DREARY QUEEN FROZEN CUSTARD

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

DREARY QUEEN FROZEN CUSTARD

By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 257)

Here is an at-home imitation of the very popular soft-serve custard ice cream product that has made many restaurant names famous [since the 1950s]!

Ingredients:

3 1/8-ounce package vanilla pudding (NOT instant)

1 2/3 cup milk

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons butter

½ pint whipping cream

a dash of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup powdered sugar

2 egg whites

3 tablespoons corn syrup

Instructions:

Prepare pudding with milk and egg yolk beaten into it.

Stir mixture in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth and mixture “just” comes to a boil.

Remove from heat at once and stir in butter until melted and smooth.

Chill pudding in freezer for about 45 minutes.

Beat together whipping cream, salt, vanilla and powdered sugar until very thick and stiff.

Beat chilled pudding with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Don’t mind the darkened coating on top of the pudding – that blends right back in when you beat it well.

Then, thoroughly STIR (do NOT beat) the whipped cream mix into the smooth pudding.

Transfer to a 6-cup freezer container and freeze until firm.

Break it up in a chilled, stainless steel or aluminum mixing bowl, using chilled beaters on an electric hand-mixer.

Beat egg whites, in a small bowl, until stiff but not dry; adding the corn syrup.

Set aside and beat the whipping cream mixture until smooth and creamy.

Fold egg white mixture into that, using lowest speed of mixer.

Freeze until firm enough to scoop. Makes 1 ½ quarts. Freezes up to 6 months.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

French Fries

FRENCH FRIES

By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 16)

‘NOBODY DOES IT LIKE McDONALD’s CAN’ – [was] the popular television jingle that advertised some of the best French-fried shoestring potatoes to come down the pike in a long while. The French did not invent French fries – American fur trappers did. Potatoes were not well-thought of in the early days of this country. But, fur trappers would melt down bear grease in large open kettles over their campfires and, when the grease began to bubble, they’d spear chunks of their dressed game meat, roots and potatoes on the end of a sharply pointed stick, setting them in the hot grease to cook to the individual’s liking and then eat off the stick – much like modern-day shish kabobs or fondue.

TO MAKE FRENCH FRIES at home – long, white Russets work best! Peel and cut in half lengthwise. Place cut sides on a cutting board and remove a thin slice from each end, as well as from the rounded long-sides. You now have sort of rectangle blocks to work with. Slice these into 1/4-inch thick strips and place in a deep refrigerator container. Mix 1-quart water with ½ cup vinegar and pour over potatoes, repeating this process until you have enough to cover the potatoes. Cover and chill for several hours to draw out the starch that makes a fried potato hold the grease and become limp.

After chilling, drain them well on paper towels. Drop a few at a time, using a French-frying basket, into 425°F oil that’s at least 4” deep. A good combination is 1-pint corn oil to 1 cup Crisco, using as much as is needed for the amount you are preparing, keeping it 4 inches deep; and, if the oil is not hot enough, the fries will turn out greasy. Let the potatoes “Blanche” in the oil rather than fry completely, removing them after just one minute. Drop them on a cookie sheet and put in your freezer for 10 minutes. Return them to the oil to fry until golden brown and drain them well on paper towels. Salt them as you wish, which also helps to evaporate any excess grease on the finished potatoes. Most of the salt will fall off when the fries are transferred to serving plates.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Pancakes, like Perkins’

 

Recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

PANCAKES, LIKE PERKINS’

by Gloria Pitzer

Ingredients:

12-oz can of 7-Up (or Sprite – diet or regular)

2 eggs

2 TB sugar (or an equal sugar substitute)

2 TB oil

3 C Bisquick

Instructions:

Put it all into a blender on high speed, using an on-off pulse to agitate for 2 minutes or until smooth. Let batter stand for 10 minutes before using it. Allow ¼ cup of batter for a 6-inch round pancake prepared on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Makes 16 pancakes. The batter freezes well, to use within 3 months.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

BARBECUED BABY CHICKEN LEGS

BARBECUED BABY CHICKEN LEGS

By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 91)

These are chicken wings, split at the joints, with the boney wing-tips discarded. Arrange them side-by-side in a single layer in a greased, shallow baking pan. Coat liberally in any barbecue sauce. Bake at 375°F, uncovered, for 20 minutes per pound of chicken (3 pounds will serve 6 to 8.) About every 10 minutes or so, apply additional barbecue sauce to the pieces as they’re baking, without turning them.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Kneaded Fudge, Inspired by Disney World’s

Kneaded Fudge, Inspired by Disney World’s

By Gloria Pitzer, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 9)

[*The ingredients of this fudge are similar to those of traditional penuche.]

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

PAN PIZZA CRUST

PAN PIZZA CRUST

By Gloria Pitzer

This easy pizza crust recipe is from one of Mom’s “free recipes and ordering information” sheets, given out in the late 1980s, and has only 3 ingredients – just stir & spread! A similar version to it can be found on page 54 of Mom’s self-published cookbook, The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990)

Ingredients:

12-oz beer (or Club Soda)

2 TB oil

2 ½ cups self-rising flour

Instructions:

Stir beer (or Club Soda) and oil together with a sturdy mixing spoon in a large bowl. Add flour and beat vigorously until smooth and moist. Dump dough into middle of Pam-sprayed, 12- or 13-inch, round pizza pan. Spread dough evenly with back of a large, wet spoon. (Note: Dipping spoon into cold water keeps the dough from sticking.) Use the spoon to patch any holes in the dough.

Bake the crust, empty, for 10 minutes at 400°-F; then, remove and, immediately, add your favorite sauce while it’s warm. Top with cheese and other favorite garnishments. Return to oven to bake for another 20-30 minutes or until toppings are bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the crust appears golden brown around its rim.

Cut to serve 4 – or one teenager!

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Beautiful Biscuits, Better than KFC’s

Beautiful Biscuits – Better than KFC’s

By Gloria Pitzer

Ingredients:

2/3 cup real buttermilk

1/3 cup real mayonnaise

2 1/2 cups Bisquick, plus a little extra

Pam spray

Melted butter (enough to brush 8 biscuit tops twice)

Instructions:

In a 1 1/2-qt mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer on medium-speed, beat together the first three ingredients, adding the Bisquick a little at a time and working in the last cupful with a sturdy mixing spoon until you form a soft dough.

Dip your hands in a bit of extra Bisquick to divide and shape dough into 8 patties; making each about 1-inch thick, and placing them close together in a Pam-sprayed 9-inch or 10-inch Pyrex baking dish.

Using a pastry brush, wipe all the tops with a bit of melted butter. Bake at 400-degrees (F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown. At once, after removing from oven, wipe the tops in a bit of melted butter again.

Makes 8 biscuits, which freeze well for months!

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Nostalgia

Happy Monday! According to NationalDayCalendar.com, August 19th is National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day! To celebrate, I’ll be including Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade soft-serve ice cream, like Dairy Queen’s, at the end of today’s blog entry.

#NationalSoftIceCreamDay

Dictionary.com says that nostalgia “is a wistful desire to return in thought… to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.” Just like the memories I write about my mom every week. In fact, the 1-year anniversary of Mondays & Memories of My Mom is coming up next month! The time is flying by so fast… and, it seems, the older I get, the faster time flies!

Did you know… on this day in history, 100 years ago, William B. Ward first registered the trademark, Hostess, for the breads and cakes they made? In my April 8th blog entry, Eating out at Home, I included the following story Mom wrote about James Dewar, who invented the ‘Twinkie’, while working for the Continental Baking Company; which was, later, bought by Interstate Bakeries Corporation and renamed Hostess Brands.

Originally, when the baking company was founded in the early 1900s, it was called Ward Baking Company. For a more in depth history of the Ward family, their baking company, Twinkies® and the drama that surrounded them, check out the article about it, by Bloomberg News, on the FinancialPost.com website, at https://business.financialpost.com/news/twinkie-history-spiced-with-murder-scandal-suggests-icon-will-survive.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 204)

James Dewar, original date/source unknown

IT’S NO SECRET!

James Dewar started out driving a horse-drawn wagon in Chicago and, by 1930, was manager of the Continental Baking Company’s Chicago establishment. [That’s when] he invented the ‘Twinkie’, a sponge-type cake with a creamy vanilla-flavored filling. It has been called the ‘Grand-daddy’ of modern snack foods. Today, the finger-sized cream-filled cake is as big a confectionery sensation as it was when Dewar first introduced his creation to American cuisine. The company that put out the Twinkie was originally called [Ward Baking Company, then] the Continental Baking Company and later became the Hostess company.

At the time, he wanted to give the public something reasonably priced, for the Great Depression of the 30s brought grave times to this country. Treats like the cream-filled Twinkies, would be a luxury to people who couldn’t afford otherwise. For decades, the appealing factor about the Twinkies national popularity has been that it is affordable! Dewar put 2 cakes in each package, selling them for 5-cents a pair. For the price of a nickel, it was quite a bargain.

Dewar remembered how the Continental Baking Company was selling small finger-sized shortcakes for strawberry season in the 1930s. The pans they used to bake them in were not being used except for the spring promotion to produce the shortcakes. He, therefore, came up with the idea of preparing the same shortcake in those pans, but filling each cake with an injection of vanilla cream.

The Twinkies became an immediate success! The idea for the name, on the other hand, came while he was on a business trip to St. Louis and saw a billboard advertising ‘Twinkle Toes Shoes’, which was, then, a terrific sales pitch. The name ‘Twinkies’ was a spinoff of that shoe advertisement. From then on, the cakes took off.

When Dewar retired from Continental in 1968, he boasted often to the press that he ate scores of Twinkies® every day. That’s not a bad endorsement for the critics who claim junk food will shorten your life span.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Nostalgic!

Do you remember the run on Twinkies® in November of 2012? The Hostess Brands company had announced it was going out of business and utter chaos ensued as the masses swarmed the stores to buy all the yummy, cream-filled, sponge cakes (and other Hostess cakes & breads) that they could find! Twinkies® were actually being auctioned on eBay for THOUSANDS of dollars!

I remember Mom laughing about all of the hype on auction-bidding for Twinkies® and hearing someone say (although I don’t remember the who-when-and-where of it all) that if people had cared as much about the Hostess cakes years earlier, as they were then [in November or December of 2012], Hostess wouldn’t have had to close their doors in the first place!

There’s a great article by James R. Koren called “Beverly Hills Billionaire to take over Twinkies maker Hostess Brands” (L. A. Times; July 5, 2016) that explains how the Hostess company, under various names and ownerships, was saved from bankruptcy and closures – more than once over the past century.

When the announcement was first made, almost 7 years ago, that Hostess was closing for good, I wasn’t worried about never having Twinkies® again… of course, I couldn’t have them anyway because I’m hypoglycemic. But that’s beside the point, which is… that my mom taught me how to make my own!

In fact, Mom taught everyone how to make their own “junk food” at home through her 40-plus cookbooks, hundreds of newsletters, many TV appearances and on her thousands of radio talk-show interviews across the country and around the world! I shared the following copy of Mom’s make-alike version for Twinkies®, which she called Hopeless Twinkles©, in my blog entry, A Day in the Life of the Happy Homemaker, a couple of months ago.

‘Hopeless Twinkles’ recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

My mom was the first to develop homemade, make-alike versions of junk food, like some of Hostess’ famous cakes – which were among her early 1970s, “original 200”, recipes collection that she printed on index cards, with a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room; and they were sold through the mail for 25-cents each. Mom also printed her junk food, make-alike recipes in her newsletters, beginning in January 1974 through December 2000.

Using the name “Hopeless” instead of “Hostess”, Mom included three Hostess Brand make-alike recipes in her first copycat-cooking book, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; January 1977). Later that year, Mom included another five copycat recipes of Hostess products (again, using the name “Hopeless” for her versions) in her very next cookbook called The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977).

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

Jul 1977 – The 2nd Helping… (front & back covers)

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!’

‘There really are very few recipe secrets!’ – Gloria Pitzer

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!

‘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

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet) 153 days ago – no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff! I admit, I am a carbohydrate addict; but, by limiting my carb-intake to 25 grams a day, I’ve lost 40 pounds so far! I’d like to lose 5-10 more pounds yet. I just keep working on it one day at a time. It takes a lot of will power, as well as a lot of “won’t power” – I WON’T give in to the urges!

I went camping with my husband and a group of our friends over a week ago – and it was tough not to roast one single marshmallow or indulge in one of my best friend’s yummy baked goods. Except for Pork Rinds, most of my snacks consist of sugar-free gelatin, extra creamy Cool Whip, meats, cheeses and veggies with ranch dip… all of which needs to be kept cold.

So, we had to take an extra cooler this summer. I miss the kind of “convenience” snacks that are easy to just “grab-n-go”. We still tent-it with a couple of others, while most of our friends have “moved up” and into campers and motor homes – with refrigerators and freezers… when you have electricity! I’d like to get a camper, someday, like my parents’…

Mom & Dad’s Camper

IN CLOSING…

#NationalSoftIceCreamDay

In honor of National Soft Ice Cream Day, I’m sharing the following recipe, which is actually from Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 257) and not one of her “free offer recipes”… but, I guess it is now; so, happy National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

DREARY QUEEN FROZEN CUSTARD

Here is an at-home imitation of the very popular soft-serve custard ice cream product that has made many restaurant names famous [since the 1950s]!

Prepare a 3 1/8-ounce package vanilla pudding (NOT instant) with only 1 2/3 cup milk and one egg yolk beaten into it. Stir mixture in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth and mixture “just” comes to a boil. Remove from heat at once and stir in 2 tablespoons butter until melted and smooth. Chill pudding in freezer for about 45 minutes. Beat together ½ pint whipping cream, a dash of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until very thick and stiff. Beat chilled pudding with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Don’t mind the darkened coating on top of the pudding – that blends right back in when you beat it well. Then, thoroughly STIR (do NOT beat) the whipped cream mix into the smooth pudding. Transfer to a 6-cup freezer container. Freeze until firm. Break it up in a chilled, stainless steel or aluminum mixing bowl, using chilled beaters on an electric mixer. Beat 2 egg whites, in a small bowl, until stiff but not dry; adding 3 tablespoons corn syrup. Set aside. Beat the whipping cream mixture until smooth and creamy. Fold egg white mixture into that, using lowest speed of mixer. Freeze until firm enough to scoop. Makes 1 ½ quarts. Freezes up to 6 months.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – How to Have a Yard Sale in One Easy Breakdown

Hi everyone! Another fabulous Monday is upon us and, either, this week celebrates National Bargain Hunting Week, according to NationalDayCalendar.com; or it was last week, as BargainHunting.webs.com, describes that it’s celebrated from the first Monday of August through the following Sunday and has been observed, annually, since 1996.

A celebration for bargain hunting would have probably been among Mom’s top 10 favorite kinds of festivities, as she was always a pushover for a good bargain! Even in her last few months, when every little activity or bought of excitement seemed to drain her of energy, she still insisted on going to the J.C. Penny’s store in our local mall to bargain shop in their purse department! That was her second favorite thing to do – writing, of course, was always #1. Nevertheless, Mom LOVED purses – especially when they were on sale or clearance!

#BargainHuntingWeek

Like mother, like daughter – I’m a bargain shopper, too; not for purses, per say, but for my own favorite kinds of things. The big orange clearance signs just seem to beckon us, like the vibrant orange trumpet flowers that lure the hummingbirds. It’s an irresistible summon that feeds a wanting hunger. I don’t know who originated the saying, but it’s so true… “it’s more about the journey than the destination” – which is very similar to NationalDayCalendar.com’s comment: “The hunt for the bargain can be just as exciting as the item discovered.”

Quite often, on our weekend road trips around Southeastern Michigan and the “Thumb Area”, my husband and I will try to find new antique and 2nd-hand shops to investigate. We’ve discovered, on our many explorations, that, demographically, certain areas have better bargains on certain things than others.

However, that observation is based solely on the kinds of things that WE are looking to buy; for example, we often look for old farm, nautical and bar items – to name a few. We’ll find more nautical stuff near our Great Lakes and more farm stuff further inland. Bar items are everywhere – but, we find them cheaper further inland, than near the Great Lakes.

Whenever I’ve gone to garage/yard sales and antique/2nd-hand shops, I usually walk away with something that was a bargain, at least to me. I have an eclectic array of different tchotchke collections, such as Blue Mountain Pottery, Christmas village pieces and Michigan lighthouse sculptures to name a few.

If this is National Bargain Hunting Week, then I will certainly be on the lookout for a super bargain! That just gives me one more reason to check out some more yard/garage sales, as well as antique and 2nd-hand shops! This past weekend, there was an annual “Antiques & Yard Sale Trail” that ran all the way around the “Thumb Area” of Michigan, along (and near) the M-25/M-29 “Circle Tour” Highway.

I’ve shopped the “Trail” a few different years and, living near the main highway for it, I’ve also hosted a few of my own yard sales during the event. Overall, I think I prefer to shop it rather than “work it”, as I like to refer to it; because hosting a YARD sale is a LOT of work! I wish I had a garage!

A garage would be a lot easier to set up in – since, to begin with, it’s a solid, enclosed, protected area. If I had a garage, I could set up my tables earlier and put stuff out a little bit each night as I clean out different rooms of our house. I have to do it all in one day, the day before my sale starts; because it’s under a temporary structure that’s somewhat open to the elements.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I used to have yard sales every year (at least once – sometimes twice) to recycle and recirculate my bargain finds, making room for more and/or different stuff. Due to various extenuating circumstances, I haven’t been able to host a yard sale in the last 5 years, though. I don’t miss the work, as that’s getting harder on me, the older I get! But I do miss setting up my “store” and operating it.

To begin with, I don’t even plan a yard sale unless a few conditions are met, first: I need to have a Wednesday through Saturday free of time, to set it up, work it and tear it down; the weather needs to be favorable, at least for the most part because I don’t have a solid garage for protection from the elements; and I need to have enough of other-peoples’-treasures to sell, because most people don’t even stop if all you have “in your store” is a small table with a dozen things or less on it and around it.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Michigan weather changes often. Thus, since I don’t have a garage, I use two large screened tents, which set up side-by-side has 20’x22’ of covered space – close to the size of an average 2-car garage. These are important to keep my tables and displays dry or shaded, whatever the weather may bring. But, in part because I’m OCD, I need a day to set these up, along with all my tables and clothes rods. Then I can bring out all the boxes of stuff that I’ve cleaned out of closets, cupboards and the basement; and set up my “store”.

I like to make my yard sales “worth stopping and shopping”! Maybe it’s because I’m OCD (or CDO – alphabetically) or because of all my years of working in retail – but, I set my sales up by “departments”, with each table/area representing a different department. There are clothes, shoes and other such accessories that are all grouped by sizes, in one area; furniture and décor in another area; kitchen appliances and gadgets are all in another area. Other “departments” that I usually create with my tables and displays include bed and bath stuff, hardware and tools, sporting goods, yard and garden, books, electronics and so on. To save time on pricing everything individually, I use general pricing posters – for example “All Clothes $1 per Piece”.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I get a lot of compliments on my yard sale set-ups because they’re so organized. I also sell a lot because I price my stuff to sell… I’m not putting it all out there just to haul it all back in because I wanted to squeeze out every penny I could from my “junk” that MIGHT be somebody else’s “treasure”. I look at each item as if I was going to purchase it at someone else’s sale and I ask myself, “What would I be willing to pay for that?” (Then, again, I’m kind of cheap – because, like I’ve said, I love bargains!)

Here’s another one of Mom’s No Laughing Matter stories, in which she wrote about a garage sale experience she had when we were living in Pearl Beach. I think this was from around the mid to late 1970s; maybe the summer before we moved to St. Clair. The story is titled, Have a Garage Sale in one Easy Breakdown. As I’ve mentioned in other blog entries, previously, I can’t find the exact date of when Mom wrote this story, nor in what papers it was published. Among others, sprinkled across the country, most (if not all) of Mom’s No Laughing Matter columns were published in the Port Huron (MI) area’s “Times Herald” in the 1970s.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

HAVE A GARAGE SALE IN ONE EASY BREAKDOWN!

By Gloria Pitzer – Recipe DetectiveTM

Until you’ve had a garage sale, you just don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve just had one and I know! I’m missing three garbage cans, my husband’s workbench, a swing set, four lawn chairs and our station wagon. Actually, those items weren’t for sale, but you can’t refuse a good price when it’s offered to you.

All I really wanted to sell was a few odds-and-ends like 7 dozen Ruby Bee Jelly glasses, a coke bottle mosaic of my mother-in-law, a transistor radio guaranteed to crack plaster when operated by a teenager, an illustrated guide book to Disneyland and my husband’s bowling ball.

Of course, if the truth were known, I just had to do something about the closets before we were cited for contempt by the Pollution Control Commission. The kids were cleaning out their rooms and dragging out microscopes that had only examined curdled milk. There was an electric train with which only their father had played, a guitar that never played a tune (but made a neat tennis racket), socks that scratched and even their old report cards. But, I drew the line when it came to selling their toothbrushes and underwear. I mean, a person has to be reasonable about these things!

I had heard that garage sales were successful, but I didn’t believe it until I saw 23 cars double-parked in our drainage ditch, a pick-up truck on the back porch and a dune buggy in the furnace room! It takes a garage sale to prove that a woman will buy anything, if she thinks it’s on sale.

Afterall, what can one do with a dead philodendron plant – a plastic one, yet? I also learned that there’s no exercise so efficacious for the upper arms as standing in the midst of a group of mad women and trying to keep them from taking the rafters apart while trying to get at our storm windows (which I’ll have you know were NOT for sale); but, little did they care.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

One woman offered me a dollar for the dress I was wearing, and I had to run half a block to catch up with the lady who gave my son 50 cents for the sheets on the clothes lines. Did she care it was my laundry and I had to make the beds before the day was over – and where would I be without those sheets?

I finally had to administer first aid to the two girls who fought so bitterly over which of them was going to drag off to their car a plaid CPO jacket and a pair of blue worsted men’s slacks! Mind you. I wouldn’t have cared under any other circumstances, but my husband was still in them AND he didn’t want to go with either of them. He wanted to stay home and watch the ball game on TV!

By 6pm, they had bought everything that wasn’t breathing, barking or encased in concrete. As I sat at the kitchen table, counting up the profits of the day, my husband came staggering in, bruised and breathless. ‘You know that guy with the flat-bed truck, who’s been hanging around all day?’ [He asked.] ‘Well, he just gave me $50 and drove off with our garage!’

It all goes to prove, if I had put a price on those kids of ours, I might have sold them – but, who could afford to feed them once they got them home?

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Enjoy your week – go on a journey – find a bargain – AND post it on Social media with:

#BargainHuntingWeek

IN CLOSING…

#NationalJulienneFriesDay

Today is, also, according to the foodie calendar at OCFoodies.com, National Julienne Fries Day. Julienning is a specific style of cutting, as explained really well on Wikipedia; and using this style of cut on potatoes creates long, thin fries that are similar to what McDonalds serves. Many different root vegetables can be julienned. Since I can’t have potatoes in my low-carb lifestyle, I plan to julienne some carrots to fry for myself, using the same process as Mom directs in the following recipe.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Fun

Happy Monday, again! August has arrived and, among other things, it’s Family Fun Month!

In my last couple of blog entries, I have been reminiscing about some of my childhood memories of our family vacations; brought to mind, while reading through my copies of Mom’s old, 1970s articles from her No Laughing Matter syndicated columns. I’ve come across some more of Mom’s memories related to those which I recently shared. So, since this is Family Fun Month, I want to share more of those “family fun” times with you today.

Below is a couple of summertime stories that Mom wrote for her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter; they’re titled, respectively, How to Travel with Your Kids (And Live to Tell About It!) and How I Spent my Summer Vacation. As before, I can neither find the exact dates of when Mom wrote these articles, nor when/where they were published. However, again, the descriptions of us on vacation on the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes are from that long summer vacation we took in 1971, to see our relatives, in West Virginia, from Dad’s side of the family.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

HOW TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR KIDS…

(And Live to Tell About It!)

By Gloria Pitzer

I have nothing against traveling with our kids – as long as we can go in separate cars. A current poll, taken among the mothers of the Sears Sandbox symposium shows 10 to 1 in favor of going around Harsens Island on a skateboard, as opposed to traveling anywhere by car with their kids – even to the mailbox at the end of the [200-foot long] driveway.

For one thing, any trip is going to be automatically rated ‘X’ when, before you can get out of your own driveway, you must first settle which child is going to sit next to a window and which child won’t. Before the trip is scarcely underway, we can always depend upon the child who rolls the window down, because they need some air, to be sitting next to the child who wants the window up because they’re cold.

The Sunday supplement ads for vacation-minded families, who want matching luggage, are a waste of time. Who wants matching luggage, when it should, by all rights, be packed in a U-Haul truck and immediately be disorganized the minute you unlock the motel room [or cabin] door… because this is usually the exact moment I have to find a clean shirt and slacks for the one who spilled their Dairy Queen [treat] all over themselves. If I told him once, I told him a hundred times: ‘let me hold the shake for you while you drive, Honey!’

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The real trouble with packing, I feel, is that you usually end up taking all the wrong kind of clothes. When you leave home in the middle of a driving snow and the skies are icy grey and bleak, it doesn’t occur to you that 450 miles south you’ll be shedding the snow jackets and galoshes; wishing you had brought those shorts and tennis shoes, after all.

It is completely ridiculous to allow any child to pack their own suitcase. Chances are, they will try to convince you that one change of underwear is going to be adequate for a 10-day vacation – and that’s when I visualize myself spending all of my time sitting out the duration of our trip, watching my enzymes and bleach race their way to the dirt and grime in some out-of-the-way, ‘coin-op’ laundry [facility].

Some of the motel rooms we’ve stayed in, have been pretty nice; but, then, there are some others that left us feeling we could have had the same conveniences, for which we were paying $50 per day, for free had we stayed at home. If [I] can’t wash 6 days [worth of] dirty underwear in the wash basin, [we] can’t stay there!

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Not one of the lovely travel brochures I read showed ‘the happy family’, as they pull up to the Pennsylvania turnpike gate without realizing that the baby ate the toll card along the way. I can say, with all honesty, that we intimately know every public restroom on the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes… not to mention, 3 plazas in West Virginia and several in Niagara Falls. Another thing about traveling with the kids is that, invariably, the best restaurant is always just around the bend, after you’ve [already] stopped at the worst [one].

We are further engaged in the constant inquiries of the children who will, at annoying intervals, in the perfect unison of an acapella choir ask: ‘When are we going to get there?’ The remainder of the trip is spent… painfully telling them that I never wanted to read the roadmap for [Daddy] in the first place; and how was I to know that he wanted Exit 7, not 11! And how do you explain to the service station attendant that you were foolish enough to let your wife read the map and now you’re lost? I’ll be darned if I know – but, before we take another trip with the kids, we’ll have a bumper sticker on our car that reads: ‘Approach with caution – driver under the influence of children!

Photo by Gloria Pitzer (1970-ish)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

(And Other Fond Memories of Days Gone By)

By Gloria Pitzer

I see the neighborhood kids are in the spirit of summer… and it makes me remember, quite fondly, those days during which our own five youngsters were home and very much underfoot. Although, some of the memories are pleasantly enjoyed today, in the absence of our offspring, some of those by-gone days were not all pretzels and beer!

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

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

As I [remember], we stopped spending vacations with the children; considering how, one summer, we spent 2 weeks on the turnpike… and lived to tell about it… there honestly were positive virtues to the 9am to 3pm [school] schedules, which left us mothers 5 days a week, from September through June, during which we were not answering dumb questions.

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

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Actually, it was my husband’s idea, out of consideration for the neighbors, that he only let me sit on the patio in my bathing suit after dark. He also claimed that I discouraged mosquitos. This is the same man who would stand on the porch, whenever I sang in the shower, so the neighbors could see that he was not beating me!

The same man, mind you, who would come home from (and I quote him exactly) ‘an exhausting day of fishing’ and ask, seriously – when was I planning to clean off the top of the refrigerator, did I write to his mother, did I have fun at the Book Mobile with 5 kids and would it be alright if we ‘ate out’ that, by his definition, was hot dogs in the backyard over a fire in the grill that I would have to make.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

He just didn’t understand why I spent my summer vacation counting the days ‘til school opened again! But, then, he never had to find band aids for braless Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe [‘action figures’], who got sucked into the vacuum cleaner hose periodically.

My lovable, better half never had to wander through a vast wasteland of Pop Tart wrappers and Mr. Misty cups; while 7 neighborhood kids motorbiked their way through the yard, the flower beds and into the center of a National Noise Abatement Program, sympathetically excused by 3 probation officers who did not have to live next door to them!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Summer vacation, as some laughingly refer to those 10 weeks [mid-June to September], is NOT a vacation; but, more like an endurance test – during which, those families who stayed together, got on each other’s nerves! It was enough to leave a mother looking like a wire service photo that, by all rights, should have been printed under the caption: ‘NEVER MIND SENDING HER KIDS TO CAMP – HELP SEND THIS MOTHER AWAY!’

It’s mothers that need the vacation – not the kids! Ten weeks of kids at home and Mother could develop a personality of a dental drill with a voice to match! But, as I recall, telling the 5 kids one day, everything would be alright as soon as Daddy got home.

And the questions I had to answer all by myself – questions like: ‘How many more days until school starts?’, ‘Can I have a popsicle?’, ‘Can I have my allowance?’, ‘How come you’re always yelling at me?’, ‘Have you seen my tennis shoes?’, ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’… and those were just the questions my HUSBAND asked! Compared to all those [questions] that the kids would ask me during the day, I could [better] take those which my husband posed to me. He meant well. But, he never did understand that a mother’s vacation doesn’t start until school does!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Mom always had a very satirical sense of humor – not just in her writings and in her drawings, but in life in general. I always admired how much Mom took on, all by herself. She almost always worked from home, doing jobs for which she was paid money; and then the other, harder work at home for which she only got perks – like hugs and kisses and love. Mom wore many hats while simultaneously raising a husband and five kids, as well as an array of pets! I struggled to do the same with having only three kids, instead of five! If you consider the whole birthing process, to begin with, mothers know better than anyone – like the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said – “that which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

IN CLOSING…

#NationalWaffleDay

In honor of today, also, being National Waffle Day; I want to give you a copy of one of Mom’s “free offer” recipes for pancakes, as I couldn’t find a waffle one among them.

In order to be made properly, waffles require a waffle iron that creates a distinct pattern and crispy exterior. Waffles contain more fat than pancakes; because of the greater amount of oil used in making them, the raw batter is thinner when making waffles than when making pancakes. Thus, to create waffles from the following recipe, increase the amount of oil and post your creations on social media with #NationalWaffleDay!

Recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

PANCAKES, LIKE PERKINS’ by Gloria Pitzer

Ingredients:

12-oz can of 7-Up (or Sprite – diet or regular)

2 eggs

2 TB sugar (or an equal sugar substitute)

2 TB oil

3 C Bisquick

Instructions:

Put it all into a blender on high speed, using an on-off pulse to agitate for 2 minutes or until smooth. Let batter stand for 10 minutes before using it. Allow ¼ cup of batter for a 6-inch round pancake prepared on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Makes 16 pancakes. The batter freezes well, to use within 3 months.