and add to first mixture, blending well for 3-5 minutes.
Add carrots and pineapple, beating just until incorporated – not over-mixing! All of ingredients should be [just] moistened, as in muffin batters. Pour batter into two well-greased and floured 9-inch pans or an oblong 13-inch pan, baking at 350°F for 40 minutes or until it tests done. Cool in pan, on rack, dusting in powdered sugar while still warm.
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her 2002-2004 fall media “free samples” sheet.
3 cans (10-oz. each) condensed cream of chicken soup
10-oz. can cheddar cheese soup
half a soup can measurement of real mayonnaise
14-oz. can sliced potatoes, drained
Stir together, first 3 ingredients in top of a double-boiler over simmering water, until smooth (but don’t let it boil). Then add the potatoes and bring soup to a serving temperature. Serves 6 sensibly.
September is traditionally considered to be a month of transitions – from summer to fall, hot to cool, and long days to shorter ones; just to name a few. Kids are also transitioning into their new school curriculums. Additionally, September is deemed to be a great month in which to refocus our energies.
In fact, this month marks three years since I refocused my own energies and made the transition into being a blogger. Friday, the 17th, will be the anniversary of my launching Mondays & Memories of My Mom, carrying on Mom’s Legacy Of Love.
Mom’s first love was with writing. Inspired by a movie she saw as a young girl, about the Bronte sisters, she began journaling every day. She also loved to write short stories and poetry. From her childhood until she was a young adult, Mom dreamed of someday writing a great American novel.
However, her “great American novel” never came to fruition, not in the way she thought it would, at least, as Life took her in a slightly different direction. Every successful accomplishment that Mom ever had with her writing efforts in and after high school and college involved cooking, recipes, and homemaking in some manner.
In the 1950s and 1960s, she won multiple contests on radio shows and in magazines for her food-related stories and recipes. In 1963, Mom was so excited about finally being able to buy her very own typewriter, with the prize money she won from another contest; since she had always gone to the library or borrowed someone’s, previously.
As a wife and mother, Mom found her own family to be the best subject about which to write. She was very creative and sarcastically funny. She designed a few different columns (‘No Laughing Matter’, ‘Cookbook Corner’, ‘Woman’s Lip’, and ‘Minding the Hearth’) on her typewriter, mailing out samples to over 300 newspapers.
Within a year, she was writing two different columns for 60 regular papers. She even created her own cartoon panels, which she called ‘Full House – as Kept by Gloria Pitzer’. They depicted her life as a wife and mother of 5 in the “Women’s’ Lib” transitioning years of the mid-60’s to mid-70’s.
Then, when she was writing her food column, ‘Cookbook Corner’, she realized from her readers’ requests and her own family’s wants and needs that there was an uncharted area in the food industry that needed her secret sleuthing talents! No cookbooks anywhere on the market explored what Mom came to call her own, “copycat cookery”.
She approached her editor, at the time, with an idea to change things up from the usual meatloaf and chocolate brownies recipes. He loved the idea (at first) and told her to write the recipes that she thought would excite their readers. She did and the readers loved it!
However, some of the newspaper’s food industry advertisers weren’t so happy with Mom’s inventive ways to imitate their products at home. Thus, her editor told her to stop. That’s when Mom told him to mail her last check and she went home to start her own paper.
Mom carved out a totally new niche in the food industry with her copycat cookery concepts, which she also called “eating out at home”. She set to work, discovering how to mimic the taboo junk foods and fast foods, as well as shelf-stable and frozen grocery products and famous restaurant dishes in her own kitchen. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too!
She didn’t just develop and self-publish her own recipes for duplicating famous foods from famous places, but she also promoted them, herself. It was mostly through radio talk show programs. However, newspapers and magazines picked up on it quickly, too, as Mom blazed a trail of uniqueness around all the “Betty Crockers” and “Julia Childs” of that time.
In the early years of her cottage-style, dining room table, family-run operation, Mom sold her recipe imitations on 4”x6” index cards, printed from a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room. Her index quickly grew to about 200 recipes, which began outgrowing our dining room table.
Mom went from printing the recipe cards to monthly newsletters and multiple cookbooks in the blink of an eye. She gained national and international attention and recognition, rapidly. Her copycat cookery concept was fresh and new – unlike anything else on the market, in her field.
She used to tell me, “life is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.” In other words, while we’re busy making plans for how we’d like our lives to be, life changes and transitions all the time. We just need to refocus and transition, too.
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. 54-55)
RADIO AND BOB ALLISON’S “ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS!”
RADIO TURNED OUT TO BE the most appropriate way by which we made people aware of what we were doing…my involvement with the wonderful world of radio actually came about without any specific intention of becoming a regular part of the broadcasting field… I didn’t know I had what is considered ‘a radio voice’.
Heaven knows our five kids will, to this day, even in their adulthood, testify to the fact that, on occasion, during their up-bringing, I had been known to discover conditions that would prompt me to accelerate, vocally, in a pitch that only dogs in the next county could hear!
My introduction to radio began with Bob Allison and [his] ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show. I was folding diapers at the kitchen table, waiting for my favorite daily segment of ‘My True Story’ to come on the air when, instead, WWJ [a Detroit area radio station] announced that it had been replaced with a NEW show!
This new show turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me…almost every Monday morning I [would] visit with Bob Allison and his neighbors…
When ‘My True Story’ was replaced by Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show… I was, at first, very disappointed. Household hints and problems around the house that you cannot solve yourself seemed like just too much homemaking information to please me.
I soon, however, became ‘hooked’ on the show, as almost everybody does, to the point that, on Fridays, when Bob would sign-off and say he would talk to us again on Monday, I was spending the weekends just looking forward to the show on Monday.
I called the show about 2 or 3 times a month for the first year or two, to ask questions of Bob’s ‘neighbors’ that my newspaper column readers were asking me. When I couldn’t find the answer from consulting other sources, I knew I could rely on Bob Allison’s ‘neighbors’ to come up with the right answers for me.
In return, I would often… phone in an answer that I occasionally had, in reply to one of their questions or recipe requests. Bob did not recognize my voice as a regular caller until I had initiated the newsletter, however. He asked me where the [hamburger sauce] recipe came from that I was giving, in reply to one of his listener’s requests, which is how his program has always worked…
In mentioning that the hamburger sauce recipe would appear in the next issue of my monthly newsletter, which I had given in response to one of his listeners’ previous requests, Bob reacted with great interest and curiosity.
‘You have a newsletter, do you?’ He asked. ‘Well, tell us about it and how much it is and where our neighbors can get it.’
That was all it took to get us well-acquainted with Bob’s ‘neighbors’ and, in no time at all, our subscription orders went from a few to many. Sight-unseen was hardly appropriate to ask people to buy a publication that they could not first examine.
So, I spent all of one day and most of the next, thinking about and trying out a single page description with a few sample recipes from the publication that I could send out to interested and prospective subscribers…
Mom used the same process for advertising her “secret”, make-alike recipes and publications for over 40 years, until she finally, fully retired in 2014. It always worked very well for her business, offering 15-20 sample recipes along with information for ordering her current, self-published cookbooks and newsletter subscription in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Mom was always grateful for her readers, listeners, and fans who kept her inspired with their requests to find the “secrets” to making this dish or that grocery product at home. She was also very thankful to all the media sources that interviewed, wrote, and talked about her imitations of famous foods (from radio and TV talk shows to newspapers and magazines).
It’s another spectacular Monday! Happy Monday and happy Labor Day to one and all! I always look forward to each and every Monday, as they are my 52 Chances per year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
127 years ago (in June 1894), Labor Day officially became a federal holiday. It’s celebrated annually, on the first Monday in September. Just as Memorial Day marks the “unofficial” start of summer, Labor Day is considered the “unofficial” end of summer! However, technically, there’s over two weeks until fall begins.
There aren’t any specific traditions for rejoicing in Labor Day. Some end-of-summer celebrations include events like picnics, outdoor concerts, festivals, fireworks and even shopping; as retailers offer huge Labor Day weekend deals and discounts to move the rest of their summer stock.
I think the real reason that Mom loved to celebrate Labor Day, many decades ago, when my siblings and I were all kids, was because it meant that we were going back to school the next day and she could start her vacation!
Many Michiganders take advantage of this long, holiday weekend to go “up north” for one, last, summer retreat. Today is also the annual Labor Day Walk across the five-mile-long “Mighty Mac”, which has bridged the Straits of Mackinac since 1957. At 26,372 feet, it’s the third longest suspension bridge in North America.
According to the Mackinac Bridge Authority, “The bridge walk has been an annual event since 1958, with the exception of 2020. The 2021 walk will be the 63rd event. Between 25,000 and 30,000 people have participated in recent years.” The bridge is usually shut down to motor traffic for a half-day, for the safety of the Labor Day walkers.
My husband and I have been wanting to explore more of the Americana oddities, natural beauty, and history of Pure Michigan‘s “Tip-of-the-Mitt”; as well as the eastern half of the U.P. We have a bucket list that includes some of Mom and Dad’s favorite places to visit, like Traverse City, Cheboygan, Petosky, Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island, St. Ignace, Sault Ste. Marie, Brimley, Tahquamenon Falls, Houghton, and Newberry.
Our home state is so rich in small-town, Norman Rockwell, Americana beauty, history, AND FLAVOR! It’s no wonder Mom loved reviewing different restaurants, locally and state-wide, throughout the decades, as the Secret RecipesTM Detective; figuring out how to duplicate their famous dishes at home, while simultaneously re-discovering her home state of Michigan!
The northern 45th parallel is the circle of latitude that lays halfway between the equator and the north pole. Here, in Michigan, this unique oddity crosses through the “Tip-of-the-Mitt”, from Leland, on the west side, to Alpena, on the east side.
There aren’t any big, roadside attractions for this Americana-style novelty. However, many of the towns along the parallel make the most of their unique locations; offering the oddity-seeking tourists fudge, food, and fermented fruit (aka: wine) – as well as little trinkets, t-shirts, and other commemorative souvenirs. There are about eight different, “45th Parallel” signs across Michigan, which make great photo op’s.
I agree with L.V. Anderson’s research, as seen in her article, The United Sweets of America (Aug. 24, 2014), which claims that Michigan’s unofficial “state dessert” is FUDGE! Likewise, Top 13 Best Foods Which Made Michigan Famous, by the Thumbwind staff at Thumbwind.com (Sep. 25, 2020), also claims that Mackinac Island Fudge is the #1 favorite! See my re-share of Mom’s imitation for Mackinac Island Dark Fudge below.
Moreover, according to an article at TheDailyMeal.com, called The Snack Food That Defines Every State, by Carolyn Menyes (Feb. 26, 2020), fudge was also chosen as the favorite snack food in Michigan! I know fudge seems to be the star in every Michigan “tourist town”, in which I’ve ever been.
Like other tourists, I love to stop and see a fudge-making performance, as well as buy some of their tasty treats. An interesting story on the history of fudge and how it came to be a tourism staple, in the first place, can be found at ChowHound.com. Another great fudge article to check out is called ‘Why Does Every Tourist Attraction Sell Fudge?’, by Kat Eschner (May 12, 2017) at Smithsonian.com.
Additionally, on Thumbwind’s list of famous Michigan-made foods, Detroit’s Coney Island Hot Dog, is #2 (even though the original Coney Island restaurant is on the Atlantic coastline); and Buddy’s Detroit-Style pizza is #3. Those are followed by Traverse City’s tart cherries, the U.P.’s pasties, and Frankenmuth’s home-style chicken to round out its top six choices.
Those choices are also supported by Samantha Lande’s photo collection/article in Great Lakes & Better Food: The Best Things To Eat In Michigan, which includes other iconic favorites like Sanders Hot Fudge Cream Puff, Franklin Cider Mill’s apple cider and donuts, Hamtramck’s paczki (pronounced “poonch-key”), Vernor’s Boston Cooler, and Tom’s Mom’s Cookies.
Hack-Ma-Tack Inn (Cheboygan) – famous for their whitefish dip and prime rib dinners.
Legs Inn (Cross Village) – famous for their authentic Polish cuisine.
The Whitney (Detroit) – famous for its old world charm and dishes like Beef Wellington.
[Win] Schuler’s (Marshall) – famous for their spicy cheese spread and barbequed meatballs (both of which were among Mom’s “Original 200” recipe collection.) Below is a re-share of her imitation of their famous bar cheese!
Michigan doesn’t really have any official “State Foods” but according to an article at TasteOfHome.com, The Official Food Of Every State, by Grace Mannon (Updated: July 24, 2019), a popular suggestion for Michigan was the Coney dog that came in at #2 on Thumbwind’s list (above).
I guess it depends on where you poll, because that may be so in southeastern Michigan; but, in mid-Michigan, chicken dinners are the favorite offerings! Iva’s (Standish, MI), Zender’s and the Bavarian Inn (both, in Frankenmuth, MI) are a few five-star-favorite, iconic spots where Mom and Dad loved to eat when travelling, as well as THOUSANDS of other people! They each serve authentic, Americana-style, chicken dinners, as well as many other fabulous menu choices.
In the “Tip-Of-The-Mitt” and throughout the U.P., the pasty (pronounced: “pass-tea”), a Cornish-style meat pie, is considered the area’s specialty! Below are two of Mom’s pasty imitations that I shared last year with Kathy Keene’s “Good Neighbor” audience, on WHBY.
Michigan’s unofficial “State Dessert Pie” choice is a toss-up between apple and cherry – again, depending on where you poll. The Traverse City area (and the northern Michigan region) is famous for its cherry crops (and wine)! However, apples are the more abundant crop throughout the state, over all.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 8)
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
THE SECRET RECIPE REPORT
ALTHOUGH I’VE BEEN WRITING longer than I’ve been cooking, the notion to investigate the secrets of the food industry didn’t become a full-time labor-of-love until I was working for a small-town newspaper [about 1971.] As the only ‘married lady’ on the staff, I was always assigned the food page and recipe column, and I was willing to try the dishes at home and present a column or article about their results to the paper.
When you work for a small-town paper, you wear many hats. You set type, sell advertising, proof read, design headlines, create art work, campaign for subscribers; and, before you know it, you acquire skills you didn’t even know you possessed. The food department became such a welcomed relief from the local politics that I poured my heart and soul into it, learning some of the essentials of good cooking purely by default!
Everything went well until I initiated an idea to create advertising interest among local restaurants. It started when I answered a reader’s request in my column for a recipe like McDonald’s ‘Special Sauce’. I knew it was a kissin’ cousin of a good Thousand Island dressing, so the development of the recipe wasn’t difficult.
The response from our readers was so appreciative that I contacted local restaurants for their advertising in exchange for my printing one of their recipes and menu in my column and a complimentary review of their place. No one was willing to part with any of their ‘secrets’! So, I decide to see if I could ‘guess’ how they prepared their specialties of the house.
I came across a hotel in town that advertised ‘home-baked’ cheesecake, and I felt they should be telling their customers ‘homemade’. The difference to the public is very slight, but they wanted the public to ‘think’ it was homemade, from scratch, when it was, in fact, simply taken from a carton and popped into the oven like brown-and-serve rolls.
That was before our ‘truth in menu’ laws, but no one at the paper wanted to make an issue out of it. The restaurant insisted it was an old family recipe. I said the cheesecake smacked of commercial automation, stainless steel computerized kitchens and the family they referred to was probably that of Sara Lee! At any rate, that was when I parted company with the paper and set out on my own to create the ‘Secret Recipe Report’, which I dearly miss now.
Mom self-published her ‘Secret Recipe Report’ ideas under a few different titles, as the newsletter evolved over the years. However, she always included, among other things, her own personal reviews and imitations of her favorite dishes at those restaurants, which she patroned.
Since this is Better Breakfast Month and, as the first FULL week in September (the 5th-11th, this year), it’s also… National Waffle Week, here is Mom’s imitation for Biscuit Mix Like Bisquick from her Original 200 recipes and how to make waffles from it; as seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 173). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
To top it off, literally, there’s also a copy of Mom’s secret recipe for Belgian Waffle Sauce, as seen in her self-published cookbook… Top Secret Recipes Al’a Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 6)!