Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Sweet Summertime

Happy Monday AND happy summer! I hope all the dads out there had an awesome, memory-making Father’s Day with their kids yesterday! As always, #TGIM – I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year to share these memories of my mom with all of you!

Summer officially arrived over the weekend! I hope everyone got out – in the “Great Outdoors” – and celebrated the Summer Solstice! I’ve been writing a lot about June, being National Country Cooking Month. But, did you know June is also National Great Outdoors Month and National Camping Month, as well?

#GreatOutdoorsMonth

After being cooped up, to some degree, as usual, for the winter months, (which, in Michigan, is usually 4 months long instead of 3 – all of December through all of March) people are usually “biting-at-the-bit” to get out and enjoy spring! But this spring turned out to be a 3-month-long (and more extreme) extension of our “winter hibernation”, because of all the pandemic restrictions and closures. So, I ask: “Who isn’t ready to get outside now and explore the “Great Outdoors”?

My husband and I love to enjoy the outdoors by going on a nature hike, or by taking a long scenic drive around Michigan’s “Thumb Area” and having a picnic by the lake or checking out a small village eatery. We also enjoy camping whenever we can get away for the weekend – Michigan has a lot of beautiful campgrounds, parks, and state land to enjoy and explore.

#NationalCampingMonth

I, myself, have been spending more quality time outdoors, this month, going for long walks or working in my gardens, as the weather has been getting warmer. I pulled out our cushions for the backyard furniture and made it “visitor-ready”. In fact, we had a backyard campfire with a few friends to welcome in the summer solstice.

I’ve also started organizing all of our camping gear and going over my checklist so it’s “ready to go” (except for filling our coolers) whenever we are ready to go. We usually go camping a few times a year – spring, summer, and fall. We missed our usual springtime excursion – so we’re really looking forward to our annual summer get-away! How do you like to enjoy your summer?

Photo by Gloria Pitzer, 1964

An online survey of Americans, conducted four years ago, in 2016, by the National Recreation and Park Association, found that the three most commonly preferred summer activities, among all the different age groups, were walking/hiking, going to the beach and having a picnic/barbecue. That sounds about right, still, today! It was interesting, though, that the survey had also found that Millennials preferred going swimming in a pool over walking/hiking.

If you’re one of those who are working out of their home all the time, like Mom and Dad did – or as many have been doing, temporarily, for the past 3 or 4 months because of the Covid-19 restrictions – that can also make you want to “get out and about” every once in a while.

Mom and Dad loved to take a day just to go on a scenic road trip to unwind from the workload at home and refresh themselves. Sometimes, however, work would manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat. Mom always managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home.

FRIENDS ARE A TREASURE and, when we count our blessings, we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered. – Gloria Pitzer

Mom and Dad seemed to make friends everywhere they went. Some trips were just for relaxation and fun. But other trips involved some Secret RecipesTM work too, as Mom really did enjoy what she did and it was easy to incorporate a restaurant review and an imitation of a dish (or two); even an occasional, in-studio, radio show interview, instead of through the phone lines, as Mom usually did.

Mom with Sue Smith at WSGW-790, Saginaw MI

Mom and Dad also loved to spend a weekend, here and there, camping with their “Good Sam” friends around Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. In fact, Mom wrote about that in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61); saying: “Recipe seminars that I have conducted for the Good Sam RV organization in, both, Michigan and Ohio, have given me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country relative to their recipe interests and food needs.”

Mom often said that her writing made living worthwhile. But her legacy of Secret RecipesTM gave her so much joy that, for the most part, it wasn’t like “working” at all.

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. 100)

MORE THAN FRIENDS

Some of our best ideas that come from our friends and we happily share the good they have offered. But even before the recipes were a part of our livelihood, I was learning from friends, holding dear the wonderful ideas they offered. From Dolores Garavaglia, one of my first friends when Paul and I were married, I learned how to make a terrific Italian spaghetti sauce.

We were visiting Ray and Dolores at their cottage, recently, near Houghton Lake [MI], and laughing over the dramatic shortcuts we’ve learned to take since those days, over 30 years ago, when we cooked ‘from scratch’ and thought nothing of an 18-ingredient recipe. From Harold and Anna Muzzi, we have derived a sense of appreciation for a friendship that goes back to Paul’s childhood when Harold [Muzzi] and Ray Garavaglia were his best friends and neighbors.

Julia Bulgarelli, another long-time dear friend, has always given me good ideas and she came from the cottage next door to Ray and Dolores to share an ‘oven stew’ recipe with me that we used in our January-February 1990 issue of our newsletter. Our files are full of such wonderful dishes. But, in addition to that, we learn about living and about loving from our friends. There is a reciprocation that blooms with affectionate exchanges, whether by mail or with personal visits.

Sherry Ellis came to my aid more than once when I was bogged down and needed another pair of hands. I appreciate her sparkle and enthusiasm for just about everything. Sophie Wesley and I have been super friends since we bowled together years ago and, when I least expect it, and needed it the most, a card would come in the mail from Sophie, reflecting the beautiful thoughts that comfort when comfort is needed.

Betty Pumford and I became friends through Flossie Taylor, who passed away a few years ago. Flossie [also] introduced me to Elsie Masterton’s cookbooks, which I truly treasure. Some of Flossie’s recipes dated back to her childhood when she remembered visiting her Aunt Clara and Uncle Henry [Ford] at ‘Fairlane’, their home in Dearborn, Michigan. Betty and I had wonderful lunches with Flossie and after Flossie was gone, carried on the happy tradition, also exchanging some great recipes along the way, as well as understanding and happy conversations.

Since our camping experiences with the national RV organization, ‘Good Sam’, we have truly adopted their slogan… ‘In Good Sam there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!’ How very true. What would we have done had we not been blessed with meeting Irv and Helen Henze [or] Helen and Chuck Mogg? How much we miss Chuck since he passed away. Friends are those people who know everything there is to know about you, but like you anyhow!

Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ [From “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING” by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]

To Good Sam RV Club (MI & OH Branches): Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country, relative to their recipe interests and food needs… Since our camping experiences with…’Good Sam’, [Paul and I] have truly adopted their slogan, ‘In Good Sam, there are no strangers – only friends we haven’t met yet! – from Gloria Pitzer (1989)

FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT

Since my dad passed away in the fall of 2014, Father’s Day has become one of those days when I miss my dad more immensely than others! Like any daughter might feel, he was and will always be my hero! Thus, being that yesterday was Father’s Day, I want to share with you an old, satirical editorial that Mom wrote about Dad called “Father’s Day (or) the King and I!” Below is a photocopy of the article, which I found in Mom’s June 1974 newsletter issue.

There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football.

MORE FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT

#CountryCookingMonth

When I shared the following passage in last week’s blog post, I knew something about it sounded familiar. The “Texas Fruitcake” and “Horton’s…family” referred to in Mom’s story were that of Puddin Hill fame.

Grandpa was holding a full house, trying to beat the town’s commercial Baker, and Grandma’s competitor. When Grandpa ‘called’ him, Hartwig Horton was holding a flush of diamonds, but confessed he couldn’t pay Grandpa in cash. However, he would call the debt squared, if Grandpa would agree to take, instead of cash, a much-coveted recipe for his family’s ‘Texas Fruitcake’ that Grandma had been trying to duplicate for years; the secret formula closely guarded by Horton’s Texas family [as in ‘Puddin Hill’]. Grandpa agreed. – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 42)

Mom’s “imitation” of this famous fruitcake was in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 279); which was a rewrite of her famous, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).

It’s unclear if Mom developed this recipe, herself; or if she may have gotten it from “Grandma’s Kitchen Journal”, which she has mentioned a number of times in her “family folklore” stories that I’ve been sharing with you the last few weeks. I’m sure Mom would like to spin another yarn about this being THE recipe, won in a West Virginia saloon poker game! But I’m pretty sure it’s Mom’s own development.

#NationalOnionRingsDay

These recipes, pictured below, are worth repeating. In honor of today, being National Onion Rings Day – here is Mom’s copycat recipe for the BEST ONION RINGS IN THE WORLD! It’s the same batter she used for her imitation of Arthur Treacher’s fish. Both of the recipes, in the photo below, were on Mom’s sample sheet of recipes that she gave away years ago in exchange for a SASE. They were also among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes – the cornerstones of her Secret RecipesTM legacy. Enjoy!

http://therecipedetective.com/2019/04/16/archer-teacher-fish-chips-plus-onion-rings-option/

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

THIS IS COMING UP NEXT WEEK…

#WHBY

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

…25 DOWN, 27 TO GO!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Make the most of Summer

As always, happy Monday to everybody! Today is also National Penuche Fudge Day – so, happy Penuche Fudge Day and, if you can, enjoy a luscious piece somewhere; then, hashtag it on social media!

#NationalPenucheFudgeDay

According to Merriam-Webster.com, penuche is a fudge usually made of brown sugar, butter, cream or milk, and nuts. There’s also a great sounding recipe for a traditional penuche on a 2014 blog entry from Jennifer Buggica, “The Foodie Patootie”, at https://thefoodiepatootie.com/national-penuche-fudge-day/. I wish I could eat it – but, unfortunately it’s too sweet for my hypoglycemic system. I’ll have to work on a sugar-free, low-carb version, even if it won’t be a traditional penuche.

In the summer of 1976, Mom self-published a little cookbook, called The American Cookery Cookbook, of which the Henry Ford Museum bought some copies to put in its bi-centennial collection. That was the only cookbook, of Mom’s, in which I could find a copy of a traditional-style penuche recipe. Mom called her recipe ‘San Diego Penuche’.

However, Mom’s 1997 recipe for fudge like Disney World’s (see that recipe near the end of this blog) is very similar to a traditional penuche. About a month ago, I had shared with you a different recipe version, from Mom, for fudge like Disney World’s.

No matter where you go across North America – from a little German town in Michigan, called Frankenmuth, to See’s Candy shops in California to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL to the Maple Leaf Village in Niagara Falls, Ontario – fudge is a tourism staple and the making of fudge, before our very eyes, has become an art form, as well as a form of entertainment for millions of North American tourists every year.

I can’t have fudge anymore because of my low-carb lifestyle AND hypoglycemia. I miss my carbs so much! Some sugar-free and low-carb versions of anything may still taste okay, but they’re just not the same, nor really as good! However, I can still reminisce about the real tastes as I watch the fudge-makers perform their magic shows through the big picture windows of all the little fudge shops in all the tourist areas I visit!

It’s still fun to watch them, live, transforming their thick, molten liquid creations – like the river flowing through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – by pouring the confections out of big vats and onto large, cold, marble slabs. Then, the fudge-makers fold the gooey mixture over and over again, cooling it and thickening it through the process, until they’ve formed long loaves of thick, sweet goodness to be sliced like bread. It doesn’t cost me any carbs to stand there and smell the sweet, sugary aromas – and reminisce about the flavors I remember from my childhood!

1970, Pitzer Vacation at Mackinac Island, MI

I have so many wonderful, childhood memories of family, summertime trips to popular tourist spots like Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), Disneyland (Los Angeles, CA), Toronto and Niagara Falls (both, in Ontario, Canada). In addition, are our own beautiful “up north” Michigan destinations like Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Everywhere we visited, there was usually a fudge shop at which to stop and see a fudge-making performance, as well as to buy some of their tasty treats.

An interesting story on the history of fudge and how it came to be a tourism staple, in the first place, can be found at https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/205844/how-did-fudge-become-a-staple-of-tourist-towns/. Another great article to check out, on the subjects of fudge and tourism, is called “Why does every Tourist Attraction sell Fudge?”, by Kat Eschner (Smithsonian.com; May 12, 2017), at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-does-every-tourist-attraction-sell-fudge-180963152/.

1979, Pitzer Vacation at Niagara Falls, Ontario

Going through Mom’s old photo albums brings up so many more memories of our family, summertime vacations. Mom, almost always, was the one to photograph all those special moments; although, Dad would take a picture every now and then, so Mom could be in some shots as well. Back then, there weren’t “selfies” or digital cameras with the capabilities of capturing thousands of pictures!

Years ago, every shot needed to count because your roll of film was limited to a certain number of photos, and you didn’t know if any of them would come out right until you had the film printed – there was no instant viewing and deleting, like we can do now. Photo technology has come such a long, long way over the last 50 years.

I remember when Polaroid cameras and disposable cameras were the new, cutting-edge technology! Now your cell phone is an all-in-one-personal-assistant with a built-in camera to capture every “Kodak moment” as it happens! AND, not only that, but, now, you can also skip the whole printing process and still share your photos through the internet via emails and social media sites or, more privately, through text messages!

Mackinac Island Memories – Somewhere In Time

I would have to say, the Mackinac Island fudge shops are probably my favorite ones of all! And the summer vacations we spent on Mackinac Island were always the most memorable! Except for the smell of horse dung, baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many heavenly scents from the sugary confections being made in the fudge and candy shops to the wonderful aromas seeping from the island’s restaurants and bakeries to the heavenly scents surrounding all the beautiful gardens that are everywhere. Mackinac is a very nostalgic place – no cars are allowed on the island, so getting around it is usually done by foot, bicycle or horse in some manner.

Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; it was always a magical trip back in time… especially the summer when the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience! [NOTE: long before that, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel. In 1947, Ethel Merman swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of This Time for Keeps. Thus, the pool was named after her.]

Photo of Gloria Pitzer, on the porch of The Grand Hotel, taken by Laura Pitzer, 1979

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

SOMEWHERE IN TIME – MACKINAC ISLAND [MI]

Our reservations were made in February, that year, to spend the Fourth of July week at The Grand Hotel on historic Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. We had heard, when we arrived, that Universal Pictures was filming a movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and that our 2-day stay at the hotel might be disrupted from the usual routine we were used to when we stayed there. The place was booked, and we were lucky to have those 2 days because other customers had canceled. The scene when we arrived was one of spectators and glamorous Hollywood activity in the lobby and on the grounds.

Paul was just teeing off at the green next to the golf pro shop, the next morning, when we heard a sympathetic moan from the beautiful leading man, himself, as he locked up his bike and headed across the street to the filming activity. I know I should have run after Christopher Reeve for his autograph, but I was in shock!

Later, in the hotel lobby, we watched the scene when Christopher Reeve checks into The Grand and, later, when he and Jane Seymour take a buggy ride away from the entrance of the hotel with Christopher Plummer looking on. Take the time to enjoy seeing the movie they were filming – we’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait to see it again! It’s for everyone who has ever been in love – or who has ever visited lovely Mackinac Island, as we do every summer.

In one scene of the movie you’ll notice, on the main street of the village, a sign over a shop that reads ‘Murdick’s Fudge’, a recipe which I have coveted for years. Finally, after dozens of tests, I came up with the secret for purporting this product at home… It whips up in 5 minutes and, a week later, it’s still smooth and creamy. – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235)]

After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, they bought a camper and traveled even more – being that it was much more affordable with only the two of them! Joining the Good Sam club was always one of their most favorite experiences. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters. Mom also wrote about her and Dad’s trips in most of her summer newsletter issues, especially about all the great new friendships they made everywhere they went. They always looked forward to the Good Sam “Jamborees”!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING

Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

On the first day of spring, I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet). Thus far, it has been 124 days of no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff… and, boy, do I ever miss the good stuff! It feels just like when I quit smoking cigarettes over 13 years ago. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – at least for a while! I must admit, I’m a carbohydrate addict!

In fact, I never realized how much I ate (and how little my husband ate) until I started this low-carb lifestyle/diet. I HATE waste and throwing out food! But, after I started my new lifestyle, I realized that I was the only one who had been eating up the left-overs, so food wouldn’t go to waste. It’s been difficult, learning to cook two, small, single meals at a time. I’ve been so used to cooking large portions for so long.

After starting this new lifestyle out at a daily carbohydrate limit of 20 grams, for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit up to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far. It seems to work for me. But, whenever I don’t keep track of my carb-intake, I go over my limit. I can feel its effects the next day, and it doesn’t feel good (such as an upset stomach and the shakes from a drop in my blood sugar level); plus, I re-gain a pound or two.

I mentioned in my last “Diet Update” that I had recently started using almond flour to make some Keto recipes. I still LOVE the 90-Second Microwave English Muffin! I like to turn my “slices” into a Monte Cristo sandwich for breakfast. It’s a little piece of heaven for about 9-grams of carbs!

I’ve also been experimenting with some of my favorite cookies and dessert recipes, using sugar-free and low-carb ingredient substitutions. I have developed a no-bake cookie concoction that can be panned up and cubed like fudge. I also like to use a no-flour, 3-ingredient, peanut butter cookie recipe that’s been around for years, substituting my own low-carb ingredients!

As of today, I’ve lost about 37 pounds! However, my “exercise regimen” is STILL not steady, to say the least! Nevertheless, I need to change that because I continue to not spend near enough time weeding my gardens or going for brisk walks. Thus, I won’t stop trying to make those things part of my already irregular, daily routine. My goal is to lose another 8-13 pounds, but I don’t have a deadline set. I’ll get there when I get there, but I WILL get there!

IN CLOSING…

Last month, I shared a version of Mom’s Disney World-Style Fudge from one of her free recipe and information sheets… Below is a different version of that recipe, as seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 9) – and its ingredients are more similar to those of a traditional penuche. Again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.