Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fortunate

#TGIM! Happy Monday AND happy June to one and all! As always, I look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances per year, in which I have to share Memories of My Mom!

Last week, I shared Mom’s experiences and memories from the first time she appeared on the Phil Donahue Show, in July 1981. The whole year, following that appearance was, probably, the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of Mom’s family-run, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We were definitely not set up for that massive response!

Secret RecipesTM was JUST A FAMILY AFFAIR! Other than one full-time Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend, it was just my parents, taking care of the day-to-day operations of their mail-order business, with a little help, now and then, from me and my siblings. That is, until that summer of 1981! Then my parents needed to bring in a lot of extra help. Even some of my high school friends were asked to help out, temporarily, with all of the extra mailings we had.

We sent out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets, in exchange for the self-addressed stamped envelopes that came in, per the offer that aired on that Donahue episode. We were also sending out thousands more newsletter issues than previously, from all of the extra subscription orders that came back from those “free sheet” mailings. But even with the extra help, we just never seemed to get totally caught up, as every day the hundreds of trays of mail kept piling up!

However, as frenzied as it was, in the end, it really did open a lot of doors for Mom that might never have happened otherwise; bringing Mom’s unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of new eyes. The 1981 episode reran for about six months or so, after the initial airing on July 7th, appearing on television screens, WORLD-WIDE!

There’s no denying that Mom pioneered a ‘movement’, so-to-speak; carving out a NEW niche in the cookbooks and food industries! There was nothing else like it, on the market, at that time. But, soon enough, many “copycats” certainly followed, copying Mom’s focus on imitating the “junk food”, fast food and restaurant industries’ products that so many people craved – some followers even copied Mom’s work, to the point of straight-up plagiarism!

Amazingly, when the Phil Donahue Show people called again, 12 years later, in 1993, Mom agreed to return for another episode; but only with the stipulation that they not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event! It turned out to be the show’s most requested transcript of all time, shattering the last record into tiny bits! The Donahue Show sent Mom a congratulatory letter and plaque to commemorate the historic event. It’s unfortunate that the show ended it’s 29-year stretch (1967-1996) a few years later.

There are recordings of that 1993, hour-long episode on YouTube, in a series of 5 “staticky” segments. In fact, I have my own “staticky” VHS tape of it, as well! Though, I did get it copied to a DVD, a couple of years ago, before it was no longer playable. Nonetheless, I wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s July 7th, 1981 appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, send me an email at: therecipedetective@outlook.com – and thank you, in advance!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 68)

BIG SHOWS & INTERVIEWS

AFTER DONAHUE, PM Magazine, The Home Show, even being mentioned on Jeopardy and complementary reviews in Catholic Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Campus Life, Mother Jones, National Observer, as well as The National Enquirer (absolutely accurate, too, I swear!) Plus, a write up in Playboy Magazine [and] Home Cooking. We said no to People magazine. We did not want another 1 million letters [like we received after the Donahue show] and surely that would be inevitable, considering their circulation.

On a side note: Michael Neill, a writer at People Magazine, was persistent about wanting to interview Mom and she eventually gave in. His story, ‘For Gloria Pitzer, Unlocking the Secrets of Fast-Food Recipes is Easy: Just Fake and Bake’, appeared in People Weekly’s May 7, 1990 issue, on pages 81-82; including a couple of Mom’s recipes and the two photos of Mom, below, by Susan L. Tusa, but not Secret RecipesTM exact contact information.

Still, the article contained enough information, that a large amount of mail and orders arrived anyway for Mom and Dad at the St. Clair Post Office, during that spring/summer season; just not quite as massive an amount as the bombardment that followed after the first Donahue episode.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

[BIG SHOWS & INTERVIEWS – Cont’d]

We knew that making a lot of money in a big hurry was not what we wanted, even though it might have been what others thought we should have done. We were afraid, then, that our cup would REALLY have run over. We also declined an invitation to be on Good Morning America the week after we were on ‘Donahue’.

And just as recently, we declined to appear on the Will Shriner Show… Also, I never did the ‘Kelly and Company‘ show at channel 7 in Detroit, even though they had invited me to be on with them several times. Jack McCarthy’s TV interview with us on Christmas Eve [1976]… for [‘Friday Feast’ on] Channel 7, in Detroit, was one of the highlights of our experiences.

And a few months ago, [I had] an even more enjoyable experience with Erik Smith, doing a segment in our kitchen for their ‘Friday Feast’, during which we prepared the hot fudge [sauce] like Sanders’ and the ‘McFabulous Biscuits’, from our information sheet of sample recipes.

Of all the wire services and all of the hundreds of newspaper stories about us across the country in the past 14 years [1975-1989], since our fast food recipes have become popular, I can still honestly say that I prefer radio to it all.

On another side note: Eventually, as with the Phil Donahue Show and People Magazine, persistence paid off, again; because John Kelly and Marilyn Turner, the husband-and-wife hosts of “Kelly & Company”, eventually interviewed Mom – and, yet again, not just once but twice!

Mom insisted that she would never do another NATIONAL television show, after the fallout from her Donahue experience. But, when her good friend, Carol Duvall, called to ask Mom to give ABC’s “Home” show (aka: “The Home Show”) a try, Mom couldn’t say no to her friend. It was a new show in which Carol, herself, had come to be involved. It turned out to be a really rewarding experience for Mom; especially when she was surprised by Wally Amos, being there, in person, to taste her imitation of one of his “Famous” cookies.

ABC’s “Home” show began as a half-hour program in mid-January 1988. Mom was a guest in February 1988. Following a 60-minute trial run in September 1988, “Home” expanded permanently to an hour-long series in January 1989. After the show ended in 1994, host, Rob Weller formed a production company with someone else and, together, they developed “The Carol Duvall Show” which aired on HGTV from 1994 until 2005, when it moved to the DIY Network in 2005 and ran for another 4 years.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 68)

THE HOME SHOW & WALLY AMOS

The Home Show, however, in February 1988, were wonderful to us [Paul and me]. They flew us to Los Angeles, and we appeared with Rob Weller and Sandy Hill in a one-hour segment that re-created some of our recipes. They were very specific that I do our ‘Famous Nameless Cookies’ and I could not see the reason they absolutely insisted on that recipe. I had trouble finding the right ingredients an hour before airtime, but we made compromises there and came up with an even BETTER version than before.

What had happened, without my knowing it, was Wally Amos, himself [was there]. They flew him in from Hawaii to taste-test my version of HIS product. What a delightful man! What a warm and generous soul. He brought me a tin of an assortment of his favorite cookies and, after tasting my version of his product, made me promise that I would never go into the cookie business! Meeting Wally Amos was one of those cherished memories that I will always look back on warmly.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 86)

FORTUNATE

I LOOK BACK NOW… and realize how FORTUNATE I was to have had my life touched by so many helpful people – so many famous people! It’s almost incredible that what started out to be merely the frosting on the cake, of my monthly newsletter, soon became the whole cake!

While duplicating the secrets of the [fast] food and restaurant industry was only going to be a part of the publications I was writing, it was a surprise to me that the interest and the response from the public led to my specializing in the fast food division entirely!

http://therecipedetective.com/2019/01/24/1985-gloria-pitzers-secret-fast-food-recipes/

I thought my first book was going to be my ‘only’ book on that subject, but – six books later – I was still seriously, but lovingly, engaged in the pursuit of new information and challenging recipe imitations. I’ve been asked by restaurants to give them permission to use my recipes and say so on their menus. I’ve been asked by ‘People Magazine’, at least once a month for six months – even before the Donahue show appearance – to grant them an interview.

The fact that I had declined the invitation because I couldn’t handle any additional mail, made the columns of the Detroit Free Press, when their ‘Tip-Off’ columnist said it was ‘classy’ to turn down People Magazine – refusing publicity in a national magazine because I did not want to ‘get big’!

[NOTE: As mentioned previously, Michael Neill’s story, ‘For Gloria Pitzer, Unlocking the Secrets of Fast-Food Recipes is Easy: Just Fake and Bake’, appeared in the May 7, 1990 issue of People Weekly, on pages 81-82.]

In Mom’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1982), [which is the book I helped her to rewrite and republish (with Balboa Press), now called Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018)] she wrote about some of the unhappy experiences she had with various companies and their legal advisers.

Their threats of lawsuits had Mom and Dad quite frightened at one time or another for attempting to duplicate their secrets in her own kitchen. But, truth is, Mom didn’t know their actual secrets unless they shared them with her. She could only make educated guesses and experiment with different combinations of ingredients until she came up with a good imitation.

However, others like Wally Amos (the former “Famous” Amos), Harland Sanders (the original “Colonel” of KFC fame), Jack Sanders (famous Michigan chocolatier), Arthur Treacher (actor turned restaurateur), the people of White Castle, General Foods, Hershey’s, and McDonald’s own Paul Duncan appreciated Mom’s flattery attempts to compliment them through her personal imitations of their products, even to the delightful caricature names that she gave her own creations. Those are the ones that made what she did all worthwhile!

In honor of June being National Country Cooking Month, here are TWO of Mom’s copycat recipes – one for Betsy Ross’ Custardy Cornbread! [As seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7)] AND a repeat of Mom’s Kentucky Biscuits imitation, which she prepared on ABC’s “Home” show in February 1988!

#CountryCookingMonth

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

#ThankGodItsMonday

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

…22 down, 30 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Persistence Pays Off

Memorial Day is upon us, and in the midst of a global pandemic. Thus, I can’t find it in me to say, “Happy Monday” as I usually do in my blog openings. This is a day for respectful solace, set aside to remember and honor all of our veterans who have died, serving in our military. Keep in mind, we may celebrate our freedoms but let us never forget by what cost we have them, in the first place!

In the photo below, I have shared seven thoughts on old Memorial Day traditions, about which I learned, last year, from Thanksgiving.com. All of us can, and should, bring any one of these things (or all of them) to fruition, in observance of Memorial Day. They can still be done safely, even amidst this pandemic and our crazy new norms.

Background from 47th Bomb Wing Assoc., Ltd. An invitation for the B-45 Tornado Dedication

Nonetheless, it is still Monday and I have to say #TGIM because, regardless of the day’s events, I always look forward to Mondays; as they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom with all of you!

And, as I have mentioned the last couple of weeks, Mondays are even more special to me, now; since, on the last Monday of every month, except for today, I will be sharing even more “Memories of My Mom” and the “behind-the-scene stories” of how she came up with some of her famous copycat recipes, over the radio airwaves, on WHBY’s Good Neighbor show, with host, Kathy Keene. This week, however, I will be on tomorrow, instead of today – same time.

The Good Neighbor show airs weekdays, from about 11AM to 1PM (Central Time). I will be on with Kathy for, at least, the first half-hour of the show. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI listening-area, you can also hear the show, live via the internet, through a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/.

A few decades ago, Mom was a regular, monthly guest on Kathy’s show, for about 13 years. Now it’s my turn and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share even more memories of my mom!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW

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

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

Pitzer’s House, St. Clair, MI; 1978

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

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

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

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

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF!

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

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

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

OVERWHELMING RESPONSE

If you’ve ever seen one million letters, you know how we felt when we tried to handle the overwhelming response! It was exhausting! Our home, which was both our office and our sanctuary, became like a factory, with people helping us to process the mail; eventually having to return thousands of orders to customers with our deepest regrets that we could not, in all fairness to them, delay their order. The onslaught of mail had forced us to do this.

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

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

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

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

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

That was probably one of the most chaotic times in the lives our family. But, in the end, it opened doors for Mom that might never have happened otherwise. It also brought MILLIONS of new eyes to Mom’s cookbooks and newsletters – and overall talent – as she appeared on television screens, in millions of homes, world-wide.

ONE MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 87-88)

BIG BUCKET IN THE SKY

With the tests for COUNTERFEITING FRIED CHICKEN AT HOME that was as good as what you could buy out – but for less – I felt I HAD to have a pressure fryer. This meant I had to have a place to also put it in my kitchen, which was already bursting at the seams with appliances and gadgets and utensils I really didn’t get enough use from, as it was.

Then one summer [1971], while visiting [our Knotts] relatives in West Virginia, we sampled some pan-fried home-style chicken that was every bit as good as the chicken produced in a pressure fryer. Paul’s 82-year-old aunt claimed why the chicken always came out just right every time she made it – which was religiously every Sunday – it was the pan! She used an 80-year-old wrought iron skillet that had never been washed in soap and water. She ‘seasoned’ it with shortening – lard, mostly. She kept it in the oven of her wood-burning, porcelain enamel stove, where it was always warm.

THE FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE that first called attention to my recipes, nationally – through the ‘National Enquirer’, ‘Money Magazine’, ‘Catholic Digest’, ‘The Christian Science Monitor’, ‘Campus Life Magazine’ and, yes, even ‘Playboy Magazine’ – was this following combination of ingredients. [See Mom’s recipe near the end of this blog post.]

The method is quite unorthodox and the original idea for developing it in this manner, came from a conversation I had with ‘Col. Sanders’ over the air with radio station WFAA in Dallas when I was a regular guest on a talk show with them for several months.

We discussed the secrets of the food industry with listeners by phone from our homes. The Colonel was fascinated by the publicity I had received for my ‘Big Bucket in the Sky’ fried chicken recipe and agreed that I was on the right track if I’d add more pepper. He loved pepper!

He also suggested browning the chicken in a skillet and then, oven-baking it until tender to achieve a likeness more to the original recipe he had created in 1964. He told me to look around the grocery store for one packaged product to replace the 11 spices – which I did diligently – and discovered that powdered Italian salad dressing mix was the secret!

So, I set to work to revamp the recipe. My original recipe was quite close to the famous Colonel’s product, but the coating kept falling off – because, as he explained, I couldn’t get the oil hot enough. He liked peanut oil, himself, but suggested that I could achieve a similar result by using corn or Crisco oil – with 1 cup solid Crisco for every 4 cups of oil. He talked about the quality in his product changing after turning the business over to new owners.

When Heublein Conglomerate bought out the franchise, they paid a few million dollars for ‘The Colonel’s’ recipe and technique. It seemed unlikely that a home-kitchen-rendition of such a famous product could be had for the price of my book. But the letters came in – ‘best chicken we ever had’; ‘LOVED that fried chicken recipe’; ‘our favorite chicken recipe…’; and ‘maybe the Colonel should have used YOUR recipe!’

IN CLOSING…

In honor of National Country Cooking Month in June, which is just around the corner, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Oven-Fried Kentucky-Style Chicken!

#CountryCookingMonth

SPECIAL NOTE: The tomato powder called for in the above recipe was also the recipe I shared in last week’s blog post at: http://therecipedetective.com/2020/05/18/mondays-memories-of-my-mom-improvising/

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

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

…21 down, 31 to go!

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

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Improvising

Happy Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM – because Mondays are my #52Chances a year, in which I have to share “Memories of My Mom”!

As I mentioned last week, Mondays are even more special to me, now; because, on the last Monday of every month, I will be sharing more “Memories of My Mom” and the “behind-the-scene stories” of how she came up with some of her famous copycat recipes, over the radio airwaves, on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show, with host, Kathy Keene (except for next week, on Memorial Day; as I will be on Tuesday, the following day, instead).

The “Good Neighbor” show, generally, airs Monday through Friday, from about 11AM to 1PM (Central Time). I will be on with Kathy for, at least, the first half-hour of the show. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI listening-area, you can also hear the show, live via the internet, through a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. A few decades ago, Mom was a regular, monthly guest on Kathy’s show, for about 13 years – now it’s my turn and I’m so excited! Mondays are absolutely marvelous!

Who among us have said, at one time or another: “I don’t have time for that”? That has been a universal excuse that so many people have employed for eons! I’ve used it, myself. Not too long ago, when I was looking into starting an eNewsletter, I discovered that, because of all the hours I was working for my “paying” job, I didn’t have the time to learn the digital process involved in such an endeavor.

The Covid-19 pandemic has crushed the pretext that we don’t have time, as many of us have had nothing but time on our hands for a few months, while we stay home and stay safe! Like others, my hours were drastically reduced for a while. But, even with the extra time available to me, I discovered that my self-learning capabilities were not as easy or quick for me, at the age of 55, as they used to be years ago. Thus, the eNewsletter idea has been shelved for a while.

To some degree, we all have had to improvise and adapt to the pandemic’s uncertainty and to the daily breaking news on the latest “stay home” guidelines and emerging, public “stay safe” policies. In small ways, many people have learned to improvise for things, like “going to the movies” by sitting home with their favorite snacks and Netflix (or some other streaming service).

Families have turned their backyards and living rooms into campgrounds and beach resorts to improvise their spring vacations. Teachers, students, and parents, alike, have learned to improvise going to school with home schooling plans and online learning resources. A lot of people have improvised their gym routines with home workouts.

During this time, people have also become quite inventive on ways to stay “in touch”, entertained, healthy and fit, and so much more. In fact, a lot of people are finding things like cooking “projects” to be a popular way to pass the time, these days. Families, especially, find this to be a great way to engage with each other and share it on social media to inspire and engage with others, as well.

Improvising is done by creating a substitute for something out of whatever is on hand. “MacGyver” made this DIY ad-libbing ability popular in 1985. But my mom, the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, made it popular in the food industry, more than a decade before that!

In the early 1970s, in order to save money on our family’s food budget, Mom devised ways to imitate some of our favorite foods and grocery store products right at home. She called the concept “copycat cookery” for “eating out at home”.

Mom shared her trail-blazing, “copycat” recipes with the readers of some of her syndicated columns, at the time; because, if it saved her family money, she wanted to let other families, who were struggling during those trying times, in on the secret too! In fact, Mom’s “copycat cookery” became very popular, very quickly, as there was nothing else on the market like it.

In 1972, Mom designed, wrote, and illustrated her first cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook”; which was then self-published around January 1973 and self-promoted in many ways, including through radio programs aimed at America’s homemakers. By January 1974, Mom had expanded her recipe and household hints collection to the point that she began producing and selling her own monthly newsletter and individual recipe card collections.

Way back when, during many of Mom’s radio show interviews, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, she often received requests from listeners who were re-located Michiganders and could not find, let alone enjoy, the special treats they grew up on; such as those from the Sanders Candy Company, fudge from Mackinac Island, Vernor’s Ginger-Ale (“pop”, as we call it – otherwise, known as “soda” to the rest of you) or Olga’s bread just to name a few. Mom showed them how to improvise and create their own versions at home.

Some of Mom’s growing fan-base were located in areas where some of the products Mom used in her recipes’ ingredients could not be found. Thus, Mom figured out a way to make those grocery items at home and, consequently, shared them in her newsletters and other cookbooks throughout the four decades that she and Dad ran their Secret RecipesTM dining-room-table business. Mom’s cookbook, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1980) has always been one of my personal favorites.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

Nowadays, thanks to the internet, we can order just about anything we want, from just about anywhere, and have it delivered right to our doors! So many companies that have had to close their doors, due to the pandemic and various states’ “shut-down orders”, have “re-opened” in other ways; improvising by taking phone orders and using delivery services and drive-through windows. If they didn’t already have a website or online virtual store, they developed one.

However, sometimes, when it comes to food, homemade is just better made. Especially if you have to follow a special diet, because then you control the ingredients that go into the product you covet. Since starting my own low-carb life-style last March, I have had to improvise on a lot of my favorite recipes in order to control my daily carbohydrate intake.

Like Mom, I’ve been experimenting with different combinations of ingredients that, when mixed together, will produce a similar taste – like my “Heavenly Low-Carb No-Bakes” recipe that I shared in one of my blog posts, from last October, called, “Great Recipes Need To Be Shared”.

By the way, I heard a great story recently about a young boy who wrote a cookbook with his mom while in quarantine, called The Quarantine Cookbook.  I thought it was a great share. Kudos to them!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 67)

WASTING TIME – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE SIMPLE JOYS?

Unfortunately, we’re waiting for that golden day, that one lovely moment in which we feel everything is finally grand – everything is finally just the way we have always wanted it to be! Everything we’ve been working for and moving toward has been attained. We can relax! We’ve lost the weight we wanted to lose. The house is finally in ‘company-is-coming’ order. The bills are all paid. The bank account is adequate. Our children are living productive, useful lives.

Everything will be wonderful – and then, and probably only then, do we feel we have the right to be happy! Until we achieve that perfect moment, that ideal existence, however, we’re looking forever ahead to it, not even seeing the opportunities – small as they might be – to be happy, now, with what we already have, with who we are [and] with what we’re already doing.

Everyone, at one time or another, seems to go through such trying times; carrying burdens we can’t seem to shake, with no one to help us make the load seem lighter. And in doing so, we end up making our mishaps more important than our smallest achievements. How easily we waste the time we have now, entertaining false pride as if it were the honored guest at our table of regrets. We try to avoid being natural, being ourselves, because it is usually less than we think we should be, or what others expect us to be.

So we look toward the moment when we’re sure everything will fall into its proper place. We finally have the time to call a relative we’ve been meaning to visit. We’ll write that newsy letter to the friend [with whom] we somehow lost touch… We’ll take that cake to the neighbor, [for whom] we haven’t had the chance to call on but meant to. But we can’t do those things now – not while were working out important problems and have so many things to worry about. Worrying takes time!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, summer 2012 (Cleveland, Ohio)

I’m nearly convinced that there is no such perfection toward which to work and for which to wait. Waiting seems an idol waste when there are so many things I want to do that have been pushed aside because obligations and commitments came first. Instead of looking ahead two years from now, days from now, hours from now, I look to the next moment. Human beings are not immortal, but some of us put off the wonders of living, as if we had forever to realize them.

For each moment that I didn’t enjoy as much as I could have, I’d like to be ready just in case I have a second chance at having them again. I would like to have all of our children with us around the dinner table once more, and really enjoy it, to make up for all of those times that I took their being there for granted. That would be a perfect moment, a perfect day!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of IMPROVISING, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for a tomato soup flavored powdered mix, like Lipton used to make; as seen in Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 18). Enjoy!

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

Please join me here, next Monday, when I reminisce about Mom’s improvisations with some of her recipe demonstrations that she performed on some popular TV shows, back in the 1980’s, such as the Phil Donahue Show and ABC’s Home show.

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

…20 down, 32 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – May For National Mothers Month!

Happy post Mother’s Day Monday and #TGIM – as I continue looking forward to Mondays and my #52Chances a year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

I spent the weekend commemorating and reminiscing about my mom (as well as both of my grandmas), in honor of Mother’s Day, as I went through their old photo albums and scrap books that I’ve inherited. I mused over how much they, each, have influenced me and taught me things as I was growing up and, especially, after I had children of my own. I miss them all so much.

Generally, moms (and grandmas, alike) provide our primary and most influential impressions – nurturing us, teaching us, and molding who we become as adults, ourselves. Hence, moms should be celebrated and honored for more than just a day! In essence, that is why I write these blog posts every week – to celebrate and honor my mom even more than just on Mother’s Day.

Mom & Dad with each of their moms – December 1985

This week, I wanted to write a special “Mom’s Day” tribute – for my mom, my grandmas and all of the inspiring mothers, everywhere. Yesterday was perhaps a much different Mother’s Day celebration than most of us have ever experienced previously! 2020 is undoubtedly going to see a lot of “firsts” in the way we celebrate holidays and special events.

Regardless, I hope all the moms out there had some kind of safe, marvelous, memory-making Mother’s Day observance; despite our new norms from the pandemic! Currently, some moms are being “essential workers” on the “front lines”, as described by the CDC, and some moms are being “essential workers” on the “home-front line”, as they have never been before. Some super moms are juggling both!

Over the past several months, our homes that were once our havens from the rat race have now become our shelters from the Covid storm. Home-sweet-home has become a combination personal office, school, gym, library, church, theater, eatery and much more. “Stay Home” orders are still in place here, in Michigan, and elsewhere, to continue “flattening the curve” of the pandemic’s spread that has plagued our world.

Mother’s Day – 2007

Mothers and daughters share a special and unique bond! I think that is especially so when grandchildren come into the picture, as that’s when I most realized WHY Mom did all that she did in raising me and my siblings – when I had my own children. That next generation put our relationship on a whole new level! I think the same can be said for my daughter and I, especially after she had a child of her own, too. Mom used to always say, loud and proud, “GRANDCHILDREN ARE A BLESSING!” I second that!

#NationalMothersMonth

A 4-generation photo from my mom’s last Mother’s Day celebration (2017) at the Community Wesleyan Church in Marysville, MI.

As I wrote about last May, we should always honor our mothers, regardless of the day – but why not create a national month-long celebration for moms! I even advocated that we should start a campaign for May to be National Mother’s Month! Who’s with me?

I feel that one of the best ways I can pay tribute to my mom – and that anybody else can pay tribute to their mom, as well – is to PAY IT FORWARD; honoring all that she has sacrificed, given and taught by passing it on to the next generation and hoping that they will, in turn, do the same. “Honor thy mother!” AND “Be the best you!” That, I believe, is the most excellent, of which any of us can achieve!

In my blog posts, as my mom did in her own patch-work-quilt-style writings, I try to bring “my readers” a hodge-podge of happy recollections of, both, Mom and the nostalgia of days gone by. Add in a few smiles and, maybe, a giggle or even a belly-laugh. I also enjoy sharing little bits of knowledge on hot topics and current events; with a recipe or two from Mom’s collection (and, occasionally, my own) as the whipped cream on top of the banana split!

I have so many wonderful memories, traditions and teachings that Mom instilled in me, and which her mom (and Dad’s mom) taught her. I can only hope that, in sharing them with all of you, they may benefit someone else, in some way, as much as they have me and my family!

Mom used to joke, in her cartoons and columns, about how Americans honor things like pickles for a whole week, while mothers are celebrated for only one day. I would also like to know why silly things, like pickles and other oddities are celebrated for a full week or even all month-long, while our very givers-of-life only get one special day of honor!

Granted, there is a lot more marketing, promotions and sales of cards, candy, jewelry, flowers and so on for Mother’s Day than there is for National Pickles Week! All around the world, moms are perceived as probably the most influential and compelling people – not only in how they impact our own personal lives, but also in how they leave their impactful footprints on the world, one child (or future adult) at a time!

Share your thoughts and use #NationalMothersMonth on social media, if you agree that mothers should be celebrated for the whole month of May!

Beyond our mother-daughter relationship, Mom and I shared an even more amazing relationship, as during the last few years of her life, I worked closely with her; rewriting one of her favorite, self-published cookbooks, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook. We chose the May 1983, 3rd Printing edition to rewrite and reformat for the new digital age. It was originally self-published in 1982, after Mom’s FIRST appearance on the “Phil Donahue Show”.

The book was freshly configured and somewhat updated for a new, digital generation to enjoy! The collaboration and partnership, between us, put our mother-daughter relationship on a completely new and different plane, for which I am forever grateful. The more I delved into Mom’s writings, the more I was inspired and moved in my own desires to be a writer. Now, here I am and, like half of what Mom always said, “…writing makes living worthwhile.” I just wish I could make a living with it.

Before she ever became the Recipe DetectiveTM, before she authored and self-published over 200 newsletter issues and more than 40 cookbooks, Mom created and syndicated many editorial-style columns that covered the satirical side of current events and hot topics, as they related to homemakers – some included recipes and/or cooking tips.

Mom’s writings ran under the various titles of “The Pitzer Patter”, “Minding the Hearth”, “The Cook’s Corner”, “Food for Thought” and “No Laughing Matter”. Mom also created a series of cartoon panels called “Full House, as kept by Gloria Pitzer”, which also focused on the satirical side of the not-so-liberated-life of a wife, mother and homemaker, such as herself.

Mom always had a very satirical sense of humor – not just in her writings and drawings, but also in life. Almost half a century later, I’m amazed by the timelessness of some of the issues, about which Mom wrote. I guess it’s true – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

We still need to fix the roads and there’s still corruption in politics. Every now and again, we still face a food crisis or flooding or a water shortage or some kind of seasonal/regional natural disaster. As well, there are reoccurring rises in unemployment, interest rates, the cost of living and general inflation. History continually tends to repeat itself in new forms of old events.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in…

No Laughing Matter (circa 1970s)

JUST A HOUSEWIFE AND A PRO!

As a ‘suburban housewife’, I fail to see how anyone could classify my routine as ‘dull’! For one thing, everyone knows that the mother of an active family has no routine! We’re lucky if we can get our slippers on the right feet first thing in the morning. In fact, we’re lucky if we can even find those slippers, having to, first, plow through an undergrowth of Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs on the way to the kitchen, where we must witness testy debates over who gets the [prize] in the box of [cereal] and why a 40-year-old man refuses to take the Donald Duck Thermos in his lunch…

What’s wrong with a quest for a roll of Scotch tape that’s your very own or having the phone ring and the call is for you instead of your teenager? [Margaret Mead’s] working definition [of a ‘first-class’ woman, not being a housewife or homemaker,] is a ‘trained, competent, professional woman’. Now, I’d be the last one to contradict an expert, but in defense of women who become wives and mothers… we have had training (although much of it’s on the job), are extremely competent and are professional [according to Webster’s dictionary] in that we have ‘a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or skill’…

If you don’t think it takes learning or skill to varnish a complex-of-disorder with enough love and efficiency that husbands and children grow up with security and comfort, drop around my kitchen some Sunday night… no matter what they tell us [working-outside-the-home homemakers] about turning our kids over to a day care center, there’s nothing like coming home from school to know that Mom’s in the kitchen, whipping up a pitcher of Tang and a plate of Twinkies.”

I always admired how much Mom took on, to balance homemaking and money-making responsibilities. From my youngest memories, Mom almost always worked from home or, when away, while we kids were in school; harmonizing her various jobs. Those for which she was paid money and those for which she only got perks – like hugs, kisses, and love from her family.

My mom wore many hats while simultaneously raising a husband and five kids! One of my favorite things about my life and how I was raised is how much both of my parents positively influenced and inspired me – but especially Mom, as a writer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook, wife, mother, teacher, etc.

I really consider myself lucky to have her as my mom and that I (as well as everyone else) can continue to learn from her timeless writings – her legacy of love. That’s what I enjoy most, sharing those memories, discoveries, and lessons with all of you! I also love to hear stories from others whose lives Mom touched, as well.

‘I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.’ – Gloria Pitzer (This is not a Cook Book, written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)

#EatWhatYouWantDay

In honor of National Eat What You Want Day, here is one of Mom’s popular copycat recipes, from her “Original 200” collection, for Michigan’s own Win Schuler’s Bar Cheese, as seen in The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 57). Like the Taco Cheese Spread recipe I shared last week, this cheese is not just for dipping! It can be heated and poured over roast beef, chicken, omelettes, rice, pasta, potatoes, and other vegetables – whatever you want. Experiment and enjoy!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

Now, Mondays are even more special for me because, on the last Monday of every month, I will continue sharing more “Memories of My Mom”, along with one of her famous copycat recipes, on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show, with host, Kathy Keene (with the exception of May’s Memorial Day, as it will be on Tuesday, the following day, instead). You can listen in, live, from a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. A few decades ago, Mom was a regular, monthly guest on Kathy’s show, for about 13 years – now it’s my turn! Mondays are absolutely marvelous!

…19 down, 33 to go!

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

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Risky Business

Happy Monday to everyone and “May the 4th be with you!” As always, #TGIM – because I forever look forward to Mondays, as they are my #52Chances, each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Yesterday was supposed to be the kick off of celebrating National Small Business Week. However, like almost everything else, because of Covid-19, it has been put on hold, as well, until further notice. According to SBA.gov, ordinarily, U.S. small businesses create about 2/3 of our new job force each year and “more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business.”

#SmallBusinessWeek

However, because of the pandemic and many of the states’ “Stay Home” orders, small businesses, from all over – especially those that provide a personal service to us, such as barber shops, salons, gyms, day cares and so many more – are closed indefinitely. In as much as these orders were put into place to help prevent the virus from spreading more and killing more people; they are, ironically, killing many small businesses.

Some small businesses that provide “goods” for us, such as restaurants and retailers, have had to learn to adapt, in some way or another; by turning their brick-and-mortar stores into online virtual shops and shipping goods to their customers, or by taking phone orders and using curbside pickups and non-contact delivery services for their customers. But, with so many people not working these days, most don’t even have the funds with which to spend on non-essential products anyway.

As Mike Patton, Senior Contributor at Forbes, says in the very title of his article, from March 23, 2020, America is “on the brink of [its] 34th recession.” Although, it’s not just the U.S. that’s facing a recession now. This pandemic has had a global impact; thus, it’s becoming a global recession, as Peter Goodman explains in his article in the New York Times, from April 1, 2020. For more information about recessions in the past century, check out this very enlightening article that I came across recently on CNBC.com, by Tom Huddleston, Jr. (April 9, 2020) – https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/09/what-happened-in-every-us-recession-since-the-great-depression.html.

No doubt, small business owners are facing some trying times, right now, and will continue to do so for quite a while to come. Their challenges are tough and numerous and require patience, planning and learning in order to adapt to our new norms. Mom always said, “learn something new every day!”

I’ve heard so many inspiring news stories, from all over, of small business owners (as well as some pretty big ones), facing shut downs and financial devastation for being “non-essential”, turn around and “re-create” their businesses to make any one of the many needed and essential medical related supplies – like masks, face shields, gowns, test swabs, ventilators and more. Like the old proverb says: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” That always inspired Mom!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

The following excerpts, by Gloria Pitzer, are found in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)

RISKY BUSINESS

THERE ARE MANY RISKS involved with going into business for yourself, no matter what product or service you intend to offer. If I had thought more about the risks, than I did about the possibilities, I never would have moved an inch toward doing any of the things about which I now write. My husband is not a risk-taker. I am. We complement each other well. He still becomes uneasy and anxious about every new idea I have for another book or another project, on the basis that ‘we can’t afford it.’

I have learned, over the years, to keep many of my projects to myself until they are completed; which, in the long run, saves Paul from worrying unnecessarily about something that will very likely turn out well, and keeps me from worrying that Paul is worrying.

When I have been asked about goals or destination, it is been my feeling that every corner I turn has a new goal, a new destination awaiting us. I have never thought of any one point as being the top. Life has so many wonderful opportunities for each of us to take advantage of, that it does not seem reasonable that I should give myself the limitations that would determine just how far I should be able to go.

Because this was never a hobby, never WORK, never a job, I have had no problem with the worry or concern that accompanies a position from which one expects to retire. I would not want to give up what I have been doing [writing] since I was a child. It would be unfair to have to give up doing something that has also brought so much pleasure and good information to so many people.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

It was, however, only when I realized WHAT I should be writing about and what I should be sharing with the readers – what I knew best – that things really began to happen. Of course, my husband wisely reminds me, when someone asks about writing their own cookbook, that WRITING it is the easiest part. Knowing how to SELL it is the hard part! (p. 53)

CHALLENGES & PATIENCE

I MUST HAVE SPENT hours studying the pieces I wrote in my early days – remembering where I was [and in] what I believed and expected from life when I wrote them. There was always a certainty in each article [and] every book begun but not always finished, then, that life was good and surely God was a loving presence. This always carried me through. It still does.

Surely, after all of this is now presented to us in the form of treasured memories, I can see that life’s challenges teach us to be compassionate toward others [and] ourselves. Whenever we must sometimes face the harsh circumstances of human living, in which there [doesn’t] seem to be any clear-cut answers to even the smallest events, as well as the big [ones]; patience and great moral courage are needed in every case, in order to overcome defeats.

Certainly, the effort put into the service of every business, whether it is a flourishing corporation or – like ours – just a dining room table enterprise, is more important than how much money you’re going to make at what you do. When the money is more important, the journey becomes a job instead of a joy! (pp. 7-8)

MORE RISKY BUSINESS

IT WAS ONLY AFTER I considered every avenue that I could use without having to take ‘a risk’…[as] Paul would not even hear about my publishing a cookbook! I mean, he was absolutely vehement about my not doing anything, at that time, that would be a risk…that it occurred to me to buy my own mimeograph. I could explain the mimeograph to Paul [later], and I could afford one from the ironing money and from the $20 a week I was also earning from the column I wrote, then, for the Algonac Courier (called ‘Pitzer Patter’).

I babysat, as well, … and the money there also contributed to my paper purchases and ink for the mimeograph. Fortunately, I was able to order the machine and pick it up a few weeks later, when Paul let me use the car to do some shopping that day. I had the mimeograph home and concealed under the sewing table in the laundry room, covering it with a bed sheet, where it remained for three months without Paul even knowing about it. He couldn’t, until I had paid for it in full; and the fellow who sold it to me agreed to 90-days-same-as-cash… (p. 50)

#NationalCartoonistsDay

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer
In honor of National Cartoonists Day!

HOW TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN RISKY BUSINESS

WHENEVER I AM ASKED by somebody wanting to launch a newsletter of their own, how to get started, I wish I could just send them a blueprint or a floor plan, like you would when you build a house or a garage. With newsletter writing and marketing, it’s all based on individuality, and experience being the best teacher and then having a responsive audience. It all begins with the sale.

You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that. You either know how or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light! You have to let your light shine and part of the preparation for communicating with your reader is to know HOW to talk to them, what they need from your newsletter that will enrich them or make their lives better. (p. 43)

#NationalStarWarsDay

In honor of today, May 4th, being National Star Wars Day!

HOW TO LAUNCH YOUR OWN RISKY BUSINESS – CONT’D

LET ME ASSURE YOU, there is no formula for furthering a business like ours. Many people have asked for advice in writing and publishing a cookbook or putting out a newsletter like ours, and have seemed so disappointed when I also assure them that I cannot convey to them in a brief letter or conversation, what it has taken me nearly 20 years to learn, mostly through experience, through trial and error – sometimes a lot of error!

But it is always a learning experience, as was the case with Thomas Edison when he was trying to invent the dry cell battery. After 200 tests and all failures, somebody else came out with the invention. Reporters asked Edison how he felt about his 200 failures, to which he replied: ‘Those weren’t 200 failures, at all. They were 200 things I found that wouldn’t work!’ (p. 70)

IN CLOSING…

#CincodeMayo

In honor of tomorrow, being Cinco de Mayo, here is Mom’s 3-ingredient, short-cut-cookery recipe for Taco Cheese Spread that is super delicious! Mom gave this recipe away in the early 2000’s. I’ve used it as a dip, as well as mixed it in with some cooked macaroni and hamburger for a quick, “Mexican Monday night” meal! I hope you enjoy it as much as our family does!

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

As I mentioned in last weeks blog post, I was going to be interviewed that day, over the phone and radio airwaves, by Kathy Keene. She hosts a show on WHBY (Appleton, WI) called “Good Neighbor”. It was so fun! We reminisced about Mom, her recipes and her “detective work” in the food industry. Mom used to be a regular guest on Kathy’s show, once a month for about 13 years. Now I’m going to do the same!

I am so excited that I’m going to be a regular guest on Kathy’s show (for the first hour, at least), on the last Monday of every month – except for May because of the Memorial Day holiday – in which case, it will be the following day, on Tuesday. I hope you will tune in and listen as we reminisce about Mom and her Secret RecipesTM legacy! Check out the “LISTEN LIVE” link at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

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

…18 down, 34 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Tell A Story Day

Happy Monday to all AND happy National Tell A Story Day! Also, #TGIM – I always look forward to every Monday because it is my #52Chances each year,  in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Recently, I was thrilled to hear from a lady who used to have my mom on her radio show once a month for almost 13 years, from June 1992 through December 2005. Her name is Kathy Keene and she hosts “The Good Neighbor Show” on WHBY, in Appleton, WI. The show still airs from 11am to 1pm Central Time, Monday through Friday.

I really love hearing from people who knew Mom. Everyone has some kind of wonderful story to tell about how Mom touched their life in some way – through her “food-for-the-table” recipes, “food-for-thought” editorials and “food-for-the-soul” commentaries. Even her cartoon panels, “Full House – as kept by Gloria Pitzer”, were witty and entertaining. Mom was a very talented storyteller, illustrator and innovative recipe developer!

#NationalTellAStoryDay

Today, at 11:08am CDST/12:08pm EDST, I am going to be reminiscing about Mom, in an interview with Kathy, during the first hour of her show! You can listen to it live, from your computer or phone at: https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. I never tire of telling Mom’s story and there is no more perfect day than today, since it’s National Tell A Story Day, to tell a story about her. Mom left such a wonderful legacy, as the “Secret Recipes Detective”, for all of us to continue enjoying for generations.

Kathy had asked me, in an email, if Mom had retired in 2005, after her last monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show. That’s probably what a lot of people have wondered over the years… “What ever happened to Gloria Pitzer, the Recipe DetectiveTM?”

As I wrote to Kathy, Mom never really FULLY retired in 2005. While Dad would have preferred that Mom had, she just couldn’t stop doing what she loved so much, so completely. Mom still did a couple of “special occasion” radio shows a year; until about 2014. She also did a few lectures, here and there, about her 3-to-5-ingredient, short-cut style of “copycat cookery” for some libraries and the “Good Sam” RV group, to which she and Dad belonged for many happy years.

Before Dad passed away, unexpectedly, at 84 years old, in October 2014; they were still promoting and selling 7 different recipe “bulletins” (2 pages of related recipes for popular “brands” such as Sanders, Bill Knapp, Bob Evans and others), for $1 each; a “Soup and Other Comfort Foods” folder (4 pages of related recipes), for $2 each and Mom’s “Mostly 4-Ingredients” cookbook, which was reprinted in June 2002, for $10 each – all of which included postage. In fact, I still have the bulletins, folder and a few boxes of that cookbook in my basement, which reminds me of something Mom wrote…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 54)

HOW TO SELL IT

YOU CAN WRITE THE BOOK. Get it published. Stack the books from floor to ceiling in your garage (or wherever). What do you do with them, then, once you have sold a few copies to the neighbors, your bowling league friends and some patronizing relatives who complement you with half-hearted assurances that you shouldn’t give up no matter what…

You plug along, in spite of the lack of interest from those you care the most about, those to whom you turn for a little pat on the back and moral support but find lukewarm receptivity to your project. You have to then know how and where and to whom you will sell your cookbook or newsletter, or you must find somebody who can do it for you, better than you can do it for yourself.

So far, in these nearly 20 years [1972 through 1989] that I have been sleuthing out the secrets of the food industry, I have not been able to find such a person. I have found, however, instead, a very wonderful outlet [in radio] for acquainting the public with what we are doing and this, in itself, was never deliberately planned. It was something that just happened – and like a beautiful idea usually does, it unfolded, step-by-step into one of the most extraordinary experiences [for which] I could have wished. 

In August 2008, my brother, Mike, who lives in California, had set Mom and Dad up with a website, TheRecipeDetective.com, from which to advertise their Secret RecipesTM offerings. It was a more up-to-date way for the public to be in touch with what Mom was doing. Since Mom and Dad knew nothing about technology, Mike managed and ran the website for 10 years, transferring the domain to me, the summer after our mom passed away, because I wanted to start writing this blog about her legacy as the “Recipe Detective” and I had asked Mike if I could put it on the website.

The winter after Dad had passed away, Mom wanted to revive her favorite cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (first printed in 1982), hoping to reach out to a new generation of cooks and “cook-want-to-be’s” and, also, to create a new residual income, for herself. But she couldn’t physically do the self-publishing route that she and Dad had always done, together, for the preceding 40 years.

After decades of saying she would never let anyone else publish her works, Mom finally consented to letting another publisher do it. So, my brother, Mike, and I did some research on different publishers and finally chose Balboa Press; who were more than happy to republish Mom’s cookbook.

However, the name of the book had to be changed, per the publisher, because it too closely resembled the title of Betty Crocker’s cookbook. I tried to explain to the publisher that was the whole premise of the book – to “copycat”, like a parody – but they wouldn’t print it, otherwise. Thus, the title became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook The Best of the Recipe Detective.

They couldn’t just reprint from one of our original copies, though. Because of eBooks and new technology equipment, I had to retype the entire book into Microsoft Word for Mom, reformatting it to fit the size of the new edition and scanning all of her illustrations to be placed in it, too. We ended up, leaving out most of her diet information section and a few other things that were no longer current or applicable.

It took me a couple of years to rewrite the book for Mom, as I was juggling a “paying job” and my many “non-paying” jobs at home and as her guardian, also. It went to print shortly before she passed away, in January 2018. Mom was so happy when she heard it was in print again. She told me that one of her favorite parts of her lifetime was that she was kind of famous for a little while and she was blessed to have met some really wonderful people because of it…

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 3)

HOW IT ALL BEGAN – REMEMBERING, WITH LOVE

It is obvious…if you are familiar with [any] of my books…that traditional presentation is not important to me. It has nothing to do with concept and everything to do with the time in which I put a book together. Most of what I have written has been done like a patchwork quilt, pieced here and there; hardly in sequence and never in a thoroughly developed format that probably every writer worth their salt (or Mrs. Dash) would be apt to follow, in producing a book of their own.

Since the [very] first book, back in January 1973, I have not been able to stick to ‘the rules’ when writing, publishing or distributing a book. It was the first thing a publisher would mention to us when, a few years later, they wanted to take over our books and publish them for us. The comments would range from ‘making your books more sale-able’ to ‘changing the format somewhat’, which all meant redesigning what I had developed so that it no longer reflected ‘me’, but ‘them’.

Making our books more ‘sale-able’ was the biggest puzzle, considering that, in the beginning, these same publishers quickly rejected my work; and, after an appearance on the [Phil] Donahue Show in July 1981, over a million letters from Donahue viewers made our books probably THE MOST sale-able in the country – if not the world – in the shortest period of time.

So many things happened along the way that contributed to our success as a family enterprise; and, while [in my writings] I will touch on some of the highlights of these experiences, it won’t necessarily be in the order in which they took place. Recollections of how we developed our Secret RecipesTM and the unique circumstances under which this dining room table operation has endured, will surely never make the ‘Best Seller’ list and, perhaps, not even interest most critics, let alone the skeptics, who predicted that the public’s interest in my kind of recipes would not last long. Having been our only source of income since August 1976, I would say they made a mistake in judgement. 

Gloria Pitzer – 1978, St. Clair, MI

Early in the summer of 2015, Mom had survived a double stroke, complicated by a grand mall seizure. She had been showing signs of “sun-downers”, after her previous grand mall seizure in July 2014. As a result of the impact of the seizures and strokes, Mom developed dementia and I consequently became her legal guardian.

Mom’s love for writing and journaling became her saving grace in the rehabilitation and recovery process of her stroke and the subsequent dementia. Journaling didn’t really “improve” her memory, but it was always her outlet for peace and serenity. Thus, it helped her deal with the anxiety of not remembering recent events. She always told me that the up side was that she could remember her childhood through her early adulthood years like they had happened yesterday.

She moved into a “retirement village” that had on-sight nursing care. Although she tired easily, Mom was still fairly active until around Christmas 2017, especially if it involved going purse shopping at JC Penny’s or out to lunch at a restaurant. Mom passed away, peacefully, joining Dad, about 2 weeks after her 82nd birthday, in January 2018.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer – 2012, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Unfortunately, I am not the sales person that Mom was. She was very creative as to how she got the word out about whatever she was doing. Mom’s favorite cookbook may have been rewritten and republished, with boxes of copies piled up in my basement, but they don’t sell themselves. I can’t afford to pay someone or some company to sell them, thus, this promoting-and-selling thing is a slow learning process for me. Like Mom, I LOVE to write! But promoting and selling is a whole other ball game!

Likewise, I don’t know how well I will do today, speaking in a radio interview, since this will be my first time. Mom was a natural conversationalist. She loved doing radio shows. While she had some really great experiences on TV, radio was always her favorite. She felt at home there. Well, in essence, she really was at home during most of her radio interviews. But, as Kathy reminded me, when I expressed my apprehension, it’s like sitting down for a cup of coffee and conversation with friends!

IN CLOSING…

The following recipes were not among Mom’s “free sample” offerings, nor were they in her “Original 200” collection. But, in honor of today, also being National Prime Rib Day, I wanted to offer you a copy of Mom’s “go-to” Prime Rib recipes from her self-published cookbook, Make Alike Recipes, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1991, p. 83) – this book is no longer in print, but you may find used copies on Amazon and eBay.

#NationalPrimeRibDay

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

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

…17 down, 35 to go!

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