Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Food for Thought

Happy Monday everyone! Welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom by Laura (Pitzer) Emerich.

This is a weekly blog series that I began 8 months ago to honor the legacy of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM and founder of Secret RecipesTM. My mom investigated the alleged mysteries and furtive formulas of the food industry, and discovered how to imitate their famous, popular products and dishes at home!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Mom was becoming known, world-wide, for busting the mysteries behind making fast food and junk food fare at home! She reasoned that she could take the junk out of junk food if she controlled the ingredients that went into the cuisine in the first place. Mom developed thousands of recipes, imitating the trendy menu choices from many popular chain and fine-dining restaurants, in addition to well-liked, shelf-stable grocery products!

All of these recipes she put into over 35 of her self-published cookbooks and her hundreds of newsletter issues; sandwiching in snippets of satirical humor and caricature illustrations, household hints, “food for the heart and soul” commentaries, her timeless Food for Thought and No Laughing Matter editorials and background/historical information on various companies, chefs, products or dishes as well.

Those are the kinds of things that made Mom’s cookbooks stand out from all the rest, back then; besides being the first to pioneer the copycat recipes movement and carve out such a unique niche, as to capture the public, the critics and the food industry by storm! Each of Mom’s cookbooks and newsletters were designed to be just as much of a coffee table or bedside table read as it was a collection of recipes for the kitchen!

Food for Thought and No Laughing Matter were the titles of two of the news columns that Mom wrote in the late 1960s through the late 1970s, for local newspapers and syndications across the country. Other columns Mom wrote included Pitzer’s Patter and Cookbook Corner. As I’ve mentioned previously, there was also a series of humorous and satirical cartoon panels that Mom drew for The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI) in the late 1960s and early 1970s called Full House as kept by Gloria Pitzer. I’ve been including pictures of some of the panels (as well as Mom’s other illustrations) in many of my blogs.

Photo by Laura Emerich

It seems that Mom’s cartoon panels, either, inspired or were inspired by the various subject matters of her columns. Like the chicken and the egg analogy – I’m not sure which came first (as some are not dated but matched in subject matter). Food for Thought is also part of the title of one of Mom’s few self-published books that were not cookbooks. In fact, Mom called it This is not a Cookbook – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986)!

Mom was always keenly aware that sustenance for our brains (aka: brain food, information, food for the mind or Food for Thought) is just as important for our well-being as are food for the soul and food for the body – as each of us are the sum of mind, body and soul! But, there was not a single cookbook on the market that could give all of that to the readers…not until Mom’s cookbooks came along, that is!

According to UrbanDictionary.com, Food for Thought means: “Learning new information that you never thought was important to think about. It enables you to have a greater intelligence in every aspect of life while feeding your mind.”

Similarly, Merriam-Webster.com says Food for Thought is “something that should be thought about or considered carefully.” Likewise, Dictionary.com declares, besides being “an idea or issue to ponder”, Food for Thought is also a “…metaphoric phrase, transferring the idea of digestion from the stomach to mulling something over in the mind…”; adding that it “dates from the late 1800s, although the idea was also expressed somewhat differently at least three centuries earlier.”

That last little tidbit of information was news to me! Is it to you? Anyway, the moral is that we should follow a well-balanced diet of brain food, as well as soul and body foods, on a daily basis, in order to be truly (and literally) fit from head to toe!

#OneSizeDoesNotFitAll

Speaking of “diet”, earlier in March, I wrote two blogs about dieting, food-choices, lifestyle changes and losing weight. Since then, I’ve been saving bits and pieces of ideas, or Food for Thought, on dieting about which I wanted to write further in a future blog. Now, it’s time to revisit the subject, answering the questions – “What diet will work for me?” and “What is BMI?”

As for “What diet will work for me?” There are so many diets out there, and all are as individual as are we! Thus, everyone considering dieting should do their research and feed their brain with information first; but, beware – not all of them are legitimate or safe! Nor, are they all a “one-size-fits-all” approach, from which to simply pick one and run with it! So, first, be informed; but, also, do so by reliable sources!

The U.S. News recently identified 41 of the best and most popular diets, assessing their target audiences as well. You can find a lot of brain food (aka: information) about the different diets on these two links: https://health.usnews.com/best-diet and https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/best-diets-overall. In addition, before starting any such endeavor, consult your doctor for recommendations also!

As for “What is BMI?” AND why we should know more about it or should we even be concerned with it at all? Just the other day, I saw a report on my local news show’s health segment about this very thing! Hence, I wanted to include this link at http://www.fox2detroit.com/health/stepping-on-the-scale-can-be-scary-but-we-can-t-ignore-the-number-it-shows for you, as the report contained a full course meal of great information to consume without the worry of counting its calorie, fat or carbohydrate contents!

We all have certain numbers that the health experts say we should know. One such number is called BMI (Body Mass Index), which is generally calculated (using the metric system) by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height. Most medical professionals will tell you that a generally calculated BMI below 18.5 can indicate conditions of being underweight, signaling that you could be malnourished or have some other underlying medical condition.

On the other hand, if the BMI is in the range of 25-29.9, it indicates being overweight; while any score of 30 or more is considered to be obese. BMI numbers in the higher ranges are indicative of being at risk for possible, future metabolic diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease – even type 2 diabetes is within the realm of indicators. BMI is considered the most common measurement for identifying the obesity level.

Believers in the BMI formula feel it is important because of its widely accepted indicators for one’s chances, of having a longer and healthier life, being more favorable if the number is in the so-called “healthy range” of 18.5-24.9. A large body of research supports the idea that people with higher BMIs are more prone to a number of health-related complications. Additionally, experts found that being overweight or obese at middle-age (about 40) is associated with a significantly increased risk of dying prematurely.

Regardless, critics of the BMI formula claim that the formula doesn’t paint an accurate picture because it doesn’t consider other variables of our body make-up such as our activity level, gender, age and race. In addition, it does not distinguish between weight attributed by muscle mass and that which comes from fat, as the latter is lighter than the former. Consequently, someone with more muscle mass than fat mass will have a deceptively higher BMI number.

Additionally, BMI is not always accurate in the elderly either, because these people often have LESS muscle and bone mass than do younger subjects. So, the build and activity level of a woman age 55-60 years old and in menopause, for example, does not (and cannot) compare to the build and activity level of a woman who is 25-30 years old, let alone to men in the same age brackets. Plus, there are inherited biological differences among the various races that can also impact the BMI method!

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

This is Day 62 of my new low-carb (Atkins-like) life-style that I started on the first day of spring. I changed my eating habits and choices and aimed to keep my carbohydrate intake within a 20- to 25-gram target area. I stay completely away from certain carbohydrate sources, such as potatoes, legumes, rice, pasta, breads and sweets…as well as anything else made with flour/sugar. Having hypoglycemia (but not diabetes), this low-carb life-style is good for me, anyway; since my body doesn’t process those types of carbs properly, causing sudden drops in my blood-sugar levels.

So far, I’ve lost about 22 pounds! I had been losing about 3 pounds per week, on average! But, for the last week or two, I seem to have hit a “plateau”. Admittedly, I have yet to add any REGULAR exercise regimen into my already busy days – maybe, because I hate to exercise! Thus, I’ve procrastinated at re-prioritizing things that take up my time in order to make room for exercise, by mis-associating being busy with being active and thinking it can wait. But, sitting and typing at my computer (when I’m not earning a part-time paycheck) are not big calorie burning activities – not even close!

Healthfully.com claims that a 185-pound person will burn about 61 calories sitting at a computer and typing for 30 minutes. Using their calculations, I found that I burn about 130 calories per hour when I’m working on my blogs and this website, even when I’m pinning on Pinterest or posting on my various social media accounts.

However, there’s also a great calorie-burning chart at NutriStrategy.com, where I found that weeding and cultivating my garden this weekend burned about 393 calories per hour for someone my size – and I spent three hours in my vegetable garden getting most of my transplanting completed before it began to rain and storm!

About the only other kind of exercise regimen that I don’t mind doing, besides gardening, is walking! It’s about 1.7 miles around my “block” and it takes me about 30 minutes to walk it at a brisk, 3.5 MPH stride. My 30-minute “brisk” walks burn about 166 calories, given my size, according to NutriStrategy’s chart. I just don’t do it regularly or often enough. Below is a picture I made of information, or Food for Thought,  I assembled about what to do if you’re on a weight loss plateau.

#NationalBurgerMonth, #NationalSalsaMonth and #NationalSaladMonth

In closing, for all of you food-lovers out there, I’d like to add that May is host to many food celebrations, including National Hamburger Month, National Salsa Month and National Salad Month – 3 celebrations that, together, make up a great food-for-the-body taco salad! Even though the National Hamburger Month celebration is focused on the sandwich-style “burger”. I would just grind up my seasoned, grilled “burger”, since I can’t have bread/buns anyway, and toss it together with some homemade salsa (see Mom’s recipe below) and shredded lettuce; topping it with some grated cheddar-jack cheese, sliced black olives, and a sprinkling of finely chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and onions to create a marvelous, low-carb taco salad that can also be served on/in a low-carb tortilla.

The following is a picture of Mom’s mild salsa imitation, inspired by Chi Chi’s. This recipe title was one of the original “free” recipes offered on this website before my brother passed the website on to me to cultivate for our Mom’s legacy. However, I don’t know if this was the same version offered then as the recipes didn’t transfer to my site host. The version below is not in her last cookbook, as it was not in Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (1983 edition), from which that one was rewritten. But, I did find this version (below) in The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990, p. 45)… as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – A Rose by Another Name

Happy Monday to all and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom! I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful, memory-making Mother’s Day yesterday!

I’m Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started these blogs last September to channel the memories I have of my mom and how she impacted my life – as well as the lives of so many others the world over. I’m one of five children of the trailblazing pioneer who originated the copycat recipe movement, as my mom is Gloria Pitzer; aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator of Secret RecipesTM. As such, my inherited love for writing, which came from my mom’s genes, took me on this incredible journey, down a new and diverse path of blogging to honor her legacy.

In the back, left to right, is Cheryl, Debbie, me & our dad…In front, left to right, is Lady (under the table), Bill and Mike. Pitzer family photographed by Gloria Pitzer, March 1973

TheRecipeDetective.com website was originated by my brother, Mike, years ago to help bring our parents’ Secret RecipesTM business into the digital age, on the internet. I remember when Mom got her first computer…she tried to learn how to operate it, even just to get into her email; but, she was too frustrated by the new technology and ended up giving the computer to one of her grandkids, who new what to do with it. Mike managed the website and email until he passed it on to me last summer, because I wanted to start these blogs about our mom, in tribute to her legacy!

Mom passed away over a year ago – in January of 2018. Shortly before her passing, Mom’s last cookbook was published by Balboa Press. I worked, together, with Mom for over two years to write it. It’s actually a rewrite of Mom’s favorite self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (May 1983, 3rd Printing), freshly formatted and somewhat updated for a new, digital generation. The writing/rewriting collaboration put our mother-daughter relationship on a whole new level.

In the process of publishing the new/old cookbook through Balboa Press, they REQUIRED us to change the book’s title (or they wouldn’t publish it) because it too closely resembled the title of another cookbook by the famous Betty Crocker! It was supposed to! Regardless, I failed to get through to the publishers that the whole premise of the entire cookbook was a parody of IMITATIONS, from the title of the book, Better Cookery Cookbook v. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, to the recipes, themselves – Hopeless Twinkles, for example, is similar to Hostess Twinkies; and Wednesday’s Chili sounds similar to Wendy’s, the fast food chain.

Balboa suggested calling the new book Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook, but that wasn’t good enough for Mom and I. Thus, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places – the Best of the Recipe Detective”, grudgingly became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – the Best of the Recipe Detective, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places” remaining. I suppose, contrary to Charles Colton’s famous quote, imitation isn’t always considered flattering!

As a matter of fact, there were a lot of food companies that were totally offended by a small-town homemaker, not only imitating their products in her own kitchen, but also naming her recipes to sound like theirs! As well as, sharing her recipes with the public, so they could also “eat out, at home!” Many companies complained of copyright infringements and threatened her with lawsuits, but none of them actually took her to court. One company, however, started an ad campaign, using a 1970s, stereotype housewife with a claim that even she can’t make their product at home!

Stouffers’ and Orange Julius’ attorneys were among the worst of the top 10 complainers in that offended category. Continuously, the Orange Julius people threatened Mom with lawsuits regarding one of her “Original 200” make-alike recipes, “Orange Judas”, as found (in 3 versions) on page 6 of her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurants Recipes Book (Jan. 1977). In fact, neither company liked it when Mom AND the media referred to her recipes’ finished products as being like their products, nor did they want her recipes’ names to sound anything like their own products’ names.

Mom renamed her “Orange Judas” recipe a number of times, and still couldn’t appease that company! Regardless of their lawsuit threats, she finally settled on “Orange Brutus” for the recipe’s name. In a way, Mom turned that “lemon into lemonade”, so to speak; since, as she promoted it, “Brutus was the one who ‘did in’ Julius!” [See Mom’s recipe at the end of this blog.]

All the fights between the companies saying she infringed on their copyrights and Mom wanting to pursue her right to create her own homemade versions and promote them, just spurred her on all the more! She felt that, if all of these companies’ attorneys were persistently huffing and puffing to blow her house down, she must be on the right path and she must have gotten pretty close with her imitations too!

On the other hand, some food companies, such as White Castle and Sanders Chocolates, were honored by Mom’s efforts at flattery by imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey and General Foods corporations happened to be a slight mixture of both. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe titles, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups” and “Shape & Bake”, for they too closely resembled their trademark names, “Reese’s” and “Shake & Bake”, as to cause confusion between the products; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.

To the Hershey corporation, Mom explained the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat); she also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s chocolate in the recipe. In the original version of this recipe, Mom used Nestle’s brand and noted not to substitute on the brand. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer.

Mom also worked with the General Foods corporation, changing the title of her coating mix to “Shook & Cook”, with which General Foods was, likewise, pleased. Mom had sent General Foods a copy of an editorial page from her newest cookbook (at that time), The Joy of NOT Cooking…Anymore than You have To (1983). In the editorial, Simple Reproductions, Mom wrote about her recipe imitations and their effect on certain “big” companies, comparing her opposite encounters with General Foods’ attorneys and Stouffers’ attorneys.

Gloria Pitzer, the Recipe DetectiveTM

General Foods was pleased with Mom’s editorial compliments on their helpful approach and even offered Mom complete cooperation at any time with any of their products that she used as ingredients in her recipes. As Mom said in the editorial, “now that’s a BIG company – big in spirit and in customer relations. I purchase all of their products as often as I possibly can to show my approval of their efforts not to alienate a customer.” Unlike Stouffer’s hammer approach, General Foods took a scalpel approach to reach a remedy that could benefit, both, them and Mom.1 There was no problem with the recipe Mom presented as an imitation of their product, they just wanted a different title for it to protect their trademarks and copyrights.

As I wrote about in an earlier blog, ImitationMerriam-Webster.com says that imitation means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…” and Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” Thus, Mom often referred to herself as “the Rich Little of recipes”. Rich Little was a famous, stand-up comedian and extremely good imitator of celebrity voices; while Mom was a comedic writer and cartoonist, as well as an imitator of “famous foods from famous places”!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I found it ironic – and still do – that over the years, since Mom officially started her Secret RecipesTM enterprise in 1973, so many people have imitated her, the ORIGINAL famous foods imitator. It’s a niche Mom originally carved out in the early 1970s. But, not all of those who have followed since have given Mom the appropriate credit due her for being the original sleuth to uncover the supposed secrets of the food industry, imitating the “famous foods from famous places” at home! Kudos to those who have given Mom the proper credit, though!

In other news…

#Women’sCheckupDay

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, among some of the national celebrations taking place right now, today is National Women’s Checkup Day! According to the website, there are five healthy habits “they” recommend women do to improve their well-being… (1) maintain regular checkups, (2) be physically active, (3) stick to a healthy diet, (4) don’t smoke and (5) follow general safety rules. Use #Women’sCheckupDay to post your tribute to women’s health on social media.

#NationalStrawberryMonth

In addition, for foodies and gardeners, alike, NationalDayCalendar.com says that May is also National Strawberry Month! The website suggests that, to observe the holiday, you could visit a “pick-your-own” strawberry farm (or go to your local farmers’ market), plant a few strawberry plants of your own (or in a community garden) and/or prepare a recipe that uses strawberries. The website also gives a few links to some good strawberry recipes.

However, I have a great recipe for you, here, with a strawberry alternative! As discussed above, this famous frozen drink imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the beginning of her self-publishing business in 1973, as it’s one of her “Original 200” recipes. It has appeared in several of her cookbooks, in a few different versions and under a few different names; but, all of which Mom personally created. This form (pictured below) can currently be found in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

NOTE: Mom’s strawberry version of this Brutus drink appeared in her cookbook, The Three-In-One Book of Less Fat and Sugar & Best Bread Recipes (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 11), which is no longer in print, but used copies may be found on Amazon or eBay. This strawberry version calls for 7-Up or Faygo Red Pop and a strawberry Kool-Aid type of drink powder instead of the orange juice or Tang ingredients that some of her other versions include. I posted one of those other versions in a previous blog, Recipes and Radio, back in November of last year.

The cookbook also offers a version of just the “powdered mix” to jar up and mix, by tablespoonful, with individual glasses of your own chosen liquid. Mom’s recipes were often quite flexible in this way, as she recognized (having 5 children and a husband to feed) that a lot of peoples’ tastes vary, and good recipes should be able to accommodate such taste variances.

1 References to scalpel and hammer are from a former television show, Person of Interest (Season 3, episode 12), when Shaw says, “There’s a time for a scalpel and a time for a hammer. It’s hammer time!”

2 The earliest written form I can find of this proverb is a reference by William Shakespeare, in his 1600 play, As You Like It, when Rosalind asks, “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”

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

Happy Monday, to all, and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom!

I’m Laura Emerich and this collection of blogs is dedicated to the legacy of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, whom the world knows as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM – pioneer and innovator, carving out the original niche for the ‘copycat recipes movement’. However, Mom has rarely ever received credit for its inception – other than a mention of it in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first to recreate “fast foods” at home! When I searched for the term, ‘copycat recipes movement’, on Bing, I received 1,360,000 results – and Google brought me about 1,520,000 results! If that’s not a movement, what is?

Another search on Bing, for “Gloria Pitzer”, brought me about 92,300 results – seems there’s an attorney by the same name! When I searched for Mom’s name, on Google, there was an amazing 247,000 results! Regardless of what Todd Wilbur would have you think; long story, short… he actually got his start in the copycat recipes movement by ordering a copy of my mom’s cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes, in April 1989 and, then, proceeding to copy and even plagiarize my mom’s recipes; basically, passing her story off as his own!

Eventually, Wilbur may have developed some of his own copycat recipes that were different from my mom’s – unless he was also plagiarizing other people’s work as well! Check out this great 2002 article about Mom, including the updated end response from a reader, about Todd Wilbur stealing from Mom, at https://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2002/aug/15/how-can-i-enjoy-big-mac-without-actually-leaving-h/#

#GloriaPitzer, #SecretRecipes, #RecipeDetective

Mom and Phil Donahue, 1993

The title to this week’s post, Mother, May I?, just kind of came to me as I sat down at my keyboard. In part, because it’s May; but, also, because Mother’s Day is coming up in less than a week. So, I wanted to write a special tribute for my mom, as well as for all mothers, since they are our first and most influential impression – nurturing us, teaching us and molding who we become as adults, ourselves.

Out of curiosity, I searched Bing for “What can be learned from ‘Mother May I’?” I know it develops interpersonal skills, as well as enforces good manners, but what else… Ironically, I found an interesting article called What We Can Learn From The Game ‘Mother May I’ [Margaret’s Message For May] by Gerry Gavin (May 05, 2016). The website describes the author thusly…

Gerry Gavin is the Author of ‘If You Could Talk to an Angel‘ and ‘Messages from Margaret.‘ He hosts a weekly radio show on Hay House Radio, where he channels the angel Margaret, bringing down-to-earth angelic advice to the world. Here is this month’s life changing advice for the readers of HealYourLife.com.

Given my mom’s faith in God, she would call this happenstance a “meant to be”, as Hay House also happens to be the parent company of Balboa Press, the publishers of Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Jan. 2018). That book is, basically, a re-write (by me, for Mom) of her favorite, self-published cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; 1982).

Mom and I collaborated on the new edition for over 2 years – such as what to keep and what to leave out, since some information was obsolete for the new digital generation that was going to be able to enjoy it as an eBook 35 years later, as well as for those who still like the traditional, hard-copy book. The collaboration lead me and my mom to see each other in a new and even more creative way than ever before. Anyway, out of that rabbit hole…

Mother’s Day is May 12th!

Our last Mother’s Day with Mom, at Cheryl’s place in 2017. Left-to-right: my mom (Gloria Pitzer), my sister (Cheryl), our oldest daughter (Tara), her son (Gage), me, my husband (Dave) and our youngest daughter (Patti). The photo was taken by our oldest son (Paul).

Please allow me to repeat myself as I boasted previously, in my first blog, A Legacy of Love, about Mom…

Over the years, [she] personally inspired me in so many ways…as a writer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook, mother, teacher… How she managed to juggle all of these same hats with a husband and 5 kids, for which to take care, always amazed me…

[Mom’s] taste buds and culinary skills, combined with her creative writing skills and sarcastic sense of humor, developed into their own super power… she found a niche that people wanted – “eating out at home”, she called it – and she set to work, discovering how to mimic fast food & restaurant dishes at home; as well as, shelf-stable grocery items. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too…

                                                                                  

She was a trailblazer… writing her own [copycat] recipes and marketing her talents through newspapers, magazines, local television talk shows…but, especially through radio talk shows. For nearly 40 years she was a regular on a few local [Southeastern Michigan] radio talk shows such as ‘Ask Your Neighbor’, hosted by Bob Allison on WWJ-Radio, which still airs out of the Detroit area today and ‘Listen to the Mrs.’, which is still hosted by Art Lewis on WSGW-Radio in Saginaw, MI… Mom did radio shows all over the country – mostly by phone, from the comfort of home.

I wish I had half of my mom’s talents in marketing! However, I do have her drive to learn! I also share her passion for writing, although I’ve never kept daily journals like Mom. I love her so much and I’m eternally grateful for all she has taught me and given me throughout my life (along with my dad, but his day comes next month!) Furthermore, Mom continues to teach and give to me, even from beyond – not only through my memories of her, which writing these weekly blogs strongly inspires, but also through all of her self-published and marketed writings, artwork and recipes – about which I’ve been writing for almost 8 months, now, and will continue to do so for as long as I’m able!

This may not make sense to someone who hasn’t lost their mother, but I feel that the more I read and re-read her work, the more I feel like I’m “with her” again. I know Mom’s always with me…but, I don’t feel like I’m always with her until I delve into all of her works…the way I felt even closer to her when I was working on the re-write of her Better Cookery Cookbook.

The best I can do, to pay tribute to my mom…and the best way any one can pay tribute to their mom, as well, is to pay it forward – all that she’s sacrificed, given and taught – passing it on to the next generation and hoping they do the same is the best any of us can do! Nowadays, like Mom did in her writings, I want to bring “my readers” a smile and a laugh, as well as bits of knowledge (Mom always said I should “learn something new everyday!”). Also, I want to pass on all the memories, traditions and teachings that my mom gave me, hoping it benefits someone in some way as much as it has me, even if it’s only an added smile to their day!

I, too, would like to know why pickles (and so many other odd things) are honored for a whole week, while mothers (our givers-of-life) only get one day to be honored! Mothers, all around us, are the most influential and compelling people, the world over – not only in how they impact our own personal lives, but also in how they diligently apply themselves to positively impact the world!

#NationalMothersMonth

We should all honor our mothers and fathers regardless of the day…always! However, this Sunday, go over and above that to honor your mother most importantly! This should be National Mother’s Month! We should start a campaign… #NationalMothersMonth! According to the United Nations Foundation, they “know how important mothers are in promoting prosperity, success, and growth in communities around the world.” They also give us 5 important things to remember on Mother’s Day – check it out on the blog at unfoundation.org!

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

In wrapping up, since May is also National Stroke Awareness Month, I‘d like to re-mention that Mom’s love for writing and journaling helped her, to some degree, in dealing with the dementia, from which she suffered, following a double stroke and grand mal seizure in 2015. The love she held for writing was as much a form of therapy for Mom’s memories as it was just a natural reflex for her to relax, reflect and meditate. A lot of what Mom wrote about was regarding finding the blessings in any given day or moment; good and bad, alike. That’s just how she was raised, being grateful everyday – not just for Life’s gifts, but also for Life’s challenges that she confronted and overcame, empowering her to do more rather than discouraging her to fail. Failure was never an option her faith would allow in!

#StrokeAwarenessDay

Mom penned her feelings and memories in journals for most of her life. My younger sister, Cheryl, has all of Mom’s journals that still exist. Some were lost or destroyed over the years. But, Mom also recorded a lot of her feelings and memories in all of her publications too. Over the past year, since Mom went to her heavenly realm, I have really enjoyed re-reading all of her “Food for Thought” memories that are sprinkled throughout her cookbooks and newsletters, of the copies I have. I still use all my books of Mom’s – all the time!

Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s “free” recipes with each one. During Mom’s over-40-year era as the Recipe DetectiveTM, she promoted her business by offering (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free sample recipes, along with information on how to order her currently available (at that time) products…cookbooks, newsletters, bulletins and more! The sheets changed every so often over the years; as the product offerings changed so did some of the free sample recipes.

I thought I had recently exhausted all the “free” recipes from Mom’s information sheets, of which I have copies; but, I found more!!! I still continue to work on updating the Recipes tab on this website with all the recipes that used to be on here before my brother transferred it to me last year. Plus, I’m adding all of these “free sample recipes”, which I’ve been posting in my blogs, from Mom’s ordering information sheets over the years.

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, here is a photocopy of one of Mom’s favorite recipes; her famous “Little Seizure Pizza”, which can be found in many of her cookbooks, including on page 79 of her last one, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, which available for sale through the publisher, Balboa Press at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252, as well as in eBook form at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253.

This pizza imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the inception of her Secret RecipesTM business in 1972-1973. It’s one of the “Original 200” recipes that Mom created to imitate the highly sought-after fast-food and junk-food products, launching her famous career as the Recipe DetectiveTM. This version was found in a media promotion that Mom sent out in 1983…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

 

 

 

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

Greetings! Welcome to my blog home, Mondays & Memories of My Mom! My name is Laura Emerich and these blogs are dedicated to the memory of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, because she left behind such an incredible legacy when she went to be an angel last year.

Most knew her as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator AND imitator of the food industry’s “secrets” behind the well-known products and dishes from famous companies and franchise chains like Olive Garden, Olga’s, Applebee’s, TGIF, Ruby Tuesday, Bob Evans, Big Boy Restaurants, Chi-Chi’s, Cracker Barrel, KFC, Wendy’s, White Castle, McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Sanders, Famous Amos, Mrs. Field’s, Kraft, Heinz, Nabisco, Keebler, Sara Lee… and the list goes on!

I’ve been writing these blogs on a weekly basis since last September, to channel the many wonderful memories I have of my mom and, also, to share her astonishing legacy – her special story – with a new, digital generation. Like Mom, I’ve always loved to write. One of my youngest memories are of Mom & I, when she was first teaching me how to write my name. I was going on 4 years old and about to start Kindergarten that fall. Mom sparked my love for writing, which she stoked in me throughout my life.

Mom left her mark on many from her over 60-year writing career, to her famous Secret RecipesTM profession to her personal loves of faith, family and life; all of which she always found a way to intermix in her creations, like the ingredients of a great recipe.

My mom’s first and last love (besides my dad) was with writing. She had always loved to write short stories and poetry since she was a young girl, as did I. She told me many stories of how she dreamed of writing “the great American novel” when she was a teenager. But, Mom’s childhood dream never came to fruition, as events in life took her in a slightly different direction with writing.

As a teenager and young adult in the 1950s and 1960s, she entered and won multiple contests, on radio shows and in magazines, usually winning cash or some sort of prize for her essays. However, every winning achievement that Mom had in authoring, usually included food in some manner.

Mom was creatively gifted, not just as a writer, but also as a publisher, advertiser/marketer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook… and the list just goes on. Combined with a clever and satirical wit, all these ingredients uniquely formed Mom’s own special recipe for success – like a “super-power”! (FYI – yesterday was National Super Hero Day!)

Similar to stand-up comedians, Mom found her ‘family life’ to be the best source on which to base her cleverly witted cartoon panels and stories. In the course of her syndicated writing of “food-for-thought-and-table” columns, Mom found a unique niche that her readers wanted – even if the newspapers’ editors and their food industry advertisers didn’t.

Mom called it “eating out at home”! She set out to discover how to imitate the popular fast food & fine dining dishes in her own kitchen; as well as, some shelf-stable grocery items too. If it saved her household money, my mom wanted to share it with the world to help others save money also. Mom was a trail-blazer and pioneer for copycat cuisine, as no one else was doing this – imitating the fast food and junk food dishes/products that people craved, but critics constantly warned us were unhealthy!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

From 1973 through 2004, Mom wrote and self-published hundreds of newsletters and at least 40 books filled with not only thousands of these “secret” recipe imitations that she personally developed and tested, but also with her humorous stories and anecdotes, helpful kitchen and household tips, as well as some background or history about many of the companies and products being imitated.

Mom put so much love and passion into the recipes she developed and wrote, testing them over and over again (which was a labor of love all its own) until she felt they were good enough to share. In addition, Mom found that by promoting the making of these “taboo” foods at home, it gave the cook control over the ingredients that went into the recipes; thereby, debunking the “junk” to which the critics referred!

Her food-for-thought editorials were always written from her heart, with a devotion and hunger for helping and informing her readers, as well as entertaining them. Mom designed each of her books and newsletters, to be as much a coffee-table or bedside-table read as it was a recipe collection for the kitchen. No other such products on the market, at that time, could do that and Mom’s compositions took the monotony out of meal time!

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

Additionally, more of Mom’s memories about writing are in the following excerpts from of her own story, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, (Balboa Press; January 2018, pp. 292-297). This book was actually a re-write by me of Mom’s favorite and most famous, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Printing):

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

… I met my husband, Paul… We started dating and one year later we were married. That was 1956. Bill was born over a year later and, then, Mike came 20 months after that, and Debbie came along 20 months after that. I lost 3 babies in the next 3 years, but Laura was born in 1964 and Cheryl came 20 months after that.

That reminds me of one summer in my teen years, as our family was traveling on vacation to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH – during the long, 3-hour drive, Mom sat in the back of the van with me and helped me work on a poem that I was inspired to write about her and our family. Another cherished memory! I’ll include the poem at the end of this blog. But, for now, here is the continuation of Mom’s memories about writing…

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

I put a lot of miles on that $39.95 machine – I designed a column for weekly newspapers and mailed out samples to over 300 newspapers. Within a year, I had acquired 60 regular papers for my ‘No Laughing Matter’ column and another column I called ‘Minding the Hearth’. Columbia Features in New York offered me a contract, and, for a year, I allowed them to syndicate the column in competition with a new humorist, Erma Bombeck! (Right church, wrong pew for me!)

When Columbia Features and I parted company…within 6 months I had regained all my original papers and was syndicating the column from our dining room table…I rode a bike to and from the Pearl Beach post office every day, where I mailed out my columns and looked for responses to ads I had placed… for [my] recipes on 4×6” cards that enabled you to imitate famous dishes at home.

1972 advertisement that Mom designed and mailed out regularly, to papers’ and magazines’ editors, for syndication.

At the suggestion… that I should put all my column’s recipes into a book, I wrote my 1st edition called ‘The Better Cooker’s Cookbook’ [1973]. In less than a month, I had sold 1000 copies. I wasn’t satisfied with the book, so I didn’t reprint it – but, decided that it might work out better if I could do those recipes monthly…I put together my 1st issue of what came to be my ‘Secret Recipe Report’, a newsletter that… brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry.

It was a perfect storm – from the unique subject matter of her books and newsletters to the media exposure of them through radio, newspapers, magazines and TV – which, all together, brought about Mom’s fame as the Recipe DetectiveTM.

I’m currently working on a time line of her appearances and interviews to add to this website’s tabs, gathering most of the information through her books, newsletters and other works as best as I can. However, I haven’t decided on a title for the new tab yet. I’m also still working on updating the “Recipes” tab with more of Mom’s creations. Before closing, here is the poem I mentioned above:

The poem, on which Mom helped me in 1979; along with a cartoon panel she drew in 1969!

Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s recipes with each one. For the 35-plus years that Mom “worked her business”, she offered (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free recipes, along with information on how to order her currently available (at that time) self-published cookbooks; as well as how to subscribe to her newsletter.

I’ve recently exhausted all the recipes from the information sheets of which I have copies. However, this website, originally developed by my brother, Michael Pitzer (for internet exposure to our parents and their Secret RecipesTM business), used to offer other “free” recipes that Mom authorized; some of which weren’t on those information sheets.

Since my brother transferred the website to me, with which to carry on Mom’s legacy through these blogs, I’ve been working on updating the “Recipes” tab to include all the free recipes that were on the site to begin with (as they didn’t transfer to the new host), as well as the ones on Mom’s information sheets. It’s taking some time because I only have a printed list of the original 34 recipe titles that were offered on the website. As times change, so do some companies’ recipes; thus, Mom has had a few different versions of some of her recipes. I’ve found almost half of the original list so far. Stay tuned for more updates!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The following recipe may not be the same one that used to show for free on this website before last September, but this is the recipe I found for the same or similar title – as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:

Olive Garden-Style Alfredo Fettucine

By Gloria Pitzer, from My Personal Favorites (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 19)

Ingredients:

8-oz cream cheese, in bits

¾ c grated Parmesan

8 TB butter

½ c milk

1-lb box fettucine, prepared as box instructs

Instructions:

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

#NationalShrimpScampiDay

For all of you shrimp-loving foodies out there, this happens to be National Shrimp Scampi Day! Shrimp Scampi was one of Mom’s many favorite dishes at Olive Garden. It goes awesome with her imitation of their Alfredo Fettucine, as given above! The National Day Calendar website has a link to a great shrimp scampi recipe by Elise Bauer on “Simply Recipes”. Enjoy making this wonderful dish, along with the pasta, for dinner to celebrate the day and use #NationalShrimpScampiDay to post about it on social media.

P.S.

#NationalGardeningMonth

This week also brings an end to National Gardening Month. So, as we come from celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day last week, now it’s Stewardship Week – one of the world’s largest conservation-related observances… this year’s theme is “Life In the Soil: Dig Deeper.” Since conservation is the preservation of resources, it sounds like a great segue from April into May! So is this old proverb…“April showers bring May flowers” – people have quoted this for centuries; but, as we approach May, I find it ironic that the first week is also National Wildflower Week! Additionally,  Wednesday, the 1st, is “May Day”, as well as “Bird Day”!

In honor of Saturday, May 4th, being National Star Wars Day…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Repurpose, Reuse & Recycle

Happy Easter Monday, everyone, and happy Earth Day too! Welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom.

I’m Laura Emerich and these blogs are dedicated to my mom, Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, and her tremendous legacy – from her famous writing career, spanning over 5 DECADES, to her more personal loves of life, family and faith. As the Recipe DetectiveTM, Mom often referred to herself as the “Rich Little” of the food industry because she could imitate their famous dishes and food products, in her own kitchen, similarly to how Rich Little could imitate the voices of famous people.

My mom frequently exuded a satirical wit in her writings and cartoon illustrations also. Below is a photo copy of Mom’s cover page for her cartoon panel-series titled, Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer. They were printed in The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI) for a few years, starting around early 1969; and, since they’re humor was timeless, Mom reused them in some of the newsletters and cookbooks that she, later, went on to write.

Throughout her newsletters and cookbooks, Mom never claimed to know exactly what the famous food industry companies actually used in their own “secret” recipes; however, she did claim to know that she could come up with some pretty good imitations based on some basic cooking principles and what she could see, taste and smell. Some of Mom’s recipes that were imitations of certain brands, she realized, could be repurposed, reused and recycled into imitations of other companies’ products.

As I mentioned in another blog recently, Hostess Twinkies have the very same cake ingredients prepared in the “Flaming Cherries Supreme” from the Waldorf Astoria kitchens. All Mom did to imitate the Hostess product was to shape the cake different and add a little more body to the cream; which was put INSIDE the cake, as a filling, rather than on top like Waldorf’s!

Mom started a movement, imitating fast food and junk food at home (as well as other food industry dishes and products), for which she is rarely given credit. However, in the early 1970s, it was my mom who pioneered and trail-blazed the homemade, copycat crusade! Media quickly pounced on the news, as word got around quickly (without the aid of social media and internet, by the way), of a small town “housewife” who was imitating these famous food products at home and sharing her recipes across the radio air waves and through her self-published newsletters and cookbooks!

Mom and Phil Donahue, 1993

Mom had set out and succeeded in imitating hundreds of name brand products such as Famous Amos, Sara Lee and Hostess treats; as well as fast food and restaurant chains’ burgers and other specialty, signature dishes. While most of her interviews were over the radio air waves all around North America, Mom did do some TV appearances as well. She was on the Phil Donahue twice! The episodes were replayed around the world, bringing her vast amounts more recognition.

Today, because it’s Earth Day, the subject my blog is focused on the motto to “repurpose, reuse and recycle” (regardless of whichever order you put them in). Additionally, three other “r” terms are often used in conjunction with these three: (1) to “reduce”, as in your carbon footprint; (2) to “repair”, as in try to fix, mend or restore something before readily throwing it out; and (3) to “refuse”, as in objecting to buying into wasteful marketing stuff in the first place. Such wasteful marketing products include wraps and packaging fillers like Styrofoam, plastic and foil that end up in our land, oceans and waterways and are, literally, choking our environment!

Mom & I, repurposing her old purse as my new art kit!

Mom was always very crafty at repurposing, reusing and recycling items to keep them out of the garbage and, thereby, not having to unnecessarily pay for things that could be easily made out of something else. The terms repurposing, reusing and recycling refer to SO MANY things! For example… as in the picture above, Mom often turned her old purses, with their many pockets and compartments, into cases for organizing things like art supplies or activity books or Barbie’s clothes and accessories – the ideas are endless.

Mom often made clothes and linen for my sisters’ and my BarbieTM dolls out of scraps of material from our own worn-out clothes and old linens (which were also used for quilting and other sewing projects). She also made furniture for our dolls, using cardboard food boxes covered in paper or material scraps. As a child, my favorite Christmas gift from my mom was a beautiful rag doll she made from old clothes scraps, with yarn for her hair and facial details, plus buttons for her nose and eyes.

As for food waste… Do you have leftovers from your Easter celebration yesterday? Soups, casseroles and pot pies are wonderful ways to repurpose, reuse and recycle those leftovers that are sitting in the refrigerator. However, when leftovers get past the point of safe consumption, but are not yet to the point of “penicillin science project”, then composting is another form of repurposing, reusing and recycling those leftovers for your garden – except for meat and dairy products, which aren’t so good for plants, but can make great chicken feed!

Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer (Richmond Review, Richmond, MI; 1971)

The U.S. is the second highest food-wasting country in the world, second to Australia; but leaps and bounds beyond Turkey, which is in third place, according to Statista.com.  The U.S. FAO website says that this worldwide waste of food causes an excessive spending of resources, such as water, land, energy, labor and capital; needlessly producing greenhouse gas emissions, while contributing to global warming and climate change.

Yesterday morning, I saw a clip on my local news about what to compost and a demonstration using a countertop composter! What a great idea, if you can afford one! I saw one, like the one shown in the news clip, online for more than a few hundred dollars. I love it and I want one, but I can’t afford the luxury…so, like my mom did years ago for her garden and potted tomatoes, I just keep saving my coffee grounds and eggshells (and the occasional banana peels) in an old coffee container on my kitchen counter. When it’s full, I take it out back to my large compost pile for the vegetable garden; but, you can also put it directly around the base of your plants – my roses love it! Then, when the rose heads are ready to cut, I hang them upside down by their stems until they’re fully dried to repurpose, reuse and recycle them into potpourri!

Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed almost 50 years ago as a direct result of the first Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970? It actually started as more of a teaching/learning event than a celebration; nonetheless, its popularity caught on quickly and is now celebrated (on different dates) worldwide.

Simple suggestions for participating in Earth Day activities include donating gently used items to non-profit resale shops (many churches have them now) or having your own yard/garage sale with them – yard/garage sale season has just started around here. Another way to participate is by cleaning up litter around your yard, as well as in your community. Additionally, hiking or walking through a park or enjoying nature through ORGANIC gardening or planting trees are other ways to partake in the occasion today (or any day for that matter). Speaking of planting trees, this Friday (April 26th) will be Arbor Day! Furthermore, the whole month of April also happens to be National Gardening Month!

#RepurposeReuseRecycle

Repurposing, reusing and recycling is not just a great way to conserve energy and natural resources, but also an effective means to saving money. A reduce and reuse lifestyle can also preserve natural resources and reduce waste, but there are additional benefits to such a lifestyle as well. So many plastic wraps and containers that people typically throw away – such as deli and dairy containers, plastic grocery bags, old toothbrushes, etc. – can be repurposed, reused and recycled in hundreds of ways; which, in turn, can eliminate tons of garbage from our landfills and, consequently, reduce how much of our plastic refuse (which doesn’t decompose) finds its way into our land, oceans and waterways.

The older I get, the more I want to get rid of junk; but, I still feel an immense impulse to save things that I might use in some other way – someday. I guess it’s the “green” in me, with which I grew up, that’s shining through – before I can throw anything away, first, I ask myself: can it be repurposed, reused or recycled in any way? Today’s Earth Day is a great time to focus on how much you and your family throw away; therefore, I challenge you to save something from being trashed and, find a new purpose for which to reuse it… Then post and tag it on social media with #RepurposeReuseRecycle!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Earth Day blog and will return again next week when I discuss more about gardening, as it will be the end of National Gardening Month! In closing, as I do each week, I’d like to leave you with one of the recipes that Mom developed and gave out for free on her product information and ordering sheets in exchange for a SASE.

Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken, like Kenny Rogers

Mom used the following barbeque crockpot chicken recipe (which serves 6) pictured below, an imitation of a Kenny Rogers’ dish, whenever she wanted to make an easy sweet barbeque chicken that she didn’t have to fuss over. She first printed it in her cookbook, That’s the Flavor (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1998, p. 25), asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

Correction:
Mondays & Memories of My Mom – “Famous Foods from Famous Places”
[posted: 02/18/19]
My banana bread recipe, like Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel served, was originally printed in Mom’s cookbook, Eating out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sept 1978, p. 34); before it appeared in her cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1982). Therefore, it must have been developed on our vacation there the previous summer, and not the same one as when Somewhere in Time was filmed.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – It’s all Relative

Hello, all! Happy Monday and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom.

I’m Laura Emerich and I write these blogs in relation to my memories of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL Secret RecipesTM detective. I started this tribute, in September of last year, to honor Mom’s legacy – besides being Mom, lover of life, family and God; she was also a satirist cartoonist and writer, as well as the famous Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator of the secrets of the food industry, pioneer and trail-blazer of the “copycat recipes” crusade – and, thus, this was a great way to channel my cherished memories of her and how she’s influenced my own life, as well as the lives of others.

St. Clair Museum advertisement, 2018

My subject for this week’s blog is about family roots and influence. “It’s all relative” is an idiom, or common term, used to say that [anything] can be thought of in opposite ways depending on what one compares it to. So, my question is: Are behavioral traits nature (roots) or nurture (influence)? This debate has been going on for eons, involving whether human behavior is determined by a person’s genes (nature) or their environment (nurture).

Gloria Pitzer, 1978

I don’t know the true answer, anymore than Mom knew the true recipes of the products she imitated at home; but, I do know that writing and artistry seem to run throughout generations of our family. As a writer and artist, myself, whenever my children did anything of the like, I highly-encouraged more of it from them – nurturing a natural talent, I suppose. My mom did the same for me and my siblings, as her parents (as well as aunts and uncles) did for her and her siblings…so is that nature or nurture? I feel like it’s a combination of both.

My siblings and I in the late ‘80s (left-to-right: Bill, Michael, Debbie, me and Cheryl) – By the way, National Siblings Day was just celebrated last Wednesday, April 10th!

I believe my love of writing and drawing stemmed from my mom and her relatives, as many of them (in both of her parents’ families that we know of) are gifted writers and artists, in some way, as well. However, while guesses can be made, whether the talent and/or passion for such are inherited and/or influenced by one’s up-bringing remains an unanswered question.

Besides her many years of syndicating weekly and bi-weekly columns and cartoons to papers and magazines around the country, Mom also wrote, illustrated and self-published close to 40 cookbooks in almost 30 years, 1973-2001 (plus a couple of books that were just food-for-thought/soul and “our family story”). A few years ago, I helped Mom re-write one of her favorite cookbooks, The Better Cookery Cookbook (1983) for a new digital generation. It went to press shortly before she passed away last year, under a new title, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018). Mom was so happy about reaching a new generation with her recipes and stories!

Similarly, Mom wrote, illustrated and self-published a “homemaker’s” newsletter for 25 years (Jan. 1974 through Dec. 1998 – 219 issues in all). It began and ended as a monthly publication, but there were some years in between when she published it bi-monthly (doubling the size) and other years when it was published quarterly (at about 4 times the monthly size). Each issue of the newsletter was always stuffed full of witty humor, stories from her radio show visits all around North America, restaurant reviews, food-for-thought, food-for-the-soul and, of course, her wonderfully unique recipes that were “food-for-the-table”. Mom would always write a little bit about our family and close friends too, because she always considered her subscribers as family and close friends also.

The newsletter’s title evolved over the years – from Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter, in its 1974 conception, to Gloria Pitzer’s National Home News Magazine in 1978, to Gloria Pitzer’s Monthly Cookbook of Secret Recipes in 1980, to Gloria Pitzer’s Cook’s Quarterly in 1984, to Secret Recipes Newsletter in 1986, to Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Quarterly in 1995 and to its final name, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, in 1998 (it’s last year of publication.)

I would love to hear from anyone who still has their issues of Mom’s newsletters and still uses them! Please write to me at therecipedetective@outlook.com. I don’t have a lot of the issues, myself, but I still use the ones I have all the time, as well as her cookbooks. I’m also missing a couple of her cookbooks because, like others, I lent them out and never got them back.

Speaking of writing, did you know that April is National Records & Information Management Month? “Records” and “Information Management” are very general terms that encompass so many forms! I love to keep records of important things that have happened throughout my life (and the lives of my kids), using calendars, scrapbooks and “time capsule” boxes. I have boxes in the basement for myself and each of my three grown kids full of special keepsakes and creations (ceramic/clay projects, drawings and creative writings). My dad had given me a box of stuff like that once, when I was grown and having kids of my own. I loved it so much, because he and Mom treasured these things, that I created these kind of “time capsule” boxes for my kids too. Over the years, I’ve added our special “creations” and keepsakes from special events to each of them, including my own.

My mom’s extent of record-keeping for her life included all the family stories she wrote about in her newsletters and books, plus a few scrap books she kept, full of pictures and keepsakes from special events. But, most of her experiences and thoughts were inscribed in the journal entries that she wrote on a daily basis, book after book, since she was a young girl until she passed away in January 2018. Mom’s love of writing especially helped her to remember things in her last years, after developing dementia from a double-stroke she suffered in June 2014.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, Algonac, MI
By the way, Saturday, April 20th is National Husband Appreciation Day!

And, speaking of record-keeping, my dad’s side of the family (both, the Knotts and Pitzer clans, from the West Virginia area) kept a lot of excellent records of their heritages! By the way, did you know that there’s a National Genealogy Day and it was just celebrated last month on March 9th? When I inherited Dad’s collection of our relatives’ pictures (from his Mom’s collection), I found many were documented with who, when and where descriptions – some pictures were accompanied by letters/cards that depicted the people, places and events. Likewise, on the internet, I can trace both of my paternal grandparents’ families back to their great-great-grandparents (in the mid-18th century) thanks to their families’ excellent records & information management that has made all this data available for a new, digital generation!

Original photo source unknown.

However, our Klein-Carter family history, from my Mom’s parents’ side of the family, has not been an easy lineage to trace. Even with the “free” membership at Ancestry.com, I can’t seem to find anything more than I already know from Mom’s stories. Under this picture (above), found on page 52 of Mom’s cookbook, Eating Out at Home Cookbook (self-published by Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; September 1981), Mom mentions her dad’s parents and a second cousin, plus, his older brother. I know my Mom’s dad was born in May of 1894. Thus, since his mom, setting type in this picture, doesn’t really look pregnant yet, but his 7-year-older brother is there (and looks about that age), working the press, I can only guess that this picture may have been from around early 1893.

The pictures I inherited from Mom, of her side of the family relatives, were rarely labled with any who, when or where information. I know she always meant to get around to it, but never did. I have many albums like that, myself. Now, all the more, I want to go through all of them, while I still can, and date, identify (people/places) and organize them for my kids to add to and pass on to their kids.

While Mom’s dementia, during her last few years before passing, brought up fairly clear memories of decades ago, almost like they were yesterday; sometimes, however, the picture was still missing a few puzzle pieces or the pieces were rearranged a little. So I keep trying to track down Mom’s ancestry records as best as I can with the bits and pieces of information that I have gethered from her stories.

Gloria Pitzer, 1985

Mom wrote a story about her mom’s side of the family, the Klein’s, in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop! [subtitled, “The True Story of a Family”] (self-published by Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 83-84). The picture above is also seen on the back cover of that book. Here is Mom’s story about the legend she knows as her mom’s family heritage:

…my mother’s parents were originally German, but they were also Jews, and living in Russia at the turn of the [20th] century. It was dangerous for any Jew in Russia at that time – so much like the story of “Fiddler on the Roof’, my grandparents with two small children and my grandmother expecting their third child, took a crowded freighter to America [around 1906]. They couldn’t speak a word of English and had nothing with them but what they could carry by hand.

On the way over, unfortunately, they came down with what suspected to be TB [Tuberculosis]… years later [around 1915], following the birth of their 7th child [my mom was their 4th child, born in 1909], TB finally took my grandmother. Having settled in Pittsburg, my grandfather moved on to Cleveland where he hoped to find relatives who would help him with a job and a place to raise the motherless children. It didn’t work out as he expected, however. The relatives were not where he had last contacted them.

The orphanage was over-crowded that he had been directed to, in order to leave the children and seek treatment for the TB that seemed to be getting worse for him. Having been turned away by the orphanage, he was about to leave all the children on a street corner, telling them that somebody would come along to help them, but that he had to get his train to the sanitorium that the government was sending him to for help. At that point, the nuns were passing by on their usual afternoon walk…on their way back to the Catholic orphanage down the street.

They stopped long enough to ask if they could be of help and, upon hearing the story from the older children, who spoke English, and [from my] Grandpa’s broken English, they concluded that the children needed to be cared for. They took the children to the Catholic orphanage, ensuring my grandfather that they would see to it that they went to Temple every Saturday, even though they would be in the Catholic schools and living in the dormitories with the other children.

When there was room for them at the Jewish orphanage, they would then be transferred – and the promise was kept. There, they all remained until each one turned 16 years of age… The compassion of those Catholic nuns and the care they gave the children of that Jewish immigrant, when Jews were hated as much as they ever were in this country, kept me from ever harboring feelings of prejudice toward other people due to their religious or racial backgrounds…

Consequently, I grew up without prejudices – with an open mind to all of us being different and yet the same and that’s okay, respecting our differences. As a result, my children also grew up without prejudices…whether nature or nurture, it’s all relative!

May 2017 – Myself, my grandson, my oldest daughter and my mom – 4 generations!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading “It’s all Relative” (the blog) and will return again next week – as Monday, the 22nd, happens to be National Earth Day and Easter Monday! Next week is also celebrating (besides my oldest two kids’ birthdays) Easter Sunday, National DNA Day on Thursday and Arbor Day (for most states) on Friday!

In closing, I usually end with one of Mom’s recipes that she gave away for free on her product information and ordering sheets in exchange for a SASE. The following recipe for “Carrot Square Cake, Like Sara Lee’s” wasn’t on any of those sheets, but it was given away for free when my brother, Michael Pitzer, first developed TheRecipeDetective.com website years ago for internet exposure to our parents and their “Secret Recipes”TM business. This particular recipe was also printed on page 47 of Mom’s cookbook, Secret Fast-Food Recipes (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; 1985).

Sara Lee’s-Style Carrot Square Cake from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Fast-Food Recipes Cookbook (1985)

Cake Ingredients:

2 Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla

6 oz. Oil

1 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

2 tsp Cinnamon

1 cup Sugar

1 1/4 cup All-Purpose Flour

1 cup Carrots, grated fine

1 cup Walnuts, well-chopped

1/2 cup Light Raisins, optional

Instructions for Cake

Combine first 8 ingredients with electric mixer on medium-high. Beat 3 minutes scraping down sides of bowl often. Remove beaters. Stir in last 3 ingredients. Grease and flour 9″ square pan. Spread batter evenly in pan. Bake at 325 degrees F about 50 minutes. Cool in pan about 30 minutes. Frost with Cream Cheese Icing (below) and sprinkle with additional walnuts.

Icing ingredients:

6-oz. pkg. Cream Cheese, softened

1/4 lbs. Butter

1 lb. Powdered Sugar

1 1/2 tsp Orange Extract

1 tsp Orange Peel (I use Spice Island brand)

1 TB Light Corn Syrup or Pancake Syrup

1 TB Cornstarch or Flour

Instructions for Icing

Cream the cream cheese with the butter until light and fluffy, using med-high speed of electric mixer. Add half of the sugar, increasing speed to high. Add extract and peel and beat about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl often. Resume beating adding remaining powdered sugar. Beat smooth. Frost sides and top of cake.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Eating out at Home

Happy Monday and welcome, again, to Mondays & Memories of My Mom, a blog series I started last year to honor my mom’s legacy.

Mom and I at her 80th Birthday Party – Photo by Paul Jaekel, Jan. 2016

I’m Laura Emerich and my mom is Gloria Pitzer, aka the famous “Recipe Detective”TM, investigator of the food industry’s “Secret Recipes”TM. Starting in the early 1970s, Mom was the pioneer of imitating the food industry’s favorite fine-dining dishes, as well as fast food, junk food and grocery products at home! She carved out the original niche in copycat recipes movement. Mom also created the slogan, “eating out at home”, which became the title of one of her more than 40 self-published books in a 28-year span, from 1973 through 2001. You can find more information on most of her publishings by clicking on the “Cookbooks”  and “Other Publications”  tabs on this website. I’m still updating the “Other Publications” tab as I find more of Mom’s syndicated work from the 1960s and 1970s era.

Mom’s books were all quite unique and special. She built most of her cookbooks on the taboo subject of embracing fast food and junk food, while all the critics were saying to stay away from it and how bad all of it was for our health. Well, maybe so, but as Robert Redford once said, “Health food may raise my consciousness, but Oreos taste better!” – a quote that Mom noted on the first page of her September 1978 cookbook, Eating Out at Home.  [Note: See the “Recipes” tab on this website (another tab to which I’m working on adding more) for Mom’s copycat version of Oreo-Style sandwich cookies, which she calls “Gloreo’s”.] Opposed to those critics, Mom’s definition for junk food was “poorly prepared food”.

People know what they like, and Mom found a way to “have your cake and eat it too!” Mom claimed to be able to take the junk out of junk food by making it at home, where you can control the ingredients. It was a break through that had many companies, like Hostess, up in arms – that someone could possibly duplicate their product at home and, then, share it with the public! However, Mom never knew what the companies’ actual “secret recipes” were for their sumptuous products, as she wrote on page 2 of her Eating Out at Home cookbook…

You don’t have to know exactly how the original dish was prepared by the commercial food chains. All you need is a basic recipe to which you will add that ‘special seasoning’ or that ‘secret method of preparation’ that sets one famous secret recipe apart from those similar to it…

When I work to duplicate a recipe so that the finished product is as good as (if not better than) a famous restaurant dish, I begin by asking myself a series of questions: I want to know what color the finished dish has…[and] was it achieved by baking, frying or refrigeration?…What specific flavors can I identify?… and about how much of each may have been used…

Similar tests are used in chemistry…[to]…break down the components of an unknown substance and try to rebuild it. So the cook must work like a chemist (and not like a gourmet; who, most of the time, never uses a recipe – but, rather, creates one.)

The most remarkable part of the duplication of famous recipes is that you can accept the challenge to ‘try’ to match their [dish or product]. Sometimes, you will be successful. Sometimes you will fail in the attempt. But, at least, it can be done [‘practice makes perfect’], and it certainly takes the monotony out of mealtime when, for reasons of financial inadequacy, we can not always eat out…even if we could afford to eat at all or most of our meals away from home, wouldn’t that become monotonous in time?

2011 at Big Boy Restaurant – Marysville, MI

Mom found out decades later, in her and Dad’s retirement years, without 5 kids in tow and being able to afford it from the success of their “Secret Recipes”TM business, that eating out all the time did not get as monotonous for them as she thought it might! They enjoyed, at least, breakfast and lunch out almost every day and they made friends everywhere they went too!

Given that Dad was diabetic, they were always conscious of the choices they rendered – from the places where they chose to dine to the menu selections and portion sizes they made. They even afforded themselves the occasional fast food breakfast sandwich once in a while – everything in moderation. As Mom also wrote on the same page as the excerpt above:

STOP CHEATING YOURSELF of the pleasure of good food. Eat what you enjoy, but DON’T OVER eat…This is what really causes the problems of obesity and bad health – rather than believing the propaganda of the experts that ‘fast food’ is ‘junk food’…It is not! Poorly prepared food, whether it is from a fast-service restaurant or a [$20-plate in a] gourmet dining room, is ‘junk’, no matter how you look at it…if it is not properly prepared.

Junk is in the eye of the beholder…as Mom also wrote about in the following excerpt from page 3 of her Eating Out at Home cookbook, for imitating a cake similar to that of Hostess Twinkies:

TO DEBUNK THE JUNK…don’t think of Hostess Twinkies as junk dessert but, rather, the very same cake ingredients prepared in the Waldorf Astoria kitchens as the basis for their “Flaming Cherries Supreme”. All we did [to imitate the product] was shape the cake differently, adding a little body to the filling and putting it INSIDE the cake, rather than on top as the Waldorf did!

Furthermore, on the subject of “junk food” (including James Dewar, inventor of the Twinkie), the following excerpts came from one of Mom’s “Food-for-Thought” writings; as found on page 6 of her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018); originally written for Mom’s famous, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; 1982):

The critics who contend that ‘fast foods’ are ‘junk foods’ and not good for us, have probably never prepared these foods themselves. Certainly, they have no access to the closely guarded recipes from the food companies that created these dishes, as there are only a few people in each operation that are permitted the privilege of such information! So, 99% of the critics’ speculations are based on their own opinions… ‘Fast foods’ are not ‘junk foods’ unless they’re not properly prepared. Any food that is poorly prepared (and just as badly presented) is junk!

Unfortunately, ‘fast food’ has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are ‘harmful’ to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘fine’ restaurants with wine stewards, linen table cloths, candlelight, coat-check attendants and parking valets; which separate the plastic palaces of ‘fast food’ from the expensive dining establishments. One ‘eats’ at McDonald’s, but ‘dines’ at ‘The Four Seasons’. Steak and potato or hamburger and French fries – the ingredients are practically the same. How they are prepared makes the difference!…

James Dewar, date/source unknown

James Dewar started out driving a horse-drawn wagon in Chicago and, by 1930, was manager of the Continental Baking Company’s Chicago establishment. He invented “The Twinkie’, a sponge-type cake with creamy vanilla-flavored filling [in the early 30s.] It has been called the “Grand-daddy’ of modern snack foods. Today, the finger-sized cream-filled cake is as big a confectionery sensation as they were when Dewar first introduced his creation to American cuisine. The company that put out the Twinkie was originally called the Continental Baking Company and later became the Hostess company.

At the time, he wanted to give the public something reasonably priced, for the Great Depression of the 30s brought grave times to this country. Treats like the cream-filled Twinkies, would be a luxury to people who couldn’t afford otherwise. For decades, the appealing factor about the Twinkies national popularity has been that it is affordable! Dewar put 2 cakes in each package, selling them for $.05 a pair. For the price of a nickel, it was quite a bargain. Dewar remembered how the Continental Baking Company was selling small finger-sized shortcakes for strawberry season in the 1930s. The pans they used to bake them in were not being used except for the spring promotion to produce the shortcakes. He, therefore, came up with the idea of preparing the same shortcake in those pans, but filling each cake with an injection of vanilla cream. The Twinkies became an immediate success! The idea for the name, on the other hand, came while he was on a business trip to St. Louis and saw a billboard advertising “Twinkle Toes Shoes’, which was, then, a terrific sales pitch. The name “Twinkies’ was a spinoff of that shoe advertisement. From then on, the cakes took off. When Dewar retired from Continental in 1968, he boasted often to the press that he ate scores of Twinkies every day. That’s not a bad endorsement for the critics who claim junk food will shorten your life span.

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

Mom has always tried to encourage the inner cook in all of us, through her many publishings. Even if you didn’t think you could cook at all, Mom could make you feel like a gourmet, making your own creations and bringing joy back into eating at home. Additionally, without publishing any pictures in her cookbooks or newsletters, Mom could, very-well, describe in detail how the product should look throughout the various stages of the recipes; so that you knew or not if your duplication was coming along properly. Her recipes are always fun and easy to follow. She also made them simple to “customize”, to suit your own diet needs.

Mom’s original concepts of “eating out at home” and “taking the junk out of junk food” has brought so much joy to so many people who couldn’t afford such “luxuries” as eating out, even fast food, or buying junk food; either for monetary or health reasons. Mom gained a lot of followers in the copycat movement (also some plagiarists) since she started the concept in the early 1970s.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Just running a search on the term “copycat recipes concept” brought me 6,370,000 results on Bing and about 3,410,000 results on Google. Searching the term “blogs for copycat recipes” brought me about 18,200,000 results on Google, including this great article, “Top 25 Copycat Recipe Blogs of 2017” by Toby Kuhnke, Editor, AllFreeCopycatRecipes.com.  In addition, when asking Bing, “How many copycat recipe blogs are there?” – I received 95,100,000 results. In all, I’d say that’s quite a movement.

Also, searching Amazon for “Gloria Pitzer” brought me 63 results of people reselling her old cookbooks that are no longer in print; as well as others who are getting her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (January 2018) from the publisher, Balboa Press, and reselling them on Amazon. There are also many wonderful comments about my mom and her unique cookbooks to be found on many of these results!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading “Eating out at Home” (the blog) and will return again next week for “Mondays & Memories of my Mom” when my next blog, “It’s all Relative”, discusses Mom’s writing heritage as seen on the last page of her cookbook, Eating out at Home (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; 1978). Also, in closing, I usually end with one of Mom’s recipes that she gave away for free on her product information and ordering sheet in exchange for a SASE. The following recipe wasn’t on any of those sheets, but it was given away for free when my brother, Michael Pitzer, first developed TheRecipeDetective.com website years ago for internet exposure to our parents and their “Secret Recipes”TM business. This particular recipe was also printed in Mom’s cookbook, Eating Out At Home (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; 1978, page 47)

A-1-Style Steak Sauce by Gloria Pitzer

1/2 cup Dark Molasses

2 Green Onions, chopped

3 TB Kosher Salt, coarse

3 TB Dry Mustard

1 tsp Paprika

1/4 tsp Cayenne

1 clove Garlic crushed — or, 1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 Anchovy Filet chopped — or, 1 TB Anchovy Paste

6 TB Tamarind Fresh — or, 1 TB Tamarind Extract

1 tsp Pepper

1/2 tsp Fenugreek

1/2 tsp Powdered Ginger

1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp Powdered Cloves

1/2 tsp Cardamom Seeds

3 drops Tabasco

6 oz. Rhine Wine

2 oz. Rose Wine

1 pint White Vinegar

1 TB Kitchen Bouquet

1 TB Postum Powder

Put all spices (except last 6 ingredients) through blender until it’s a fine powder. Place over low heat with half vinegar and simmer 1 hour; adding rest of vinegar a little at a time as mixture is reduced in bulk. Stir in tabasco, wines and kitchen bouquet. Cook 3 min. to dissolve. Remove from heat. Pour into crock or Tupperware container (2qt) and let stand covered for 1 week. Then strain through cheese-cloth, six times. Bottle and cap tightly. Keep refrigerated indefinitely. Freeze to keep for years.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Smorgasbord!

Hello, everyone! HAPPY Monday, April Fool’s Day, National Sourdough Bread Day, National Gardening Month and National Humor Month! Yep – that’s a happy smorgasbord!

If you haven’t been here before, my name is Laura Emerich and these blogs are dedicated to and for my mom, Gloria Pitzer, aka the ORIGINAL secret “Recipe Detective”TM. I started this weekly series last year to carry on her legacy – from her life-long love affair with writing to her “Secret Recipes”TM profession to her other personal loves of life, family and faith – through my memories of her; as well as, through the memories others have of her. She was an enormous influence, in so many ways, on so many people; especially on the woman I’ve become. Mom motivated and inspired a whole movement because she was the pioneer that blazed the original trail to imitating fast food, fine dining dishes, junk food and various grocery store products at home!

This week’s blog covers a smorgasbord of subjects. For instance, for all the foodies out there, besides it being April Fool’s Day, today is also National Sourdough Bread Day. In addition, for the gardeners in all of us, April is National Gardening Month! Consequently, April is also National Humor Month – which makes sense, given that the first day is April Fool’s Day – and, where I live in Michigan (as well as other states, I’m sure), Mother Nature seems to like to play continuous jokes on us throughout the month by often exhibiting 3 different seasons, all in one day! Plus, while it’s not a national holiday, the season for birding has also just begun as migrations head north to roost for the spring to fall months.

April is National Gardening Month!

Starting with my memories of Mom and our garden when I was growing up in Algonac – Mom always had a small, raised-bed garden full of strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and other such popular, homegrown garden staples. I also recall picking rhubarb, apples and pears for her pie and cobbler recipes. But then, as her “Secret Recipes”TM business grew in the mid to late 70s, she had less and less time to spend on the care of the garden let alone the harvesting. I enjoyed learning from Mom how to take care of it and I loved picking the fruits and vegetables for her, from which to create all those wonderful dishes. Her strawberry-rhubarb pie was one of my favorites!

After we moved to St. Clair in 1977, she couldn’t devote anymore time to a garden again, but she did continue to, at least, have a couple of tomato plants in patio pots every spring to fall. Mom had a very green thumb with all the plants, in the house and in the garden. She liked to use coffee grounds and grounded egg shells in her patio pots, which helped the tomato plants thrive.

Spring Crocus, Photo by Laura Emerich

Mother Nature’s grand arena is bursting with activity as spring awakens and regenerates life around us. Initially, the National Gardening holiday was a week-long festivity for which President Reagan signed a proclamation to kick off the first annual celebration of it in 1987. Then, in 2000, the National Gardening Association extended the celebration to last for the whole month of April.

To celebrate the event, have a picnic in a garden or go to a nursery and purchase a new plant for your garden. Decorate your garden, even add a seating area in it, where you can enjoy it up close. Another way to celebrate is to give a gardening gift, like seeds or plants, to someone special!

This month is a great time to start planting the bulbs of late-Spring bloomers as well. Other plants that are great to plant in April include fruit trees and berry plants or bushes. I planted a couple of cherry trees on our property about 7 years ago and they’re doing really well. The birds love them immensely! Our property already has a few old pear trees on it, so I’d like to get a couple of apple trees established this year.

2018 Cherry Tree, Photo by Laura Emerich

This is also a great time to plant perennial vegetables like asparagus, chives, rhubarb, horseradish and so many more. I already have the first three in my garden. I plan on adding horseradish this year. It’s also a good time for me to start my “cold crop” annuals like cabbage, spinach and other “greens”; as well as root vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots and beets. I’m not sure where she got it from, but I think I inherited Mom’s green thumb.

In their off-season, I repurpose 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.

Another thing Mom taught me, as I mentioned in my blog, “Grow & Make Your Own Groceries”, a couple of weeks ago, growing and sowing your own food can save a lot of money on the grocery bill – if you don’t factor in the value of your time AND if you have the time to maintain it. Except for the perennials, you can’t just drop the seeds and come back in a couple months to pick it all. If only it were that easy! But, on the upside, the hours put into maintaining a garden, with moderate activity, happens to burn about 300-400 calories an hour (depending on your size). Gardening also feeds our bodies a lot of essential Vitamin D since we’re out in the sunshine, which is a natural source for it!

According to the infographic, 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening, on https://www.organiclesson.com/6-wonderful-health-benefits-of-gardening/, gardening strengthens the immune system, relieves stress and elevates happiness, provides a physical workout, stimulates the brain and encourages a healthier diet! It sounds like a win-win-win-win-win-win set of beneficial circumstances to me!

My vegetable & flower garden, 2018!

In addition, this month is usually a good time for me to start pruning the few large patches of wild, black raspberries we have in our backyard’s wooded area – cutting out all the dead canes to make room for the new ones to grow. Thick gloves are highly recommended for this task to help prevent the hands from getting impaled by the thorns!

Backyard Bird Watching

On a related side-subject to spring and April, in general, it’s also a wonderful time for backyard bird watching! Lately, our cats have been going crazy, at the dining room windows, watching all the birds and squirrels in their usual spring, backyard activities – eating at the feeders, playing in the trees, building nests and other such things.

We have some birds that are here all year like cardinals, woodpeckers and blue jays. However, most of the varieties that we see migrate in with the spring season and back out by mid-fall. We get a wide variety of birds in Michigan.  The arrival of the robins, our state bird, is usually one of our first signs of spring, even before the bright, sunny yellow of witch hazel starts to pop on the fading winter landscape. Some robins don’t migrate south in the fall, like others do. Instead, they’ve adapted to our Michigan Winters.

The Robin – Michigan’s State Bird

This weekend, Mackinaw City will be host to the 4th annual “Mackinaw Raptor Fest”, celebrating a unique convergence of migrating birds every spring and fall due to the area’s exceptional location at the rare intersection of two peninsulas and two of the Great Lakes. Mackinaw City (and Mackinac Island) was one of my parents favorite destination areas whenever they had a chance to get away for a long weekend.

Watching birds is said to be very therapeutic. If you feed them, they will come! Growing up, I remember Mom always putting out special treats for the squirrels and birds in our backyard. Watching the birds always seemed to relax Mom and also helped to form the flow of her thoughts for writing her food-for-thought-style articles and editorials. I know it helps me too.

April through June, I usually put out orange halves and small cups of grape jelly for the orioles that migrate to our backyard. I’ve seen the woodpeckers enjoy the spring treats too! The yellow finches will always fight over the perches on the thistle feeder, but when the oriole wants thistle, they all move out of the way.

I heard our resident woodpecker early Friday morning, “rat-a-tat-tat”, on a maple tree outside one of our kitchen windows. The sound seemed to echo in our quiet neighborhood that morning. Then I saw a “Mama” robin perched in another tree, looking into my garden – for good materials to add to her nest, I’m sure. My husband and I really enjoy watching all the flora and fauna activity surrounding our homestead.

April 1st is National Sourdough Bread Day!

Now, out of the garden and backyard and into the kitchen for another food related happening today, as National Sourdough Bread Day is also being observed across the country. Amish Friendship Bread is a really great recipe to make and share with friends. My girlfriends and I used to exchange bags of AFB starter a lot. A super-great article about the process involved in making the starter and how to use it can be found on the “Friendship Bread Kitchen” website at https://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/amish-friendship-bread-starter/.

Mom wrote the following interesting explanation on the history of bread [as found on page 144 in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)]:

BREAD HISTORY

The bread of primitive man was unleavened and perhaps, as the story goes, the discovery of a leavening agent by a cook of ancient Egypt was purely by chance. However, it came about that the Egyptians baked some of the finest bread in the ancient world in cone-shaped ovens. Flattened, and perhaps coarse to present-day taste, the ancient round or triangular loaves unearthed at Deir el-Bahari were a great improvement over the open-air baking of earlier times. Bread, the symbol of the bounty of the Nile, was cast upon its waters as a tribute to the gods. It was, also, placed in tombs to feed the departed spirits of the deceased. Egyptians literally earned their daily bread as workers, as they were given bread at the end of the day as wages for their labor. The Egyptians, who discovered the principle of baking raised bread, didn’t fool around. They just left some dough around in the hot weather until it went bad, and then they baked it. And – lo – it puffed up in old clay ovens and tasted great! The leavened loaf was launched, with no questions asked. The Egyptians regarded “yeast-ification” as an occult, not subject to the whim of man.

Mom also advised, when making a yeast bread, do not use a metal bowl or spoon in the developing process! Metal and yeast are not compatible and using such utensils or bowls with yeast could keep the yeast from working properly. Mom always preferred using either plastic or Pyrex bowls and only wooden or plastic spoons with which to stir or mix the ingredients.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my smorgasbord of topics today! In closing, I usually end with one of Mom’s recipes that she gave away for free on her product information and ordering sheets in exchange for an SASE. The following recipe wasn’t on any of those sheets, but it was given away for free when my brother, Michael Pitzer, first developed this website years ago for internet exposure to my parents and their “Secret Recipes”TM business. Since it is National Sourdough Bread Day, I’d like to share Mom’s copycat version of Schlotzsky’s sandwich rolls, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

Schlotzsky’s-Style Sandwich Rolls (from Gloria Pitzer’s “Secret Recipes”TM Newsletter)

1/2 cup Warm Water

1 TB Granulated Sugar

1 package Rapid Rise Dry Yeast

6 oz. Milk, very warm

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 TB Baking Soda, softened in 1 TB water

2 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour

In large mixing bowl combine warm water, sugar and yeast. Let stand about 5 minutes till very bubbly. With wire whisk add the rest with only 1 cup of the flour, beating to smooth dough. Beat in rest of flour until batter is thick and sticky but smooth, all flour being dissolved. Divide dough between 5 ovenproof, Pam-sprayed, cornmeal dusted (let excess shake out) soup bowls (each 5 inches in diameter). Cover each one in a square of Saran wrap sprayed in a bit of Pam and that side down. Let rise almost an hour or till above rim of bowls or cans. Discard Saran pieces. Bake on center rack of 375º F oven about 20 minutes or till golden brown. Let cool in containers on rack, spraying tops each in a bit of Pam while they cool to keep crusts soft. To use for sandwiches – slice in half horizontally and grill on lightly buttered hot griddle as you would for grilled cheese sandwich or broiler toast till golden. Then fill with lettuce and assorted lunch meats and cheese or sandwich fillings.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring into Cleaning

Hello, again, and happy Monday to everyone! Spring has finally arrived! However, in Michigan, other than a sporadic tease here and there, it doesn’t actually feel like Spring is here until closer to May. Nonetheless, it’s a light in the dark that gives us hope for tomorrow!

If you’re new to here – I am Laura Emerich and these blogs are dedicated to and inspired by my mom, Gloria Pitzer, the private investigator of “Secret Recipes”TM (aka the ORIGINAL “Recipe Detective”TM). I want to carry on her amazing legacy, which is why I titled my first blog in this series “A Legacy of Love” (9/17/2018). That is what “Secret Recipes” TM always was to Mom – and that’s what it became to me over the last few years of her life while I collaborated with her to re-write her favorite self-published cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook; which was published by Balboa Press in January 2018, with a slightly different title (more information on that at the end of this blog), for a new generation of foodies!

I made a living with my writing; but, it was my writing that made living worthwhile. – Gloria Pitzer

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, during her 60-year-plus writing career, Mom wrote and syndicated thousands of columns – some under the copyright heading, “No Laugh’N Matter” – across the country and for local newspapers. In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Mom also designed satirical cartoon panels titled “Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer”©, based on her own comedic, family experiences. A few are pictured below. However, I can’t find the dates of when these were illustrated or when they were published. The two on the left are older than the one on the right. The newspaper editorials she wrote and syndicated were much like blogs are today. Except, they were printed in hard-copy newspapers and magazines instead of on the World Wide Web.

I also mentioned in last week’s blog that I wanted to discuss cleaning, this week, since it’s the beginning of Spring AND National Cleaning Week – hence, my choices of Mom’s cartoon panels to share with you. As well, I wanted share some more special memories of Mom, in relation to cleaning. Mind you, Mom was not a fan of cleaning at all, even if it did have calorie-burning benefits! But, by no means, did we ever really live in a dirty home! As in stand up comedy, Mom often stretched and twisted reality a little bit to generate a laugh.

Gloria Pitzer – 1974

Mom was brought up in a generation that just did what they “had to”; keeping a clean or tidy home was just something that they’re parents taught them to do as responsible, civilized people – at any age. So, in honor of National Cleaning Week, plus Mom’s writing and comedic legacy, here is one of her old No Laugh’N Matter columns that she syndicated, called “Eat Your Heart Out Mr. Clean!” (as seen in The Times Herald, Port Huron, Michigan; Feb 14, 1974).

Many of you have written, asking what shortcuts I recommend for getting through the hang ups of housework. I thought you’d never ask. And I’m happy to share with you some of the lesser known household hints that you are not apt to find in the elegant publications…

Now, my household hints are NOT necessarily recommended by GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, Dr. Seuss, my mother-in-law, the neighbors, Mr. Clean…but they do work! Unless, that is, you’re expecting miracles.

If the good Lord had intended for me to have a clean house, He would have given me a maid! – Gloria Pitzer

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS: If, while they are in the refrigerator, leftovers become as hairy as hedgehogs at bay, don’t try to throw them out. Feed them dead flies and keep them as pets!

WHAT TO DO ABOUT COBWEBS: If you have cobwebs in your corners and can’t figure out why, because you don’t have a cob in the house; ignore them if you can’t reach them. If somebody calls them to your attention, exclaim with pride, “Oh! I can’t touch those. They’re my son’s science project!”

WHAT TO DO ABOUT JAR LIDS THAT REFUSE TO BUDGE: Tell a 4-year-old not to touch them!

IF YOU HAVE OVER-SIZED HIPS: Wear Jodhpurs. They’ll go out where you do!

IF YOU PUT ON WEIGHT EASILY: Let out your couch!

TROUBLE FALLING A SLEEP? If you can’t count sheep… try talking to the Shepherd!

CONCERNED ABOUT SHORTAGES? Help conserve water… bathe with someone you love! Help conserve paper… stamp out bumper stickers! Get an education… drive a school bus! Eat a beaver… save a tree!

TO CONSERVE ENERGY: Don’t hold post-mortems, brooding over your mistakes. The faster you make one, the less apt anybody is to notice it.

BEFORE GOING TO THE EXPENSE OF REDECORATING YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE: Move!

TO PREVENT SCRUB WATER FROM RUNNING DOWN YOUR ARMS WHILE WASHING WALLS: Hang from your feet!

CLEANER FLOORS: If you have tried the miracle product as advertised on TV and you still can’t get your floors to look as clean as those seen on the commercial, write to the manufacturer of that cleaner and have them send you that mop!

SHORT ON SILVERWARE AT MEALTIME? Delegate a search party of children to check out the sand box, toy chest and cold air returns. Chance are, you’ll find them!

TO REMOVE CHEWING GUM from a new, white bedspread, apply peanut butter by rubbing with vigorous motions. If it still doesn’t come out, get a new bedspread!

TO AVOID HAVING YOUR HUSBAND USE THE GUEST TOWELS to clean the carburetor…hang only cleaning rags on the bathroom towel racks!

One sort of recent memory I have of Mom, regarding cleaning, is from shortly after her stroke in 2015. Mom had to go through a lot of different therapies, including physical and occupational therapies. One of her therapists called me one day, very concerned about Mom’s sudden dislike of her since they seemed to get along so beautifully during her first couple of visits. I met her at Mom’s place during her next scheduled visit to see just what she was describing to me.

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

The therapist went through everything she did during the previous visit. It all seemed to be going fine, at first; thus, I was beginning to think that either she misinterpreted Mom’s reactions to her, or it wasn’t happening on that day because I was there. Then, after having Mom do some simple stretches, the therapist asked Mom to make her bed as one of her daily exercises. Just then, in an instant, Mom’s mood changed from “sunny-and-75” to “stormy-and-below-freezing”! Right away, I started laughing out loud! The therapist and Mom, both, looked at me rather strangely. I guess it was an inside joke.

Mom hated cleaning – well, “hate” is a strong word; let’s say she “clearly disliked” it. I’m not saying she didn’t do it; but, that never meant she had to like it! In fact, I think making the bed was at the top of her “torture” list. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the situation, as did the therapist when I explained it! Not everyone get’s a joy out of cooking and cleaning any more than they have to – thus, the subject inspired the parody title of one of Mom’s cookbooks, The Joy of NOT Cooking…Any More than You Have To (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983).

I, on the other hand, like to clean – and, especially, to organize! I don’t know why – it’s some OCD thing I have – but organizing is more like a favorite hobby to me. When it came to her desk, Mom preferred what she called an organized mess, as in her illustration above. My own kids and husband like to tease me that I’m not OCD but, rather, CDO because I prefer things in alphabetical (and numerical) order.

#NationalCleaningWeek

 When I heard that this is National Cleaning Week, I actually got a little giddy at the thought of flipping the bedroom mattress; as well as, rotating the seasonal clothes and living room furniture – just some of the things I usually do in the Spring and Fall seasons. I know I’m weird – and that’s okay!

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, “besides a clean home, it’s a week that can produce improved moods, decreased stress levels, and increased creativity. It’s a week to put away winter essentials and tidy up our homes to usher in a fresh start with spring.” Furthermore, it also declares that “the American Cleaning Institute says, on average, Americans spend approximately six hours per week cleaning their homes.” As well, “our most dreaded of cleaning tasks [are]: cleaning the bathroom (52%), kitchen cleaning (23%), dusting (21%), mopping (20%) and doing the laundry (17%). Sorry, Mom – making the bed did not make it onto this list! However, dusting is the least favorite for me (mostly because it impacts my allergies more than anything else.)

20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on HowStuffWorks.com) says that 30 minutes spent on dusting burns 80 calories and 30 minutes of mopping burns 153 calories. As for laundry day, 30 minutes of folding clothes burns 72 calories and ironing for 30 minutes burns 76.5 calories.

Among other housework activities, the article also claims that 1 hour of moving furniture burns 504 calories, 10 minutes of sweeping a broom back and forth burns 28 calories and 20 minutes of vacuuming burns 56 calories. Even 30 minutes of preparing dinner burns 74 calories and, obviously, you should make healthy meal choices too.

Additionally, outside the house, the article claims that pushing the lawn mower for 1 hour can burn 324 calories… and spending an added 30 minutes raking up the clippings will burn another 171 calories. The article also suggests that picking up yard-waste can, correspondingly, reduce your waist size. Furthermore, it advocates that, by spending 4 hours of hard-work cleaning up the neighborhood, you’ll burn 1,800 calories AND improve your community! What a great idea! Plus, 2 hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more and you can grow some nice, healthy vegetables at the same time. If you don’t have your own garden, or room for one, you can check around your area for a community garden?

If you live in a state like Michigan, where it snows at least half of the year, you may be interested to know that 30 minutes of shoveling snow burns 202.5 calories. Also, now that it’s Spring and weather is starting to improve, 20 minutes of hand-washing the car will burn 102 calories.

To observe National Cleaning Week, NationalDayCalendar.com also suggests, “to make cleaning week less intimidating: Tackle one room at a time, start from the top and work down; dusting ceiling fans, door moldings and window tops. Don’t be afraid to move furniture…” And, on social media, it asks that you “use #NationalCleaningWeek and #CleaningWeek to follow and share your cleaning tips.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog and will return again next week when I discuss more about gardening, as it will be the start of National Garden Month! In closing, as I do each week, I’d like to leave you with one of the recipes that Mom developed and gave out for free on her “product-ordering/information sheets”. Mom used the following TGIF-Style, Jack Daniel’s sauce imitation when she wanted to make chicken or steak with a little kick. The version pictured below is from Mom’s “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (2000), asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

This particular sauce is not in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press; January 2018) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Printing).  However, there is a large section filled with other great “Soups, Sauces and Side-Dishes” to tantalize, tease and tempt your taste buds. This cookbook (also available in eBook form) has 318 pages filled with over 500 of Mom’s best recipes, Food-for-Thought articles, inspirational stories, household/cooking tips and tricks, witty jokes, illustrations and historical information on some of the great companies whose dishes and products that she famously imitated at home!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Grow & Make Your Own Groceries!

Hi, everyone, and happy Monday! Welcome to my blog, Mondays & Memories of My Mom!

If you’re new to here – my name is Laura Emerich and I started this blog last year to celebrate my mom’s life and legacy. My mom is Gloria Pitzer; known to millions of people around the world as the ORIGINAL “Recipe Detective”TM, private investigator of the secrets of the food industry! Mom passed away 14 months ago, leaving behind an extensive legacy; from her love of life, family and faith to her creative writing, cartooning and “Secret Recipes”TM professions. She was often heard on radio talk shows all around North America and even overseas. She also did a few TV appearances, including the Phil Donahue Show – twice!

Mom wrote, illustrated and self-published about 40 books (+/-) and penned hundreds of her own newsletter issues; as well, she wrote and syndicated thousands of columns across the country and for local newspapers during her 60-year-plus writing career. However, my mom is best known as the pioneer who started the “fast food” and “junk food” copycat recipes movement back in the early 1970s! When times were tough and we were on the edge of another recession, Mom created the concept of “eating out at home”! It was not only for her own struggling family, but also, for all the others from whom she saw and heard, as they were struggling and looking for answers too!

One of my personal favorites of Mom’s cookbooks is called, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979). This book is no longer in print, but I’ve seen used copies on eBay and Amazon. When I was a young and struggling mother of three, money was tight, and the pantry was often close to bare! This book taught me how to make some grocery products from scratch, at home; and how to stretch/extend other products, saving me quite a bit of money on my monthly groceries expense! Now, there’s a renewed movement to make a lot of things at home, where you can control the ingredients – and save money too! That is, basically, what initially inspired Mom to write this particular cookbook (aka: “Book 5”) in 1979.

It’s currently maple sugaring time in Michigan. A great article about it, March is Maple Syrup Season in Michigan, can be found at Michigan State University Extension’s website (a part of MSU.edu). I just learned, this weekend, on my local morning news program, how to collect a few gallons of the sweet maple tree sap and then cook it down for a day or so in a slow cooker, yielding about a half cup of homemade syrup when done! Two gallons of sap doesn’t render a lot of syrup, but it’s fun to try. Check out the story and video at Fox2Detroit.com.

Vegetable gardening time is also approaching quickly and many growers are starting their seeds indoors, right now, to transplant in the garden in about 6-8 weeks. I remember when I was young, helping Mom do the seasonal harvesting of our little garden and orchard for tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb for sauces and pies and such. Besides the nutritional aspect of growing your own food, it’s also healthy in that you burn a lot of calories tending a garden – planting, weeding, mulching, composting, watering and harvesting – there are so many aspects involved! I’m really looking forward to getting back into my garden this spring.

My garden – 2017

We’ve all heard the old adage about what to do when life gives you lemons; but don’t stop at making lemonade! There are so many groceries (maybe as much as 75%) you can make at home with what life gives you – if you plant the seeds! Homesteading has found a new revival movement, as health and wellness are coming back towards the top of the fundamental “priorities list”. More and more people are regaining interest in making their own food and OTC health and beauty products. Many even going into business, selling their homemade products to those who don’t have the time or talents for it.

As I said, homemade is one way you can control the ingredients, if you’re concerned with all the additives that are put into today’s convenient, shelf-stable groceries; plus, you can also save money – as long as you don’t add the value of your time into the equation!

WAY BACK WHEN, about the only things purchased for the homestead kitchen at the “General Store” were the items we, now, refer to as “staples” – the pantry dry goods most people didn’t make, themselves, such as flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cornstarch, etc.

Even later, still pre-supermarket era, if we didn’t “kill it & grill it” ourselves, fish was purchased at the fish market and other meats were bought at the butcher shop. If we couldn’t have our own vegetable/fruit patch, we went to the farmer’s market for garden-fresh produce. Also, since we can’t all be bakers, fresh baked goods were often purchased at the local bakery. And, if you didn’t have your own cow or goat to milk or a hen from which to gather your own eggs, fresh dairy products were delivered right to your home!

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 Huxley

What happened? We’ve become such a too-busy-with-other-things, convenience-laden society! Just walking down the aisles of my local grocery store and looking at all of the products on the shelves, I would say over 75% of them are convenience foods and mixes – boxed, canned and packaged for our expedient ease that can simply be made at home, from scratch and for less of a cost. Also, take into account that these shelf-stable products are filled with unnatural and unpronounceable preservatives and synthetic additives, in order to last for years on our grocers’ shelves and in our pantries.

These are the items we used to make from scratch – usually, because money was scarce and needed to be spent on more important things that weren’t easily homemade. But, then, we came into times where both parents in a family unit had to work to make ends meet. Many families still struggle to survive this way. There isn’t enough time to make things from scratch anymore; so, 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.

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

The “overhead costs” and “expected profits” that are added to “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 benefitting our health any either, as 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. In fact, I found an unfinished sequel to Mom’s “Book 5” among some of the things I got from her estate. I wish she would have finished it and published it. The following is a bit of Mom’s Food-for-Thought from “Book 5”:

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!

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! – Gloria Pitzer, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979)

In closing, I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog this week and will return, here, next Monday to read, “Spring into Cleaning”, when I share more special memories of Mom and the calorie-burning benefits of cleaning, as it will be the beginning of Spring AND National Cleaning Week!

In keeping with homemade groceries AND make-alike “junk food”, the following recipe is Mom’s 1983 copycat version of Oreo-Style cookies, which she called Gloreos, cookies – if you’re watching your calories, many of the ingredients can be substituted with sugar-free versions – and can be found on this website in the “Recipes” tab. It was not one of her “free-information-sheet” recipes; but, it can be found in many of her various cookbooks. Additionally, it is on page 219 of her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press; January 2018) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Printing), asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

Oreo is a brand of cookie usually consisting of two chocolate wafers with a sweet crème filling, marketed as “Chocolate Sandwich Cookie”. Introduced in 1912, Oreo is the bestselling cookie in the United States. As of 2018, the version sold in the U.S. is made by the Nabisco division of Mondelez International.

GLOREO SANDWICH COOKIES

When the Washington (DC) Post once interviewed the Nabisco people to ask how they felt about a Michigan housewife, claiming she could imitate their famous chocolate sandwich cookie at home, they were very insistent that it was impossible! Well, I felt if Hydroxy could come close, so could I – and I gave the big food company a taste of their own product! To my readers overseas, while I was publishing my monthly Secret Recipe Report, it was a blessing – or so they said!

The cookie dough:

18-ounce package devil’s food cake mix
2 eggs, plus 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
½ cup bitter cocoa powder

Blend all ingredients together until you can shape the dough into a smooth ball. Let it stand 20 minutes, loosely covered. Form dough into marble-sized balls and place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Flatten each with smooth bottom of drinking glass, greased once and dipped into Nestlé’s Quick powder. (Or use any sweetened, chocolate drink powder.) Bake at 400°F for 8 minutes. Remove cookies at once from baking sheet to paper towels – quickly, flatten each cookie with the back of pancake turner. Makes 96 cookies. Cool for 20 minutes. Prepare the following mixture as directed:

The cookie filling:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water
1 cup Crisco
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pound, plus 1 cup powdered sugar

Soften gelatin in cold water. Place in a heat-proof cup, in pan of hot water, until gelatin is transparent. Meanwhile, beat Crisco until fluffy, adding vanilla and sugar a little at a time. Beat in gelatin mixture when it is completely cooled, but not “set” or firm. This is used to give the filling stability – as well as protein! When cooled, shape filling into 1-inch balls. Place each between 2 bottom-sides of cooled cookies, pressing gently until filling has spread to the edge of the cookies and rounded-out like the originals. Makes 4 dozen sandwich cookies.

If you have a comment or question, please email me at therecipedetective@outlook.com – I will get back to you as quickly as possible!