Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan Map Dots

Happy Monday! If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you probably know that I always look forward to Mondays, as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share, with you, Memories of My Mom!

#TheRecipeDetective

Last week, I heard a story about a fellow Michigander who’s literally been collecting map dots, traveling to every town in our state. He has an awesome Facebook page, called Scott’s Michigan adventures,  where he’s been depicting his travels. I thought it was very inspiring, as my husband and I love exploring Michigan, too! However, we’ve never physically collected the map dots.

I’ve written a number of blog posts about how much we love to hit the road, whether for a day trip or a weekend get-away; like Mom and Dad always did, especially to explore our beautiful state. In my completely Michigander-biased opinion, having been raised by two other born-and-bred, proud Michiganders, this is one of the most beautiful states in our country!

In a couple other blog posts, I’ve mentioned that Michigan has 3,288 miles of shimmering, fresh water coastline; bordering four of the five Great Lakes, which are part of the historic St. Lawrence Seaway. In fact, Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the U.S., and we live less than a mile from where it goes by our hometown of St. Clair. We love seeing the big ships pass through our area, which has been home to many captains of the Great Lakes’ freighters.

#PureMichigan

Moreover, Michigan is second only to our largest state, Alaska, for the greatest length of U.S. coastline; regardless of whether it’s sea or fresh water. My husband and I consider ourselves lucky to live in such a phenomenal state! Given enough time and money – and especially a better vehicle – we’d love to travel and explore the historic lighthouses and towns that dot Michigan’s shoreline. Now there’s a bucket list, all by itself.

Within its thousands of miles of shoreline, Michigan also has over 19 million acres of forests that cover 53% of the state – most of which is considered timberland. This state is home to an abundance of significant places and beautiful sights. By the way, the brilliant fall colors are in full bloom in the northern half of the state right now – and can be seen from space!

What’s more, this state is (or was) the home of many famous people, iconic foods, and renowned restaurants – past and present. Even more than that, as I’ve also mentioned in previous blog posts, it’s home to a lot of special Americana oddities!

My husband and I love to discover those little peculiarities that make each Michigan town we visit special. After all, every town has a story to tell. Rose City is a Michigan map dot we visited this summer that’s home to a phenomenon we call “gravity hill” (aka: “magnetic hill” or “ghost hill”). Have you ever experienced rolling UP a hill?

Just a few months ago, we enjoyed this peculiar experience near the end of an old gravel road, called Reasoner. A large farm sat at the end of the road, up a second, larger hill. It was truly amazing when we started rolling backwards, while in neutral, UP the small hill we just came over!

Good directions to this spot (and instructions) can be found at http://www.eureka4you.com/magnetichillworldwide/RoseCity-MI.htm. But a really good video of the same experience we had can be viewed at https://99wfmk.com/reasnerroad2018/.

We have a book, called Weird Michigan, by Linda S. Godfrey (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.; New York, NY; 2006), which has been one source of inspiration for some of our explorations. Page 182 mentions Rose City’s “gravity hill” marvel.

The book also tells about another hill, at a Michigan map dot called “Putney Corners”, in Blaine Township; which is in Benzie County, south of the Traverse City area and west of Crystal Mountain. I’ve also heard of a similar one just across the Mackinac Bridge, near St. Ignace, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both of those are now on our new bucket list of Michigan map dots.

There are some map dots, within a couple hours’ drive from us, that we enjoy so much we visit them at least a few times each year. One such place, located near Saginaw, was also a favorite map dot of Mom and Dad’s, called Frankenmuth.

Tourists flock to this village from all around the world and stand in line for hours to get one of the world-famous chicken dinners offered at either one of the two largest establishments in the middle of town – the Bavarian Inn and Zender’s.

This town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, bakeries, fudge shops, hotels, breweries and other quaint little stores that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland to the Frankenmuth Brewery! Below is a re-share of Mom’s imitation of Frankenmuth’s famous chicken.

During the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes, as The Recipe DetectiveTM, she came up with about a dozen imitations from some of Frankenmuth’s establishments; including some of the other world-famous dishes available at the town’s two major restaurants. Mom also imitated some of the sweet confections from the town’s wonderful bakeries and fudge shops.

After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, their travels really blossomed. They bought a camper and toured even more – often mixing work with pleasure (as Mom’s work was her pleasure). Figuratively speaking, they collected a lot of map dots, not only in Michigan but all over the U.S. It was undoubtedly much more affordable to do, with only the two of them!

Joining the Good Sam RV club was always one of their most favorite experiences and a big source of wonderful map dot memories. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters of Good Sam.

Mom also wrote about the trips she and Dad took, often, in their newsletter issues – from the new restaurant dishes they tried, as they traveled, to the marvelous dishes they experienced at some of Good Sam’s “bring-a-dish-to-pass” events, during their “Samborees”. Equally notable were the great friendships they developed everywhere they went.

To the Good Sam RV Club (MI & OH Branches): “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country, relative to their recipe interests and food needs… Since our camping experiences with…’Good Sam’, [Paul and I] have truly adopted their slogan, ‘In Good Sam, there are no strangers – only friends we haven’t met yet!” – Gloria Pitzer (1989)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)

GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING

FRIENDS ARE THOSE PEOPLE who know everything there is to know about you, but like you anyhow! …Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October.

Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, pages 1 & 4)

GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE

ONE THING AMONG MANY that I have learned from Good Sam, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.

Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose. You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed.

Try a little enthusiasm! …Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated.

The trouble with trying to be happy all the time is that most people look for one particular condition or experience or possession, from which they hope to derive complete contentment, forgetting that happiness is a moment – not a forever!

LAST THOUGHTS…

When planning your next road trip to explore some amazing places, be open to taking a few fascinating detours and don’t forget to journal your map dots, while discovering the coolest, off-the-beaten-path places along the way! Here are a few other basic tips…

  1. Always bring a real map, as there really are places that don’t have any cell service for miles.
  2. Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour.
  3. Stop frequently and take breaks – smell the roses, photograph the memory, and talk to the locals.
  4. Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

#NationalCaramelMonth

#NationalBakeAndDecorateMonth

#NationalDessertMonth

Since this is National Caramel Month, National Bake And Decorate Month, and National Dessert Month, here’s Mom’s imitation of Awrey’s Bakery Caramel Frosting for Cakes; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 8). Awrey’s Bakery originated in Detroit – another Michigan map dot!

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

REMINDER: OCTOBER IS ALSO NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s month-long drink/food-related celebrations include… Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Cookie Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel MonthNational Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, and Vegetarian Month!

Other October observances that could be food-related include… Italian-American Heritage Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Reading Group Month, National Go On A Field Trip MonthNational Kitchen & Bath Month, Polish American Heritage Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and Self-Promotion Month!

Additionally…

As the third week in October, this is… National Kraut Sandwich Week! Plus, the third FULL week in October is also… National Wolf Awareness Week, National Business Women’s Week, National Friends of Libraries Week, National Free Speech Week, and National Retirement Planning Week!

Furthermore…

Today is also…National Chocolate Cupcake Day! Plus, as the third Monday in October, it’s also… National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day!

Tomorrow is… National Kentucky Day and National Seafood Bisque Day! Plus, as the third Tuesday in October, it’s also… National Pharmacy Technician Day!

October 20th is… National Youth Confidence Day and National Brandied Fruit Day! Plus, as the third Wednesday in October, it’s also… National Hagfish Day and Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day!

October 21st is… National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! The third Thursday in October is also… National Get Smart About Credit Day! Additionally, as the third Thursday of the fourth quarter, it’s… Get to Know Your Customers Day, too!

October 22nd is… National Make a Dog’s Day, National Nut Day, and National Color Day!

October 23rd is… National Boston Cream Pie Day, National Mole Day, and National TV Talk Show Host Day (also Johnny Carson’s birthday)! Plus, as the fourth Saturday in October, it’s also… National Make A Difference Day!

October 24th is… National Food Day, National Bologna Day, and United Nations Day! Plus, as the fourth Sunday in October, it’s also… National Mother-in-Law Day!

#TGIM

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

…42 down and 10 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Gone But Not Forgotten Eateries

Once again, happy Monday! Personally, I love Mondays! They’re my 52 Chances per year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

Detroit has been home to many famous restaurants in the past century. Gone but not forgotten are influential places like the Ponchatrain, Roma Café, and Topinka’s to name a few momentous restaurants from days of old. The Machus Red Fox was another influential, Detroit bistro; infamous for being the last place Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamsters’ Union president, was seen alive before he “disappeared”!

The London Chop House was yet another historical Detroit eatery (owned by the Gruber brothers), where many famous, elite people dined. “The Chop”, as it was called, went through some really hard times in the 1980s, finally closing its doors in 1991. However, it was re-opened in 2012 by a new owner, gambling on nostalgia to re-kindle what once was. So far, even throughout the past 19 months of Covid-based restrictions, it’s paid off!

Mom developed a few imitations from each of these famous places’ selections, but that’s not all. Department store dining rooms were another niche in the food industry, from which Mom found inspiration, imitating “famous foods from famous places”.

DepartmentStoreHistory.net claims: “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.”

The mention of Hudson’s (a former Detroit icon) particularly brought back many wonderful childhood memories of shopping and dining with my mom and sisters, in the 1970s. Hudson’s was one of Mom’s favorite department stores! In fact, she imitated about three dozen offerings from its dining room and bakery. They were famous for their Maurice Salad. Here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation.

Likewise, Alex Witchell wrote an article (Feb. 25, 2019) about the best department store restaurants, which I found at NYPost.com. In it, she reminisced about those by-gone days of shopping and lunching with her own mom and sisters. Of course, I related to a lot of it. Another great read, about department stores with amazing restaurants, is by Katherine Martinelli (July 20, 2018), at EatThis.com.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 16)

HUDSON’S OF DETROIT – THE WAY IT ONCE WAS!

During the financial panic of 1873, Joseph L. Hudson was a young man, working with his father in a men’s clothing store in Michigan. Times were hard. Customers couldn’t pay their bills. After Joseph’s father died, partly from worrying, young Joseph struggled with the business for about three years and eventually went into bankruptcy, in spite of all he tried to do to bring the business up.

He paid his creditors 60 cents on the dollar and, with great determination, began over again! Through remarkable enterprise and ingenuity, in 12 years, he owned a store in Detroit. Even more remarkable, he located all the creditors whose claims had been erased by the bankruptcy proceedings and paid them in full – even though they did not ask it of him.

This so astounded the business world, in 1888, that Hudson’s reputation as an honest man, caring for his customers as much is his creditors, that word spread and the store became one of Detroit’s most important, not only in the state, but eventually in the entire country.

He established major shopping centers in metropolitan Detroit, beginning in 1953 with the magnificent Northland Center, the first of its kind in the country. At the time of this writing [1997], Hudson’s, merged with Dayton and with Marshall Fields, no longer offers the personal hometown touch that it used to have…

Their original building on Woodward and Farmer Street, in downtown Detroit, once controlled the shopper’s mecca with Kern’s and Crowley’s, as well, in that area. We have seen the passing of a great institution, but I am so glad I did not lose the precious recipes [for which] the Hudson’s dining room and bakery were known…

When Mom used to take me and my sisters to the malls and department stores it was an all-day “working” and shopping event, combined! Each of us girls would get a handful of Mom’s business cards and, while we shopped, we’d stick them in various places throughout the stores.

I always thought it was so fun! It was a really innovative way to advertise locally to her target audience, which then was the homemaker, like herself. Mom found her inspiration for this marketing method from an interview she heard of an award-winning car salesman from the Detroit area.

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 [each] and a total of 200-300 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 [area of] 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.

After a couple hours of shopping and “advertising”, we’d take a lunch break in one of the department stores’ dining rooms.  While doing her “investigative review”, Mom always found something new, to mimic at home. Another notable “gone-but-not-forgotten” Detroit area restaurant is Stouffer’s. Long before the company became a frozen food empire, in 1946, it was first famous for its creameries and then for its restaurants; opening one in Detroit, in 1929.

Sanders, still famous for its sundae toppings and chocolate delicacies (but which is now owned by Kar’s Nuts), is another company that once had a famous eatery in Detroit, serving more than just sweet treats. Mom loved going there as a young girl to eat at their lunch counter. She developed at least 56 imitations from Sanders’ offerings.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 38)

SANDERS

Fred Sanders was born in Biehl, Baden (Germany) in 1848 and brought to this country at the age of one… His father, a baker, settled his family in Peru, Illinois and it was there that Frederick learned his first baking lessons, after school and in the evenings. But his hopes went beyond what he viewed as the prosaic business of baking white bread and rolls.

At 17 years, he sailed for Germany to learn the secrets of confectionery and catering. With passport in hand, personally signed by William Seward, Secretary of State in the Lincoln Cabinet, he worked his way across the Atlantic as a ship’s baker.

He learned his trade rapidly in Karlsruhe. Within three years he opened his own small shop on a narrow street in Frankfurt. The shop prospered but his young wife, Rosa, wanted to return with him to America; where, after less than successful experiences in Philadelphia and Chicago, including being burned out by the great Chicago fire of 1871, Frederick finally came to Detroit.

They started all over again. With some misgivings, he opened the shop on the northeast corner of Woodward and State Streets – where the J. L. Hudson’s block was to rise later. With limited capital drained to outfit his shop, Frederick managed a loan from W. H. Edgar, founder of Edgar’s Sugarhouse.

Within a year, Frederick’s products were recognized as quality and he moved across Woodward, just north of Michigan Avenue, where he remained for many years and prospered. He created the first ‘soda’ as we know it today – and by accident, when some sweet cream softened. It was an instant success.

Once… a fan he used to cool his foods continually broke down. He called for someone to service the fan, which contained one of the first electric motors made. The electric shop sent over a young man to repair Mr. Sanders’ fan, and it is of interest to note that the young man’s name was Henry Ford. He fixed the fan – and it ‘stayed fixed’ – without causing Mr. Sanders any further interruptions in business.

Frederick Sanders brought his son-in-law, John Miller, into the business in 1900, taking him away from Colonel Goebel, the Detroit brewer. With this, the Sanders Company’s success was certainly charted. Concurrently, the business became a partnership, shortly after the founder’s death in 1913, when John Miller and Frederick’s son, Edwin, and his grandson became the company’s chief officers and owners. In 1970, Sanders had more than 50 of their own stores and over 300 departments in supermarkets.

LAST THOUGHTS…

REMINDER: OCTOBER IS ALSO NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

IN CLOSING…

Since this is National Apple Month and National Dessert Month, plus, Thursday is National Dessert Day – here’s Mom’s imitation of “Apple Crisp, Like Holiday Inn’s” [from the 1960s]; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 13).

#NationalAppleMonth

#NationalDessertMonth

#NationalDessertDay

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of October’s month-long drink/food-related celebrations include… Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Applejack Month, National Bake and Decorate Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Pasta Month National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, and Vegetarian Month!

Additional October observances that could be food-related include, among other things… Italian-American Heritage Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Reading Group Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, Polish American Heritage Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and Self-Promotion Month!

Moreover, as the week of October 16th, this is also… National Food Bank Week!

Today is also… International Day of the Girl Child and National Sausage Pizza Day! Plus as the second Monday in October, it’s… Native American Day and Columbus Day, too! Plus, it’s the start of… National School Lunch Week! In honor, here’s a re-share of Mom’s secret recipes for Lunch Box Brownies With Fudge Cake Icing!

Tuesday, October 12th is… National Savings Day, National Vermont Day, National Freethought Day, National Farmer’s Day, and National Gumbo Day!

October 13th is… National Train Your Brain Day, National Yorkshire Pudding Day, and National Take Your Parents To Lunch Day (which changes annually)! Plus, as the second Wednesday in October, it’s also… National Curves Day!

Friday, October 15th is… National Shawarma Day, National Cheese Curd Day, National I Love Lucy Day, National Grouch Day, and National Boss’s Day!

October 16th is… National Sports Day, National Liqueur Day, National Dictionary Day, Global Cat Day, and Department Store Day! Plus, as the third Saturday in October, it’s also… National Sweetest Day!

Sunday, October 17th is… National Mulligan Day and National Pasta Day!

#TGIM

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

…41 down and 11 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Original Secret Recipe Detective

Happy Monday and happy October to everybody! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalWomensSmallBusinessMonth

#NationalWorkAndFamilyMonth

#SelfPromotionMonth

October is chucked full of wonderful, month-long observances. Among them, in relation to Mom, are… National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and Self-Promotion Month! Additionally, this is also National Book Month and National Cookbook Month!

When Mom left her job at the newspaper, in the early 1970s, she went home to start her own business; incorporating our whole family into her dining room table operation. Call it fate or whatever – Mom carved out a unique niche in the food industry that people, like herself, needed and wanted!

She called her concept “copycat cookery”! She also described it as “eating out at home” and “taking the junk out of junk food”, among other things. Mom was determined to discover how to imitate America’s favorite, famous fast food & restaurant dishes at home, as well as frozen and shelf-stable grocery items.

If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others, because, she believed, great recipes were meant to be shared! She was an innovator in the 1970s – developing her own copycat recipes and marketing her talents, herself, through the media – which, then, consisted only of newspapers, magazines, television and radio talk shows. No internet!

In the early years of her business, Mom sold her recipes individually, printed on 4”x6” index cards from a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room. She began with a small catalog that quickly grew to about 200 recipes. Then she expanded, publishing her own monthly newsletter and blazing that trail of uniqueness through all the “Betty Crockers” and “Julia Childs” of that time.

It didn’t seem to take long before Mom’s recipe library grew even more through requests from her growing fan-base. She then began self-publishing multiple cookbooks (at least one a year for over 30 years!) She was getting national, as well as international recognition for being the Secret Recipe DetectiveTM – the title given to her by her fans. Here’s Mom’s story in her own words…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292-293). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

BEHIND THE SCENES

PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR OF SECRET RECIPES or ‘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…) 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.

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM 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’…

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… 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.

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 [Cookbook Corner] 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 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… brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry… 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. 295). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

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.

LAST THOUGHTS…

REMINDER: OCTOBER IS ALSO NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

IN CLOSING…

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

#NationalChiliWeek

#NationalChiliMonth

Since this is National Chili Week, as well as this being National Chili Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Chili Mignon, Like Chasen’s Chili”; as seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 63). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s month-long drink/food-related celebrations include… Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Bake and Decorate Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza MonthNational Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, and Vegetarian Month!

Other October observances that could be food-related include… Italian-American Heritage Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Reading Group Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, and Polish American Heritage Month!

Additionally…

Today is… National Cinnamon Bun Day, National Taco Day, and National Vodka Day! Plus, as the first Monday in October, it’s… National Consignment Day and National Child Health Day! Also, as the first full Mon.–Fri. work week in October, this is… Customer Service Week! And as the first Mon.-Sun. week in October, it’s also… Financial Planning Week!

Tomorrow, October 5th is… National Rhode Island Day, National Do Something Nice Day, and National Apple Betty Day! Plus, as the first Tuesday in October, it’s also… National Eat Fruit At Work Day! 

October 6th is… National Orange Wine Day, National Plus Size Appreciation Day, National German-American Day (this is also German-American Heritage Month), and National Noodle Day! In addition, as the first Wednesday in October, it’s also… National Pumpkin Seed Day and National Walk to School Day (plus, it’s International Walk To School Month)!

Thursday, October 7th is… National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day, National Frappe Day, and National Inner Beauty Day!

Friday, October 8th is… National Fluffernutter Day, National Hero Day, and National Pierogi Day!

October 9th is… National Moldy Cheese Day! And, as the second Saturday in October, it’s also… National Costume Swap Day and I Love Yarn Day!

Sunday, October  10th is… National Angel Food Cake Day, National Cake Decorating Day, National Handbag Day, and World Mental Health Day (speaking of which, it’s also… Positive Attitude Month!) Additionally, as the week of the 16th, Sunday is also the start of… National Food Bank Week (likewise, it’s Tackling Hunger Month, too!)

#TGIM

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

…40 down and 12 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Fall And Family

Happy Monday and happy fall y’all! I always look forward to Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalFallFoliageWeek

I LOVE fall – it’s definitely my favorite season! I adore the crisp, cool nights and lukewarm days. I love seeing the trees change colors. Incidentally, yesterday was the start of National Fall Foliage Week! I also love going to the cider mill for fresh apples, donuts, and (of course) cider. Plus, Octoberfest jubilees are popping up everywhere!

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Speaking of which… October is almost here! Thus, we’re rounding the bend, this week, for September’s finale. However, it is still September for a few more days, so there is still time left to celebrate some of its many wonderful observances – such as…

…National Fall Hat Month, International Update Your Resume Month, National Little League Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, and National Whole Grains Month! But that’s not all…

Moreover, since this is the last week in September, it’s also… National Keep Kids Creative Week! Additionally, relative to that, since this is the fourth Monday in September, today is also… National Family Day; which promotes making and sharing meals together, as well as family bonding around the kitchen table.

#NationalFamilyDay

#SelfImprovementMonth

September is also Self-Improvement Month! Family meals, prepared and eaten together, provide vast opportunities for strengthening ties, building better relationships, and creating a sense of belonging, which leads to better self-esteem.

When my siblings and I were growing up, Mom always made our meals family-style! We’d fill our plates and talk about our days, passing the serving dishes around the table while elbowing each other whenever Mom and Dad weren’t looking. We’re far from being the Brady Bunch or Walton’s family!

We ate together because that’s how our meal was served. The food may have been like that in a restaurant, but Mom would always remind us that our kitchen wasn’t a restaurant where you could drop in any time and place an order for whatever you’d like. In our household, you ate what was made and when it was served, or you would probably have to go hungry until the next meal.

However, I can’t remember any of us even being willing to miss one of Mom’s meals, so that was never really an issue in our household. Mom would always joke about being a bad cook in her many editorials but, even before she became famous for being the Secret RecipesTM Detective, she really was a great cook!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.6)

COOKING IS MORE THAN TURNING ON THE STOVE – IT’S PLEASING PEOPLE!

As often as we put things off, in life, it’s a shame that we don’t care more about the ‘now’, the ‘todays’, the here-I-am and here-you-are, and what can we do for each other to make things as good as possible for [both of] us! I know! There are people who can’t be bothered with such nonsense. They have jobs to work and bills to pay, things to worry about and goals to achieve.

‘If you’re going to talk about cooking and foods… what are you going off on tangents for, talking about people and their feelings?’

This is a question I’ve been asked over and over by inquiring reporters, wanting to know why we’re successful at what we do, why people go to such trouble to locate us and order our books! I think they answer their own question. Don’t you?

After all, cooking is not for robots! The way we present our food to those who share our table with us takes into account more than plopping the pot roast onto a platter and announcing, ‘Supper’s ready!’ Is that where it ends? When a meal is presented, there are many considerations for the cook.

Besides the balance, nutritionally, there’s the effort to please those who will hopefully enjoy the food. And trying to please those you’re feeding is a direct appeal, a definite effort, to consider someone’s feelings, the feelings of enjoyment and consequently of approval – approval of the food and… the one who prepared it.

Every day, the homemaker, with a family to feed, meets the challenge of proving they can be proficient, both, in the selections of foods, [as well as] the preparation and presentation of it and the management and the management of the cost.

Cooking is more than turning on the stove and opening the refrigerator. It’s pleasing people! It’s caring about what they might like to eat. It’s doing your best to prepare and present the dishes so that mealtime is not just a daily routine – but an occasion.

The cookbook industry has offended us… as if the recipes were designed for mindless bodies – not for folks with feelings! Food fanatics continue to advise us on how to feed the body while we let the famished affections go hungry.

The critics’ smoking guns right now are aimed at curing physical maladies with food administered medicinally. Food, as medication, is used as both a preservative and a cure. But what heals the broken spirit – the sensitive, the distressed, the lonely, the shy and withdrawn?

It takes more than adequate fiber intake; minimum daily nutritional needs being filled to cure the body of ills created by stress and anguish. It takes loving, caring and being loved and cared about in return!

There was a time, not very long ago, when the average family’s busy lifestyle made it difficult to eat a single meal together, let alone three – with both parents working outside the home and the kid’s after school activities and weekend sports.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck and, unexpectedly, families were, more or less, confined together, 24/7 – for all the meals and everything else in between, as well! Our homes suddenly became our hubs, encompassing the office, school, gym, salon, cinema, eatery and so much more!

‘The divine principle of good cooking is not a secret! It is taking pleasure in the activity; in the information previously retained and called upon through the facilities of memory. The spirit of good cooking is individualistic. It is not shrouded in mystery – but in love, for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it!’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen on the front page of the 128th issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Sep-Oct 1987).]

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.10)

HAVING A GOOD ATTITUDE TOWARD COOKING

Having a good attitude toward cooking, is the most positive way to approach the experience. Some folks really LOVE to cook, and they consequently do it well. But many of them can only turn out a handful of dishes perfectly and, therefore, limit their cooking practices, as well as their opportunities to eat foods that are unfamiliar to them.

Cooking is one of those skills that improve with practice, as does anything we undertake. But most of us are so conditioned to living in a world of instants that if a dish requires more of us than to add water – or to defrost and heat – we’re at a total loss in the kitchen!

Our life styles are changing more and more each day. We’re living in the age of fast food, instant coffee, Minute Rice, … one-step floor cleaners, quick breads, split-second decisions, rapid transit travel and planes that go 700-MPH – so why shouldn’t cooking be hurried along as well?

When you don’t really like to cook, it’s hard to imagine that it does have a positive side to the experience. Gourmets live to cook, while the rest of us cook to live – and just as often, would prefer it if we didn’t have to cook at all. This attitude toward getting the whole thing over with as soon as we can, is a reflection of the pride we fail to take in our accomplished dishes. When you thrive on compliments for your culinary skills it’s different.

When you do not have a positive interest in good cooking practices, you, likewise, don’t expect your creations to warrant compliments. The best thing for you to do is start ‘small’ – working with only a few ingredients at a time, until you get the feeling of how certain foods go well together, what flavorings compliment them, the best way to present the food when you serve it, so that it looks even better than it will taste.

Long, complicated recipes that require numerous ingredients and pampering are not always as good as those dishes that require only a few ingredients and a short time to prepare. We have made the mistake of believing that ‘fast’ food is totally without merit, therefore cannot be wholesome, nutritious, nor worth the time and cost, but ‘fast’ can be good if it is properly prepared.

LAST THOUGHTS…

One more thing I love about fall is my “fall cleaning” ritual. Just like in the spring, I actually get a little giddy about flipping the mattress, rotating the seasonal clothes, and moving the living room furniture around – just some of the things I usually do in the fall (and spring) season. I know I’m strange – this is me – I’m okay with it!

This time of year also harvests more Americana nostalgia, decreased stress levels, and increased creativity. It’s time to put away the summer essentials and tidy up our homes to usher in the fall seasonal holidays. Furthermore, on average, Americans spend about six hours per week cleaning their homes.

The American Cleaning Institute estimates that over half of Americans dread cleaning the bathroom, while almost a quarter hate cleaning the kitchen, one-fifth dislike dusting and mopping, and about one-sixth loathe doing the laundry. Sorry, Mom – your most hated housekeeping task, making the bed, did not make it onto this list! Personally, dusting is my least favorite, mostly because it impacts my allergies more than anything else.

#NationalCornedBeefHashDay

In honor of TODAY, being National Corned Beef Hash Day; plus, this is still National Americana Month and Better Breakfast Month – here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Glorified Hash, which I thought, when I was growing up, was a lot like the Libby’s product but better. This recipe was among Mom’s “Original 200” recipe cards collection and appeared in her very first, self-published cookbook… The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Algonac, MI; 1973, p. 35).

COMING SOON…

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Other celebrations for this week include:

Today is also… National Chocolate Milk Day!

Tomorrow, September 28th is… National Drink Beer Day, National Good Neighbor Day (which used to be on the 4th Sunday), National Strawberry Cream Pie Day, and National North Carolina Day! The fourth Tuesday in September is also… National Voter Registration Day!

September 29th is… National Coffee Day and VFW Day! The last Wednesday in September is also… National Women’s Health & Fitness Day

Thursday, September 30th is… National Love People Day, National Chewing Gum Day, National Mud Pack Day, and National Hot Mulled Cider Day

Friday starts the month of October, which observes, among other things (pictured below)…

October 1st is also…  National Homemade Cookies Day! Plus, as the first Friday in October, it’s… National Manufacturing Day, National Body Language Day, and World Smile Day, too! The week of October 1st is also… Active Aging Week!

October 2nd is… National Fried Scallops Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month, it’s also… National Play Outside Day!

Sunday, October 3rd is… National Techies Day and National Boyfriend Day! As the start of the first FULL week in October, it’s also… International Post Card Week and National Newspaper Week!

#TGIM

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

…39 down and 13 to go!

Little Seizure’s Pizza

LITTLE SEIZURE’S PIZZA

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 79). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

This pizza imitation has been in Gloria’s repertoire since the inception of her Secret RecipesTM business, in the early 1970s. It’s one of her “Original 200” recipes, which she created to imitate the highly sought-after fast-food product, launching her famous career as the Recipe DetectiveTM. This version was found in one of her media promotions that she sent out in 1983.

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Mother, May I?

Olive Garden-Style Alfredo Fettucine

OLIVE GARDEN-STYLE ALFREDO FETTUCINE

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… My Personal Favorites (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 19)

INGREDIENTS:

8-oz cream cheese, in bits

¾ c grated Parmesan

8 TB butter

½ c milk

1-lb box fettucine, prepared as box instructs

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put first 4 ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring until smooth and piping hot – but don’t let it boil or it might scorch! Spoon sauce mixture over 4 portions of prepared fettucine. Serves 4 sensibly or 2 foolishly!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – For the Love of Writing

Kenny Larger’s BBQ Chicken

KENNY LARGER’S BBQ CHICKEN (Like Kenny Roger’s)

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her self-published cookbook, That’s the Flavor (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1998, p. 25). Also seen in her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (circa 2000).

INGREDIENTS:

3-lbs. chicken pieces, still frozen

1-lb. can cranberry sauce (jellied or whole)

1 envelope onion soup mix

INTRUCTIONS:

Place chicken in a 14-cup capacity crockpot. Mix cranberry sauce and onion soup mix together and pour over chicken.

Cover and cook on high for 3 hours then turn on low for another 3 hours.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – “Famous Foods from Famous Places”

Day-After-Thursday’s Jack Daniel’s Sauce

DAY-AFTER-THURSDAY’S JACK DANIEL’S SAUCE

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (circa 2000)

INGREDIENTS:

½ C. pineapple preserves

2 TB soy sauce

3 TB honey

Dash powdered cayenne pepper

1 TB dry minced onion

½ tsp. garlic powder

¼ tsp. ground ginger

¼ C. Jack Daniel’s Black Label whiskey

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine ingredients [as listed, except for whiskey] in a small pan and bring to a boil for one minute. Put through blender, just to break down onions into specks. Add whiskey and serve warm over your choice of meat.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring into Cleaning

Out Front Steak Seasoning & Overnight Marinade

OUT FRONT STEAK SEASONING & OVERNIGHT MARINADE

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (2000)

SEASONING INGREDIENTS & INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine 1 envelope of taco seasoning mix with 1 envelope of Good Season’s Italian Dressing mix.

Tenderize steak on both sides, by piercing it many times with the tines of a fork. Rub steak with oil and dust with seasoning mixture.

OVERNIGHT MARINADE & INSTRUCTIONS:

Place steaks in an accommodating plastic or glass container (not metal). Pour a can of Coca Cola around the steaks and cover/seal container. Refrigerate 12-15 hours.  Drain steaks and grill or broil or pan-fry as you wish.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – A 2nd Helping of Not Losing It!