Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Yule-Solstice & Humbug-Festivus Days

Happy Monday and happy National Humbug Day! Additionally, happy Winter Solstice and Yule! And let’s not forget #TGIM – as 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!

#HumbugDay

We’re coming into the hustle-and-bustle of the last stretch of the holiday “to-do’s” before Christmas, which is just around the bend – and today happens to be the national celebration of Humbug Day!

To begin, this is usually a very stressful time of year for most people…having unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and excessive commitments, to name a few examples. Now add on the Covid-19 pandemic spikes everywhere and all the related restrictions on top of that and the Christmas/Yuletide season has become an even more stressful time of year. Some people wallow in the stress and anxiety with their bah-humbug attitudes, while others will put on their boots and forge their way out of the muck, making the best of what they have.

#Festivus

And for the rest of us, Wednesday is Festivus – an alternative outlet, in which “hum-buggers” can air their grievances for the feelings of pressure from the commercialism of the season! Originally, this celebration was formed as an outlet for one family’s pent-up frustrations over the annual chaos of the holiday season. After it was incorporated into an episode of Seinfeld, it became a national sensation!

But this time of year is really such a wonderful and magical season of LOVE! While there will always remain those who like the Scrooge-ish, “Bah-humbug” attitude; I think I come across a lot more people, who are actually spreading around the good cheer than those who are spreading the “hum-bug”.

Mom used to tell me, “the most valuable gift you can give is to be a good example!” This time of year seems to bring out the best “good examples” in most of us. It’s a good kind of contagious “bug” and seems to flow right into the new year. More people are volunteering their time for “good deeds” and helping out those in need by donating money, food, coats, toys and so much more.

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

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 147, Nov-Dec 1990; pp. 1 & 8)

THE CHRISTMAS FEELING

THE EASIEST COP-OUT for those who put a price tag on the pleasures of the holiday & insist that the success of the celebration depends on the amount of money spent on the preparations and gifts. If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about ‘trivials’… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more… (p. 1)

[THE CHRISTMAS FEELING] is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations! (p. 8)

#WinterSolstice

#Yule

Also happening today are the national celebrations for Winter Solstice and Yule. The Pagan Yule celebration existed thousands of years before the Christians began celebrating Christmas! In fact, most of the traditional ways for celebrating the Christians’ Christmas, were actually derived from the Pagan Yuletide traditions of the ancient Nordic and Celtic people.

Ye ol’ Yule’s 12 days of festivities included bonfires, music and dancing, ritual sacrifices (such as lambs), large communal feasts, and gift-giving; as well as decorating with holly, mistletoe and the fresh-cut branches of evergreens. Do you see any resemblances to the traditions of the Christians’ Christmas season celebrations?

The Pagan’s Yule festivities, which is still celebrated in some regions, last for 12 days; beginning with the winter solstice, which usually is somewhere from December 20th to the 23rd, as it changes from year to year. The Christians similarly celebrate the “the 12 days of Christmas”, which takes place annually December 25th through January 5th.

The Yule “log” for the bonfire was actually a whole tree that was meant to be burned for the duration of the 12-day celebration. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the winter solstice and that in keeping the Yule log burning for the whole 12 days encouraged the sun to move, making the days longer.

The largest end of the tree was fed into the hearth first and wine was poured over it, being lit with the remains of the previous year’s Yule log. Everyone would take turns feeding the length of timber into the fire as it burned down, because they believed that letting it burn out would bring bad luck.

The Celts believed that mistletoe possessed healing powers, as well as powers to ward off evil spirits. Today mistletoe is used to encourage the spirit of love.

Additionally, the Vikings traditionally decorated evergreen trees with gifts of wood-carvings and food for the tree spirits, encouraging them to return in the spring. Likewise, the Christians decorate their Christmas trees (also evergreens – fake and real ones) – with ornaments and lights.

And, according to Norse tradition, “Old Man Winter” would visit homes to join in the Yule festivities. The Viking god, Odin was a wanderer with a long white beard and an eight-legged horse. Odin is considered to be the first “Santa Claus”, “St. Nicolas”, or “Father Christmas” – over the centuries and around the world, he has gone by many names.

[NOTE: In the Norse culture, “Jul” (a possible origin of “Yule”) refers to the god, Odin.]

In Yule celebrations, the Norse children would go from house to house with gift baskets of apples and oranges spiked with cloves, resting in sprigs of evergreens. Additionally, the Viking children would leave their shoes by the hearth on the eve of the winter solstice, along with sugar and hay for Odin’s eight-legged horse.

Now Christians go caroling from house to house, including the children; who later “hang their stockings…with care” and set out milk and cookies for Santa, along with carrots for his eight reindeer.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 183, Nov-Dec 1997; p. 9)

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Whenever we feel we aren’t strong enough to handle some challenge, we can be sure that there’s, within each of us, a natural spirit, an inner strength upon which we can draw. Even when we feel nearly crushed by overwhelming challenges, we can prevail.

When loving others is involved and our being concerned for their welfare is uppermost, we can’t always stop doing whatever is necessary for us to do to overcome hard times. Our love for those in need won’t let us rest until their needs are met, their burdens eased.

It is tremendous to see what takes place when people act out of their concern for others, for the sake of goodness, an unselfish nature that promises no personal reward for efforts exercised. This, in deed, is the Spirit of Christmas.

‘THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good…’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 8)

According to WorldHolidayTraditions.com, in Holiday Traditions of the United States…, our current holiday traditions come from our world-wide melting-pot ancestry. For example, the tradition of “feasting” during the holidays is characteristic of all nations’ celebrations.

Only the elements of the menus would be different from one nation to another. We get many of our current combination of traditions from our diverse ancestors, who immigrated here from so many different countries, bringing their various customs with them.

As the article explains, a great number of our Christmas carols came from England and Australia. Likewise, the decorated evergreens are from our German ancestry influences (which supposedly influenced our traditional Christmas village displays, as well).

The man in the red suit, whom we’ve come to know as Santa Claus [aka: Father Christmas or St. Nicholas], may have originated in Scandinavia. Likewise, his arrival down the chimney to fill stockings with fruit and nuts is reminiscent of the Netherlands.

Mom and ‘Santa’ 2016

Over the years, America’s influence has fattened up Scandinavia’s red-suited “jolly old St. Nicholas” and blended all the different traditions so that he magically came down everyone’s chimney on Christmas Eve, leaving gifts and stockings filled with treats.

Additionally, “St. Nick” traveled in a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer – as in the classic holiday story, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas. At some point, a ninth reindeer, with a shiny red nose, was added to the sleigh-pulling team. The myth of the reindeer-drawn sleigh began in Switzerland. Additionally, our annual American holiday parades may have been inspired by the Latin nation’s holiday processions.

‘If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about [the] trivial… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 1)

IN CLOSING…

#FrenchFriedShrimpDay

In honor of National French Fried Shrimp Day, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating the Berville Hotel Secret Shrimp and Shrimp Cocktail Sauce, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 109 & 110). Also pictured is a copy of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, which I shared in a previous blog post as well.

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Tuesday is National Date Nut Bread Day

Wednesday is (also) National Pfeffernusse Day & National Roots Day  

Thursday is National Eggnog Day & Christmas Eve

Friday is National Pumpkin Pie Day, Christmas & the start of the Twelve Days of Christmas [December 25 – January 5]

Saturday is National Candy Cane Day, the start of Kwanzaa [December 26 – January 1] & Boxing Day (Canada)

Sunday is National Fruitcake Day

#WHBY

Next Monday would be my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show – but it had to be postponed to Wednesday, the 30th; still during the first half-hour of the show. Check it out 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/

…51 down and ONLY 1 MORE to go for 2020!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Plan

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!

It was 47 years ago, this month that Mom put together her first newsletter, which she titled Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter; following the release of her first, self-published, cookbook, titled The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (1973), which was compiled from recipes she developed while writing various, syndicated, food-for-thought and recipe columns.

In honor of December and National Write-A-Business-Plan Month, I want to share with you how Mom just kind of fell into a business plan that she accredits to a higher power, as it wasn’t exactly what she had planned for her future writing career when she was young.

#WriteABusinessPlanMonth

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292)

BEHIND THE SCENES

PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR OF SECRET RECIPES and ‘The Recipe Detective’ are the names that my friends in radio and newspapers have given to me, and I enjoy living up to that assignment! I enjoy working with these recipe secrets, but most of all, I enjoy writing about them.

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

The one year that I spent at Michigan State (when it was still a college, mind you – you figure that out! Sophia Loren and I are the same age – and while we may have the same measurements, 36-28-36, mine are neck, wrists and ankles, I’m afraid) … Was one year in which I learned 2 important things – I could not pass my Creative Writing course and I was “kicked out” of Home Economics!

My Creative Writing instructor told me that I typed a neat looking paper and probably should be a secretary, for I would never make it as a writer. My Home Economics instructor advised me to spend the rest of my life having my meals delivered, for I was always finding fault with the way so many cookbooks were written.

I took a position with the J Walter Thompson Advertising company in Detroit, working as a secretary to the copywriters. I met my husband, Paul, there when he returned from a 4-year tour of service with the Air Force. We started dating and one year later we were married.

That was 1956. Bill was born over a year later, and then Mike came 20 months after that, and Debbie came along 20 months after that. I lost 3 babies in the next 3 years, but Laura was born in 1964 and Cheryl came 20 months after that. During those years, Paul was working for a sign company in Mt. Clemens, Michigan – where, in the 20 years he spent with them, he did everything from drafting to purchasing agent to account rep!

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

I put a lot of miles on that $39.95 machine – I designed a column for weekly newspapers and mailed out samples to over 300 newspapers. Within a year, I had acquired 60 regular papers for my “No Laughing Matter” column and another column I called ‘Minding the Hearth’.

Columbia Features in New York offered me a contract, and, for a year, I allowed them to syndicate the column in competition with a new humorist, Erma Bombeck! (Right church, wrong pew for me!) When a big city paper carried Erma’s column, Columbia placed mine in their competing paper. I split with Columbia on a 60/40 basis (I took 40) and finally, by mutual agreement, we broke the contract. I was on my own.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 293)

HOW SECRET RECIPES BEGAN

When Columbia Features and I parted company, they had acquired only 2 additional papers from me and lost several more. Within 6 months, I had regained all my original papers and was syndicating the column from our dining room table, where we then lived in what my friend, Bob Allison, called ‘beautiful downtown Pearl Beach’ – a town so small that I told people City Hall was over a Dairy Queen, our McDonald’s had only one arch and, if we had a Howard Johnson’s, it would’ve had only 3 flavors!

We had a 9-year old station wagon at that time. It burned oil and barely got Paul to work and back without something breaking down! I rode a bike to and from the Pearl Beach post office every day where I mailed out my columns and then looked for responses to ads I had placed in the Tower Press and Grit magazines for recipes on 4×6-inch cards that enabled you to imitate famous dishes at home.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

BOB ALLISON’s ‘ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR

I was a regular participant on Bob Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ radio show that aired 5 days a week for 2 hours in the morning. I used Bob’s program for asking for food information that I needed for my weekly columns. Bob’s audience was very helpful in supplying me with answers. To reciprocate, I would reply to some of the requests made by his audience when they called into Bob’s show.

It was a unique format in that one could not simply call in a recipe or information simply because they wanted to share it with others. The information or the recipe had to, first, be requested by a previous caller. Many of my first ‘Secret Recipes’ were developed because of requests made specifically by Bob’s callers for such dishes as The Colonel’s secret spices, Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, Sander’s hot fudge, Win Schuler’s bar cheese and so on.

At the suggestion of one of Bob’s callers that I should put all my column recipes into a book, I wrote my first edition [1973] called ‘The Better Cooker’s Cookbook’. In less than a month, I had sold 1000 copies. I wasn’t satisfied with the book, so I didn’t reprint it – but, decided that it might work out better if I could do those recipes monthly.

So, in December 1973, I put together my first issue of what came to be my “Secret Recipe Report”, a newsletter that, for 106 consecutive monthly issues, brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry.

The Better Cooker’s Cookbook – written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Algonac, MI; 1973)

I probably wouldn’t have done the monthly, except for a falling-out I had with the editor of a small-town paper for which I was writing a food column. I had published some of my first attempts at duplicating famous dishes in that column and the response was beautiful, until I offended one of the papers biggest advertisers with a rendition of their cheesecake… “The kind that nobody doesn’t like.”

The editor told me I would have to go back to standard recipes like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf or chocolate cake – or I could pick up my check. I told him to MAIL it to me. That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own paper. That afternoon, I put out my charter issue, sending samples of it to those whose names and addresses I had on file from having written to me at the paper. That was the beginning of “Secret Recipes”!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)

THE DIRECTION WAS ALREADY DETERMINED FOR ME!

WHEN I LOOK BACK now, I realize that I was so busy trying to prove that others were wrong about me, I couldn’t see how events were taking place that would sooner or later put me where I had always wanted to be – writing for a worthwhile living, while making living worthwhile! In high school, I pestered the school newspaper sponsor, Mr. Rosen, to let me be on the staff. He had no hope for me at all as a reporter!

I was secretary of the Senior Class, [graduating] January 1954, and Judy Guest was secretary of the [graduating] June 1954 Senior Class. Judy was on the staff of the paper; but, even then, it was well-known that she hoped to write ‘the Great American novel’ –  and that she did, 20 years later, with Academy Award-winning ‘Ordinary People’! Judy’s great-uncle was Edgar A. Guest and Bud Guest, a famous radio commentator, was her uncle. It was only natural that writing would run in her family.

We were friends because we liked each other and were both involved with the same school activities. I was always glad that we continued to keep in touch, if only at Christmas, for nobody appreciated Judy’s eventual success with ‘Ordinary People’ as I probably did, knowing how long she had wanted to accomplish that work.

Somehow, despite my personal objections to the direction in which I appeared to be going, it was just as likely that I would accomplish a properly written cookbook. Even in high school I was put on two-weeks’ probation with the cooking class instructor, for having disregarded the recipe for a pie crust we were assigned to prepare in class. Mine was a recipe that I still use – and have published in this book – for the ‘No Rolling Pin’ crust. Apparently, it’s true, that ‘Life’ is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.

DIVIDENDS

Every successful accomplishment with my writing, after high school and the one year in college, was involved with recipes and cookbooks and restaurants. But I couldn’t see that it was a kind of calling. I saw it only as an interest that temporarily kept me writing and making a worthwhile living at it.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

WDEE-Radio, in Detroit, gave me a portable radio or a recipe that took first place in a contest they conducted – and in 1962, it was WBRB, in Mt. Clemens, that gave me a check for first place in their recipe contest. Soon after that, Better Homes & Gardens sent me a check for a recipe in a contest they had conducted.

WJBK-Radio gave me a maple stereo and radio set for their most unusual experience while listening to the radio, in 1964, when I wrote them about our ‘Picnicking in the Snow’. Again, the story was food related, including recipes for having a cook-out on the beach at Metropolitan Park in the middle of winter, with the radio going to keep us in the proper mood.

It was all leading to my eventual work in the food industry – but I couldn’t see that at the time I could only see that I had to write and with any luck at all, luck would be when preparation and experience met opportunity. The opportunity was close at hand.

LAST THOUGHTS

Only two and a half weeks until we ring-in a new year! As I wrote in our Christmas cards last week, I can’t help but reminisce over all of 2020’s trials-and-tribulations compared to those in previous years. The Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions and changes in how we normally lived our lives made 2020 a rough one for all of us.

On the other hand, it gave us cause to re-evaluate what is most important to us. We are all different, so everyone’s “important things” will most likely vary from each other’s; at least, to some degree. We will probably never completely return to those days and those ways. Sometimes, it’s best to just move forward and adapt, as that is how we evolve as a human race.

As 2021 gets closer, I’ve been reflecting on the goals I made earlier this year – the ones at which I succeeded, as well as those at which I failed. It seems to me that it really doesn’t matter when you start a resolution. The important thing is to see it through and commit yourself to its eventual success… The same as you would for a business plan!

IN CLOSING…

#RootVegetablesAndExoticFruitsMonth

December is National Root Vegetables And Exotic Fruits Month! Root vegetables include celery root, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc. They are multi-beneficial to us, providing complex carbs and high-fiber, which aids in weight loss.

Root vegetables and exotic fruits also contain a massive amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. However, while the U.S. produces vast amounts of root vegetables, exotic fruits are a bit harder to come by here, which is why we call them “exotic”. However, you may find them in specialty produce places. These fruits contain large amounts of antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C, iron, and phosphorus.

In honor of National Root Vegetables And Exotic Fruits Month, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #PotatoDumplings; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 103)

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

Learn something new every day!

Some other celebrations for this week include:

Today is National Bouillabaisse Day

Tuesday is National Cupcake Day

Wednesday is National Chocolate-covered Anything Day

Also on Wednesday, through Christmas Eve, is Las Posadas, https://nationaldaycalendar.com/las-posadas-december-16-24/ which is a 9 day Mexican Christmas tradition based on the story of Mary, Joseph, and their search for a safe place to stay before Jesus was born. This has been a tradition in many Latin countries for more than 400 years.

During Las Posadas, communities come together for nine days and nights to festively decorate their homes and make traditional foods and drinks such as corn tamales and “ponche”, a hot drink that is made of fruits like apples, oranges, lemons, prunes, and guava.

Each day is filled with song and prayer, but the main attraction is the group of people who act out and relive the nativity scene. The celebration begins with a procession at night, where participants carry candles, sing, and act out the nativity… And the kids even get piñatas!

Thursday is National Maple Syrup Day

Friday is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

Saturday is National Hard Candy Day & National Oatmeal Muffin Day

Sunday is National Sangria Day

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…50 down and only 2 more to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Holiday Cards Share Kindness

Happy Monday and happy December! Additionally, happy holidays to all and 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!

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

#ChristmasCardDay

Wednesday is national Christmas Card Day! Last week, I wrote about Mom’s annual, homemade Christmas card/letters. And that, for an added “gift” of kindness, she would also include some of her favorite holiday recipes.

Additionally, last week, I shared a few of those recipes (from Mom’s 1994, homemade, Christmas card) on-the-air with Kathy Keene – on her “Good Neighbor” show on WHBY in Appleton, WI. If you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast at https://www.whby.com/2020/11/30/laura-pitzer-emerich-amy-albright/.

[NOTE: I’ve included pictures of four of Mom’s 1994 Christmas card recipes (which I shared with Kathy last Monday) throughout this blog post. Happy holidays and happy cooking!]

#WHBY

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

The history/custom of sending Christmas card greetings seems to have begun in England, around 1843, by Sir Henry Cole. The first known Christmas “card” was sent to King James I of England in 1611. Possibly inspired by that holiday greeting, Sir Henry, along with his artistic friend, John Callcott Horsely, created the first “published and sold” Christmas cards; encouraging others to share good memories and holiday greetings between family, friends and others!

Today, even with electronic or e-cards available, we still mail more “hard copy” cards through the postal service – and a wide variety of them too – especially during December! These holiday greetings may be in the form of family pictures or professional photo cards or even a one- or two-page letter that highlights the family’s “big” events for the year.

Another idea that I’ve personally done in past years (before the internet came along), when money was tight, is to send holiday postcards! Postcards have a photo on one side, a simple message on the other side, and are suitable for mailing without an envelope. Plus, they cost less in postage, as well. Holiday postcards are quick and easy to make by recycling previously received Christmas cards.

Holiday greeting cards may be the only communication we send to/receive from a specific friend or family member all year long. These annual greetings touch people’s hearts with an extra bit of meaning during this time of year. It’s even more special when we take the time to say, “We’re thinking of you.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)

Sending Christmas cards has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…

What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.

…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.

I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…

December, and all the holidays within it, was probably one of Mom’s most favorite times of every year. ‘Tis the season of Faith, Hope and Love! ’Tis the season of sentimentalists, as well. Mom said, in the memory above, ‘I am one of those annoying sentimentalists’… I don’t find it annoying to be a sentimentalist, as Mom wrote, and I never have – but, then again, I’m in that sentimentalist club too!

‘Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly, Winter 94/95.

This year, as I write our messages in Christmas cards, from my husband and I to all of our friends and family, I can’t help but reminisce over this past year’s  trials-and-tribulations compared to those in previous years. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a rough one for all of us. It has certainly given us cause to re-evaluate what things are most important to us. Everyone’s “important things” will probably vary since, as I said (above), “We are all different…”

Please excuse my coffee stain (above)!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue 147 (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, pages 1 & 8)

If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about [the] trivial… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.

[The Christmas Feeling] is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations!

The importance of the personal gatherings over the tangible gifts has become more significant this year. The giving of the best of ourselves – without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude – is what true “Santas” do. My kids never learned “there’s no such thing as Santa Claus”, because I taught them something different, ever since they were each toddlers.

Similar to The New York Sun’s answer to Virginia, I taught my kids that the “spirit of Santa” lives on in each of us through selfless acts of giving from our hearts. It is with this kind of selflessness that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE! With that, there will ALWAYS be a Santa Claus!

Before Mom passed away, while dealing with Dementia, she often reminisced about our ancestors from her childhood memories. She couldn’t understand how she could remember such things so clearly, like they happened yesterday, but couldn’t remember who she saw or spoke to in the previous day.

If only hindsight were foresight! Now I wish I had wrote her stories down – or, better yet, recorded the conversations. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. Over 27 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about plans that she and Dad made for a “someday” Christmas present to us kids of a recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their favorite, cherished moments.

Mom also mentioned sharing memories of their own grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know; as well as other stories about the family that we could pass on to future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. It would’ve been priceless to me and my own children, as well as to my grandson.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)

Breaking through the barriers of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!

The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!

The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but, not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)

LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!

We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of loving the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.

But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…

So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for loving – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!

Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the Christmas season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!

You don’t need to be crafty to create your own homemade holiday cards, gifts, and decorations. Nowadays, ideas and instructions for making just about anything can be found on the world wide web by typing a few key words into a search engine like Google or Bing. The knowledge of the world is, literally, at our finger tips!

My favorite low cost, homemade, gift ideas usually use canning jars – any size or style you want! These jars are so versatile – and reusable too! They can be filled with a homemade dried seasoning mix or baking mix ingredients and a recipe card for what to add and how to use the mix.

Canning jars can also be filled with natural elements like pine sprigs, cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc. for a homemade potpourri that can easily be simmered in a pot of hot water on the stove. They can also be filled with homemade candy, soaps or lotions – there are so many “how to” sites on the internet, from which to gather ideas, inspirations and instructions.

Aside from Bing and Google, Pinterest is often the first source I tap for these kind of ideas and inspirations, as well as YouTube. My own personal page at Pinterest, ldemerich, (which I started many years ago) can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/ldemerich and has quite an eclectic collection of boards.

The OFFICIAL Pinterest page of the Recipe DetectiveTM, which represents Mom and her cookbooks and her legacy, can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/therecipedetective. Keep in mind, however, that it’s only a couple of years old and I’m still building up boards there. It is a continuous work in progress (WIP), as is this website.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of December being #NationalPearMonth, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #CinnamonPearCup; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 6)!

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

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Today is National Cotton Candy Day

Tuesday is National Brownie Day

Wednesday is also National Pastry Day

Thursday is when Chanukah Begins

Saturday is National Ambrosia Day, Gingerbread House Day, & Poinsettia Day

Sunday is National Cocoa Day

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…49 down, 3 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Holiday Greetings

Happy Monday to all and 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!

#WHBY

This happy Monday is my regular monthly visit (on the last Monday of each month) with Kathy Keene on her “Good Neighbor” show at WHBY in Appleton, WI. We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and a few of her recipes, as well; giving me another reason to love Mondays! Please, tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a podcast link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/ so you can listen to it later, at your leisure!

Today, I’d also like to say, “happy holidays” to everyone, no matter which holiday(s) you may celebrate! Personally, I don’t understand why some people get so upset by the greeting, “happy holidays”. There are other holidays that happen during this season, besides Christmas; and they all have their own “reason for the season” too!

There are those people who claim that saying “happy holidays” takes away from the “reason for the season”; as, to them, this season is only about Christmas and the birth of Christ. Yet, there are also many Christians, as well as non-Christians, that don’t celebrate Christmas at all.

For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that celebrations are pagan rituals and, thus, don’t celebrate any! Additionally, there are others, (both, Christians and non-Christians, alike) who celebrate Christmas, but not as a religious holiday. Instead, they focus on the tradition of Santa Claus (aka: St. Nicholas) and on “giving” from the heart.

I am in that group of people who practice the Santa Claus traditions and take “part in all the holiday fun without buying into the religious aspect of it”, as discussed in a very informative article, “Christian Groups that don’t Celebrate Christmas”, at TheOdysseyOnline.com.

Obviously, no one can tell, just by looking at someone, which holiday they celebrate – or if they celebrate any at all. Thus, saying a generic “happy holidays” greeting, seemingly, covers most of the bases, at least. Obviously, we can’t please all the people all the time. I just don’t understand why people have to be so narrow-minded and upset about the general holiday greeting.

As seen in an article, titled “How to Appreciate Diversity During the Holidays”, written by Simma Lieberman at TheBalanceCareers.com, “Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time with friends and family to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others.”

We can’t pick the different types of people out of a crowd – with one exception! That is, if they wear something that is directly related to their particular beliefs, religion or way of life. For a couple of years, at least, I’ve seen pictures of shirts, hats and pins on the internet that say, “You can tell me ‘Merry Christmas!’” I guess, if it upsets you that much when someone greets you with “happy holidays”; then, maybe, you should invest in one of those items and wear it every day in December.

It seems (to me, at least) that the fall-winter holidays are coming and going so fast! It just seems to go by faster as each year passes. Thanksgiving has just passed us by and, before we know it, all within a few days of each other, it’ll be Advent, Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah or Chanukkah), Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve – and then, with New Year’s Day, a whole new (hopefully blessed) year will be upon us!

When I was a child, and even as an adult with my own family, there were always many kinds of holiday treats to make for gifts and gatherings. It was around this time of year that Mom would start her holiday baking & making frenzy, stock-piling and freezing dozens upon dozens of cookies, fudge and candy confections; plus, homemade cinnamon ornaments and jars of various spice mixes for gifts, as well as for entertaining. Making enjoyable food for people was always so rewarding to Mom. It is for me, as well.

One example of a holiday tradition that Mom did, and with which we got to help, was making a candy-covered gingerbread house. I always loved helping to decorate the gingerbread houses that Mom made every year, with all the different candies and frosting! My kids say they enjoyed that too, growing up.

Both of my parents were quite the tag team when it came to entertaining company – whether it was a planned, holiday event for family or an impromptu gathering of friends… Here is one of Mom’s holiday season stories of such a time…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 277)

ENTERTAINING…

FOODS PREPARED FOR ENTERTAINING have always put me in a positive mood… Positive that, if the food is too good, everybody will keep wanting to come to our house and I’ll never be asked to theirs! On the other hand, if the food is not as good as it should be and I fall short of the best cook in our bunch, somebody will be in my kitchen; checking my stove for the training wheels they think it should have, considering the results of my cooking skills. So, food for entertaining must be fast, festive and flavorful…

When folks drop in… sometimes without notice… I like to be prepared. While there is absolutely nothing I can do to rid the lamp shades of the cobwebs that suddenly show up in the light, I can at least be glad something in the living room matches. With any luck if it is mentioned, I’ll exclaim promptly: ‘Oh, don’t touch that! That’s our daughter’s science project. We’re observing the mating habits of the harmless house spider!’

At this point, I can whisk everyone into the kitchen where, somehow, Coke splatters on the ceiling seem to go undetected if we turn [down] the overhead lights and put out some pretty candles. In 2 or 3 minutes, I can be spooning shredded cheddar cheese onto Triscuits, adding a slice of pepperoni and having it all under the broiler while Paul (on cue) delights them with another of his golfing jokes.

His old stand-by is the story of his 2 friends on the golf course, noting 2 women on the green ahead of them, playing very slowly. One of the men asked the other if they shouldn’t go up to the gals and ask if they minded if the men played through… Or chances were they’d never get off the course.

So, one of the men went running up to the ladies and got almost to the green when he darted quickly back. His friend asked what happened and why he hadn’t asked about playing through. ‘I can’t do that,’ the man said. ‘One is my wife and the other is my girlfriend!’ So, the other man offered to go up and ask. He got within a few yards of the ladies and he, also, darted back breathlessly, confessing to his friend… ‘Small world, isn’t it?’

By the time they stopped chuckling, the cheese snacks were ready, and the eggnog was out of the ‘icebox’ and into the punch cups, diluted with [Vernor’s] Ginger-Ale (soda) and, depending upon the folks we were entertaining, perhaps a shot of Grandpa’s favorite rum in each cupful! Two or three of these drinks and either Paul’s jokes got funnier – or we forgot how many times he told them…

Hanukkah – Christmas
Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Like Mom, another family, holiday tradition that I enjoy (which, both, my parents and grandparents inspired in me) is mailing out holiday greeting cards to our friends and family. I buy boxes of various cards and try to write personal, little notes on each of them.

For decades, though, Mom personally MADE our family’s holiday greeting “cards” – which were more like decorative “letters” of greetings and good wishes. Every year they were different and special, with news and highlights about our family’s past year’s events and hopes for the coming year. Often, Mom would put in a special recipe, too.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

SENDING CHRISTMAS CARDS has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…

What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.

…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.

I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…

December, and all the holidays within it, was probably Mom’s favorite time of every year. ‘Tis the season of Faith, Hope and Love! ’Tis the season of sentimentalists, as well. Mom said, in the memory above, ‘I am one of those annoying sentimentalists’… I don’t find it annoying to be, or even to know, a sentimentalist. I think it’s a good thing to be affected and motivated by feelings of tenderness, sadness, happiness or nostalgia!

‘Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly, Winter 94/95.

#CyberMonday

Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, many more people have converted to shopping online this year. Thus, the exponential growth of the post-Thanksgiving, “Cyber Monday” extravaganza has taken on a whole new meaning for 2020; as virtual shopping has become more commonplace throughout this year than ever before!

As the last of the Thanksgiving left-overs disappear and we gear down for the final holiday shopping blast, I can only hope that everyone remembers those things for which they were giving thanks just a few days ago, as they gathered around their turkey-laden tables, with what family and/or friends they could. Please don’t let the annual commercialism of the up-coming holidays interfere with those heart-felt thoughts of gratefulness.

Remember that gratitude is the easiest gift that you can give someone – an appreciative nod and two simple words (“thank you”) can go farther than you think. It’s a gift that keeps giving! Like the ripples of water, spreading out from shore to shore, when a stone is tossed in – it can affect others with whom that person sees, as well.

In honor of #HolidayGreetings, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #AngelWings; from her “Original 200” collection of recipes, but also seen in…  Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 280).

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/

…48 down, 4 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Small Screen Significance

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!

#WorldTelevisionDay

Saturday, Nov. 21st, was the celebration of World Television Day! Did you know that people have been watching television for almost a century?! Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, most people have been sort of forced into seclusion and television has become a whole new kind of lifeline for them!

Many people use television for more than just entertainment, especially these days. Watching television is a popular way to get your local and world news, as well as unwinding from a long workday or temporarily escaping a stressful life! People of ALL ages also use television as a learning tool, from pre-school age through adulthood.

Today, I want to share with you some more memories of Mom’s experiences regarding television! The following is sort of a timeline of television appearances Mom had as the Recipe DetectiveTM, which I’ve gathered from excerpts of Mom’s writings.

Nov. 14, 1974 – Mom’s very first television appearance was on “AM Detroit”, with host, Dennis Wholley; at WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 in Detroit, MI.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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. 38-39)

THE HAPPY COOKER

All I was doing was breaking even when Dennis Wholley, at channel 7 in Detroit, received a copy of my September newsletter of that first year of publishing. He called, though, and asked me in the family to appear on one of his broadcasts of ‘A.M. Detroit’, which we did – and which also opened up a brand-new door to opportunities I did not dream of encountering so quickly.

Of course, then, I did have to tell Paul all about the newsletter, what I had been doing and why I could not confide in him, knowing how skeptical he would have been about it. He practically agreed with me that, yes, he would’ve doubted that it would have had a future for us. Today, however, he’s willing to see it quite differently.

December 31, 1974 – On New Year’s Eve day, just across the river from Detroit, Mom appeared with Bob Hines on his television show on CKLW-TV, Channel 9 in Windsor, Ontario (Canada).

When I sent Dennis Wholley a copy of the newsletter, I also sent a copy to Bob Hynes, who then was host for the afternoon movie with CKLW-TV, channel 9, across the river [from Detroit] in Windsor, Ontario. There was no response immediately from CKLW, but the day after I appeared on Dennis Wholley’s program, Bob Hynes called and asked if we could visit his show on New Year’s Eve day [December 31] (1974) and bring the entire family too.

The movie that day, I remember, was ‘Tammy and the Bachelor’ with Debbie Reynolds. His guests for the intermission was Lynn Redgrave, who was there to plug her new movie, ‘The Happy Hooker’. When I introduced myself to Miss Redgrave in the studio that day, I said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Redgrave. I understand you are the happy hooker. I’m the happy cooker!’

…It was a thrilling experience. Then several weeks later, with the appearance on Bob Hynes show… The appearances on both of these shows brought us so many subscriptions to the newsletter and as the response increased, so did the amount of time that Paul gave me to processing the orders. He could see that I could not do it alone. Every evening, every weekend and even his two-week vacation from his job at the sign company, were given to working on the recipe orders with me.

Dec. 24, 1976 – Christmas Eve, the following year, Mom agreed to an at-home interview with Jack McCarthy of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

‘Jack McCarthy’s TV interview with us on Christmas Eve [1976], however, for channel 7 in Detroit, was one of the highlights of our experiences.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 68)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 298-299)

THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW

It was 1977, and we were considering a move from Pearl Beach [MI] to St. Clair [MI], since our 80-year-old house was already packed, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, with recipe books and newsletter inventory. Just about the time we planned our move, the Phil Donahue Show called and invited us to… appear on their program…

I had to decline. We already had more work than we could handle, and I had found that television appearances were merely food demonstrations that I did not enjoy experiencing. I enjoyed my radio work more, and the number of stations on which I had become a regular participant had grown to include over 100, across the country and in Canada.

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

We were settling down in our new house, in St. Clair, with our office in the basement. [However,] we outgrew that arrangement in a short time and rented a larger office uptown. But the books became more successful than we anticipated, and the newsletter circulation was growing to over 10,000. Soon, I found that we had to put the [office] back into our home.

I couldn’t depend on being in a writing mood between our regular ‘office’… hours of 8 AM to 5 PM. Some of the radio shows that I took part in were on-the-air at midnight, especially my favorite visits with KMOX in St. Louis and WGY in Schenectady.

With my files and reference materials at the office and me, at home, on the telephone with the radio shows, the arrangement was not satisfactory. So, Paul and our 2 sons remodeled our two-car garage, [which was] attached to the kitchen, and we moved the operation back there; where, for the next 4 years, the business ran quite smoothly.

We were receiving about 1,000 letters a day from the radio shows that I took part in and the newspaper stories that I was more-or-less an acting consultant on subjects related to ‘fast food’. In the spring of 1981, our old friend, Carol Haddix, ran a story about our new book of ‘Homemade Groceries’ in the Chicago Tribune, where she had just been assigned the food department.

Winter, 1980-1981 – Mom did another at-home interview – this time, with PM Magazine’s Detroit area TV crew. Mom also appeared on WDIV-TV’s “Noon News” show, on Channel 4 in Detroit, MI

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

July 7, 1981 – Mom’s first appearance on a nationally syndicated show was on “The Phil Donahue Show”. Mom thought it would also be her last (see also: 1993 – below).

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF!

The Donahue Show people called once more and requested our appearance. We had just done a PM Magazine show with Detroit and had declined an invitation to appear in New York on Good Morning America, as well as declining an opportunity to have People Magazine interview us…

I still wonder why in the world I said I would do the Donahue show! On July 6 [1981], Paul and I flew to Chicago, staying at the Hyatt O’Hare, and did the Donahue show, live – for an entire hour – on July 7th, flying back that same afternoon. The next day, 15,000 letters waited for us at the St. Clair post office.

And every day, for 4 months, we picked up THOUSANDS of letters – having received, by Christmas, well over 1 million letters, requesting information on how to acquire our books, which were still available only by mail from our address. We were bogged down with an unexpected response. It was an experience of mixed blessings!

OVERWHELMING RESPONSE

If you’ve 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, became like a factory, with people helping us to process the mail; eventually having to return thousands of orders to customers with our deepest regrets that we could not, in all fairness to them, delay their order. The onslaught of mail had forced us to do this.

We were all working from 7 AM until 1 or 2 AM, the next morning, just to open and read the mail. Our phone bill had been buried in some of that mail and in a month’s time, being something like 23 to 24 days behind in opening the mail, our phone was shut off for non-payment of our bill.

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

Most of the letters requested a sheet of ‘free’ recipes that were included with the order blank [in exchange] for a self-addressed stamped envelope… The offer would have been good for us, if it had only been shown that one time – the day on which we appeared on the show – but for nearly a year afterward, the requests still came, as did the complaints and the threats to report us to postal authorities for not having sent those ‘free’ recipes, tore us apart emotionally and physically!

Some people did not include their self-addressed-stamped envelope. Some envelopes were addressed to themselves, such as Joe Smith, but in care of OUR address instead of THEIR address. It was a confusing mess! Some people wrote threatening letters that they hadn’t received their orders and were turning us over to the postmaster general as frauds!

I laid my head on my desk many a time, in tears of anguish and fatigue. The family was falling apart. We couldn’t print our books fast enough, to fill all the orders! Then the post office, in delivering the thousands of books that we DID mail out, lost some, destroyed some, and delayed and even miss-directed other orders.

For most of the year, following that 1981 appearance, our family faced the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of Dad and Mom’s family-operated, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We were definitely not set up for that massive response! Secret RecipesTM was really just a FAMILY AFFAIR!

Other than a full-time Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend, it was just my parents that took care of the day-to-day operations of their publishing and mail-order business. Every now and then, they’d need me and my siblings for a little extra help. That is, until the summer of 1981! Then my parents needed to bring in a lot of extra help! Even some of my high school friends were asked to temporarily help out with the extra mail that was coming in, as well as going out.

We sent out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets, in exchange for the self-addressed stamped envelopes that people sent in, per the offer that aired on that Donahue episode. We were also sending out thousands of more newsletter issues than before, because of the extra subscription orders that came back from those “free sheet” mailings.

However, as hectic as it was, in the end, it opened a lot of doors for “The Recipe DetectiveTM” that might never have otherwise happened. It brought Mom’s unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of eyes around the world, as that 1981 episode re-ran for about six months or so after its original air-date, on July 7th!

Feb. 1988 – This was Mom’s first appearance on ABC’s “Home” show (Los Angeles, CA) with host, Rob Weller. It was set up by Mom’s long-time friend, Carol Duvall. The show surprised Mom with meeting Wally Amos in person!

May 1990 – Mom did another at-home-interview – this time with CNN News on Memorial Day, plus they came back the next day to tape even more.

Oct. 1990 – This was Mom’s first appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

Mar. 19, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on ABC’s Home show (Los Angeles, CA), with Carol Duvall. For Mom, it did not seem to go as well as the first appearance.

May 8, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

Surprisingly, in 1993, when the “Donahue” people called again, Mom agreed to return for another episode but only under the condition that the show not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event for the Donahue Show, as its most requested transcript of all time, SHATTERING its previous record!

The Donahue Show sent Mom a congratulatory letter and plaque to commemorate the historic event. It’s unfortunate that the show ended it’s 29-year stretch (1967-1996) a few years later. There are recordings of that 1993, hour-long episode on YouTube, in a series of 5 “grainy” segments. I just wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s 1981 appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, email me at: therecipedetective@outlook.com!

1993 – “Ask Mike” was an infomercial developed by Guthie-Renker Corp. (also, produced & directed by Positive Response Television) for Secret RecipesTM and the Recipe DetectiveTM, including food demonstrations and guest appearances by Wally Amos, as “the-man-in-the-street”, conducting blind taste test with random people. Our family received copies of the infomercial when it was finished but it never aired on television; and Mom decided to never do television shows, again, after that experience.

‘I had found that television appearances were merely food demonstrations that I did not enjoy experiencing. I enjoyed my radio work more, and the number of stations on which I had become a regular participant had grown to include over 100 across the country and in Canada.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 298)]

ONE LAST THOUGHT

BE GRATEFUL

Mom believed that life’s best experiences often came out life’s biggest disappointments by, simply, turning “a let-down into a set-up” for something else – something better – something out there, through the opened window. She also believed that every new day was a turning point and that each experience (good and bad, alike) eventually contributed in some way to our growth and happiness. For that Mom was always grateful.

‘…The opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity, or weary from over-work… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you are in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.’– Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)].

In honor of Thanksgiving, this week, here are THREE of Mom’s favorite, Frankenmuth “secret recipes” – for stuffing, fruit bread and cranberry relish; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 15)

#Frankenmuth

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

#WHBY

Next Monday (around 11:08AM CT/12:08PM ET), I’ll be on the Good Neighbor show, once again; reminiscing about Mom, with Kathy Keene, on WHBY in Appleton, WI. You can listen live, or listen 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/

…47 down, 5 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fast Food Fix

#TGIM! Happy Monday to all and happy National Fast Food Day! 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!

#NationalFastFoodDay

Today is National Fast Food Day! What a spectacular day to celebrate! Mom wrote, illustrated and self-published about 40 cookbooks (+/-) and hundreds of newsletter issues, on the subject of imitating fast food and junk food, as well as other restaurant offerings and grocery products at home. How appropriate, now, especially for this year’s Covid-19 restrictions!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

In a time, not unlike what we are in now – with political upheaval, low wages and high costs of living – Mom found a niche that people wanted! “Eating out at home”, she called it – as she investigated how to imitate fast food, junk food, & restaurant dishes at home; as well as, shelf-stable grocery items. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too.

Mom was reportedly included in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first to recreate “fast foods” at home. The people from ‘Guinness’ were particularly interested in Mom’s copycat recipes for “The Colonel’s” secret spices, McDonald’s-style “special sauce” and Arthur Treacher’s-style fish batter. Those are only a few of the hundreds of recipes that are among Mom’s original imitations of “fast food”, starting back in the early 1970s.

Mom’s collection of recipes, from over almost half of a century of developing and collecting, were in the thousands! I’m still working on a master index of all of her recipes and writings for this website. You’ll find copies of those recipes, mentioned above, under the “Blog” tab, in some of my other blog posts; as well as under the “Recipes” tab, which I am continuing to update as well.

#NationalFastFoodDay

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6-7)

IT ALL STARTED WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN

DEAR FRIENDS,

I DO, WITH RECIPES, WHAT RICH LITTLE DOES WITH VOICES! Imitating the ‘Secret Recipes’ of the food industry has been an exciting experience for me. The critics felt that ‘fast foods’ and restaurant dishes were not worth the effort to duplicate at home, when you can just as easily buy the products already prepared!

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

To know what these dishes contained, they’d have to be better [home-chemists] than I; as I have tested over 20,000 recipes with only the finished product as my guide to determine what each contained. ‘Fast foods’ are not ‘junk foods’ unless they’re not properly prepared. Any food that is poorly prepared (and just as badly presented) is junk!

Unfortunately, ‘fast food’ has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are ‘harmful’ to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘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 makes the difference!

In the early ‘70s, I was trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, homemaking and a newspaper column syndicated through Columbia Features, when it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a single cookbook on the market that could help me take the monotony out of mealtime. There was not a single recipe in the newspaper’s food section that did not smack of down-home dullness!

‘Okay,’ they said at the newspaper I worked for, ‘YOU write the column on foods and recipes that YOU think would really excite the readers and make them happy!’ I did, but that didn’t make the Editors happy, because it made their [food industry] advertisers miserable.

When I was told that I’d have to go back to monotonous meatloaf and uninteresting side-dishes that made mealtime a ritual rather than a celebration or ‘pick up my check’, I told them to ‘MAIL it to me!’ I went home to start my own paper!

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

It was probably a dumb thing to do, amid an economic recession with the highest rate of unemployment I had ever experienced, but it was worth the risk. I was a dedicated writer that knew someone had to give homemakers something more than what they were being given in the colored glossy magazines, where a bowl of library paste could even be photographed to look appetizing!

There had to be more to mealtime than Lima beans and macaroni and cheese with Spam and parsley garnishes. There also had to be more to desserts than chocolate cake recipes that came right off the cocoa can. The food industry gave us more appealing products than did the cookbooks we trusted.

THEY LAUGHED! THEY DOUBTED! They even tried to take me to court when some famous food companies insisted that I stop giving away their secrets. They couldn’t believe me when I said that I did NOT know, nor did I want to know, what they put in their so-called secret recipes.

[However,] I did know that there are very few recipes that can’t be duplicated or imitated at home. And we could do them for much less than purchasing the original product. I proved…it can be and should be done!

‘Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.’Charles Caleb Colton

FAMOUS FOODS FROM FAMOUS PLACES have intrigued good cooks for a long time – even before fast foods of the 1950’s were a curiosity. When cookbooks offer us a sampling of good foods, they seldom devote themselves to the dishes of famous restaurants. There is speculation among the critics as to the virtues of re-creating, at home, the foods that you can buy ‘eating out’, such as the fast food fares of the popular franchise restaurants. To each, his own!

#WorldTelevisionDay

Who would want to imitate ‘fast food’ at home? I found that over a million people who saw me demonstrate replicating some famous fast food products on The Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981) DID – and their letters poured in at a rate of over 15,000 a day for months on end!

And while I have investigated the recipes, dishes, and cooking techniques of ‘fine’ dining rooms around the world, I received more requests from people who wanted to know how to make things like McDonald’s Special Sauce or General Foods Shake-N-Bake coating mix or White Castle’s hamburgers than I received for those things like Club 21’s Coq Au Vin.

A cookbook should be as exciting as a good mystery! Most are drably written by well-meaning cooks who might know how to put together a good dish but know nothing about making the reader feel as if they’re right there, in the kitchen with them, peeling, cutting, chopping, stirring, sifting and all the other interesting things one does when preparing food.

It is my intention, in [my] book of the food industry’s ‘Secret Recipes’, to make you feel at home in my kitchen, just as if we’re preparing the dishes together…to later enjoy with those who share our tables with us…

Fast food and junk food recipes weren’t found in any of the cookbooks offered back then – and these were the types of restaurants that struggling, middle class families would frequent when they wanted an affordable meal out. What were they going to do when they couldn’t afford to take their family out for such a treat? Mom knew! Make it at home! And she went to work, investigating all the possibilities there were to offer from this new platform; which grew exponentially!  

#NationalGratitudeMonth

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 306)

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BETTER COOKERY

IF THE GOOD LORD HAD INTENDED FOR ME to be a gourmet cook, I would’ve been born with Teflon hands! Don’t misunderstand – I like to cook! But I do not wish to spend more time in the preparations than is necessary.

NO ONE APPRECIATES good food as much as I do. Don’t ask me how I know – I just do. It does not concern me how a dish has been prepared, if it tastes great and looks good on the table! A gourmet cook would never agree with this philosophy.

However, anyone can become a gourmet cook, that is, if that is what you wish. All you need are numerous ingredients of good quality, a lot of time and patience and twice as much money – not to mention, and unblushing candor for admitting without modesty you are a ‘gourmet’ cook. This admission will intimidate many people just as easily as being faced with the admission that somebody is a terrific dancer, a great singer or an exceptional parent.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

And while it is perfectly acceptable and not the least bit conceited to say one is a ‘gourmet’ cook, there is still a tendency to back off from them because you know how many failures you have experienced and how skilled you would like to be in the kitchen, if only you had the time and the energy – and a generous allowance with which to buy all the right ingredients.

BETTER COOKERY is my answer to the ‘gourmets’, who insist that ‘fast food’ tastes like cardboard – and, sometimes, the various menu selections really do! But there are many family-type restaurants within the division of the ‘fast food’ industry that turn out exceptional meals for very reasonable prices, even giving senior citizens discounts and paying careful attention to how children are serviced.

When you’re a gourmet cook, you naturally have a throbbing desire to enjoy perfection with every dish, whether you’re preparing it, or someone else! To a gourmet cook, compliments go with the territory – failures don’t! They expect EVERY dish to be perfect enough to warrant a complement!

#NationalGratitudeMonth

By the way – who isn’t grateful that they can still get their fast food fix during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions – whether by drive-thru or curbside pick-up or delivery service or making it at home, ourselves?

#WorldTelevisionDay

Saturday, Nov. 21st, is World Television Day! Thus, next Monday, I’ll share with you more memories of Mom’s 20 years of experiences on television – from 1974 through 1993 – including our own local Detroit (and Ontario, Canada) area programs, as well as national shows like ‘CNN News’, the ‘Phil Donahue Show’ and ABC’s ‘Home Show’!

#FunWithFondueMonth

The whole month of November is also celebrating National Fun with Fondue Month! There are three main types of fondue – cheese, oil, and chocolate. With a little imagination, each type has an endless variety of possible options to change it up from the basic fondue sauce. Mom was a master at taking a basic recipe and turning it into an imitation of one of our favorite restaurant offerings, fast foods, junk foods, or grocery store products.

In honor of #FunWithFondueMonth, below are two versions of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating #BarCheeseLikeWinSchuler’s product; as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 275). Mom’s was imitating many of Win Schuler’s products from the very beginning of her Secret RecipesTM legacy. These will be great for the coming holiday celebrations!

*NOTE: The original recipes from the Win Schuler company, for Schuler’s Heritage Cheese Spread & Schuler’s Seasoning Salt, can be found at https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/longtime-restaurant-tells-its–year-story/article_9b6908aa-3553-52ac-8125-0f549ae6b398.html

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

#WHBY

My next interview on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…46 down, 6 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Kindness Begets Kindness

Happy Monday to all and happy World Kindness Week! #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!

#WorldKindnessWeek

#WorldKindnessDay

Today begins World Kindness Week, and this Friday is World Kindness Day, which is celebrated on November 13th every year. In fact, it was November 13, 1998 when the “World Kindness Movement” (involving over 28 nations) launched the first World Kindness Day. That event later evolved into a week-long celebration that came to be known as World Kindness Week, which starts on Monday of the week in which World Kindness Day is celebrated.

Kindness helps others feel valued. Showing even the smallest amount of kindness can go a long way. Like Aesop said: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

Many believe that kindness has the potential to change the whole world. Its contagiousness often sets off a pay-it-forward ripple effect. Subsequently, I want to promote spreading kindness, especially this week.

BE A RIPPLE – from shore to shore!

Being kind can change lives – not only the lives of the receivers, but also those of the givers. Kindness is commonly known to have physical (and mental) health benefits for, both, givers and receivers. It is truly an essential part of society, bridging the divides of race, religion, gender, and other such things – even politics. This is an excellent week to celebrate kindness! With all of the political upheaval going on in our country, we need this more than ever.

Many psychiatrists concur that some healthy benefits of kindness include empowering our own personal energy and self-esteem. It makes us happier and that is good for our hearts, thereby, helping us to also live longer. Science has proven that there are many health benefits to being kind. You can read more about them at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.

I want to pass this on once again, to do for this week’s celebration of World Kindness Week – it’s from an article on StarTribune.com called “Why Being Kind Makes You Healthier”, by Chrystle Fiedler (July 24, 2019). Chrystle writes:

‘Try the seven-day kindness challenge. That means, do at least one act of kindness every day for seven days. Ground rules: Do something different each day; push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once and be sure one of your acts of kindness is anonymous — no one should ever find out who did it.’

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 30)

MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY

Have you ever had your day suddenly turn sunshiny because of a cheerful word? Have you ever wondered if this could be the same world because someone had been unexpectedly kind to you. You can make today [that way] for somebody! It’s only a question of a little imagination, a little time and trouble. Think now, ‘What can I do today, to make someone happy?’

IS A SINGLE HEART REJOICING over what you did or said?

Does the one whose hopes were fading, now with courage, look ahead?

Do you waste the day or lose it? Was it well or sorely spent?

Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?

As you close your eyes in slumber, do you think that God will say,

‘You have earned one more tomorrow, by the work you did today.’?

‘Happy is the person who has a good supply of the milk of human kindness and knows how to keep it from souring.’– Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 17)

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

#MakeKindnessTheNorm

In fact, we receive many other types of rewards from simply being kind to others. One non-profit organization that I mentioned in a February blog post, RandomActsOfKindness.org, promotes making acts of kindness “the norm” in life and in society. The website offers a lot of inspiring ideas and stories about various acts of kindness.

I can’t say it enough – being kind and compassionate should happen every day! After all, we’ve been taught to be good and kind since we were toddlers, starting school, or even younger. It’s a shame that the simple act of being kind to someone is forgotten by so many after they leave Kindergarten. If a young child can understand the simple importance kindness has in society, shouldn’t we all?

According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum, “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children, i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living a balanced life of work, play, and learning.”

The “Golden Rule” is a basic, moral principle for society that encourages all of us to treat others with kindness, as that’s how we would want to be treated, as well! It’s a simple, reasonable code, by which we should all live, daily.

Like I mentioned above, a culture of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on society and, thus, doing something kind inspires others to pay it forward, also. And, at WisdomQuotes.com, there is “440 Kindness Quotes That Will Make You A Better Person” – which is more than enough ideas from which to follow at least one a day for more than a year!

In so many ways, Mom and Dad, both, set good examples for me to follow. I am so grateful that my family heritage, on both sides, were good and kind people. I’m proud to do the same, setting a good example for my children to follow (as well as for people that know me) and that they will continue it, as well; making kindness a “daily norm”.

Like a child’s laugh or a heart-felt smile, acts of kindness can be contagious. However, unlike Covid-19, that’s a good thing. Plant the seeds, every day, and watch kindness grow wild!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 52)

THE PENTAGON RECIPE

[aka: Kindness Begets Kindness]

One of the reasons that I always liked President Ford, was that he seemed more like the rest of us – but with strong convictions on doing the right thing when he had to…

But his first televised press conference, after his inauguration, was the incident that led to my receiving a letter from President Ford and, later on, the recipe from the Pentagon.

When the President opened his press conference on television, he explained there had been a mix-up!. Betty Ford had scheduled her first press conference for the same day – and, naturally, one of them had to postpone theirs.  

So, the president explained that like any married couple, he and his wife sat down to discuss it logically, intelligently and sensibly, as to which one of them would postpone their conference. Betty’s conference, it was decided, would be held the following week; and, in the meantime, the President explained, he would be making his own breakfast, his own lunch, and his own dinner!.  

I fell off my chair, laughing, when he made that announcement; thinking how human, how normal, how great! But my fellow journalists, in their usual humorless vein, didn’t even chuckle. They thwarted questions at him and the joke went unappreciated by probably everyone but me!

So I sent President Ford the copy of the cookbook I had then published [September 1974] with a note of sympathy that, if he were going to be doing his own cooking, perhaps he could use some help. And this was the letter I received from him:

THE WHITE HOUSE

Washington, D.C.

September 12, 1974

PERSONAL

Dear Mrs. Pitzer:

I was pleased to receive an inscribed copy of your cookbook together with your kind note. It is indeed heartening to have the good wishes of so many Michigan friends and the support of fine people like you is a source of strength and encouragement to me.

With warm regards,

Sincerely,

GERALD R. FORD

In the meantime, I had a lovely note from Betty Ford, saying how much she had enjoyed the copies of my newsletter that she had been loaned by one of the congressmen’s wives. I gave her a complimentary subscription until she and President Ford left the White House and asked, in return, if I could impose on her to impose on her husband to use his influence in the Pentagon to acquire a copy of the Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast recipe that was served at Langley AFB, in Virginia, in about 1951.

It was the only thing my husband, Paul, would eat in their mess hall! Within a week or so I received the recipe and a kind note from Betty Ford, wishing me luck in breaking it down from 380 servings to a reasonable portion! It was a challenge! But I did it and Paul still enjoys it!

The giving of the best of ourselves should be done without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude! It is through acts of kindness and giving from our hearts that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of our national election day last week and Veterans’ Day tomorrow, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for…

Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast, like Langley AFB (VA)

As seen in… The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 53)

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

Food For Thought…

#NationalScrappleDay

Today is also National Scrapple Day. According to Wikipedia.com, scrapple is “the first pork food invented in America. For those not familiar with scrapple, it is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal, wheat flour, and spices, such as sage, thyme, savory and black pepper. The mush is then formed into a semi-solid loaf, sliced and pan-fried.” Scrapple is also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name pon haus… Local settlers adapted the dish to make use of locally available ingredients.

#WHBY

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

If you missed my last session with Kathy Keene, you can listen to the recording of it at https://www.whby.com/2020/10/26/laura-pitzer-emerich-5/!

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…45 down, 7 to go!

(Christmas and the year’s end are coming fast!)

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Stories

#TGIM! Happy Monday and happy November to one and all! 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!

I LOVE November for many reasons! First of all – just as Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season, likewise – November is the unofficial start of “the holiday season”, which is most certainly a season of entertaining! Even if we have to keep it small for the continued Covid-19 threats and restrictions.

Growing up, as one of “The Recipe Detective’s” children, I learned a lot from Mom about entertaining, for which I am eternally grateful. Most of our family’s “entertaining” occasions were during the fall and winter holiday seasons – when, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of her hat, Mom could whip up hors d’oeuvres and drinks, as if out of thin air, and on a moment’s notice for unexpected guests that popped in to say hello and visit for a bit.

Whether Mom (and Dad) were entertaining for a few unexpected friends or a scheduled, big family (and friends) event, Mom had a whole “Rolodex” of entertaining ideas in her head from which to draw. That was how Mom grew up, as her mom was the same – and that’s how I was brought up, as well. I’m so grateful for my family!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#FamilyStoriesMonth

All November long, there is a national celebration of Family Stories Month! I have a sign, hanging proudly, near my dining room table that reads: “There’s a room in every home where the smallest events and biggest occasions become the stories of our lives.”

The table is the same one I grew up with in the 1960s and 1970s. It always seemed to be my family’s favorite spot in which to gather and eat and talk and laugh – about all the many events of our lives; making plans for our tomorrows and creating what became, at least for me, great family stories.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s

In our household, every event, even the smallest, involved food! Imagine how great it was when there were planned events and parties such as for Halloween or a birthday, or even Thanksgiving dinner with a dozen relatives and guests on top of our own large brood. I loved to help Mom in the kitchen!

Lists were made and checked and revised and checked again! It was a circus of juggling time and magic acts all rolled into one! All 5 of us kids had to pitch-in and help on big events, especially us girls…sexist or not, that’s just the way it was back then.

Along with, and related to, Family Stories Month, November is also National Life Writing Month!

According to NationalDayCalendar.com: ‘The goal of National Life Writing Month is to encourage people to write about themselves and their life as they have experienced it thus far (it’s sometimes known as Memoir Writing Month.) Now is the time for you to dedicate yourself to writing personal and family stories, memories, traditions, significant events, and anything else you feel is worth adding to your life story.’

#LifeWritingMonth

That’s basically what I’ve been doing, here, EVERY MONDAY for the past couple of years! However, Mom was practically a life-long-writer-of-life, journaling on the significant events, surrounding her and her family on a DAILY basis. In fact, Mom had been journaling about her life and that of her family since she was about 10 years old until shortly before she passed away – over 70 years – greatly influenced and inspired by the Bronte sisters, whose family story she saw in the 1946 film, “Devotion”.

Devotion” as well as many other events and people influenced Mom as a pioneer and a trailblazer in her field. Mom was a writer, satirist, cartoonist, publisher, marketer, and more – still proud to be a homemaker and yet have a “paying” career (from home) too, where she could cleverly combine the two! Regardless of the WLM (Women’s Liberation Movement), Mom set to work, focusing her topics of writing toward the fence-sitting, semi-liberated homemakers like herself.

Mom wrote, published and marketed her own newsletter (as well as her MANY dozens of cookbooks) for more than a quarter of a century – January 1974 through December 2000.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

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. 23)

IN THE BEGINNING

At the time the assignment was handed to me by the newspaper editor for whom I then worked; I knew more about cooking than anyone else on the staff. I was also the only ‘married lady’ on the staff, which in those days of homemaking, housewives and the Donna Reed show, automatically qualified me to handle the food page at the newspaper (when I had been a feature writer and columnist for a long time.)

I accepted the challenge wholeheartedly because I did want to write for the paper. If they had told me to do the obituaries, I would’ve given even that assignment my best effort. The food page was a challenge for me, in view of the fact that there was no test kitchen at the newspaper. I would be testing the recipes in my own kitchen at home. There was a small compensation in my paycheck at the end of the week for the groceries I used, but not enough to fully reimburse me. I accepted what they gave me gratefully, however…

Of course, I look back now in amazement at what I was able to do for a whole week with a 3-pound package of hamburger. How it began as spaghetti sauce, then sloppy Joe mixture and, with the addition of red kidney beans and some other seasonings, chili concurrently… It was fun, too, now that I recall those early days.

MAKING TIME FOR OPPORTUNITY

But some of the thoughts of which I wished to write were never properly developed on paper and published because there just wasn’t enough time. Later, when I could have made the time, there wasn’t a market for [it]; so, here I am [Dec. 1989], 17 years after the first recipe collection [Jan. 1973] was an outstanding success, still looking for the time and opportunity to write the book I have always wanted to write.

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

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. 42 & 44)

THE HOMEMAKERS’ NEWSLETTER

THE NEWSLETTER BEGAN with the mimeograph in our utility room where I cut the stencils, Inc. the drum by hand, applied the stencils and ran the copies off, a few hundred at a time, allowing them to ear-dry on the dining room table in the next room.

The dining room table was a door to which Paul had affixed for table legs. It was seldom clear of our work. I never gave any thought, then either, to the number of hours that we put into producing the newsletter. We simply worked until the work was finished, or we found a good ‘breaking-off’ point. (p. 42)

BELIEVE ME, it is not easy putting out your own newsletter, and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint or floor plan to follow that will promise instant success… (p. 44)

#InspirationalRoleModelsMonth

Moreover, November is also celebrating National Inspirational Role Models Month! Outside of her family, Mom was greatly influenced, throughout her life, by many talented women – comedians and writers like Carol Burnette, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball top the list. Other talented ladies to whom Mom looked up include Erma Bombeck, Carol Duvall, Betsy Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer; just to name a handful.

As mentioned above, Mom had a lot of great influences among her peers, but they weren’t the only role models to whom she looked up and respected. I mention this here because a lot of people, like Mom (and myself), have role models that are from their own immediate families and ancestors too!

Mom & Dad with each of their moms – December 1985

Mom’s first two (and biggest) influences in homemaking were, of course, her own mom; as well as my dad’s mom – since, when they were first married, Mom and Dad lived with Dad’s parents for a short while. Below is a picture of the “inspiration” story that Mom wrote many decades ago and re-printed in one of the last issues of her newsletter.

When it came to entertaining, food was usually the “guest star” in our house. Whether it was an hors d’oeuvre or a main entree, Mom never just served from the pot or “threw” it on a dish. She cared about how it was presented because she cared about everyone with whom she shared her table.

Additionally, Mom never made “just enough”, because in our household, you never knew when unexpected guests would pop in or the dish would be such a hit that we’d all want second helpings! If Mom over-planned and there were left-overs, she was also a sorceress at re-inventing left-overs into a whole new meal.

I’ve always tried to do the same as a mom & wife, myself. Like Mom, it makes me feel good to make others feel good – especially through food. It’s a universal icebreaker and relationship-builder. That’s what Mom taught me since I was young and afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends at school. She gave me extra cookies in my lunch to share with the other kids and assured me that and my smile was all I needed. It worked!

#NationalGratitudeMonth

Again, that’s still not all that November is celebrating. In relation to the others I’ve mentioned so far, it is also National Gratitude Month! For me, Mom is “that source” from which I derive most of my own inspiration. And I am grateful for all that she’s given me, all that she’s taught me and all that she continues to teach me throughout her everlasting writings. They truly are “the stories of our lives”!

EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 113)

GRATITUDE

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, was always my mother’s advice to me when I would try to bend a sympathetic ear, imploring her to comfort me and keep me company in my occasional misery. And, of course, misery does love company!

But counting my blessings was the last thing in the world I felt up to doing when the world seemed to be so hopelessly bleak, and whatever problem I had at the time, seem so devastating to me. Now here I am telling my own children the same thing. Only I tell my own children to count their opportunities, for an opportunity is just a blessing in disguise!

I wish I had known this years ago. What frustrating disappointments I could have avoided, or at the upmost, handled better. I would’ve used the enthusiasm and the optimism that I acquired during the last two years or so to work off those petty resentments that separate us from folks whom we could really care about, if we only get to know them better, and perhaps understand why we’re in conflict.

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Naturally, if we judge everything by what we see on television, we’d know that’s impossible – that people in conflict can’t resolve their differences, or so the reports indicate in those real-life fantasies that exaggerate greed, envy and contempt as if the motivation for these traits were purely justified. I don’t think they ever are!

Preparing your assortment of thoughts and feelings in a compatible mixture, in order to produce successful relationships, is really no different than preparing an assortment of compatible ingredients in a recipe for a dish that promises to be a stunning success on the dinner table.

Whether it’s a recipe for preparing a very good dish, or a very good relationship, the basics are still the same – compatible ingredients, attention to detail, thinking about what you are doing, and making logical adjustments as you go!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of today, November 2nd, being National Deviled Egg Day and National Ohio Day, here are TWO of Mom’s “secret recipes” – one for Deviled Eggs, as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 68); and another for her version of Ohio Buckeyes, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Reprinted – June 2002, p. 72).

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan’s Mosaic Melting Pot

#TGIM! Happy Monday to all and happy National Pumpkin Day! 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!

I’m so thankful that each of my parents’ parents migrated to this beautiful state that we’ve all called home for five generations, now. Similar to the rest of the North American continent, Michigan is a multicultural “melting pot”; accentuating the sum of its various heritages into one whole society of Michiganders.

However, nowadays, Michigan is considered to be more of a “mosaic” society; where different cultures live together, in harmony, as a community; respecting and celebrating each other’s customs, while retaining pride in their own heritages’ identities. Our individual heritages hold distinct, traditional senses of family and belonging. They identify with our history, values, customs, and culture; as they’re handed down from one generation to the next.

Many families usually describe their cultural heritage by the ethnic and social background from which they came. It indicates a “shared bond” of belonging to a community. Mom always described our family’s cultural heritage as we had a ‘Heinz 57’ ancestry, because we were a multicultural family.

Having a sense of community unites us all, because being part of a community makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. Being part of a community gives us opportunities to connect with other people and it makes us feel safer and more secure. It’s important for everyone to have a sense of belonging to a community.

There’s a great [PDF] read about multiculturalism, comparing the old “melting pot” theory to the new “mosaic” concept at MIRealtors.com.

Photo by Gloria Pitzer – Algonac, MI (May 1967)

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. 56)

SMALL-TOWN AMERICA – PEARL BEACH AREA HISTORY

At the time all of this was taking place, we were living on Pointe Tremble Road in Clay Township, better known as Algonac, although we were not actually within the city limits. The Township was one of those areas that people didn’t really have any community pride in it that time. Down the road from us, however, was a six-square-block area called Pearl Beach. This part of the North Channel area, on the outskirts of Algonac, had played a historical part in the colorful development of that part of Clay Township and of Michigan.

In the 1920s, rumrunners and bootleggers ran their booze by small boats from the shores of Pearl Beach to Harsens Island and then across to Canada. Down the road was the Chris-Craft plant where, during World War II, the PT boats were built. Chris Smith, who had founded the company, was quite a prominent member of the community.

The best part about Pearl Beach, however, is that it wasn’t a ‘legitimate city’. It was just an ‘area’, but Paul always promoted it as being the best place in the world to live, because it had no city politicians to contend with, no shopping center, no school system of its own and didn’t even have a police or fire department because they had never really needed one. Clay Township provided services of that nature to Pearl Beach.

One thing it DID have, though, that proved to be to our liking and benefit professionally… It did have a post office! The postmaster [at that time], Newt Aspenliter, even lived right next door to the post office. So, in keeping with the uniqueness of what I wanted to offer, I thought that coming from Pearl Beach would have more appeal to the public than anywhere else would.

1969 – Cheryl (Loli), Mom, me & Debi – Algonac, MI

#ItalianAmericanHeritageMonth

Among other things, the month of October observes celebrations for three of the largest heritages in America’s (and Michigan’s) “melting pot” – that of the Italian, German, & Polish cultures. According to Michigan’s Diverse Ethnic Heritage this state is also home to large communities of all three of these heritages, plus many others! The auto industry in Michigan attracted a variety of immigrants, coming to live the “American dream”.

‘The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.’ Investopedia.com

According to the 1990 U.S. Census and HardCoreItalians.blog, Detroit was home to the 7th largest population of Italian-Americans in the United States. As I mentioned earlier this month, Italian-American cuisine was always one of Mom’s favorite food areas to investigate – places like Olive Garden and Pizza Hut (for example) gave her many dishes from which to taste, test, and imitate.

Earlier this month, I also wrote about Michigan’s city of Frankenmuth, having the largest German-Heritage community in the state. It was always a favorite road trip of Mom and Dad’s, as well as for me and my husband, still.

#GermanAmericanHeritageMonth

#PolishAmericanHeritageMonth

Among other things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) is that it’s National Polish-American Heritage Month! This is another fabulous source of some really great food like bagels, paczki (filled donuts that have their own special day), rosol (chicken broth), golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls), pierogi (dumplings), bigos (hunter’s stew), potatoes and kielbasa (Polish sausage).

FYI: the Polish word ‘pierogi’ is already in plural form (for ‘pierog’).

Did you know that President Regan passed Resolution 577 in 1984, formally naming August as National Polish-American Heritage Month? A couple of years later, the commemorative month was changed to October so schools could participate in the celebratory events during the school year. October was also significant in the change, as it was the same month in which the first Polish settlers came to Jamestown, VA (in 1608).

According to Wikipedia.com, Polish-Americans are the second-largest Central European immigrant group in the U.S., following the Germans. Additionally, per the 2000 U.S. Census, Michigan was then home to the third largest Polish population in the States. New York was first and Illinois was the second largest.

However, per capita, Michigan actually had the largest Polish population; while its neighboring state, Wisconsin, had the second largest Polish population, per capita. The majority of Michigan’s Polish-American community is concentrated in Metro-Detroit’s tri-county area – namely Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. The city of Troy (in Oakland County) became the epicenter of the Polish population, in Michigan, after their migration from the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck.

The Polish community is the second largest ethnic group in Michigan and have been a significant part of the history of Detroit and the state of Michigan. The Detroit area’s large Polish community was, for many years, concentrated in Poletown and Hamtramck, two suburbs of Detroit. These Polish communities became vital centers of immigrant social life, with small businesses and professional organizations.

Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers. It became a predominantly Polish industrial town in 1914, when the Dodge Brothers automotive plant first opened. The Dodge plant offered significant employment opportunities for the surrounding community. By the 1970s, Hamtramck had grown to a 90% Polish-American population. The following recipe is from Mom’s “Original 200” collection – an imitation of Pineapple Bars like she used to get at one of the great Hamtramck bakeries.

#NationalCookbookMonth

NOTE: Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

#PolishCuisine

Paczki Day (pronounced ‘poonch-kee’) – also known as Fat Tuesday – is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. [By the way, like pierogi, paczki is already in its plural form.] The traditional reason for making paczki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by the household’s Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.

The Polish bakeries in Detroit’s tri-county area (and further, yet) are swarmed every year, as Michiganders seek out their annual dose of the high-calorie-and-fat paczki (donuts) in commemoration of this day, whether they’re Polish or not – or celebrate Lent or not.

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 – A QUESTION of VALUES

Toss a stone into the midst of a still, glassy pond. See the ripples begin to spiral around until the entire surface of the pond is but a series of rings, reaching toward every inch of the edge – without beginning, without end. Constructive behavior works the same way.

It touches individuals with inspired options, which in turn touches the community and even the world. Every little bit of good counts. It breaks down barriers. Like the rippling effect of the pond, one good intention carried out can increase in dimension to eventually encompass the broadest surface.

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!

IN CLOSING…

Today is National Pumpkin Day – in honor of that, here are two more of Mom’s “secret” recipes for Pumpkin Bread and Vanilla Glaze! As seen in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition; p. 158).

#NationalPumpkinDay

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

Today is my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on her “Good Neighbor” show at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and a few of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/ so you can listen to it at your leisure!

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…43 down, 9 to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Significance Of The Pretzel

Happy Monday, everyone, 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!

#NationalPretzelMonth

Still happening during this month of October is National Pretzel Month… Not to be confused with April’s National SOFT Pretzel Month, as October encompasses ALL pretzel styles and types.

Pretzels come in a multitude of ways – soft, hard, knotted, twisted, and straight, just to name some of the most common styles. For best flavor, soft pretzels should be eaten shortly after they’re made, while hard-baked pretzels have a long shelf-life.

Additionally, pretzel dough, itself, has captured the imagination of bakers, over the centuries; as it can be found in many different flavors, shapes and other forms – like bread, rolls and buns. Pretzels have had a long history and large influence on the American food industry. Supposedly, the pretzel is the oldest known snack food in America.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 264)

DRINKS AND SNACKS have given an unlikely edge to a suffering food industry that was never anticipated as being possibly successful. Potato chips, pretzels, dips and appetizers have been more than well-received by a public that the industry was once certain had tried everything they could have been offered and will probably not buy another new idea! How wrong!

Whenever a new snack item or beverage has been introduced to the public, it has been received with enthusiasm, until proven unworthy of patronage, because we have become an on-the-run generation of picky eaters.

Some just don’t want to get involved any longer with a big meal experience. Some don’t want to take the time to make the foods and then, serve them and, finally, clean up afterward. We look for snacks and beverages to serve our guests and to enjoy individually in our most private and leisurely moments.

FROM THE OFFERINGS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY have come some relatively good ideas, such as the baked potato chip product. Pretzels have gone from the 200-year-old tradition of hard and dry-baked to a soft, bread-like product, liberally sprinkled in salt and topped with prepared mustard and, as a fast food enterprise, has been one of the leading money-makers in the industry.

Historically, food has usually been a comfort source for most people, especially in a common response to stress and anxiety. Science has shown, time and again, that emotions and food are linked together. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” will often make you feel better, at least temporarily.

Pretzels are considered to be “comfort foods”, as these types of foods provide a nostalgic or sentimental value but have very little nutritional value, if any at all.

According to an article at Delish.com, pretzels “had inherent religious associations [regarding the legend that it was first invented by Italian Monks in 610 A.D.], but they also came to be associated with Lent because they didn’t use eggs or dairy products, which were traditionally prohibited during the period of fasting and restriction.”

#GermanAmericanHeritageMonth

When German immigrants began settling in Pennsylvania, around 1710, they brought their pretzels and recipes with them. German home-bakers who lacked eggs or lard could still bake this relatively filling, concentrated “bread” with only three easy ingredients – flour, water, and salt.

According to an article I read at History.com, on the pretzel’s history, here, in America: “In 1861, Julius Sturgis founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.” Continuing on, the article also said: “Sturgis also claimed credit for developing the first hard pretzels – or at least, for being the first to intentionally bake hard pretzels (rather than leave the soft ones in the oven too long by accident).”

There is another great article, also explaining some of the history and significance of the pretzel, by Carole Christman Koch at BerksMontNews.com. She claims, in her article, that “Pennsylvania is the center of pretzel production in the U.S., making 80 percent of the nation’s supply.”

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Michigan has a quite large population of German-Americans in Frankenmuth, where the German heritage emanates from all of the breweries, restaurants, bakeries, fudge/candy shops, cheese houses, and even the little souvenir stores. Frankenmuth’s Bavarian style pretzels are a classic Octoberfest snack, which are baked fresh, daily!

Mom was always a big fan of pretzels (in any form or fashion), as well as recipes with only a few ingredients! She was a firm believer that “three, four and five ingredient recipes that are totally reliable, are sufficient to satisfy even the most reluctant cook” – as she wrote in many of her editorials on “short-cut cookery”.

Additionally, Mom wrote that the short recipes, with which she enjoyed working, while quite basic, had endless options “for expanding each into fancier dishes or…different flavorings than [for which] the original [recipe] calls.” Below is Mom’s own 4-ingredient recipe for Soft Pretzels, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 274).

#NationalCookbookMonth

Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!

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

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in, the introduction of…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p. 2-3)

THE RELUCTANT COOK

DEAR FRIEND, the cook who meets every culinary challenge with confidence is one to be admired. They set an example to follow – impossible as that may be! For those of us who react to most recipes with reluctance, however, cooking [and baking] is an experience we muddle through, without mastering any of the myriad facets of fancy fare!

We want reliable recipes – rather than cookbook complications! We want successful results, without ridiculous rules! We want simple procedures, without pitfalls, when we put our prescriptions into practice!…

The problem with most recipes is the awesome number of ingredients required. You [may] wonder, looking at a bowl of batter, ‘Did [I] put in four cups of flour – or did the phone ring just then and it was only three?’ Did you remember the salt and, if you didn’t, was it that important that you left it out – because somebody interrupted you at that point and your last memory of adding an ingredient was erased by the interruption!

Of course, the confident cook never worries about things like that. They forge ahead brilliantly, creating cuisine that would make you and I faint at the mere thought of trying it. And even when you and I DO finally achieve a success, we’re not sure it’s supposed to turn out that way – that easily – because our record of near-misses, far out-weigh our scores of success!

THE RELUCTANT COOK isn’t looking for absolute perfection! We want only to create the illusion that we can cope with culinary accomplishments, riding the surfboard of certainty over the sea of success!

A RECIPE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE COOK WHO PREPARES IT!

No matter how wonderful a recipe is rated to be, no two people are going to have identical results with the same formula. This is enough to throw any reluctant cook into a tither – anticipating failure before you even pick up a spatula or get out the mixing bowls!

However, this fact should not come as a surprise to the experienced cook. Even experience in the kitchen has not been enough to relieve you of ALL reluctance! …No two dishes ever come out exactly alike… This is the option each cook has to take with every recipe. You always put a little more into the making of a dish than the recipe requires.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Joy Of Not Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 109)

LIKE AN EXPERT

SOME COOKS WHO FIND JOY IN N-O-T COOKING – Anymore Than You Have To, don’t mind at all baking their own bread, biscuits, rolls, muffins and cakes. It’s a strange thing that baking is a kind of therapy for the same cooks who don’t like to pamper a roux, stir a sauce nor baste a roast.

Bread-baking gives one a sense of real accomplishment in the kitchen, especially when you can’t do other things well in the realm of creative cuisine. It’s hard to muff a muffin batter when you don’t even have to get out your electric mixer to put it together.

It’s gratifying to dig your knuckles into a pillow of yeast dough and work off your frustrations by kneading the dough into elasticity, suitable for yielding one heck-of-a good loaf of bread.

Among other food-related things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) are the following 10 “foodie” occasions, from one of my favorite sources – NationalDayCalendar.com:

National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, National Pork Month, National Sausage Month – as well as National Polish-American Heritage Month (another fabulous source of some really great “comfort foods” that I’ll write about next week)!

#PolishAmericanHeritageMonth

#PolishCuisine

‘I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war’s fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy and ever-increasing enjoyment.’– M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf (1942).

IN CLOSING…

#BrandiedFruitDay

In honor of tomorrow, being National Brandied Fruit Day, here is Mom’s “secret” recipe for Brandied Fruit… As seen in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes Al’ A Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 9).

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

#PumpkinCheesecakeDay

Since Wednesday is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, here is a special repeat of Mom’s Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie! Enjoy!

Next Monday, will be my regular monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show; with host, Kathy Keene, at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and one or two of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/ so you can listen to it at your leisure!

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…42 down, 10 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252