Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Labor Day!

Happy Monday and, most especially, I hope everyone has a fantastic Labor Day today!

125 years ago, Labor Day officially became a federal holiday. It’s celebrated yearly, on the first Monday in September and, just as Memorial Day has become the unofficial start to summer, Labor Day has, likewise, become the unofficial end to summer.

Labor Day doesn’t really have any traditional customs for observing it. There are so many different kinds of celebrations, including family and community picnics, parades, outdoor concerts, festivals, fireworks and even shopping; as retailers always offer huge Labor Day weekend deals and discounts to move the rest of their summer stock. Moreover, many people also take advantage of the long weekend to go on one, last, summer vacation.

Something else that usually happens on (or by) Labor Day weekend is that all the stores clearance their remaining back-to-school stock, so they can start to fill up their seasonal sections with all things Halloween and autumn-harvest themed. Meanwhile, their stock rooms are already piling up with Christmas inventory. And, of course, apple and pumpkin spices are being added into everything now! In fact, many Michigan cider mills began opening this weekend for the holiday and the rest of Michigan’s harvesting season.

Decades ago, when my siblings and I were kids, I think that the main reason my Mom celebrated Labor Day was because it meant that we were going back to school the next day and Mom could start her vacation! The following is one of Mom’s syndicated editorial columns, written around August 1971 – she called it School Begins and so Does Mother’s Vacation.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

School Begins and so Does Mother’s Vacation

By Gloria Pitzer (Algonac, MI; Aug. 1971)

Never mind what the calendar says about the longest day of summer. It doesn’t really fall in June. It falls somewhere during the last week of August, as mothers everywhere breathlessly await the beginning of another school year!

When listening to a child lick a postage stamp in the next room begins to give me a headache and the cat seems to be stomping his paws and even my Mixmaster and my vacuum cleaner sound like mini bikes, I know it’s time for school to start.

This is what happens when you live with children who believe that the same door they left open all winter should be slammed all summer. And all I have to show for 10 weeks of summer, is a tape recording of 400 hours of the kids next door, gunning their motorcycles under my kitchen windows; which I felt would make a lovely remembrance for their mother who has been out, working in a pleasant air-conditioned office. Someday, she may want to know what she missed while her boys were growing up. I can tell her what she missed – migraines, excessive nervous acidity and hives, that’s what!

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The first 8 weeks of summer rushed past us so quickly – it was like catching quicksilver in greased gloves. Suddenly, there was our 15-year old [son], telling us he needed back-to-school clothes; but, he’d like some new blue jeans that didn’t look like new blue jeans.

Honestly, I don’t know where you can buy new blue jeans with broken zippers, frayed hems, worn seats and patched knees. He [also] said he had wished he had bought his school shoes last month, so he could have had plenty of time to scuff up the toes and run the heels over before school started; then, nobody would accuse him of wearing Sunday school clothes.

It is during the [unofficial] last week of summer that my Avon lady sends me a CARE package and my mother apologizes for not having had the children visit her more often before they had to go back to school. I receive fliers from the drug store advertising Christmas wrappings and ribbons, and you can’t find a 99-cent Styrofoam cooler anywhere in town for the Labor Day picnic you wish you didn’t have to attend, because any picnic with 5 children is no PICNIC!

Photo by Gloria Pitzer, 1964

It is during the [unofficial] last week of summer that I’m ready to vote ‘yes’ in a school bond issue and school supplies that were on sale in July are being replaced on dime store counters by Halloween candy and costumes.

It is during the [unofficial] last week of summer that a neighbor stops by to see if he ever returned the lawn mower he borrowed from us and is disappointed when he learns he didn’t because he wanted to borrow it again!

Actually, the longest day of summer can make one weak – especially if she’s a mother!

To hear Mom tell it, we were ravenous little Tasmanian devils that ate her out of house and home! But, that was Mom’s kind of humor… cynical, sarcastic, satirical and mocking, like most stand-up comedians. She grew up inspired by the great ones of the 1940s, like Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, Gracie Allen and George Burns, Sid Caesar and Mae West; then, in the 1950s, by the likes of Jerry Lewis, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Milton Berle, Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason and so on.

1973 – Promotional ad Mom developed and sent to various newspapers and magazines for syndication, marketing her own talents.

Mom could see humor in almost anything. “They” say, in the comedy realm, that the best material comes from real life experiences! My mom had a way of taking our everyday life events and turning them into some great “fishing stories” – and, besides the written stories, she also illustrated humorous cartoon panels, which she called Full House, as kept by Gloria Pitzer, that depicted the essence of some of those stories as well! As the old adage goes: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

Below is another comedic example from Mom’s No Laughing Matter editorials regarding our eating habits. Now, keep in mind, our mother was a really good cook (despite her sarcastic humor claiming otherwise) – so, of course, we were going to eat her out of house and home! There’s no date on this editorial, titled Vittel Statistics – or How to Salvage Leftovers! It would have been published in the mid-to-late 1970s, as it was signed as “Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective”.

As I have discussed in some of my previous blog entries, the title, “Recipe Detective”, was given to Mom in the mid-1970s by the listeners of Bob Allison’s Ask Your Neighbor radio show, of which Mom was an avid listener AND, eventually, a weekly guest with her Secret RecipesTM. But, it also could have been written, originally, in the early-to-mid 1970s; as Mom discusses her “15-year old” son in the first paragraph. My brother, Bill, was 15 in 1972; and my other brother, Mike, was 15 in 1974.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Vittel Statistics – or How to Salvage Leftovers!

By Gloria Pitzer, Recipe DetectiveTM

In order to prevent our kids from eating us right into bankruptcy, I’ve been, literally, forced to salvage food in the refrigerator by trying to camouflage it. Just last week, I made a banana look like a ballpoint pen and hid a stack of sliced cheese in an old stationary box. When our 15-year old discovered them in the refrigerator, I assured him it was for writing letters to those people who deserved a cold shoulder from me.

Several [readers] have written, asking me what I do with leftovers. I realize leftovers can be a problem but, in my case, I can hardly remember what they’re like. With five, fully-powered, automatic food disposals, walking around disguised as ‘Problem Eaters’, this house hasn’t seen a leftover in years. Leftovers is not my problem – having enough to go around the first time is!

I keep telling them, ‘Please! Eat like there IS a tomorrow!’ But, they don’t listen. There was a time when I could have equated their appetites with a compliment to my cooking, but that was before I saw them eat [Kellogg’s] Pop Tarts© without removing the wrappers… They are problem eaters, alright; but, the problem is they never stop eating!

There are some things they will avoid, like brown spots on an apple, as well as the core and the stem. Neither will they eat parsley flakes or dry minced onions. The also have an adversity for whatever might be good for them, like green vegetables; which means it’s perfectly safe for me to conceal Twinkies© in a box [for frozen] Brussel sprouts or Nabisco’s [Nilla] Wafers in a box that once contained prunes.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I’ve even hidden Christmas cookies so well that it wasn’t until we went to a 4th of July picnic that I discovered them in the cold drink thermos. I’ve hidden Oreos© in a tall, brown jar marked ‘NOT TO BE TAKEN INTERNALLY!’ I’ve tried to salvage enough of tonight’s pot roast to make tomorrow night’s stew, by wrapping it in a damp towel and trying to pass it off, on a lower shelf of the refrigerator, as my ironing.

When I discovered the three empty quart bottles that had, only moments before, contained ginger ale; it wasn’t difficult to expose the guilty person. It was the one [from whom], when he opened his mouth, I could hear the ocean roar!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I tried to frighten them away from what is loosely termed JUNK, like chips and doughnuts and pizza snacks; but, they refuse to listen to how their teeth will rot and acne will make them unpopular.

Already, our 15-year old is supporting a 30-cents-a-day candy habit! [Note: In the early-to-mid 1970s, that was a LOT of candy!]

Just yesterday, in fact, I found the following reminder taped to the refrigerator: ‘Mom, we’re out of Pop Tarts again.’ I was very upset. The note had been written with the very last banana on the only slice of cheese!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading Mom’s and my humorous memories about our family and food! Next Monday, September 9th, is National “I Love Food” Day! So, I hope you’ll “tune in”, again, for more amusing food stories and …Memories of My Mom – plus, her famous copycat recipe for Johnnie Lega’s world-famous chili, as seen in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018).

IN CLOSING…

To celebrate the beginning of football season, here are TWO recipes that Mom developed and published around 1972, in one of her Cookbook Corner syndications of editorials and recipes. I love the Pepper Casserole recipe for my low-carb lifestyle!

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

BIG BUCKET IN THE SKY! CHICKEN

 

Original illustration by Gloria Pitzer; edited by Laura Emerich

BIG BUCKET IN THE SKY! CHICKEN

By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press, January 2018; 1st Printing, p. 88)

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. The method is quite unorthodox and the original idea for developing it in this manner, came from a conversation I had with ‘Col. Sanders’ over the air with radio station WFAA in Dallas when I was a regular guest on a talk show with them for several months. We discussed the secrets of the food industry with listeners by phone from our homes. The Colonel was fascinated by the publicity I had received for my ‘Big Bucket in the Sky’ fried chicken recipe and agreed that I was on the right track if I’d add more pepper. He loved pepper! He also suggested browning the chicken in a skillet and, then, oven-baking it until tender to achieve a likeness more to the original recipe he had created in 1964. He told me to look around the grocery store for 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.

When Heublein Conglomerate bought out the franchise, they paid a few million dollars for ‘The Colonel’s’ recipe and technique. It seemed unlikely that a home-kitchen-rendition of such a famous product could be had for the price of my book. But the letters came in – ‘best chicken we ever had’; ‘l-o-v-e-d that fried chicken recipe’; ‘our favorite chicken recipe – so, please don’t change it’; and ‘maybe the colonel should have YOUR recipe!’

Ingredients:

3 pounds of chicken fryer parts – cut small

2 packages Good Season’s Italian Salad Dressing mix

3 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons salt

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 ½ pints of corn oil

2/3 cup Crisco solid shortening

1 cup milk

1 ½ cups boxed pancake mix combined with: 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp powdered sage and 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions:

Rinse chicken and wipe pieces dry.

Make a paste out of the first five ingredients. Brush to coat chicken evenly with the paste…the underside as well. Stack pieces in a large refrigerator container, seal in foil and refrigerate several hours or, better yet, overnight.

1 ½ hours before serving, heat oil and Crisco, until melted, in a heavy saucepan. Put just enough of this into two large heavy skillets so that it covers the bottom of each 1-inch deep and just set the rest aside, as the oil will have to be replaced as you remove fried pieces and continue to fry more.

Dip each pasty chicken piece, 1st in milk and then in pancake mixture (having combined it as directed above with the last three ingredients.) Dust off excess mix and place skin-side down in the very hot oil mixture.

Brown the chicken on each side until golden. Then, place browned pieces in shallow baking pans, single-layered with skin-side up. Spoon remaining milk over pieces. Seal with foil on only 3 sides of the pan.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375°F or until chicken is fork-tender, basting with milk and pan drippings every few minutes. Remove foil and bake another 8-10 minutes or until crispy. Serves 6-8. Leftovers keep up to a week refrigerated.

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

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Nostalgia

Happy Monday! According to NationalDayCalendar.com, August 19th is National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day! To celebrate, I’ll be including Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade soft-serve ice cream, like Dairy Queen’s, at the end of today’s blog entry.

#NationalSoftIceCreamDay

Dictionary.com says that nostalgia “is a wistful desire to return in thought… to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.” Just like the memories I write about my mom every week. In fact, the 1-year anniversary of Mondays & Memories of My Mom is coming up next month! The time is flying by so fast… and, it seems, the older I get, the faster time flies!

Did you know… on this day in history, 100 years ago, William B. Ward first registered the trademark, Hostess, for the breads and cakes they made? In my April 8th blog entry, Eating out at Home, I included the following story Mom wrote about James Dewar, who invented the ‘Twinkie’, while working for the Continental Baking Company; which was, later, bought by Interstate Bakeries Corporation and renamed Hostess Brands.

Originally, when the baking company was founded in the early 1900s, it was called Ward Baking Company. For a more in depth history of the Ward family, their baking company, Twinkies® and the drama that surrounded them, check out the article about it, by Bloomberg News, on the FinancialPost.com website, at https://business.financialpost.com/news/twinkie-history-spiced-with-murder-scandal-suggests-icon-will-survive.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

James Dewar, original date/source unknown

IT’S NO SECRET!

James Dewar started out driving a horse-drawn wagon in Chicago and, by 1930, was manager of the Continental Baking Company’s Chicago establishment. [That’s when] he invented the ‘Twinkie’, a sponge-type cake with a creamy vanilla-flavored filling. 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 it was when Dewar first introduced his creation to American cuisine. The company that put out the Twinkie was originally called [Ward Baking Company, then] 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 5-cents 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.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Nostalgic!

Do you remember the run on Twinkies® in November of 2012? The Hostess Brands company had announced it was going out of business and utter chaos ensued as the masses swarmed the stores to buy all the yummy, cream-filled, sponge cakes (and other Hostess cakes & breads) that they could find! Twinkies® were actually being auctioned on eBay for THOUSANDS of dollars!

I remember Mom laughing about all of the hype on auction-bidding for Twinkies® and hearing someone say (although I don’t remember the who-when-and-where of it all) that if people had cared as much about the Hostess cakes years earlier, as they were then [in November or December of 2012], Hostess wouldn’t have had to close their doors in the first place!

There’s a great article by James R. Koren called “Beverly Hills Billionaire to take over Twinkies maker Hostess Brands” (L. A. Times; July 5, 2016) that explains how the Hostess company, under various names and ownerships, was saved from bankruptcy and closures – more than once over the past century.

When the announcement was first made, almost 7 years ago, that Hostess was closing for good, I wasn’t worried about never having Twinkies® again… of course, I couldn’t have them anyway because I’m hypoglycemic. But that’s beside the point, which is… that my mom taught me how to make my own!

In fact, Mom taught everyone how to make their own “junk food” at home through her 40-plus cookbooks, hundreds of newsletters, many TV appearances and on her thousands of radio talk-show interviews across the country and around the world! I shared the following copy of Mom’s make-alike version for Twinkies®, which she called Hopeless Twinkles©, in my blog entry, A Day in the Life of the Happy Homemaker, a couple of months ago.

‘Hopeless Twinkles’ recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

My mom was the first to develop homemade, make-alike versions of junk food, like some of Hostess’ famous cakes – which were among her early 1970s, “original 200”, recipes collection that she printed on index cards, with a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room; and they were sold through the mail for 25-cents each. Mom also printed her junk food, make-alike recipes in her newsletters, beginning in January 1974 through December 2000.

Using the name “Hopeless” instead of “Hostess”, Mom included three Hostess Brand make-alike recipes in her first copycat-cooking book, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; January 1977). Later that year, Mom included another five copycat recipes of Hostess products (again, using the name “Hopeless” for her versions) in her very next cookbook called The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977).

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)

Jul 1977 – The 2nd Helping… (front & back covers)

DE-BUNKING THE JUNK!

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

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

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

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet) 153 days ago – no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff! I admit, I am a carbohydrate addict; but, by limiting my carb-intake to 25 grams a day, I’ve lost 40 pounds so far! I’d like to lose 5-10 more pounds yet. I just keep working on it one day at a time. It takes a lot of will power, as well as a lot of “won’t power” – I WON’T give in to the urges!

I went camping with my husband and a group of our friends over a week ago – and it was tough not to roast one single marshmallow or indulge in one of my best friend’s yummy baked goods. Except for Pork Rinds, most of my snacks consist of sugar-free gelatin, extra creamy Cool Whip, meats, cheeses and veggies with ranch dip… all of which needs to be kept cold.

So, we had to take an extra cooler this summer. I miss the kind of “convenience” snacks that are easy to just “grab-n-go”. We still tent-it with a couple of others, while most of our friends have “moved up” and into campers and motor homes – with refrigerators and freezers… when you have electricity! I’d like to get a camper, someday, like my parents’…

Mom & Dad’s Camper

IN CLOSING…

#NationalSoftIceCreamDay

In honor of National Soft Ice Cream Day, I’m sharing the following recipe, which is actually from Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 257) and not one of her “free offer recipes”… but, I guess it is now; so, happy National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

DREARY QUEEN FROZEN CUSTARD

Here is an at-home imitation of the very popular soft-serve custard ice cream product that has made many restaurant names famous [since the 1950s]!

Prepare a 3 1/8-ounce package vanilla pudding (NOT instant) with only 1 2/3 cup milk and one egg yolk beaten into it. Stir mixture in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth and mixture “just” comes to a boil. Remove from heat at once and stir in 2 tablespoons butter until melted and smooth. Chill pudding in freezer for about 45 minutes. Beat together ½ pint whipping cream, a dash of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until very thick and stiff. Beat chilled pudding with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Don’t mind the darkened coating on top of the pudding – that blends right back in when you beat it well. Then, thoroughly STIR (do NOT beat) the whipped cream mix into the smooth pudding. Transfer to a 6-cup freezer container. Freeze until firm. Break it up in a chilled, stainless steel or aluminum mixing bowl, using chilled beaters on an electric mixer. Beat 2 egg whites, in a small bowl, until stiff but not dry; adding 3 tablespoons corn syrup. Set aside. Beat the whipping cream mixture until smooth and creamy. Fold egg white mixture into that, using lowest speed of mixer. Freeze until firm enough to scoop. Makes 1 ½ quarts. Freezes up to 6 months.

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

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

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

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

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

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

#GloriaPitzer, #SecretRecipes, #RecipeDetective

Mom and Phil Donahue, 1993

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

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

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

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

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

Mother’s Day is May 12th!

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

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

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

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

                                                                                  

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

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

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

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

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

#NationalMothersMonth

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

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

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

#StrokeAwarenessDay

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

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

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

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

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