Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Good Neighboring

Happy Monday and happy fall to all – #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

This past Thursday was the 2-year anniversary of my launching this blog, which I created to honor my mom’s legacy as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, food industry investigator of Secret RecipesTM. The title, which Mom eventually trademarked, was bestowed on her in the mid-1970s by her Detroit area radio listeners, as she was frequently on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show, answering recipe quandaries on how to make just about anything. Mom delighted in that honor, of being the Recipe DetectiveTM, for over 40 years, until she passed away in January 2018.

#GoodNeighborDay

Today is, among other things, National Good Neighbor Day! The celebration was created in the early 1970s by Becky Mattson (Lakeside, Montana). In 1978, Jimmy Carter, then President, issued Proclamation 4601, creating the official national celebration of Good Neighbor Day. It was annually celebrated on the 4th Sunday in September until 2003, when the annual date was changed specifically to September 28th.

There’s an art to good neighboring but, just like anything else in life, it takes time to master the ability. I wish every ones’ neighborhoods were like that of Mr. Rogers. Fantasy or not, the real-world application was always based on caring for and helping one another – plain and simple!

Good neighboring, however, has taken on a new meaning this year, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic and temporary restraints. Thus, necessity has, once again, become the mother of invention as we find new, safe ways to interact with our neighbors and our communities – because, as human beings, we all NEED some kind of interaction with others!

Have you noticed that neighboring and neighborhoods have changed over the years? In the past, people used to bring their new neighbors casseroles or baked goods, just to introduce themselves and say: “Hi and welcome to the neighborhood!”

Sometimes they would offer to help on the “move-in” or some other project. Sometimes they would stop by for a cup of coffee and to chat about the neighborhood. Neighbors  used to borrow/share things (and not just a cup of sugar), like tools and garden equipment, so everyone didn’t have to go out and buy expensive items that they didn’t often use.

When we work at being the best neighbor we can be, then our neighbors are more likely to give back in return, as will their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors too. Think about it – there could be an epidemic of good neighboring! Wouldn’t that be a better pandemic to spread throughout the world?

It all begins with the golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” We’ve been learning about this since our preschool and kindergarten years. Why does it seem like a lot of us tend to forget about it once we age into the double digits?

It is one of the easiest and best characteristics in good neighboring. Thus, we should all remember it and practice it daily; treating others with respect and kindness, because the way we treat our neighbors will affect how they treat us, as well as their other neighbors (and so on).

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

I remember when my family and I first moved to St. Clair from Algonac – one of our new neighbors came over with food for our dinner that evening so Mom didn’t have to worry about doing that amidst all the unpacking. That made such a wonderful, lasting impression on us. Additionally, since I was 12 (almost 13, at the time), they also asked if I would be interested in babysitting for them once in a while. That was my first “paying” job outside of the “family business”.

One way anyone can be a good neighbor is to simply take pride in their neighborhood… Keep it clean and tidy and pleasant looking. We don’t have to become best friends with everyone in our neighborhood, however, introducing ourselves and learning our neighbors’ names is simply good neighboring and it’s not that hard to do nor does it need to take up a lot of time.

It doesn’t have to be a full-time project (unless you want it to be), but we all need to get more involved in our neighborhoods and communities. Knowing who represents us by going to and participating in our neighborhood association/city meetings once in a while is important. Even attending local events whenever we’re able, to support your community, is good neighboring traits.

Good neighboring is another one of those things that should be practiced and celebrated on a daily basis, rather than annually – and not just in one’s neighborhood but also in one’s community and beyond…

We should all say hello to the people we see, even if it is just in passing. It is so easy to do and can create a ripple effect in someone’s day. Just saying hello is also a way to connect with others without having to create a deep bond because, even if you prefer some distance from your neighbors, it doesn’t really obligate you to anybody.

There are some great benefits of good neighboring, such as in neighborhood security and the willingness of others looking out for you just because you’re a neighbor. So, when you have a big party that isn’t tied to a personal celebration (like a birthday or anniversary), put out the good neighboring welcome mat and invite your neighbors!

Hi Neighbor!” is the name of my blog post at that is a BIG “thank you” note to Mom’s radio, newspaper and TV contacts that helped her to grow her Secret RecipesTM business. I also created a “Media Friends” tab on the website, based on that blog post.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)

BOB ALLISON’S “ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR” SHOW

One of the nicest things about being a writer is that you can work at home. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, as soon as my kids were out the door to the school bus, I set up my $39.95 Smith Corona portable typewriter at the kitchen table, where I was one step away from the stove, refrigerator and recipes I was curious to test and write about.

The view from the kitchen table included the front yard and the North Channel of the St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway to everyone else) – the riverside was [called] the front yard and the roadside was the back yard. The old house had its faults, I’ll grant you, but nobody could refuse a view like we had, living on the banks of that river!

There was always something going on outside, sufficient to inspire a feeling of well-being, which every writer must have to do their job well. In keeping with “write about what you know best”, I could put every economical recipe I used to feed my family of seven to good use, sharing the Secrets with others.

One of my addictions in those days was a daily recipe radio show called Ask Your Neighbor, hosted by Bob Allison over the WWJ-Detroit radio airwaves. He always opened his two-hour show by saying, “if you have a household problem you cannot solve, then call… (and he’d give a phone number) …and ask your neighbor!” I called him 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 to 300, and 400. 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.

In one of my April blog posts, “Tell A Story Day”, I wrote about how thrilled I was to hear from a lady who used to have my mom on her radio show once a month for almost 13 years, from June 1992 through December 2005.

Her name is Kathy Keene and she hosts “The Good Neighbor Show” on WHBY, in Appleton, WI. The show still airs from 11am to 1pm (Central Time), Monday through Friday. In fact, like Mom, I’ve been on Kathy’s “Good Neighbor” show, monthly; usually on the last Monday of each month, at about 11:08am (Central Time), since April. We’ve been sharing stories about Mom and one or two of her recipes.

Kathy can’t be on-air today, so we are going to talk about Mom this Wednesday, instead (same time). You can listen to it, live or later, from your computer or phone at: https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. I never tire of telling Mom’s story!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Similarly to National Good Neighbor Day, Wednesday (Sept. 30th) is National Love People Day. And NationalDayCalendar.com recommends that, in honor of it, we should all make a special point to “…offer kindness and care to the people in your community.”

#NationalLovePeopleDay

While love doesn’t really make the world go around (since that is actually a gravitational thing), it does make the ride more enjoyable! According to NationalDays.com, National Love People Day was started by Life Line Church (Chicago) a few of years ago.

So, it’s a fairly new “National Day” celebration that even has its own website, promoting “loving your neighbor”! NationalDays.com says, among other things, that it is a day “to lift others up”. Of course, we should lift others up EVERYDAY – but let us all make a special point of it on Wednesday!

Mom always tried “to lift others up” in everything she wrote – starting with her multiple columns that were syndicated to multiple magazines and newspapers across the country to her hundreds of self-published newsletter issues (January 1974 through December 2000) and 40+ cookbooks (from her first one in 1973 to her last one, just before she passed away, in January 2018).

Mom loved to combine recipes (or food-for-the-table) with household hints, food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul – that’s what made her books stand out from all the rest; that and her being the first to start the copycat recipes movement in the food industry…particularly in the fast food and junk food categories, which were considered “taboo” foods by the critics.

Nonetheless, people wanted to know how to make these things at home and there were no other sources for this before Mom started her investigating, as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Given enough time, there wasn’t very many things that Mom couldn’t figure out how to imitate and she lovingly shared her secrets with her “neighbors” all around the world.

#NationalLovePeopleDay

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)

WHY CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?

IF I COULD have my way, the whole world would be friends; but then, it is an unrealistic hope, considering the course of human events and behaviors. We can’t even find friends within the same family, most of the time!

…I have met some of the nicest people, in the world, [and] some of the most generous people who want to share their good ideas with me as much as I want to share mine with them. Of these good people, I will speak often and lovingly.

Having come from a somewhat lonely childhood and years of struggling to overcome the emptiness of indifference from relatives to whom I had spent, what seemed like an eternity, trying to reach out… I, now, continue to emphasize, in my own publications [and] throughout my books, the importance of caring – of REALLY caring about each other.

In tribute to Good Neighboring, here is one of Mom’s copycat recipes for a wonderful “comfort food” (of which I will discuss more in next week’s blog post) that you can share with your neighbors!

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 58)

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

Next Monday, October 5th, is National Do Something Nice Day!

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…39 down,  13 to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Retailers And Restaurants Unite

Happy Monday everyone and, once again, #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been identifying some of the oldest, American fast-food/restaurant-chain franchises, whose famous menu choices were among the building blocks upon which Mom created her legacy as the Recipe DetectiveTM. She investigated, tested and imitated their famous dishes at home, in her own kitchen, and shared her developments in her self-published newsletters and cookbooks – as well as through radio and TV talk-shows – for over 40 years (1974-2014).

#NationalAmericanaMonth

As I mentioned last week, September is National Americana Month! It’s a great opportunity to reminisce about the “Norman Rockwell basics” of life in America. We often idealize and idolize those simple things that have uniquely woven us together as Americans!

When I think of the nostalgic icons that represent Americana to me, in terms of food-related, I think of the famous fast-food chains across our country, as well as the traditional state fairs, carnivals, and carhop drive-ins. Even department store restaurants and dime store cafeterias make the reminiscing list for me!

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

Department store eateries are just another niche in the vast food industry from which Mom found inspiration in imitating “famous foods from famous places”. DepartmentStoreHistory.net says: “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.” Their mentioning of Hudson’s (a former Detroit area icon), really brought me a lot of pleasant childhood memories.

In fact, there was a report on the iconic J.L. Hudson’s site, in Detroit, not too long ago, in our local news; as it is being re-developed. The Detroit Hudson’s store was once the tallest department store in the world! It was such a sad day, when they closed their doors in 1983; and even sadder, when the iconic, historical building was imploded in 1998.

There is a lot of great information about the new project and the history of Hudson’s at https://www.hudsonssitedetroit.com/. Mom imitated at least 28 menu offerings from the Hudson’s dining room – as Hudson’s was one of her favorite places to shop and dine! She used to joke that she wanted her ashes spread around Hudson’s purse department, after she was gone.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 16)

HUDSON’S OF DETROIT – THE WAY IT ONCE WAS!

During the financial panic of 1873, Joseph L. Hudson was a young man, working with his father in a men’s clothing store in Michigan. Times were hard. Customers could hardly pay their bills. After Joseph’s father died, partly from worrying, young Joseph struggled with the business for about three years and eventually went into bankruptcy, in spite of all he tried to do to bring the business up.

He paid his creditors [60 cents] on the dollar and, with great determination, began over again! Through remarkable enterprise and ingenuity, in 12 years, he owned a store in Detroit. Even more remarkable, he located all the creditors whose claims had been embraced by the bankruptcy proceedings and paid them in full – even though they did not ask it of him.

This so astounded the business world in 1888 – that Hudson’s reputation was of an honest man, caring for his customers as much is his creditors. Thus, word spread, and the store became one of Detroit’s most important, not only in the state, but eventually in the entire country.

[Hudson] established major shopping centers in Metropolitan Detroit, beginning in 1953 with the magnificent Northland Center, the first of its kind in the country. At the time of this writing [1997], Hudson’s has merged with Dayton and with Marshall Fields and no longer offers the personal hometown touch that it used to have.

Their original building on Woodward and Farmer Street, in downtown Detroit, once controlled the shopper’s mecca; with Kern’s and Crowley’s, as well, in that area. We have seen the passing of a great institution, but I am so glad I did not lose the precious recipes [for which] the Hudson’s dining room and bakery were known…

Recently, I read an article by Katherine Martinelli (July 20, 2018), at EatThis.com, about stores with amazing restaurants. I was flooded with memories of going to the malls and big department stores, like Hudson’s, as a young girl, in the 1970s.

I remember when Mom would take me and my sisters to the malls and department stores like Sears, J.C. Penny’s and J.L. Hudson’s. It was an all-day shopping event combined with Mom’s work, as each of us girls would get a handful of her business cards to stick in the pockets of various clothes and purse displays while we shopped. It was an innovative way she had developed, to advertise to her “target audience”, based on inspiration from a Detroit car salesman. It was so fun!

After a few hours of shopping and marketing, we’d all take a break to have lunch in one of the department stores’ dining rooms, where Mom found a lot of great dishes to mimic at home. My sisters and I had a 5-star rating system of our own for the restaurants we went to with Mom on any of her investigative reviews – it was, actually, largely based on how clean they were, especially in their restrooms!

Alex Witchell wrote an article Feb. 25, 2019 about the best department store restaurants, which was posted on the NYPost.com website. In it, she reminisced about those by-gone days of shopping and lunching with her own mom and sisters. I related to a lot of it.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 43)

MARKETING INSPIRATION

To make the mimeograph pay for itself, I even printed up my own business cards on it, using dime-store construction paper and then cutting the cards apart with scissors until I had neat little stacks of about 50 and a total of 200 or 300 cards. These I distributed at the mall whenever and wherever we might be in one. Paul did not know I was doing this, at first, either, or he would’ve disapproved.

It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too. I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.

From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [areas] in the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores. From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response.

‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ – Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

Due to the ever changing shopping and eating habits of Americans, we’ve seen the rise and fall of many retail establishments. In this new era of Amazon and online shopping, department stores and malls are now becoming more like the relics of bygone days.

The idea of eating where you shop can be tracked back to 18th century Europe. Many argue about who started the idea of “eating where you shop” in America. Macy’s claims to have opened the first restaurant within a department store in May 1878 (originally Marshall Field’s Walnut Room).

Others say that in-store restaurants were already established (in America) earlier, in the 1870s, when Wanamaker’s, in New York and Philadelphia, were offering consumers the first in-store eateries, in which shoppers could pause in the middle of their bargain-hunting excursions to rest and have some sustenance (before continuing on).

The idea was based on the theory that the longer consumers remained in a store, the more they were likely to look at more things and, thus, buy more things. It was a groundbreaking marketing tactic to attract and keep shoppers!

‘You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door, if you’re in the back yard looking for four-leaf clovers.’ – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)]

In a 2015 essay by Angela Serratore, “In Praise of the Department Store Restaurant”, at Racked.com, she wrote: “Department store restaurants allowed middle-class women in the throes of consumer ecstasy to pause and refresh themselves in a manner that was, above all, civilized… The food was fancy but not overly so – consommé, tongue sandwiches, and delicate fruit salads all appear on a 1901 Macy’s menu – and nothing served would render a woman incapable of continuing to shop after she’d finished.”

Famous department stores with restaurants, cafés and tea rooms – as they were often called – which come to mind, past and present, include Marshall Field’s, JL Hudson’s, JC Penny’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, Nordstrom’s, and Lord & Taylor’s.

Even the, later, general merchandise, “big box” stores like Walmart, Target, Kmart, Kresge’s, Sears, and Woolworth’s joined the band wagon with their own lunch counters and cafeterias – or they rented space within their stores to “established brands” like Starbuck’s and Subway. From most of these places, Mom imitated at least one of their famous dishes, but usually more.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 2)

We’ve seen Mom-and-Pop shops struggle to compete against department and “big box” stores, which competed with the all-inclusive mall settings, which are now struggling to compete against virtual stores, online. Small and large retailers, alike, have been disappearing due to the rise in online shopping over the years, but it especially exploded this year due to the brick-and-mortar store closings for the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Those establishments that were not already involved with the growth of the internet and hadn’t yet closed their doors, were teetering on bankruptcy due to the rise in online shopping over in-store shopping, especially among the newer generations. To make matters worse, those retailers who were hanging on by a thread, trying to come up with new marketing gimmicks to bring consumers back to their brick-and-mortar stores, were more-or-less “done-in” by the pandemic’s restrictions.

Additionally, according to a blog at Cheapism.com, about 38 companies that were already on shaky ground have filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, this year, due to the various impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. Among those listed were iconic department stores like Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor’s, J. C. Penny’s, and Sears-Kmart.

In memory of Hudson’s iconic footprint, here is Mom’s imitation of the famous Hudson’s Maurice Salad & Dressing…

As seen in her self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 16)

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

#GoodNeighborDay

Next Monday, September 28th, is National Good Neighbor Day!

Additionally, I will be on the Good Neighbor show, next Monday (at about 11:08am Central Time); which is hosted by Kathy Keene, on WHBY!

You can listen, live or later, through the station’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/.

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…38 down, 14 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Where Did All The Good Noshes Go? – Part III

Once again, happy Monday to all and #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

http://therecipedetective.com/category/blog/

#NationalAmericanaMonth

September is National Americana Month – a time to reflect on and reminisce about the “Norman Rockwell basics” of life in America; those simple things that have uniquely woven us together as Americans! When I think of Americana, in terms of food-related, I think of the nostalgic icons of fast-food chains, state fairs, carnivals, and drive-ins. Even department store restaurants and cafeterias make the reminiscing list for me (and I’ll be writing more about them next week)!

Fast-food is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you like hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, French fries, onion rings, tacos, burritos, pizza, fried chicken, and deep-fried fish – even breakfast foods – they are all among the most popular “fast-food” menu offerings, as well as the most popular consumer choices around America. The fast-food industry has been evolving for over 100 years – the prime of which is considered to have been during the 1960s and 1970s; as so many franchises launched across the country, it was like a “baby boom” in the food industry. Soon after, American fast-food franchising grew globally, as well.

The more critics argued about how bad fast food and junk food was for our health and well-being, the more people wanted to covet it. Mom always contended that “fast food” was food that was prepared quickly and that was done at fine restaurants such as Devon Gables’ Tea Room, as well as fast-food chains like McDonald’s. Mom would also maintain that “junk food” was merely food that was poorly prepared.

Additionally, as Mom said in her last cookbook, “…fast food has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are harmful to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘finer’ restaurants with wine stewards, linen tablecloths, candlelight, coat-check attendants, and parking valets; which separate the plastic palaces of fast food from the expensive dining establishments. One ‘eats’ at McDonald’s, but ‘dines’ at The Four Seasons. Steak and potato or hamburger and French fries – the ingredients are practically the same. How they are prepared [and presented] makes the difference!” – [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6).]

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 70 & 71)

SMORGASBORD – FREEDOM OF CHOICE

It’s a mistake to think of the fast food industry as being confined to hamburgers and fries and buckets of chicken or fish. It is really a more versatile banquet of menu selections than the critics give us time to consider. The public is fickle and very easily swayed by the aggressive opinions of self-styled experts who preach the evils of fast food with all the charisma of a revival tent evangelism; and we, the believing public, will go in whatever direction the wind blows the strongest!

Nobody dreamed that the step-child of the food industry would ever have endured this long – for, to everybody’s surprise, fast food has, indeed, become the ‘Liza Doolittle’ of the restaurant industry. The humble streetcar diner of the 1950s and 1960s has blossomed into the Cinderella of the commercial dining division of the food industry. It has soared in sales while all other major enterprises have suffered set-backs in the shadow of the recent economic gloom! [NOTE: That was originally written in 1982, showing that history surely does repeat itself.]

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The reason the fast food industry has become a virtual smorgasbord of appealing menu selections is that it is affordable! People who work hard for their money and have little of it left after essentials have been paid for, look for leisure and escape hatches by which they can derive a little pleasure for the money they have left to spend on such luxuries.

Fast food chains cater to crowds with very little fuss, but surroundings that reflect informality. The costs of eating out, however, have increased along with everything else. Now it’s becoming less and less appealing to spend the same money on one fast food meal that would also buy a bag of groceries that could make several meals at home!

So, we can have our cake and eat it too! We can dine in as if we’re eating out – whether we choose to be catered to by wine stewards and parking valets or whether we wish to impersonate the plastic palaces of the fast food kingdom – eating out at home can be a pleasant experience.

SECOND THOUGHTS

FAST FOODS HAVE ARRIVED IN OUR CULTURE at a point in our growth as a society, when ‘time’ is of the essence… held cheaply, spent foolishly, and made to be one of the most aggressive influences in our lives.

The calendar and the clock have given a sense of order to civilization. Our lives are, both, governed by and regulated by the limitations of these two man-made inventions. In a world created and perpetuated by an infinite Spirit, man has adjusted to the divisions of time. The records of one’s birth and death are accounted for by date and moment; and all the time in between is categorized by years, months, weeks, days, hours, moments—even seconds. We are hardly conscious of the limitations to which we submit ourselves by confining our lives to the measurements of calendar and clock divisions.

Without even realizing it, we are constantly meeting deadlines in our lives. We catch a bus, a train, a plane in accordance with the hour and minute scheduled. We compete in and watch sports that honor seconds by which winning and losing, and records are determined.

It is, with some frustration, that man attempts to occasionally free himself of the obligation to live within the framework of the deadline. Our work is subject to how much we can accomplish within a repeating allotment of time. Our leisure is limited by the number of hours and minutes that remain.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Even the successful results of the foods we prepare is completely dependent on the timing we employ. From this, we have derived ‘instant coffee’, ‘the 3-minute egg’, ‘day-old bread’, ‘Minute Rice’, ‘Hour-by-Hour’ deodorant soap, ‘the 5-minute phone call’, ‘the 12 Days of Christmas’, and on and on. We can have a ‘good time’, a ‘great time’, a ‘bad time’. About the only thing not governed by, nor subject to, time is love.

So, ‘Fast Foods’ arrived when it could be most appreciated and most recognized. ‘Fast’ indicates – or, at least, implies – that there will be time left over one would not ordinarily have with food that was NOT ‘fast’. Most food preparations require a lot of time.

But ‘Fast Food’ was capitalized on by the promotional people as being something the on-the-go generation could enjoy and would buy, because they had better things to do than sit around restaurants waiting to be waited on; when, instead, they could run in and out with a meal and be on their way to the fun things in life – or on the way to the more time-consuming things in their life, such as work or business of one kind or another.

With the extensive research into the effects of stress, pressure put upon many people from having too little ‘time’ to be relaxed, to enjoy leisure, freedom from worries, there has been a turn-around in the fast food promotional field. Now they are gradually – without you hardly even being aware of it – changing to a ‘family’ restaurant theme. They want to bring back the old-fashioned, close-knit, solid family unit. Back and forth, like the pendulum of a clock, the gimmicks are given a new face and flavor. The public will eventually become conditioned to the new theme and ‘fast food’ will take on a cosmetic change that we will hardly even notice.

Continuing on with my depiction of 30 of the oldest fast food chains and restaurant franchises in America, which I started a couple of weeks ago; the following 11 chains emerged between 1953 and 1969, many from whom Mom imitated several of their popular menu offerings.

I’ve  shared some of those recipes in previous blog posts so I’m re-sharing them, here, again. A few of the other recipes pictured below came from Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, which is a rewrite I helped her do of her favorite self-published cookbook from 1982, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook. A total of 12 of Mom’s related copycat recipes are pictured below. Enjoy!

[NOTE: For a little piece of Americana, hard copies of Mom’s last cookbook are 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.]

#BetterBreakfastMonth

#BetterBreakfastMonth

Italian-American cuisine was one of many of Mom’s favorite food areas to investigate. She “covered” many “hits” from the older, popular chains such as Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s; as well as newer chains, like Olive Garden, for an example.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 72)

PIZZA AND PASTA DISHES

ITALIAN CUISINE has been a part of our American restaurant industry since the early days of its discovery – if you recall – by an Italian, Columbus! If Christopher Columbus had never tasted pizza or spaghetti with meatballs, then he surely didn’t know what he was missing! But the influence of good Italian cooking in our American ‘Melting-Pot’ cuisine has had a long life of appealing dishes that have influenced, still, other food creations.

The pizza, as we know it in this country, was the creation of an Italian baker in New York’s East side during the late 1800’s. Dock-workers and sailors frequented the bakery for their lunch food, requesting a slice of cheese with their bread and glass of ‘Vino’. The enterprising baker dreamed up what was probably the very first delicatessen in the restaurant industry.

WHEN THE CUSTOMERS REQUESTED bread and cheese, he also added some spicy tomato sauce to it, like an open-face sandwich; and, as the popularity of the dish grew, he topped it off with sausage and other condiments until someone asked him what he called his dish. He thought a moment and replied, ‘Pizza!’

It came from the same word as the musical term, pizzicato, to pinch or pluck a stringed instrument, such as a violin or guitar. Thus, pizza may have been so-named from the fact that the dough, being rounded at first, is pinched and plucked outward until circular and flat.

For whatever reasons, the Italian baker went without recognition for his creation until we were informed by a woman, in her 80’s, that her father and his before him worked the docks in New York where the legend of the beginning of the pizza was a well-known story, handed down from generation to generation, that the dish was, indeed, created in this country and preserved with Italian traditions for all of us to enjoy.

The pasta dishes of our American restaurant cuisine have been expanded to include some very interesting creations, employing imagination when combining compatible ingredients. Although there are probably as many recipes for good sauces as there are cooks to prepare them and restaurants to serve them, I chose only a few for this book that would offer a good, basic dish.

#BiscuitAndGravyWeek

In Mom’s 1998 reprint of her self-published cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes (aka: “Book 6”, in a series), she published her delicious imitation of TGI Friday’s Crazy Layer Cake; which I will share with you at a later date.

When it came to deep-fried, battered fish, Arthur Treacher’s establishments did it best and they were always our family’s favorite! Mom’s version, called Archer Teacher’s Fish & Chips, was among her “Original 200” collection.

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

#GoodNeighborDay

Mark your calendar! September 28th, 2020 will be National Good Neighbor Day!

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…37 down, 15 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happiness Is Contagious

Happy Monday everyone – and feel free to spread the happiness around, as this is #HappinessHappensMonth! Thus, #TGIM – because I happily look forward to Mondays, for they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share these memories of my mom!

Happiness means different things to different people. Furthermore, while there are those that believe otherwise, money does not really buy happiness – even though it does purchase THINGS that we enjoy temporarily, at least. Happiness is not a commodity that can be bought, sold, and/or traded. True happiness comes from deep within us and is totally free!

According to a study, conducted over a decade ago that still rings true, happiness is contagious! The study indicated that when one person is happy, the effect can spread up to three degrees in a social network; thereby, reaching family and friends, as well as family and friends of family and friends.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#HappinessHappensMonth

It’s sort of like a virus, in that your happiness can affect the feelings of people with whom you come in contact, as well as those with whom each of them come in contact. Think about it… People whom you may never know are going to be happier tomorrow because you made someone else happy today. In turn, the same can happen to each of those people… so you can see how quickly it can spread.

Mom found a unique way to spread happiness through her renowned writings and recipes, as well as through her lesser-known cartooning. She had a contagious sense of humor and happiness about her that appealed to newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and TV talk-shows that continually requested interviews with her for four decades! The audiences were always very receptive to Mom’s “happiness virus” as well.

Mom was a pioneer, carving out An incredible new niche in the food industry with her “secret recipe” imitations that covered everything from fast food favorites, to “taboo” junk foods, to grocery store packaged products, to famous restaurant dishes, and more!

They not only made our family happy, but also millions of strangers and their families and friends, most of whom we never met, personally. But they, too, found happiness in making Mom’s copycat versions of their favorite noshing guilty-pleasures; as well as eating and sharing the creations they made!

Like Mom’s recipes, which never failed to spread happiness, I found her many humorous stories to also be contagiously happy. Mom had quite a talent for spinning a yarn. Her stories always bring a smile to my face and a laugh to my lips.

I hope that the hodge-podge of excerpts (below) from Mom’s writings about Life’s mysterious ways and how Secret RecipesTM began, step-by-step before Mom even realized it had begun… will bring you as much joy and happiness to read as it brought me to re-write it for you.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

The following excerpts can be found in…

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

THE CARTOONS & JOHN McPARTLIN

The cartoons… had been the very beginning of my work in newspapers, as I provided ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’ and, later [in between which I was writing at the ‘Algonac Courier’], the ‘Richmond Review’ with a cartoon panel I called ‘Full House, As Kept By Gloria Pitzer’. The cartoons were published every week for four or five years.

At the same time, I was also giving another paper a panel entitled ‘Could Be Verse’, which was three or four lines of rhyme or bumper-sticker-type logic. One, for instance, read: ‘All marriages are happy… Love songs and laughter – What causes all the trouble is the living together AFTER!’

They were silly verses but fun to do at the time. From that, came [my] column entitled ‘No Laughing Matter’, which ran weekly for about six years; and, during some of that time, it was syndicated by Columbia Features out of New York. [p. 52]

AMAZING CHANGES

So, the time I spent trying to keep up with what was going on in the food industry, also included what was going on in the world in general. I wrote about everything the homemaker might be interested in, and in those days – the early 1960s and into the 1970s – women were trying to break loose from the housewife stereotype. [WLM –  Women’s Liberation Movement, which began in the late 1960s.]

It was a difficult period for those of us born during The [Great] Depression, raised during World War II and almost too young for Korea, but too old for Vietnam. The automation [evolution] that took so many jobs away from us, forced our generation into further education in order to compete.

I felt the pressure of having to keep up with the progressive community in which we lived. But little did I know, at the time, that every one of those precious experiences and semi-tribulations were actually stepping stones to a more stable lifestyle that was to come years later… [p. 52-cont’d]

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

STRETCHING FOOD & LEFT-OVERS

…We couldn’t afford anything beyond our immediate needs, at that time. And both of us came from parents who had survived The [Great] Depression of the 1930s, so we had been schooled to believe that credit was acceptable, as long as it was for [a house or] an emergency only!

If we needed something or wanted something, we would, according to the philosophy by which we had been brought up; first, save the money from what we had earned and then, go out and buy what we could afford. So our needs, 20 years ago [in 1969], were rather basic and included house payments, insurance, gas for the station wagon to get Paul to his job in the city all week and for our utilities.

Last but not least, if there was anything left over, [it went towards] groceries. Sometimes the groceries even had to wait a week or so and we’d make do with what we had… I would, then, learn how to do more with less. I learned how to mix the less-expensive reconstituted dry milk with regular whole milk, adding a few drops of vanilla and a pinch of sugar to each quart. The kids didn’t like it, especially compared to what they called ‘real’ milk; but, if I put it through the blender when combining the milk powder and water and refrigerated it all night, they accepted it without grumbles. [p. 30]

HOMEMADE GROCERIES & ‘PITZER PATTER’

It was during those ‘doing-more-with-less’ years that I also learned how to make the margarine mixture from canned milk and a number of other ingredients that gave me a product equal to anything at the store but for a fraction of the cost.

My recipe files were, then, beginning to grow in my aptitude for trying to develop new combinations of ingredients to produce a specific dish or food product was being energetically pursued due to necessity. When I figured how to camouflage 3 pounds of hamburger so that we could live on it for a whole week, not eating the same thing twice, I knew I was blessed. I wanted to share all of this great information with others. The opportunity was close at hand!

At that particular time, most of the information went into a newsy column I wrote for Charles Hasse’s ‘Algonac Courier’, which I called ‘Pitzer Patter’. Amid the gossip of who was going to Florida and who had just returned [and] what the schools were doing to celebrate the next holiday, I would tuck in these recipe ideas and they were so well-received [by the readers] that it was a cinch I would become ‘hooked’ on recipes sooner or later. [p. 31]

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

JOHN McPARTLIN & THE ‘RICHMOND REVIEW’

My column at the ‘Algonac Courier’ was not exactly what the publisher wanted, but that did not defeat me either. When he indicated he was thinking of dropping the column, I called John McPartlin, who was, then, the editor of the ‘Richmond Review’, a paper that was beginning to compete with Algonac for the same reading area.

Since I had worked for John when he was at ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’ while we were living in the Mt. Clemens area, I felt certain he would be able to use my work. And he did use it. He even paid me more than I was getting at the Algonac paper with many more opportunities there to learn various skills that have since contributed to the self-sufficiency of our present operation. [p. 41]

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

THE CARTOONS & FAMILY TALENTS

I didn’t “draw”. I doodled. The rest of my family could draw. My uncle, Earl Klein, is a celebrated artist in Southern California, who has spent most of his professional life with Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera and other wonderful studios. His own company, Animation Inc., produced the milk commercials for TV that included, ‘Daddy, there’s a cow in the bedroom!’

Another of Uncle Earl’s commercials was the [Michigan] Faygo commercial, ‘Which way did he go… Which way did he go… He went for FAYGO!’ He even did the Cocoa Wheats commercial with the cuckoo clock. One of my mother’s other brothers, Herb Klein, was also an artist and had his own advertising agency in Detroit for many years.

My [two] younger sisters are, both, accomplished artists. Paul and I are glad to see even our children are blessed with this ‘artistic gift’, as our son, Michael, has gone through the Pasadena Arts Center to become an art director for many fine advertising agencies over the years…

Our daughter, Laura… Is just as talented as her brother, but she has had not a smidgen of special training. Her illustrations are currently with the Center For Creative Arts here, in St. Clair, and also at the Mortonville Shoppe across from the old Morton Salt Company plant in Marysville. My doodles can hardly fall into a class with either of our children, but they are fun to do and have also pleased the family over the years. [p. 75]

CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES

MY RELATIONSHIP with John McPartlin went back quite a few years to the time we were living in Clinton Township, near Mt. Clemens [1961]. Debbie was just a baby and I had no thoughts at that time of increasing the size of our family beyond Bill, Mike and Deb.

I wanted to finish college, which, to Paul was a senseless decision; considering that my ‘job’ was already consuming my entire day and that was, of course, as a wife and a mother. (Not necessarily in that order.) Paul felt a woman did not have to go to college if she planned to have a family and keep house, except to supplement her husband’s income for absolute necessities.

This, dear friends, was a notion, deeply embedded in his thought by the times during which we both were raised – when, silly as it seems by today’s standards, it was not important for the woman to have an education who only planned on having children and ‘keeping house’! Once our own daughters were at the age when college was to be considered, you’d be amazed at the sacrifices that same man was willing to make to see his own daughters through their schooling!

But, getting back to how I FIRST met John McPartlin – I finally talked Paul into letting me return to college at night to take the two classes I needed for the teaching certificate that would permit me to substitute teach for a limited time each semester. [p.82]

THE SCHOOLS

The schools were walking distance from where we lived. I assured Paul that I would be home when the children were and that my good friend, Eleanor Westbrook, down the street from us, was willing to babysit if necessary when I was asked to teach.

Sometimes I was only given 30-minutes notice, so Eleanor’s being there was a tremendous blessing. One of the things that really opened the door for me to teaching in the Clinton Dale schools was the fact that I had recently had [a food-related] article published in the Christian Science Monitor and, while the principal acknowledged that he was not a [Christian] Scientist, he did respect the newspaper and thought that anyone who had been published in it was an excellent writer…

The principal was not sorry he hired me, for the job required filling in for a teacher who would be out about six weeks due to an auto accident in which she was injured. I took over her class AND initiated a school newspaper while I was there – a project that was important to me, even though I worked on it without pay, but it led to my meeting John McPartlin, the editor, at that time, of ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’.

The involvement with, both, the teaching assignment and the operation of the school newspaper led to other writing experiences that I had no idea would each contribute eventually [step-by-step] to the operation of Secret RecipesTM. [p.82 – cont’d]

In honor of… #HappinessHappensMonth… And, since some people find happiness in chocolate, I’d like to share with you Mom’s imitation of cream-filled cupcakes, like Hostess’!

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks. Be sure to tune in – Monday, August 31st around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST)!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…33 down, 19 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Make Happiness Happen

Happy Monday! August reigns and it’s National Happiness Happens Month! Additionally, #TGIM – because I happily look forward to Mondays; as they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share memories of my mom with all of you!

#HappinessHappensMonth

For the whole month of August, one of the subjects of focus and celebration is HAPPINESS! Thus, as Elbert Hubbard said: “Happiness is a habit – cultivate it!”

Likewise, Mom said, of true happiness [as seen in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; January 2018, p. 304)]: “If [it] is acquired through persistence and patience, it would be like the fable of the Chinese profit who asked for a needle… when none could be found… somebody offered him a crowbar and a file. He was pleased… that it was only a matter of time before he could produce the needle he wanted.”

Mom used to tell me, whenever I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated about all of the tough challenges I was facing, in life, that happiness is not found in what I think I want or in the stuff I attain; but, rather, in who I am. Mom would insist that true happiness came from within all of us. It is not about the things you have in life. It’s more about what you learn from life, that counts. After all, it’s the journey, not the arrival, that matters the most.

Surprisingly, or not, there are still those who truly believe that their level of happiness is in direct proportion to their level of success and financial worth. Nevertheless, “success levels” (if such things can really be measured) have no real correlation with how many things nor how much money one acquires.

Mom thought that real success was found in how well we lived our lives – for the good of ourselves and “our maker”, as well as for the good of others. Thus, she also trusted that we should always DO something that will make a positive impact on others.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, pages 1 & 4)

GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE

One thing among many that I have learned from Good Sam, our national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.

Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose. You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed.

Try a little enthusiasm! …Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated.

The trouble with trying to be happy all the time is that most people look for one particular condition or experience or possession, from which they hope to derive complete contentment, forgetting that happiness is a moment – not a forever!

We all expect life to be good to us – at least, some of the time. But, when things don’t work out the way we plan, or hope, there’s an overwhelming tendency to feel down, as if all Life ever gives us is lemons. Yet, we all know the old adage for that (another quote from Elbert Hubbard) is to “make lemonade” with it.

Remember, though, that you need a lot of sugar to make a good lemonade. From wherever the sweetener comes – whether it’s self-love, inner-happiness, or something else – we need to pour all of it, all over it!

Mom always believed that the best learning experiences that Life gave us, often came out of our biggest disappointments. By simply turning “let-downs” into “set-ups” for something else – something better, some happening out there, through the window that God opened after the door was shut – we would then overcome and conquer.

In addition, Mom also taught me that every new day was a turning point for each and every one of us and that each experience, good and bad alike, eventually contributed in some way to our own personal growth and inner-happiness. For that, I am continuously grateful.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61)

THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF GOOD

Whenever our best intentions are carried out for the good of all concerned, only good can result. How could good possibly produce something bad? It’s often just the still small voice of wisdom that turns us in the right direction. When it does, how silly it is of us to give credit to coincidence or chance. The purpose of something good is, of course, to bless, to enrich and to comfort and why, then, does even knowing this makes so many folks feel uncomfortable?

Having more doesn’t necessarily make us better-off, and most people limit their definition of good to an increase in more THINGS. Sometimes the good is not material, nor the least bit tangible, but instead is a feeling – a comforting and reassuring confidence – that, yes, everything can be all right, after all!

Moreover, as Mom once wrote: ‘The divine principle of good cooking is not a secret! It is taking pleasure in the activity; in the information previously retained and called upon through the facilities of memory. The spirit of good cooking is individualistic. It is not shrouded in mystery – but in love, for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it!’ [as seen on the front page of the 128th issue of “Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter” (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep-Oct 1987)].

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 8)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Being able to get a handle on life by not letting it get the best of us, when the lemons outweigh the levity in our relationships, is a recipe worth having. Resolving the problem with recipes in the kitchen is something we’re all willing to accept, because cooking is an individual and very personal experience – a creative challenge for some, a positive involvement for others.

Yet, we accept the risk of failing at what we attempt with foods, more readily than we will with our relationships with other people. It’s a puzzle to me that we are willing to endure such a paradox, that we’ll put more effort into the table we set than into the examples we could set – and/or choose to follow.

Another wise bit of advice, of which Mom once wrote, is that… “the opportunities available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity, or rejection, or weary from over-work…” Continuing on, she also said, “You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.” [As seen in My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)].

Thanks to the happiness that Mom taught me to find within myself, first, I can also enjoy the happiness I find in other things like the colors of a rainbow after a storm, or the happy-go-lucky smile of my grandson, or the nuzzles and purrs from my cats (and my husband), or the sun sparkling on the magnificent blue waters of The Great Lakes, or the cheerful sounds of the birds and other wildlife in my backyard, or the aroma of a Crock Pot© Sunday meal – slow-cooking throughout the day – things that don’t have a price tag attached them! Where do you find your happiness?

STILL, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 92)

GOING IT ALONE

ONE OF THE BLESSINGS of being your own boss is that you can enjoy the freedom of discussing…subjects in your own publication, where you wouldn’t dear if someone else were publishing it, and you were subject to total agreement between you and them over all material published.

PEOPLE EXPECT US TO BE BETTER.

Whenever somebody has mentioned to me that they are surprised that the newsletter or the recipe books include non-recipe material, I usually replied, ‘I’m surprised that you’re surprised!’ Food for the table and food for thought should, and often do, go hand-in-hand. In our publications there will always be room for the kind of material that is humorous and uplifting – as the case may be.

I respond easily to the unusual, if it has a beneficial influence on others and find it a joy to share such information. The response is always encouraging. I am still hearing good comments on the little book we sent out in the fall of 1988, entitled ‘Good Thoughts And Things To Smile About’, which we did not sell, but GAVE to those people we felt we should express appreciation for their kindness and attention either to our work or to our family.

The little acts of overcoming the annoyance, impatience, indifference, apathy, that sometimes seem to be so much a part of our day – can make an enormous difference in the quality of our lives. This may not always seem easy, but each false tendency can be detected and rejected because it is wholly without foundation. Genuine love, caring, alertness and patience replace annoyance, indifference, apathy and impatience.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 94)

EVERY DAY, IN OUR OFFICE

Every day, in our office and our home, because it’s hard to separate the two, is the fact that things here are quite unpredictable! The layout of the newsletter is done – as I described it before – like a patchwork quilt, [as] are the books, at best, for there is not enough ‘quiet’ time in which to carry out a major project. Mostly, it is 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!

There are visits from the rest of the family, a phone call from my mother once in a while, when she needs somebody to talk to… and I am always a ready listener. There are the discussions over how to handle a particular problem with a shipping order, or how a dish should be coming out that doesn’t! Countless things occur in this office (and/or home) that contribute to the overall picture.

This is what I tried to describe recently to Julie Greenwalt of People magazine, when she called and asked me to think about those typical things that happen here which they could be photographed to accompany the story she was writing about us. It will be interesting to see how it comes out, as this book [cited above] will be ‘going to press’ before People does with their story… [which came out in their May 7, 1990 issue].

I love the attitude of George Burns, who was always an inspiration to everyone, of every age! Doing what we like best, whether we succeed or not, is what keeps us going and keeps us happy. I cannot imagine doing something badly that I enjoy doing. So, of course, we do our best at something we enjoy, because that is part of the satisfaction of doing it – seeing the good that results from our efforts.

[Paul and I,] both, take time during the week to enjoy something completely unrelated to our work and even our family. I bowl on a wonderful women’s league every Wednesday morning and Paul bowls with the men’s league on Friday nights.

For the past four or five years, I’ve driven to Algonac, about 40 miles round-trip, to participate in one of the nicest groups I’ve had the privilege of belonging to; and while I have yet to have that 200-game, whether I bowl badly or splendidly, I drive home all smiles, happy that I went! Paul, on the other hand, bowls just down the street from us here in town. He bowled so much when we were dating, I tell people we were married by an ordained pin setter!

In honor of…

#HappinessHappensMonth

And, since some people find happiness in chocolate, I’d like to share with you Mom’s imitation of Big Boy’s Chocolate Pie. Happy cooking!

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

#WHBY 

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…32 down, 20 to go!

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

 

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – De-Stress With Happiness

Happy Monday and happy August! As always, #TGIM – I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Stress and anxiety often accompany any kind of lifestyle changes. We’ve been going through these kinds of times for centuries – the names and places may have changed but the feelings of stress and anxiety remain the same. These days, some of the new lifestyle changes we’re dealing with include staying home as much as possible, extreme sanitizing practices, wearing masks in public, and social distancing – just to name a few.

Now it’s August and the pandemic is still rearing its ugly head in many “hot spots” due to people crowding and not properly wearing PPE, if at all. In addition, a lot of people are worried about sending kids back to “brick-and-mortar” schools before/after Labor Day. Some are trying to push online learning and home-schooling. But not every parent is cut-out to be a teacher and online learning is not easy, let alone available, for everyone.

Stress is just another word for worrying – only more severe – in how it affects us, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, the trying times that we’ve been facing, especially this year, are not going away anytime soon. Many experts are telling the media that it will likely get worse before we see it really start to get better.

Sadly, life doesn’t always go the way we want and, from time to time, when we start getting comfortable with how life is going, we forget that nothing in life is guaranteed to any of us. I recently read a really great article, “When It Seems Like Things Are Falling Apart, They’re Really Just Falling Into Place”, by Paul Hudson (Sep. 23, 2014) at EliteDaily.com. The timeless advice and reasoning in this almost-6-year-old article, about dealing with stress and creating your own happiness, sounds like it could have been written for our current pandemic situation. I highly recommend the read!

#SimplifyYourLifeWeek

#HappinessHappensMonth

Writing and cooking were among Mom’s top stress-relievers. Being the Secret Recipes Detective for 40 years, one was more apt to find Mom in the kitchen, creating an imitation of a popular restaurant dish or at her desk writing about the latest imitation she developed.

However, Mom also loved to write random bits of, what she called, “Food for Thought”. Almost half of what she published in all of her cookbooks and newsletters was devoted to “Food for Thought”, as she felt it was important to have a proper balance between good thoughts for the soul and good food for the table!

Mom’s other favorite stress relievers included reading “motivational”, “inspirational”, and “positive thinking” books; as well as crocheting and laughing at her favorite comedians like George Burns and Carol Burnett. As the old adage says, “laughter is the best medicine.” Mom always added to that, “you can’t smile on the outside without feeling good on the inside.”

When dealing with the stress of operating a family-run, cottage-style, dining room table business that was booming faster than expected, Mom also enjoyed listening to music and going for a walk along the St. Clair River or taking a long drive with Dad, beside the Lake Huron shoreline. There are countless techniques for managing stress these days. Yoga, dancing, bread-making, meditation, and exercise are just a few examples.

Like Mom, when I’m under stress, I also enjoy writing, cooking, listening to music (different music, though), going for walks, and/or taking a shoreline road trip with my husband to lift myself out of the rut. What kinds of things help you to de-stress and be happy? Use the hash tags (above) to share, what works for you, on social media.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 96-97)

RETHINKING OUR LIVES

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

The onslaught of mail forced us to do this. We were all working from seven in the morning to one or two the next morning, just to open the mail. We burned up two electric letter openers! Our phone bill was lost in the mail and when we forgot about our utilities having to be paid every month, our phone was dead one day when I picked it up.

From then on, our utilities were phoned in to us by the company so that we could keep them paid without having to sort through thousands of letters, looking for the bills. There were trays of mail stacked three and four deep in our living room, bedrooms, the basement, too.

At one point, I lay my head down on my desk and cried, reading the angry letters that were coming from probably very nice folks who thought we were trying to do something illegal, because they had not received their free recipes. They probably had not sent us their self-addressed, stamped envelope, either, which we have always required for the service.

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

Most of the letters received from them still asked for the free recipes that were included with the order blank for a self-addressed stamped envelope to us. The offer would have been good for us if it had only been shown that once – the day on which we appeared on the show, but for nearly a year afterward the requests came and the complaints came and the threats to report us to postal authorities for not sending those free recipes, tore us apart emotionally and physically!

We had put so much money into returning the orders we could not fill in every postage stamp that we put on envelopes that requested free recipes also came out of our pocket, so it was an experience of mixed blessings. It cost us so much more than we had anticipated.

We talked about making a move to California in the fall of 1981. I really wanted to move out there to be closer to my sister, Hazel. Our son, Michael, was also living in Pasadena where he was attending the art center. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity for us to leave… St. Clair and begin a new life in Los Angeles…

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. It was a time to learn and to grow. – Gloria Pitzer

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018, 1st Printing; p. 299)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 67)

WASTING TIME – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE SIMPLE JOYS?

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

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

Paul & Gloria Pitzer – 2012, Niagara Falls, Ontario

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

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

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

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

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-Jun. 1988, p. 1)

NO SUCH THING AS A SURVIVOR!

I finally met someone who agrees with me that it is not a compliment to be called a ‘survivor’ – when one has apparently been able to meet the challenges of life and keep on going. Surviving is too much like wading around in a puddle of old problems or troubles.

Instead, I’d rather be considered a ‘pilgrim’ – going forward, pressing on. And, if I were told that I could no longer give others hope, I don’t think I would ever enjoy living again, but would probably just exist instead!

#NationalBrowniesAtBrunchMonth

In honor of August being, among other things, National Brownies At Brunch Month; here are two of Mom’s famous copycat recipes… Hostess-Style Brownies & Fudge Frosting, as seen in her cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Recipes Book (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI; June 1997, pages 14 & 53). How’s that for some chocolate-covered happiness? Happy baking!

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

Find some time to enjoy the many national celebrations going on today, this week, and all month long…

#InternationalClownWeek

For International Clown Week, this week, here is one of Mom’s “Food for Thought” articles; about a small businesses that disappeared…

#FamilyFunMonth

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/family-fun-month-august/ & https://ucdintegrativemedicine.com/2018/08/family-fun-month/#gs.xodbky

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…31 down, 21 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Summertime Vacation Time

Happy summertime Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM – I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

We’re almost to the middle of summer and those hot and humid “dog days” continue to hound us, with no relief in sight. These are the days that a lot of Michiganders like to head “up north” to vacation in a slightly (usually) cooler and drier atmosphere – especially when close to one of the Great Lakes!

I have so many fond memories, from my childhood, of some of our own Michigan, summertime, family vacations. Mom and Dad took us to so many wonderful places around Michigan like the Tahquamenon Falls and Soo Locks in the U.P., as well as Petoskey, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island in the “Tip of the Mitt” region.

Other “nearby” trips (to where we lived in the “Thumb Area”) included Sandusky’s Cedar Point Amusement Park and Aurora’s SeaWorld, both in Ohio; as well as Grand Bend, Toronto and Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. I tried to expose my own children to, at least, most of these wonderful places as well… Making memories!

Every summer that I can remember, while growing up in the “Thumb Area” of Michigan, there was usually a couple of these family trips; along with some special one-day-events like a festival, going to the beach, picnicking at a park and backyard barbecues that filled our summers with a lot of fun memories.

1970, Pitzer summertime vacation time at Fort Mackinac

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in “No Laughing Matter”, by Gloria Pitzer (no printed date available)

HOW I’M SPENDING MY SUMMER VACATION

I am really trying to enjoy this summer vacation, even though I have the feeling I’m just a first grade version of ‘See Mother Run’. Most of the vacation weeks (and I use the reference loosely) were spent wandering through aspirin lectures asking perfect strangers: ‘How many more days until school opens?’

We didn’t try to vacation anywhere with the children this year, considering how we spent two weeks on the Turnpike with them last summer and lived to tell about it.

…There are positive virtues to the ‘nine-to-three’ schedules, which leave mothers five days a week, from September through June [minus the long Christmas and Easter breaks], during which they are not answering dumb questions.

For one thing, it is none of the kids’ business why I look pale and plump in a bathing suit. I knew the minute I walked into ‘Chubby Chicks Swimwear Boutique’ that summer, for me, would mean running under the lawn sprinkler in very dark glasses and a body shirt, cleverly created out of a porch awning by some ‘shut-in’ from ‘Green Acres’.

Actually, it was all my husband’s idea. For, out of consideration for the neighbors, he only lets my sit on the patio in my bathing suit after dark. He claims I even discourage mosquitoes. This is the same man who will also stand on the porch whenever I sing so the neighbors can see he isn’t beating me!

The same man who can come home from (and I quote exactly) ‘an exhausting day of fishing’ and ask, seriously, when am I going to clear off the top of the refrigerator, will I write to his mother, did I have fun at the ‘book mobile’ with the five kids, and is it alright if we ‘eat out’ tonight… meaning, of course, hot dogs in the backyard!

He doesn’t understand why I spend my [summer] vacation counting the days until school opens again. But he doesn’t have to find band-aids for bra-less Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes, who have been sucked up into the vacuum cleaner hose.

He doesn’t have to wander through a vast wasteland of ‘Pop-Tart’ wrappers and ‘Mr. Misty’ cups, while 37 neighborhood kids motorbike their way through the yard, the flower beds, and into the center of a national noise abatement program, sympathetically excused by three probation officers who don’t have to live around here!

Summer VACATION – as some teachers laughingly refer to the 10 weeks, during which ‘families who stay together, get on each other’s nerves’ – is NOT a vacation! It’s enough to make a mother look like a wire service [‘Wanted’] photo that, by all rights, should be printed under the caption: ‘NEVER MIND SENDING HER KIDS TO CAMP… Help send this mother away!’

It’s mothers who need the vacations – not the kids! Ten weeks of kids at home [all day] and Mother can develop a personality of a dental drill with a voice to match! But, as I told the kids the other day, ‘as soon as Daddy gets home, everything will be all right.’

Sometimes it’s not easy on a mother to come up with the answers to questions all by herself, like: ‘How many more days until school starts?’ … ‘Can I have a Coke?’ … ‘Did you see my sneakers?’ … ‘Can I have a popsicle?’ … ‘How come you’re always yelling at me?’ … ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’ … ‘Can I have my allowance?’ – but, compared to all of the questions the kids ask me during the day, I can take THOSE [above] from my husband.

He means well, even though he doesn’t understand that a mother’s vacation doesn’t begin until school does in the fall!

Mackinac Island, Michigan is a very nostalgic place – the summer vacations that I spent there with my family are my most memorable ones. Except for the smell of horse dung (which, besides bicycles, horses are the popular mode of transportation on the island, as motor vehicles aren’t allowed), baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many DIVINE scents!

From the variety of flowers in the beautifully kept gardens everywhere to the yummy, sugary confections being made in the fudge and candy shops to the mouth-watering aromas wafting from the open windows and vents of the island’s restaurants and bakeries that line the downtown streets where the mainland ferries bring millions of tourists every spring through fall (as the island is closed to tourism during the winter months).

Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; to me, as with many others, it was always a magical trip back in time! That was especially the case one summer, in 1979, when we were staying at the Grand Hotel while the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience; plus, we all got to meet Jayne Seymour, Christopher Plummer, and Christopher Reeves!

[On a side note – long before Somewhere in Time was filmed there – in 1947, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel called This Time for Keeps. The famous leading actress in that movie, Ethel Merman, swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of it there; thus, as I learned during one of our family trips, the pool was named after her.]

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in “No Laughing Matter”, by Gloria Pitzer (no printed date available)

VACATION RETURNS (OR THE LAST RESORT)

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

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

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

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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!’

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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!

However you choose to spend your summertime vacation time – I hope you make a whole bunch of happy memories and enjoy it to the max!

IN CLOSING…

#NationalChickenWingDay

In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for chicken like Popeye’s…

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is TODAY around 11:08am (CDST)/12:08pm (EDST)! Be sure to check it out, as we’ll be discussing cookies!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…30 down, 22 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Dog Days Of Summer

As always, happy Monday to everyone and #TGIM! I constantly await Mondays, with anticipation, for they are my #52Chances a year to share MEMORIES OF MY MOM with all of you!

Two weeks in and the dog days of summer (which refers to the hottest and most humid time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere – usually in July) have definitely been “hounding” us, so far, this month! It’s the kind of sweltering heat that makes me want to sell my stove in my next yard sale! Break out the cookbooks for microwaves, crock pots and grills!

Sometimes, like now, summertime is just too hot in which to cook anything in the oven. When our Michigan weather is hot and humid outside, the last thing any of us want to do is turn on the oven or even stand over a hot pot on the stove-top. Thus, taking the cooking outdoors is the natural solution. You can cook just about anything on the grill – far beyond the “meat family”. Just about everything tastes better when it is cooked on a sizzling hot grill and, with a little oil and foil, you can create some pretty awesome side dishes, as well!

Photo by Gloria Pitzer, 1964

#NationalPicnicMonth

On these types of days, when it is too hot to cook, I like to eat out… As in outside! Who doesn’t love backyard picnics with wonderful, char-grilled food on beautiful, sunny, summer days? Besides, July is, among other things, National Grilling Month!

The Great Lakes region, in which I live, is all about celebrating summer. We, Michiganders, really appreciate the summer months – especially after a long, Michigan winter! This year, our usual winter “hibernation” period was extended throughout the spring months, with the Covid-19 pandemic and “Stay Home” orders all across the nation.

The Pitzer children in July around 1970 (left-to-right): Laura, Michael, Cheryl, Bill and Debbie

#NationalGrillingMonth

Most everyone, like us, is so tired of being cooped up that all we need is ANY EXCUSE for a backyard cook-out! Therefore, happy National Grilling Month! Whether you use gas, propane or lighter fluid and charcoal… whether you have a small, tabletop hibachi or a large, deck-sized apparatus… JULY IS SUMMERTIME… and summertime is practically synonymous with grilling.

These days, the smells of charcoal and lighter fluid, along with sizzling burgers, chicken, hot dogs or steaks seem to drift through all of the neighborhoods around me. Whenever you light up your grill this month, know that you are part of an ongoing celebration for National Grilling Month. Thus, share any or all of your grilling ideas and creations on social media with #NationalGrillingMonth. However, take note that July is also considered the driest and hottest month of the summer. So, also, be careful and mindful of the dangers of fire!

1970, Pitzer Vacation at Mackinac Island, MI

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI)

SUMMER CAN BE FUN – BUT NOT FOR MOTHER!

(Published in the Port Huron Times Herald; Aug. 18, 1977)

Inasmuch as this is an election year, I wish the governor would include me in a kind of relief program to cover mothers of children who are on vacation for the summer. After two weeks of muddy blue jeans and wet towels, my Biz Bag turned in a letter of complaint and left for Yellowstone. And the refrigerator door has not closed since school did.

‘With Avon, you get personal service’, they tell me on TV. Well, since the kids have been home on vacation, my Avon lady asked me to pick up my order…in a locker at the bus terminal.

Of course, summer has not always made me feel like a wart on a hog at bay. In the days of my energy, I could spend a languid afternoon with the entire family at the beach and frolicking through the sand, could sally forth to the Good Humor truck, with brood in tow, while each one took 20 minutes to decide which flavor they would take.

I know you won’t believe this, but I could then bring myself to embrace a child with all of the tranquilized sweetness of Doris Day and plead: ‘Please, Michael, tell Mommy where you buried Daddy!’ I wouldn’t have minded so much except Daddy was carrying the money for the Good Humor man in his swim trunks pocket.

And it was completely unreasonable to expect the Good Humor man to accept one of the children as collateral – or ALL of them for that matter – until we could uncover Daddy. For these are the same children who follow you through the souvenir pavilion, commenting candidly: ‘Look, Mommy. That Lady has her wig on crooked.’ And “doesn’t that man have funny looking knees?’

At moments like these, I know I was never meant for motherhood. It can be very depressing. But gone are the days when I approached summer vacation with the children as if I had the unfailing cheer of Betty White and Ralph Edwards.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I wasn’t meant to spend my life serving Kool-Aid and Crispy Critters to swarms of children who embark on our porch like occupational troops in the Berlin Airlift.

I always found that, just as I was about to walk the gangplank of gloom, a cheerful neighbor (probably the mother of ONE) would enumerate for me all the blessings of having the children at home and prescribe how to enjoy them while they’re small – which is exactly like trying to tell me the only way to save money in Las Vegas is to step off the plane and walk directly into the propellers.

I mean, how can anyone live with children, who think all it takes to open a limeade stand is the garden hose and a sack of lime; who now slam the same door all summer they left open all winter; who, for the entire 87 days of summer [vacation] will ask questions like: ‘Why can’t we go see FRITZ THE CAT? It’s a cartoon – isn’t it?’ And ‘Why do you have that twitch in your neck, Mommy?’ Or ‘Can I put a band aid on this worm?’

If a summer relief program is out of the question for mothers like me, I personally feel that the least the governor could do is declare me ‘A Depressed Area!’

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I have SO MANY, great, childhood memories of summer vacations with my family to places like Tahquamenon Falls, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island (as pictured above), all in Michigan; as well as Cedar Point, in Ohio, and Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada just to name a few.

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 wintertime birthdays (during November, January and March). The summertime memories that Mom and Dad created for us, as we were growing up, will last a life-time!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 103)

THE LOAVES AND FISHES

MY RELATIONSHIP with Hazel is among those blessings I always count twice! Even though we had different moms but the same dad, we were very close as sisters. In all of the many years that we’ve spent vacations together, even live together, we’ve never had one crossword between us. The worst part of our relationship has always been not being able to say goodbye when it’s time to part at the end of our yearly visits.

Hazel has always given me such enthusiastic support about my work, and such compassion for the events in our family, with our children. Even though there is an 18-year difference in our ages, you’d never know it by looking at us. In fact, you’d probably take HER for the younger one! She has incredible energy and we love to do the same things – even to having the same taste in furnishings and decorating our homes.

One example Hazel set for me to follow was her gracious ability to offer hospitality, to make the unexpected guests feel welcomed and sincerely wanted. Some people need a month’s notice before they can even have you stop for pie and coffee! Not Hazel!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer with Hazel & Chris Allen; Torrance, CA – May 1982

I have seen her carry off a steak dinner with all of the trimmings that started out for just the four of us (Hazel, Chris, Paul and me) and before the event was over, included six others, stopping by a few at a time, unexpectedly. In which case, we simply pulled up another chair to the table and set out another plate, while Chris put another steak from the freezer into the microwave to defrost and then onto the grill on the patio.

With each guest, who arrived unannounced, we added a little more lettuce and a few more tomatoes to the salad and [put] another potato into the microwave to bake. When we discovered there were only eight potatoes, however, and there would be 10 at the table, we improvised. We sliced each baked potato in half, lengthwise, and arrange them on an oven platter, cut side up, dusting each in a little grated Parmesan, a few parsley flakes [and] a little paprika.

Then, drizzling these in a bit of squeeze-bottle margarine, we popped the tray under the broiler for a minute just before sitting everybody down to eat. We opened three cans of assorted fruit and dump this into a pretty glass bowl, sprinkling some coconut over the top of it and by breaking each of the long ears of corn in half, we pulled off the best feast since ‘the loaves and fishes’ and with leftovers, yet. Nobody went away hungry that evening and we enjoyed so much being together. It was wonderful!

#NationalHotDogMonth

As seen in Mom’s syndicated column series titled “No Laughing Matter”, from the 1970s. The full article is called, This Cook is Rated X (or) Yes, Gloria! There Really is a Colonel Sanders (no publishing data available): “At our house ‘eating out’ meant roasting HOT DOGS 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’?”

#NationalCulinaryArtsMonth

SUMMERTIME COOKING… As seen on the cover page of Mom’s July-August 1988 newsletter: “Shaker cooks, whose culinary skills I admire, place ears of husked and ‘de-silked’ corn in a large pot of cold water, seasoned with the barest pinch of sugar (never salt because it toughens the tender fibers) until the water boils. At that point, they cover it and cook it for one minute more – or as long as it takes to recite ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. Then they drain and serve the ears as fast as they can, with lots of sweet butter, salt and pepper.”

IN CLOSING…

#NationalIceCreamMonth

#NationalBlueberryMonth

#NationalPeachMonth

#NationalIceCreamDay

In honor of the National Ice Cream Month celebrations going on for July – and Sunday is National Ice Cream Day too – here is Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade ice cream like Baskin Robbins, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 252). You can substitute just about any frozen fruit, such as BLUEBERRIES or PEACHES, for the strawberries that are listed in the following recipe. The possibilities are endless!

Above recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks. Be sure to tune in – Monday, July 27th around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST) as we discuss chocolate chip cookies, like Bill’s Brother’s Mother’s or Tom’s Mom’s; which, Mom claimed, were even better than Mrs. Field’s!

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

#ThankGodItsMonday

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

…28 down, 24 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – It’s A Finger Licking Good Day!

Happy Monday, happy July, and happy National Fried Chicken Day! As always, #TGIM – I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

I can’t believe it’s July already! I hope everyone enjoyed the nice, long Independence Day weekend in some way, safely. A lot of people around us, were having their own backyard celebrations all weekend.

#NationalFriedChickenDay

As I mentioned above, today is National Fried Chicken Day – which makes it a finger licking good day in my book – and tomorrow will actually be the 39th anniversary of when Mom FIRST appeared on the Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981); demonstrating, among other things, how she imitated fried chicken like the Colonel’s right at home!

As I’ve written about previously, that show was definitely a milestone event, to say the least – for our family as well as our community! Because of Mom’s appearance, our small post office in St. Clair was swamped with about a million letters, throughout that summer and fall. The requests and orders generated from that show, as it aired and re-aired around the world for about a year, just kept pouring in! It was truly an overwhelming response that none of us ever expected.

Donahue 1981 promo

Mom has written many stories about her experiences, on TV and radio shows, related to her KFC-style chicken imitation, which she called “Big Bucket In The Sky! Chicken”. Below is just one of those stories, from her book, My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop, and a copy of that recipe.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 71-72)

KFC & THE COLONEL

HISTORY BOOKS have said little of the one person who really put the state of Kentucky on the map, namely the gentleman whom will always be associated with ‘finger-lickin’-good’ fried chicken, Harland Sanders. He was born in Henryville, Indiana in 1890, and died in late 1980.

Harland was one of the food industry’s most successful men. In 1956, Harland Sanders was an out-of-work 66-year-old [man]. When he died, he left a multi-million-dollar food empire. One survey said that, next to Santa Claus, he was the world’s most recognized personality.

When he founded KFC, he had taken his Social Security check, a pressure-Fryer, a can of spices and herbs and set out across the country to show a few restaurant owners how to fry chicken the ‘right’ way! If they liked it, he promised to supply them with the secret coding.

He was a born salesman! And successfully so, considering the number of jobs he held in a lifetime. Once, over WFAA-Radio, in Dallas, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Colonel and it was that conversation, set up by the host of the show I worked with every Thursday, that gave me the clue on how to season flower at home so that it would taste like the Colonel’s coating on his Kentucky fried chicken.

He had just sold that business to the Heublein liquor and food conglomerate, for around $2 million and it was (quote) ‘the dumbest thing I ever did do!’ He complained that the gravy tasted like ‘wallpaper paste’ and the chicken was ‘dry as cardboard’ and that his recipe and technique had been so terribly altered that he was sick about it.

But he was also being taken to court by the company to which he sold KFC. To prove his point, he told me, in court, he prepared his chicken the right way and passed it out to the jury, the judge and the court along with the bucket of chicken purchased down the street from a KFC unit. The court ruled in his favor.

He told me he had read about our recipes in the Corbin, Kentucky newspaper and that he was flattered with my version of his product, but that I didn’t have to go to all of the trouble of imitating 11 herbs and spices.

He said he wanted to see just what kind of a detective I REALLY was, so he told me to go to the supermarket and find one product in a (quote) ‘package’ that would do the same job as those 11 herbs and spices. And I was to report back to him on the radio show the following Thursday. We tested a dozen or more products during the next six days. And finally I found Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix! It was wonderful!

Original illustration by Gloria Pitzer; edited by Laura Emerich

‘You really are a detective after all,’ Colonel Sanders told me on the air that next week, by telephone from his home in Kentucky. I was on the phone from our home in St. Clair. So it was, indeed, the Colonel himself who put me on the right track with this recipe, and with thousands of people listening in the Dallas area. I am so grateful for this wonderful experience. My cup runneth over!

It was also in the conversation with the Colonel that I was urged not to sell my business as long, he told me, as I had the energy and the aptitude to run it myself. At the conclusion of the lawsuit, I was pleased to see that the company was moved to improve the product and give it back its original goodness. Harland remained as a public relations representative for them until the time he passed away.

Most interesting about his background was that he was eight years old when he was turning out entire menus of American delicacies for his widowed mother, while he took care of the house and did the cooking so that she could work.

He said he went on to become a streetcar conductor, a farmhand, (to Cuba as) a soldier, a railroad fireman, section hand, insurance agent, a steamboat promoter, gaslight manufacturer, tire salesman and, finally, as a service station operator in Corbin, Kentucky.

When they could, Harland and his wife, Claudia, enjoy dining at the Elmwood Inn, in Berryville (KY), where as you might expect, his favorite dish was chicken! Given the honorary title of ‘Colonel’ by the state of Kentucky, for his contributions to its cuisine, he remains one of the most respected and recognized figures in the food industry.

Our ‘Better Cookery Cookbook’ [which I rewrote for Mom and it was republished under the title ‘Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective’, in January 2018 by Balboa Press] contains my versions of his products, which you can re-create in your own kitchen from those recipes.

I also tell you in detail, in that book, about our visit to The Donahue Show when I was asked to prepare the famous chicken on camera for millions of viewers and, instead of a deep fryer, the staff provided me, by mistake, with a toaster oven.

Still shot from mom’s Phil Donahue appearance 4-16-93

The recipe had to be revamped right then and there on camera. It worked out so well that we have, since that experience, included the ‘oven-fried’ version on our sheet of sample recipes, which we have probably sent without charge, just for a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to over a few million people!

Here is a copy of that “Big Bucket In The Sky! Chicken” recipe, as I’ve given out in a previous blog post and, also, posted under the “Recipes” tab, on this website:

See also http://therecipedetective.com/2018/11/06/big-bucket-in-the-sky-fried-chicken/ for another version included in this story.

#NationalPicnicMonth

July happens to be National Picnic Month, among other things. When I pack up a summer picnic for me and my husband, I like to use the same classics that Mom used to always make. I can’t eat them now, but I always loved her homemade fudge brownies, chocolate chip cookies, coleslaw, potato salad and, of course, fried chicken (which is always great, hot or cold)! My husband still enjoys them, on my behalf, while I now make low-carb dishes for myself. Our favorite picnic standards are very similar to those listed on HowStuffWorks.com, in Sara Elliott’s informative article, Top 10 Picnic Foods.

At our house ‘eating out’ meant roasting hot dogs 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 – circa 1970s)]

Frankenmuth, Michigan is a city that has been world-famous, for many decades, for their family-style, sit-down, fried chicken dinners. This wonderful little town is not too far from us, near Saginaw, MI – from where one of Mom’s favorite radio shows still airs, “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio. Not now because of the pandemic, but normally tourists flock to this little German-style town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get their world-famous chicken dinners at one of the two largest establishments in town.

The two major restaurants in Frankenmuth that serve the famous family-style chicken dinners are Zehnders and the Bavarian Inn. The town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, hotels, breweries and quaint little shops that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland (which is all Christmas, all year) to the Frankenmuth Brewery!

Mom and Dad loved to take road trips to Frankenmuth, as do my husband and me. Although we can’t right now because of Covid-19 restrictions – we’re looking forward to a great day trip there in the future. I miss all the German culture experience that this small tourist town has to offer! Over the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes as “The Recipe DetectiveTM”, she came up with many imitations from Frankenmuth of some of the famous dishes available at the two major restaurants mentioned above; plus, some bread and confection imitations from the local bakeries and fudge shops, as well.

IN CLOSING…

#NationalFriedChickenDay

In honor of National Fried Chicken Day, here is Mom’s wonderful copycat recipe for Fried Chicken, Like Frankenmuth…Happy cooking!

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

#WHBY

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

If you missed last week’s show, you can listen to it at https://www.whby.com/2020/06/29/laura-pitzer-emerich-open-show/!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter

Happy Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM – because Mondays are my #52Chances a year to share my memories of my mom with all of you!

This week, I’d like to revisit “the beginning” – when Mom started her “cottage industry”, “family enterprise”, “dining room table operation”. It was about 47 years ago, in 1973, when mom was putting together her very first cookbook, entitled The Better Cooker’s Cookbook, comprised mostly from recipes her readers shared with her, as well as those she had developed and printed in her syndicated column, “Cookbook Corner”.

The self-published and self-promoted cookbook, written and illustrated by Mom, came out in 1973 and sold out within a couple of months. I’m not sure how many copies were printed but I remember getting to help color in Mom’s illustrations with colored pencils on hundreds of books. I was about nine years old and it was VERY important to always “stay within the lines”!

But there were so many more recipes in Mom’s collection that she decided to print them on individual index cards and sell them, through mail-order, for 25-cents each or five for a dollar. She also started putting them in a monthly newsletter format that could be collected in a 3-ring binder – a set of which would create a whole book.

“Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter” launched in January 1974 as a 5 ½” x 8 ½”, 12-page, monthly “magazine” full of food information, editorials and news related to “homemakers” and their families, entertaining stories, humorous illustrations, and witticisms; plus, readers’ comments and requests, reviews of products, restaurants, and other publications or similar entities, with about 16 unique recipes (give or take) sandwiched in between.

The newsletters sold for 50-cents each or $5 for a yearly subscription. Mom retired the newsletter in December 2000, with issue number 219. Over the decades, it had evolved to an 8 ½” x 11”, 8-page format with twice as many recipes, writings, and reviews than with which it began.

Some of Mom’s editorials covered the backstories of various fast food and fine-dining restaurants along with recipes for imitations of their most popular dishes. The recipes were developed and tested, personally, by Mom. Of course, the family pitched in also – especially when it came to taste-testing! I can’t recall a “dud” I didn’t like! The “duds” were the recipes Mom never printed because, while they were very good, they weren’t just like the original dishes/products she was trying to mimic.

The “duds” may not have been exactly the same as the products she was trying to replicate but they were always great, nonetheless. I sure wish I had those “dud” recipes now. What a magnificent cookbook they would make! Regardless, Mom wouldn’t stop there, when she was trying to “replicate” a dish as close as possible to the real thing. She was always refining her imitations until she felt they were spot-on! And then, sometimes, for various reasons, she’d revamp them again, proving that there was usually more than one way to reach the same goal.

One of Mom’s early promotions (in 1977) for her monthly newsletter depicted her wry sense of humor, claiming: “Gloria Pitzer is cooking with laughing gas as she explores the world of eating out in order to create recipe-adaptations for dining in. From her dining room table, she and her family write, illustrate, distribute and kitchen-test the recipe creations of the restaurant industry. Only the names of the recipes have been changed to protect the guilty. Any similarities between Gloria’s recipes and the original dishes is purely intentional.”

Another of Mom’s satirical promotions said: “The Pitzer Family’s Publications is a purely relative operation staffed by Paul and Gloria Pitzer and their five children, who also contribute the illustrations to, both, the family’s monthly newsletter and their series of original recipes. Paul and Gloria feel they know their readers more as friends than as customers.” Mom always said, about her monthly newsletter, that “it’s like getting together once a month for coffee with friends.”

The premise of Mom’s reproductions was based on the adage, by Charles Colton, that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Mom believed that, while the restaurants’ dishes and food companies’ products didn’t really come out of test tubes and laboratory beakers, they did come from “scientific” combinations of ingredients (and, in some cases, techniques.)

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

Mom theorized that there were only a few basic recipes from which most everything derived, with the additions of certain flavorings/seasonings and techniques that made one dish distinct from another. She would often try out many different combinations of ingredients, since trial and error usually produced the best results.

Basically, none of the copycat recipes that Mom published during her 40 years, working as “The Recipe Detective” (1974-2014), had been given to her by any of the restaurants or companies. They were HER versions of THEIR dishes/products. She never knew what THEIR “secret” recipes actually were. Furthermore, Mom felt that being able to make these items at home added more loving care to the preparation and controlling the ingredients eliminated the “junk” from the “junk food”.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

Additionally, Mom believed that cooking (and baking) was as much of an art as it was a science – often working like a chemist in the kitchen, trying to identify the various ingredients within a product through scent investigations, visual exams, taste tests, and other experimentations.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977)

FAMOUS DISHES aren’t really all that difficult to duplicate. The first thing you have to do is stop thinking of yourself as a COOK and start thinking as a CHEMIST! You want to take a substance and try to discover its individual components – whereas most cooks… [start] with one ingredient, building around it.

Your task is to take the final result and break it down… in other words, working backwards from the creation of the skilled cook, who usually stirs up a piece of culinary artistry with just a ‘pinch’ of this and a ‘dollop’ of that and a ‘dash’ of something else.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Start with questioning yourself about the food you wish to duplicate… What color is it? What is the texture like? How is it flavored? How is it prepared? You must have something to which you can compare it – a basic recipe from which you can draw the ingredients that lay the groundwork for a duplicated masterpiece.

The only way to duplicate a dish is really to taste and test – over and over until you eventually achieve what you feel are satisfactory results… Restaurants do not always cook from scratch so don’t be disappointed when you find that a ‘duplicated’ recipe employs the use of prepared mixes, because that is the way most of today’s food service businesses do it.

Most of what you eat in the corner diner where the truck drivers stop for good, home cooked, hot [meals] is the same basic food you would also be served in a fine hotel, supplied by the same food manufacturing firms that also stock our supermarkets… The secret of the restaurant’s success is more in the management than the food.

Whenever Mom attempted to duplicate a dish or product, her two initial concerns were, first, being able to do it at home (without special gadgets or hard-to-find ingredients) for less of a cost than purchasing the original; and, second, being able to do it with only a minimal investment of time and labor. Mom always said that she never liked to cook but she did, however, LOVE to eat out!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977)

BUT, WITH A FAMILY of seven, who ate like 20, it wasn’t financially practical to have restaurant outings too often. It just seemed a shame that all of those delicious dishes that were served in restaurants had to be kept secret when families like ours could be enjoying them at home for a fraction of the cost of eating them out.

Our ‘National Homemaker’s Newsletter’ wasn’t using too many recipes in the beginning and those we used seemed to be just frosting on the cake. But each time I discovered the secret of duplicating a recipe from a favorite restaurant, the requests for more poured in. Soon enough, it became, not just the frosting, but the whole cake!

Mom always thought it was strange that it was okay to mention a company’s brand name in her list of ingredients, as companies thought of it like “free advertising” or “recommendations”. However, if she put their name in the title, at the top of the recipe, it was considered “infringing on their trademark” – or so their lawyers threatened with their “cease and desist” letters.

Although not all the companies whose products Mom attempted to imitate felt that way! There were many that accepted Mom’s imitations with honor, as the compliments they were meant to be. The critics predicted that Mom’s style of cookery wouldn’t last very long but it continued because it had merit! In fact, Mom pioneered a movement of copycat cookery for 40 years, until she fully retired in 2014.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977)

FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS, we had only a hundred readers or so. Then, because some good folks in the media took a liking to the newsletter and mentioned it, subscriptions picked up. Bob Allison of Detroit’s WWJ-Radio [show], Ask Your Neighbor, probably gave us the most enthusiastic reception, which led to our becoming a sponsor of the show and caught the attention of the ‘Detroit Free Press’ ‘Newsweek’, ‘National Enquirer’ and many others until we found our circulation had jumped…to nearly 4,000 in a little more than a year.

The duplications of the famous name recipes stirred the [public’s] interest. It was a service that apparently had not been offered to the public yet, and one we were most happy to supply. The humorous columns I had [been syndicating] to newspapers just a few years before became a popular attraction in the monthly newsletter…

The operation grew so quickly that it had the whole family working seven days a week, just to keep up with the orders. All of our five children helped to assemble, staple, address, and mail out the copies under my husband’s supervision, until we reached about 3,000 readers and then we found it [to be] such a full-time activity that my husband resigned from his position of 20-some years as an account t executive for a sign company… just  to devote all of his attention to running my ‘office’.

It was such a joy to be doing something for people that brought them so much happiness and our own family such a sense of unity. When our oldest son, Bill, went off to college… and our [other] son, Mike… we had to replace them. It was pure luck [or Divine intervention] that one of my friends, and the wife of one of the Little League coaches that Paul had worked with in baseball, here, in town, was anxious to help us out.

Sherry Ellis joined us, and I can only describe her as ‘bubbling like a happy brook’ – the best thing that this office could have hoped for. Debbie, our oldest daughter, continued to help us after school and our two younger daughters, Laurie and Cheryl… It even included my mother’s assistance and, you’ll note, I have used some of her recipes. Without her, I never would have learned to boil water properly. She’s a superb cook!

[As of] January 1977, we will publish our 37th monthly issue of the ‘National Homemaker’s Newsletter’ and we [now] have close to 5,000 readers. We say that getting the newsletter is just like getting together once a month for coffee with friends!

It was a bittersweet day when Mom produced her last newsletter in December 2000 – after 27 years of visits with her thousands of readers. By the way, it wasn’t always produced monthly. Sometimes it was produced bi-monthly, offering double the number of pages, recipes, editorials, household tips, and more,. During a few years, it was produced quarterly; again, offering even more pages of writings and recipes than the bi-monthly issues!

#CountryCookingMonth

Continuing, one last time, in the honor of National Country Cooking Month, here are Mom’s copycat recipes for griddlecakes and syrup, like Pancake House; as seen in her cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; June 1977, p. 32). Enjoy!

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

Listen to the “Good Neighbor” show, TODAY, at 11am (CDST)/ 12-noon (EDST), on #WHBY!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…26 down, 26 to go – WOW – the year is half-way through!

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