Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Recording Memories

Hi, again, everyone! First of all, happy Chanukah/Hanukkah to all of those celebrating this wonderful 8-day, traditional Jewish “festival of lights”! Whether you say “Shalom” or “Noel” – both words mean “Peace”. It is the season of love, hope and understanding! We are all different, yet so alike, and that’s okay. Cheerish it! Embrace it! Own it! Celebrate it! “Let there be peace on Earth…” and let it begin with each and every one of us!

“Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes [TM] Quarterly, Winter 94/95.

As I make out this year’s Christmas cards from my husband and I to all of our friends and family, I can’t help but reminisce over the past year. Last Christmas was a rough one, as Mom’s health seemed to deteriorate in December. I didn’t do the yearly card tradition for my husband and I; as, instead, I helped Mom to write and send out her own Christmas cards – not knowing it was for the last time. It was such a rollercoaster ride that month and the next, as she seemed to get better and worse and better again (which, I understand, is usually what happens at “the end”) until she passed away peacefully on January 21st, of this year, lovingly surrounded by family and care-givers and friends.

Mom and Santa 2016

One “hidden blessing” in Dementia is the ability to recall old memories with clarity, like they happened recently. Mom often reminisced with me and my kids and grandson on our visits with her, about stories of some of our relatives, whom were long gone, from her chilhood memories. She couldn’t understand how she could remember such things, like they happened yesterday, but couldn’t remember who she actually saw or spoke to that previous day. It was also very hard for her to look in the mirror, as she didn’t really recognize the face staring back at her because her mind was often in the past, including how she looked then and not currently. As discussed in Scrapbook Photo Albums are Therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Patients by Mark B. Mizen, Ph.D., Director of Technology at Creative Memories; Saint Cloud, MN, photographs and scrapbooks and journals are such important “tools” for those who suffer from Dimentia and Alzheimer, as well as for their families, friends and care-takers.

If only hindsight was forsight! I wish now, that I had written more of her stories down or, better yet, recorded the conversations. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. Over 26 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about her and my dad’s plans for a Christmas present to me and my siblings, of a cassette recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their most dearly remembered and cherished moments; plus, memories of their grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know; as well as other stories about the family that we could pass on to future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. It would’ve been priceless to me and my own children, as well as to my grandson.

I’ve always loved Mom’s artistic way with words. Her love for writing and journaling helped her, somewhat, to deal with the Dimentia from which she suffered after a double stroke and “grand mal seizure” in 2015. The writing was as much a form of therapy for her as it was just a natural reflex. Mom penned her feelings and memories in journals for most of her life. My younger sister has all the journals that still exist. Some were lost or destroyed over the years. But, Mom also recorded some of her feelings and memories in every one of her publications too. I really do enjoy re-reading all of her “Food for Thought” memories that are in her old books and newsletters of which I still have copies. A lot of what she wrote about was regarding finding the blessings in any given moment – good and bad, alike – for that was how she was raised. Being grateful everyday for what she confronted and overcame was a big part of Mom’s journaling.

In later years, Mom was largely influenced in this effect by Maya Angelou, who told of her experience with “the yellow pad” in an interview with David Holstrom of “The Christian Science Monitor” (1993) – Maya said she went to her voice teacher in mental turmoil over having to leave her child in Europe when she returned to the States. Frightened for her sanity, she told her teacher that she thought she was going mad. He gave her a yellow pad and told her to write down her blessings. She said she didn’t even want to hear that, but he insisted that she start with the fact that she could hear him, that she could see the page, that she could hold the pen. “Before I reached the end of the page,” she [Maya] said, “I was transformed. So, everything I have written, every book, every stage play, every screenplay, was written on a yellow pad. As soon as I pick it up, I am reminded of my blessings.”

“The celebration of the moments worth remembering continues to have its place. ” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes [TM] Quarterly, Wnter 94/95.

As with my prervious blogs, I’d like to end by sharing one of Mom’s recipes with you that appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. This picture contains a copy of Mom’s 1985 make-alike version of California’s famous See’s Candy fudge (an easy, favorite treat she liked to make at Christmas time):

This recipe, unlike most of the others I’ve shared here, does not appear in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], an 8.25×11-inch, “Perfect Bound Softcover”, 322-page cookbook (also available as an eBook) published in January 2018 and available for purchase (ISBN: 9781504391214.) However, you will find, in this book, Mom’s make-alike recipes for Niagara Falls Fudge as offered at the Maple Leaf Village in Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada); as well as her “Somewhere In Time Chocolate Fudge”, like “Murdick’s Fudge”, Mackinaw Island, MI referenced in a scene in the movie, after which she named her version.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Recipes and Radio

Happy Monday, Everyone! According to the Foodie Holiday Calendar at OCFoodies.com, today, which is November 19th, is “Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day”! Being a Michigander, I grew up on some wonderful, Michigan-made, carbonated beverage products like Vernors Ginger Ale and Faygo Pop. We (Michiganders) call it “pop”; while, it seems, everyone else calls it “soda”. No matter what you call it, add a few scoops of ice cream to it and you have a delicious concoction that some call a “cooler”; while, others call it a “float”.

For those who don’t know me yet, I am Laura Emerich and my mom is Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”. I remember Mom running test after test, for weeks on end, trying to develop her own homemade version of cola because of requests from her “listeners” (the radio audiences, listening to her many different radio talk-show “appearances” across the country). She was often asked by the listeners, who called into the studios of the shows on which she was interviewed, what products or dishes there were that she couldn’t replicate. She often answered, “Cool Whip and Coca-Cola”. I always thought, myself, that it was not that she couldn’t replicate them, but that she hadn’t…yet!

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

Most of the thousands of make-alike recipes that Mom developed were inspired by “listener” requests. Sometimes she could develop a close make-alike version simply by taste tests. Other times, all she had to go on was a description of the product or dish from the requester. Sometimes Mom could develop a make-alike version of some product or dish in a matter of minutes or hours; sometimes, it took a few days or weeks. Sometimes, if it was an extra-challenging recipe, she’d even “shelve” it for a little while and come back to it with a fresh, new perspective; but Mom never gave up on a challenge!

In fact, Mom decided she was going to face “the Coke challenge”, so to speak, and discover a homemade version of cola. The challenge was on and Mom loved a great challenge! She persistently tested different combinations of ingredients to develop a syrup she could add to Club Soda for homemade soda pop. Making over 100 tests in about a six-week period, Mom finally developed a syrup for a close make-alike version of Coke-a-Cola, which she called “Close-a-Cola”. She also developed a syrup for a make-alike version of Vernors Gingerale (or ginger soda), a Michigan-made product, which she called “Veneers Gingerale”. In fact, in the early 70’s, it was through radio and the “listeners” that Mom was initially called the “Recipe Detective” and she further developed that into her “Secret Recipe Detective” identity.

Mom wrote the following editorial [found on pages 54-55 of “My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop”, written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer, Dec. 1989] about her relationship with radio and recipe requests:

Radio and Bob Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbors!’

RADIO turned out to be the most appropriate way by which we made people aware of what we were doing…my involvement with the wonderful world of radio actually came about without any specific intention of becoming a regular part of the broadcasting field… I didn’t know I had what is considered “a radio voice”. Heaven knows our five kids will, to this day, even in their adulthood, testify to the fact that, on occasion, during their up-bringing, I had been known to discover conditions that would prompt me to accelerate, vocally, in a pitch that only dogs in the next county could here!

My introduction to radio began with Bob Allison and [the] “Ask Your Neighbor” show. I was folding diapers at the kitchen table, waiting for my favorite daily segment of “My True Story” to come on the air when, instead, WWJ [a Detroit area radio station] announced that it had been replaced with a n-e-w show. This new show turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me…almost every Monday morning I [would] visit with Bob Allison and his neighbors… [NOTE: now heard Monday through Friday from 9AM to 11AM EST on WNZK 690AM, Detroit. A live stream can also be found on the show’s website at http://www.askyourneighbor.com/index.htm]

Neighbors

When “My True Story” was replaced by Bob Allison and his “Ask Your Neighbor” show was replaced by Bob Allison and his “Ask Your Neighbor” show… I was, at first, very disappointed. Household hints and problems around the house that you cannot solve yourself seemed like just too much homemaking information to please me. I soon, however, became ‘hooked’ on the show, as almost everybody does, to the point that, on Fridays, when Bob would sign off and say he would talk to us again on Monday, I was spending the weekends just looking forward to the show on Monday.

I called the show about 2 or 3 times a month for the first year or two, to ask questions of Bob’s “neighbors” that my newspaper column readers were asking me. When I couldn’t find the answer from consulting other sources, I knew I could rely on Bob Allison’s “neighbors” to come up with the right answers for me. In return, I would often…phone in an answer that I occasionally had in reply to one of their questions or recipe requests. Bob did not recognize my voice as a regular caller until I had initiated the newsletter, however. He asked me where the [hamburger sauce] recipe came from that I was giving, in reply to one of his listener’s requests, which is how his program has always worked…In mentioning that the hamburger sauce recipe would appear in the next issue of my monthly newsletter, which I had given in response to one of his listeners’ previous requests, Bob reacted with great interest and curiosity.

“You have a newsletter, do you?” He asked. “Well, tell us about it and how much it is and where our neighbors can get it.”

That was all it took to get us well-acquainted with Bob’s “neighbors” and, in no time at all, our subscription orders went from a few to many. Sight-unseen was hardly appropriate to ask people to buy a publication that they could not first examine. So, I spent all of one day and most of the next, thinking about and trying out a single page description with a few sample recipes from the publication that I could send out to interested and prospective subscribers…

Mom used the same procedure for advertising or “getting the word out” about her “secret” make-alike recipes and publications until she, finally, fully retired and it always worked very well for her business, offering 15-20 sample recipes along with information for ordering her current, self-published cookbooks and newsletter subscription in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Those are the recipes from which I’ve been choosing to work in with my “…Memories of my Mom” and to “re-share” with you.

On page 264 of Mom’s last book – “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it – is this 1983, make-alike version of Orange Julius or, as Mom comically called it, “Orange Brutus”:

Blend together until smooth, 3 c. orange juice with 1 envelope “Dream Whip” powder, ½ teaspoon vanilla and 3 small boxes (¾-ounce each) instant vanilla pudding powder. Pour into ½-gallon pitcher and stir in 3 more cups orange juice. Makes 6 lovely drinks when served over cracked ice!

The 8.25×11-inch, “Perfect Bound Softcover”, 322-page cookbook (also available as an eBook at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253) was published in January 2018 and can be purchased here: https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252 (ISBN: 9781504391214.)

This photo is of Mom’s updated Orange Julius make-alike version, using club soda for carbonation and with the name altered to “Orange Judas”, as seen on her “free recipes and information” sheet (2000):

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Time to Make the Cookies

Happy holidays everyone! They are really creeping up fast! Thanksgiving is only 10 days away!!! Before we know it, it’ll be the Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve – and then a whole new year will be upon us!

This was always the time for Mom to start baking like a “mad woman”, stock-piling and freezing dozens upon dozens of cookies, fudge and candy confections for gifts and entertaining.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

There are so many different types of cookies – as they say, ‘more than Carter has pills!’ Sometimes they’re called “biscuits” or “bars” or “squares”. Some are baked in an oven – and even that fluctuates between hard, soft or chewy – while others are set in the refrigerator or freezer.

Cookies use an array of ingredients including, but not limited to: butter, eggs, oil, peanut butter; plus, various sugars, flours, oats, spices and cocoas/chocolates. Many optional additions include coconut, peanuts, various nuts, candies, baking chips, raisins and many types of dried fruits. Some cookies are frosted or coated in some type of sugar. Mom even developed a cookie recipe a long time ago (as seen at the end of this blog), mixing dry cake and pudding mixes together with mayonnaise!!!

One of my earliest memories, from when I first started going to school, was of being afraid that no one would like me and that I wouldn’t have any friends. Mom gave me a lunch sack full of cookies and told me “the quickest way to their hearts is through their stomachs” and, if I shared the cookies with the other kids, I would surely make friends. It worked! In later years, it worked just as well to help my own kids “break the ice” and make new friends!

There’s no doubt that cookies make people feel good. They are often used as a reward for children, as well as adults, doing good deeds and using good manners, among many other things. Cookies can put a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day like nothing else can. There was a time, when my youngest child was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was withdrawn and anti-social, rarely smiled or showed any kind of emotion – but, mom could always pull her out of her shell, somewhat, with cookies! They were one of the few things that made her genuinely smile.

The following is Mom’s 1983 composition on the subject of “Cookies and Candies”, written for that particular chapter in her book, “The Better Cookery Cookbook”, plus her 1983 make-alike version of the Famous Amos cookies, which appear on pages 214-215 in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

   COOKIES AND CANDIES really bring out the little child within us all. There is something almost rewarding about simple confections that the food industry has also been able to capitalize on the products of this division with great marketing success. The 1st bakery marketing efforts in the American frontier days included delicacies of French origin, Danish breads and cakes, Austrian strudel and pies of truly colonial persuasion. The candies, which were originally for special religious observances, have been taken into the fold of a prospering industry and have continued, despite repercussions of the critics, skepticism of sugar and artificial sweeteners, to please the public… 

…When I compiled my favorite cookie and candy recipes for this section, I was really torn between what to keep and what to leave out. I wanted to share with you every single wonderful memory of a pleasing product, you could hopefully imitate in your own kitchen, as a compliment to the original… 

…In cookie-baking, the spirit of ‘reward’ is still there, as it was when we were youngsters, and remains a tradition – we will always find a place and a reason for having a cookie jar in the kitchen… 

…Years ago, when our 5 children were still in the sandbox set, holding tricycle symposiums in my flowerbeds and declaring our yard a national park for every child in the township, I had this ridiculous maternal notion that a cookie could cure countless conditions. So, I was wrong! Cookies did not remedy a Barbie doll with a missing string in her back or a G.I. Joe without a backpack in the ‘complete accessory kit’, as promised in the catalog. But, special cookies from a warm and sunny, semi-cluttered kitchen, did take the ‘bite’ out of a scraped knee and the ‘owie’ out of a bump on the head – and even though it wouldn’t bring the pet turtle back to life, a cookie and a kiss from Mom made the world seem a little bit brighter. I doubt that things have changed very much with mothers and their children since my own grew up… Even now…they all check the cookie jar with the same delight as they expressed when they were youngsters.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

FAMOUS NAMELESS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

   My original version had a dozen ingredients. Look at how I shortened it! Still, the results are identical! An interesting note on the popularity of these cookies… A few years ago, [around 1980], I received a letter from Dr. Joyce Brothers, in which this was the only recipe she requested. I sent her the longer, from-scratch version. I hope she has a chance to try this version. One thing I noted about the original cookie is that it has a “sugary” consistency to it. It’s almost like a confection. When Amos, himself, was interviewed in Family Circle magazine a few years ago, he offered them the recipe for making his kind of cookie at home. I tried that recipe 3 times and it was NOT one bit like his famous cookies. To be like his product, the cookie must be firm, a little crisp, but not dry, and have a definite brown-sugar-flavor and crunchy-texture to it. You can add chopped raisins to the finished batter and you can double the chocolate chips – but do be sure, if you are imitating the original product, that you include some pecan halves, as well as chopped pecans, for these really ‘make’ the cookie!

18-ounce box yellow cake mix

2 boxes (3 ¾ ounces each) butterscotch pudding powder (NOT instant)

1 ¼ cups mayonnaise

12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

4-ounce package each: walnut chips and pecan halves

   Mix the dry pudding powder with the dry cake mix in a roomy bowl. Combine thoroughly, using a slotted spoon or large meat fork. Then, mix in the mayonnaise; but, don’t use an electric mixer! When well-blended, add the chips and nuts. Drop by rounded spoonful, 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes at 350°F. It’s important to permit the cookies to cool at least 2 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them, carefully, to paper towels to continue cooling. These are very fragile while warm but tend to firm-up while cooling. Makes 4 ½ dozen. Keep at room temperature in a tightly covered container for up to a month! They freeze poorly. Note: If weather is very humid, you’ll note that these become quite limp if they stand out, uncovered, for any length of time. If you store the cooled, firm cookies in an airtight container they should remain crisp despite humid weather.

In February 1988, Mom appeared on The Home Show and they surprised her with an in-person visit from Wally Amos (Famous Amos Cookies), himself. I really wish I could find an actual recording of that show! Mom said he was such a nice man and really loved her version of his product – but made her promise to never go into the cookie business! The following is Mom’s updated make-alike version of the Famous Amos Cookies, from her time on The Home Show, as it appeared on her “Free Recipes & Information” sheet (2000) with an additional “Turtle Sundae Cookies” variation:

Recess Peanut Butter Cups, a Make-Alike Version of Reeses

Recess Peanut Butter Cups

By Gloria Pitzer, from Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1982)

The development of this recipe grew from a request made by a local group of parents whose children followed the Feingold diet to arrest hyperactivity. It became one of my most popular recipes across the country – and when I heard from the people at Hershey’s, in Pennsylvania, they were quite upset with my having such a recipe. I assured them that the name ‘Recess’ was drawn from the dictionary definition of the word, meaning ‘a hidden or secret place’ – quite in keeping with the theme of my series. And, because Hershey’s makes the famous product by a similar name (of which there are many in various industries, such as Goodyear and Goodrich both making tires), naturally, I recommended using Hershey’s chocolate in this recipe. I have had recipes sent to me by those who also try to imitate the famous product, but they each contained powdered sugar and were more like a cookie than a candy. I detected no powder sugar in my samplings of the famous product – so I didn’t include it in my imitation.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-oz Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bar
  • 3/4 C peanut butter
  • 4 TB butter or margarine (or 6 tablespoons melted paraffin – optional – but I use it, adding it to the chocolate when I melt it with the peanut butter. It’s up to you!)
  • 3/4 C additional peanut butter

Instructions:

  1. In top of double boiler, over HOT but not boiling, water, melt together the 1st three ingredients, stirring well.
  2. Put ¾ cup additional peanut butter in top of another double boiler over simmering water – or in a heat-proof bowl in a shallow pan of simmering water. Let peanut butter melt just to a pouring consistency.
  3. Have 24 miniature paper liners placed inside cupcake or muffin tin wells. You can place them side-by-side on a cookie sheet, but I like the support that the cupcake tin wells give the papers while the candy is “setting”.
  4. Next, divide HALF of the chocolate mixture, equally between each of the paper liners.
  5. Then, divide ALL the melted peanut butter between each of them, spooning it over the top of the chocolate.
  6. Finally, divide the remaining chocolate over the top of the peanut butter.
  7. Let it stand, at room temperature for 2 hours to “set”. Keep them refrigerated in a covered container up to a week. They’ll keep frozen for months – if they even last that long!
  8. NOTE: if you don’t want to bother with the cups, grease a 9-inch square pan, spreading half of the chocolate mixture evenly over the bottom and then the peanut butter over that and finely the remaining chocolate mixture over the peanut butter layer. Let it set until firm to the touch and cut into neat little squares. Makes about 36 pieces, depending on the size of your squares.
SPECIAL NOTE: The “Recess Peanut Butter Cups” imitation has had a few revisions over the years since Gloria first printed her make-alike version in her cookbook, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (Nat’l Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 32); when it originally called for Nestle’s milk chocolate candy bars and noted “do no substitute”. After a few discussions with the Hershey’s company, maker of the original product she was duplicating, Gloria offered to only use, and recommend, Hershey’s chocolate instead.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happiness Is…

Hello, Everyone! If you haven’t been here before, my name is Laura Emerich and Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”, is my mom. I started this weekly blog series last month to carry on her legacy through my memories of her; as well as, through the memories others have of her. This week’s subject is “happiness”! As Elbert Hubbard said, “Happiness is a habit cultivate it.” 

If true happiness is acquired through persistence and patience, it would be like the fable of the elderly Chinese profit who asked for a needle when none could be found. However, somebody offered him a crowbar and a file. He was pleased and assured his friends that it was only a matter of time before he could produce the needle he wanted. [a Food-for-Thought entry on page 304 of “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”; published by Balboa Press (January 2018) – a re-write of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)].

When I was feeling depressed and frustrated, miserable about life in general, Mom told me that happiness is not in what you want or what you get, but in who you are! True happiness comes from within us. It’s not about what you have in life, but what you get out of life, that counts. After all, it’s the journey, not the arrival, that matters the most.

Yet, there are those who truly believe, in their heart-of-hearts, that their level of happiness is in direct proportion to their level of success, which is in direct proportion to how much money they earn or have. However, success “levels” (if there really are such things) have nothing to do with how much money one has acquired; and, thus, has no correlation with a “level” of happiness. Mom believed that real success was found in how well we lived our lives – for the good of ourselves, as well as for the good of others. Thus, we should always do something that will make a difference for the good of others.

We all expect life to be good to us – at least, some of the time. But, when things don’t work out the way we plan, or hope, there’s an overwhelming tendency to feel that all life gives us is lemons. Everyone knows the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” (Also, a quote from Elbert Hubbard.) However, you need a lot of sugar to make a good lemonade. Whether the sweetener comes from self-love or from inner-happiness, we need to pour that sugar all over it!

One of Mom’s favorite “happy” and “feel good” movies was always The Sound of Music, in which Julia Andrews’ character was constantly bombarded with life’s “lemons”; but, like mom, she never lost her faith. She always found a way to turn it into lemonade. One of mom’s favorite references in the movie was from a scene in the Abby when Julia’s character was told, “When the Lord closes a doorhe opens a window.” Similar to Mom’s favorite Norman Vincent Peale quote: “God never closes a door that He doesn’t open a window.”

Photo of Gloria Pitzer, taken by Laura Emerich, March 2013

Mom believed that life’s best experiences often came out life’s biggest disappointments by, simply, turning “a let-down into a set-up” for something else – something better – something out there, through the opened window. She also believed that every new day was a turning point and that each experience (good and bad) eventually contributed in some way to our growth and happiness. For that she was always grateful. Since these life-lessons continue on a daily basis, we should be learning something new every day. After all, we are always growing and evolving – mind, body and soul. Mom once wrote, “…the opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity [or rejection], or weary from over-work… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the back yard, looking for four-leaf clovers.” [“My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop”, written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer, Dec. 1989; page 4].

Photo taken by Laura Emerich at a Michigan State Scenic Turnout along M-25, Oct. 2017.

Because of the happiness Mom taught me to find within myself first, I can also enjoy the happiness I find in the colors of a Michigan fall, the happy-go-lucky smile of my grandchild, the nuzzles and purrs of my cats (and husband), the sparkling sun reflected on the magnificent blue waters of The Great Lakes, the cheerful sounds of the birds and other wildlife in my backyard, the aroma of a slow-cooker Sunday meal – and in so much more! Where do you find your happiness?

Some people find happiness in chocolate. So, with that and the up-coming Halloween celebrations, I’d like to share with you Mom’s make-a-like version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, which she called Recess Peanut Butter Cups; asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

An alternate, 1983 version, can be found on page 234 of her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)].

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Made With Love

My mom, Gloria Pitzer, loved many things and many people and many animals; but, Mom’s greatest love (next to my dad, of course) was her writing. She put so much love and passion into the recipes she developed and wrote, testing them over and over again (which was a labor of love all its own) until she felt they were good enough to share. Her Food-for-Thought editorials were written with a great love and passion for helping and informing her readers – whether it was requested by them or something she came upon and thought it might be interesting to them. Her cartoons were drawn with loving satirical humor, meant to entertain her readers and bring a little smile to their day. Mom combined them all, for decades, into monthly/bi-monthly newsletters, as well as the many dozens of books that she wrote and self-published.

Mom once wrote: “The divine principle of good cooking is not a secret! It is taking pleasure in the activity; in the information previously retained and called upon through the facilities of memory. The spirit of good cooking is individualistic. It is not shrouded in mystery – but in love, for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it!” [as it appeared on the front page of her 128th issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Sep-Oct 1987].

Everything Mom made was done so out of love and with love. Since I was very small, I remember Mom hand-making my sisters and I beautiful rag dolls with an array of fashion to go with each. To this day, that’s still my favorite Christmas present from her. She also created a lot of our Barbies’ furniture, clothes and linens. She often made our own clothes, as well as blankets/afghans for us. Her attention to details showed all the thought and love that she put into making everything.

Family meal-time was even an event! Not like when my brother, Mike, was caught hiding his peas in a napkin under the edge of his plate, because he couldn’t leave the table until his plate was cleared – after all, there were children in Ethiopia starving – and, no, Mike couldn’t send them his peas! But, meal-time was always a family-together-time event, where we all sat at the table, sharing feelings & stories of our day (while the siblings might elbow or kick each other under the table, if those stories turned into tattles.) But, family meal-time was especially fun if we were testing some of Mom’s famous make-alike dishes – like the KFC-style chicken I shared with you a couple of weeks ago in my blog, “More than 15 Minutes of Fame!”. Even the “duds”, as we lovingly referred to those samplings that weren’t quite right enough to make it into her newsletter, were still made with just as much love as the final products that did…and they all tasted wonderfully delicious!

Just a few weeks ago, our local historical museum did a tribute to 10 residents; people (no longer with us) who contributed greatly to our community of St. Clair, Michigan. It’s a yearly tribute called “The Next 10”. This year’s presentation included my mom as one of the 10 special people. I was so honored when a few different people, working on this project, contacted me for any information, stories, photos and other materials that I could contribute.

The St. Clair Historical Museum put on a beautiful picture slideshow-like presentation for each honoree; and each had a different speaker, presenting the family’s and community’s memories of them. Family members and friends of some of those honored were present. To feel the love in the room, coming from all those other loved ones, was tremendous. I was very honored to be among them. I was especially honored that during the social, following the presentation, they served ice cream with a batch of Mom’s Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce that someone had lovingly made for the event! This week, I will share that recipe with you, as it was on her “free sheet” of recipes and ordering information and, also, on page 255 of her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.  You can also find it on this website under the ‘Recipes’ tab.

Michiganders (especially southeastern ones) know all about the mouth-watering, luscious, milk chocolate delights put out by Sanders’ Chocolatiers ! As their company slogan once said, “When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big, big treat.” I have a lot of great family-time memories of when Mom made this special treat for all of us – and it was especially fun to help her make it too! I mean, who wouldn’t LOVE to lick that spoon when done? I remember, as well, when I made it for my own kids while they were little – and it was a big treat for all of us! Here is what Mom had to say in her original book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (self-published by Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, May 1983, 3rd Printing) about the Sanders Company; plus, her favorite make-alike version of their hot fudge sauce:

   SANDERS’ HOT FUDGE was one of the nicest experiences I had in working with imitations of the famous recipes, for John (Jack) Sanders, the grandson and president of the company founded by his grandfather, Fred, was one of the sponsors of Warren Pierce’s radio show [found on WJR – Detroit]. Imagine my reluctance to share with his listeners my version of Sander’s hot fudge. I had previously had so many threatening letters from food company lawyers that I didn’t know what to expect if I heard from the Sanders people! To my amazement, the letter we anticipated did arrive only 2 days after I gave my version of the hot fudge recipe to Warren’s listeners. The letter, however, said – if it wouldn’t ruin my fun in trying to duplicate these famous dishes, would Paul and I and all the kids kindly accept an invitation from Jack Sanders to tour their Oakman Boulevard Bakery and Confection plant and meet their Head Chef, Edy Mader. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, between my Secret Recipes and Fred Sander’s products and, I learned, encouraged many out-of-state orders for their products whenever I talked about them during my frequent radio visits around the country. As the slogan for Sanders’ Restaurants, Bakery and Candy company said, “When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big, big treat…”

HOT FUDGE SAUCELike Sanders

14-ounce can Eagle Brand milk

14 ounces light corn syrup (use EB milk can to measure)

¼ pound butter* (*per the “free sheet” directions; the book – as written in 1983 – calls for ½ pound)

12 ounces Nestlé’s milk chocolate candy bars – Do not substitute on brand of candy!

a few drops vanilla extract

In top of double boiler, over simmering water, combine all ingredients as listed, stirring about 15 minutes until smooth and melted. Cover and continue cooking for at least 30 more minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes. Cool and put through your blender in small portions, using on/off agitation on high speed until mixture is satiny-smooth. Makes 1 quart. Keeps refrigerated up to a month – reheat in top of double boiler over simmering water. Freezes well up to 6 months.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Best Things in Life

What’s “best” to me may not be the same as what’s “best” to you or to anyone else. But, from all the comments I’ve read on the subject, a LOT of people seem to feel that the best things in life really are the “free stuff”.

As far back as I can remember, my mom taught me that the best things in life aren’t necessarily tangible things! Mom – as do I – always treasured things like feelings, thoughts and expressions of caring. A smile or a hug or a strong, loving, family bond (be it by blood or by choice) have always been very important “best things” too.

May 2017 – Myself, my grandson, my oldest daughter and my mom – 4 generations of family!

All of these kind of things are given and received freely…at no monetary costs. I’ve tried to teach these “values” to my kids also – as my mom taught me and her mom taught her – now my daughter teaches these values to her son. Chivalry, courtesy and civility are not dead – nor can it hibernate, as long as we continue to teach it to each new generation!

Mom once wrote: “We must…remove price tags from people. Everyone has worth; the excitement lies in the discovery of their value!…Wealth does not equal worth and so the amount of money we could have earned, but turned down instead, as a result of keeping our publications at home, is not as important as the work itself.” – as found in her self-published book, ‘My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop’, 1st Edition, December 1989; p. 106

In the Fall season of 1981, after the over-whelming response to her 1st appearance on the Phil Donahue Show – Mom was repeatedly laying her head on her desk, “in tears of anguish and fatigue”, as the family-operated, dining-room-table business went from “rags-to-riches”, in terms of public response to her creations. But, fame was not all it was jacked-up to be; and, it was taking its toll on everyone! The cookbooks couldn’t be printed fast enough, to fill all the orders that were continually coming in; some customers were upset that they hadn’t received their orders, due to all sorts of confusing reasons; and the family was stressed-out and crumbling apart from all the related fall-out of “fame”. Hence, I left home early (just before my 17th birthday), running away with a boy of whom my parents disapproved.

Mom and Dad thought that, by moving to the Los Angeles area with my younger sister (near one of my older brothers, Mike, and Mom’s oldest sister, Hazel, and her family), they could all have a new beginning and leave all their problems behind, in St. Clair. As I did, in moving to the Houston area with my boyfriend. All of us soon realized we were mistaken – about what we thought we wanted/needed and how to go about getting it.

“Hell is God, giving you what you thought you wanted.” – Dick Syatt

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

In California, it wasn’t long before Mom and Dad started missing the things about St. Clair that originally attracted them to move there from Algonac, in the first place…the friendliness of the town, the security of walking the streets without fearing harm, the simplicity of her small-town life. As much as they loved being near their family members, out there, that they rarely got to see, Mom couldn’t work or create in California! The peace and contentment she sought, but couldn’t find there, made her suddenly re-appreciate the freedom she had of living in a small, mid-west town, and she was eager to go “home”. She went back to what she loved best – writing and radio “visits” that kept her connected with her “readers” and “listeners”.

Remembering – Recollections of how we developed our Secret Recipes and the unique circumstances under which this dining room table operation has endured… will surely never make the best sellers list, and perhaps not even interest most critics, let alone the skeptics. They predicted that the public’s interest in my kind of cookery would not last long. It continues because it has merit! – (by Gloria Pitzer; from ‘The Original 200 Plus – Secret Recipes Book’, 1st Printing, June 1997; p. 2)

During that same time period, while I was on my own journey in the Houston area with my boyfriend, I also found that to be so true. It wasn’t long before I realized that being in a new place with my boyfriend was not making either of us happy. After 5 months in the Houston area, my boyfriend and I, along with another couple, moved back to our hometown area in Michigan. But, things still weren’t good/better for either of us. I was looking through rose-colored glasses at something that was just not meant to be.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Mom found out, through friends of mine, where I was living and how I was struggling. She started sending me little, anonymous, “angel” cards with a $20 bill – no return address or any writing other than my name and address on the envelope. I knew it was from her, even though the writing was “disguised”. Angels were our “connection”. While the money did help – that I cannot deny – it was the “anonymous” angel cards, themselves, that meant the most to me. She was reaching out, without any pressure or judgement. After my boyfriend and I split up, circumstances led me back to a loving and forgiving relationship with my parents.

Mom said, of that whole experience, ‘Sometimes we need to have something, lose it and get it back again, before we can really appreciate what we have.’

Back to the best things in life – as I said in the beginning – things like feelings, thoughts and expressions of caring. A smile or a hug or a strong, loving, family bond (be it by blood or by choice) have always been very important “best things”! They are the things that truly make me happy…given and received freely…at no monetary costs.

Before Mom hung up her hat and magnifying glass to fully retire, (in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope) she was graciously giving away “free” sheets of 12-20 of her “best”, most popularly requested, recipes and information on what publications she had in print and how to get them. All her recipes are copyrighted; and one thing she always asked for, when she gave permission to copy, was to give her the proper credit for it. I am going to share one of those recipes with you each week, here in my blog, as they also appear in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

In last week’s blog, “More than 15 Minutes of Fame”, I shared her “Big Bucket In the Sky Chicken” recipe, which was also on the “free sheet”. This week, as “Pumpkin Season” begins, I’d like to share Mom’s favorite butter pie crust recipe from that “free sheet”, which is also found in her last book (cited above) on page 243.

BUTTER CRUST (My Most Dependable & Very Favorite Recipe!)

[Like Baker’s Square’s product!]

Melt ¼ pound butter – NOT margarine – in a small sauce pan on medium heat until it’s frothy, but don’t let it change color or become the least-bit brown. (I like to put the stick of butter into my heat-proof, 1 ½-quart, glass mixing bowl, placing it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on “Defrost”.)

As soon as the butter is melted, and while it’s still hot, dump in the remaining ingredients:  1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup all-purpose flour.

Turn your electric mixer on high and beat mixture in a bowl for about 30 seconds or until it comes away from the center and hits the sides of the bowl. Quickly gather it into a ball and pat it out to cover the bottom and sides of a Pam-sprayed, 10-inch, Pyrex pie plate. (Pyrex plates work best with this very rich recipe.) If you don’t have Pam, grease the pan in Crisco only! It might stick otherwise!

Bake crust at 375°F for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Fill as desired. Makes one 10-inch pie crust. Note: Do not double this recipe. The dough becomes difficult to work with as it cools and, then, it crumbles and breaks apart. Make one single recipe at a time.

   To make top crust: Pat out a single recipe, as given above, on a Pam-sprayed and waxed-paper-lined dinner plate. Invert crust over filling spread in crust-lined pan, per recipe of your choice. Lift off plate and peel back waxed paper. Make slits for steam to escape. Gently press crust to rim of pie pan with a floured fork (or a fork dipped in ice water.) Use an egg-wash if you wish (one egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water and brushed lightly – lapping it, rather than pressing it, over top of crust), but the butter in this crust should allow it to brown beautifully without the wash. Bake per filling recipe directions. Generally, the best temperature is at 375°F for 25 to 28 minutes or until filling begins to bubble up through the slits in the top crust in the crust is golden brown.

Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce

Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce

By Gloria Pitzer, from Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1982) [aka: Recipe #1]

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz. Eagle Brand Milk (can)
  • 14 oz. Karo Syrup (light)
  • 12 oz. Nestles Milk Chocolate Chips (not the semi-sweet)
  • 1/4 lbs. Butter

Instructions:

  1. Combine ingredients in top of double boiler over simmering water and stir until chocolate melts.
  2. Continue to cook for 30 minutes, stirring a few times . Remove from heat, then beat with a mixer until smooth.
  3. When cooled, pour into a jar and cap tightly. Refrigerate.
  4. Makes 32 servings.

About Sanders Candy Co.®

Sanders first opened in Downtown Detroit in 1875. Over the years, they expanded to over 57 stores covering the Detroit area. These stores not only sold candy, fudge toppings, and baked goods, but also had fountain counters serving light lunches, as well as an assortment of desserts including the popular Ice Cream Sodas, Sundaes and Hot Fudge Cream Puffs.

Sanders soon became the leading purveyor of candies in the Greater Detroit area and began to sell directly to national supermarket chains and other retailers in the area. Many of the national stores were outfitted with Sanders in-store bakery stations for cake decorating and more, while others featured the full line of Sanders products in their bakery departments.

Sanders still uses the finest quality ingredients in all of their chocolates, candies and fudge toppings following strict formulas created by Fred Sanders over 100 years ago.

For more information, check out www.SandersCandy.com It has a variety of features including information on parlor locations, career opportunities, and an online store so you can order these truly amazing products if you can’t find them in your area of the country.