Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Road Trip

Happy Monday to all! I hope it’s a memorable one for you! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

This is the last full week of May, with Memorial Day next Monday, and then on to June we go! Many families are planning vacations or backyard barbeques for celebrating this coming weekend, as it is considered to be the unofficial start to summer! So break out your barbeque grill, if you haven’t already, and prepare to fire it up!

Remember May is still, among other things, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Hamburger Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, and National Strawberry Month! While Friday celebrates National Beef Burger Day, National Brisket Day, and National Hamburger Day! Plus, because it’s the Friday before Memorial Day, National Don’t Fry Day, National Road Trip Day, and National Cooler Day are also being observed! 

#RoadTripDay

Outdoor activities are on the rise again, especially as the weather is getting more summer-like and the days are getting longer. If you can, take a road trip on Friday – either for the day or for the whole, four-day weekend! Pack a cooler with some strawberry pie, barbequed chicken, hamburgers, deviled eggs, and salads for a roadside park picnic. That’ll cover most of the celebrations mentioned above.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in… No Laugh’n Matter by Gloria Pitzer

[Printed in “The Times Herald” (Port Huron, MI; July 2, 1973; p. 8A)]

NEED A VACATION? WAIT ‘TIL RETURN!

[aka: Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort)]

It is only upon returning from a vacation that we realized just how much we could use one! Ours was nothing to write home about, so all of you out there, who were looking for a postcard from us, now know why you didn’t get one.

If – when I [was] at home, among conveniences, and circumstances used to force me to once write those ‘please-excuse-my-child’ notes in lipstick on the back of a Citizen’s Federal Savings [bank] slip and take telephone messages down in the dust on the end tables – you just know that any postcard I’d be apt to send from our vacation would probably be written in campfire charcoal on the back of a Handi-Wipe!

I still hate to refer to it in the strictest sense as a ‘vacation’. I mean, a cross country trip by station wagon with our five kids would be anything BUT a vacation! And somehow, I recall that the cross country trip got even more cross as we crossed the country, when we were traveling with the kids – especially on the way back [home].

We spent more time deciding which child got to sit next to the window than we ever did reading the road maps – and that was just in the driveway before we even left home! Upon reading those maps, however, we would be forced to make the crucial decision – deciding which fork in the road to take. Usually, [we chose] the wrong fork in the road – but then, we had never been lost that way before.

Once in a while, and even to this day, when Paul and I travel alone, without the children to distract us, we’ll find we’re lost on some turnpike off-ramp and, when out of state we’ll hope to see another vehicle with a Michigan license plate and start to follow them because we’re convinced that they know where they’re going and will probably, at least, get us back to the state line. But, in our case, [we] could use a bumper sticker for the car that reads: ‘Don’t follow me. I’m lost too!’

When the children were vacationing with us, in the old days, it seemed that ‘who-sits-next-to-the-windows’ is an on-going debate. The argument got so sticky at one point that I simply buried my face in a AAA tour book and pretended not to hear them until, from the midst of the back seat crowd, came a tortured voice, which pleaded in anguish, ‘But I HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Nonsense!’ I said, without looking up. ‘Give me one good reason WHY you HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Because’ said the voice with some agitation, ‘I’m driving! I’m Daddy!’

Even the cost of a simple vacation has been affected by the national inflation, I see today. You might say the cost of getting away, has gotten away; because, if you really wish to relive your vacation, the only way you can do it these days is to show your friends colored slides of all of your traveler’s checks!

We did learn a few things, though, about our trips [that] I’m perfectly willing to share with you. We now realize that the same vacation conveniences that would cost us $90 a day, while traveling, we could have had for free if we had stayed home.

Besides, nothing can deflate your ego, or undermine your significance as a person, like returning from a 3-week vacation; and, as you begin to carry the suitcases from the car into the house, have your neighbor greet you with: ‘Hi there! Going someplace?’

All we have to recall of our last vacation is the vivid memory of how the best restaurant to eat in was always just a block down the road from the one we stopped at and thought it would be the last one we’d come to before dark. But I will always remember how Daddy would lie on the beach about how he was missed at the office!

And…that hitchhiker we picked up, who, within 5 minutes, begged us to let him out of the car because he had been suddenly drenched with a Dairy Queen milkshake and 6 popsicle sticks were poked into his fringe-sleeved, suede jacket.

As I said, if you’re traveling with children, and you think you need the vacation you’re about to take, it’s nothing compared to the one you’ll be ready for when you get back!

I remember fighting with my siblings about who got to sit next to the back-seat-windows and thinking that it wasn’t fair for the boys to get the “premium seats” because they were older – they were always older! As the two youngest of the bunch, Cheryl and I often had to sit in the “way-back-seat” of the station wagon. Nowadays, it’s called “third row seating”; nonetheless, Cheryl and I always called it the “way-back-seat”.

Sure, we each got window seats by being “way-in-the-back”, but we were also facing the back! Thus, all we saw was what we already passed. Plus, facing backwards often gave me motion sickness. I also recall what Mom said (above) about getting lost a different way! Instead of asking Dad, “Are we there yet?”; we’d always ask him, “Are we lost yet – or is this a new scenic route?”

When my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they often chose to go on a day’s drive or weekend road trip somewhere. It didn’t matter if it was a planned route or “a new scenic route”, because they were together, away from it all, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Sometimes, however, work would manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat. Mom always managed to find something really good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home.

My husband and I can relate to Mom’s story (above), as we’ve gone through it too with our three kids (and we’re grateful there weren’t five kids). Now that we are empty-nesters, we love taking spontaneous road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes region, is a wonderful place to explore and unwind from a hectic work week!

#GoodSam

Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer

[As seen in… “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING”, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]

DEAR FRIENDS – The best part of April [1995] will be our bus trip to Branson, Missouri with ‘The Art Lewis Tour’. Art is the co-host of my every Tuesday radio visits on WSGW-Radio (Saginaw, MI)…Paul and I haven’t been to Branson in 8 years. The best part…we aren’t doing the driving…Art is! And we’ll be in the company of so many new friends! – Gloria Pitzer [From the front-page introduction of Mom’s Spring-1995 newsletter, Secret Recipes Quarterly.]

Mom and Dad seemed to make friends everywhere they went. Some trips were just for relaxation and fun. But other trips usually involved some Secret RecipesTM work too, as Mom really did enjoy what she did and it was easy to incorporate a lecture or a restaurant review and an imitation of a dish (or two); even an occasional, in-studio, radio show interview, instead of through the phone lines, as Mom usually did.

Since our camping experiences with the national RV organization, Good Sam, we have truly adopted their slogan… ‘In Good Sam there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!’ How very true. What would we have done had we not been blessed with meeting Irv and Helen Henze [or] Helen and Chuck Mogg? How much we miss Chuck since he passed away. Friends are those people who know everything there is to know about you, but like you anyhow! – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… “MORE THAN FRIENDS”, from My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 100)]

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

LAST THOUGHTS…

#WHBY

TODAY IS ALSO going to be my last regular monthly visit on the Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, since next Monday is Memorial Day (and Kathy is retiring soon). The show airs on weekdays, 11am to 1pm, Central Time; and I’m usually on during the first half hour. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI radio area, you can also listen to the broadcast, live or later, through WHBY’s website!

IN CLOSING…

#NationalWyomingDay

In honor of today, being National Wyoming Day, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for Wyoming Lamb Kabobs; as seen in… The American Cookery Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1976, p. 40)

P.S. FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, NEXT MONDAY…

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

May is still celebrating, among other things… American Cheese Month, National Asparagus Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Photography Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Other celebrations for this week include:

Today is also… National Yucatan Shrimp Day, National Brother’s Day, and National Escargot Day!

Tuesday, May 25th, is… National Brown-Bag It Day and National Wine Day!

Wednesday, May 26th, is… National Blueberry Cheesecake Day and National Senior Health & Fitness Day (which is always the last Wednesday in May)!

Thursday, May 27th, is… National Grape Popsicle Day!

Saturday, May 29th, is… National Coq Au Vin Day!

Sunday, May 30th, is… National Creativity Day, National Water a Flower Day, and National Mint Julep Day!

AND NEXT MONDAY, May 31st, is… National Macaroon Day, National Utah Day, National Smile Day, and of course National Memorial Day!

#TGIM

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

…21 down and 31 to go!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Last Four Years

Happy Monday and a continued happy National Inventor’s Month to all! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalInventorsMonth

Since this is still National Inventor’s Month, among other things, I want to continue telling you even more about my mom, Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL Secret RecipesTM Detective and INVENTOR of the copycat cookery concept for imitating junk foods, convenience foods, fast foods, and other restaurant dishes at home!

During the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about Mom’s 40+ years (1973-2014) as the Secret RecipesTM Detective – from the inception of her copycat cookery business and the 1973 release of her very first, self-published cookbook, to her and Dad’s forced retirements, for different health reasons, in 2014.

#NationalStrokeAwarenessMonth

#NationalMentalHealthAwarenessMonth

#OlderAmericansMonth

That’s why, this week, I correspondingly want to mention that May is also National Stroke Awareness Month, National Mental Health Awareness Month, and National Older Americans Month. I additionally want to share with you a more difficult subject (at least, it is for me) – Mom’s last four years (2014-2018), as the retired “Recipe Detective”.

Mother’s Day came and went last weekend. Like the last few years, it was bittersweet for me, again, as I cherished the loving bonds I have with my three children (and my grandson), while missing the physicality of that bond with my own mom; especially since it had grown exponentially during her last few years on Earth!

Moreover, Father’s Day is just around the corner. Accordingly, I’m really missing BOTH of my parents – especially these days more than most others. Dad passed away rather suddenly, in October 2014. Apparently, he had been sick, but he never said anything to anyone because he just wasn’t one to ever complain about his own ailments.

Furthermore, Mom had been suffering through a few grand mal seizures that summer, requiring some hospitalizations and doctor visits; so Dad was even more focused on her than himself. That’s just a small example of one reason why there are so many different national “health awareness” days, weeks, and month-long observations now – the key word being AWARENESS!

Amid everything going on in 2014, Mom and Dad had to completely retire their business. That relieved Dad, because he was six years older than Mom and had been wanting to fully retire for years. However, completely retiring the whole business left Mom feeling kind of empty, like she had lost her child.

No more stories to write… No more recipe investigations… No more radio shows… Even traveling had become too taxing for them, both. Then, as I mentioned above, Dad passed away, unexpectedly, that fall; following Mom’s several hospitalizations throughout that spring and summer.

Over the next eight months, with Dad gone, my sister, Cheryl, and I took turns taking care of Mom everyday, watching her for seizures, helping her with the daily housework, and taking her to her appointments and shopping. One morning, in the summer of 2015, we found Mom on her bedroom floor and had to call 9-1-1. The doctor at the hospital said she had suffered from another grand mal seizure AND a double-stroke, at some point during the early morning hours.

Gloria and Paul Pitzer – at the Big Boy Restaurant in Marysville, MI

Mom was in the hospital for quite a while and even in the ICU for a brief time, followed by months of various therapies at a health care facility, before having to move into a “retirement place” that had 24-hour, on-site nursing care and other special amenities, as she had acquired dementia from the strokes. What Mom needed then was a lot more than what Cheryl and I could offer her, since we both had jobs to work as well.

Mom went through a lot changes and losses from 2014 until she passed away in January 2018. She never got to return to the condo she had shared with Dad, after her strokes. I had to become her legal guardian and medical advocate that summer. Cheryl and I also had to pack up her condo, paint and carpet it, then sell it to pay for her new living conditions.

Throughout her last 39 months of living without Dad, Mom never lost faith that they’d be together again, someday. She believed that it wasn’t for her to know when, why, or how – only that IT WILL BE! Giving up what we LOVE (no matter who or what it is) is probably one of the most difficult tasks we’ll face in our lifetimes. It definitely takes a toll on us mentally (admittedly or not) and that, in turn, affects us physically, especially as we get older!

Mom rolled rather resiliently with every punch Life dealt her, during her last four years. Her faith in God’s love and ultimate plan never waivered. She told me once that she drew her strength from memories of her own mom and all the adversity that she had faced throughout her lifetime. Mom felt that her own hardships paled, by far, in comparison.

Having journaled almost every day since she was about 10 years old, Mom’s love of writing was especially therapeutic for her dementia in helping her remember things, particularly in her last couple of years. In as much as it was a form of therapy for her memories, it was also a natural reflex for her to relax, reflect and meditate. She was amazed to be able to remember her youth more clearly than the previous day’s events, and bewildered by the “old face” she saw in the mirror.

Mom liked to write about finding the blessings in any given day or moment; good and bad, alike. That’s just how she was raised, being grateful for something everyday – not just for Life’s gifts, but also for Life’s challenges; which she willingly confronted and overcame, empowering herself to do more rather than discouraging herself to fail.

MOM BELIEVED THAT THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR FAILURE – ONLY LESSONS AND FAITH!

‘There’s a powerful wisdom we don’t understand. It comes down to believing… To having faith.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… This Is Not A Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food For Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 60)

Even though Mom enjoyed being “Nana”, “Grandma”, and “Mom” a little while longer; it was still, in part, a heart-wrenching time for her, being without Dad. She told me that it’s not something you get over, you just learn to live with it. He was not only her husband, life partner, and co-parent of five kids; but he was also her best friend and business partner.

They were together for almost 60 years, especially after Mom’s copycat recipes business really took off, in 1976. That’s when Dad left his job at the sign company to manage the business end of things for Mom, while she handled the creative and promotional sides – at which point it literally became a day-in-and-day-out, 24/7 relationship!

While I was growing up, surrounded by and involved in the “dining-room-table, cottage operation”, I didn’t truly understand Mom’s deep-rooted love for all of it (like a mother has for her child). Until late in 2015, when I started collaborating with her to rewrite her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1982), using my 3rd edition copy of her book from May 1983.

The original goal was to republish one of Mom’s cookbooks for a new multi-media generation, while creating another source of revenue for Mom, as she started a new phase of her life without Dad. Mom chose that cookbook because it was, basically, one of her most popular and also her personal favorite, coming off of the tidal wave of fame she had received from her FIRST appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, in 1981.

In as much as I have always loved to write, since I was a young girl, like Mom; I hadn’t done much creative writing for a couple decades. Consequently, when I started helping Mom rewrite her cookbook, it rekindled an old flame in me; because, as I’ve mentioned before, Mom’s cookbooks weren’t just full of recipes. They also contained a lot of her own creative writing, in food-for-thought articles and stories of inspiration.

For decades, Mom never wanted to let any of her books be published by an outside company because they always wanted to change her creations. But, as times changed, so did situations and attitudes. We couldn’t take the self-publishing route this time around. So we researched many companies and finally chose Balboa Press.

To our surprise, Balboa Press didn’t want to change very much of anything except a few of Mom’s original illustrations (containing the likeness of KFC’s “colonel”) and the book’s title! They said it too closely resembled The Betty Crocker Cookbook’s title. As I told them, it was supposed to, since the whole book was a parody of imitations! But they wouldn’t budge. There was a time, years ago, that Mom would’ve said, “Never! Not any of it!” to the changes.

When Balboa suggested calling the “new” book simply Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook, that just wasn’t good enough for us! Together, Mom and I came up with a shuffled version of the original, eliminating the words “Better Cookery”, altogether.

Thus, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, having a secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places – the Best of the Recipe Detective”, became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – the Best of the Recipe Detective, with the secondary title, simply, “Famous Foods from Famous Places”.

The layout needed to be changed slightly because of the digital revolution and the printed format we chose for the final product. Plus, I had to scan all of Mom’s pictures and illustrations from the original book, of which she and I could only choose a dozen or so to go into the new revision. Additionally, we chose some parts of the original book to omit due to changes in information, lack of current relatability, or other such reasons. There was a lot of work involved!

One of Mom’s most favorite things in life, next to Dad (and us kids), was ALAWAYS to write. She also loved to mentor those who shared that love! Helping Mom rewrite the “revised rewrite” of her original book, put me in touch with her in a whole new way from what I had, while growing up! Even from what I had, after having children of my own.

Somewhere within that project, Mom’s “child” became like my own child, as I dedicated about two years of my life to its completion (when I wasn’t doing all the other work I needed to do). The cookbook went to print in early January 2018. When Mom heard the news, she said that one of the highlights of her life was that she was “kind of famous for a while!”

Mom passed away later that month, two weeks after her 82nd birthday, leaving behind a beautiful legacy of faith, love, generosity, humor and a wide range of artistic talents. I feel so lucky to have all of these memories of her and how she contributed toward the woman I am today.

LAST THOUGHTS…

#GoodNeighbor

REMINDER: NEXT MONDAY – May 24th – will be my LAST visit with Kathy Keene on her Good Neighbor” show, at WHBY, as she will be retiring soon! I wish Kathy nothing but joy in her coming endeavors!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

IN CLOSING…

In honor of today, being National Cherry Cobbler Day, here are Mom’s “secret recipes” for Cake Mix Cobbler and Thin Vanilla Icing that I shared on the Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene last month! [As seen in… The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 182).]

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

May is still celebrating, among other things… American Cheese Month, National Asparagus Month, National Egg Month, National Hamburger Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Other celebrations for the week:

Sunday, May 16th, was, among other things, the start of Bike to Work Week [16th-22nd of 2021], which is always the week of National Bike to Work Day (the 3rd Friday in May)!

Additionally…

Today is also… National Pack Rat Day, National Walnut Day, and National Idaho Day!

Tuesday, May 18th, is… National Visit Your Relatives Day, National No Dirty Dishes Day, and National Cheese Soufflé Day!

Wednesday, May 19th, is… National Devil’s Food Cake Day and National Juice Slush Day, which is always the 3rd Wednesday in May!

Thursday, May 20th, is… National Pick Strawberries Day and National Quiche Lorraine Day!

Friday, May 21st, is… National Waitstaff Day, National Strawberries and Cream Day, and National Memo Day!

Plus, as the 3rd Friday in May, it is also National Pizza Party Day, National Bike to Work Day, and National NASCAR Day!

Saturday, May 22nd, is… National Craft Distillery Day, World Paloma Day, and National Vanilla Pudding Day!

Sunday, May 23rd, is… National Lucky Penny Day and National Taffy Day!

#TGIM

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

…20 down and 32 to go!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Copycat Cookery Inventor

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

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalInventorsMonth

It’s still National Inventor’s Month! So, this week, I want to tell you more about Mom being the ORIGINAL Secret RecipesTM Detective, INVENTOR of the copycat cookery concept for imitating junk foods, convenience foods, fast foods, and other restaurant dishes at home!

Last week, I wrote about Mom’s first 20+ years (1973-1993) as the Secret RecipesTM Detective – from the inception of her copycat cookery business and the 1973 release of her first self-published cookbook, to her SECOND appearance on the “Phil Donahue Show”, in 1993.

This week, as I did in my blog post from the week before last, I want to write more about Mom’s last 20+ years (1994-2014) as the Secret RecipesTM Detective…

THE LAST 20 YEARS

AFTER DONAHUE – THE SECOND TIME…

Mom wrote the quote above about her first appearance on Phil’s show in 1981, as it was written before she ever agreed to do it all over again, in 1993! Mom and Dad thought that if the show left out their contact information the second time around, it wouldn’t be as overwhelming as the first time. However, people found a way to find them! That show even shattered the record for most requested transcripts ever!

As I’ve mentioned the past couple weeks, following the second Donahue appearance, in 1993, Mom and Dad were persuaded to take a new route, in marketing their books, by doing an infomercial with Guthie-Renker Corporation. It was produced and directed by Positive Response Television and Mom was sent her own VHS copies, but in the end the project was “canned” and never aired.

The infomercial’s presentation was to appear as a talk show called “Ask Mike”, looking very similar to Mom’s last appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, including cooking demonstrations of some of her popular imitations. The “commercial breaks” were to promote several of Mom’s books, of which the production team totally changed the looks.

Furthermore, “Mike” acted like a dramatic caricature of Phil, always saying “Yep! That’s the flavor!” whenever he sampled Mom’s imitations. In fact, Mom titled her 1988 book, Yup! That’s The Flavor!, because that was Phil’s repeated reaction to all of her imitations on his show!

Additionally, Wally Amos (whom Mom met during her 1988 appearance on ABC’s Home show) cameoed as a street interviewer, offering “blind”, taste-test challenges to “random people on the street” with samples of Mom’s imitations versus the originals!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; September 1978, p. 2)

ON DUPLICATING FAMOUS RECIPES…

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 [as practice makes perfect], and it certainly takes the monotony out of mealtime when, for reasons of financial inadequacy, we cannot always eat out…even if we could afford to eat all or most of our meals away from home, wouldn’t that become monotonous in time?

Mom found out later, when she and Dad didn’t have five kids in tow (plus, being able to afford it better, from the success of their Secret RecipesTM business) that eating out all the time really did not get as monotonous as she thought it might! For MANY decades, she and Dad enjoyed eating breakfast out almost every day!

Mom and Dad had their favorite spots, but they also enjoyed exploring new places, too. They always made friends with the staff and other patrons everywhere they went! Breakfast can be the most important meal of the day in more ways than one!

Not wanting to ever be on television again, Mom went back to her roots – being a regular guest on many of her beloved, radio talk shows, all around the country, and coaching people on how to be copycat cooks with her new short-cut methods! In 1994, she wrote and published a “Best of…” cookbook, covering her favorite, copycat cookery highlights from the first 20 years of her newsletter!

During the next two years, Mom and Dad resurrected three of her popular, out-of-print cookbooks: Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes, The Best of The Better Cookery Cookbook, and The Copycat Cookbook; basically changing each from a 5½ x 8½-inch format to an 8½ x 11-inch format.

In 1997, Mom released four more new books. One focused on low fat and sugar recipes, plus breads, and was so named. Two others featured more short-cut recipes for on-the-go cooks like herself, which she called Restaurant Recipe Secrets and Secret Knock-Off Recipes.

The fourth publication was The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes, a collection of Mom’s first 200+ recipes that she sold in the early and mid-1970s, printed on index cards ready for filing. And because that wasn’t quite enough for the year, Mom also put together a simple, 4-page folder with a small collection of recipes for “Chicken Soup And Other Comfort Foods”.

In 1998, Mom revised and reprinted a few more of her cookbooks – Yup! That’s The Flavor! (1988), re-naming it as Secret That’s The Flavor Recipes; as well as Secret Fast Food Recipes (1985) and Secret Make Alike Recipes (1991), changing both of the latter from 5½ x 8½-inch formats to 8½ x 11-inch formats.

From 1998 through 2004, Mom also put together seven, two-page recipe bulletins, focusing on different restaurants or subjects, covering imitations for Old Country Buffet, Boston Market, Bob Evans, Mrs. Field’s Cookies, Fred Sanders Company, Bill Knapp, and J.L. Hudson.

Over the next three years after that, Mom wrote three more new copycat cookbooks that she and Dad published. The Great Imitator’s Cookbook came out in 1999, followed by Mom’s “go-to” collection, My Personal Favorites, in 2000; as she was preparing to permanently retire her newsletter in December of that year. Plus, in 2001, she wrote Gloriously Simple! Recipes, another collection for her ever popular short-cut cooking concept.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out at Home Cookbook (Nat’l Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 1)

A PHILOSOPHY

A whole approach to life, can be expressed in… cooking… an art we all can learn. As with the other arts, practicing it competently requires care, patience and the skill that comes with experience. But, above all else, to be a good cook, you must WANT to [cook].

At one time or another, most of us have had the experience of cooking when we really didn’t feel like doing it, Then, even our tried-and-true recipes are apt to be disappointing [and] lifeless. Something just isn’t there.

What’s missing is the spirit of the cook. For food is more than a physical substance. It has an intangible quality that nourishes our spirits. A good dish, lovingly prepared, at some point in the process of tasting and blending, becomes more than the sum of its ingredients. Its flavor [and] its uniqueness are created by the cook.

YOU WILL FIND PLEASURE AND EXCITEMENT IN COOKING, IF YOU PUT THEM INTO IT.

There’s no limit to the satisfaction you can gain. Taste as you go. Experiment a little with seasonings. Try new foods and new combinations [of food]. The results will have ‘you’ in them. You will face the job with a feeling of freedom, with a feeling of creativeness; and both, you and your family, will be constantly increasing the enjoyment of living.

When you cook this way, with warmth and active pleasure, your meals will be more than just food. Your zest and your spirit will be in them – and some of the radiance of Life, itself.

Mom always made my experiences with food (and in learning to cook) exciting and gratifying! I rarely ever cook the same dish exactly the same way, twice. I love to experiment with different seasoning combinations; and have yet to hear a complaint from my family that something hasn’t tasted good. I’m so proud to have learned from the best! I love you, Mom!

In 2002, as short-cut cooking continued to be the popular thing for busy homemakers, Mom and Dad decided to reprint her 1986 hit, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes. That was the last book that they published themselves. They continued to promote that cookbook and Mom’s seven bulletins into 2014, until they both started having some significant health issues and Dad suddenly passed away that fall.

LAST THOUGHTS…

Life is short and fragile. All it takes is a simple moment to change everything you take for granted. So focus on the simple things that surround you and be grateful for each moment you have to leave an imprint on someone or enjoy the one left for you!

#GoodNeighbor

[Our next visit is scheduled in TWO weeks – Monday, May 24th!]

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#NationalEggMonth

In honor of this also being National Egg Month, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for Gypsy 48-Egg Torte, like that from the Dodge Estate; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 13)!

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

May is still celebrating, among other things… National American Cheese Month, National Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month, National Barbecue Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Hamburger Month, National Photography Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

This second full week in May (9th-15th of 2021) celebrates, among other things… National Salvation Army Week and American Craft Beer Week, as well as National Etiquette Week, which runs Monday through Friday of the 2nd full week in May (10th-14th of 2021)!

Other celebrations for this week include:

Monday, May 10th, is… National Clean Up Your Room Day, National Shrimp Day, and National Washington Day!

#CleanUpYourRoomDay

Tuesday, May 11th, is… National Eat What You Want Day and National Foam Rolling Day!

Wednesday, May 12th, is… National Limerick Day and National Nutty Fudge Day!

Thursday, May 13th, is… National Crouton Day, National Apple Pie Day, and National Fruit Cocktail Day!

Friday, May 14th, is… National Decency Day and National Buttermilk Biscuit Day! In honor of the latter, here’s a re-share of Mom’s “Beautiful Biscuits” that she claimed are better than KFC’s!

#NationalButtermilkBiscuitDay

Saturday, May 15th, is… National Chocolate Chip Day and National Nylon Stocking Day! Plus, because this is the 3rd Saturday in May, it’s also National Armed Forces Day and National Learn to Swim Day! 

Sunday, May 16th, is… National Barbecue Day, National Do Something Good for Your Neighbor Day, National Love a Tree Day, National Mimosa Day, and National Biographer’s Day! Sunday is also the start of Bike to Work Week [16th-22nd of 2021], which is always the week of National Bike to Work Day (the 3rd Friday in May)!

#TGIM

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

…19 down and 33 to go!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Inventor Of Copycat Cookery…

Happy Monday and happy National Inventor’s Month! Instead of dreading Mondays, make them memorable! I always look forward to Mondays, because they’re my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalInventorsMonth

May is, among other things, National Inventor’s Month! So, this whole month presents awesome chances for me to tell Mom’s story again! My mom is the ORIGINAL Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, INVENTOR of the copycat cookery concept for imitating junk foods, convenience foods, fast foods, and other restaurant dishes at home!

…The First 20 Years

Over 45 years ago Mom became the FIRST person to INVENT homemade, copycat versions of goodies such as Hostess Twinkies©, among many other things! Do you remember when Hostess Brands announced it was going out of business, in 2012, and there was a big run on Twinkies? Mom’s brainchild came in handy for making our own cream-filled, golden, mini-loaf cakes! Likewise, it’s been especially useful over the past year, during the restaurant shut-downs and quarantines for Covid-19!

Mom’s copycat cookery concept began building its legacy in the early 1970s with her syndicated recipe column, Cookbook Corner. Back then, one of Mom’s readers had requested a recipe for imitating the special sauce that McDonalds put on their Big Macs.

That’s when Mom discovered that McDonald’s Big Mac was actually an imitation of the Big Boy franchise’s original invention of the double-decker burger (self-titled “The Big Boy”), which she grew up enjoying when she was young. That’s when the seed for copycat cookery was planted!

Mom saw a niche in the food industry that no one else had ever explored before, thus, she enthusiastically began investigating how to imitate all kinds of junk foods and fast foods, even grocery products, at home. Mom felt that if her homemade, duplications could save her own family money then she’d share those secrets to help others too!

After printing a few “secret recipes” in her column, Mom’s readers LOVED it and sent her more requests! However, the editors found that their food industry advertisers hated it. Mom was told to go back to “normal” recipes, or they’d have to let her go. Instead, she quit her job and went home to develop her own paper where she could promote this new and unique collection of copycat recipes, for which she knew the public was starving.

Initially, Mom printed and sold her ever-growing recipe collection on index cards, ready for filing (at 25-cents each or five for a dollar)! Her copycat recipes collection grew exponentially and snowballed into dozens-upon-dozens of cookbooks, hundreds of newsletter issues, and other work she published, along with Dad, over a span of more than four decades (1973-2013).

Early, in 1973, Mom published her very first cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook. It was a parody of Betty Crocker’s famous red and white checkered cookbook. Mom comically described her own creation as a collection of “reluctant-cook”, “budget-tested” recipes, many of which she first published in her Cookbook Corner column.

Later, in 1973, inspired by a wonderful “craft-letter” she had been receiving, from Carol Duvall, Mom decided to devise and publish her own monthly newsletter, as a platform for her fast-growing catalog of secret recipes. It also featured Mom’s food-for-thought editorials and food-for-the-soul inspirations, plus gardening and household tips and tricks – anything of interest for busy homemakers like herself.

The newsletter started as Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter, in January 1974. Mom designed it so that each issue could be “collected” in a small-sized 3-ring binder, as an on-going book. Over the decades, as the newsletter evolved, its name and size changed from time to time; also, going from monthly to bi-monthly to quarterly and back to monthly.

Mom had a unique style in all of her works. She was following the “live-laugh-love” mantra long before it was a thing! Her books and newsletters were put together like homemade quilts; combining different bits of this and that, wanting her creations to belong as much on the coffee and bedside tables as they did on the kitchen counter.

If you like to laugh while cooking or cook while laughing, any of Mom’s books are for you! While all but one of Mom’s books are out of print now, used copies of many of them can still be found on Amazon and eBay! You can find a more complete listing of Mom’s work within the Cookbooks and Other Publications tabs on this website.

‘Food is more than a physical substance. It has an intangible quality that nourishes our spirits. A good dish, lovingly prepared, at some point in the process of tasting and blending, becomes more than the sum of its ingredients.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out at Home Cookbook (Nat’l Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 1)

Mom’s copycat recipe collection continually grew. In 1977, she began her first series of “secret recipes” cookbooks. The first in the series was The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (aka: “Book 1”)! Later that year, having so much material with which to work, Mom was quick to follow up with “Book 2” in her series, thereby calling it The Second Helping of Secret Recipes.

The hunger from her fans for more “secret recipes” continued to grow. Over the next three years, Mom published three more hits – each one unique and fresh: Eating Out At Home (aka: “Book 3”), in 1978; Top Secret Recipes Al’a Carte (aka: “Book 4”), in 1979; and The Secrets Of Homemade Groceries (aka: “Book 5”), in 1980.

Between the five books, in this series alone, Mom had developed over 1,400 imitations covering 59 diverse restaurants (from Arby’s to Yummyland), 83 brands of grocery products (from A&P to Wonder), 22 famous hotel chains and inns, 15 favorite candies and carnival eats, 12 different department stores and cafeterias, and renowned goodies from 7 various tourist hot spots!

The growing success of Mom’s copycat cookery concept led to enormous opportunities, doing radio and TV talk shows all over North America, which opened up even more doors of opportunity. Mom didn’t release anything new in 1981, as the project she was working on had to be put on hold while the family business was inundated by over a MILLION requests for what she was already offering, following her FIRST appearance on the Phil Donahue Show in July of that year!

After recovering from “Hurricane Donahue 1981”, Mom found time in 1982 to finish that postponed project from the previous year. She revised the title of her very first (1973) cookbook and came up with a whole new book that was one of her most famous (and personal favorites) copycat cookbooks ever, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook.

[NOTE: That’s the book (1983, 3rd edition version) that I rewrote for Mom so that it could be republished for a new generation of copycat cooks. Unfortunately, Mom passed away shortly after it went to print (2018).]

From 1982 through 1988, Mom wrote and published nine new books. Mom’s 1985 release of Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes focused on the “short-cut” recipes she had begun developing by revamping many of her past imitations with no more than 5 ingredients. They became her most requested recipes whenever she was a guest on hundreds of radio talk show programs throughout North America! It was another new niche Mom was first to carve out in the recipe world!

In 1986, Mom and Dad published a unique collection of Mom’s trademark humor, called “Food for Thought”, which features, feel-good stories, inspirational quotes and other things to smile about (except for recipes)! Thus, Mom called it This Is Not A Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food-For-Thought!

In 1988, Mom developed The Copycat Cookbook, named for her original concept, which included another unique collection of make-alike recipes for more famous favorites not in her previous cookbooks. Additionally, in 1988, Mom made her FIRST memorable appearance on ABC’s Home show, where she met Wally Amos (a second appearance followed in 1991)…

In 1989, feeling very blessed by the previous 15 years of growing success in her copycat cookery business, Mom wrote a culmination of our family’s story and how we were all involved in the merry – and sometimes mad – world of Secret RecipesTM, with close to a few dozen special recipes thrown in.

My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop is mostly full of food-for-thought and witty stories about the trials and tribulations of a family of seven, running a kitchen table, cottage enterprise. I quote from it often in my “Mom’s Memories” sections of my blog posts.

Afterwards, Mom rewrote her favorite 1982 cookbook into a “Best of…” condensed version. She also took the greatest parts of her first series of five books and put them together into another “Best of…” cookbook, which she called Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Of Famous Favorites.

In the spring of 1991, Mom wrote and published her next cookbook, Make Alike Recipes, having only the product or a description as a guide in developing a new line of food industry imitations. She never knew, nor did she want to know, what the famous food companies actually put in their recipes.

However, Mom did know that by combining certain compatible ingredients in her recipes, she could come up with “make alike” imitations that are reminiscent of the original product or dish. Mom always liked to look for ingredients that were available most everywhere, economical and, if possible, wholesome.

But, whenever conceivable, Mom also liked to reduce the number of ingredients in her recipes, by using prepared products – one product replacing two or more ingredients for the same result – like mayonnaise for oil and eggs or cake mix for flour, sugar and baking powder.

As I mentioned earlier, also in 1991, Mom appeared for a SECOND time on ABC’s Home show – however, feeling a bit dismayed, she didn’t think it went as well as the first time. On the other hand, her SECOND appearance on the Phil Donahue Show in April of 1993 shattered the record for the most requested transcripts ever!

LAST THOUGHTS…

#WHBY

If you missed my visit last week on WHBY’s Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, you can listen to the podcast recording here: https://www.spreaker.com/user/woodwardradio/laura-pitzer-emerich_6

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

IN CLOSING…

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

#NationalBarbecueMonth

In honor of this also being National Barbecue Month, here are TWO of Mom’s “secret recipes” for imitating Open Pit’s and Hunt’s barbeque sauces… As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

May is celebrating, among other things… American Cheese Month, Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month,  National Egg Month, Older Americans Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Hamburger MonthNational Photography Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Some other celebrations for this week include the following:

Yesterday was the start of the first full week of May, which is celebrating, among other things … Small Business Week, National Wildflower Week, and National Pet Week (which is the 1st Sunday through the 2nd Monday of May)!

Today is… National Garden Meditation Day, National Chocolate Custard Day, National Raspberry Pop Over Day, and National Montana Day! This is also Teacher Appreciation Week – which runs the first Monday through Friday in May!

Tomorrow is… National Star Wars Day, National Weather Observers Day, National Orange Juice Day, National Candied Orange Peel Day, National Bird Day, and National Teacher Appreciation Day (which is always on Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation Week)!

Wednesday is… National Cartoonists Day, National Totally Chipotle Day, National Hoagie Day, and Cinco de Mayo!

Thursday is… National Beverage Day, and National Crepe Suzette Day!

Friday is… National Packaging Design Day, National Paste-Up Day, and National Roast Leg of Lamb Day!

Saturday is… National Coconut Cream Pie Day and National Have A Coke Day. As the 2nd Saturday of May, this is also National Miniature Golf Day & Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Day!

Sunday is… National Moscato Day, National Butterscotch Brownie Day, and best of all Mother’s Day! Being the start of the 2nd full week of May, it’s also, among other things… American Craft Beer Week!

#TGIM

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

…18 down and 34 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Let Me Tell You A Story

Happy 17th Monday of the year! Personally, I always look forward to every Monday because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#WHBY

Today is extra special because it’s the last Monday of the month! That means it’s time for my regular monthly visit on the Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene! It’s been one year since Kathy and I started reminiscing about Mom on her radio show! You can listen to it live or later through WHBY’s website. I’m usually on during the first half-hour of the show. You can also chime in, as the studio’s phone number is listed on the website and Kathy loves to take calls from her listeners!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#NationalTellAStoryDay

Additionally, tomorrow is National Tell a Story Day! That makes this week a really great opportunity for me to re-tell Mom’s story again! She was a very talented storyteller, herself, as well as an awesome illustrator, writer, publisher, and innovative recipe developer!

In the mid-1970’s, Mom became an international sensation for having developed the “Copycat Cookery” concept of imitating the so-called “taboo” junk foods and fast foods at home, as well as other famous restaurant dishes and grocery store convenience foods. Everything about Mom and her work was unique and fresh, thus, word spread fast!

Mom was a regular guest on Kathy Keene’s Good Neighbor” show, once a month for almost 13 years (June 1992 through December 2005). In fact, Mom was a regular guest on MANY radio shows all over North America for almost 40 years (1974-2013)!

Mom also did some television talk shows (locally, nationally, and internationally), November 1974 through April 1993, including the famous Phil Donahue Show – TWICE! However, Mom didn’t do any more after that last one, with Phil Donahue; which, by the way, smashed the record for the MOST requested transcript ever! The producers even re-ran Mom’s 1993 episode the year Phil retired the show.

Later, in 1993, an attempt was made by Guthie-Renker Corp. to film an infomercial with Mom for selling some of her cookbooks, of which they completely changed the look. The infomercial was supposed to look similar to Mom’s appearances on ABC’s Home show (May 1991 – when she was personally introduced to Wally Amos) and that last interview with Phil Donahue (April 1993).

The infomercial’s talk show format was called “Ask Mike”. Mom demonstrated making some of her popular imitations, while “Mike” acted like a dramatic caricature of Phil. Wally Amos cameoed as a street interviewer, offering taste-test challenges to “random people on the street” with samples of Mom’s imitations versus the originals! It was produced & directed by Positive Response Television, but it never aired.

Without going into all the “Hollywood drama” that surrounded the project, I will just say that Mom received her own personal copies on VHS; but the whole project was otherwise shelved, and the experience really soured Mom from ever wanting to do television again.

Nonetheless, Mom had always loved her radio shows the best! They were the cornerstones of her business from the very beginning, when she started promoting her work on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” radio program. Here’s how Mom tells that story…

When Mom started to semi-semi-retire, after retiring her newsletter in December 2000, a lot of people, like Kathy, began wondering over the years: “What ever happened to the Secret Recipe DetectiveTM, Gloria Pitzer?” Let me tell you that story…

After 2000, over the next four years, Mom wrote and published four more cookbooks and seven recipe bulletins focused on certain brands or chains. Also, in 2002, she and Dad reprinted her popular, 1986, “short-cut-cookery” cookbook – Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes.

Mom had inadvertently carved out another new niche in the recipe industry when she started focusing on developing her “short-cut” recipes (with 5 ingredients or less) for reproducing her imitations. They became the most requested recipes from her radio audience! Mom continued to promote her recipe collections for almost a decade more but on a much smaller scale, as they planned to fully retire when their stock ran out.

Mom continued to do lectures about her short-cut cookery style for imitating almost anything; here and there at various libraries and for some of the Good Sam club’s “Samboree” events. Mom and Dad LOVED being “Good Sam-ers” for many happy years. They made so many friends everywhere they went.

#TheRecipeDetective

As I told Kathy last year, when we started chatting together, Mom tried but couldn’t bring herself to FULLY retire in 2006, as Dad would’ve liked. However, she did scale back her commitments and offerings every few years until 2014. Mom just couldn’t completely stop doing what she loved so much and so completely.

She eked out eight more years of Secret RecipesTM, promoting and selling (on a very small scale) that 2002 reprint of her Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes cookbook; plus, her seven different, 2-page, recipe “bulletins” and a 4-page “folder” of her favorite “Soups and Other Comfort Foods” – which reminds me of something Mom wrote about “selling”…

In August 2008, my brother, Mike, had created the TheRecipeDetective.com’s original website for Mom and Dad’s business. It was a new platform from which they could promote their current Secret RecipesTM offerings and give out free recipes too, as Mom traditionally did from the beginning.

Since Mom and Dad knew nothing about technology, Mike managed and ran the website for 10 years, until after Mom passed away. That summer, I had wanted to start writing this blog about Mom’s “Recipe Detective” legacy and I had asked Mike if I could put it on the website.

Instead of continuing to manage the site, himself, Mike transferred the domain to me. Due to different hosting and other things, the website isn’t exactly the same as it was three years ago when Mike had it, but I’m working on making it a legacy for which Mom would still be proud.

The winter after Dad had passed away, Mom wanted to revive her favorite cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (first printed in 1982), hoping to reach out to a new generation of cooks; meanwhile, hopefully creating a new residual income, for herself. But she couldn’t physically do the self-publishing route again, which she and Dad had always done together.

After decades of saying she would never let anyone else publish her works, Mom finally consented to letting another publisher do it. So, my brother, Mike, and I did some research on different publishers, finally choosing Balboa Press; who were more than happy to republish Mom’s old cookbook, without changing nearly as much as she feared they would.

Only two things really needed to be changed, per the publisher. First, the name of the book, because it too closely resembled the title of Betty Crocker’s cookbook. I tried to explain to the publisher that was the whole premise of Mom’s book – to imitate – and it already sold that way for over a decade without incident from Betty Crocker.

But they insisted, otherwise they would not publish it. Thus, to simplify the change as much as possible (see picture above), the title became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook The Best of the Recipe Detective. The second change was removing the likeness of KFC’s “Colonel” from her “Big Bucket In The Sky” illustrations.

However, Balboa couldn’t just reprint one of our original copies. Things had changed a bit. Thus, because of eBooks and new technology equipment, I had to retype the entire book into Microsoft Word for Mom, reformatting it to fit the size we chose for the new edition’s layout.

I also had to scan all of her pictures and illustrations from the original book to be placed in the reprint, too. Due to extended costs, we couldn’t reprint all of them, so Mom and I chose our favorites. We also decided to leave out most of the diet section from the original and a few other things that were no longer current or applicable.

It took me a couple of years to rewrite the book for Mom, as I was juggling many responsibilities, at the time. But the book finally went to print shortly before Mom passed away, in January 2018. She was really happy when she heard it was published again. She told me that one of her favorite parts of her lifetime was that she was kind of famous for a little while and she was blessed to have met some really wonderful people because of it…

LAST THOUGHTS…

I still love hearing from people who knew Mom AND Dad, both. Once Dad had retired from his job in 1976 to help Mom full-time with the business, they spent over 38 years together, side-by-side, every day, 24/7, running their family enterprise. Where there was one, the other was always close at hand!

Even though the past year of quarantining together, 24/7, has tested many couples’ compatibility; keep in mind that Mom and Dad CHOSE to be together that much. It wasn’t always a smooth road, but it was a loving (and learning) journey, nonetheless.

Everyone I’ve heard from over the past few years has had some awesome stories to tell about how, both, Mom and Dad had touched all of their lives in some special ways! I hope you’ll write to me at therecipedetective@outlook.com and tell me your stories, your memories, of Mom and Dad.

IN CLOSING…

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

#NationalSoftPretzelMonth

#NationalPretzelDay

In honor of this being National Soft Pretzel Month & National Pretzel Day, together, here is an encore of Mom’s “secret recipe” for Soft Pretzels; as seen in her last book…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 274)!

[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]

AND, for it still being April and National Pecan Month, here’s Mom’s imitation of Pecan Pie Like Big Boy’s, also seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 240)!

[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

APRIL IS STILL in effect for most of this week and still celebrating, among other things… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Straw Hat Month, National Poetry Month, National Volunteer Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month!

Some other celebrations for this week, through the end of April, include the following:

Today, April 26th, is… National Kids and Pets Day, National South Dakota Day, and National Poem In Your Pocket Day [which changes annually – April 26, 2021]! This is also the 35th birthday of one of my kids… my daughter, Tara (pictured below, with Mom)… Happy birthday, Honey!

Tuesday, April 27th, is… National Babe Ruth Day, National Devil Dog Day, and National Prime Rib Day!

Wednesday, April 28th, is… National Blueberry Pie Day, National Great Poetry Reading Day, National Superhero Day, Workers’ Memorial Day, and Denim Day [which NationalDayCalendar.com claims changes annually – April 28th for 2021. *NOTE: Wikipedia says it’s annually on the 29th of April.]

Thursday, April 29th, is… National Peace Rose Day, National Shrimp Scampi Day, and National Zipper Day!

Friday, April 30th, is… National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, National Bugs Bunny Day, National Honesty Day, National Oatmeal Cookie Day, National Raisin Day, National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, and National Arbor Day [which is always the last Friday in April]!

#TGIM

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

…17 down and 35 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Volunteers Raise A Village

Happy Monday and happy National Volunteer Week to everyone! I always love to celebrate Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

April is still celebrating, among other things, National Volunteer Month; which came to be, in 1991, through President Bush’s “1000 Points of Light” campaign. Additionally, yesterday was the beginning of National Volunteer Week, which started in 1974 and is always observed throughout the 3rd full week of April!

Volunteers can be ANYONE – you don’t have to be a certain age or have a lot of money or time on your hands, nor do you need to have any special talents or skills. These unpaid workers are priceless helpers and undoubtedly the most unsung heroes of all time, helping to keep so many organizations and communities running!

We’re taught from generation to generation, the importance of volunteering… Paying it forward… Giving back to our communities and beyond! From the small-town, rural countryside to large metropolises, communities would not be able to completely function without volunteers, selflessly making a BIG difference.

In fact, most rural emergency services, like fire and medical, are staffed almost completely through the generous efforts of its community members. The service of volunteering is often woven into kids’ after school programs, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or the Campfire Boys & Girls Club. Additionally, it is also the summer-vacation-cornerstone of many college bound, high schoolers’ resumes.

This past year has had an influx of people, giving their time (since they’ve had more of it to give) and talents, doing “good deeds” for others, and helping out those who’ve had greater needs than themselves. Likewise, many people have also stepped up to the plate by donating things like tablets (and other such electronic devices), PPE, money, food, and other needs.

National Volunteer Week presents a special opportunity for all of us to thank our local volunteers – AND also to join them, in some way, as they are setting great inspirational examples for us to follow. Mom used to say, “The most valuable gift you can give is to be a good example!” While this past year has seen some dark, sorrowing days amidst the Covid-19 pandemic; it also seems to have brought out some of the best volunteers and “good examples” in more of us than ever before.

‘I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.’ – Gloria Pitzer, This Is Not A Cook Book, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts, written by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, pp. 34 & 50)

WHEN YOU HEAL THE HURT

IT HAS BEEN SAID that ‘when God closes a door, He opens a window’ – for those who have the wit to discover it. Among the ill, the handicapped, the disfigured… are an astonishing number of people who have found their ‘windows’. In quiet resurrections, they have risen out of their pain and despair and shattered hopes to new ambitions, new satisfactions and new happiness.

Though largely unsung, these men and women have in them the stuff of heroes! Their battles of necessity are fought alone… in endless hours and days and months. But, in these battles, they somehow develop a special kind of courage and, sooner or later, the breakthrough comes. Then, in spite of all the odds against them, they dare to say: ‘I may not have much candle left but, with what I have, I’ll shed a light.’

So, if you can’t be a lighthouse be a candle! Let your light shine so that those on whom it may fall, will be blessed; and, like a springboard, bounce right back to make you feel good about it… There’s an old English verse [pictured below] that always comes back to me when I think of how nice it would be if this were not a ‘keep-your-distance’ and ‘don’t get me involved’ world!…

DON’T GIVE UP

PEOPLE NOWADAYS GIVE up too easily. They’ll donate a dollar to an anonymous recipient of any given charity but won’t give two words to an offended neighbor – the two most important words of successfully living side-by-side – ‘I’m sorry.’ [NOTE: Some other great pairs include ‘let’s talk’, ‘you’re forgiven’, ‘thank you’, and ‘you’re welcome’.]

You don’t throw away the patient because the bandage needs changing. You try again… and again for some common ground of understanding. Otherwise, how will we, as a society, ever be able to love our neighbors across the world, until we have first learned to love those across the street?

‘THE GREATEST WASTE in the world is the difference between what we are, and what we could be!’ Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 10)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 10)

USING YOUR TALENTS

WE EACH HAVE A TALENT with which we can make others happy, if only we’re willing to use these! Too often we make the mistake, though, of thinking because we can do ONE thing well, we can do other things well, too. Not always so! For instance, I’m told that I have a good radio voice. A fellow once called in to the Larry Lick Show over WHLS [radio] in Port Huron [Michigan] to tell me he liked my voice so much that if I would consent to sing with his orchestra, he’d hire me in a minute.

Although I was terribly flattered, I felt compelled to admit that I sing so badly, that the only time I ever tried to sing in public, I was arrested for loitering in front of an orchestra! It was never my aptitude to sing, and I realized that as soon as I saw my husband rushing out into the street every time I would sing in the shower. He wanted the neighbors to know he wasn’t beating me!

‘Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we own or the things…’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM  Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 24)

DOING SOMETHING NICE

DON’T EXPECT THE WORLD to think you’re wonderful just because you do something ‘good’ – for someone else! Good people do good things all of the time – everyday, and no one [gives] them [a pat] on the back for it. You have to do good – not for what others are going to think of you, but what you’re going to think of yourself!

If you get a kick out of doing something good for somebody… do it! But don’t expect any rewards or special recognition for having gone out of your way. Every once in a while you may be complimented for something good that you’ve done, and that’s very nice.

But most of the time, whatever you do is to make yourself feel better about what has to be done, or what should be done! It’s not a matter of conscience, but of compassion. Either you have it, or you don’t!

‘Life’s most precious gifts don’t come in packages. They come from the heart, wrapped in love.’ – Gloria Pitzer

EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts from…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 29)

LIFE’S MOST PRECIOUS GIFTS…

WE SEEM TO BE living in a ‘keep-your-distance’ and ‘don’t-get-me-involved’ world! People who are potentially caring, compassionate individuals should, but don’t always, care about each other! Some people profess to accept this kind of relationship with others. Some people profess to accept this kind of relationship with others.

They endorse the indifference of people who make no demands on each other, who offer no depth, no devotion and no dimension in their relationship. And, by golly… a lot of people are willing and able to settle for cardboard communication when, with a little effort on their own [part, they] could have a perfectly lovely, lasting experience with another potentially caring human being!

…TREASURES

ONE OF THE GREATEST and most comforting of truths is that when one door closes, another opens. But too often we look so long and regretfully upon that closed door that we just cannot see the one that has been opened for us. Defeat is nothing but education in disguise!

It’s the first step we take toward something better than we had been experiencing. The opened door is a challenge and, yes, even a chance, that things may not be any better for us by going through it into a new experience. It just might lay a treasure at our feet that we never expected to find.

Every time a door closes in your life, don’t be so consumed in your own disappointments that you fail to see the door that is open – waiting for you to walk through it.

LAST THOUGHTS

I was watching the Today show last week when they were interviewing Ali Stroker, a wonderful young writer. Al Roker asked her about her philosophy for a “what can I give” rather than “what am I getting” attitude, which she generously accredited to her boyfriend. Nonetheless, I was really impressed with her aphorism that if “you’re busy serving everyone else at the table, you just have to trust that, at the end, your plate will be full.”

#WHBY

REMINDER: NEXT MONDAY, April 26th, is my regular monthly visit on the Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene! The show airs from 11am to 1pm, Central Time; I’m usually on during the first half hour of the show. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI area, to find the station on your radio, you can listen to the broadcast, live or later, through WHBY’s website!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

IN CLOSING…

#PineappleUpsideDownCakeDay

In honor of National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day, here is Mom’s secret recipe for Pineapple Upside-Down Coffeecake; as seen in her self-published book…

Eating Out At Home Cookbook (National Home News; St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 32)

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

APRIL IS STILL, among other things… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Straw Hat Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month!

Some other celebrations for this week include the following:

Today is also… National Amaretto Day, National Garlic Day, National Hanging Out Day, and National North Dakota Day!

Tuesday, April 20th, is… National Cheddar Fries Day, National Lima Bean Respect Day, and National Look Alike Day! I can’t let that slide by without sharing this picture of me and my siblings on Christmas 1967! Mom made the matching outfits for me and my two sisters.

#NationalLookAlikeDay

Wednesday, April 21st, is… National Chocolate Covered Cashews Day and National Kindergarten Day!

Thursday, April 22nd, is… National Earth Day, National Girl Scout Leader’s Day, National Jelly Bean Day, National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day [4th Thursday in April], and National Teach Children To Save Day [Changes Annually – April 22, 2021]!

Friday, April 23rd, is… National Cherry Cheesecake Day, National Picnic Day, and National Take a Chance Day! This is also the 36th birthday of my first born… my son, Paul Michael… Happy birthday, Honey!

Saturday, April 24th, is… National Pigs in a Blanket Day; PLUS, being the last Saturday in April, it’s also… National Kiss of Hope Day, National Pool Opening Day, National Rebuilding Day, and National Sense of Smell Day!

Sunday, April 25th, is… National DNA Day, National East Meets West Day, National Telephone Day, National Zucchini Bread Day, and National Pet Parents Day (which is always the last Sunday in April)! It’s also the start of Preservation Week (which is the last week in April)!

#TGIM

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

…16 down and another 36 to go!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Gardening Versus Convenience

Happy Monday to everyone! Unlike The Carpenters’ song, ‘Rainy Days & Mondays’, I love to CELEBRATE Mondays! They are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

Mother Nature’s grand arena is bursting with activity, as spring has been awakening the earth. Life is regenerating all around us. Now is a great time to get out in the yard and gardens since the whole month of April is celebrating, among other things – Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Garden Month, National Straw Hat Month, and Stress Awareness Month! [I’ll tell you in a little bit how that one is related to the others.]

#NationalGardeningDay

Furthermore, Wednesday is National Gardening Day! So, if you haven’t been out in the garden yet – this is certainly the week to do it! An old adage says, “April showers bring May flowers” (some fruits and vegetables too). But it’s a little more involved than that. First, you have to get the soil ready – mulching, weeding, composting, etc. – before you even plant the bulbs, seeds or seedlings.

When planting vegetables, some seeds are better to start indoors, such as tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and broccoli. After about 6-8 weeks of growth, they’re transplanted in the garden, when there are more optimum weather conditions. Some seedlings don’t transplant well and, thus, should be sown right into the ground when weather allows. Examples of such include corn, beans, and peas. They should also be covered at night, whenever frost conditions are possible.

April is a great time, depending on your USDA planting zone, to start planting and growing perennial fruits and vegetables like asparagus, chives, rhubarb, raspberries, horseradish and more. I already have the first four in my gardens. My asparagus is usually the first to pop up, around late May.

This is also a good time to start “cold crop”, annual plantings such as cabbage, spinach and other “greens”; as well as root vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots and beets. I’m not sure from where Mom got her original interest in gardening, as well as her green thumb; but I think I might have inherited it too.

Mom’s garden, in Algonac, had a lot of perennials, but I remember helping her plant seedlings for strawberries and tomatoes every spring when I was young! Then there was the subsequent harvesting of our labors from the family’s little garden and orchard. I recall picking tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb. Mom would turn it all into culinary delights such as sauces, jams, pies, cobblers, and the like.

When Mom first started writing and publishing her own newsletter, in 1974, aside from her recipes she also included a smorgasbord of different topics that homemakers, like herself, would be interested in. One of the sections was full of gardening tips.

Mom liked to use coffee grounds and ground-up, dried, egg shells to help her tomato plants thrive. A tip she learned from my Dad’s mom, who gardened and canned a lot of tomatoes, sauces and jams in her own lifetime!

But as Mom’s “Secret Recipes” business grew quickly, within a few years she had very little time to spend on her garden, because she was spending more time investigating further secrets of the food industry. Subsequently, she dropped the gardening section in the newsletter to make room for more copycat recipes!

After we moved from Algonac to St. Clair, in 1977, Mom did continue to, at least, have a few tomato plants in patio pots every spring through fall. She always had a green thumb, both, in the house and in the garden!

While most of Mom’s cookbooks (and newsletters) focused on imitating fast food, junk food, and restaurant dishes at home; one of her books dealt exclusively with imitating convenience foods, grocery products and “extenders” at home – The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979) – aka: “Book 5”.

When Mom used to describe the book for advertisements, she’d say “this exceptional cookbook includes some basic principles of canning and freezing foods, as well as making your own mixes, sauces and seasonings for a great financial savings compared to buying them!”

Besides the obvious financial savings and nutritional aspects of growing your own food, gardening has many other healthy advantages. According to Six Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening, as posted by OrganicLesson.com (Published 2/26/2018, Updated 1/30/2021), gardening strengthens the muscles (as it can be a physical workout) and boosts the immune system.

Gardening is also known to increase happiness, stimulate the brain, and relieve stress. As I said in the beginning, April is Stress Awareness Month, too! Growing any kind of garden can be very therapeutic if you’re feeling stressed out and/or cooped up from this past year of quarantining for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additionally, if you’ve gained what’s being coined as the “Covid 15” weight growth, 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on HowStuffWorks.com) claims that two hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more!

If you don’t have your own garden, or the room for one, just a few patio pots will work. You can also check around your area for a community garden in which you can participate. Gardening has a windfall of benefits! I’m already looking forward to putting on my straw hat (as it is National Straw Hat Month) and getting back into my garden beds this spring.

No matter what’s planted, anyone can burn a lot of calories by taking care of a garden, as there are so many physical aspects involved – planting, mulching, weeding, composting, pruning, watering (repeating the last four or five tasks, over and over, at least a couple times a week for a few months) and finally harvesting!

‘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, English Writer & Philosopher (1894-1963)

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

We all know that when life gives us lemons, we should make lemonade! But did you know that as much as 75% of grocery products (including lemonade) are considered to be convenience foods, requiring minimal effort, which can be made at home with what life gives you (and a little effort)? Plant the seeds! In fact, many annuals produce their own seeds for future plantings, too.

Ever since the pandemic us hit hard, the art of homesteading found another revival movement. More people are learning how to grow their own food and make their own OTC health and beauty products. Many are even starting home/internet businesses, selling their homemade products to those who don’t have the time or talents for it, themselves.

WHEN YOU CAN’T FIND WHAT YOU NEED AT THE MARKET – MAKE YOUR OWN… I learned the following “trick” from my local EOC Head Start group, three decades ago, when my children were small…

EASY HOMEMADE CORN SYRUP – The best substitute for 1 cup of corn syrup is to dissolve 1¼ cups sugar (or sugar substitute equivalent) into ¼ cup HOT water. For dark corn syrup, use brown sugar; for light corn syrup, use white sugar. By the way, a 4:1 ratio of white sugar to boiled water will also yield (when cooled to room temperature) an excellent homemade nectar for hummingbirds!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

LIFE IS A CLIMB

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!

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

Convenience foods are boxed, canned and packaged food products that are manufactured for our expedient ease because we’ve become a too-busy-with-other-things, accessibility-laden society! Consider, also, that these shelf-stable products are filled with unnatural and unpronounceable preservatives and synthetic additives, in order to last for years on the grocery stores’ shelves, as well as in our own pantries.

If you’re concerned with all the additives that are put into convenient, shelf-stable groceries, then homemade is one way you can control the ingredients. Plus, you can also save money – as long as you don’t add the value of your time into the equation! The ‘overhead costs’ and ‘expected profits’ that are added to manufactured convenience foods are what actually kill our food budgets at the check-outs!

LAST THOUGHTS…

Here’s a garden decorating idea I want to re-share from a couple of years ago! I love it when things can serve more than one purpose – thus, my Christmas deer, lawn ornaments (lights removed) serve as trellises in my vegetable garden, during their “off-season”! They’re great for various vining plants like cucumbers, beans and peas; AND, as a bonus, I don’t have to worry about finding storage space for the large figures!

Suggestions for observing April’s garden-related celebrations include having a picnic in a garden or going to a nursery and buying a new plant. You could also decorate your garden (as it’s also National Decorating Month) by adding some garden art and/or a seating area, where you can relax and enjoy it all! Another way to observe is by giving a gardening gift to someone special, like seeds, garden gloves, or a patio plant! Don’t forget to share your ideas on social media with a hashtag!

#NationalDecoratingMonth, #KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth, #LawnAndGardenMonth, #NationalGardenMonth

IN CLOSING…

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

#NationalFreshCeleryMonth

In honor of April, also being National Fresh Celery Month, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for a simple “Cream Soup Base”, with two of her many options for turning it into Cream of Cauliflower or Cream of Celery soup!

As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 117).

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

APRIL IS still celebrating, among other things… National Month of Hope, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Volunteer Month, and Scottish-American Heritage Month!

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Today is also… National Big Wind Day, National Colorado Day, National Licorice Day, and National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! Therefore, here’s Mom’s take on a grilled cheese sandwich – college dorm-style!

Tuesday is… National Make Lunch Count Day, National Peach Cobbler Day, and National Scrabble Day!

Wednesday is… National Dolphin Day, National Pecan Day, National Reach as High as You Can Day, and Look Up at the Sky Day!

Thursday is… National Banana Day, National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, National Rubber Eraser Day, National Take a Wild Guess Day, Get to Know Your Customers Day (which is the 3rd Thursday of each quarter), and National High Five Day (which is the 3rd Thursday in April)!

Friday is… National Eggs Benedict Day, National Orchid Day, and National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day!

Saturday is… National Cheeseball Day, National Ellis Island Family History Day, and National Haiku Poetry Day!

Sunday is… National Animal Crackers Day and National Columnists’ Day! It is also the start of National Volunteer Week (which is the 3rd full week of April)!

#WHBY

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#TGIM

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

…15 down, 37 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Twinkie Day Eve

Happy April and happy Easter Monday! Additionally, I wish a very merry Twinkie Day Eve to all! Mondays are so incredibly special! I continually look forward to them, as they are my 52 Chances, each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#TwinkieDay 

Tomorrow, April 6th, is National Hostess Twinkie Day! That makes today Twinkie Day Eve – whoop, whoop! This is a perfect time for me to write about how my mom was the FIRST person (circa 1975) to develop a make-at-home version for imitating the cream-filled, golden-sponge-cake delight at home!

When I searched for “Twinkie recipe” on Google, I got back “about 657,000 results…” and Mom wasn’t even in the first two pages of results! So MANY copycats have copied the ORIGINAL copycat – and yet so FEW have actually given my mom the proper credit she deserves for being the inventor of imitating junk foods, fast foods, and other restaurant favorites at home. Mom was the trail-blazing pioneer, who carved out the “copycat cookery” niche in the food industry over 48 years ago!

However, I must note that when I searched for “Pitzer Twinkie recipe”, the first result listed (out of 22,500 results) was actually for Mom’s Hopeless Twinkles© recipe, which I had shared in a previous blog post, on this website, in 2019! [It can also be found in the “Recipes” tab and near the end of this blog post.]

Additionally, I’d also like to give a shout-out to PressReader.com, for printing a copy of one of Mom’s Twinkie imitations, with proper credit given to her! You can check it out at https://www.pressreader.com/usa/orlando-sentinel/20121128/282398396711181! In my search, I also found the following excerpt of interest… as seen at https://www.food.com/recipe/hostess-twinkie-sponge-cake-356820/reviews/846730.

Review [of homemade Hostess Twinkies] by Tinkerbell (4/10/2009) – NorthwestGal recommended this recipe to me & when I looked at it I was so surprised! I can’t say that I have made this exact recipe, but I can help shed some light on its origin & say that I have made it’s later version, also by Gloria. I saw Gloria Pitzer for the first time on the Phil Donahue show on April 8, 1993. I immediately called & ordered the original transcript of the show. (No TiVo back then! LOL) Gloria Pitzer, the original recipe detective, had been “cloning” recipes for 20 years but got her real jump start when she was working at a newspaper that decided to add a food page. The first letter she opened asked, “How do they make that special sauce at McDonald’s?” She went home & made & remade until she had a sauce that mimicked the Big Mac’s special sauce. After that she branched out into KFC, Wendy’s Frosty & Chili, Oreo cookies and Hostess Twinkies. But, after only 6 weeks doing the new food page for the paper she lost her job because one of her clone recipes (Share A Lease cheesecake) “stepped on the toes of a famous cheesecake company that was also a sponsor of the paper”. She made up new names for her copycat recipes, like Wednesday’s chili (I have that posted here Recipe #21936), Gloreo Cookies (love that recipe!), Big Bucket in the Sky Chicken, Big Match special sauce & Hopeless Twinkles. She first appeared on the Donahue show in July of 1981 and within 90 days the Donahue show received over one million letters about her episode. She appeared again 12 years later, in 1993, when I was lucky enough to be watching with my newborn son. After comparing this recipe with the one I’ve made from the 1993 transcript I see she did alter the recipe quite a bit. She made them on the 1981 episode and again with her new version in 1993. I’ve made the newest version from my transcript. I look forward to trying this one as well. 🙂 Thanks for posting it, Max!”

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Did you know… on August 19th, 1919… William B. Ward registered the trademark name, Hostess, for his family’s company’s breads and cakes? Additionally, it was James Dewar, who invented the Twinkie® while working for the Ward family at the Continental Baking Company. Originally, when the baking company was founded in the early 1900s, it was called Ward Baking Company. Later, as the Continental Baking Company, it was purchased by Interstate Bakeries Corporation and renamed Hostess Brands.

For a more in-depth history of the Ward family, their baking company, Dewar’s Twinkies® and the drama that surrounded all of them, check out this fascinating article about it (as written by Bloomberg News), on FinancialPost.com, at https://business.financialpost.com/news/twinkie-history-spiced-with-murder-scandal-suggests-icon-will-survive! I’ve included, below, the short story that Mom wrote about Dewar decades ago.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018, p. 204)

[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]

JAMES DEWAR

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.

Do you remember the big run on Twinkies®, back in November of 2012? The Hostess Brands company had announced it was going out of business and utter chaos ensued as the American masses swarmed their local stores to buy all the yummy, cream-filled, sponge cakes (and other products of Hostess Brands) they could find!

Our Canadian neighbors still had Hostess Brands in their country and were laughing at the lengths Americans were going to get their hands on the suddenly-hard-to-find, coveted Twinkies®. Some Twinkies® were actually being auctioned on eBay for THOUSANDS of dollars – and people were paying it! A spokesperson for Hostess sarcastically asked the media where all of these Hostess Brands enthusiasts were before they had to file for bankruptcy.

I saw a great article about Twinkies® a few years ago that I saved in “My Favorites”. It was called “Beverly Hills Billionaire To Take Over Twinkies Maker, Hostess Brands” and written by James R. Koren (L. A. Times; July 5, 2016), explaining how the Hostess Brands company, under various names and ownerships, was saved from bankruptcy foreclosures more than once over the past century.

When the announcement was first made in 2012 that Hostess Brands was closing their business for good and Americans panicked at their sudden loss, I wasn’t worried about never having Twinkies® again… because my mom taught me how to make my own! In fact, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, Mom taught everyone how to make their own at home!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

DE-BUNKING THE JUNK!

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

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

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

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

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

‘There really are very few recipe secrets!’ – Gloria Pitzer

The ‘fast food’ industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! I say, ‘baloney!’ As a very believing public, we have been spoon-fed a good deal of shrewd publicity by some very skilled… advertising people, who count on our susceptibility to commercial advertising campaigns to buy their products.

Whether we’re buying a hamburger in one of McDonald’s restaurants… or a Twinkie off of the grocer’s shelf, we still believe that these products can’t be equaled by any other company in the industry, nor by the average cook in a standard, home kitchen… AND this is wrong!

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

LAST THOUGHTS

#WHBY

If you missed my visit last week on WHBY’s Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, when we discussed the 2012 run on Hostess Twinkies and Mom’s recipe for imitating them at home (same as the 1983 version shown further below). I also shared Mom’s Famous Nameless Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe and her 3-ingredient ham-basting sauce from her 1983 self-published cookbook, The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To!

[NOTE: You can listen to the podcast recording here… https://www.spreaker.com/user/woodwardradio/the-good-neighbor-show-032921]

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

Additionally, Kathy has released an announcement of her retirement from WHBY. Sadly, I’ll only be visiting with her two more times. We’re currently scheduled for April 26th and May 24th. You can listen to Kathy’s official notice, on YouTube.com, at… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqC8LstRm8U&t=9s

In honor of National Hostess Twinkie Day, here is Mom’s ORIGINAL copycat recipe from 1975 and an encore of her 1983 revision, for imitating the famous, cream-filled, sponge cake; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (Nat’l Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Bch., MI; Jan. 1977, Revised Ed., p. 34) and her 1983 “Free Recipes” sheet, respectively. The latter recipe is also in Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 205).

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

APRIL IS, among other things… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Straw Hat Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Volunteer Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month!

Additionally, yesterday was the start of National Public Health Week! Some other celebrations for this week include the following:

Today is also… First Contact Day, Gold Star Spouses Day, National Caramel Day, National Deep Dish Pizza Day, National Flash Drive Day, National Go For Broke Day, National Nebraska Day, National Read a Road Map Day, and National Raisin and Spice Bar Day! In honor of that last one, in particular, here’s a copy of Mom’s recipe for imitating Spanish Bar Cake like the old A&P’s popular Ann Page brand. I also shared this recipe in June 2020, on WHBY’s Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene!

#RaisinAndSpiceBarDay

PLUS, today through the 9th is also celebrating National Wildlife Week and National Library Week [both of which change annually]!

Tuesday is… National Caramel Popcorn Day, New Beer’s Eve, National Sorry Charlie Day, National Student-Athlete Day, National Tartan Day, National Teflon Day, and National Library Workers Day [the Tuesday of National Library Week, which changes annually]!

Wednesday is… National Beer Day, National Coffee Cake Day, National Girl Me Too Day, National No Housework Day, and National Bookmobile Day [the Wednesday of National Library Week], and National Walking Day [the first Wednesday in April]!

Thursday is… National All is Ours Day and National Zoo Lovers Day!

Friday is… National Cherish an Antique Day, National Chinese Almond Cookie Day, National Winston Churchill Day, and National Day of Silence [Changes Annually – April 9, 2021]!

Saturday is… National Cinnamon Crescent Day, Encourage a Young Writer Day, National Farm Animals Day, and National Siblings Day!

Sunday is… National Cheese Fondue Day, National Pet Day, and National Submarine Day!

#TGIM

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

…14 down, 38 chances to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Cleaning Time

Happy Monday to everyone! Mondays are so special! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

It’s that time of year again! We’ve leaped ahead into Daylight Saving Time and spring re-blossomed in Michigan just over a week ago, with a lot of blue skies and sunshine! But my enthusiasm for this week is mostly because it’s also National Cleaning Week (March 28-April 3, 2021)!

Can you sense my excitement? Call me weird but I love to clean and especially to organize. I actually enjoy flipping the bedroom mattress at the onset of both, spring and fall. Likewise, I also get enthusiastic about cleaning out cupboards, closets, and drawers while rotating the seasonal linen and clothes.

Cleaning was not Mom’s forte. It’s not that she didn’t do it, she just didn’t LIKE to do it. Not everyone finds joy in cleaning or organizing. In fact, most people would probably agree with Mom, in not caring to do such chores. Many will find numerous reasons and excuses to put them off or avoid them all together. Mom used to joke that a good excuse was one you could use over and over again!

#ProcrastinationWeek

Even though the first TWO weeks of March is recognized as National Procrastination Week; it is, by no means, limited to only then – especially for procrastinators, as it can be celebrated whenever you get around to it! Is there a chore (aka: housework responsibility) over which you procrastinate or avoid altogether? Here’s a humorous memory I shared about Mom and her least favorite chore…

#NationalCleaningWeek

FROM MY MEMORIES…

As seen in my 03/25/19 blog post…

Spring Into Cleaning

One particular memory I have of Mom, regarding cleaning is from shortly after her stroke in 2015. Mom had to go through a lot of therapy, including physical and occupational. 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.

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 part of her daily exercises. In an instant, Mom’s mood went from ‘sunny-and-75’ to [a ‘winter-storm-warning’]! Right away, I started laughing out loud, while both, the therapist and Mom, looked at me very 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 Mom didn’t clean; but that never meant she had to like it! Mom was brought up in a generation that just did what they ‘had to’; keeping a clean home was just something that they’re parents taught them to do as responsible, civilized people – at any age. 

In fact, I think making the bed was at the top of [Mom’s] ‘torture’ list. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the situation, as did the therapist when I explained it! Not everyone gets a joy out of cleaning any more than they have to!

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

I read an awesome article about American’s least favorite chores and what they would give up to avoid them, which I recommend reading! It was called “These Americans Would Give Up Alcohol And Sex To Never Do Chores Again”, by Marie Haaland (Aug. 8, 2019) at SWNSdigital.com.

In general chores or housework responsibilities are comprised of, but are not limited to, such things as cooking, “doing” the dishes, laundering, making the bed, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing/wiping/cleaning (the majority of which happens in the kitchen and bathroom – including walls, window and door frames, window panes, other glass, computer and TV screens, mirrors, sinks, tub/shower, toilet, table and counter tops, cupboards and drawer fronts, appliances, light fixtures, fans, trash cans, etc.)

There’s a few other groups of responsibilities to add to that basic list if you also have to homeschool your children, care for a yard/garden or have dependents such as pets and/or small children. Among the many truths that have come to light this past year, during the nationwide, pandemic lockdowns, one of the most prominent is that housework is a tiresome and unrelenting mass of responsibilities.

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, the most disliked cleaning tasks are as follows:

    • cleaning the bathroom (52%)
    • kitchen cleaning (23%)
    • dusting (21%)
    • mopping (20%)
    • doing the laundry (17%)

Sorry, Mom – making the bed did not make it onto this list! However, dusting is my least favorite, mostly because it impacts my allergies more than anything else.

To make cleaning less intimidating, while observing National Cleaning Week, NationalDayCalendar.com also suggests, that we “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…”

Additionally, we should also share our favorite cleaning tips on social media, using #NationalCleaningWeek or #CleaningWeek for others to follow. Mom liked to say, “Great recipes are meant to be shared.” I think Mom’s good friend, Linda Cobb (aka: the Queen Of Clean) would agree that so are great cleaning tips!

Like many standup comedy routines, Mom often stretched and twisted our family’s boring reality life a little bit to generate a few laughs from her syndicated columns and cartoon panels. So I’ve re-used a few, today, in regard to cleaning. Here is a copy of some of Mom’s comical household tips…

#CleaningWeek

Maybe it’s because of being OCD but organizing is like a favorite hobby to me. I just love having a place for everything and having everything in its place! However, when it came to Mom’s desk, she preferred what she called an “organized mess”. She had her own chaotic filing system, but SHE always knew where everything was!

That is, until I had taken it upon myself, one day, to clean and organize Mom’s office and desk as a good deed. Afterward, I was banned from her part of the office and she bought the following sign to keep on her desk.

My kids and my husband like to tease me that I’m CDO, rather than OCD, because I like things in alphabetical (and numerical) order. What can I say? I really enjoy organizing and I’ve been known to dump things out of cupboards, drawers, and closets just to re-organize them – and not because I was stuck at home during the Covid-19 “lock down”.

For me, it’s like re-doing a puzzle over and over because I enjoyed solving puzzles. As Mom proved time and again, in her recipe sleuthing, there’s more than one way to solve a mystery. When Mom was trying to imitate a dish as close as possible to the real thing, she didn’t stop at just one way.

She was always refining her imitations until she felt they were spot-on! And then, sometimes, for various reasons (like ingredient availability or diet), she’d revamp them again, proving that there was usually more than one way to reach the same goal.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in… “No Laughing Matter”; a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer

(date unknown; circ. 1970s)

GIVE ME LIBERTY OR…

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT to Women’s Lib, I don’t think they can help me. I think they’ve done enough for me already! Frankly, I think I was doing alright before they came along. At least I could get a seat on a bus. Now I’m lucky if a man will offer to hold my packages for me.

I can also remember when cutting the grass was considered “man’s work”. These days my husband flips me two-out-of-three to see which of us gets the lawn mower and who will fix the iced tea and sit on the patio chair to watch.

Last week, I was visited by a new militant group of women in our neighborhood who are protesting the proposed 4-day work week for MEN. They advocated a simple test. If you cannot get through a two-week vacation and the Christmas holidays with a man who over-waters your house plants and alphabetizes your refrigerator then how can you get through a three-day weekend, 52 weeks out of the year?

For you must then decide if you have to run the sweeper [aka: vacuum] while he’s taking a nap, or does he have to take a nap while you’re running the sweeper. Arguing with a husband (especially when he’s your own), is like taking a shower/bath in a scuba outfit. But I have a theory!

There are some things in this liberated life, which a woman just cannot control. You have tasted instant failure when neither of you can agree on who gets custody of the only controls on the electric blanket; and if it’s fair that she who makes the garbage must also carry it out; and whose mother calls more – yours or his?

This is the same man who warned me not to go into labor on his bowling night and who, on Christmas, gave me a monogrammed tool box and a gift certificate from Sunoco for an oil change and lube job, and a can of Easy-Off in my stocking.

The liberating females of our society have missed the joy of knowing what it means to live with a man who claims he’s always out of socks, but YOU know there are two more pairs in the drawer and [of course] only YOU can find them!

Most husbands are generally quite liberal with their wives in spite of the ‘Lib Movement’… I’ll have you know that my husband has always allowed me to make all sorts of important decisions – like: ‘Does that child need a nap?’ ‘Should that baby have her pants changed?’ ‘Do you really need another new pant suit?’ ‘Must your mother call here every day?’ ‘Should we recognize Red China?’ ‘Will they find Howard Hughes?’

The only liberation I want is to get away from the kids once in a while, without having the school counselor label me as a parent who doesn’t care. When you cannot free yourself from the oven encased in molten lasagna and apple pie fossils, you know that liberation is but a piper’s dream in your soap opera saga.

On the other hand, my husband takes a realistic approach to my emancipation. He claims women have never had it so good… (What does HE know?) His trying to tell me about women’s rights is like trying to tell General Eisenhower about World War II. However, I look at it this way: ‘Either give me liberty… OR GIVE ME A CLEANING LADY!

LAST THOUGHTS

#WHBY

TODAY IS ALSO my regular monthly visit on the Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene! The show airs from 11am to 1pm, Central Time; I’m usually on during the first half hour of the show. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI area, to find the station on your radio, you can listen to the broadcast, live or later, through WHBY’s website!

IN CLOSING…

#LemonChiffonCakeDay

In honor of National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day

Here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for one, plus her Thin Vanilla Icing recipe as seen in her self-published cookbook,…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, pp. 67 & 100)

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

March is still observing… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Craft Month, National Flour Month, National Sauce Month, and National Women’s History Month!

Furthermore, Thursday is the beginning of April – the monthly commemorations of which embrace… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Straw Hat Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Volunteer Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month!

Additionally, some other celebrations of note this week include:

Today is… National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day and National Nevada Day!

Tuesday is… National Take a Walk in the Park Day, National Doctors Day, National I Am in Control Day, National Pencil Day, National Turkey Neck Soup Day, and National Virtual Vacation Day!

Wednesday is… National Bunsen Burner Day, National Clams on the Half Shell Day, National Crayon Day, and National Tater Day!

Thursday is… April Fool’s Day, National One Cent Day, National Sourdough Bread Day, and National Burrito Day [1st Thursday in April]!

Friday is… National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day, National Reconciliation Day, World Autism Awareness Day, and Good Friday!

Saturday is… National Chocolate Mousse Day, National Find a Rainbow Day, World Party Day, and National Play Outside Day [which is the 1st Saturday of each month]. Also, as the first Saturday in April, it’s National Love Our Children Day and National Handmade Day, as well!

Sunday is… National Chicken Cordon Bleu Day, National Hug a Newsperson Day, National School Librarian Day, National Vitamin C Day, and Easter [which changes annually – April 4, 2021]! It is also the start of National Public Health Week!

#TGIM

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

…13 down and another 39 to go!

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

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Has Sprung!

Happy spring season and happy National West Virginia Day, but especially HAPPY MONDAY! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#NationalAgricultureWeek

#NationalAgDay

Spring has finally sprung – and so have my crocus, daffodils, hyacinth, and tulips! Although, in Michigan, the weather doesn’t usually get consistently nice until around May – March and April are all-seasons-rollercoaster months. So this is when I start planting my vegetable garden seeds indoors, to be transplanted outside around Mother’s Day weekend. By the way, yesterday began the week-long observance of National Agriculture Week and National Ag Day (Ag = Agriculture) is tomorrow!

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Unofficially, this is also maple sugaring month in Michigan! It’s not a national holiday but making maple syrup is a big event around here! There’s a really great article about sugaring [which is the process of gathering maple sap and making it into sugar and/or syrupNOT the hair-removal process by the same name] at the Michigan State University’s Extension’s website, called March is Maple Syrup Season in Michigan.

I recently saw a report on one of our local morning newscasts about the process of sugaring. It’s a lot of work and quite a big activity. A couple of years ago, I learned a smaller scale way to do it, collecting only a few gallons of maple tree sap and then cooking it down for a day or so in a slow cooker. However, it only yields about a half cup of homemade syrup when done! Two gallons of sap doesn’t make much, but it’s a fun project to at least try. Check out the story and video at http://www.fox2detroit.com/good-day/backyard-maple-syrup-with-jill-of-all-trades.

#NationalCleaningWeek

Before starting my spring deep-cleaning regimen, which really starts next week for National Cleaning Week, I have already begun sorting through my stuff (and I have a lot of stuff) in order to purge some things. I have to keep reminding my husband that I’m not a hoarder YET, since I occasionally purge about as much as I collect. I’ve also learned how to better pack and organize things, so it doesn’t look like that much!

April is usually when the garage and yard sales start popping up in my area. Right now I’m going room-by-room, creating “piles”, from which I am deciding whether to “keep”, “sell”, “donate”, “toss” , or “recycle” the items. If it’s for the sell pile, I will sometimes, depending on the item, put a price sticker on it right away. My sorting process was inspired years ago, by a short-lived, unique renovation series that I really enjoyed, on the cable channel TLC.

The show was called “Clean Sweep” (2003-2005) and it involved a room organization and makeover – but first the homeowners had to purge their “disastrous catch-all room”. The process included some related “therapy” regarding why some people hang on to certain things and how to best let them go. Additionally, after sorting through all of their stuff, the homeowners had a one-day-only, “prize-winning-competition” yard sale with their “sell” pile. It was a lot of fun to watch.

There’s an inspiring article at PsychologyToday.com, which I saved to “My Favorites” a few years ago, about cleaning and de-cluttering by Dr. Sally Augustin, Ph.D.; titled, “Fall Cleaning As Important As Spring Cleaning” (Oct. 9, 2013). I liked the way the doctor says that… “We continually accumulate stuff and dealing with it is part of Fall cleaning.”

As soon as I had read that, I excitedly told my husband, “See – I’m not the only one who accumulates stuff!” Regardless of the season, the article’s information is interchangeable with spring, as well. After re-reading it recently, I was inspired to purge my basement (again), as it has been a growing, disorganized, accumulation of stress on my OCD personality. The sooner I get to it, the better, so I can have it ready for a yard sale as soon as some nice weekend weather permits!

Michigan weather changes often during the first half of spring. That’s why I called it an “all-seasons-rollercoaster”. There’s an old adage that says it “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb”. Being especially dependent on favorable weather, hosting a proper YARD sale in April is a LOT of work! Trust me – I know all about “April showers” and yard sales. It can be a crapshoot, picking the optimum weekend.

I wish I had a garage but, since I don’t, I use two 10’x20’, carport-style tents. When set up side-by-side, they have the approximate size of a garage, with 400-sq-ft of covered space. These are very important for keeping my tables and displays dry or shaded, whatever the weather may bring.

The day before I want my sale to start, I try to set it all up and cover it, because it’s under a temporary structure that’s still somewhat open to the elements (and the public).

I like to make my yard sales “worth stopping and shopping”! Maybe it’s because of all my years of working in retail.  Being OCD, I take a full day just to set up my “store” (as that’s how I think of my sale); with all of my tables, table-coverings, display shelves, clothes “racks”, and sale signs.

After deciding what I want to sell, I bring out all the boxes of stuff that I’ve cleaned out of various closets, drawers, cupboards, and of course the basement. I sort it all by “departments” such as clothes and shoes, which are sub-sorted by size and type; plus accessories like jewelry, glasses, belts, scarves, and purses.

Other “departments” (aka: tables) include curtains, bedding, towels and bath accessories; storage containers, kitchen wares and small appliances; crafting and sewing stuff; candles and décor; electronics, movies, music, books and office/school supplies/equipment; lamps, rugs, and furniture; tools, hardware, and auto accessories; games and toys; yard, garden, and sporting goods, plus other outdoor stuff; as well as pet stuff.

I get a lot of compliments about my yard sale set-ups because of the store-like organization. To me, that makes it worth the time and effort that I put into having one. I also sell a lot because I price my stuff to sell! To save time on pricing everything individually, I use a lot of general pricing signs – for example “All Clothes $1 per Piece” or “All Books 50₵ Each”.

I’m not putting it all out there just to haul it all back into the house, just because I wanted to squeeze out every penny I could from my old “junk” that MIGHT be somebody else’s “treasure”. I look at each item as if I were going to purchase it at someone else’s yard sale and ask myself, “How much would I be willing to pay for that?”

The following is a satirically humorous editorial that Mom wrote about a “garage” sale we supposedly had, in the mid-1970s, before moving from Algonac to St. Clair. [Funny thing is… we didn’t even have a garage back then!]

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

‘No Laughing Matter’, a syndicated bi-weekly column by Gloria Pitzer

[Published in the “Times Herald” (Port Huron, MI), during the 1970s.]

HAVE A GARAGE SALE IN ONE EASY BREAKDOWN!

Until you’ve had a garage sale, you just don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve just had one and I know! I’m missing three garbage cans, my husband’s workbench, a swing set, four lawn chairs and our station wagon. Actually, those items weren’t for sale, but you can’t refuse a good price when it’s offered to you.

All I really wanted to sell was a few odds-and-ends like 7 dozen Ruby Bee Jelly glasses, a coke bottle mosaic of my mother-in-law, a transistor radio guaranteed to crack plaster when operated by a teenager, an illustrated guide book to Disneyland and my husband’s bowling ball.

Of course, if the truth were known, I just had to do something about the closets before we were cited for contempt by the Pollution Control Commission. The kids were cleaning out their rooms and dragging out microscopes that had only examined curdled milk.

There was an electric train with which only their father had played, a guitar that never played a tune (but made a neat tennis racket), socks that scratched and even their old report cards. But I drew the line when it came to selling their toothbrushes and underwear. I mean, a person has to be reasonable about these things!

I had heard that garage sales were successful, but I didn’t believe it until I saw 23 cars double-parked in our drainage ditch, a pick-up truck on the back porch and a dune buggy in the furnace room! It takes a garage sale to prove that a woman will buy anything, if she thinks it’s on sale.

After all, what can one do with a dead philodendron plant – a plastic one, yet? I also learned that there’s no exercise so efficacious for the upper arms as standing in the midst of a group of mad women and trying to keep them from taking the rafters apart while trying to get at our storm windows (which I’ll have you know were NOT for sale); but little did they care.

One woman offered me a dollar for the dress I was wearing, and I had to run half a block to catch up with the lady who gave my son 50 cents for the sheets on the clothes lines. Did she care it was my laundry and I had to make the beds before the day was over – and where would I be without those sheets?

I finally had to administer first aid to the two girls who fought so bitterly over which of them was going to drag off to their car a plaid CPO jacket and a pair of blue worsted men’s slacks! Mind you. I wouldn’t have cared under any other circumstances, but my husband was still in them AND he didn’t want to go with either of them. He wanted to stay home and watch the ball game on TV!

By 6pm, they had bought everything that wasn’t breathing, barking or encased in concrete. As I sat at the kitchen table, counting up the profits of the day, my husband came staggering in, bruised and breathless. ‘You know that guy with the flat-bed truck, who’s been hanging around all day?’ […he asked.] ‘Well, he just gave me $50 and drove off with our garage!’

It all goes to prove, if I had put a price on those kids of ours, I might have sold them – but, who could afford to feed them once they got them home?

LAST THOUGHTS

#NationalWestVirginiaDay

A lot of great people, food and other things have come from the great state of West Virginia; including both of my dad’s parents – thus, I’m compelled to give a shout-out in celebration of National West Virginia Day! I haven’t been there since I was a young girl, but I have wonderful memories of our family reunions there.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of #NationalWestVirginiaDay, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #HamStuffedSwetPotatoes; as seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s The American Cookery Cookbook – written and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1976, p. 39)

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

March is still observing… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Craft Month, National Flour Month, National Sauce Month, and National Women’s History Month!

Additionally…

Today is also National Bavarian Crepes Day and National Goof Off Day!

Tuesday is National Chia Day, National Chip and Dip Day, National Near Miss Day, National Melba Toast Day, National Puppy Day, National Tamale Day, National Education and Sharing Day [changes annually – March 23, 2021], and National 3-D Day [which is the 3rd day of the 3rd full week of the 3rd month]!

Wednesday is National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day, National American Diabetes Association Alert Day [the 4th Tuesday in March], and National Cheesesteak Day! In honor of the latter, here is Mom’s imitation for the one that “nobody doesn’t like” – and you can re-vamp it, using a sugar substitute in place of table sugar, for diabetics! My dad loved it and so do I!

One of Gloria Pitzer’s first copycat recipes from the early 1970s.

Thursday is National Lobster Newburg Day!

Friday is Epilepsy Awareness Day (aka: Purple Day), National Nougat Day, and National Spinach Day!

Saturday is National Joe Day, National Scribble Day, and National Spanish Paella Day!

Sunday is National Black Forest Cake Day and National Something on a Stick Day!

#WHBY

REMINDER: NEXT MONDAY is my regular monthly visit on the Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene! The show airs from 11am to 1pm, Central Time; I’m usually on during the first half hour of the show. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI area, to find the station on your radio, you can listen to the broadcast, live or later, through WHBY’s website!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#TGIM

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

…12 down and another 40 to go!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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