Summer is almost half-way through already! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! My husband and I just celebrated our 15-year wedding anniversary last week. I remember our youngest child asking us, a few days before the wedding, how long we were going to be on our honeymoon and, without missing a beat, my, then-husband-to-be said with a big grin, “for the rest of our lives!” Rather than going on vacation to celebrate, as we usually do, we had a big, backyard pig roast to celebrate with our family and friends. Memories were made!
In last week’s blog entry, Make the most of Summer, I mentioned some of my childhood memories of our family vacations; and, this past week, while reading through some of Mom’s old articles from her No Laughing Matter syndicated columns, I came across some related memories to share with you today.
Below is a copy of an article Mom wrote, called Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort). However, I can’t find an exact date of when Mom wrote it or when it was published. But, Mom’s memories, describing all 7 of us ‘Pitzer Pack Rats‘ on vacation together for three weeks, cross country and back, in the station wagon – I remembered that vacation! It was 1971 and we all went to see our relatives, from Dad’s side of the family, in West Virginia.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort)
By Gloria Pitzer
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 – [even] 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 had almost forgotten about how we (my siblings and I) used to fight over who got to sit next to the windows… because it wasn’t fair that the boys were older – they were always older! As the two youngest and smallest of the bunch, Cheryl and I often got put in the “way-in-the-back-seat” of the station wagon. Nowadays, that’s called “third row seating”; but, Cheryl and I called it the “way-in-the-back-seat”.
Sure, we each got a window seat by being “way-in-the-back”, but we were also facing the BACK; so, all we got to see was what we already passed – plus, facing backwards often gave me motion sickness. But, what Mom said about getting lost a different way – I remember that too! Instead of asking, “are we there yet”; we used to ask Dad, “are we lost yet” or “is this a new scenic route?”
After my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they often chose to go on a road trip somewhere. It didn’t matter if it was a planned route or the “other scenic route”, because they were together and away from it all, just enjoying each other and the beautiful scenery passing by… without ever having to hear, again, “he’s teasing me” from one of us girls in the “way-in-the-back” seat about one of our brothers!
My husband and I can relate to that, as we’ve gone through it too. We love taking road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes area, is a wonderful area to explore and unwind from a hectic work week. I hope you enjoy your work week – but, if not, hit the road!
In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, I wanted to give you a summer rerun recipe of Mom’s “Chooser’s Wings” (pictured above), inspired by Hooters’ chicken wings AND her Barbequed Baby Chicken Legs recipe (one of my personal favorites), as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 91), which was not among any of her “free recipe” offers:
BARBECUED BABY CHICKEN LEGS
By Gloria Pitzer
These are chicken wings, split at the joints, with the boney wing-tips discarded. Arrange them side-by-side in a single layer in a greased, shallow baking pan. Coat liberally in any barbecue sauce. Bake at 375°F, uncovered, for 20 minutes per pound of chicken (3 pounds will serve 6 to 8.) About every 10 minutes or so, apply additional barbecue sauce to the pieces as they’re baking, without turning them.
P.S. There are only a few days left of July. Other national food (or foodie-related) celebrations that have been going on for the whole MONTH and still are, according to NationalDayCalendar.com, include:
As always, happy Monday to everybody! Today is also National Penuche Fudge Day – so, happy Penuche Fudge Day and, if you can, enjoy a luscious piece somewhere; then, hashtag it on social media!
According to Merriam-Webster.com, penucheis a fudge usually made of brown sugar, butter, cream or milk, and nuts. There’s also a great sounding recipe for a traditional penuche on a 2014 blog entry from Jennifer Buggica, “The Foodie Patootie”, at https://thefoodiepatootie.com/national-penuche-fudge-day/. I wish I could eat it – but, unfortunately it’s too sweet for my hypoglycemic system. I’ll have to work on a sugar-free, low-carb version, even if it won’t be a traditional penuche.
In the summer of 1976, Mom self-published a little cookbook, called The American Cookery Cookbook, of which the Henry Ford Museum bought some copies to put in its bi-centennial collection. That was the only cookbook, of Mom’s, in which I could find a copy of a traditional-style penuche recipe. Mom called her recipe ‘San Diego Penuche’.
However, Mom’s 1997 recipe for fudge like Disney World’s (see that recipe near the end of this blog) is very similar to a traditional penuche. About a month ago, I had shared with you a different recipe version, from Mom, for fudge like Disney World’s.
I can’t have fudge anymore because of my low-carb lifestyle AND hypoglycemia. I miss my carbs so much! Some sugar-free and low-carb versions of anything may still taste okay, but they’re just not the same, nor really as good! However, I can still reminisce about the real tastes as I watch the fudge-makers perform their magic shows through the big picture windows of all the little fudge shops in all the tourist areas I visit!
It’s still fun to watch them, live, transforming their thick, molten liquid creations – like the river flowing through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – by pouring the confections out of big vats and onto large, cold, marble slabs. Then, the fudge-makers fold the gooey mixture over and over again, cooling it and thickening it through the process, until they’ve formed long loaves of thick, sweet goodness to be sliced like bread. It doesn’t cost me any carbs to stand there and smell the sweet, sugary aromas – and reminisce about the flavors I remember from my childhood!
I have so many wonderful, childhood memories of family, summertime trips to popular tourist spots like Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), Disneyland (Los Angeles, CA), Toronto and Niagara Falls (both, in Ontario, Canada). In addition, are our own beautiful “up north” Michigan destinations like Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Everywhere we visited, there was usually a fudge shop at which to stop and see a fudge-making performance, as well as to buy some of their tasty treats.
Going through Mom’s old photo albums brings up so many more memories of our family, summertime vacations. Mom, almost always, was the one to photograph all those special moments; although, Dad would take a picture every now and then, so Mom could be in some shots as well. Back then, there weren’t “selfies” or digital cameras with the capabilities of capturing thousands of pictures!
Years ago, every shot needed to count because your roll of film was limited to a certain number of photos, and you didn’t know if any of them would come out right until you had the filmprinted – there was no instant viewing and deleting, like we can do now. Photo technology has come such a long, long way over the last 50 years.
I remember when Polaroid cameras and disposable cameras were the new, cutting-edge technology! Now your cell phone is an all-in-one-personal-assistant with a built-in camera to capture every “Kodak moment” as it happens! AND, not only that, but, now, you can also skip the whole printing process and still share your photos through the internet via emails and social media sites or, more privately, through text messages!
I would have to say, the Mackinac Island fudge shops are probably my favorite ones of all! And the summer vacations we spent on Mackinac Island were always the most memorable! Except for the smell of horse dung, baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many heavenly scents from the sugary confections being made in the fudge and candy shops to the wonderful aromas seeping from the island’s restaurants and bakeries to the heavenly scents surrounding all the beautiful gardens that are everywhere. Mackinac is a very nostalgic place – no cars are allowed on the island, so getting around it is usually done by foot, bicycle or horse in some manner.
Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; it was always a magical trip back in time… especially the summer when the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience! [NOTE: long before that, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel. In 1947, Ethel Merman swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of This Time for Keeps. Thus, the pool was named after her.]
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
SOMEWHERE IN TIME – MACKINAC ISLAND [MI]
Our reservations were made in February, that year, to spend the Fourth of July week at The Grand Hotel on historic Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. We had heard, when we arrived, that Universal Pictures was filming a movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and that our 2-day stay at the hotel might be disrupted from the usual routine we were used to when we stayed there. The place was booked, and we were lucky to have those 2 days because other customers had canceled. The scene when we arrived was one of spectators and glamorous Hollywood activity in the lobby and on the grounds.
Paul was just teeing off at the green next to the golf pro shop, the next morning, when we heard a sympathetic moan from the beautiful leading man, himself, as he locked up his bike and headed across the street to the filming activity. I know I should have run after Christopher Reeve for his autograph, but I was in shock!
Later, in the hotel lobby, we watched the scene when Christopher Reeve checks into The Grand and, later, when he and Jane Seymour take a buggy ride away from the entrance of the hotel with Christopher Plummer looking on. Take the time to enjoy seeing the movie they were filming – we’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait to see it again! It’s for everyone who has ever been in love – or who has ever visited lovely Mackinac Island, as we do every summer.
In one scene of the movie you’ll notice, on the main street of the village, a sign over a shop that reads ‘Murdick’s Fudge’, a recipe which I have coveted for years. Finally, after dozens of tests, I came up with the secret for purporting this product at home… It whips up in 5 minutes and, a week later, it’s still smooth and creamy. – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235)]
After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, they bought a camper and traveled even more – being that it was much more affordable with only the two of them! Joining the Good Sam club was always one of their most favorite experiences. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters. Mom also wrote about her and Dad’s trips in most of her summer newsletter issues, especially about all the great new friendships they made everywhere they went. They always looked forward to the Good Sam “Jamborees”!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING
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 [from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
MY “DIET” UPDATE:
On the first day of spring, I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet). Thus far, it has been 124 days of no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff… and, boy, do I ever miss the good stuff! It feels just like when I quit smoking cigarettes over 13 years ago. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – at least for a while! I must admit, I’m a carbohydrate addict!
In fact, I never realized how much I ate (and how little my husband ate) until I started this low-carb lifestyle/diet. I HATE waste and throwing out food! But, after I started my new lifestyle, I realized that I was the only one who had been eating up the left-overs, so food wouldn’t go to waste. It’s been difficult, learning to cook two, small, single meals at a time. I’ve been so used to cooking large portions for so long.
After starting this new lifestyle out at a daily carbohydrate limit of 20 grams, for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit up to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far. It seems to work for me. But, whenever I don’t keep track of my carb-intake, I go over my limit. I can feel its effects the next day, and it doesn’t feel good (such as an upset stomach and the shakes from a drop in my blood sugar level); plus, I re-gain a pound or two.
I mentioned in my last “Diet Update” that I had recently started using almond flour to make some Keto recipes. I still LOVE the 90-Second Microwave English Muffin! I like to turn my “slices” into a Monte Cristo sandwich for breakfast. It’s a little piece of heaven for about 9-grams of carbs!
I’ve also been experimenting with some of my favorite cookies and dessert recipes, using sugar-free and low-carb ingredient substitutions. I have developed a no-bake cookie concoction that can be panned up and cubed like fudge. I also like to use a no-flour, 3-ingredient, peanut butter cookie recipe that’s been around for years, substituting my own low-carb ingredients!
As of today, I’ve lost about 37 pounds! However, my “exercise regimen” is STILL not steady, to say the least! Nevertheless, I need to change that because I continue to not spend near enough time weeding my gardens or going for brisk walks. Thus, I won’t stop trying to make those things part of my already irregular, daily routine. My goal is to lose another 8-13 pounds, but I don’t have a deadline set. I’ll get there when I get there, but I WILL get there!
Last month, I shared a version of Mom’s Disney World-Style Fudge from one of her free recipe and information sheets… Below is a different version of that recipe, as seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 9) – and its ingredients are more similar to those of a traditional penuche. Again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
Happy Monday! I hope everybody is having an awe-inspiring, magnificently marvelous Monday!
As defined by Wikipedia, copycatrefers to someone “who adopts, copies, imitates, mimics, or follows the same thing as someone” else. In fact, one of the lines of Wikipedia’s various examples of copycat says, “…reference to a recipe that tastes like a restaurant recipe or famous product purchased in a store”, just as Mom had started developing in the early 1970s. If anyone knows of another copycat, who started imitating famous restaurant and grocery products before my mom, please contact me! [https://www.facebook.com/TheRecipeDetective/ OR email@example.com]
In one of my earlier blogs, Imitation, I reminisced about how Mom had always referred to herself as “the Rich Little of the food industry”, because she could imitate their famous dishes and products like Rich Little could imitate famous voices.
Additionally, according to Wiktionary, to imitate is to follow a model or pattern; or to make a copy, counterpart or semblance of something… OR, as it also mentions… to plagiarize, which is, basically, stealing someone else’s work and passing it off as one’s own.
I’ve previously discussed this subject in a couple of my other blog entries as well. Mom never knew what the companies actually used in their recipes, but she could create her own semblance of their products – that’s not plagiarism! However, there have been instances, over the years, of others blatantly stealing Mom’s work (sometimes word-for-word and sometimes changing a few words or exchanging ingredients, like flour, salt and baking powder instead of self-rising flour) and, then, passing it off as their own work!
I find it astounding, the number of “foodie” copycats who (since Mom introduced her first “copycat” cookbook, called Secret Restaurant Recipes, in 1976) have copied the ORIGINAL COPYCAT and all the subsequent copycats that have followed henceforth. Yet, I can’t find any type of written history on the subject of the “copycat recipes movement” – nor, in any other similar terms – yet, there’s no denying that the movement exists and, I think, it’s becoming a billion dollar industry!
I’m feeling inspired and frightened, all at the same time, to take up that challenge, myself – to write the history of copycatcooking – it’s like my mom is on my shoulder telling me, optimistically, to “go for it – it’s a ‘meant-to-be’!” Simply because, a couple of weeks ago, a friend randomly showed me a book, while we were sitting together at a backyard barbeque.
The book is called Ottissippi and it’s written by a local woman, Cheryl Morgan; who discovered there was an untold story of the history of the Anishinabe people in our Southeastern Michigan area. Thus, she decided to be the one to pull together all the bits and pieces of factual information she could find throughout our Great Lakes region and turn it into a beautifully told history. I was very impressed by her story.
But, that’s the kind of thing Mom would’ve called a “meant-to-be” event… it seems random at the time, but soon after you see the reasoning behind why that happened… as everything happens for a reason! I’ve been searching for a history on the “copycat recipes movement”, using various different terms and search engines; but, I have yet to find anything! Shouldn’t there be a written history on that subject – or is it just me, who feels that way?
When I was doing a search on the term “copycat recipes movement”, both, Bing and Google brought me SO MANY results on copycat recipes! Nevertheless, there were no articles or books on the subject of the “movement”. I am amazed that Mom’s name didn’t even come up on any of the first pages of results!
One of the rabbit holes I followed on Bing’s search results, led me to a “copycat recipes” term-search on Amazon.com. Out of 116 results (sorted by “Featured”), not one of Mom’s cookbooks came up until #46; which was her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018). Mom wrote and self-published a cookbook called, The Copycat Cookbook, in April 1988, which didn’t even come up in any of the first few pages of results! Likewise, when I changed the searched term to “secret recipes”, Mom’s last cookbook didn’t come up until #58 of more than 7,000 results (again, sorted by “Featured”).
Additionally, when I searched a similar term like “secret restaurant recipes” – which is the title of Mom’s self-published cookbook from 1976 (first edition, also known as “Book 1” in a series of 6) that I believe really kick-started the “movement”, in the first place; following Mom’s initial publishings of copycat recipes from famous restaurant dishes to fast food, junk food and grocery products – Mom’s cookbook didn’t come up until #183 of more than 1,000 results (once again, sorted by “Featured”).
The recipes in Mom’s “Book 1” had originated from her self-published newsletter, the National Homemakers Newsletter; which began in January of 1974, AFTER Mom had started developing a following of readers, in the early 1970s, from her syndicated newspaper columns, in which she first developed and printed some of her ORIGINAL copycat, make-at-home recipes for things like McDonald’s “Special Sauce” and Sara Lee’s Cheesecake.
Long story, short… newspaper advertisers kicked up a fuss… editor “strongly suggested” Mom go back to hum-drum brownie recipes… Mom quit and started her own publication, giving the public what they wanted; as she discovered from their requests, because there wasn’t any other source (at that time) from which to feed the ever-growing hunger for recipe secrets to imitate famous restaurant dishes, fast food, junk food and grocery products at home.
Mom has written her story, about being the Recipe DetectiveTM and how it all began, in many of her self-published books. It has also been told repeatedly by many reporters and talk show hosts over the decades, after she first fired up a lot of national attention, in the mid-1970s. It all began from requests by her readers, in the early 1970s; people who wanted to know how to IMITATE famous food products at home! However, following Mom’s first appearance on The Phil Donahue Show in July of 1981, the nation was more than just fired up – it exploded with the copycat recipes phenomenon!
Copycat recipe authors, whose names popped up on Amazon.com when I searched for the term “copycat recipes” (again, sorted by “Featured”), before my mom’s name ever appeared, included Lina Chang, JR Stevens, Todd Wilbur, Becky Bopp, Olivia Howard, John Andrews, Alexander Moretti, Bonnie Akins, Ron Douglas, Stephanie Manley, JP Brown, Samantha Schwartz, Nathan Isaac and David Pietras; plus, company names such as Six Sisters’ Stuff, Taste of Home, Prime Publishing and Publications International Ltd.
However, I have yet to find any “copycat foodie” who was published before my mom; nor any, since, who’ve given any kind of inspirational reference to her for having carved out this particular niche in the realm of recipes and copycatcookery. Mom was the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, the trailblazing pioneer who began the “copycat recipes movement” in the first place. I may be biased, but I feel like, since it has become more than a movement (it’s a huge “industry”, now), some kind of recognition is due Mom for having carved out this niche in the first place – and it makes me, all the more, want to shout Mom’s story from the roof tops!
Thus, I’m still feeling inspired to take up the challenge to write Mom’s biography, including a history of the “copycat recipes movement”. That’s kind of why I started this blog series, Mondays & Memories of My Mom, in the first place; to carry the torch for Mom’s legacy and to keep telling her story – to those who remember Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM, to those who won’t admit to it because they’ve copied (sometimes plagiarized) the ORIGINAL copycat and to the newer, digital generation who probably doesn’t even know that there is a history behind the “copycat recipes movement” and it began with Gloria Pitzer!
Not too long ago, I was asked, by one of the talk show hosts Mom used to work with, why people like Todd Wilbur and Ron Douglas can get away with blatantly copying Mom’s work. The only answer I could find to that a few years ago, when Mom wanted to re-pursue Wilbur for plagiarism, was an online article called, “Recipes, Copyright and Plagiarism” by Jonathan Bailey (published March 24, 2015).
I thought the author gave a wonderful, easy-to-understand explanation of plagiarism – specifically among recipe writers – and how difficult it is to prove, let alone prosecute, the theft of someone else’s original work, especially in recipes, that’s being passed off as one’s own work. Such as Todd Wilbur did to Mom in the late 1980s; and which I discussed in an earlier blog, Mother, May I?
It’s not fair that people like that can get away with what I (and many others) would consider plagiarism, even if it is just borderline, by simply changing a few words or ingredients or measurements (like 2 TB, instead of 1/8 cup)… and seeking their own fame and fortune from it as well! Even Mom often stated, in her own cookbooks, that she could frequently come up with the same result by using different ingredients; as she often revamped her make-alike recipes to compensate for such things as ingredients that were no longer available, which prompted Mom’s homemade grocery recipes and subsequent cookbook.
Mom wrote in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I can’t Find My Mop, about how her mom taught her certain cooking techniques; but, it was my Grandma Pitzer who, first, taught Mom how to make certain grocery products at home to save money (after she had married my dad and they were living with Dad’s parents for a short time).
Additionally, Mom, who was always a big fan of saving time and exertion, would often “revamp” her recipes to include “ingredient short cuts” (like using Mayonnaise in place of oil and egg or boxed cake mix in place of some flour and sugar ingredients). That’s how Mom came to develop her cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes(Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986), which she reprinted in June 2002 because of the popularity that shortcut cooking had gained. That cookbook was my latest source for many of the newest “thank you” notes I added to the “Media” tab, yesterday, on this website.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
“COPYCAT COOKERY doesn’t limit you to traditional ingredients or old fashioned methods for recreating your favorite dishes at home and you’ll find, in my recipes, that I often use pantry-shelf products to replace several other ingredients… SIMPLE INGREDIENTS, but marvelous results, with a smidgeon of the effort that more complicated from-scratch recipes offer!” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, pp. 41 & 65)
This easy pizza crust recipe is from one of Mom’s “free recipes and ordering information” sheets, given out in the late 1980s, and has only 3 ingredients – just stir & spread! A similar version to it can be found on page 54 of Mom’s self-published cookbook, The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990)… again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. Thanks!
PAN PIZZA CRUST
By Gloria Pitzer
12-oz beer (or Club Soda)
2 TB oil
2 ½ cups self-rising flour
Stir beer (or Club Soda) and oil together with a sturdy mixing spoon in a large bowl. Add flour and beat vigorously until smooth and moist. Dump dough into middle of Pam-sprayed, 12- or 13-inch, round pizza pan. Spread dough evenly with back of a large, wet spoon. (Note: Dipping spoon into cold water keeps the dough from sticking.) Use the spoon to patch any holes in the dough.
Bake the crust, empty, for 10 minutes at 400°-F; then, remove and, immediately, add your favorite sauce while it’s warm. Top with cheese and other favorite garnishments. Return to oven to bake for another 20-30 minutes or until toppings are bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the crust appears golden brown around its rim.
As always, happy Monday to everybody! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your Independence Day celebrations and the extra-long weekend! I want to wish a big “happy birthday” to the famous Austrian Chef, Wolfgang Puck, AND happy 130th birthday to the USA Wall Street Journal!
Also, in history – yesterday was the 38-year anniversary of when Mom FIRST appeared on the Phil Donahue Show! That was definitely a milestone event, to say the least! St. Clair’s little post office was swamped with a million letters, throughout that summer and fall, just from that show, which aired and re-aired around the world for about a year! It was truly an overwhelming response that none of us ever expected. More about that story appears in one of my early blogs, More than 15 Minutes of Fame.
Secret RecipesTM was just a family affair (other than my parents’ recent hiring of an Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend) until that summer! Then my parents needed to pay some of my friends to temporarily come in and help with all the extra mail…from sending out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets for all the SASEs that came in, from the show airing that offer, to sending out the thousands-upon-thousands more newsletter issues, from all of the extra subscription orders that came from those “free sheet” mailings.
Every year, the summer months seem to wiz right by me, never getting to completely enjoy them. While, on the other hand, winter seems to linger on endlessly! I want to savor every wonderful day of summer this year. It seems to pass by so fast here, in Michigan. Inspired by an article I read at https://www.beautyandtips.com/fun/10-fun-things-to-do-in-the-summer/ , I created a summertime bucket list of 5 things I want do this summer (as seen in photo below).
I’m a list-maker! Thus, I also started making another list of what I want to pack for our perfect picnic. Since I’m living a low-carb life-style, now, and my husband is not, I have to rethink our favorite classic picnic dishes to accommodate the both of us. That means most everything will need to be made and packed ahead of time, in individual servings rather than the usual family-style dishes. Great ideas on how to plan the perfect picnic and the related recipes can be found at, both, the Food Network’s and Taste of Home’s websites!
Our list of favorite picnic classics is similar to those listed in Sara Elliott’s Top 10 Picnic Foods, as seen on HowStuffWorks.com. When I plan my own picnics, I like to use the summertime classics that Mom used to make, I love her homemade dishes like fudge brownies, chocolate chip cookies, coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salads, fruit salad and fried chicken, which is always great, either, hot or cold!
I‘ve been learning to make my own low-carb versions of a lot of dishes I used to make and enjoy with my husband. For instance, I missed no-bake cookies, which I used to call “Mud Puddles” when I was a little girl. Thus, I took my favorite recipe apart and, like my mom, discovered how to make the same thing a different way; replacing the sugar with a sugar-substitute and the peanut butter with a low-carb version (I really like Skippy’s “Natural Creamy”), plus some unsweetened coconut in place of the oatmeal. I can, once again, savor those wonderful delights (IN MODERATION), while my husband enjoys a few of his own sweet favorites, fudge brownies and chocolate chip cookies!
In addition, instead of the potato and pasta salads that my husband will enjoy, I can have a low-carb spring greens salad with fresh-picked vegetables from my garden, bacon bits, shredded cheese and my own, homemade, low-carb 1000 Island or ranch dressing. My husband always says he’d “rather eat the rabbit than the rabbit food!” I’ve also learned to make low-carb versions of coleslaw and meatloaf that we both enjoy – you can count us among those who like their meatloaf, either way, hot or cold. In addition, grilled chicken, instead of fried, is also a low-carb substitution that I can utilize for both of us (hot or cold)!
COLONEL SANDERS’ ORIGINAL RECIPE was pressure-cooked in oil. The spicing is supposed to be a secret. One researcher concluded there are only four “secret herbs and spices” in the late colonel’s recipe. Another…The Recipe Detective…offers an excellent approximation but contains 11 herbs and spices. And it’s probably better for you because it is oven-cooked. Gloria Pitzer calls it “Colonel Sanders-Style Chicken.” – By John Owen
It should be noted that, since 1977, Mom actually called her imitation of KFC’s original product (as it used to be, before “The Colonel” sold it) “Big Bucket in the Sky!” chicken; following threats of legal action for trademark infringements from the KFC Corporation’s Trademark Manager in Dec. 1976. KFC had also sent copies of that letter to The National Inquirer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Detroit Free Press and WHO-radio for the reporters in those medias who wrote articles or talked about Mom’s imitation of “The Colonel’s” original product to, likewise, stop referring to it as “The Colonel’s Style” or “KFC’s Style” chicken.
Here’s a great “extended version” of the Colonel-Sanders-related story mentioned above (part of it is a summer rerun from my earlier blog, More than 15 Minutes of Fame). The following is Mom’s favorite recipe experience from “The Phil Donahue Show”, as it appears in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press, January 2018; 1st Printing, pp. 86-89), along with Mom’s “Big Bucket in the Sky!” chicken recipe from one of those pages, as well:
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
FRIED CHICKEN has always been a basic American favorite, even before it was a restaurant offering. It was ‘down-home’ and wholesome and has never lost its popularity. When Colonel Harland Sanders, in his retirement years, took a can of his favorite secret spices & herbs and his precious fryer and traveled across the country demonstrating his technique for preparing chicken. No one dreamed it would someday become one of the most successful corporations of the American restaurant industry, much less of the American free enterprise system, itself!
There are very minute differences between the popular restaurants in the way that their individual recipes are prepared… My own favorite is still the original recipe that we sampled when we were traveling [through] Ontario many, many years ago, and stopped at the White Horse Inn, where ‘The Colonel’, himself, was preparing his chicken and passing samples around to the customers. If the owners of the restaurant liked the response, Harland Sanders would provide them with the spices and the technique for preparing it under his name, which he eventually did – growing to the largest in the business.
THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE – WITH THE COLONEL’S HELP
I look back now to 1976 and 1977 and realize how fortunate I was to have had my life touched by so many helpful people – so many famous people! It’s almost incredible that what started out to be merely the frosting on the cake, of my monthly newsletter, soon became the whole cake!
While duplicating the secrets of the food and restaurant industry was only going to be a part of the publication I was writing, it was a surprise to me that the interest and the response from the public led to my specializing in the fast food division entirely! I thought my first book was going to be my ‘only’ book on that subject, but – six books later – I was still seriously, but lovingly, engaged in the pursuit of new information and challenging recipe imitations. [Side note: In total, Mom wrote and self-published over 40 books, in 30 years, 1973-2003.]
…One summer, while visiting relatives in West Virginia, we sampled some pan-fried home-style chicken that was every bit as good as the chicken produced in a pressure fryer. Paul’s 82-year-old-aunt claimed, why the chicken always came out just right every time she made it, which was religiously every Sunday, was the pan! She used an 80-year-old wrought iron skillet that had never been washed in soap and water. She ‘seasoned’ it with shortening – lard, mostly – and she kept it in the oven of her wood-burning, porcelain-enameled stove, where it was always warm.
THE FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE that first called attention to my recipes nationally – through the ‘National Enquirer’, ‘Money Magazine’, ‘Catholic Digest’, ‘The Christian Science Monitor’, ‘Campus Life Magazine’ and, yes, even ‘Playboy Magazine’ – was this following combination of ingredients… [as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it…]
The method is quite unorthodox and the original idea for developing it in this manner, came from a conversation I had with ‘Col. Sanders’ over the air with radio station WFAA in Dallas when I was a regular guest on a talk show with them for several months…
‘The Colonel’ was fascinated by the publicity I had received for my (original) ‘Big Bucket in the Sky’ fried chicken recipe and agreed that I was on the right track if I’d add more pepper. He loved pepper! He also suggested browning the chicken in a skillet and, then, oven-baking it until tender to achieve a likeness more to the original recipe he had created in 1964. He told me to look around the grocery store for 1 packaged product to replace the 11 spices – which I did diligently – and discovered that powdered Italian salad dressing mix was the secret!
So, I set to work to revamp the recipe. My original recipe was quite close to the famous Colonel’s product, but the coating kept falling off – because, as he explained, I couldn’t get the oil hot enough. He liked peanut oil, himself, but suggested that I could achieve a similar result by using corn or Crisco oil – with 1 cup solid Crisco for every 4 cups of oil. He talked about the quality in his product changing after turning the business over to new owners…Heublein [Incorporated]…
It seemed unlikely that a home-kitchen-rendition of such a famous product could be had for the price of my book. But the letters came in – ‘best chicken we ever had’; ‘LOVED that fried chicken recipe’; ‘our favorite chicken recipe…please don’t change it’; and ‘maybe the Colonel should have YOUR recipe!’
I don’t recall ever getting tired of fried chicken, while taste-testing all those “duds”; until Mom achieved the perfect result, for which she was aiming. There were never any bad “duds”! They just didn’t have the precise taste or quality (or both) that Mom was trying to attain.
On occasion, I’ve heard or read comments from some people who’ve tried one of Mom’s recipes and said, while it tasted really good, it didn’t taste like the product it was supposed to be imitating. Nevertheless, they loved it and continued to use the recipe as their families’ favorite “go-to” selection.
As I’ve mentioned before, in a previous blog (New Year, New Attitude), you’ll find some recipes, even in chain restaurants, will have slight, state-to-state or region-to-region, cultural differences. In addition, recipes are occasionally changed over the years to accommodate such things as public trends, healthier selections, availability factors and/or economic reasons among others.
In Crouton Crackerjacks’ wonderful YouTube video of a guy making (and giving proper credit for) Mom’s imitation of Cracker Barrel’s Buttermilk Biscuits, the guy says that the biscuits he’s making taste nothing like Cracker Barrel’s, to him. BUT, he does add that, all-in-all, it is an excellent biscuit – regardless of what restaurant inspired it – it’s his family’s favorite biscuit recipe! Check out the video at https://youtu.be/CLc0Hkbwz7c. AND see Mom’s recipe at the end of this blog for her “Beautiful Biscuits – Better than KFC’s”!
For instance, regarding recipe changes, after Harland Sanders sold his company and recipes to Heublein Incorporated, they changed a recipe that resulted in “The Colonel” suing them for misuse of his image in promoting products he hadn’t developed. [From “The part of KFC’s Story They Don’t Want You to Know”, by The Useless Info Junkie at https://theuijunkie.com/colonel-sanders-sued-kfc/]
Happy Monday! Happy Canada Day! Happy summer! AND, last but not least, happy Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day!
The cold, wet, Michigan winter and spring is long gone – for now – and the “dog days of summer” are upon us! Let’s face it, occasionally it’s just too hot in the summer time to cook anything in the oven. So, on those days, why not eat out? …As in outside! Who doesn’t love backyard picnics with char-grilled food on beautiful, sunny, summer days?
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
At our house ‘eating out’ meant roasting hotdogs in the front yard. But, then, we didn’t know of many restaurants where 5 children, who hated green vegetables and spilled catsup on the tablecloths, were welcomed. I had to learn to cook by default…the way I saw it, as long as my husband could get marvelous fried chicken at home, why should he take me to Colonel Sanders’? – Gloria Pitzer [“No Laughing Matter”, This Cook is Rated X (or) Yes, Gloria! There Really is a Colonel Sanders (no date available)]
Personally, I don’t remember misbehaving like that! Maybe my two brothers were the culprits. But, in a way, I can relate to what Mom was saying! When my three kids were young and full of ADHD (one with an emphasis on the “H”), it was difficult to go to a sit-down-and-be-served-with-real-plates-and-silverware kind of restaurant.
Our special treats of “eating out” became picnicking in the yard or at a park, that is, weather permitting… if it was winter, it was always at a Burger King or McDonalds that had a designated play room/area for the kids to run around in between bites of their hamburgers and fries. It’s those rough winters that make us Michiganders appreciate the summer months even more than most others!
The Great Lakes region, in which I grew up and continue to live, is all about celebrating summer; especially after a long, hard Michigan winter! Any excuse for a yard party or backyard barbeque will do! I remember Mom & Dad taking all of us kids on boat rides up and down the St. Clair River, sometimes stopping along the way somewhere for a special ice cream treat! I can almost taste the Blue Moon ice cream now! I miss ice cream!
I have many great memories from my childhood of family, summer weekend vacations to places like Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island (MI), Cedar Point (OH), Tahquamenon Falls (MI), Niagara Falls (Ontario) and so on. Every year, while my siblings and I were growing up in the Algonac/Pearl Beach (MI) area, there were always picnics and various backyard barbecues to have or to attend. Our parents created so many awesome memories, about which we can happily reminisce – well, speaking for myself, anyway.
Summertime also had another special meaning for our family, as Mom and Dad’s first born and last born children – my oldest brother, Bill, and my younger sister, Cheryl – ironically, share July 3rd as their birthdays (9 years apart)! The rest of us, Mom and Dad included, have winter birthdays. Birthday traditions and memories that Mom created for each of us, as we were growing up, included our choice of birthday cake and icing flavors, as well as our choice of what we wanted to have for dinner. AND we, also, got to choose what TV shows we wanted to watch that night! That was always a really big perk way-back-when!
I continued those traditions with my own children and I still do cake, ice cream and a meal for each of them, even though they’re all grown up now. Every year, every birthday – we still have a family dinner (or lunch, depending on the schedule of the birthday person) to celebrate the event! They still get their choice of what they want for their birthday meal (homemade or eating out), what kind of cake (or brownies, or something else to represent the “birthday cake”) and what kind of ice cream. My oldest daughter, Tara, has carried on these traditions with her son, as well.
As I said earlier, I miss ice cream! I remember, as a child in the early 1970s, going out to get ice cream for a special summer treat! Back then, the mind-blowing, multi-fruity flavor of “Blue Moon” ice cream was probably the number-one choice (at least for kids) in Michigan!
The beautiful, “Smurf-Blue” color was mesmerizing – and hilarious at the same time when it stained our lips and tongues blue for a little while! Searching for the history of when “Blue Moon” ice cream was first developed (which I had always thought was by a Michigan creamery like Hudsonville’s or Stroh’s Ice Cream), led me into a mish-mash of various claims of origin.
There are a lot of big, national food companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Frito-Lays and Mars, just to name a few; who run big PR campaign, asking the public to come up with new flavor ideas and, then, have a public-voting “contest” on the ideas through purchases of their favorite flavors – two words – marketing genius!
I can’t have ice cream anymore, due to my low-carb life style. Even the “Carb-Smart” brand has more carbohydrates than I want to spend on one small treat. But, I remembered that Mom used to make ice cream at home, with heavy whipping cream(whipped stiff), sweetened condensed milk, sugar, vanilla and other flavor enhancers; using only a mixer, instead of buying one of those kitchen gadgets you only use a couple times a year.
Heavy whipping cream is practically free of carbs, but not the sweetened condensed milk and sugar, nor some of the flavor enhancers. I did some experimenting of my own and found that a pint of heavy whipping cream, whipped stiff with 2 small boxes of sugar-free orange gelatin and a few drops of orange extract created a wonderful imitation of orange sherbet, once mixed and frozen. The whole thing was practically carb-free! However, I still have to remember “everything in moderation”!
I could do the same with any sugar-free gelatin and flavoring available. I wonder how root beer flavored ice cream/sherbet would taste! I’m continuing to do some homemade ice cream experiments this summer, using Mom’s recipe for homemade sweetened condensed milk but substituting in products that are more low-carb friendly. I will definitely let you all know if I come up with anything good to share!
Use the Twitter hashtags, #CreativeIcecreamFlavorDay and #NationalCreativeIcecreamFlavorDay, to post your own creative ideas for ice cream flavors on social media!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
ICE CREAM SPECIALTIES
MANY OF THE GOOD MEMORIES we have of our own youth have been centered around situations in which we enjoyed a soda or a Good Humor on a stick… I can remember when the Boston Cooler came into popularity and when the ‘slush’ was offered at every 4th of July carnival or amusement park…
HOMEMADE ICE CREAM –WITHOUT AN ICE CREAM MAKER
Making ice cream at home can be simple and accomplished without the advertised gadgets for electric ice cream makers – or the kind that Grandma used with the rock salt and the hand-operated crank. In fact, just a freezer container and an electric mixer can give you a very good dessert product that will be reminiscent of any you enjoyed from a commercial food company…
When memories visit you, years from now, you will probably recall among the famous ice cream places were Dairy Queen, Baskin-Robbins, Howard Johnson’s, Sanders and Friendly’s restaurants – as well as the famous specialties like Sander’s hot fudge topping, Eskimo pies, Spumoni (with chunks of cherries, almonds and pistachios included) – as well as, creamy, thick malts and milk shakes. These will remain favorites of an adoring public of loyal fans…
I must say, Sanders doesn’t just create chocolate delights – while they do have a large variety of products – the best things that they create are the memories!
The following summer rerun is from one of my earlier blogs, Made With Love.
Michiganders (especially southeastern ones) know all about the mouth-watering, luscious, milk chocolate delights put out by Sanders’ Chocolatiers! As their company slogan once said, “When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big, big treat.” I have a lot of great family-time memories of when Mom made this special treat for all of us – and it was especially fun to help her make it too! I mean, who wouldn’t LOVE to lick that spoon when done? I remember, as well, when I made it for my own kids while they were little – and it was a big treat for all of us! Here is what Mom had to say in her original book, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Printing) about the Sanders Company; plus, her favorite make-alike version of their hot fudge sauce (as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it):
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
SANDERS’ HOT FUDGE was one of the nicest experiences I had in working with imitations of the famous recipes, for John (Jack) Sanders, the grandson and president of the company founded by his grandfather, Fred, was one of the sponsors of Warren Pierce’s radio show [found on WJR – Detroit]. Imagine my reluctance to share with his listeners my version of Sander’s hot fudge. I had previously had so many threatening letters from food company lawyers that I didn’t know what to expect if I heard from the Sanders people! To my amazement, the letter we anticipated did arrive only 2 days after I gave my version of the hot fudge recipe to Warren’s listeners. The letter, however, said – if it wouldn’t ruin my fun in trying to duplicate these famous dishes, would Paul and I and all the kids kindly accept an invitation from Jack Sanders to tour their Oakman Boulevard Bakery and Confection plant and meet their Head Chef, Edy Mader. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, between my Secret Recipes and Fred Sander’s products and, I learned, encouraged many out-of-state orders for their products whenever I talked about them during my frequent radio visits around the country.
14 ounces light corn syrup (use EB milk can to measure)
¼ pound butter* (*per the “free sheet” copy; the cookbook – as written in 1983 – calls for ½ pound)
12 ounces Nestlé’s milk chocolate candy bars – Do not substitute on brand of candy!
a few drops vanilla extract
In top of double boiler, over simmering water, combine all ingredients as listed, stirring about 15 minutes until smooth and melted. Cover and continue cooking for at least 30 more minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes. Cool and put through your blender in small portions, using on/off agitation on high speed until mixture is satiny-smooth. Makes 1 quart. Keeps refrigerated up to a month – reheat in top of double boiler over simmering water. Freezes well up to 6 months.
MANY HEARTFELT THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT!
On behalf of,
Gloria Pitzer, ‘The Secret Recipe Detective’
It is as much a thrill for me, today, to hear somebody… request that ‘Gloria, The Secret Recipe Detective’ try to duplicate a recipe, as it was for me a decade ago when it all began. – Gloria Pitzer (May 1982) [*NOTE: That thrill continued to remain with Mom, for many more decades, until she passed away in January 2018.]
This tab is dedicated to all of those whom have made a ripple in Mom’s life as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM. As I continue to come across more names in Mom’s writings, I will also continue to add their “thank you” notes and internet links (if I can find them) in my blogs and here, using #MediaFriends…as well as on social media! – Laura (Pitzer) Emerich
To all those who are reading this, please contact me, by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Messenger, on Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective), with your memories of my mom! I’d love to hear from you!
The following “thank you” notes are from page 4 of Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018), with additional excerpts found, mostly, in My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989); followed by some other publishings, as well as, where Mom has mentioned these stations, shows and hosts.
THANK YOU, AGAIN, TO…
…Bob Allison & his “Ask Your Neighbor” radio program, formerly on WWJ-Radio (Detroit, MI) and WEXL-Radio (Royal Oak, MI; 1340 AM). Now, you’ll find Bob on WNZK-Radio (960 AM; Detroit, MI) with his son, Rob Allison. The “Ask Your Neighbor” show has been broadcasting since 1962!
[Thank you] for your moral support and interest in my research and development of recipes that imitate restaurant and commercial food products. You’ve been a great friend over the years! – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
“ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR!” – I called [Bob] frequently with answers to his other listeners’ recipe questions, until I became ‘a regular’ on the show. With Bob’s generous help in mentioning my monthly newsletter, my subscriptions began to climb… I was finally showing a profit! That gave my husband, Paul, some relief from his skepticism that I would eventually outgrow my obsession with writing… From Bob Allison’s listeners alone, Paul and I had received over 1,000 letters in one day! [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)]
…Art Lewis and his “Listen to the Mrs.”program [and cohost, Sue Smith] on WSGW-Radioin Saginaw, MI – which has been on the air since 1952… and also to Fred Krell [RIP], program director at WSGW-Radio, who had originated the early “call-in” talk shows, “Listen to the Mrs.” and “What’s Your Opinion?”
[Thank you, all, for being great friends over the years! – Gloria Pitzer]
DEAR FRIENDS – The best part of April  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! [From the introduction, on the cover of Mom’s Spring-1995 newsletter, Secret Recipes Quarterly.]
[Thank you] for putting me in touch with some of the most responsive and enthusiastic listening audiences. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
Warren Pierce of WJR-Radio, (Detroit, MI) was one of my first radio friends with whom I would visit on the air regularly, giving out recipe secrets from the food industry. When Warren had an evening show, we found that the listeners’ responses to the famous “make-at-home” recipes prompted some very interesting challenges…my visits, on the radio, with Warren Pierce are still among my favorite experiences in my recipe investigations. I would rather do a radio show with Warren, in fact, than television with anyone else. [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 254)]
…Jim White [RIP], Ann Keefe [RIP] & Art Fleming [RIP] of KMOX-Radio, St. Louis, MO…
[Thank you] for all the great years we visited on the air, sharing secrets of some giants in the food industry with your nationwide audience. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
In the Mid-West (especially in the St. Louis, MO area), one of the most-often requested recipe secrets from my visits with KMOX-RADIO was for Steak and Shake’s chili. On my way to Los Angeles in March of 1982, I had to change planes in St. Louis and had some lay-over time in which to visit some of the area and get a good bowl of chili! The trip was well worth it! … Some of the radio shows that I took part in were on-the-air at midnight, especially my favorite visits with KMOX in St. Louis and WGY[-Radio] in Schenectady. [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 54)]
…Bob Cudmore of WGY-Radio, Schenectady, NY [1980 to 1993 night time talk show host for “Contact”… and to his predecessor Bill Miller!]
…for whose listeners have become good friends over the many years of our radio visits with your wonderful audience…[Thank you!] – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
ONE OF MY FAVORITEradio visits, on a monthly basis (and sometimes more often than that) was with a Schenectady station [WGY-Radio]. Originally, I worked with Bill Miller, whose…show [called ‘Contact’] drew a good following. It was because of Bill’s interest in the nuns of St. Claire, an order in New York state, who baked a delicious cheesecake and sold it to raise money for the poor, that I was first asked to duplicate the recipe…It was a real challenge. Eventually, however, we did come up with our own version and it was a divine experience, which I called ‘Blessed Cheesecake’.
Bill Miller left WGY and was soon replaced by Bob Cudmore, who had [previously] worked with me… at a Pittsfield, MA station. I continued on with ‘Contact’ for a long while, until…around Christmas of 1988. [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 60)]
…Ralph Story [RIP fellow Michigander] of KNX-Radio (1070 AM), Los Angeles, CA. Also…Jackie Olden, Mel Baldwinand Melinda Leeon KNX’s “Food News Hour” [Source: My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 58)]
[Thank you] for introducing me to your west coast audience, which offered me many new restaurants to investigate. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…Bob Barry of WEMP-Radio, Milwaukee, WI (1976-1979)…
…whose newsletter to…radio personalities included notes of my progress and opened many doors for me…[Thank you!] – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…[Thank you] for MANY years of meaningful membership. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…Marian Burros, Food Editor of “The Washington Post” and author of Pure and Simple…
[Thank you] for your encouragement and enthusiastic endorsement as Food Editor of ‘The Washington Post’, making my research of the food industry’s secrets an exciting and interesting labor of love. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…Ed (& Sydney) Busch of WFAA-Radio, Dallas, TX (1976-1982, hosts of “America Over the Weekend”)…
[Thank you for your priceless contacts and wonderful audience!]
…Carol Haddix, Food Writer at the “Detroit Free Press”, 1971-1977 & Food Editor at the “Chicago Tribune”, 1977-2011…
[Thank you] for an over-whelming response to my “Eating Out at Home” ideas. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…Rosanne Robinson, who found my Facebook tribute page for Mom (@TheRecipeDetective). She said, in part, that Mom was a regular guest on her radio show at WMB-Radio, adding, “she was my favorite guest and a guarantee my mom would listen too!”
Thank you, Rosanne, for your messages and memories of my mom! Keep in touch!
The names for these NEW “thank you” notes that follow, were collected from Mom’s book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pages 58-61)]. All of these stations, talk show hosts and reporters contributed to the ripples of success for the Recipe DetectiveTM. Therefore, on behalf of my mom and our family, I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to…
…who, after talking to me for only 5 minutes, had so inspired his listeners to want to try our recipes that we received nearly 1,000 letters within 2 days after the radio visit…[Thank you for having created new interests in my recipes.] – Gloria Pitzer (1989)
‘The Microwhiz’…a new radio visit I thoroughly enjoy…[as she] takes my conventional recipes and converts them to ‘micro’ cooking in no time at all! [Thank you for having created new interests in my recipes!] – Gloria Pitzer
…Jim Warren [RIP], host of Moody Radio‘s “Prime Time America”
…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)
…called and asked me to think about those typical things that happen here, which they could photograph to accompany the story she was writing about us…
Everyday…things, here, are quite unpredictable! Mostly, it’s a day filled with pleasant interruptions – such as the grandchildren dropping by to see us for a few minutes or a radio station calling and asking me to fill in at the last minute! [Thank you! – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 94)]
…Dick Syatt, of WRKO-Radio, Boston, MA (host of the “Hotline” show) –
I remembered what Dick Syatt, one of our radio friends, had told me about finally getting everything you ever wanted, when he said, “Hell is God, giving you what you thought you wanted.” Sometimes we need to have something, lose it and get it back again, before we can really appreciate what we have. I had that chance and I am so glad for it… Thank you! – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 96)]
…CR Powers and Loren Mitchell on AGM-Radio, Santa Fe, NM – where Mom shared her sister’s recipe (my Aunt Hazel) for her awesome appetizers, which she called “Hot Dog & Bacon BBQ”.
…Bob Talbert [RIP] of the Detroit Free Press fame, along with our condolences to his surviving family and friends. Mom often talked about his helpful boosts in getting her name out to his readers with the wonderful plugs he gave her products. Bob Talbert and Mom had a delightful friendship over the years, and she was quite saddened by his passing in 1999. Bob mentioned Mom’s first cookbook in one of his 1973 columns, where he referred to it as being great “…for a buck-and-a-half-and-a-belly-laugh” per page!
John Owen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer – Published March 1, 1994 – wrote…COLONEL SANDERS’ ORIGINAL RECIPE was pressure-cooked in oil. The spicing is supposed to be a secret. One researcher concluded there are only four “secret herbs and spices” in the late colonel’s recipe. Another…The Recipe Detective…offers an excellent approximation but contains 11 herbs and spices. And it’s probably better for you because it is oven-cooked. Gloria Pitzer calls it “Colonel Sanders-Style Chicken.”
7/14/19 MORE THANK YOU NOTES TO…
[The following names are all from Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986)]
[…who] always tried to stump me when we did the regular broadcast for Hy-Vee Supermarkets. Al and I would take a look at the advertised specials for the week in the Hy-Vee markets and Al would challenge me, on the air, to come up with a short recipe that incorporated the advertised food items into a special dish.
…Perry Wright, host of “Nightline”, on WTRX-Radioin Flint, MI…
[We’ve] had some interesting questions from his listeners, but one intrigued me for the Cherry Dumplings, as…served…in a little café in Traverse City (about a block north of the Milliken Department Store…[unfortunately, the restaurant closed] after years and years of being one of the favorite places in Traverse City.
[We] had some very interesting radio visits with her [Columbia area] listeners and, on one occasion, a listener requested the chewy, chocolate chip bars that only the professional bakeries seemed to know how to make – and, of course, wouldn’t share the secret! [You know I can’t keep a secret!]
[We] keep his listeners up to date on the secrets of the recipe world every now and then; and the letters we receive from Mark’s audience always invite a challenge [like] The Meadow Club in Rolling Meadows, IL [that] served a drink that one listener was simply crazy about [the Miami Express Meadow Club Cocktail]!
…Art Dineen of WPLP-Radioin the St. Petersburg-Bradenton area (FL)…
[Who] has introduced me to the taste favorites of Florida and each radio visit with his listeners gives me another secret to try and crack!
…Jim Pilgrim [RIP] of Alberta Lea-Radio in Alberta Lea, MN and of KGHR-Radio in Austin, MN [where he hosted “House Party”]…
[We] recently shared some holiday recipes with his [Alberta Lea] listeners and the letters that we received from Jim’s audience were very enthusiastic… [Additionally, his Austin] listeners must have enjoyed my last visit with them because we were opening mail of approval for days afterward!
…[who] has been calling me for years to visit with his listeners in the Toronto-Niagara area. The favorite recipe [request] of his listeners is for the barbeque sauce like they serve at The Swiss Chalet – a favorite of mine, too!
…[who] thought [my recipe for ‘Cool Whip & Cake Mix Cookies’ and ‘Frosting Cookies’] were unique because even a ‘non-cook’ could make them with ease!
ENCORE THANK YOUs TO…
…WSGW-Radio in Flint, MI
…[encore/repeat] Ed Buschin Dallas, TX [1984 – 1986 host/producer of the “Ed Busch Talk Show”, a national call-in talk show, in joint venture with the Associated Press and carried by their network.]
…[he and his wife, Sydney] have been inviting me to talk with their listeners for over 10 years – originally through the Dallas station [WFAA-Radio] and, now… When I recently visited with [Ed] on the air for 2 hours, I met the most wonderful listeners, coast-to-coast. Always, a former Detroiter will call and ask me to give my version of the famous Sanders’ Hot Fudge Sauce, which Ed always emphasizes is the most incredible, most unique topping you’ll ever find anywhere! My ‘Secret Fast Food Recipes’ book devotes [about] 16 pages to the Sanders’ company…
…the 50,000 watt station puts us in touch with listeners from all parts of Ontario, Canada and [the state of] New York. The requests from Andy’s listeners have kept me on my toes for many years and especially when it comes to the Buffalo-area specialties [like Buffalo Wings]!
…[We] have shared recipe secrets with her listeners for a long time and their requests reflect the need to cut out the lengthy list of ingredients and get right to the heart of the matter. Some of the favorite recipes requested by Kathy’s listeners include an array of wonderful, but simple to make dishes [like my Summer Cheesecake]!
…[whose] ‘Mid-Day Magazine’ show… always brought me special requests for dishes served by restaurants of the area, which were no longer around or had changed their menu offerings so that some favorites were no longer available… [like] the chicken pot pie [that] JL Hudson’s dining room served in their downtown Detroit store.
…[encore/repeat] ToniHarblin of WTNY-Radioin Watertown, NY…
…[whose] listeners share my enthusiasm for the abbreviated recipes that take the task out of cooking and make it more of a joy than a job!
…[whose] listeners were asking about the Flag Ship Rum Buns from the Washington, DC restaurant; and I found a beautiful recipe for them…it had over 18 ingredients… So, I invented an abbreviated version and they loved it!
…[who] always made me feel at home. Among the many requests from Jackie’s listeners were those for a basic, abbreviated spaghetti sauce recipe [for which I gave them my ‘Port Wine Spaghetti Sauce’ recipe, with variations for a meat sauce and a mushroom sauce].
By Mike Royko [Detroit Free Press, The Feature Page; MONDAY, DEC. 10, 1973]
IF YOU spend any time in this corner, you have noticed lately that I have been writing a lot about food, restaurants and eating. It always happens when I go on a strict diet. I satisfy my hungers by writing about food. A shrink could have a field day in my fat-choked noggin about this, and other things, no doubt, but who really cares, right? If it works, then I say write on, baby! The diet is working. I started at 245 a week ago this past Thursday and am right at 230 after a weekend of 1,200-calorie days. But to keep the ol’ write-and-lose therapy going, let me pass on some info about two rather novel cookbooks that have come to my attention.
First, there’s Gloria Pitzer’s handmade (her five kids in Algonac even helped hand-color the cover) delight called, “The Better Cooker’s Cookbook.” Gloria is a delightful newspaper columnist and she notes in the front of her book: “If the Good Lord had intended for me to cook, why wasn’t I born with aluminum hands?”
Another sparkling observation: “Cookbooks do not tell you, for instance, such vital items as the Impossibility of Using Up Easter Eggs!” I really groove on the little asides she tucks between the over 200 sensible recipes. Like this one: “Frankly, I never met a melon squeezer I really liked. They always make me feel so insecure, the way they hold the melon to their eye and thump it like they are expecting a heartbeat.” …It’s a buck and a half and a belly-laugh a page…
By Gloria Pitzer (Feb. 1976, among Gloria’s “Original 200” recipes)
¼ pound (1/2 cup) butter or margarine,
½ cup Crisco or homogenized solid shortening,
1 cup granulated sugar,
¾ cup Pet or Carnation evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for 5 minutes on medium speed. Add Crisco a little at a time. Cream another 3 or 4 minutes. Add sugar a little at a time while continuing to beat. Then add the milk (mixed, first, with the vanilla), beating and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. The longer you beat this, the better it becomes – but food processor preparations are also possible – timing depends on manufacturer’s directions for “creaming”. Mixture will “grow” in the bowl. Keeps refrigerated in covered container up to a month. Use as directed below with the cake “strips” for TWINKLES. Should fill about 2 dozen.
THE YELLOW-SPONGE-LIKE CAKE that I use is the same recipe that I suggest using for imitating at home the cake product from the company ‘nobody doesn’t like’ – who shall remain nameless – YOU can say it out loud… but I can’t!
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whole milk
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
As listed, beat the ingredients in large mixing bowl on medium speed, beating 1 minute with each addition. Pour batter into 2 square, 8-inch, greased cake pans or Pyrex baking dishes (or a 13 x 9 x 2” pan.) Bake in preheated, 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes – for the 2 square pans – both pans in the oven at same time. For the oblong pan, bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack. Best to use the cake when it is slightly frozen – about 30 minutes in the freezer. Cut cake into bars – 1.5 x 3.5”. Put bottom-side of each bar facing up on waxed paper. Spread bottom halves with the Twinkle Filling and put together with an un-frosted bar – sandwich style. Wrap in small plastic sandwich bags or snack-size bags. Seal and date. Freeze up to one year – or refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes about 24 cream-filled cakes.
Happy Monday AND happy “Please Take My Children to Work Day”! Yes, Virginia! There is such a thing!
Before my mom was the Recipe DetectiveTM, before she authored all those newsletters and cookbooks, Mom penned and syndicated various “hot topic” and “homemaker” satirical-styled editorials/columns, as well as a series of cartoon panels! One of her later series of columns was called “No Laughing Matter” (aka: “No Laugh ‘N Matter”), which she continued doing for a while, even after the rise of her Secret RecipesTM business took off in the 1970s.
Mom would have had a field day writing a column about this national “Please Take My Children to Work Day” – I can’t believe there really is such a thing! Apparently, it’s been celebrated yearly on the last Monday of June for 16 years (since 2003). This year, that happens to be today! Who knew? I could have used that when my kids were young – NOT! I can just hear my mom laughing and saying the same thing, too!
We got our “me times” the old fashioned way… when the kids were involved in school, sports, play groups, Scouts, city activities… the list goes on, including hiring a sitter for a day every now and then – or exchanging sitting favors with another mom! Sorry – but, really people – you don’t need a national holiday to devise a one-day break from parenting responsibilities! It’s a lifelong commitment. Besides, there’s already a yearly national “Take Your Child to Work Day” on the last Thursday in April!
For more information on what the “Please Take My Children to Work Day” holiday is really all about, you can check out these three websites, on which I found some interesting information; or do a search of your own, but here are some starting points:
In one of Mom’s “No Laughing Matter” columns from the 1970s (not sure what date it was actually published in the papers wherever it was syndicated), Where Have All Our Homemakers Gone?, Mom wrote: “The full-time homemaker is, unfortunately, being short-changed by today’s ‘paycheck-oriented’ society and, if Women’s Lib have their own way, ‘homemaker’ will be a 4-letter word… the women who either by choice or by circumstance makes a career out of making a home.”
Here it is about 40 years later and not much has changed. I constantly recognize the timelessness in a lot of the issues about which Mom once wrote. I guess it’s true – the more things change, the more they also stay the same!
In another “No Laughing Matter” article (circa 1970s), Just a Housewife and a Pro!, Mom wrote: “As a ‘suburban housewife’, I fail to see how anyone could classify my routine as ‘dull’! For one thing, everyone knows that the mother of an active family has no routine! We’re lucky if we can get our slippers on the right feet first thing in the morning. In fact, we’re lucky if we can even find those slippers, having to, first, plow through an undergrowth of Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs on the way to the kitchen, where we must witness testy debates over who gets the [prize] in the box of [cereal] and why a 40-year-old man refuses to take the Donald Duck thermos in his lunch…
What’s wrong with a quest for a roll of Scotch tape that’s your very own or having the phone ring and the call is for you instead of your teenager? [Margaret Mead’s] working definition [of a ‘first-class’ woman, not being a housewife or homemaker,] is a ‘trained, competent, professional woman’. Now, I’d be the last one to contradict an expert, but in defense of women who become wives and mothers… we have had training (although much of it’s on the job), are extremely competent and are professional [according to Webster’s dictionary] in that we have ‘a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or skill’…
If you don’t think it takes learning or skill to varnish a complex-of-disorder with enough love and efficiency that husbands and children grow up with security and comfort, drop around my kitchen some Sunday night… no matter what they tell us [working-outside-the-home homemakers] about turning our kids over to a day care center, there’s nothing like coming home from school to know that Mom’s in the kitchen, whipping up a pitcher of Tang and a plate of Twinkies.” [NOTE: See Mom’s recipe for homemade Twinkies at the end of this blog.]
Mom often referred to our family as being the total opposites of the Brady family on TV! Here’s a take, from the early years of the Recipe DetectiveTM, when Dan Martin of Newsday Wire Features wanted to come to our house in Pearl Beach to interview Mom about her bi-centennial cookbook that he had seen at The Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village… To hear Mom tell the story, it was just another day in the life of the “happy homemaker” – the kind of “stuff” from which country songs (or reality TV shows) are made!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
When he knocked on the door that day, it was like inviting him into a Jean Kerr production of “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies”. There were a dozen baskets of ironing here and there in the large dining room, each tagged with the [customer’s] name, phone number and date… Two long tables, under the windows [along the east wall], were covered with freshly mimeographed 4×6 cards of recipes, spread out for the ink to dry. Several times a week, I printed up about 200 recipes, at 50 copies each. At that time, we sold these through our newsletter for 5-for-a-dollar or 25-cents each. We did very well with them too!
In the living room, Debbie’s friends had gathered with their driver’s training manuals to quiz each other for the big day coming up – when those six teenagers would be taking their driving tests. In the kitchen, Cheryl and Lorie were working on Girl Scout badge projects with some of their friends. It was a mad house!
Mr. Pipersack was shuffling in and out of the side porch door [off of the utility room], trying to unplug the bathroom pipes and clean out the septic tank for us. In the back room, where the prehistoric furnace was located in the 80-year-old house, a man from the gas company was arguing with a man from [the electric] company about what was wrong with our furnace and why it wouldn’t work [and recommending that I hide Paul’s wrench!]…
Our oldest son, Bill, was hunting through the kitchen drawers for some tools… so he could get under the hood of his [car] out in the driveway and, then, let Mr. Pipersack pull his truck into the yard. Mike, our next oldest, was on the phone trying to convince a girl that the things she had heard about him weren’t true and, if he could get his dad’s car on Saturday, would she go to the movies with him…
[Furthermore,] the cat was having a litter of kittens under the sewing table and our police dog, Suzie, was about to have a litter of pups and was moping about, looking for comfort…
Had our life been made into a TV series, it probably would’ve been called ‘The Pitzer Pack Rats’! …Based purely on the unfounded talents of our five kids to keep our house looking like it was just about to be condemned by HUD! I pretend not to care for ‘The Brady Bunch’, because I envied their lovely lifestyle, where problems were solved without so much as a hair out of place or a tear shed in despair…
My husband… loved the way the Brady’s bathroom mirror never got steamed up from somebody’s shower and how Mr. Brady never had to threaten a child… for catapulting a meatball off of their fork and into [his] coffee cup the way our kids would! I liked the way their stairway was always free of common household litter and their door wall never had fingerprints on it.
Their house plants flourished and when their phone would ring, it was always somebody… who had something pertinent to contribute to the entire 30-minute story… When [the phone] rings in this house, it’s usually a lady calling long-distance, from Toledo, to tell me about an exciting new offer on my favorite… magazines at drastically reduced rates, or… my Avon lady…
Mrs. Brady lived the kind of saccharine existence all mothers of my day dreamed of, for she never had to explain why they had Coca-Cola stains on the ceiling or how she blew the food budget on a pot roast for Sunday’s dinner, or why she had to take down phone messages in the dust on the end table because she could never locate a pencil and paper when she needed it, like I did!
Her kids did not spend hours on the phone with a friend just listening to each other breathe, nor did they waste their allowances on a record album with a 3-aspirin rating! And, I noticed, the Brady kids never used a windowsill for a foot-rest, a lampshade for a coat rack or a younger brother for a punching bag.
Mr. and Mrs. Brady never argued with each other over his bowling night and her Bridge Club. Have you ever noticed how their oldest boy never stood around, cracking his knuckles when he was bored? Ours did. Everything that happened to them was an object lesson with a happy conclusion where the parents always come out on top, knowing what was best for the youngsters and proving it, too!
We always felt lucky, on the other hand, if Paul and I could only get the cherries out of the fruit cocktail before the kids did! And, while all of the Brady kids uttered adorable little sayings… our teenaged son explained how he had just initiated his new chemistry set by concocting Nitro-glycerin in the utility room.
The Brady Bunch may have lived in a Walt Disney [style] happily-ever-after world, but I did really like them… because [the story] didn’t tell it like it WAS, but how it COULD be! – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 27-29)
Friday marked the first day of summer! On the first day of spring I adopted the low-carb lifestyle (like Atkins). It has been 97 days of no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar – you know, all the good stuff! After starting out at a 20-gram-carb-limit for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far.
I’ve recently started using almond flour to make some Keto recipes. I LOVE the 90-Second Microwave English Muffin! I turned my slices into a Monte Cristo sandwich one morning and, OMG, I was in heaven (and stuffed) for a maximum 9-grams of carbs! I’ve also discovered that some heavy whipping cream and sugar-free, flavored gelatin make awesome “carb-free” desserts!
As of today, I’ve lost about 30 pounds! My goal is to lose another 10 pounds, at least; maybe 15 pounds at most. However, my “exercise regimen” is not steady, to say the least, and I still need to change that! I don’t spend near enough time weeding my garden or going for brisk walks.