Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Quarantine Effect

Happy Monday to all! Whether you’re quarantined, staying home and staying safe, or working the “front-line”, I urge you to make the most of your Monday! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year to share memories of my mom with all of you – #TGIM!

Staying fit and staying healthy, while staying home and staying safe, has become a recent focus for many who are beginning to see, what I’m calling, #TheQuarantineEffect; which is a weight-gaining side effect from the stay-at-home orders being followed nationwide – even worldwide. That’s why the hashtag, #Quarantine15, is on the rise.

The “Quarantine 15” effect began trending around mid-March, as people started “Tweeting” stories about their weight gain, during all of the “stay home, stay safe” orders; from their mindless, couch-potato-binging to anxiety and stress related munching. The weight gain was commonly compared to the “Freshman 15”; which is the average weight students usually gain during their first year at college and away from home. It’s generally due to their on-the-go-eating routines of ready-to-eat fast food and junk food products.

Over-eating is a common response to stress and anxiety! Historically, food has usually been a comfort source for most people, especially when they experience fear and worry. Besides hoarding toilet paper and cleaning products, many Americans have been stock piling snacks and junk food to enjoy while stuck at home. However, that allotment, which would ordinarily last a household a month, is now disappearing within a week or two!

There are so many articles and videos to be found on the internet about healthy eating and cooking, wise food choices and home exercise routines, from which we can derive all kinds of inspiration. While our lives have taken a sudden detour and changed our sense of normalcy, we must all remember that it’s only temporary. Some of us may see these self-quarantine orders go on for months, or even into next year, but it’s still only temporary.

https://www.marcandangel.com/2015/02/25/7-ways-to-stay-strong-when-everything-goes-wrong/

While looking for inspiration for myself, recently, I found “How to not Gain Weight During the Coronavirus Lockdown”, written by Doree Lewak (NYPost.com; March 17, 2020), which gives some great advice on how to “stop the Open Mouth, Insert Food stress-snacking cycle”! I wish I had read it a month and 10 pounds ago. However, as the old adage goes, “better late than never!”

‘Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Half effort does not produce half results. It produces no results! Work, continuous work and hard work, is the only way to accomplish results that last.’ – Hamilton Holt

MY “DIET” UPDATE

Mom and I have, both, struggled with “yo-yo weight” for most of our lives. One diet after another left us wondering why they seemed to work for other people, but not for us! Unfortunately, our mindsets (as with so many others) were to only diet until we got to our desired goals. There was never really any long-term plan for after that, other than to buy new clothes – or get out the “old size” clothes from previous diets, of which we never entirely disposed.

Once at our goal, we’d slowly forget about the discipline that got us there and start allowing ourselves to slack a little bit. One food “reward” here, another there and before we knew it, we’d fall back into our old habits; regaining what we had lost and then some, as we further sabotaged ourselves with our own excuses for failure.

Nevertheless, we did find a diet that helped us – when we worked it – Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution by Robert C. Atkins, M.D. (Bantam Books; Oct. 1981). We discovered, from Dr. Atkins’ book, that we have a carbohydrate intolerance. Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution is not a quick “weigh-fix” solution. It’s actually a low-carb lifestyle commitment. Thus, it only works if you work it, and only for as long as you work it! Truth be told, though, neither of us made the lifetime commitment to it previously.

However, about 13 months ago, on the first day of Spring 2019, I embraced the low-carb lifestyle with commitment; eventually, limiting my carb-intake to 25 grams a day, max. My goal was to lose 50 pounds AND maintain it! Being hypoglycemic, borderline diabetic and 55 pounds overweight, at the time, I felt 20 years older than I should have felt. That’s why I finally decided to make the lifestyle change commitment, much like I did when I quit smoking cigarettes almost 14 years ago.

I realized that I was only cheating myself whenever I made bad choices on what I ate and/or how much I ate for meals and snacks. After all, I was the one who was freely buying, preparing and consuming the food. There was no one to blame but myself. So, I came to terms with the release of my carb-addiction, in much the same way as I released tobacco from my lifestyle – based on the book, The Easy Way To Stop Smoking, by Allen Carr (Sterling Publishing Company, NY, NY; Sept. 2004).

I had to mentally accept that this was going to be a permanent change for me – a lifestyle – not just until I reached my weight loss goal. I did reach my weight-loss goal and I know, if I ever go back to my old lifestyle, I will also go back to my old weight. So, I try to continue to make wise choices in what I consume. However, with all the fall-out from the pandemic, stress is up, and I stopped watching HOW MUCH I ate. While I was still making low-carb choices, every little bit added up!  “Everything in moderation” is the best rule by which to live, but it’s easier said than done these days.

I made it through the holidays and winter without the weight gain I would usually procure. But, recently, with the stress and anxiety over the Covid-19 pandemic, I stopped counting my carbs and gained back 10 pounds, thus far, in the past month. The wildfire-like spread of this virus, around the world, and the resulting quarantines, health threats, business closures, job losses, and so much more is a lot for anybody to handle.

My mom was the first to develop homemade, make-alike versions of fast food and junk food products. The great thing about Mom’s recipes, at least with most of them, is that they can be tailored to many different diet restrictions. I’ve been putting my own low-carb adjustments on Mom’s (and others’) recipes for the past year, with some success; sharing a few of them within my blog posts.

‘You’ll be amazed at the number of recipes you can duplicate in your own kitchen – and those you can, at least, come close to imitating – with far more success than the advertising people give us credit!’ – Gloria Pitzer

Treats like Awrey’s and Hostess’ famous cookies and cakes, to name a couple, were among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes collection, in the 1970s, which she printed on index cards and sold through the mail for 25-cents each. Mom also printed her growing and evolving make-alike-recipe collections in her hundreds of newsletters and over 40 subsequent books. She finally had to retire, due to health reasons, after more than 40 years of being the Recipe DetectiveTM.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1-2)

DE-BUNKING THE JUNK!

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

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

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

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

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

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

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

As a very believing public, we have been spoon-fed a good deal of shrewd publicity by some very skilled… advertising people, who count on our susceptibility to commercial advertising campaigns to buy their products. Whether we’re buying a hamburger in one of McDonald’s restaurants… or a ‘Twinkie’ off of the grocer’s shelf, we still believe that these products can’t be equaled by any other company in the industry, nor by the average cook in a standard, home kitchen… AND this is wrong!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018; p. 283)

If your choices, now, include things you eat without really enjoying them, you can begin to exercise, instead of your “will” power, your “won’t” power – and refuse to keep on eating what is not good for you and what you don’t really need, replacing it with something you do enjoy and that will benefit you in nourishment, either emotionally or physically.

The WON’T power exercise for me meant no bread, no potatoes, no pastries, no gravy, no grains or other starches. It worked beautifully. For you, it might not be satisfactory. So, you can choose another course of action. I merely wish to share my experience with you because it worked for me…

What works for one person, may not work for another; but sharing the secrets of a weight loss diet that works, is too good to ignore. Even if you, personally, are not interested in losing 10 pounds, you probably know someone who is! The diet industry pulls in millions and millions of dollars every year, developing new gimmicks, pills, plans, menus, clubs and published materials about losing weight. I have tried them all in my adult life – and never with success! So, I finally developed my own diet… [Based, largely, on the low-carb diet developed by Dr. Atkins.]

… It’s not really a diet, but a new pattern of eating that can, if I wish, serve me all my life. The best way to learn any new pattern of behavior – whether it is eating or dancing or jogging or working – is to break it down into small manageable parts and work through them step-by-step! This is not a diet to be used, discarded and taken up again. It is a way of life at the table. It is a new attitude towards food…

#PineappleUpsideDownCakeDay

In honor of today being National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day, here is a recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cake that Mom made for years; as found on page 97 of her self-published book (no longer in print), The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990, 11th Printing).

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…16 down, 36 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Working From Home

Happy Monday to all! #TGIM – every week, I long for each Monday to arrive, as they are my #52Chances per year to share my “Memories of My Mom”!

For years, breakfast has received a lot of attention, as it has been considered by many health professionals to be “the most important meal of the day”. However, as families’ schedules got busier and more hectic, they started enjoying more and more “quick” breakfasts on-the-go.

Thus, dinner – the EOD (end-of-day) meal – became the most important meal for many families because that’s when they, all, could usually get together. I remember, when my siblings and I were growing up, Mom always made a big deal out of dinnertime for our family. That was usually when we would all get to discuss our day’s activities and events and make plans for the next day or the coming weekend.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s

What about the under-praised lunch break? That thing we sometimes get, somewhere amidst the events of our workday. It’s the time we take to replenish ourselves, if we’re lucky. Sometimes it’s a rushed, 10-minute protein bar occasion or a brown-bagged, eat-while-you-work sandwich. Sometimes employees, who are extremely busy with their workday, don’t even realize they’ve missed their “break” entirely until it’s hours past due.

#NationalMakeLunchCount 

Today is National Make Lunch Count DayNationalDayCalendar.com accredits TGI Fridays – a popular, countrywide, restaurant chain – for this national celebration. TGI Fridays created a study, four or five years ago, through which they found that the majority of the American workers they studied suffered from what they considered “FOLO” (aka: Fear Of Lunching Out). They observed that many office employees “eat lunch at their desk at least twice a week (73%) while one-third have lunch at their desk every day of the week.”

However, as this was probably written before the pandemic and “Stay-At-Home” orders, they went on to say – most likely, in order to promote eating out, such as at one of their restaurants – “Don’t fear lunching out any longer!” Of course, we can’t do that now, in our current atypical norm of physical distancing and no-contact food deliveries or curbside pick-ups due to the highly contagious Covid-19 virus that has overwhelmed the whole world.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

TGI Fridays suggests that taking a break AWAY from the workday improves productivity. But now, most of those Michiganders who can are working from home and staying at home as much as possible, following “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders. We can still include taking an actual lunch break during our workday by LEAVING our home office or work area for at least 20-30 minutes. Step away from it all in order to refuel and refresh – body, mind and soul. Both, our brains and our bodies, need to have a few physical breaks throughout our workdays. You’ll find it improves your focus, creativity and productivity.

NationalDayCalendar.com asks us to share our creative ways to “Make Lunch Count” today and any day! Promote your ideas on social media, using #NationalMakeLunchCount.

Since today is National Make Lunch Count Day, make it a point, especially today, to not only not skip lunch but to also focus on enjoying every minute of it! Stop what you’re doing and step away for a little while – take a BREAK to really appreciate your lunch and all it has to offer you – body, mind and soul. Make yourself a “Chef’s Salad” or “Dagwood-Style Sandwich” – anything – but take the time to enjoy the making of it, as well as the consumption of it!

#DoingMIPart

Since we’re still staying home and staying safe, get creative with how to “eat out at home”! Mom was a big inspiration for how to make our favorite fast food and junk food choices at home. If the weather is nice, have a picnic in your yard, or dress your dining room up to “feel” like your favorite restaurant and copycat your favorite dish from there. Anything to get away from the workday, for a little while at least.

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

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. 65-66)

WORKING FROM HOME: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE RECIPE DETECTIVETM

AN ORDINARY DAY for us begins at 6:30 AM. Even though, I may have had a midnight or middle of the night radio show to do, the alarm still goes off at the crack of dawn. I realized some time ago that I could not roll out of bed and go directly to the stove to make the coffee and scramble the eggs and then, upon cleaning up after all of that, still go directly to my drawing board and my IBM composer for the rest of a long day.

I COULD but I would not have had a good attitude. So, Paul and I go, instead, to the restaurant in the mall downtown and let THEM make the coffee and scramble the eggs for us. Then we stop by the post office and pick up the mail and, by the time we are back home, I feel like a normal working person who leaves the house every morning to go to their office.

#NationalMakeLunchCount

Depending on how swamped we are with mail and subscriber contacts, book orders and government papers to be filled out and filed, we will try to take a break around noon for either a sandwich at our desks or, better yet, will run down the street to the Burger King for an orange juice and fish sandwich or over to The Voyageur [restaurant] for half of a ‘Captain’s Salad’ or a croissant special and a view of the St. Clair River, with freighters passing up and down stream that we can feel truly inspired and refreshed when we leave there. A break like that will renew our creative energies and also give us a chance to ‘visit’ with each other – a practice that few married couples really seem to enjoy much anymore – if they ever did at all.

These breaking off periods of getting away from the house and our office within, look to others, I suppose, as if we really aren’t that busy that we can frequent the local restaurants as much as we do. What they don’t see, however, is the kitchen where, for three or four solid hours, I was testing and trying to develop a particular recipe – making it perhaps three or four times before either giving up on it or feeling victorious and happy to print it in the next newsletter.

We take a lot of kidding about how often I am seen pushing a cart in the local supermarket and how often I am seen ‘eating out’ that you’d ever guess I cooked at all. It is, because I try to maintain and encourage a happy balance between the recipe testing and our normal life with friends and family, that we have never found the enterprise in which we are engaged, a burden to us. So many people we know do nothing but complain about their jobs, their work and regret. My cup runneth over and over and over! I WOULDN’T GIVE IT UP FOR THE WORLD!

By five or six o’clock in the evening, we’re ready for another break; and, in between, I have probably talked to two or three radio stations, answering questions for their listeners as they call into the station; which, by the miracle of telephone, puts us in touch with each other as if the host, the listener and I were all in the same room!

The radio visits that began with [our] good friend, Bob Allison, and his very successful show [‘Ask Your Neighbor’], with nearly 30 years, opened so many interesting and helpful doors for us. All of the other radio stations since, with whom I work, became a part of our schedule after years of providing listeners with the right information, with entertaining ideas and friendship and concern for their needs.

Sometimes I have received calls from hosts of radio shows who heard me on another station than their own and asked to set up an hour with them. Some of the programs run two hours. Many of them only use 15 minutes in which to discuss a healthy menu on the latest restaurant dish to imitate at home. No two radio shows are ever exactly alike, yet in one respect they are all incredibly enthusiastic and inquisitive…

Photo by Susan L. Tusa for an article about Mom in People Magazine (May 7, 1990; p. 81)

I know I’m doing something important… But I’ve had my moments of despair, when I’ve felt, ‘What am I doing?’ – Gloria Pitzer

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. 119)

IN MY KITCHEN, where all of these famous recipes are developed and tested and prepared for publishing, I have one significant problem. The ‘Good Hands People’ are about to declare my kitchen an accident going someplace to happen! My sense of organization is not what Heloise would enthusiastically endorse. So, even when my cup runneth over and over and over, I can’t always find my mop!

It is with appreciation that, in spite of my lack of organization, Mary Ellen Pinkham, the famous household hints author, took an interest in our recipes just recently. I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I am either in the kitchen, cooking up something for the next book [or] the next issue of the newsletter; or I’m writing about what I’ve been cooking – with time in between to do two, sometimes three, radio shows a day, on a regular basis, running anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. No two shows are ever alike – with the exception of the [wonderful] hospitality and warm response from the listeners.

I have had very few unhappy experiences on the air… Some of the highlights of these radio broadcasts will probably remind you of the first time you heard of me, through one of these shows, for this is where most of our family of readers have come and they continue to listen with as much enthusiasm and as many challenges [for me to decipher] today as they did the day I spoke to my first radio audience and became affectionately dubbed by them ‘The Recipe Detective’. I thank them!

#NationalPecanDay

In honor of National Pecan Day, which is tomorrow, here is another favorite fan-choice of Mom’s “Original 200” copycat recipes…

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

#NationalGardeningDay

Tomorrow is National Gardening Day! So, if you haven’t gotten out in the garden since my blog post last week – regarding #LawnAndGardenMonth , #NationalGardenMonth and #KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth – tomorrow is still as good a time as ever!

After all, April showers bring May flowers – but, first, you have to get the soil ready before you can even plant the seeds. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have the seeds before they were deemed “non-essential” (in Michigan) and banned from being sold, which I don’t understand! How can seeds, which are the source of most foods AND medicinal herbs, be “non-essential”? I’m glad I already have seeds and bulbs from our last planting season!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…15 down, 37 to go!

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