Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Persistence Pays Off

Memorial Day is upon us, and in the midst of a global pandemic. Thus, I can’t find it in me to say, “Happy Monday” as I usually do in my blog openings. This is a day for respectful solace, set aside to remember and honor all of our veterans who have died, serving in our military. Keep in mind, we may celebrate our freedoms but let us never forget by what cost we have them, in the first place!

In the photo below, I have shared seven thoughts on old Memorial Day traditions, about which I learned, last year, from Thanksgiving.com. All of us can, and should, bring any one of these things (or all of them) to fruition, in observance of Memorial Day. They can still be done safely, even amidst this pandemic and our crazy new norms.

Background from 47th Bomb Wing Assoc., Ltd. An invitation for the B-45 Tornado Dedication

Nonetheless, it is still Monday and I have to say #TGIM because, regardless of the day’s events, I always look forward to Mondays; as they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom with all of you!

And, as I have mentioned the last couple of weeks, Mondays are even more special to me, now; since, on the last Monday of every month, except for today, I will be sharing even more “Memories of My Mom” and the “behind-the-scene stories” of how she came up with some of her famous copycat recipes, over the radio airwaves, on WHBY’s Good Neighbor show, with host, Kathy Keene. This week, however, I will be on tomorrow, instead of today – same time.

The Good Neighbor show airs weekdays, from about 11AM to 1PM (Central Time). I will be on with Kathy for, at least, the first half-hour of the show. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI listening-area, you can also hear the show, live via the internet, through a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/.

A few decades ago, Mom was a regular, monthly guest on Kathy’s show, for about 13 years. Now it’s my turn and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share even more memories of my mom!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW

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

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

Pitzer’s House, St. Clair, MI; 1978

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

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

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

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

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF!

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

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

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

OVERWHELMING RESPONSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was probably one of the most chaotic times in the lives our family. But, in the end, it opened doors for Mom that might never have happened otherwise. It also brought MILLIONS of new eyes to Mom’s cookbooks and newsletters – and overall talent – as she appeared on television screens, in millions of homes, world-wide.

ONE MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 87-88)

BIG BUCKET IN THE SKY

With the tests for COUNTERFEITING FRIED CHICKEN AT HOME that was as good as what you could buy out – but for less – I felt I HAD to have a pressure fryer. This meant I had to have a place to also put it in my kitchen, which was already bursting at the seams with appliances and gadgets and utensils I really didn’t get enough use from, as it was.

Then one summer [1971], while visiting [our Knotts] relatives in West Virginia, we sampled some pan-fried home-style chicken that was every bit as good as the chicken produced in a pressure fryer. Paul’s 82-year-old aunt claimed why the chicken always came out just right every time she made it – which was religiously every Sunday – it was the pan! She used an 80-year-old wrought iron skillet that had never been washed in soap and water. She ‘seasoned’ it with shortening – lard, mostly. She kept it in the oven of her wood-burning, porcelain enamel stove, where it was always warm.

THE FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE that first called attention to my recipes, nationally – through the ‘National Enquirer’, ‘Money Magazine’, ‘Catholic Digest’, ‘The Christian Science Monitor’, ‘Campus Life Magazine’ and, yes, even ‘Playboy Magazine’ – was this following combination of ingredients. [See Mom’s recipe near the end of this blog post.]

The method is quite unorthodox and the original idea for developing it in this manner, came from a conversation I had with ‘Col. Sanders’ over the air with radio station WFAA in Dallas when I was a regular guest on a talk show with them for several months.

We discussed the secrets of the food industry with listeners by phone from our homes. The Colonel was fascinated by the publicity I had received for my ‘Big Bucket in the Sky’ fried chicken recipe and agreed that I was on the right track if I’d add more pepper. He loved pepper!

He also suggested browning the chicken in a skillet and then, oven-baking it until tender to achieve a likeness more to the original recipe he had created in 1964. He told me to look around the grocery store for one packaged product to replace the 11 spices – which I did diligently – and discovered that powdered Italian salad dressing mix was the secret!

So, I set to work to revamp the recipe. My original recipe was quite close to the famous Colonel’s product, but the coating kept falling off – because, as he explained, I couldn’t get the oil hot enough. He liked peanut oil, himself, but suggested that I could achieve a similar result by using corn or Crisco oil – with 1 cup solid Crisco for every 4 cups of oil. He talked about the quality in his product changing after turning the business over to new owners.

When Heublein Conglomerate bought out the franchise, they paid a few million dollars for ‘The Colonel’s’ recipe and technique. It seemed unlikely that a home-kitchen-rendition of such a famous product could be had for the price of my book. But the letters came in – ‘best chicken we ever had’; ‘LOVED that fried chicken recipe’; ‘our favorite chicken recipe…’; and ‘maybe the Colonel should have used YOUR recipe!’

IN CLOSING…

In honor of National Country Cooking Month in June, which is just around the corner, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Oven-Fried Kentucky-Style Chicken!

#CountryCookingMonth

SPECIAL NOTE: The tomato powder called for in the above recipe was also the recipe I shared in last week’s blog post at: http://therecipedetective.com/2020/05/18/mondays-memories-of-my-mom-improvising/

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

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

…21 down, 31 to go!

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

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Improvising

Happy Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM – because Mondays are my #52Chances a year, in which I have to share “Memories of My Mom”!

As I mentioned last week, Mondays are even more special to me, now; because, on the last Monday of every month, I will be sharing more “Memories of My Mom” and the “behind-the-scene stories” of how she came up with some of her famous copycat recipes, over the radio airwaves, on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show, with host, Kathy Keene (except for next week, on Memorial Day; as I will be on Tuesday, the following day, instead).

The “Good Neighbor” show, generally, airs Monday through Friday, from about 11AM to 1PM (Central Time). I will be on with Kathy for, at least, the first half-hour of the show. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI listening-area, you can also hear the show, live via the internet, through a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. A few decades ago, Mom was a regular, monthly guest on Kathy’s show, for about 13 years – now it’s my turn and I’m so excited! Mondays are absolutely marvelous!

Who among us have said, at one time or another: “I don’t have time for that”? That has been a universal excuse that so many people have employed for eons! I’ve used it, myself. Not too long ago, when I was looking into starting an eNewsletter, I discovered that, because of all the hours I was working for my “paying” job, I didn’t have the time to learn the digital process involved in such an endeavor.

The Covid-19 pandemic has crushed the pretext that we don’t have time, as many of us have had nothing but time on our hands for a few months, while we stay home and stay safe! Like others, my hours were drastically reduced for a while. But, even with the extra time available to me, I discovered that my self-learning capabilities were not as easy or quick for me, at the age of 55, as they used to be years ago. Thus, the eNewsletter idea has been shelved for a while.

To some degree, we all have had to improvise and adapt to the pandemic’s uncertainty and to the daily breaking news on the latest “stay home” guidelines and emerging, public “stay safe” policies. In small ways, many people have learned to improvise for things, like “going to the movies” by sitting home with their favorite snacks and Netflix (or some other streaming service).

Families have turned their backyards and living rooms into campgrounds and beach resorts to improvise their spring vacations. Teachers, students, and parents, alike, have learned to improvise going to school with home schooling plans and online learning resources. A lot of people have improvised their gym routines with home workouts.

During this time, people have also become quite inventive on ways to stay “in touch”, entertained, healthy and fit, and so much more. In fact, a lot of people are finding things like cooking “projects” to be a popular way to pass the time, these days. Families, especially, find this to be a great way to engage with each other and share it on social media to inspire and engage with others, as well.

Improvising is done by creating a substitute for something out of whatever is on hand. “MacGyver” made this DIY ad-libbing ability popular in 1985. But my mom, the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, made it popular in the food industry, more than a decade before that!

In the early 1970s, in order to save money on our family’s food budget, Mom devised ways to imitate some of our favorite foods and grocery store products right at home. She called the concept “copycat cookery” for “eating out at home”.

Mom shared her trail-blazing, “copycat” recipes with the readers of some of her syndicated columns, at the time; because, if it saved her family money, she wanted to let other families, who were struggling during those trying times, in on the secret too! In fact, Mom’s “copycat cookery” became very popular, very quickly, as there was nothing else on the market like it.

In 1972, Mom designed, wrote, and illustrated her first cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook”; which was then self-published around January 1973 and self-promoted in many ways, including through radio programs aimed at America’s homemakers. By January 1974, Mom had expanded her recipe and household hints collection to the point that she began producing and selling her own monthly newsletter and individual recipe card collections.

Way back when, during many of Mom’s radio show interviews, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, she often received requests from listeners who were re-located Michiganders and could not find, let alone enjoy, the special treats they grew up on; such as those from the Sanders Candy Company, fudge from Mackinac Island, Vernor’s Ginger-Ale (“pop”, as we call it – otherwise, known as “soda” to the rest of you) or Olga’s bread just to name a few. Mom showed them how to improvise and create their own versions at home.

Some of Mom’s growing fan-base were located in areas where some of the products Mom used in her recipes’ ingredients could not be found. Thus, Mom figured out a way to make those grocery items at home and, consequently, shared them in her newsletters and other cookbooks throughout the four decades that she and Dad ran their Secret RecipesTM dining-room-table business. Mom’s cookbook, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1980) has always been one of my personal favorites.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

Nowadays, thanks to the internet, we can order just about anything we want, from just about anywhere, and have it delivered right to our doors! So many companies that have had to close their doors, due to the pandemic and various states’ “shut-down orders”, have “re-opened” in other ways; improvising by taking phone orders and using delivery services and drive-through windows. If they didn’t already have a website or online virtual store, they developed one.

However, sometimes, when it comes to food, homemade is just better made. Especially if you have to follow a special diet, because then you control the ingredients that go into the product you covet. Since starting my own low-carb life-style last March, I have had to improvise on a lot of my favorite recipes in order to control my daily carbohydrate intake.

Like Mom, I’ve been experimenting with different combinations of ingredients that, when mixed together, will produce a similar taste – like my “Heavenly Low-Carb No-Bakes” recipe that I shared in one of my blog posts, from last October, called, “Great Recipes Need To Be Shared”.

By the way, I heard a great story recently about a young boy who wrote a cookbook with his mom while in quarantine, called The Quarantine Cookbook.  I thought it was a great share. Kudos to them!

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. 67)

WASTING TIME – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE SIMPLE JOYS?

Unfortunately, we’re waiting for that golden day, that one lovely moment in which we feel everything is finally grand – everything is finally just the way we have always wanted it to be! Everything we’ve been working for and moving toward has been attained. We can relax! We’ve lost the weight we wanted to lose. The house is finally in ‘company-is-coming’ order. The bills are all paid. The bank account is adequate. Our children are living productive, useful lives.

Everything will be wonderful – and then, and probably only then, do we feel we have the right to be happy! Until we achieve that perfect moment, that ideal existence, however, we’re looking forever ahead to it, not even seeing the opportunities – small as they might be – to be happy, now, with what we already have, with who we are [and] with what we’re already doing.

Everyone, at one time or another, seems to go through such trying times; carrying burdens we can’t seem to shake, with no one to help us make the load seem lighter. And in doing so, we end up making our mishaps more important than our smallest achievements. How easily we waste the time we have now, entertaining false pride as if it were the honored guest at our table of regrets. We try to avoid being natural, being ourselves, because it is usually less than we think we should be, or what others expect us to be.

So we look toward the moment when we’re sure everything will fall into its proper place. We finally have the time to call a relative we’ve been meaning to visit. We’ll write that newsy letter to the friend [with whom] we somehow lost touch… We’ll take that cake to the neighbor, [for whom] we haven’t had the chance to call on but meant to. But we can’t do those things now – not while were working out important problems and have so many things to worry about. Worrying takes time!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, summer 2012 (Cleveland, Ohio)

I’m nearly convinced that there is no such perfection toward which to work and for which to wait. Waiting seems an idol waste when there are so many things I want to do that have been pushed aside because obligations and commitments came first. Instead of looking ahead two years from now, days from now, hours from now, I look to the next moment. Human beings are not immortal, but some of us put off the wonders of living, as if we had forever to realize them.

For each moment that I didn’t enjoy as much as I could have, I’d like to be ready just in case I have a second chance at having them again. I would like to have all of our children with us around the dinner table once more, and really enjoy it, to make up for all of those times that I took their being there for granted. That would be a perfect moment, a perfect day!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of IMPROVISING, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for a tomato soup flavored powdered mix, like Lipton used to make; as seen in Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 18). Enjoy!

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

Please join me here, next Monday, when I reminisce about Mom’s improvisations with some of her recipe demonstrations that she performed on some popular TV shows, back in the 1980’s, such as the Phil Donahue Show and ABC’s Home show.

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

…20 down, 32 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – May For National Mothers Month!

Happy post Mother’s Day Monday and #TGIM – as I continue looking forward to Mondays and my #52Chances a year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

I spent the weekend commemorating and reminiscing about my mom (as well as both of my grandmas), in honor of Mother’s Day, as I went through their old photo albums and scrap books that I’ve inherited. I mused over how much they, each, have influenced me and taught me things as I was growing up and, especially, after I had children of my own. I miss them all so much.

Generally, moms (and grandmas, alike) provide our primary and most influential impressions – nurturing us, teaching us, and molding who we become as adults, ourselves. Hence, moms should be celebrated and honored for more than just a day! In essence, that is why I write these blog posts every week – to celebrate and honor my mom even more than just on Mother’s Day.

Mom & Dad with each of their moms – December 1985

This week, I wanted to write a special “Mom’s Day” tribute – for my mom, my grandmas and all of the inspiring mothers, everywhere. Yesterday was perhaps a much different Mother’s Day celebration than most of us have ever experienced previously! 2020 is undoubtedly going to see a lot of “firsts” in the way we celebrate holidays and special events.

Regardless, I hope all the moms out there had some kind of safe, marvelous, memory-making Mother’s Day observance; despite our new norms from the pandemic! Currently, some moms are being “essential workers” on the “front lines”, as described by the CDC, and some moms are being “essential workers” on the “home-front line”, as they have never been before. Some super moms are juggling both!

Over the past several months, our homes that were once our havens from the rat race have now become our shelters from the Covid storm. Home-sweet-home has become a combination personal office, school, gym, library, church, theater, eatery and much more. “Stay Home” orders are still in place here, in Michigan, and elsewhere, to continue “flattening the curve” of the pandemic’s spread that has plagued our world.

Mother’s Day – 2007

Mothers and daughters share a special and unique bond! I think that is especially so when grandchildren come into the picture, as that’s when I most realized WHY Mom did all that she did in raising me and my siblings – when I had my own children. That next generation put our relationship on a whole new level! I think the same can be said for my daughter and I, especially after she had a child of her own, too. Mom used to always say, loud and proud, “GRANDCHILDREN ARE A BLESSING!” I second that!

#NationalMothersMonth

A 4-generation photo from my mom’s last Mother’s Day celebration (2017) at the Community Wesleyan Church in Marysville, MI.

As I wrote about last May, we should always honor our mothers, regardless of the day – but why not create a national month-long celebration for moms! I even advocated that we should start a campaign for May to be National Mother’s Month! Who’s with me?

I feel that one of the best ways I can pay tribute to my mom – and that anybody else can pay tribute to their mom, as well – is to PAY IT FORWARD; honoring all that she has sacrificed, given and taught by passing it on to the next generation and hoping that they will, in turn, do the same. “Honor thy mother!” AND “Be the best you!” That, I believe, is the most excellent, of which any of us can achieve!

In my blog posts, as my mom did in her own patch-work-quilt-style writings, I try to bring “my readers” a hodge-podge of happy recollections of, both, Mom and the nostalgia of days gone by. Add in a few smiles and, maybe, a giggle or even a belly-laugh. I also enjoy sharing little bits of knowledge on hot topics and current events; with a recipe or two from Mom’s collection (and, occasionally, my own) as the whipped cream on top of the banana split!

I have so many wonderful memories, traditions and teachings that Mom instilled in me, and which her mom (and Dad’s mom) taught her. I can only hope that, in sharing them with all of you, they may benefit someone else, in some way, as much as they have me and my family!

Mom used to joke, in her cartoons and columns, about how Americans honor things like pickles for a whole week, while mothers are celebrated for only one day. I would also like to know why silly things, like pickles and other oddities are celebrated for a full week or even all month-long, while our very givers-of-life only get one special day of honor!

Granted, there is a lot more marketing, promotions and sales of cards, candy, jewelry, flowers and so on for Mother’s Day than there is for National Pickles Week! All around the world, moms are perceived as probably the most influential and compelling people – not only in how they impact our own personal lives, but also in how they leave their impactful footprints on the world, one child (or future adult) at a time!

Share your thoughts and use #NationalMothersMonth on social media, if you agree that mothers should be celebrated for the whole month of May!

Beyond our mother-daughter relationship, Mom and I shared an even more amazing relationship, as during the last few years of her life, I worked closely with her; rewriting one of her favorite, self-published cookbooks, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook. We chose the May 1983, 3rd Printing edition to rewrite and reformat for the new digital age. It was originally self-published in 1982, after Mom’s FIRST appearance on the “Phil Donahue Show”.

The book was freshly configured and somewhat updated for a new, digital generation to enjoy! The collaboration and partnership, between us, put our mother-daughter relationship on a completely new and different plane, for which I am forever grateful. The more I delved into Mom’s writings, the more I was inspired and moved in my own desires to be a writer. Now, here I am and, like half of what Mom always said, “…writing makes living worthwhile.” I just wish I could make a living with it.

Before she ever became the Recipe DetectiveTM, before she authored and self-published over 200 newsletter issues and more than 40 cookbooks, Mom created and syndicated many editorial-style columns that covered the satirical side of current events and hot topics, as they related to homemakers – some included recipes and/or cooking tips.

Mom’s writings ran under the various titles of “The Pitzer Patter”, “Minding the Hearth”, “The Cook’s Corner”, “Food for Thought” and “No Laughing Matter”. Mom also created a series of cartoon panels called “Full House, as kept by Gloria Pitzer”, which also focused on the satirical side of the not-so-liberated-life of a wife, mother and homemaker, such as herself.

Mom always had a very satirical sense of humor – not just in her writings and drawings, but also in life. Almost half a century later, I’m amazed by the timelessness of some of the issues, about which Mom wrote. I guess it’s true – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We still need to fix the roads and there’s still corruption in politics. Every now and again, we still face a food crisis or flooding or a water shortage or some kind of seasonal/regional natural disaster. As well, there are reoccurring rises in unemployment, interest rates, the cost of living and general inflation. History continually tends to repeat itself in new forms of old events.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in…

No Laughing Matter (circa 1970s)

JUST A HOUSEWIFE AND A PRO!

As a ‘suburban housewife’, I fail to see how anyone could classify my routine as ‘dull’! For one thing, everyone knows that the mother of an active family has no routine! We’re lucky if we can get our slippers on the right feet first thing in the morning. In fact, we’re lucky if we can even find those slippers, having to, first, plow through an undergrowth of Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs on the way to the kitchen, where we must witness testy debates over who gets the [prize] in the box of [cereal] and why a 40-year-old man refuses to take the Donald Duck Thermos in his lunch…

What’s wrong with a quest for a roll of Scotch tape that’s your very own or having the phone ring and the call is for you instead of your teenager? [Margaret Mead’s] working definition [of a ‘first-class’ woman, not being a housewife or homemaker,] is a ‘trained, competent, professional woman’. Now, I’d be the last one to contradict an expert, but in defense of women who become wives and mothers… we have had training (although much of it’s on the job), are extremely competent and are professional [according to Webster’s dictionary] in that we have ‘a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or skill’…

If you don’t think it takes learning or skill to varnish a complex-of-disorder with enough love and efficiency that husbands and children grow up with security and comfort, drop around my kitchen some Sunday night… no matter what they tell us [working-outside-the-home homemakers] about turning our kids over to a day care center, there’s nothing like coming home from school to know that Mom’s in the kitchen, whipping up a pitcher of Tang and a plate of Twinkies.”

I always admired how much Mom took on, to balance homemaking and money-making responsibilities. From my youngest memories, Mom almost always worked from home or, when away, while we kids were in school; harmonizing her various jobs. Those for which she was paid money and those for which she only got perks – like hugs, kisses, and love from her family.

My mom wore many hats while simultaneously raising a husband and five kids! One of my favorite things about my life and how I was raised is how much both of my parents positively influenced and inspired me – but especially Mom, as a writer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook, wife, mother, teacher, etc.

I really consider myself lucky to have her as my mom and that I (as well as everyone else) can continue to learn from her timeless writings – her legacy of love. That’s what I enjoy most, sharing those memories, discoveries, and lessons with all of you! I also love to hear stories from others whose lives Mom touched, as well.

‘I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.’ – Gloria Pitzer (This is not a Cook Book, written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)

#EatWhatYouWantDay

In honor of National Eat What You Want Day, here is one of Mom’s popular copycat recipes, from her “Original 200” collection, for Michigan’s own Win Schuler’s Bar Cheese, as seen in The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 57). Like the Taco Cheese Spread recipe I shared last week, this cheese is not just for dipping! It can be heated and poured over roast beef, chicken, omelettes, rice, pasta, potatoes, and other vegetables – whatever you want. Experiment and enjoy!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

Now, Mondays are even more special for me because, on the last Monday of every month, I will continue sharing more “Memories of My Mom”, along with one of her famous copycat recipes, on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show, with host, Kathy Keene (with the exception of May’s Memorial Day, as it will be on Tuesday, the following day, instead). You can listen in, live, from a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. A few decades ago, Mom was a regular, monthly guest on Kathy’s show, for about 13 years – now it’s my turn! Mondays are absolutely marvelous!

…19 down, 33 to go!

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

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Risky Business

Happy Monday to everyone and “May the 4th be with you!” As always, #TGIM – because I forever look forward to Mondays, as they are my #52Chances, each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Yesterday was supposed to be the kick off of celebrating National Small Business Week. However, like almost everything else, because of Covid-19, it has been put on hold, as well, until further notice. According to SBA.gov, ordinarily, U.S. small businesses create about 2/3 of our new job force each year and “more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business.”

#SmallBusinessWeek

However, because of the pandemic and many of the states’ “Stay Home” orders, small businesses, from all over – especially those that provide a personal service to us, such as barber shops, salons, gyms, day cares and so many more – are closed indefinitely. In as much as these orders were put into place to help prevent the virus from spreading more and killing more people; they are, ironically, killing many small businesses.

Some small businesses that provide “goods” for us, such as restaurants and retailers, have had to learn to adapt, in some way or another; by turning their brick-and-mortar stores into online virtual shops and shipping goods to their customers, or by taking phone orders and using curbside pickups and non-contact delivery services for their customers. But, with so many people not working these days, most don’t even have the funds with which to spend on non-essential products anyway.

As Mike Patton, Senior Contributor at Forbes, says in the very title of his article, from March 23, 2020, America is “on the brink of [its] 34th recession.” Although, it’s not just the U.S. that’s facing a recession now. This pandemic has had a global impact; thus, it’s becoming a global recession, as Peter Goodman explains in his article in the New York Times, from April 1, 2020. For more information about recessions in the past century, check out this very enlightening article that I came across recently on CNBC.com, by Tom Huddleston, Jr. (April 9, 2020) – https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/09/what-happened-in-every-us-recession-since-the-great-depression.html.

No doubt, small business owners are facing some trying times, right now, and will continue to do so for quite a while to come. Their challenges are tough and numerous and require patience, planning and learning in order to adapt to our new norms. Mom always said, “learn something new every day!”

I’ve heard so many inspiring news stories, from all over, of small business owners (as well as some pretty big ones), facing shut downs and financial devastation for being “non-essential”, turn around and “re-create” their businesses to make any one of the many needed and essential medical related supplies – like masks, face shields, gowns, test swabs, ventilators and more. Like the old proverb says: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” That always inspired Mom!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

The following excerpts, by Gloria Pitzer, are found in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)

RISKY BUSINESS

THERE ARE MANY RISKS involved with going into business for yourself, no matter what product or service you intend to offer. If I had thought more about the risks, than I did about the possibilities, I never would have moved an inch toward doing any of the things about which I now write. My husband is not a risk-taker. I am. We complement each other well. He still becomes uneasy and anxious about every new idea I have for another book or another project, on the basis that ‘we can’t afford it.’

I have learned, over the years, to keep many of my projects to myself until they are completed; which, in the long run, saves Paul from worrying unnecessarily about something that will very likely turn out well, and keeps me from worrying that Paul is worrying.

When I have been asked about goals or destination, it is been my feeling that every corner I turn has a new goal, a new destination awaiting us. I have never thought of any one point as being the top. Life has so many wonderful opportunities for each of us to take advantage of, that it does not seem reasonable that I should give myself the limitations that would determine just how far I should be able to go.

Because this was never a hobby, never WORK, never a job, I have had no problem with the worry or concern that accompanies a position from which one expects to retire. I would not want to give up what I have been doing [writing] since I was a child. It would be unfair to have to give up doing something that has also brought so much pleasure and good information to so many people.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

It was, however, only when I realized WHAT I should be writing about and what I should be sharing with the readers – what I knew best – that things really began to happen. Of course, my husband wisely reminds me, when someone asks about writing their own cookbook, that WRITING it is the easiest part. Knowing how to SELL it is the hard part! (p. 53)

CHALLENGES & PATIENCE

I MUST HAVE SPENT hours studying the pieces I wrote in my early days – remembering where I was [and in] what I believed and expected from life when I wrote them. There was always a certainty in each article [and] every book begun but not always finished, then, that life was good and surely God was a loving presence. This always carried me through. It still does.

Surely, after all of this is now presented to us in the form of treasured memories, I can see that life’s challenges teach us to be compassionate toward others [and] ourselves. Whenever we must sometimes face the harsh circumstances of human living, in which there [doesn’t] seem to be any clear-cut answers to even the smallest events, as well as the big [ones]; patience and great moral courage are needed in every case, in order to overcome defeats.

Certainly, the effort put into the service of every business, whether it is a flourishing corporation or – like ours – just a dining room table enterprise, is more important than how much money you’re going to make at what you do. When the money is more important, the journey becomes a job instead of a joy! (pp. 7-8)

MORE RISKY BUSINESS

IT WAS ONLY AFTER I considered every avenue that I could use without having to take ‘a risk’…[as] Paul would not even hear about my publishing a cookbook! I mean, he was absolutely vehement about my not doing anything, at that time, that would be a risk…that it occurred to me to buy my own mimeograph. I could explain the mimeograph to Paul [later], and I could afford one from the ironing money and from the $20 a week I was also earning from the column I wrote, then, for the Algonac Courier (called ‘Pitzer Patter’).

I babysat, as well, … and the money there also contributed to my paper purchases and ink for the mimeograph. Fortunately, I was able to order the machine and pick it up a few weeks later, when Paul let me use the car to do some shopping that day. I had the mimeograph home and concealed under the sewing table in the laundry room, covering it with a bed sheet, where it remained for three months without Paul even knowing about it. He couldn’t, until I had paid for it in full; and the fellow who sold it to me agreed to 90-days-same-as-cash… (p. 50)

#NationalCartoonistsDay

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer
In honor of National Cartoonists Day!

HOW TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN RISKY BUSINESS

WHENEVER I AM ASKED by somebody wanting to launch a newsletter of their own, how to get started, I wish I could just send them a blueprint or a floor plan, like you would when you build a house or a garage. With newsletter writing and marketing, it’s all based on individuality, and experience being the best teacher and then having a responsive audience. It all begins with the sale.

You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that. You either know how or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light! You have to let your light shine and part of the preparation for communicating with your reader is to know HOW to talk to them, what they need from your newsletter that will enrich them or make their lives better. (p. 43)

#NationalStarWarsDay

In honor of today, May 4th, being National Star Wars Day!

HOW TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN RISKY BUSINESS – CONT’D

LET ME ASSURE YOU, there is no formula for furthering a business like ours. Many people have asked for advice in writing and publishing a cookbook or putting out a newsletter like ours, and have seemed so disappointed when I also assure them that I cannot convey to them in a brief letter or conversation, what it has taken me nearly 20 years to learn, mostly through experience, through trial and error – sometimes a lot of error!

But it is always a learning experience, as was the case with Thomas Edison when he was trying to invent the dry cell battery. After 200 tests and all failures, somebody else came out with the invention. Reporters asked Edison how he felt about his 200 failures, to which he replied: ‘Those weren’t 200 failures, at all. They were 200 things I found that wouldn’t work!’ (p. 70)

IN CLOSING…

#CincodeMayo

In honor of tomorrow, being Cinco de Mayo, here is Mom’s 3-ingredient, short-cut-cookery recipe for Taco Cheese Spread that is super delicious! Mom gave this recipe away in the early 2000’s. I’ve used it as a dip, as well as mixed it in with some cooked macaroni and hamburger for a quick, “Mexican Monday night” meal! I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!

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

As I mentioned in last weeks blog post, I was going to be interviewed that day, over the phone and radio airwaves, by Kathy Keene. She hosts a show on WHBY (Appleton, WI) called “Good Neighbor”. It was so fun! We reminisced about Mom, her recipes and her “detective work” in the food industry. Mom used to be a regular guest on Kathy’s show, once a month for about 13 years. Now I’m going to do the same!

I am so excited that I’m going to be a regular guest on Kathy’s show (for the first hour, at least), on the last Monday of every month – except for May because of the Memorial Day holiday – in which case, it will be the following day, on Tuesday. I hope you will tune in and listen as we reminisce about Mom and her Secret RecipesTM legacy! Check out the “LISTEN LIVE” link at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…18 down, 34 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Tell A Story Day

Happy Monday to all AND happy National Tell A Story Day! Also, #TGIM – I always look forward to every Monday because it is my #52Chances each year,  in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Recently, I was thrilled to hear from a lady who used to have my mom on her radio show once a month for almost 13 years, from June 1992 through December 2005. Her name is Kathy Keene and she hosts “The Good Neighbor Show” on WHBY, in Appleton, WI. The show still airs from 11am to 1pm Central Time, Monday through Friday.

I really love hearing from people who knew Mom. Everyone has some kind of wonderful story to tell about how Mom touched their life in some way – through her “food-for-the-table” recipes, “food-for-thought” editorials and “food-for-the-soul” commentaries. Even her cartoon panels, “Full House – as kept by Gloria Pitzer”, were witty and entertaining. Mom was a very talented storyteller, illustrator and innovative recipe developer!

#NationalTellAStoryDay

Today, at 11:08am CDST/12:08pm EDST, I am going to be reminiscing about Mom, in an interview with Kathy, during the first hour of her show! You can listen to it live, from your computer or phone at: https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. I never tire of telling Mom’s story and there is no more perfect day than today, since it’s National Tell A Story Day, to tell a story about her. Mom left such a wonderful legacy, as the “Secret Recipes Detective”, for all of us to continue enjoying for generations.

Kathy had asked me, in an email, if Mom had retired in 2005, after her last monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show. That’s probably what a lot of people have wondered over the years… “What ever happened to Gloria Pitzer, the Recipe DetectiveTM?”

As I wrote to Kathy, Mom never really FULLY retired in 2005. While Dad would have preferred that Mom had, she just couldn’t stop doing what she loved so much, so completely. Mom still did a couple of “special occasion” radio shows a year; until about 2014. She also did a few lectures, here and there, about her 3-to-5-ingredient, short-cut style of “copycat cookery” for some libraries and the “Good Sam” RV group, to which she and Dad belonged for many happy years.

Before Dad passed away, unexpectedly, at 84 years old, in October 2014; they were still promoting and selling 7 different recipe “bulletins” (2 pages of related recipes for popular “brands” such as Sanders, Bill Knapp, Bob Evans and others), for $1 each; a “Soup and Other Comfort Foods” folder (4 pages of related recipes), for $2 each and Mom’s “Mostly 4-Ingredients” cookbook, which was reprinted in June 2002, for $10 each – all of which included postage. In fact, I still have the bulletins, folder and a few boxes of that cookbook in my basement, which reminds me of something Mom wrote…

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. 54)

HOW TO SELL IT

YOU CAN WRITE THE BOOK. Get it published. Stack the books from floor to ceiling in your garage (or wherever). What do you do with them, then, once you have sold a few copies to the neighbors, your bowling league friends and some patronizing relatives who complement you with half-hearted assurances that you shouldn’t give up no matter what…

You plug along, in spite of the lack of interest from those you care the most about, those to whom you turn for a little pat on the back and moral support but find lukewarm receptivity to your project. You have to then know how and where and to whom you will sell your cookbook or newsletter, or you must find somebody who can do it for you, better than you can do it for yourself.

So far, in these nearly 20 years [1972 through 1989] that I have been sleuthing out the secrets of the food industry, I have not been able to find such a person. I have found, however, instead, a very wonderful outlet [in radio] for acquainting the public with what we are doing and this, in itself, was never deliberately planned. It was something that just happened – and like a beautiful idea usually does, it unfolded, step-by-step into one of the most extraordinary experiences [for which] I could have wished. 

In August 2008, my brother, Mike, who lives in California, had set Mom and Dad up with a website, TheRecipeDetective.com, from which to advertise their Secret RecipesTM offerings. It was a more up-to-date way for the public to be in touch with what Mom was doing. Since Mom and Dad knew nothing about technology, Mike managed and ran the website for 10 years, transferring the domain to me, the summer after our mom passed away, because I wanted to start writing this blog about her legacy as the “Recipe Detective” and I had asked Mike if I could put it on the website.

The winter after Dad had passed away, Mom wanted to revive her favorite cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (first printed in 1982), hoping to reach out to a new generation of cooks and “cook-want-to-be’s” and, also, to create a new residual income, for herself. But she couldn’t physically do the self-publishing route that she and Dad had always done, together, for the preceding 40 years.

After decades of saying she would never let anyone else publish her works, Mom finally consented to letting another publisher do it. So, my brother, Mike, and I did some research on different publishers and finally chose Balboa Press; who were more than happy to republish Mom’s cookbook.

However, the name of the book had to be changed, per the publisher, because it too closely resembled the title of Betty Crocker’s cookbook. I tried to explain to the publisher that was the whole premise of the book – to “copycat”, like a parody – but they wouldn’t print it, otherwise. Thus, the title became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook The Best of the Recipe Detective.

They couldn’t just reprint from one of our original copies, though. Because of eBooks and new technology equipment, I had to retype the entire book into Microsoft Word for Mom, reformatting it to fit the size of the new edition and scanning all of her illustrations to be placed in it, too. We ended up, leaving out most of her diet information section and a few other things that were no longer current or applicable.

It took me a couple of years to rewrite the book for Mom, as I was juggling a “paying job” and my many “non-paying” jobs at home and as her guardian, also. It went to print shortly before she passed away, in January 2018. Mom was so happy when she heard it was in print again. She told me that one of her favorite parts of her lifetime was that she was kind of famous for a little while and she was blessed to have met some really wonderful people because of it…

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. 3)

HOW IT ALL BEGAN – REMEMBERING, WITH LOVE

It is obvious…if you are familiar with [any] of my books…that traditional presentation is not important to me. It has nothing to do with concept and everything to do with the time in which I put a book together. Most of what I have written has been done like a patchwork quilt, pieced here and there; hardly in sequence and never in a thoroughly developed format that probably every writer worth their salt (or Mrs. Dash) would be apt to follow, in producing a book of their own.

Since the [very] first book, back in January 1973, I have not been able to stick to ‘the rules’ when writing, publishing or distributing a book. It was the first thing a publisher would mention to us when, a few years later, they wanted to take over our books and publish them for us. The comments would range from ‘making your books more sale-able’ to ‘changing the format somewhat’, which all meant redesigning what I had developed so that it no longer reflected ‘me’, but ‘them’.

Making our books more ‘sale-able’ was the biggest puzzle, considering that, in the beginning, these same publishers quickly rejected my work; and, after an appearance on the [Phil] Donahue Show in July 1981, over a million letters from Donahue viewers made our books probably THE MOST sale-able in the country – if not the world – in the shortest period of time.

So many things happened along the way that contributed to our success as a family enterprise; and, while [in my writings] I will touch on some of the highlights of these experiences, it won’t necessarily be in the order in which they took place. Recollections of how we developed our Secret RecipesTM and the unique circumstances under which this dining room table operation has endured, will surely never make the ‘Best Seller’ list and, perhaps, not even interest most critics, let alone the skeptics, who predicted that the public’s interest in my kind of recipes would not last long. Having been our only source of income since August 1976, I would say they made a mistake in judgement. 

Gloria Pitzer – 1978, St. Clair, MI

Early in the summer of 2015, Mom had survived a double stroke, complicated by a grand mall seizure. She had been showing signs of “sun-downers”, after her previous grand mall seizure in July 2014. As a result of the impact of the seizures and strokes, Mom developed dementia and I consequently became her legal guardian.

Mom’s love for writing and journaling became her saving grace in the rehabilitation and recovery process of her stroke and the subsequent dementia. Journaling didn’t really “improve” her memory, but it was always her outlet for peace and serenity. Thus, it helped her deal with the anxiety of not remembering recent events. She always told me that the up side was that she could remember her childhood through her early adulthood years like they had happened yesterday.

She moved into a “retirement village” that had on-sight nursing care. Although she tired easily, Mom was still fairly active until around Christmas 2017, especially if it involved going purse shopping at JC Penny’s or out to lunch at a restaurant. Mom passed away, peacefully, joining Dad, about 2 weeks after her 82nd birthday, in January 2018.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer – 2012, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Unfortunately, I am not the sales person that Mom was. She was very creative as to how she got the word out about whatever she was doing. Mom’s favorite cookbook may have been rewritten and republished, with boxes of copies piled up in my basement, but they don’t sell themselves. I can’t afford to pay someone or some company to sell them, thus, this promoting-and-selling thing is a slow learning process for me. Like Mom, I LOVE to write! But promoting and selling is a whole other ball game!

Likewise, I don’t know how well I will do today, speaking in a radio interview, since this will be my first time. Mom was a natural conversationalist. She loved doing radio shows. While she had some really great experiences on TV, radio was always her favorite. She felt at home there. Well, in essence, she really was at home during most of her radio interviews. But, as Kathy reminded me, when I expressed my apprehension, it’s like sitting down for a cup of coffee and conversation with friends!

IN CLOSING…

The following recipes were not among Mom’s “free sample” offerings, nor were they in her “Original 200” collection. But, in honor of today, also being National Prime Rib Day, I wanted to offer you a copy of Mom’s “go-to” Prime Rib recipes from her self-published cookbook, Make Alike Recipes, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1991, p. 83) – this book is no longer in print, but you may find used copies on Amazon and eBay.

#NationalPrimeRibDay

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…17 down, 35 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Quarantine Effect

Happy Monday to all! Whether you’re quarantined, staying home and staying safe, or working the “front-line”, I urge you to make the most of your Monday! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year to share memories of my mom with all of you – #TGIM!

Staying fit and staying healthy, while staying home and staying safe, has become a recent focus for many who are beginning to see, what I’m calling, #TheQuarantineEffect; which is a weight-gaining side effect from the stay-at-home orders being followed nationwide – even worldwide. That’s why the hashtag, #Quarantine15, is on the rise.

The “Quarantine 15” effect began trending around mid-March, as people started “Tweeting” stories about their weight gain, during all of the “stay home, stay safe” orders; from their mindless, couch-potato-binging to anxiety and stress related munching. The weight gain was commonly compared to the “Freshman 15”; which is the average weight students usually gain during their first year at college and away from home. It’s generally due to their on-the-go-eating routines of ready-to-eat fast food and junk food products.

Over-eating is a common response to stress and anxiety! Historically, food has usually been a comfort source for most people, especially when they experience fear and worry. Besides hoarding toilet paper and cleaning products, many Americans have been stock piling snacks and junk food to enjoy while stuck at home. However, that allotment, which would ordinarily last a household a month, is now disappearing within a week or two!

There are so many articles and videos to be found on the internet about healthy eating and cooking, wise food choices and home exercise routines, from which we can derive all kinds of inspiration. While our lives have taken a sudden detour and changed our sense of normalcy, we must all remember that it’s only temporary. Some of us may see these self-quarantine orders go on for months, or even into next year, but it’s still only temporary.

https://www.marcandangel.com/2015/02/25/7-ways-to-stay-strong-when-everything-goes-wrong/

While looking for inspiration for myself, recently, I found “How to not Gain Weight During the Coronavirus Lockdown”, written by Doree Lewak (NYPost.com; March 17, 2020), which gives some great advice on how to “stop the Open Mouth, Insert Food stress-snacking cycle”! I wish I had read it a month and 10 pounds ago. However, as the old adage goes, “better late than never!”

‘Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Half effort does not produce half results. It produces no results! Work, continuous work and hard work, is the only way to accomplish results that last.’ – Hamilton Holt

MY “DIET” UPDATE

Mom and I have, both, struggled with “yo-yo weight” for most of our lives. One diet after another left us wondering why they seemed to work for other people, but not for us! Unfortunately, our mindsets (as with so many others) were to only diet until we got to our desired goals. There was never really any long-term plan for after that, other than to buy new clothes – or get out the “old size” clothes from previous diets, of which we never entirely disposed.

Once at our goal, we’d slowly forget about the discipline that got us there and start allowing ourselves to slack a little bit. One food “reward” here, another there and before we knew it, we’d fall back into our old habits; regaining what we had lost and then some, as we further sabotaged ourselves with our own excuses for failure.

Nevertheless, we did find a diet that helped us – when we worked it – Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins, M.D. (Bantam Books; Oct. 1981). We discovered, from Dr. Atkins’ book, that we have a carbohydrate intolerance. Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution is not a quick “weigh-fix” solution. It’s actually a low-carb lifestyle commitment. Thus, it only works if you work it, and only for as long as you work it! Truth be told, though, neither of us made the lifetime commitment to it previously.

However, about 13 months ago, on the first day of Spring 2019, I embraced the low-carb lifestyle with commitment; eventually, limiting my carb-intake to 25 grams a day, max. My goal was to lose 50 pounds AND maintain it! Being hypoglycemic, borderline diabetic and 55 pounds overweight, at the time, I felt 20 years older than I should have felt. That’s why I finally decided to make the lifestyle change commitment, much like I did when I quit smoking cigarettes almost 14 years ago.

I realized that I was only cheating myself whenever I made bad choices on what I ate and/or how much I ate for meals and snacks. After all, I was the one who was freely buying, preparing and consuming the food. There was no one to blame but myself. So, I came to terms with the release of my carb-addiction, in much the same way as I released tobacco from my lifestyle – based on the book, The Easy Way To Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr (Sterling Publishing Company, NY, NY; Sept. 2004).

I had to mentally accept that this was going to be a permanent change for me – a lifestyle – not just until I reached my weight loss goal. I did reach my weight-loss goal and I know, if I ever go back to my old lifestyle, I will also go back to my old weight. So, I try to continue to make wise choices in what I consume. However, with all the fall-out from the pandemic, stress is up, and I stopped watching HOW MUCH I ate. While I was still making low-carb choices, every little bit added up!  “Everything in moderation” is the best rule by which to live, but it’s easier said than done these days.

I made it through the holidays and winter without the weight gain I would usually procure. But, recently, with the stress and anxiety over the Covid-19 pandemic, I stopped counting my carbs and gained back 10 pounds, thus far, in the past month. The wildfire-like spread of this virus, around the world, and the resulting quarantines, health threats, business closures, job losses, and so much more is a lot for anybody to handle.

My mom was the first to develop homemade, make-alike versions of fast food and junk food products. The great thing about Mom’s recipes, at least with most of them, is that they can be tailored to many different diet restrictions. I’ve been putting my own low-carb adjustments on Mom’s (and others’) recipes for the past year, with some success; sharing a few of them within my blog posts.

‘You’ll be amazed at the number of recipes you can duplicate in your own kitchen – and those you can, at least, come close to imitating – with far more success than the advertising people give us credit!’ – Gloria Pitzer

Treats like Awrey’s and Hostess’ famous cookies and cakes, to name a couple, were among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes collection, in the 1970s, which she printed on index cards and sold through the mail for 25-cents each. Mom also printed her growing and evolving make-alike-recipe collections in her hundreds of newsletters and over 40 subsequent books. She finally had to retire, due to health reasons, after more than 40 years of being the Recipe DetectiveTM.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1-2)

DE-BUNKING THE JUNK!

What is the truth about junk food? The food experts have been referring to many snack foods and fast foods as ‘junk’ in an attempt to disqualify their value when compared to foods containing high amounts of protein and vitamins.

No one has confirmed a definition of the expression ‘junk food’, yet the public has been conditioned to accept any snack food, sweets, candies, confections, baked goods and many beverages as ‘junk food’ when, in reality, these are not without nutritional value.

All by itself, a raw carrot could hardly support the human system substantially; neither could a cup of yogurt. Yet, a candy bar or a small piece of cake or a hamburger on a bun is considered, by some of the food industry’s most prestigious experts, as having little or no food value in our daily diets.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

The junk food paradox has caused school systems and other public institutions to ban the sale of any foods we would consider snack items, making it illegal, in fact, in the state of Michigan and some others, if such items were sold to children through vending machines on the premises.

This is infuriating to the good cooks and… food chemists among us, who know that JUNK FOOD is actually any food that is poorly prepared. ALL food has nutritional value. Some just seem to have more than others. But, in the final analysis, it is purely personal taste that will determine the popularity of one food over another.

The ‘fast food’ industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! I say, ‘baloney!’

As a very believing public, we have been spoon-fed a good deal of shrewd publicity by some very skilled… advertising people, who count on our susceptibility to commercial advertising campaigns to buy their products. Whether we’re buying a hamburger in one of McDonald’s restaurants… or a ‘Twinkie’ off of the grocer’s shelf, we still believe that these products can’t be equaled by any other company in the industry, nor by the average cook in a standard, home kitchen… AND this is wrong!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018; p. 283)

If your choices, now, include things you eat without really enjoying them, you can begin to exercise, instead of your “will” power, your “won’t” power – and refuse to keep on eating what is not good for you and what you don’t really need, replacing it with something you do enjoy and that will benefit you in nourishment, either emotionally or physically.

The WON’T power exercise for me meant no bread, no potatoes, no pastries, no gravy, no grains or other starches. It worked beautifully. For you, it might not be satisfactory. So, you can choose another course of action. I merely wish to share my experience with you because it worked for me…

What works for one person, may not work for another; but sharing the secrets of a weight loss diet that works, is too good to ignore. Even if you, personally, are not interested in losing 10 pounds, you probably know someone who is! The diet industry pulls in millions and millions of dollars every year, developing new gimmicks, pills, plans, menus, clubs and published materials about losing weight. I have tried them all in my adult life – and never with success! So, I finally developed my own diet… [Based, largely, on the low-carb diet developed by Dr. Atkins.]

… It’s not really a diet, but a new pattern of eating that can, if I wish, serve me all my life. The best way to learn any new pattern of behavior – whether it is eating or dancing or jogging or working – is to break it down into small manageable parts and work through them step-by-step! This is not a diet to be used, discarded and taken up again. It is a way of life at the table. It is a new attitude towards food…

#PineappleUpsideDownCakeDay

In honor of today being National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day, here is a recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake that Mom made for years; as found on page 97 of her self-published book (no longer in print), The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990, 11th Printing).

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…16 down, 36 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Working From Home

Happy Monday to all! #TGIM – every week, I long for each Monday to arrive, as they are my #52Chances per year to share my “Memories of My Mom”!

For years, breakfast has received a lot of attention, as it has been considered by many health professionals to be “the most important meal of the day”. However, as families’ schedules got busier and more hectic, they started enjoying more and more “quick” breakfasts on-the-go.

Thus, dinner – the EOD (end-of-day) meal – became the most important meal for many families because that’s when they, all, could usually get together. I remember, when my siblings and I were growing up, Mom always made a big deal out of dinnertime for our family. That was usually when we would all get to discuss our day’s activities and events and make plans for the next day or the coming weekend.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s

What about the under-praised lunch break? That thing we sometimes get, somewhere amidst the events of our workday. It’s the time we take to replenish ourselves, if we’re lucky. Sometimes it’s a rushed, 10-minute protein bar occasion or a brown-bagged, eat-while-you-work sandwich. Sometimes employees, who are extremely busy with their workday, don’t even realize they’ve missed their “break” entirely until it’s hours past due.

#NationalMakeLunchCount 

Today is National Make Lunch Count DayNationalDayCalendar.com accredits TGI Fridays – a popular, countrywide, restaurant chain – for this national celebration. TGI Fridays created a study, four or five years ago, through which they found that the majority of the American workers they studied suffered from what they considered “FOLO” (aka: Fear Of Lunching Out). They observed that many office employees “eat lunch at their desk at least twice a week (73%) while one-third have lunch at their desk every day of the week.”

However, as this was probably written before the pandemic and “Stay-At-Home” orders, they went on to say – most likely, in order to promote eating out, such as at one of their restaurants – “Don’t fear lunching out any longer!” Of course, we can’t do that now, in our current atypical norm of physical distancing and no-contact food deliveries or curbside pick-ups due to the highly contagious Covid-19 virus that has overwhelmed the whole world.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

TGI Fridays suggests that taking a break AWAY from the workday improves productivity. But now, most of those Michiganders who can are working from home and staying at home as much as possible, following “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders. We can still include taking an actual lunch break during our workday by LEAVING our home office or work area for at least 20-30 minutes. Step away from it all in order to refuel and refresh – body, mind and soul. Both, our brains and our bodies, need to have a few physical breaks throughout our workdays. You’ll find it improves your focus, creativity and productivity.

NationalDayCalendar.com asks us to share our creative ways to “Make Lunch Count” today and any day! Promote your ideas on social media, using #NationalMakeLunchCount.

Since today is National Make Lunch Count Day, make it a point, especially today, to not only not skip lunch but to also focus on enjoying every minute of it! Stop what you’re doing and step away for a little while – take a BREAK to really appreciate your lunch and all it has to offer you – body, mind and soul. Make yourself a “Chef’s Salad” or “Dagwood-Style Sandwich” – anything – but take the time to enjoy the making of it, as well as the consumption of it!

#DoingMIPart

Since we’re still staying home and staying safe, get creative with how to “eat out at home”! Mom was a big inspiration for how to make our favorite fast food and junk food choices at home. If the weather is nice, have a picnic in your yard, or dress your dining room up to “feel” like your favorite restaurant and copycat your favorite dish from there. Anything to get away from the workday, for a little while at least.

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

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. 65-66)

WORKING FROM HOME: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE RECIPE DETECTIVETM

AN ORDINARY DAY for us begins at 6:30 AM. Even though, I may have had a midnight or middle of the night radio show to do, the alarm still goes off at the crack of dawn. I realized some time ago that I could not roll out of bed and go directly to the stove to make the coffee and scramble the eggs and then, upon cleaning up after all of that, still go directly to my drawing board and my IBM composer for the rest of a long day.

I COULD but I would not have had a good attitude. So, Paul and I go, instead, to the restaurant in the mall downtown and let THEM make the coffee and scramble the eggs for us. Then we stop by the post office and pick up the mail and, by the time we are back home, I feel like a normal working person who leaves the house every morning to go to their office.

#NationalMakeLunchCount

Depending on how swamped we are with mail and subscriber contacts, book orders and government papers to be filled out and filed, we will try to take a break around noon for either a sandwich at our desks or, better yet, will run down the street to the Burger King for an orange juice and fish sandwich or over to The Voyageur [restaurant] for half of a ‘Captain’s Salad’ or a croissant special and a view of the St. Clair River, with freighters passing up and down stream that we can feel truly inspired and refreshed when we leave there. A break like that will renew our creative energies and also give us a chance to ‘visit’ with each other – a practice that few married couples really seem to enjoy much anymore – if they ever did at all.

These breaking off periods of getting away from the house and our office within, look to others, I suppose, as if we really aren’t that busy that we can frequent the local restaurants as much as we do. What they don’t see, however, is the kitchen where, for three or four solid hours, I was testing and trying to develop a particular recipe – making it perhaps three or four times before either giving up on it or feeling victorious and happy to print it in the next newsletter.

We take a lot of kidding about how often I am seen pushing a cart in the local supermarket and how often I am seen ‘eating out’ that you’d ever guess I cooked at all. It is, because I try to maintain and encourage a happy balance between the recipe testing and our normal life with friends and family, that we have never found the enterprise in which we are engaged, a burden to us. So many people we know do nothing but complain about their jobs, their work and regret. My cup runneth over and over and over! I WOULDN’T GIVE IT UP FOR THE WORLD!

By five or six o’clock in the evening, we’re ready for another break; and, in between, I have probably talked to two or three radio stations, answering questions for their listeners as they call into the station; which, by the miracle of telephone, puts us in touch with each other as if the host, the listener and I were all in the same room!

The radio visits that began with [our] good friend, Bob Allison, and his very successful show [‘Ask Your Neighbor’], with nearly 30 years, opened so many interesting and helpful doors for us. All of the other radio stations since, with whom I work, became a part of our schedule after years of providing listeners with the right information, with entertaining ideas and friendship and concern for their needs.

Sometimes I have received calls from hosts of radio shows who heard me on another station than their own and asked to set up an hour with them. Some of the programs run two hours. Many of them only use 15 minutes in which to discuss a healthy menu on the latest restaurant dish to imitate at home. No two radio shows are ever exactly alike, yet in one respect they are all incredibly enthusiastic and inquisitive…

Photo by Susan L. Tusa for an article about Mom in People Magazine (May 7, 1990; p. 81)

I know I’m doing something important… But I’ve had my moments of despair, when I’ve felt, ‘What am I doing?’ – Gloria Pitzer

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. 119)

IN MY KITCHEN, where all of these famous recipes are developed and tested and prepared for publishing, I have one significant problem. The ‘Good Hands People’ are about to declare my kitchen an accident going someplace to happen! My sense of organization is not what Heloise would enthusiastically endorse. So, even when my cup runneth over and over and over, I can’t always find my mop!

It is with appreciation that, in spite of my lack of organization, Mary Ellen Pinkham, the famous household hints author, took an interest in our recipes just recently. I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I am either in the kitchen, cooking up something for the next book [or] the next issue of the newsletter; or I’m writing about what I’ve been cooking – with time in between to do two, sometimes three, radio shows a day, on a regular basis, running anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. No two shows are ever alike – with the exception of the [wonderful] hospitality and warm response from the listeners.

I have had very few unhappy experiences on the air… Some of the highlights of these radio broadcasts will probably remind you of the first time you heard of me, through one of these shows, for this is where most of our family of readers have come and they continue to listen with as much enthusiasm and as many challenges [for me to decipher] today as they did the day I spoke to my first radio audience and became affectionately dubbed by them ‘The Recipe Detective’. I thank them!

#NationalPecanDay

In honor of National Pecan Day, which is tomorrow, here is another favorite fan-choice of Mom’s “Original 200” copycat recipes…

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

#NationalGardeningDay

Tomorrow is National Gardening Day! So, if you haven’t gotten out in the garden since my blog post last week – regarding #LawnAndGardenMonth , #NationalGardenMonth and #KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth – tomorrow is still as good a time as ever!

After all, April showers bring May flowers – but, first, you have to get the soil ready before you can even plant the seeds. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have the seeds before they were deemed “non-essential” (in Michigan) and banned from being sold, which I don’t understand! How can seeds, which are the source of most foods AND medicinal herbs, be “non-essential”? I’m glad I already have seeds and bulbs from our last planting season!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…15 down, 37 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Home Is Where Our Health Is

Happy Monday and happy April to one and all! #TGIM – I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year to share my memories of Mom!

“Home is where the heart is…” – a very old proverb, which was originally attributed to “Pliny the Elder” (A.D. 23-79). The proverb has many interpretations. For so many people, “home” is not necessarily a structure but, rather, wherever we are, as long as we’re with our loved ones. “Home-sweet-home” memories are deeply ingrained in many of our hearts, like a Norman Rockwell painting.

It’s nearly impossible to forget whatever our individual interpretations of “home” is in our lives. However, nowadays, that proverb is taking on a whole new meaning and interpretation, as Michigan, like many other states, is under a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order; meaning we should all stay home, only going out for ESSENTIAL things, like food and medicine. As we try to flatten this pandemic curve, it’s becoming more and more like “Home is where our health is!” Additionally, many are now learning more and more about “DIY” and self-sufficiency skills.

#StayHome

Still, so many people just aren’t adhering to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order that many of us are under because they are more concerned about their constitutional rights being infringed upon than the health and welfare of their families, neighbors, communities and other surrounding communities as well. To those I say, “GET OVER IT!” Just bite the bullet and do what NEEDS to be done. It’s only for a little while, IF WE ALL PARTICIPATE! “This, too, shall pass!” Remember, everything in life is temporary – including life, itself.

Shout out, one more time, to MarcAndAngel.com, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”. It’s five years old but timeless, as it really applies to the current, challenging days that we’re all facing. I found this passage particularly inspiring:

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt; you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.”

For the last few weeks of March, at the end of my blog posts, I’ve been promoting getting a jump-start on two of April’s national month-long observances, #NationalMonthOfHope & #StressAwarenessMonth because, more than ever, as NationalDayCalendar.com says, regarding stress awareness, “we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.”

#LawnAndGardenMonth 

#NationalGardenMonth 

The month of April is also celebrating national observances for lawns, gardens and landscapes – among other things! Gardening can be very therapeutic if you’re feeling stressed out and/or cooped up. With extra time on our hands these days, my husband and I are able to dedicate more time than usual to our annual outdoor spring cleanup and garden bed prepping duties.

Besides the fresh air and sunshine being a great mood-lifter, I find gardening to be a great stress reliever, as well as a wonderful low-impact exercise. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, our new norm has many people wanting to learn more about homesteading, self-sufficiency and growing their own groceries. I wrote a blog post called “Grow & Make Your Own Groceries” in March of 2019. It’s a great subject to revisit!

In their off-season, I re-purpose my Christmas deer lawn ornaments as trellises in my vegetable garden! They’re great for various vining plants like cucumbers and squash AND I don’t have to worry about storing them.

20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on HowStuffWorks.com)  claims that pushing the lawn mower for 1 hour can burn 324 calories; plus, spending 30 minutes raking up the clippings will burn another 171 calories.

#KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth

That article also suggests that picking up yard-waste can, ironically, reduce your waist size; advocating that 4 hours of hard work, cleaning up the yard, burns about 1,800 calories! That’s 450 calories per hour! Additionally, 2 hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more, depending on the specific activity involved. The added perk is growing your own healthy herbs, fruits and vegetables at a much lower cost than going to the grocery store. Now is the season to start your gardening!

I’ve mentioned before that one of my personal favorites of Mom’s self-published cookbooks is The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979) – aka: “Book 5”. The cookbook is no longer in print, but I have seen some used copies on, both, eBay and Amazon. When I was a young mother and struggling to make ends meet, money was tight, and the pantry was often close to bare! Much like now, due to the food (and money) shortages going on during this pandemic.

Mom’s “Homemade Groceriescookbook was always my go-to-source AND still is! It teaches me how to make a lot of my favorite grocery products at home; as well as, how to stretch or extend other products, saving me quite a bit of money on my monthly grocery expenses for a family of five!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

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. 12)

WHAT’S VALUABLE – THE FAMILY

THE FAMILY IS IMPORTANT to this troubled world that seems not to know what direction to go in for comfort and relief. So, I cater, in our publications, mostly to this family, with all of the old-fashioned values I can gather and still not sound corny or even ‘preachy’!

That for which I am most grateful, however, as I see how our family has worked together in helping us to build this dining room table enterprise into a substantial and professional operation, is the friendship that has grown over the years between [Paul, me and] the five children…my cup runneth over!

There’s a renewed movement to make a lot of things at home. Not only can we control the ingredients for a particular diet/lifestyle that way but, also, save money too! That is, basically, what inspired Mom to write that particular cookbook in the first place. Back in 1979, a lot of people were getting concerned, and rightly so, with all the additives that are put into our convenient, shelf-stable, grocery products. Furthermore, we can usually save money, making it ourselves – as long as we don’t add the value of our time into the equation!

The “work” of homemakers and the value of their time is often taken for granted by their families. However, the services they provide could earn a substantial salary in the open market – chef, maid/housekeeper, laundress, nanny, teacher, chauffeur, personal shopper, secretary, counselor, nurse, groundskeeper and gardener. In addition to these skills, homemakers also contribute a lot more to the home and family of which no amount of money can fill the needs.

According to Porcshe Moran, in her enlightening article, “How Much is a Stay-At-Home Parent Worth?”, a homemaker [aka: stay-at-home-parent] could earn an annual salary of about $178,201, according to 2019 data she obtained from Salary.com. The following picture shows the data I obtained through Salary.com and Indeed.com regarding the average salaries paid, in Michigan, for the above-mentioned homemaker skills.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there weren’t readily available services for chefs, maids, laundresses, nannies, teachers, chauffeurs, personal shoppers, secretaries, counselors, nurses, groundskeepers and gardeners – people did for themselves. About the only food things that were usually purchased at the “General Store”, for the homestead kitchen, were the “staples” that most people couldn’t make, themselves; such as flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cornstarch, etc. Most homesteaders were self-sufficient in, at least, the basic things to survive.

If we didn’t catch it or kill it, ourselves, fish was purchased at the fish market; while foul, farm and other meats were bought at the butcher shop. Likewise, if we didn’t have our own cow or goat to milk or hens from which to gather eggs, fresh dairy products were usually delivered to our homes by the local creamery. Additionally, since we can’t all be bakers, fresh baked goods could be procured at the local bakery. Similarly, if we couldn’t grow our own, we went to the farmer’s market for fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979, p. 1)

Many people feel that life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.

Going through life without noticing the scenery and trying to see some of the beauty that is there – waiting to be recognized – reminds me of running ‘helter-skelter’, up and down the supermarket aisles, without seeing the ABUNDANCE that is there. Just take a moment to look at the heart-breaking plight of starving people in many parts of the world and, then, take a good look at the aisles and aisles of food available in this country! [Written in 1979.]

We have so much available to us here…many people fill their backyards each spring with flowers and shrubs, when they could easily plant food-seeds instead, thus cutting something off that weekly grocery bill!

‘The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.’Aldous L. Huxley, English Writer and Philosopher (b. 1894, d. 1963)

What happened to us, as a society? We’ve become a too-busy-with-other-things, instant-gratification-and-convenience-overloaded culture! About half a century ago, we evolved into times when both parents, in a family unit, had to work to make ends meet. The value of time changed dramatically, especially for the homemaker. Self-sufficiency and homesteading became a dying skill among many of the newer generations, who’ve opted to spend their time differently in exchange for conveniences – even to the extent of wanting more and more convenient food products.

Too many families are struggling to survive, right now; and it’s predicted to get worse before it gets better. Before this pandemic, there wasn’t enough time for a lot of people to make things from scratch, as they chose to spend their time on other things. We opened the door for convenient, processed foods in order to save us some time (instead of money), as time suddenly became a more valuable commodity. We still have about 16-18 “waking hours” in our days, every day. At some point, we just started prioritizing them differently – and now we must do it all over again, given our new norms these days.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

‘Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.’Arnold Bennett, English Novelist (b.1867, d.1931)

The ‘high demand’,overhead costs’ and ‘expected profits’ that are added to the prices of ‘convenience’ food products are what kill us at the grocery store check-outs! The lack of real nutrition that’s missing from these manufactured goods are not benefiting our health any either. They’re loaded with unnatural shelf-life stabilizers, none of which are found in homemade groceries, where YOU control the ingredients!

Most of Mom’s cookbooks focused on imitating fast food, junk food and restaurant dishes at home – except for “Book 5”, which deals exclusively with homemade grocery products and “extenders”. This exceptional cookbook includes some principles of canning and freezing foods, as well as making your own mixes, sauces and seasonings at a great financial savings compared to buying them at the store! Although, sometimes, we just can’t financially or physically afford convenience. The concept of homemade was hugely popular once and is, now, making another comeback.

#NationalBeerDay

In honor of National Beer Day, which is tomorrow, the following beer cake recipe was quite a popular choice from among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…14 down, 38 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Radio and the Recipe Detective

Happy Monday! #TGIM – I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances to share my memories of Mom!

In many of my blog entries, when I’ve discussed Mom’s relationship with radio, I have often mentioned one man in particular – Bob Allison. His radio call-in program, “Ask Your Neighbor”, really helped Mom to launch and grow her recipes, cookbooks and newsletter. Last week, I was so saddened to learn that Bob Allison passed away on March 25th.  He will be greatly missed!

Over the decades, Mom and Bob became great friends through his radio show. She wrote about him and his “Ask Your Neighbor” program often in her cookbooks and newsletter issues. He, likewise, promoted her copycat recipes on his show and in his own newsletters too. You can still see Mom’s “free recipes & information” sheets, today, on the AskYourNeighbor.com website at: http://www.askyourneighbor.com/glo.htm

Radio became a solid cornerstone in the foundation of Mom’s building of what she often and lovingly referred to as a cottage enterprise, a dining room table operation and a family business. When it came to promoting her work through radio shows, Bob Allison was the first radio host to offer Mom that opportunity. In fact, as I’ve also mentioned in other blog entries, it was Bob’s “Ask Your Neighbor” audience of listeners who first dubbed Mom the “Recipe Detective” – a name she loved to live up to and, later, trademarked.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

Excerpts written by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pages 54-57)

RADIO AND BOB ALLISON’s ‘ASK YOUR NEIGHBORS!’ SHOW

RADIO turned out to be the most appropriate way by which we made people aware of what we were doing. Again, my involvement with the wonderful world of radio actually came about without any specific intention of becoming a regular part of the broadcasting field.

For one thing, I didn’t know I had what is considered a ‘radio voice’. I had never heard my own voice, at least, recorded. Heaven knows, our five kids will, to this day, even in their adulthood, testify to the fact that, on occasion, during their upbringing, I have 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] nearly 30-year-running ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show. [Feb. 5, 1963] 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 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. To this day [December 1989], almost every Monday morning, I visit with Bob Allison and his neighbors, now [in 1989] heard weekdays at 10 AM (EST) over WEXL-radio (Royal Oak/Detroit, Michigan), 1340 on your AM dial.

Summer 1969 – Cheryl (Loli), Mom, me & Debi – Algonac, MI

When ‘My True Story’ was replaced by Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show, weekday mornings, I was, at first, very disappointed. [Recipes,] 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 two or three 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 could not find the answers 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 then phone in an answer that I occasionally had in reply to one of their questions or recipe requests.

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

Bob did not recognize my voice as a regular caller until I had initiated the newsletter [1974], however. He asked me where the recipe came from that I was giving in reply to one of his listeners requests, which is how his program has always worked. Nobody simply calls in a recipe because they like it. They must, first, be replying to a request made by another caller and, secondly, must have personally tried the recipe.

On rare occasions, Bob will accept a recipe that is NOT tried by the caller, providing it comes from a truly reliable source or has been asked for and not answered for a long time. They also cover services that people are looking for or products that they cannot locate. This is what has always made Bob Allison’s format so unique, when compared to others like it on the air.

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 too 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 perspective subscribers. To this day, we still use the same procedure and it has worked very well. We offer, for a self-addressed stamped envelope, 12-15 sample recipes and, on the other side of the page, all the [ordering] information on our books and newsletter.

The ‘information sheet’…also tells exactly what each costs, including the postage and handling, and has a clear illustration of what the covers of the books are like with an explanation of what each contains. We also have always given a description of the newsletter, which now [1989] comes out every other month.

ADVERTISING WITH BOB Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ radio show, which we later came to do, brought us the kind of audience that made all of the work worthwhile. We had only developed one book at that time. The [ad] spots we bought on his show were quite expensive for our limited budget, but the results were so rewarding that we later even increased the number of spots we took.

As a semi-modernized, yet, somewhat-old-fashioned housewife-turned-homemaker, during the 1970s, amidst the Women’s Lib movement; Mom truly felt extremely blessed to be able to do what she loved most, writing; and be able to do it from home while balancing her many hats as “Mom” and “Wife” and what all those “titles” entailed for her. In those days, as well as being a writer, Mom was also the creator, illustrator, publisher and promoter for her copycat recipes, cookbooks and newsletter. As a family, we all pitched in and helped whenever and wherever needed.

During these unprecedented days of staying home and staying safe, more and more people are now working from home, if they can, and staying out of the public as much as possible. Meanwhile, maintaining social distancing when we have to go out is a must! There has been a substantial increase in the number of people, most of whom are not considered “essential workers”, applying for unemployment because the “non-essential” businesses for which they worked have been forced to close temporarily.

Likewise, there has also been an increase in the number of home-based businesses popping up on “the web”, as those with brick-and-mortar stores that are not considered “essential” to the public’s basic needs were forced to close their doors for a while. They’ve been forced to find other platforms from which to do business so that they can continue to pay their bills. Mom always believed that “whenever a door closes, the good Lord always opens a window.”

Today, as we are forced to shut our doors to the pandemic, trying to flatten the curve, that “window of opportunity” is the world wide web! We are so fortunate to have the internet so readily available to all of us, especially now! I’d, personally, like to give a shout out to Al Gore [@algore] – Thank you for all you did in getting the “Information Superhighway” out to the public! We are blessed!

#NationalTaterDay

In honor of National Tater Day tomorrow, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Au Gratin potatoes, like Bill Knapps used to serve. Another version Mom developed can be found in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018) on page 137; along with the following passage.

This is a unique side dish offered at the Midwestern restaurant chain that was one of our family’s favorites, having originated in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1948. Every selection on their menu was a masterpiece and at very reasonable prices. But, I am absolutely in love with their potato side dish. At home, I attempt to duplicate it this way… [and this truly has been one of our family’s favorites for decades!]

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

#NationalMonthOfHope & #StressAwarenessMonth

April begins in just a couple days! It has been deemed National Month of Hope & National Stress Awareness Month! NationalDayCalendar.com says, “this month, we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.” The website also lists 5 great ways to de-stress if you find yourself overwhelmed by your current situation with this pandemic (or some other situation.)

Shout out, again, to MarcAndAngel.com, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”, that really applies to these current, troubled days that we’re all facing. I found the following excerpt from it especially inspiring:

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt; you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.”

#ThankGodItsMondayDay 

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…13 down, 39 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Homesteading

Happy Monday to all! Mondays are my #52Chances each year! So, #TGIM – because it’s another chance for me to share “Memories of My Mom”!

Homesteading was a big part of our roots. Do you think it will be a big part of our future, too? Over the past century, we’ve all experienced some hard times in our lives at some point, or the fallout from it. Especially our ancestors, who lived through the eras of the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 1930s’ Great Depression, just to name a couple.

These are unprecedented times for us. Everywhere, people are being asked to work from home if they can and consider social distancing, if they can’t; plus, thorough hand washings, often, among other recommendations… No more non-essential travel, gatherings or activities are becoming the new norm for us, while toilet paper and cleaning products are being hoarded beyond need!

We are a society of gatherers and we’re used to our freedom to do so. We take our freedoms for granted, making it so difficult for so many of us to physically separate ourselves from others. However, at least now, we have the internet and things like “Facebook Live” and “Face Time” to continue interacting with others. So, we’re all alone together!

My area, recently, had a run on bread that was quickly followed by a run on yeast, as people are resorting more and more to making their own. Given our current circumstances, I think we’re all going to be trying to learn more about old-fashioned “homesteading” skills now. That’s why, last week, I shared my homemade disinfectant recipe with you, as disinfecting sprays and wipes were also becoming a rare commodity – and, as Mom would say, “because great recipes need to be shared!” (Asking only for proper credit if you do!)

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

This week, if you want to make your own bread and can’t find yeast, I have one of Mom’s wonderful copycat recipes for you at the end of this blog entry. It’s called “Beer Bread” and it’s from page 152 of Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018). The element of yeast is already in the beer and the alcohol content evaporates with the cooking process, creating an awesome bread! (Again, asking only for proper credit if you share it!)

Who would’ve thought that Mom’s original ideas, back in the 1970s, about duplicating famous dishes in our own kitchens and “Eating Out At Home”, as well as creating “Homemade Groceries”, would be so popular, yet again, as restaurants across the country have been closing their dining rooms in an effort to help squash the spread of the Covid-19 virus through gatherings in their establishments.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

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. 4)

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

WE ALL EXPECT life to be good to us – most of the time. That isn’t too much to ask, now, is it? But when things don’t work out the way we had planned or [as we had] hoped… the tendency is there to feel [that] life gave us lemons. The best experiences often come out of the biggest disappointments. So, when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade – turning a ‘let-down’ into a ‘set-up’…

Norman Vincent Peale once said that God never closes a door that he hasn’t opened a window. But the opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity or weary from overwork… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.

To seize every opportunity to express your very best effort is the kind of motivation with which I grew up and have passed on to our five, now-adult, children. When they all lined up for this Memorial Day snapshot [in 1969 (below)], before we left to march in the big parade in beautiful, downtown Algonac; little did we know how beautifully our [lives] would tun out. How little did we know what big challenges would tempt us to give up [and] to succumb to defeat.

Photo by Gloria Pitzer (1970-ish)

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. 40)

‘We must not let the snags overcome us and render our lives a misery instead of a blessing.’ – Gloria Pitzer

THE MIRROR OF LIFE reflects much more than we see. Writer, David Meisel, said, ‘Life itself is a story that only God knows in its entirety.’ In living our own personal story, each one of us must see the need to minimize fear and magnify hope, to minimize anguish and magnify patience. Truth, in its simplicity, proves that we are best served by periodic self-examination – our thought, our internal rules, our face in the mirror; and what we each believe to be true, what we perceive is life lived for good – for others’ good as well as our own.

My mom was a groundbreaking innovator, starting the COPYCAT/HOMEMADE fast food, junk food and famous restaurant dishes concept. She also taught her readers how to stretch food & reinvent leftovers; plus how to make a lot of their own groceries! Her critics thought it was a passing fad that wouldn’t last.

Not only did it last but it also grew by leaps and bounds! Mom created a movement of people wanting to make their own fast food, junk food and grocery products at home. The concept was so contagious that there were many copycats who were copying the ORIGINAL copycat – some were even to the point of plagiarism!

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. 70)

BACK IN 1976, when The Guinness Book of World Firsts included my discovery of re-creating fast foods at home, it was encouraging. They were most concerned about my version of the Colonel’s ‘secret spices’, McDonald’s ‘special sauce’ and Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, which were among the first recipes that I attempted to imitate. I had been warned, however, early on, by critics, skeptics, newspaper reporters who wrote articles about us and even food experts who contacted us, that my ‘Secret Recipes’ would probably be a short-lived venture, as would the fast food industry itself.

FOR THE PAST 17 years [1973-1989], not a day has gone by without a generous amount of mail or phone calls, expressing an enthusiastic interest in what our family has been doing with the recipes we’ve developed and published, as a kitchen table enterprise. Under the able direction of my husband, Paul, and his full-time management, we have gone from a hand-operating mimeograph machine in our laundry room, to a full-fledged office – staff and all – back, again, to the simplicity of [home and] a two-person operation.

We like it best this way, and we’ve had it all – the sophisticated and expensive means by which we would distribute and publicize our books and newsletter to the exclusiveness of working with radio. I have been invited to do videotapes for TV and VCRs but the filming of our recipes, I have learned, is not as essential to the success of using them, as the critics have insisted. This is proven true through our lending our work, without charge, to the Braille Institute and Books for the Blind, Talking Books. The conversational way in which our recipes are presented, makes a picture unnecessary!

Mom always felt blessed for being able to work from home, doing what she loved most – writing! She often said that she made a living from her writing, but it was the writing that made it all worthwhile! Whenever I sit down to write anything for this blog, I have to say, it certainly feels like the best part of my day!

I love that I can do this blog from home (or anywhere, for that matter)! Unfortunately, it doesn’t make a living for me – not yet, at least. Meanwhile, my “paying job” is considered part of the “essential services” workforce that has been allowed to remain working because it provides a service for the grocery and pharmacy stores’ support systems.

My work takes me all over, to various stores in my county; thus, when I have to work, I remain conscious of my surroundings and practice all the recommended hygiene and disinfecting guidelines. I also try to keep my social distance from others and stay out of close/confined public areas, whenever possible. I don’t want to contract the virus, nor be a carrier of it. But, unfortunately, the bills don’t stop coming in because of this 2020 virus pandemic and they still need to be paid.

BEER BREAD By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018; p. 152)

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, beaten

12-ounce can Busch Light beer

Instructions:

Mix the flour and sugar together with a fork and set aside. Beat the egg and beer together in an accommodating cup. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquid. Mix it only until all dry particles have been moistened, like a muffin batter should be mixed. Do not over-beat! Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350°F for about 30 to 35 minutes or until you can insert a thin wooden skewer through the center to the bottom of the pan and remove it without any traces of wet batter. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Wipe top of loaf with melted butter and dust lightly with sugar. Slice when cooled.

NOTE: If the bread appears to fall or sink while cooling, it means you didn’t bake it long enough. If it’s heavy and moist, it means you over-beat it. If it turns out dry and crumbly, it means you didn’t beat it enough – so don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the recipe has only 4 ingredients that you can slap it together and have it turn out beautifully. Combine ingredients with care!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

#NationalStressAwarenessMonth & #StressAwarenessMonth

April is just around the corner and it’s considered National Month of Hope & National Stress Awareness month! Why not “Spring forward” and start observing it today – because, as NationalDayCalendar.com says, “this month, we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.” The website also lists 5 great ways to “de-stress” if you find yourself overwhelmed by your current situation with this pandemic or some other situation.

Shout out to MarcAndAngel.com at https://www.marcandangel.com/2015/02/25/7-ways-to-stay-strong-when-everything-goes-wrong/, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”, that really applies to these current, troubled days that we’re all facing! I found the following excerpt from it especially inspiring:

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt; you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.”

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. 12 down, 40 to go!

 

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