By Gloria Pitzer – part of her “Original 200” recipes collection.
This particular version can be seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!
Remember, Brutus is the fella who ‘did in’ Julius! The 3 original versions of this frozen orange concoction were first printed on page 52 of Gloria’s Secret Fast-Food Recipes (1977) cookbook. This is the way it used to taste, like an orange Creamsicle, when it was first introduced in the 1920s. Today it’s a little different, and easier to recreate at home!
3 cups orange juice
1 envelope Dream Whip powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 1/2-oz box instant vanilla pudding powder
3 additional cups of orange juice
Combine ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and add 3 more cups of orange juice. Serve over cracked ice for 6 lovely drinks!
Happy Monday to all and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom! I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful, memory-making Mother’s Day yesterday!
I’m Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started these blogs last September to channel the memories I have of my mom and how she impacted my life – as well as the lives of so many others the world over. I’m one of five children of the trailblazing pioneer who originated the copycat recipe movement, as my mom is Gloria Pitzer; aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator of Secret RecipesTM. As such, my inherited love for writing, which came from my mom’s genes, took me on this incredible journey, down a new and diverse path of blogging to honor her legacy.
TheRecipeDetective.com website was originated by my brother, Mike, years ago to help bring our parents’ Secret RecipesTM business into the digital age, on the internet. I remember when Mom got her first computer…she tried to learn how to operate it, even just to get into her email; but, she was too frustrated by the new technology and ended up giving the computer to one of her grandkids, who new what to do with it. Mike managed the website and email until he passed it on to me last summer, because I wanted to start these blogs about our mom, in tribute to her legacy!
Mom passed away over a year ago – in January of 2018. Shortly before her passing, Mom’s last cookbook was published by Balboa Press. I worked, together, with Mom for over two years to write it. It’s actually a rewrite of Mom’s favorite self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (May 1983, 3rd Printing), freshly formatted and somewhat updated for a new, digital generation. The writing/rewriting collaboration put our mother-daughter relationship on a whole new level.
In the process of publishing the new/old cookbook through Balboa Press, they REQUIRED us to change the book’s title (or they wouldn’t publish it) because it too closely resembled the title of another cookbook by the famous Betty Crocker! It was supposed to! Regardless, I failed to get through to the publishers that the whole premise of the entire cookbook was a parody of IMITATIONS, from the title of the book, Better Cookery Cookbook v. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, to the recipes, themselves – Hopeless Twinkles, for example, is similar to Hostess Twinkies; and Wednesday’s Chili sounds similar to Wendy’s, the fast food chain.
Balboa suggested calling the new book Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook, but that wasn’t good enough for Mom and I. Thus, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places – the Best of the Recipe Detective”, grudgingly became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – the Best of the Recipe Detective, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places” remaining. I suppose, contrary to Charles Colton’s famous quote, imitation isn’t always considered flattering!
As a matter of fact, there were a lot of food companies that were totally offended by a small-town homemaker, not only imitating their products in her own kitchen, but also naming her recipes to sound like theirs! As well as, sharing her recipes with the public, so they could also “eat out, at home!” Many companies complained of copyright infringements and threatened her with lawsuits, but none of them actually took her to court. One company, however, started an ad campaign, using a 1970s, stereotype housewife with a claim that even she can’t make their product at home!
Stouffers’ and Orange Julius’ attorneys were among the worst of the top 10 complainers in that offended category. Continuously, the Orange Julius people threatened Mom with lawsuits regarding one of her “Original 200” make-alike recipes, “Orange Judas”, as found (in 3 versions) on page 6 of her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurants Recipes Book (Jan. 1977). In fact, neither company liked it when Mom AND the media referred to her recipes’ finished products as being like their products, nor did they want her recipes’ names to sound anything like their own products’ names.
Mom renamed her “Orange Judas” recipe a number of times, and still couldn’t appease that company! Regardless of their lawsuit threats, she finally settled on “Orange Brutus” for the recipe’s name. In a way, Mom turned that “lemon into lemonade”, so to speak; since, as she promoted it, “Brutus was the one who ‘did in’ Julius!” [See Mom’s recipe at the end of this blog.]
All the fights between the companies saying she infringed on their copyrights and Mom wanting to pursue her right to create her own homemade versions and promote them, just spurred her on all the more! She felt that, if all of these companies’ attorneys were persistently huffing and puffing to blow her house down, she must be on the right path – and she must have gotten pretty close with her imitations too!
On the other hand, some food companies, such as White Castle and Sanders Chocolates, were honored by Mom’s efforts at flattery by imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey and General Foods corporations happened to be a slight mixture of both. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe titles, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups” and “Shape & Bake”, for they too closely resembled their trademark names, “Reese’s” and “Shake & Bake”, as to cause confusion between the products; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.
To the Hershey corporation, Mom explained the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat); she also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s chocolate in the recipe. In the original version of this recipe, Mom used Nestle’s brand and noted not to substitute on the brand. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer.
Mom also worked with the General Foods corporation, changing the title of her coating mix to “Shook & Cook”, with which General Foods was, likewise, pleased. Mom had sent General Foods a copy of an editorial page from her newest cookbook (at that time), The Joy of NOT Cooking…Anymore than You have To (1983). In the editorial, Simple Reproductions, Mom wrote about her recipe imitations and their effect on certain “big” companies, comparing her opposite encounters with General Foods’ attorneys and Stouffers’ attorneys.
General Foods was pleased with Mom’s editorial compliments on their helpful approach and even offered Mom complete cooperation at any time with any of their products that she used as ingredients in her recipes. As Mom said in the editorial, “now that’s a BIG company – big in spirit and in customer relations. I purchase all of their products as often as I possibly can to show my approval of their efforts not to alienate a customer.” Unlike Stouffer’s hammer approach, General Foods took a scalpel approach to reach a remedy that could benefit, both, them and Mom.1 There was no problem with the recipe Mom presented as an imitation of their product, they just wanted a different title for it to protect their trademarks and copyrights.
As I wrote about in an earlier blog, Imitation, Merriam-Webster.com says that imitation means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…” and Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” Thus, Mom often referred to herself as “the Rich Little of recipes”. Rich Little was a famous, stand-up comedian and extremely good imitator of celebrity voices; while Mom was a comedic writer and cartoonist, as well as an imitator of “famous foods from famous places”!
I found it ironic – and still do – that over the years, since Mom officially started her Secret RecipesTM enterprise in 1973, so many people have imitatedher, the ORIGINAL famous foods imitator. It’s a niche Mom originally carved out in the early 1970s. But, not all of those who have followed since have given Mom the appropriate credit due her for being the original sleuth to uncover the supposed secrets of the food industry, imitating the “famous foods from famous places” at home! Kudos to those who have given Mom the proper credit, though!
In other news…
According to NationalDayCalendar.com, among some of the national celebrations taking place right now, today is National Women’s Checkup Day! According to the website, there are five healthy habits “they” recommend women do to improve their well-being… (1) maintain regular checkups, (2) be physically active, (3) stick to a healthy diet, (4) don’t smoke and (5) follow general safety rules. Use #Women’sCheckupDay to post your tribute to women’s health on social media.
In addition, for foodies and gardeners, alike, NationalDayCalendar.com says that May is also National Strawberry Month! The website suggests that, to observe the holiday, you could visit a “pick-your-own” strawberry farm (or go to your local farmers’ market), plant a few strawberry plants of your own (or in a community garden) and/or prepare a recipe that uses strawberries. The website also gives a few links to some good strawberry recipes.
However, I have a great recipe for you, here, with a strawberry alternative! As discussed above, this famous frozen drink imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the beginning of her self-publishing business in 1973, as it’s one of her “Original 200” recipes. It has appeared in several of her cookbooks, in a few different versions and under a few different names; but, all of which Mom personally created. This form (pictured below) can currently be found in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!
NOTE: Mom’sstrawberryversion of this Brutus drink appeared in her cookbook, The Three-In-One Book of Less Fat and Sugar & Best Bread Recipes (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 11), which is no longer in print, but used copies may be found on Amazon or eBay. This strawberry version calls for 7-Up or Faygo Red Pop and a strawberry Kool-Aid type of drink powder instead of the orange juice or Tang ingredients that some of her other versions include. I posted one of those other versions in a previous blog, Recipes and Radio, back in November of last year.
The cookbook also offers a version of just the “powdered mix” to jar up and mix, by tablespoonful, with individual glasses of your own chosen liquid. Mom’s recipes were often quite flexible in this way, as she recognized (having 5 children and a husband to feed) that a lot of peoples’ tastes vary, and good recipes should be able to accommodate such taste variances.
1 References to scalpel and hammer are from a former television show, Person of Interest (Season 3, episode 12), when Shaw says, “There’s a time for a scalpel and a time for a hammer. It’s hammer time!”
2 The earliest written form I can find of this proverb is a reference by William Shakespeare, in his 1600 play, As You Like It, when Rosalind asks, “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”
Happy Monday, to all, and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom!
I’m Laura Emerich and this collection of blogs is dedicated to the legacy of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, whom the world knows as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM – pioneer and innovator, carving out the original niche for the ‘copycat recipes movement’. However, Mom has rarely ever received credit for its inception – other than a mention of it in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first to recreate “fast foods” at home! When I searched for the term, ‘copycat recipes movement’, on Bing, I received 1,360,000 results – and Google brought me about 1,520,000 results! If that’s not a movement, what is?
Another search on Bing, for “Gloria Pitzer”, brought me about 92,300 results – seems there’s an attorney by the same name! When I searched for Mom’s name, on Google, there was an amazing 247,000 results! Regardless of what Todd Wilbur would have you think; long story, short… he actually got his start in the copycat recipes movement by ordering a copy of my mom’s cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes, in April 1989 and, then, proceeding to copy and even plagiarize my mom’s recipes; basically, passing her story off as his own!
The title to this week’s post, Mother, May I?, just kind of came to me as I sat down at my keyboard. In part, because it’s May; but, also, because Mother’s Day is coming up in less than a week. So, I wanted to write a special tribute for my mom, as well as for all mothers, since they are our first and most influential impression – nurturing us, teaching us and molding who we become as adults, ourselves.
Out of curiosity, I searched Bing for “What can be learned from ‘Mother May I’?” I know it develops interpersonal skills, as well as enforces good manners, but what else… Ironically, I found an interesting article called What We Can Learn From The Game ‘Mother May I’[Margaret’s Message For May] by Gerry Gavin (May 05, 2016). The website describes the author thusly…
Given my mom’s faith in God, she would call this happenstance a “meant to be”, as Hay House also happens to be the parent company of Balboa Press, the publishers of Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Jan. 2018). That book is, basically, a re-write (by me, for Mom) of her favorite, self-published cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; 1982).
Mom and I collaborated on the new edition for over 2 years – such as what to keep and what to leave out, since some information was obsolete for the new digital generation that was going to be able to enjoy it as an eBook 35 years later, as well as for those who still like the traditional, hard-copy book. The collaboration lead me and my mom to see each other in a new and even more creative way than ever before. Anyway, out of that rabbit hole…
Mother’s Day is May 12th!
Please allow me to repeat myself as I boasted previously, in my first blog, A Legacy of Love, about Mom…
Over the years, [she] personally inspired me in so many ways…as a writer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook, mother, teacher… How she managed to juggle all of these same hats with a husband and 5 kids, for which to take care, always amazed me…
[Mom’s] taste buds and culinary skills, combined with her creative writing skills and sarcastic sense of humor, developed into their own super power… she found a niche that people wanted – “eating out at home”, she called it – and she set to work, discovering how to mimic fast food & restaurant dishes at home; as well as, shelf-stable grocery items. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too…
She was a trailblazer… writing her own [copycat] recipes and marketing her talents through newspapers, magazines, local television talk shows…but, especially through radio talk shows. For nearly 40 years she was a regular on a few local [Southeastern Michigan] radio talk shows such as ‘Ask Your Neighbor’, hosted by Bob Allison on WWJ-Radio, which still airs out of the Detroit area today and ‘Listen to the Mrs.’, which is still hosted by Art Lewis on WSGW-Radio in Saginaw, MI… Mom did radio shows all over the country – mostly by phone, from the comfort of home.
I wish I had half of my mom’s talents in marketing! However, I do have her drive to learn! I also share her passion for writing, although I’ve never kept daily journals like Mom. I love her so much and I’m eternally grateful for all she has taught me and given me throughout my life (along with my dad, but his day comes next month!) Furthermore, Mom continues to teach and give to me, even from beyond – not only through my memories of her, which writing these weekly blogs strongly inspires, but also through all of her self-published and marketed writings, artwork and recipes – about which I’ve been writing for almost 8 months, now, and will continue to do so for as long as I’m able!
This may not make sense to someone who hasn’t lost their mother, but I feel that the more I read and re-read her work, the more I feel like I’m “with her” again. I know Mom’s always with me…but, I don’t feel like I’m always with her until I delve into all of her works…the way I felt even closer to her when I was working on the re-write of her Better Cookery Cookbook.
The best I can do, to pay tribute to my mom…and the best way any one can pay tribute to their mom, as well, is to pay it forward – all that she’s sacrificed, given and taught – passing it on to the next generation and hoping they do the same is the best any of us can do! Nowadays, like Mom did in her writings, I want to bring “my readers” a smile and a laugh, as well as bits of knowledge (Mom always said I should “learn something new everyday!”). Also, I want to pass on all the memories, traditions and teachings that my mom gave me, hoping it benefits someone in some way as much as it has me, even if it’s only an added smile to their day!
I, too, would like to know why pickles (and so many other odd things) are honored for a whole week, while mothers (our givers-of-life) only get one day to be honored! Mothers, all around us, are the most influential and compelling people, the world over – not only in how they impact our own personal lives, but also in how they diligently apply themselves to positively impact the world!
We should all honor our mothers and fathers regardless of the day…always! However, this Sunday, go over and above that to honor your mother most importantly! This should be National Mother’s Month! We should start a campaign… #NationalMothersMonth! According to the United Nations Foundation, they “know how important mothers are in promoting prosperity, success, and growth in communities around the world.” They also give us 5 important things to remember on Mother’s Day – check it out on the blog at unfoundation.org!
In wrapping up, since May is also National Stroke Awareness Month, I‘d like to re-mention that Mom’s love for writing and journaling helped her, to some degree, in dealing with the dementia, from which she suffered, following a double stroke and grand mal seizure in 2015. The love she held for writing was as much a form of therapy for Mom’s memories as it was just a natural reflex for her to relax, reflect and meditate. A lot of what Mom wrote about was regarding finding the blessings in any given day or moment; good and bad, alike. That’s just how she was raised, being grateful everyday – not just for Life’sgifts, but also for Life’schallenges that she confronted and overcame, empowering her to do more rather than discouraging her to fail. Failure was never an option her faith would allow in!
Mom penned her feelings and memories in journals for most of her life. My younger sister, Cheryl, has all of Mom’s journals that still exist. Some were lost or destroyed over the years. But, Mom also recorded a lot of her feelings and memories in all of her publications too. Over the past year, since Mom went to her heavenly realm, I have really enjoyed re-reading all of her “Food for Thought” memories that are sprinkled throughout her cookbooks and newsletters, of the copies I have. I still use all my books of Mom’s – all the time!
Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s “free” recipes with each one. During Mom’s over-40-year era as the Recipe DetectiveTM, she promoted her business by offering (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free sample recipes, along with information on how to order her currently available (at that time) products…cookbooks, newsletters, bulletins and more! The sheets changed every so often over the years; as the product offerings changed so did some of the free sample recipes.
I thought I had recently exhausted all the “free” recipes from Mom’s information sheets, of which I have copies; but, I found more!!! I still continue to work on updating the Recipes tab on this website with all the recipes that used to be on here before my brother transferred it to me last year. Plus, I’m adding all of these “free sample recipes”, which I’ve been posting in my blogs, from Mom’s ordering information sheets over the years.
This pizza imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the inception of her Secret RecipesTM business in 1972-1973. It’s one of the “Original 200” recipes that Mom created to imitate the highly sought-after fast-food and junk-food products, launching her famous career as the Recipe DetectiveTM. This version was found in a media promotion that Mom sent out in 1983…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!
Greetings! Welcome to my blog home, Mondays & Memories of My Mom! My name is Laura Emerich and these blogs are dedicated to the memory of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, because she left behind such an incredible legacy when she went to be an angel last year.
Most knew her as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator AND imitator of the food industry’s “secrets” behind the well-known products and dishes from famous companies and franchise chains like Olive Garden, Olga’s, Applebee’s, TGIF, Ruby Tuesday, Bob Evans, Big Boy Restaurants, Chi-Chi’s, Cracker Barrel, KFC, Wendy’s, White Castle, McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Sanders, Famous Amos, Mrs. Field’s, Kraft, Heinz, Nabisco, Keebler, Sara Lee… and the list goes on!
I’ve been writing these blogs on a weekly basis since last September, to channel the many wonderful memories I have of my mom and, also, to share her astonishing legacy – her special story – with a new, digital generation. Like Mom, I’ve always loved to write. One of my youngest memories are of Mom & I, when she was first teaching me how to write my name. I was going on 4 years old and about to start Kindergarten that fall. Mom sparked my love for writing, which she stoked in me throughout my life.
Mom left her mark on many from her over 60-year writing career, to her famous Secret RecipesTM profession to her personal loves of faith, family and life; all of which she always found a way to intermix in her creations, like the ingredients of a great recipe.
My mom’s first and last love (besides my dad) was with writing. She had always loved to write short stories and poetry since she was a young girl, as did I. She told me many stories of how she dreamed of writing “the great American novel” when she was a teenager. But, Mom’s childhood dream never came to fruition, as events in life took her in a slightly different direction with writing.
As a teenager and young adult in the 1950s and 1960s, she entered and won multiple contests, on radio shows and in magazines, usually winning cash or some sort of prize for her essays. However, every winning achievement that Mom had in authoring, usually included food in some manner.
Mom was creatively gifted, not just as a writer, but also as a publisher, advertiser/marketer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook… and the list just goes on. Combined with a clever and satirical wit, all these ingredients uniquely formed Mom’s own special recipe for success – like a “super-power”! (FYI – yesterday was National Super Hero Day!)
Similar to stand-up comedians, Mom found her ‘family life’ to be the best source on which to base her cleverly witted cartoon panels and stories. In the course of her syndicated writing of “food-for-thought-and-table” columns, Mom found a unique niche that her readers wanted – even if the newspapers’ editors and their food industry advertisers didn’t.
Mom called it “eating out at home”! She set out to discover how to imitate the popular fast food & fine dining dishes in her own kitchen; as well as, some shelf-stable grocery items too. If it saved her household money, my mom wanted to share it with the world to help others save money also. Mom was a trail-blazer and pioneer for copycat cuisine, as no one else was doing this – imitating the fast food and junk food dishes/products that people craved, but critics constantly warned us were unhealthy!
From 1973 through 2004, Mom wrote and self-published hundreds of newsletters and at least 40 books filled with not only thousands of these “secret” recipe imitations that she personally developed and tested, but also with her humorous stories and anecdotes, helpful kitchen and household tips, as well as some background or history about many of the companies and products being imitated.
Mom put so much love and passion into the recipes she developed and wrote, testing them over and over again (which was a labor of love all its own) until she felt they were good enough to share. In addition, Mom found that by promoting the making of these “taboo” foods at home, it gave the cook control over the ingredients that went into the recipes; thereby, debunking the “junk” to which the critics referred!
Her food-for-thought editorials were always written from her heart, with a devotion and hunger for helping and informing her readers, as well as entertaining them. Mom designed each of her books and newsletters, to be as much a coffee-table or bedside-table read as it was a recipe collection for the kitchen. No other such products on the market, at that time, could do that and Mom’s compositions took the monotony out of meal time!
Additionally, more of Mom’s memories about writing are in the following excerpts from of her own story, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, (Balboa Press; January 2018, pp. 292-297). This book was actually a re-write by me of Mom’s favorite and most famous, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Printing):
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!
… I met my husband, Paul… 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.
That reminds me of one summer in my teen years, as our family was traveling on vacation to Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH – during the long, 3-hour drive, Mom sat in the back of the van with me and helped me work on a poem that I was inspired to write about her and our family. Another cherished memory! I’ll include the poem at the end of this blog. But, for now, here is the continuation of Mom’s memories about writing…
During those years…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 Columbia Features and I parted company…within 6 months I had regained all my original papers and was syndicating the column from our dining room table…I rode a bike to and from the Pearl Beach post office every day, where I mailed out my columns and looked for responses to ads I had placed… for [my] recipes on 4×6” cards that enabled you to imitate famous dishes at home.
At the suggestion… that I should put all my column’s recipes into a book, I wrote my 1st edition 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…I put together my 1st issue of what came to be my ‘Secret Recipe Report’, a newsletter that… brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry.
It was a perfect storm – from the unique subject matter of her books and newsletters to the media exposure of them through radio, newspapers, magazines and TV – which, all together, brought about Mom’s fame as the Recipe DetectiveTM.
I’m currently working on a time line of her appearances and interviews to add to this website’s tabs, gathering most of the information through her books, newsletters and other works as best as I can. However, I haven’t decided on a title for the new tab yet. I’m also still working on updating the “Recipes” tab with more of Mom’s creations. Before closing, here is the poem I mentioned above:
Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s recipes with each one. For the 35-plus years that Mom “worked her business”, she offered (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free recipes, along with information on how to order her currently available (at that time) self-published cookbooks; as well as how to subscribe to her newsletter.
I’ve recently exhausted all the recipes from the information sheets of which I have copies. However, this website, originally developed by my brother, Michael Pitzer (for internet exposure to our parents and their Secret RecipesTM business), used to offer other “free” recipes that Mom authorized; some of which weren’t on those information sheets.
Since my brother transferred the website to me, with which to carry on Mom’s legacy through these blogs, I’ve been working on updating the “Recipes” tab to include all the free recipes that were on the site to begin with (as they didn’t transfer to the new host), as well as the ones on Mom’s information sheets. It’s taking some time because I only have a printed list of the original 34 recipe titles that were offered on the website. As times change, so do some companies’ recipes; thus, Mom has had a few different versions of some of her recipes. I’ve found almost half of the original list so far. Stay tuned for more updates!
The following recipe may not be the same one that used to show for free on this website before last September, but this is the recipe I found for the same or similar title – as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
Olive Garden-Style Alfredo Fettucine
By Gloria Pitzer, from My Personal Favorites (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 19)
8-oz cream cheese, in bits
¾ c grated Parmesan
8 TB butter
½ c milk
1-lb box fettucine, prepared as box instructs
Put first 4 ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat, stirring until smooth and piping hot – but, don’t let it boil or it might scorch! Spoon sauce mixture over 4 portions of prepared fettucine. Serves 4 sensibly or 2 foolishly!
For all of you shrimp-loving foodies out there, this happens to be National Shrimp Scampi Day! Shrimp Scampi was one of Mom’s many favorite dishes at Olive Garden. It goes awesome with her imitation of their Alfredo Fettucine, as given above! The National Day Calendar website has a link to a great shrimp scampi recipe by Elise Bauer on “Simply Recipes”. Enjoy making this wonderful dish, along with the pasta, for dinner to celebrate the day and use #NationalShrimpScampiDay to post about it on social media.
This week also brings an end to National Gardening Month. So, as we come from celebrating Earth Day and Arbor Day last week, now it’s Stewardship Week – one of the world’s largest conservation-related observances… this year’s theme is “Life In the Soil: Dig Deeper.” Since conservation is the preservation of resources, it sounds like a great segue from April into May! So is this old proverb…“April showers bring May flowers” – people have quoted this for centuries; but, as we approach May, I find it ironic that the first week is also National Wildflower Week! Additionally, Wednesday, the 1st, is “May Day”, as well as “Bird Day”!
Happy Easter Monday, everyone, and happy Earth Day too! Welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom.
I’m Laura Emerich and these blogs are dedicated to my mom, Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, and her tremendous legacy – from her famous writing career, spanning over 5 DECADES, to her more personal loves of life, family and faith. As the Recipe DetectiveTM, Mom often referred to herself as the “Rich Little” of the food industry because she could imitate their famous dishes and food products, in her own kitchen, similarly to how Rich Little could imitate the voices of famous people.
My mom frequently exuded a satirical wit in her writings and cartoon illustrations also. Below is a photo copy of Mom’s cover page for her cartoon panel-series titled, Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer. They were printed in The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI) for a few years, starting around early 1969; and, since they’re humor was timeless, Mom reused them in some of the newsletters and cookbooks that she, later, went on to write.
Throughout her newsletters and cookbooks, Mom never claimed to know exactly what the famous food industry companies actually used in their own “secret” recipes; however, she did claim to know that she could come up with some pretty good imitations based on some basic cooking principles and what she could see, taste and smell. Some of Mom’s recipes that were imitations of certain brands, she realized, could be repurposed, reused and recycled into imitations of other companies’ products.
As I mentioned in another blog recently, Hostess Twinkies have the very same cake ingredients prepared in the “Flaming Cherries Supreme” from the Waldorf Astoria kitchens. All Mom did to imitate the Hostess product was to shape the cake different and add a little more body to the cream; which was put INSIDE the cake, as a filling, rather than on top like Waldorf’s!
Mom started a movement, imitating fast food and junk food at home (as well as other food industry dishes and products), for which she is rarely given credit. However, in the early 1970s, it was my mom who pioneered and trail-blazed the homemade, copycat crusade! Media quickly pounced on the news, as word got around quickly (without the aid of social media and internet, by the way), of a small town “housewife” who was imitating these famous food products at home and sharing her recipes across the radio air waves and through her self-published newsletters and cookbooks!
Mom had set out and succeeded in imitating hundreds of name brand products such as Famous Amos, Sara Lee and Hostess treats; as well as fast food and restaurant chains’ burgers and other specialty, signature dishes. While most of her interviews were over the radio air waves all around North America, Mom did do some TV appearances as well. She was on the Phil Donahue twice! The episodes were replayed around the world, bringing her vast amounts more recognition.
Today, because it’s Earth Day, the subject my blog is focused on the motto to “repurpose, reuse and recycle” (regardless of whichever order you put them in). Additionally, three other “r” terms are often used in conjunction with these three: (1) to “reduce”, as in your carbon footprint; (2) to “repair”, as in try to fix, mend or restore something before readily throwing it out; and (3) to “refuse”, as in objecting to buying into wasteful marketing stuff in the first place. Such wasteful marketing products include wraps and packaging fillers like Styrofoam, plastic and foil that end up in our land, oceans and waterways and are, literally, choking our environment!
Mom was always very crafty at repurposing, reusing and recycling items to keep them out of the garbage and, thereby, not having to unnecessarily pay for things that could be easily made out of something else. The terms repurposing, reusing and recycling refer to SO MANY things! For example… as in the picture above, Mom often turned her old purses, with their many pockets and compartments, into cases for organizing things like art supplies or activity books or Barbie’s clothes and accessories – the ideas are endless.
Mom often made clothes and linen for my sisters’ and my BarbieTM dolls out of scraps of material from our own worn-out clothes and old linens (which were also used for quilting and other sewing projects). She also made furniture for our dolls, using cardboard food boxes covered in paper or material scraps. As a child, my favorite Christmas gift from my mom was a beautiful rag doll she made from old clothes scraps, with yarn for her hair and facial details, plus buttons for her nose and eyes.
As for food waste… Do you have leftovers from your Easter celebration yesterday? Soups, casseroles and pot pies are wonderful ways to repurpose, reuse and recycle those leftovers that are sitting in the refrigerator. However, when leftovers get past the point of safe consumption, but are not yet to the point of “penicillin science project”, then composting is another form of repurposing, reusing and recycling those leftovers for your garden – except for meat and dairy products, which aren’t so good for plants, but can make great chicken feed!
The U.S. is the second highest food-wasting country in the world, second to Australia; but leaps and bounds beyond Turkey, which is in third place, according to Statista.com. The U.S. FAO website says that this worldwide waste of food causes an excessive spending of resources, such as water, land, energy, labor and capital; needlessly producing greenhouse gas emissions, while contributing to global warming and climate change.
Yesterday morning, I saw a clip on my local news about what to compost and a demonstration using a countertop composter! What a great idea, if you can afford one! I saw one, like the one shown in the news clip, online for more than a few hundred dollars. I love it and I want one, but I can’t afford the luxury…so, like my mom did years ago for her garden and potted tomatoes, I just keep saving my coffee grounds and eggshells (and the occasional banana peels) in an old coffee container on my kitchen counter. When it’s full, I take it out back to my large compost pile for the vegetable garden; but, you can also put it directly around the base of your plants – my roses love it! Then, when the rose heads are ready to cut, I hang them upside down by their stems until they’re fully dried to repurpose, reuse and recycle them into potpourri!
Did you know that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed almost 50 years ago as a direct result of the first Earth Day celebration on April 22, 1970? It actually started as more of a teaching/learning event than a celebration; nonetheless, its popularity caught on quickly and is now celebrated (on different dates) worldwide.
Simple suggestions for participating in Earth Day activities include donating gently used items to non-profit resale shops (many churches have them now) or having your own yard/garage sale with them – yard/garage sale season has just started around here. Another way to participate is by cleaning up litter around your yard, as well as in your community. Additionally, hiking or walking through a park or enjoying nature through ORGANIC gardening or planting trees are other ways to partake in the occasion today (or any day for that matter). Speaking of planting trees, this Friday (April 26th) will be Arbor Day! Furthermore, the whole month of April also happens to be National Gardening Month!
Repurposing, reusing and recycling is not just a great way to conserve energy and natural resources, but also an effective means to saving money. A reduce and reuse lifestyle can also preserve natural resources and reduce waste, but there are additional benefits to such a lifestyle as well. So many plastic wraps and containers that people typically throw away – such as deli and dairy containers, plastic grocery bags, old toothbrushes, etc. – can be repurposed, reused and recycled in hundreds of ways; which, in turn, can eliminate tons of garbage from our landfills and, consequently, reduce how much of our plastic refuse (which doesn’t decompose) finds its way into our land, oceans and waterways.
The older I get, the more I want to get rid of junk; but, I still feel an immense impulse to save things that I might use in some other way – someday. I guess it’s the “green” in me, with which I grew up, that’s shining through – before I can throw anything away, first, I ask myself: can it be repurposed, reused or recycled in any way? Today’s Earth Day is a great time to focus on how much you and your family throw away; therefore, I challenge you to save something from being trashed and, find a new purpose for which to reuse it… Then post and tag it on social media with #RepurposeReuseRecycle!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my Earth Day blog and will return again next week when I discuss more about gardening, as it will be the end of National Gardening Month! In closing, as I do each week, I’d like to leave you with one of the recipes that Mom developed and gave out for free on her product information and ordering sheets in exchange for a SASE.
Mom used the following barbeque crockpot chicken recipe (which serves 6) pictured below, an imitation of a Kenny Rogers’ dish, whenever she wanted to make an easy sweet barbeque chicken that she didn’t have to fuss over. She first printed it in her cookbook, That’s the Flavor (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1998, p. 25), asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
Correction: Mondays & Memories of My Mom – “Famous Foods from Famous Places”
My banana bread recipe, like Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel served, was originally printed in Mom’s cookbook, Eating out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sept 1978, p. 34); before it appeared in her cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1982). Therefore, it must have been developed on our vacation there the previous summer, and not the same one as when Somewhere in Time was filmed.
Archer Teacher Fish & Chips, plus Onion Rings option
By Gloria Pitzer, first published in The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 1)
Arthur Treacher was once Merv Griffin’s right-hand-man. A dignified and accomplished actor that we best remember from the 1930s & 1940s.
3 cups boxed pancake mix
3-4 cups club soda
0.4-oz. pkg. ranch dressing mix powder
2-3 lbs. fish fillets (any good frying-type)
With wire whisk, combine the pancake mix and enough of the club soda so that the batter is the consistency of buttermilk – pourable! Whisk in the ranch dressing mix.
Dip the fillets into just enough plain, all-purpose flour to coat them lightly but evenly. Let coated fillets dry a few minutes on wax paper. Dip coated fillets into wet batter to coat lightly but evenly, letting excess batter drip back into bowl.
Using a heavy sauce pan or electric fryer, fry a few pieces at a time in 3-inch deep oil heated to 385F degrees. Turn the pieces once to brown each side (at about 2-3 minutes per side).
Remove from hot oil, using the tip of a sharp knife. Do NOT use tongs as it may cause coating to break and fall off. Keep pieces warm on a cookie sheet or in a roasting pan in a warm oven until all pieces have been fried. Serves 4-6.
ONION RINGS OPTION: (what to do with extra, left-over batter, as it does not keep well…)
Cut 3 firm white onions, each about the size of an orange., into 1/4-inch thick slices and separate into rings. Run these under cold tap water in a colander and let excess water drain off.
As with the fish (above), dip the rings into just enough plain, all-purpose flour to coat them lightly but evenly and let them dry for a few minutes on wax paper. One at a time, dip coated rings into the wet fish batter (above) to coat lightly but evenly, letting excess batter drip back into bowl. Then, drop each ring into 2-inch deep oil heated to 385F degrees. Turn the pieces once to brown each side (at about 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy).
Remove from hot oil, using the tip of a sharp knife. Do NOT use tongs as it may cause the coating to break and fall off. Drain rings on paper towels and keep warm on a cookie sheet in the oven, on low, until all rings have been fried. Serves 4 nicely.
By Gloria Pitzer, from her “Free Recipes & Ordering Information” sheets
2 lbs. ground beef
4 TB oil
2 envelopes onion soup mix
0.4-oz. envelope ranch dressing mix
2 cups hot, black coffee
6-oz. can tomato paste
1 TB each: chili & cumin powders
Brown beef in oil, using a large skillet on medium heat and crumbling it with a fork, until pink color disappears. Sprinkle on soup mix and dressing mix, then, add the coffee and stir well. Remove 1 cup of mixture to blender and blend on high speed until it looks like cement mortar. Return blender mixture to skillet and add the rest of the ingredients. Continue cooking for 30 min., uncovered, stirring occasionally. Spoon over hot dogs or serve like sloppy joes. Serves 6.
By Gloria Pitzer, from The Great Imitator’s Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1999, p. 56)
bottled hot sauce
Cut Wings at joint, leaving boney tip intact. Moisten in equal parts of melted butter and bottled hot sauce. Coat moistened pieces in flour. Fry in 4-inch deep, hot oil at 385F degrees for about 6-8 minutes or until browned and crispy. They’re greasy, but wonderful! Serve with bleu cheese or ranch dressing.
*FOR WILD HOT WINGS: add 1/2 tsp dry mustard and a dash, each, of black pepper and cayenne to each cup of flour when coating wings.
By Gloria Pitzer, revised from her self-published cookbook, Make Alike Recipes (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1991, p. 6)
1 cup milk
2 tsp. sugar (or sugar substitute equivalent)
1/3 cup mayonnaise (Hellman’s preferred)
2 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1/4 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
Combine first four ingredients in a 1 1/2 qt. mixing bowl, with electric mixer on high speed, for slightly less than a minute. Dough should be smooth and completely combined; not too thin or too thick. Work in cheddar cheese with a rubber spatula. Drop dough by spoonful, equally between 10 paper-lined muffin wells or on a greased baking sheet in mounds 1 inch apart. Drizzle 1 tsp. melted butter or margarine on top of each and dust with a little pinch of parsley and garlic powder or garlic salt (to taste). You can also sprinkle a tiny bit of additional cheddar cheese on top of each. Bake at 350F degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and tripled in size. Cool in/on pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Makes 10 biscuits.