[*The ingredients of this fudge are similar to those of traditional penuche.]
1 cup butter
2 ounces baking chocolate
1 cup brown sugar, well-packed
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream
1/4 cup honey
Dash of salt
1 tsp. vinegar
1 tsp. vanilla
In an accommodating saucepan, melt butter and chocolate.
Stir in the next 6 ingredients, as listed, and bring just to a boil. Immediately, reduce heat, stirring and cooking at just below boiling point for 10 minutes. Then, cook without stirring, on simmer, for 2 more minutes or until it’s reached the soft ball stage (when a little fudge, from tip of spoon, dropped into cup of cold water, forms a soft ball.)
Remove from heat, stirring in vinegar and vanilla.
Let it cool for 1 hour, then, beat until it can be kneaded to a smooth consistency.
Shape into rolls, about 2 inches in diameter (or flatten into 2×2-inch “logs”. Wrap in wax paper and chill 12 hours before slicing.
As always, happy Monday to everybody! Today is also National Penuche Fudge Day – so, happy Penuche Fudge Day and, if you can, enjoy a luscious piece somewhere; then, hashtag it on social media!
According to Merriam-Webster.com, penucheis a fudge usually made of brown sugar, butter, cream or milk, and nuts. There’s also a great sounding recipe for a traditional penuche on a 2014 blog entry from Jennifer Buggica, “The Foodie Patootie”, at https://thefoodiepatootie.com/national-penuche-fudge-day/. I wish I could eat it – but, unfortunately it’s too sweet for my hypoglycemic system. I’ll have to work on a sugar-free, low-carb version, even if it won’t be a traditional penuche.
In the summer of 1976, Mom self-published a little cookbook, called The American Cookery Cookbook, of which the Henry Ford Museum bought some copies to put in its bi-centennial collection. That was the only cookbook, of Mom’s, in which I could find a copy of a traditional-style penuche recipe. Mom called her recipe ‘San Diego Penuche’.
However, Mom’s 1997 recipe for fudge like Disney World’s (see that recipe near the end of this blog) is very similar to a traditional penuche. About a month ago, I had shared with you a different recipe version, from Mom, for fudge like Disney World’s.
I can’t have fudge anymore because of my low-carb lifestyle AND hypoglycemia. I miss my carbs so much! Some sugar-free and low-carb versions of anything may still taste okay, but they’re just not the same, nor really as good! However, I can still reminisce about the real tastes as I watch the fudge-makers perform their magic shows through the big picture windows of all the little fudge shops in all the tourist areas I visit!
It’s still fun to watch them, live, transforming their thick, molten liquid creations – like the river flowing through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – by pouring the confections out of big vats and onto large, cold, marble slabs. Then, the fudge-makers fold the gooey mixture over and over again, cooling it and thickening it through the process, until they’ve formed long loaves of thick, sweet goodness to be sliced like bread. It doesn’t cost me any carbs to stand there and smell the sweet, sugary aromas – and reminisce about the flavors I remember from my childhood!
I have so many wonderful, childhood memories of family, summertime trips to popular tourist spots like Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), Disneyland (Los Angeles, CA), Toronto and Niagara Falls (both, in Ontario, Canada). In addition, are our own beautiful “up north” Michigan destinations like Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Everywhere we visited, there was usually a fudge shop at which to stop and see a fudge-making performance, as well as to buy some of their tasty treats.
Going through Mom’s old photo albums brings up so many more memories of our family, summertime vacations. Mom, almost always, was the one to photograph all those special moments; although, Dad would take a picture every now and then, so Mom could be in some shots as well. Back then, there weren’t “selfies” or digital cameras with the capabilities of capturing thousands of pictures!
Years ago, every shot needed to count because your roll of film was limited to a certain number of photos, and you didn’t know if any of them would come out right until you had the filmprinted – there was no instant viewing and deleting, like we can do now. Photo technology has come such a long, long way over the last 50 years.
I remember when Polaroid cameras and disposable cameras were the new, cutting-edge technology! Now your cell phone is an all-in-one-personal-assistant with a built-in camera to capture every “Kodak moment” as it happens! AND, not only that, but, now, you can also skip the whole printing process and still share your photos through the internet via emails and social media sites or, more privately, through text messages!
I would have to say, the Mackinac Island fudge shops are probably my favorite ones of all! And the summer vacations we spent on Mackinac Island were always the most memorable! Except for the smell of horse dung, baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many heavenly scents from the sugary confections being made in the fudge and candy shops to the wonderful aromas seeping from the island’s restaurants and bakeries to the heavenly scents surrounding all the beautiful gardens that are everywhere. Mackinac is a very nostalgic place – no cars are allowed on the island, so getting around it is usually done by foot, bicycle or horse in some manner.
Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; it was always a magical trip back in time… especially the summer when the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience! [NOTE: long before that, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel. In 1947, Ethel Merman swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of This Time for Keeps. Thus, the pool was named after her.]
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
SOMEWHERE IN TIME – MACKINAC ISLAND [MI]
Our reservations were made in February, that year, to spend the Fourth of July week at The Grand Hotel on historic Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. We had heard, when we arrived, that Universal Pictures was filming a movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and that our 2-day stay at the hotel might be disrupted from the usual routine we were used to when we stayed there. The place was booked, and we were lucky to have those 2 days because other customers had canceled. The scene when we arrived was one of spectators and glamorous Hollywood activity in the lobby and on the grounds.
Paul was just teeing off at the green next to the golf pro shop, the next morning, when we heard a sympathetic moan from the beautiful leading man, himself, as he locked up his bike and headed across the street to the filming activity. I know I should have run after Christopher Reeve for his autograph, but I was in shock!
Later, in the hotel lobby, we watched the scene when Christopher Reeve checks into The Grand and, later, when he and Jane Seymour take a buggy ride away from the entrance of the hotel with Christopher Plummer looking on. Take the time to enjoy seeing the movie they were filming – we’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait to see it again! It’s for everyone who has ever been in love – or who has ever visited lovely Mackinac Island, as we do every summer.
In one scene of the movie you’ll notice, on the main street of the village, a sign over a shop that reads ‘Murdick’s Fudge’, a recipe which I have coveted for years. Finally, after dozens of tests, I came up with the secret for purporting this product at home… It whips up in 5 minutes and, a week later, it’s still smooth and creamy. – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235)]
After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, they bought a camper and traveled even more – being that it was much more affordable with only the two of them! Joining the Good Sam club was always one of their most favorite experiences. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters. Mom also wrote about her and Dad’s trips in most of her summer newsletter issues, especially about all the great new friendships they made everywhere they went. They always looked forward to the Good Sam “Jamborees”!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING
Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
MY “DIET” UPDATE:
On the first day of spring, I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet). Thus far, it has been 124 days of no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff… and, boy, do I ever miss the good stuff! It feels just like when I quit smoking cigarettes over 13 years ago. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – at least for a while! I must admit, I’m a carbohydrate addict!
In fact, I never realized how much I ate (and how little my husband ate) until I started this low-carb lifestyle/diet. I HATE waste and throwing out food! But, after I started my new lifestyle, I realized that I was the only one who had been eating up the left-overs, so food wouldn’t go to waste. It’s been difficult, learning to cook two, small, single meals at a time. I’ve been so used to cooking large portions for so long.
After starting this new lifestyle out at a daily carbohydrate limit of 20 grams, for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit up to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far. It seems to work for me. But, whenever I don’t keep track of my carb-intake, I go over my limit. I can feel its effects the next day, and it doesn’t feel good (such as an upset stomach and the shakes from a drop in my blood sugar level); plus, I re-gain a pound or two.
I mentioned in my last “Diet Update” that I had recently started using almond flour to make some Keto recipes. I still LOVE the 90-Second Microwave English Muffin! I like to turn my “slices” into a Monte Cristo sandwich for breakfast. It’s a little piece of heaven for about 9-grams of carbs!
I’ve also been experimenting with some of my favorite cookies and dessert recipes, using sugar-free and low-carb ingredient substitutions. I have developed a no-bake cookie concoction that can be panned up and cubed like fudge. I also like to use a no-flour, 3-ingredient, peanut butter cookie recipe that’s been around for years, substituting my own low-carb ingredients!
As of today, I’ve lost about 37 pounds! However, my “exercise regimen” is STILL not steady, to say the least! Nevertheless, I need to change that because I continue to not spend near enough time weeding my gardens or going for brisk walks. Thus, I won’t stop trying to make those things part of my already irregular, daily routine. My goal is to lose another 8-13 pounds, but I don’t have a deadline set. I’ll get there when I get there, but I WILL get there!
Last month, I shared a version of Mom’s Disney World-Style Fudge from one of her free recipe and information sheets… Below is a different version of that recipe, as seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 9) – and its ingredients are more similar to those of a traditional penuche. Again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
Happy Monday to everyone! I hope all the dads out there had an awesome, memory-making Father’s Day with their kids yesterday!
Yesterday was a bitter sweet day for me, as it was my parents’ anniversary, as well as Father’s Day. I’m so happy that they’re together again and yet I miss them, both, so much! Since my dad passed away in the fall of 2014, Father’s Day has become one of those days when I miss my dad more immensely than others! Like any daughter might feel, he was and will always be my hero! Thus, being that yesterday was Father’s Day, I want to share with you an old, satirical editorial that Mom wrote about Dad called “Father’s Day (or) the King and I!” Below is a photocopy of the article, which I found in Mom’s June 1974 newsletter issue.
There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football. However, Mom was always perplexed to come up with an easy answer for people, asking her advice on how to write and publish a cookbook or to start their own newsletter. My mom often wanted to create an easy, step-by-step plan to give people. However, there was no one-size-fits-all answer; not even based solely on what was Mom’s own experiences, hard work and involvement.
Other than 3 of the most commonly known, basic steps – (1) write about what you know best, (2) know who your target audience is and, (3) follow through or sell it to them – Mom could never come up with a more detailed outline that could cover all the multitudes of possibilities involved in writing a newsletter or book. Mom believed that only the trials and tribulations of experience could be the best guides by which to set and accomplish one’s goals.
‘There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line. It’s a tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don’t think conceptually while I work on a first draft — I just write. To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar…But there’s one thing I’m sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’
Instead of composing a “How To…” guide for writing and publishing, Mom wrote “our family story” in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989); in hopes that it might help inspire someone else. Here is a patch-work quilt of excerpts from that book – excerpts which Mom wrote on the subject of creating your own newsletter or book…
FROM MY MOM’S MEMORIES…
THE EXPERIENCES WE’VE ENCOUNTERED in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio broadcasting and newspaper exposure and our own publishing efforts. If someone can benefit from our experiences, all the better. Mostly, though, this is just a story of our family, our five children…and how we made a dent in the hard shell of the publishing industry. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)
At least once a week…I am asked how I got into this business, how it all started and how somebody else can write their own book [or newsletter] and get it published. If there were a formula for our kind of success…I would be happy to share the information…
The experiences that comprise the success and longevity of our Secret RecipesTM include some very wonderful people who have gone out of their way to make it easy for us to present our work to the public…[those were some to whom I’ve started addressing “thank you” notes in my last couple of blogs…among others yet to come.]
Over the years, it has been, not a job, but a joy to continue investigating the secrets of the food industry, combining this information and recipes with the logic of the heart, the food for thought as well as food for the table. It continues to arouse interest and delight in, both, our readers and radio listeners all over the country, as well as the world! – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 14-15)
If someone were to copy our so-called “success”, I could give them no blueprint for that condition. Each one of the little steps that we had to take to develop the kitchen table activity into a professional business operation, are like the grains of sand that the oyster requires to form a pearl. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 25)
With…writing and marketing, it’s all based on individuality, on experience being the best teacher and on having a responsive audience…it also begins with a sale. You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that – you either know or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light!
You have to let your light shine – and part of the preparation of communicating with your readers is to know how to talk to them, what they need from your [books or] newsletters that will enrich them or make their lives better. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 43-44)
Believe me, it’s not easy, putting out your own [book or] newsletter; and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint…to follow that will promise instant success. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 48)
IN THE BEGINNING…
In 1973, Mom wrote and self-published her first cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook. It was a collection of recipes that she had developed, tested and originally published in Cookbook Corner, a recipe column she wrote and syndicated to newspapers for over 5 years prior. Mom laughingly called her collection the “reluctant-cook-budget-tested” recipes.
I’d like to place a big “THANK YOU” note, here, to Bob Talbert(RIP) of the Detroit Free Press fame, along with our condolences to his surviving family and friends. Mom often talked about his helpful boosts in getting her name out to his readers with the wonderful plugs he gave her products. Bob Talbert and Mom had a delightful friendship over the years, and she was quite saddened by his passing in 1999. Bob mentioned Mom’s first cookbook in one of his 1973 columns, where he referred to it as being great “…for a buck-and-a-half-and-a-belly-laugh” per page!
At that point, as Mom’s collection of recipes grew – recipes which she developed and tested initially from requests made by her readers and, then, from the radio listeners of Bob Allison’s Ask Your Neighbor show that she was beginning to know – she decided, rather than writing another cookbook, she’d start writing a monthly newsletter. Mom called it Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter (1974) and referred to it as a “compendium of fact and fancies…the almost-magazine – not quite a newspaper – that can build into a book.” Mom also knew exactly who her target audience was and instinctively saw how to sell it to them!
When Mom made mention of her newsletter during one of her frequent call-ins to Bob’s radio show to answer a listener’s recipe question, he was immediately enthralled to know more about it and how his listeners could get it.
The first few cornerstones, in the building of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM empire, were her fellow journalists, as well as radio talk show producers and their hosts. My mom mailed out advertising fliers that she designed and complimentary copies of her work to every one of whom she could think to promote her talents. The unique niche Mom carved out in the food industry in the mid- to late-1970s, when she dared to embrace the fast food and junk food fare that all the nutritionists were warning the public against consuming, grabbed the public’s attention by storm!
Mom constantly found innovative ways to sell her creations through a lot of business cards (placed everywhere and anywhere allowed) and promotional mailings for radio talk show programs, the wire service, newspapers, magazines and even television that catered to her same focus group (along with a follow-up note or phone call). Mom’s newsletter and her ensuing collection of self-published cookbooks seized the interest of people, all over the country and internationally, as there wasn’t anything else on the market like them!
The History of ‘Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes NewsletterTM’ can be found at http://therecipedetective.com/2019/01/21/the-history-of-gloria-pitzers-secret-recipes-newsletter/. Long story, short version… Originally, Mom’s newsletter was a small (5.5” x 8.5”), 3-ring binder-style publication that could be collected, volume by volume, to form a book. Mom called the “almost-book, almost-magazine” Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter. It boasted 12 back-to-back pages per issue, laid out in the style of a patchwork-quilt and stuffed full of food for the soul, food for thought and food for the table. In addition, there were kitchen, cooking and household tips; plus, humorous quips and satirical cartoons! Furthermore, the early issues included a “Reader’s Swap Shop” and a “gardening tips” page.
‘Every issue is like getting together for coffee with friends!’SM – Gloria Pitzer
Over the decades, the newsletter evolved with the changing times – the subject matter never ran low of ideas to cover, as more and more chain restaurants surfaced with specialty dishes that people wanted to know how to imitate at home, and new “convenient” grocery products were constantly being developed and introduced by various food companies. Mom added restaurant reviews and her radio show schedule to the newsletter issues, eventually eliminating the “Reader’s Swap Shop” and “gardening tips” page.
Along with the changing eras, the name of Mom’s newsletter changed slightly a few different times, as well as the size, number of pages and amount of issues printed per year. Plus, of course, the cost grew with inflation too. To put it in perspective, in 1974, according to DollarTimes.com, the United States minimum wage was $2.00 per hour; which is an equivalent to $10.88 per hour in today’s, 2019, economy.
At times, when Mom was over-busy, authoring new cookbooks, she opted to place the newsletter into retirement for a few short periods of time. But, because of her love for the writing and consistent contact with her audience, Mom would always come back to the periodical, reincarnating it in a new format – much like the “retirement saga” of football-fame’s Brett Favre. Wow! I think I just channeled my dad there!
Among Mom’s things that I have now, I found an original layout for her 1999, 25th anniversary edition of the 1974 newsletter collection, in a 60-page, large (8½ x 11-inch) format book filled with over 250 recipes and her usual added flair that had always set Mom’s books apart from the rest. I’d love to hear from anyone who still has old copies of Mom’s newsletters or any of her books! Please write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and include your memories of my mom!
IN CLOSING… since yesterday was also National Fudge Day, below is a photocopy of Mom’s imitation for fudge like Disneyland’s and Disneyworld’s famous product, which she shared on one of her “free recipe samples and ordering information” sheets in 1996 or 1997 (I haven’t found a copy of it in any of Mom’s books that I have, but it may have originally appeared in one of her newsletter issues that I don’t have)…