Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Michigan Day!

Happy Monday to one and all and happy National Michigan Day to all of my fellow Michiganders! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#NationalMichiganDay

As a proud, born-and-bred Michigander, having been raised by two other born-and-bred Michiganders, I think I should talk about today being, among other things, National Michigan Day! In my Michigander-biased opinion, it is one of the most beautiful states in our country!

Bordered by four of the five Great Lakes (and as a major part of the St. Lawrence Seaway), Michigan is home to an abundance of historic places, beautiful sights, famous people, iconic foods, renowned restaurants, and so much more.

Whenever possible, my husband and I LOVE to go on one-day jaunts or weekend road trips to different areas in our scenic state of Michigan, like my parents used to do. We really enjoy exploring the sparkling, blue water shorelines of the Great Lakes, surrounding most of our state; as much as the in-land lakes, rivers, parks, forests and farmlands throughout the state.

A friend of mine and I recently had a debate about the scenic virtues of our fine state. She’s a travel agent and has traveled all over the world, herself. She expressed concern about my Michigan-dominated, sight-seeing, bucket list, as being too narrow or “close to home”. She just felt that my husband and I should get out of the state and see more of our country.

While there are other states we want to see (if we won the lottery), I contended that Michigan is a big state and there are a lot of places within it, which neither of us have seen, yet, and would like to do so first. Mostly because we don’t get “vacation time” (or any kind of paid time-off) from our employers, so we kind of need to stay within our state, at least, for the sakes of loss-of-work-time and other related financial costs.

We really consider ourselves lucky to live in such a beautiful state! Given enough time and money, we’d love to travel to and explore all of the lighthouses that inhabit Michigan’s shorelines, as well as the old, historic windmill in Holland, Michigan. Personally, after we’re more safe from the Covid-19 pandemic, I’d love to experience Holland’s famous Tulip Festival, which is usually held annually in May.

And just as I wrote that last sentence, my husband walked in with our mail and the first thing he handed me was a gorgeously colorful post card from Holland! Pictured on the front is a beautiful painting of Downtown Holland by Lenore De Pree. I love it! That’s what Mom would call a “meant-to-be moment”.

#DiscoverHolland

‘Apparently, it’s true, that LIFE is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292).]

My husband and I, both, wish we could afford the time to explore more of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula too. We explored a little of the east side of the U.P., during our honeymoon – such as Paradise, White Fish Point, Tahquamenon Falls, Newberry, St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie.

However, we’d really LOVE to afford the time to go back and see more of its beautiful sights – like Brimley, Escanaba, Grand Marais, Ontonagon, Marquette, Manistique, Munising, the Keweenaw Peninsula of Calumet, Canyon Falls, Ironwood and Copper Harbor – as depicted at TripAdvisor.com.

#seefrankenmuth

There are some places (within a couple of hours’ drive) that my husband and I enjoy so much we love to visit them frequently. One such place, which was also a favorite destination of Mom and Dad’s, is Frankenmuth, Michigan! This little town, just southeast of the Saginaw-Bay City area, has been world-famous throughout generations, for their German-heritage and family-style, fried chicken dinners (among other things).

Saginaw is from where one of Mom’s favorite radio talk shows used to air on WSGW. “Listen to the Mrs.” was hosted by Art Lewis (and Sue Smith, when Mom was a regular guest years ago), who became great friends with, both, Mom and Dad over the years.

Normally, thousands of tourists flock to Frankenmuth from all over the world, all year long, and many will wait in line for hours to get their taste of the town’s world-famous chicken dinners at one of its two largest establishments – the Bavarian Inn and Zehnder’s. However, not right now because of Covid-19 restrictions. But those days of indoor dining WILL be back!

The town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, bakeries, cheese houses, fudge shops, hotels, breweries and other quaint little stores that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland at the south end of town (which is all Christmas, all year) to the Frankenmuth Brewery near the north end of town!

Over the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes as “The Recipe DetectiveTM”, she came up with about a dozen great imitations from the Frankenmuth establishments; including some of the famous restaurant dishes available at the two major restaurants mentioned above, as well as some baked goods and sugary confections from the local bakeries and fudge shops.

#MackinacIsland

Mackinac Island, Michigan is a very nostalgic place – the summer vacations that I spent there with my family, as I was growing up, are among my most memorable ones. Especially when we just happened to be staying at the Grand Hotel when the filming of “Somewhere In Time” was going on. We seen Christopher Reeves from a distance a couple of times, but we actually got to meet and talk to Christopher Plummer and Jane Seymour between scenes!

The island is actually full of many DIVINE scents! From the variety of flowers in the beautifully kept gardens everywhere you look to the yummy fudge and other sugary confections being made in the little candy shops to the mouth-watering aromas wafting from the open windows and vents of the island’s restaurants and bakeries that line the downtown streets where the mainland ferries bring millions of tourists every spring through fall (as the island is closed to tourism during the winter months).

The following recipe is Mom’s imitation of dark fudge like Mackinac Island serves – as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 31).

Probably one of the most notable Michiganders in our state’s history is Henry Ford, who has contributed enormously to the evolution and growth of our state, as well as to that of our country. He was the founder of the Ford Motor Company and invented the first automobile that middle-class Americans could afford.

Among other great feats, Ford also designed the mass production, assembly line; which led to the industrial revolution. Additionally, in the late 1800’s, Ford worked with another notable Michigander, Thomas Edison, who was born in Ohio but grew up in Port Huron, MI. The contributions to our society from both of these Michigan men are unbeatable.

Relative to Henry Ford, in a roundabout way, in the summer of 1976, Mom had self-published a little cookbook she wrote, called The American Cookery Cookbook, of which the Henry Ford Museum (Dearborn, MI) bought copies to put in its bi-centennial collection. Mom felt very honored!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 296)

My list of ‘Secret Recipes’ had grown to 200 and we offered them, on 4×6-inch cards [that I printed on my mimeograph], at $.25 each or 5 for a dollar. It was quite a packaging process to fill the combinations of orders, so I put all those recipes into a book.

It was going to be our only book on the subject, since most of the recipes were fast foods – but, as it turned out, it was only the first in a series of five books. After ‘Book One’ took off and became a very good seller, I did a Bicentennial American Cookery book as a limited edition and was pleased when the Henry Ford Library at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan ordered copies for their Bicentennial collection. That was July 1976…

Another famous Ford from Michigan was Gerald R. Ford, former (38th) President of the United States, and his wife, Betty Ford – First Lady (1974-1977). Betty was a big advocate for early detection of breast cancer and chemical dependency treatment (both were raised in Grand Rapids, MI). Mom had another roundabout happenstance with each of them also, as she wrote about in the passages pictured below.

Pictured below is Mom’s revision of the recipe she received from Betty Ford, as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To.

Yet another famous Michigander that Mom came to know, through her own growing fame (especially after being on the Phil Donahue Show) as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, is Ed McMahon and his wife, Pam (also a Michigander), which I also wrote about in another blog post a while back…

Mom’s copycat recipes revolution took the nation by storm and washed over the world – thanks to the Phil Donahue Show – like a tidal wave! Ever since her early cookbooks on the subject were first released in the mid-1970s, Mom referred to her copycat imitations as her solutions to “eating out – at home”, and that, she’d add, no longer meant hot dogs on the grill, outside, in the yard!

Word spread like wildfire that a small-town, Michigan housewife was duplicating famous foods from famous places and sharing her secrets in her self-published newsletter and cookbooks! Radio stations, newspapers, magazines and television – they all picked up on the story and it snowballed from there.

Mom was also invited to appear on the Tonight Show; but had been so over-whelmed by her other TV appearances and the audiences’ responses and orders with which our family just couldn’t keep up. Not wanting to get so big that she may lose her enjoyment in what she does, Mom, regretfully, had to decline… [But] Michiganders are kindred spirits!

#SandersCandy

One name in chocolate that Michiganders know well is Sanders Candy. The official Sanders story can be found at https://www.sanderscandy.com/about-us. In the early 1970s, when Mom developed her first imitation of their scrumptious Hot Fudge Sauce, it was among her first 200 “copycat” recipes that launched Secret RecipesTM.

Michiganders (especially southeastern ones) know all about Sanders’ satiny-smooth, luscious, milk chocolate delights! 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 their special treats for us – and it was especially fun to help her make them too!

A secret that Mom discovered, in developing her homemade version, was that Nestle brand milk chocolate was the key ingredient in replicating the creaminess and flavor, as no other brand she had tried brought about the same taste and texture that she was trying to achieve. I’ve shared a couple different versions of Mom’s homemade Sanders’ Hot Fudge Sauce imitations in the “Recipes” tab on this website. It was always one of our family’s top 10 favorites of Mom’s copycat creations!

#PureMichigan

Many decades ago, during the countless radio show interviews that Mom did, around the country and internationally, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, she often received requests for Michigan-based recipes. Usually the appeals were from listeners who were re-located Michiganders that couldn’t find or enjoy their favorite, Michigan-made, iconic foods!

Michigan restaurants that Mom would frequent to taste-test their dishes and try to develop imitations of them at home included the Cheesecake Factory, Olga’s Kitchen, Bill Knapp’s, Win Schuler’s, Elias Brothers’ Big Boy (from whose menus she developed over 50 imitations), and J.L. Hudson’s (from whose menus she developed about three dozen imitations) – just to name a few of her favorite places.

Michigan is a treasure trove of great places, people, products, food and so much more! Happy National Michigan Day!

In honor of #NationalMichiganDay, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating Hudson’s Cheese Bread at home; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 17)

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some other celebrations for the week [Jan. 17th-23rd (for 2021)] include: National Handwriting Analysis Week, Hunt For Happiness Week, National Healthy Weight Week, & National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week!

Today is also Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, National Thesaurus Day, and National Peking Duck Day!

Tuesday is National Popcorn Day!

Wednesday is national Cheese Lover’s Day and National Buttercrunch Day!

Thursday is National Hugging Day and National Granola Bar Day!

Friday is Celebration Of Life Day and National Blonde Brownie Day!

Saturday is National Pie Day, John Hancock’s birthday and National Handwriting Day!

Sunday is National Peanut Butter Day, National Compliment Day, and International Day Of Education!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#TGIM

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

…3 down and another 49 to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Don’t Call Me Late For Dinner!

Hello everyone and happy Monday! I don’t know about you but, personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#SundaySupper

Yesterday was the observance of national Sunday Supper day – which celebrates family-togetherness, around the dining table (no phones or other electronics allowed)! The point is to just eat one meal together, at least one day a week; as well as to connect and conversate with each other. That’s the way it used to be, in the olden days, when I was growing up… or the even older, olden days when my parents were growing up (and their parents before them, as well).

With the onset of the industrial age and the soaring costs-of-living, more and more Americans, of both sexes, began working outside the home. Similarly, less and less importance was given to dining together, while more was given to “on-the-go”, “on-your-own” eating elsewhere.

Along the way families became too easily entwined with their own individual lives with jobs, school, homework, friends, sports (plus other after-school activities), and so on. Most families have become too busy to even sit down together for at least one meal a day (except for Sundays, maybe).

I was inspired by something Ronnie Koenig wrote (May 5, 2019) in “Sunday Dinner – The Tradition We Need To Bring Back”, as seen at NBCNews.com: “We all have busy schedules – errands to run, work to do, kids to shuttle around – but for a few hours that Sunday evening, we decided to take a break from it all. The best part was that it was for no other reason than it being Sunday. It wasn’t anyone’s birthday or graduation, but we were all gathered around the table together.”

As I’ve written in previous blog posts, when I was growing up, our family-meals weren’t just a few times a year, such as on holidays and birthdays. When she could, Mom liked to make our meals seem like special occasions! Don’t get me wrong. We certainly weren’t the Brady Bunch or Walton’s family, by any means. We ate together because that’s when the meal was served!

Even though she made GREAT imitations of our favorite restaurant foods, Mom regularly reminded us that the kitchen wasn’t a restaurant, in which you could drop by at any time and place an order for whatever you want. You ate what was made and when it was served, or you went hungry until the next meal. But, honestly, I can’t remember any of us willing to miss one of Mom’s meals.

She would jokingly say otherwise, in many of her editorials; but even before Mom became famous as the Secret RecipesTM DetectiveTM, she was always a great cook! I miss those days, myself. Even as my own children were growing up (basically after elementary school age), we didn’t have a lot of family meals together because of the classic “busy lives” scenario. My husband and I are empty-nesters now, and even we don’t often sit down to eat a meal together.

SPECIAL SHOUT OUT to the “Sunday Supper Movement”!

I recently discovered, through NationalDayCalendar.com, that Isabel Laessig forged the “Sunday Supper Movement” and has a website by the same name at https://sundaysuppermovement.com/.  This is such a wonderful thing! I highly recommend you check it out for yourself. I can’t wait to try Isabel’s “Candied Bacon” recipe – YUM!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 113)

GRATITUDE

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, was always my mother’s advice to me when I would try to bend a sympathetic ear, imploring her to comfort me and keep me company in my occasional misery. And, of course, misery does love company!

But counting my blessings was the last thing in the world I felt up to doing when the world seemed to be so hopelessly bleak, and whatever problem I had at the time, seemed so devastating to me. Now here I am telling my own children the same thing. Only I tell my own children to count their opportunities, for an opportunity is just a blessing in disguise!

I wish I had known this years ago. What frustrating disappointments I could have avoided, or at the upmost, handled better. I would’ve used the enthusiasm and the optimism that I acquired during the last two years or so to work off those petty resentments that separate us from folks whom we could really care about, if we’d only get to know them better, and perhaps understand why we’re in conflict.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer (circa 1968)

Naturally, if we judge everything by what we see on television, we’d know that’s impossible – that people in conflict can’t resolve their differences, or so the reports indicate in those real-life fantasies that exaggerate greed, envy and contempt as if the motivation for these traits were purely justified. I don’t think they ever are!

Preparing your assortment of thoughts and feelings in a compatible mixture, in order to produce successful relationships, is really no different than preparing an assortment of compatible ingredients in a recipe for a dish that promises to be a stunning success on the dinner table.

Whether it’s a recipe for preparing a very good dish, or a very good relationship, the basics are still the same – compatible ingredients, attention to detail, thinking about what you are doing, and making logical adjustments as you go!

For all the bad things associated with the Covid-19 pandemic, over the past year, there has been at least one silver lining – that is the closeness that the family unit has gained from quarantining together. In a way, they’ve been sort of forced into putting their outside-the-home, demanding routines on hold; as the pandemic restrictions have given them the extra time together that they’ve always wished they had, if not for their busy lifestyles.

Bam! All of a sudden, the busy-lifestyles-rug was pulled out from underfoot and families have had an abundance of time together. Even their pets have been benefitting from the togetherness. Subsequently, more families have also discovered new-found joys in the simple things, such as going for walks together, as well as preparing and eating meals together! In fact, the whole month of January is now recognized as national Sunday Supper MONTH (among other things)!

Mom and daughter, Danielle and Misty, at BorrowedBites.com, also have a great article about the Sunday dinner tradition, which I highly recommend reading, as well! It’s called “Why Sunday Dinner Tradition Is So Powerful”. I especially love the following passages that they wrote:

‘Who doesn’t love the idealistic picture of everyone gathered around a table, plates piled with good food, and laughter interrupting bites? …Recipes can be seen as just food, or they can be seen as the bait to get people to sit and linger. To tell stories of their week, share what’s on their heart, and utter the latest joke. That’s why we are passionate about sharing recipes that bring family to the table.’

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

You can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner! – Author Unknown (circa 1800’s)

Dining habits have changed over the past century, as have the somewhat interchangeable terms of “dinner” and “supper”. Many people consider “dinner” to be the heavier/full meal of the day that was usually consumed in the early afternoon (aka: lunchtime) and “supper” was the lighter meal, served in the late afternoon/early evening.

Yet, we’re also told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, When do you eat your biggest meal – morning, afternoon, or evening? Do you say “dinner” or “supper”? The answers vary greatly among everyone, depending on one’s age and even where they grew up. I typically call our full, evening meal “dinner” (breakfast and lunch are usually light, if not skipped all together). Mom, also, called our evening meal “dinner” and it was, likewise, the biggest meal of the day.

Why did the full meal change from the afternoon time to the evenings? Many believe it’s because people’s schedules became so busy during the day with the rise of industrialization coupled with more Americans working outside the home (usually including both spouses working). It wasn’t feasible to go home in the middle of the day to eat the big, main meal; thus, they ate their lighter meal around noon-time and their heavier meal in the evening, after work and such.

#SlowCookingMonth

On a related side-note, I want to mention that January is also recognized as national Slow Cooking Month. That along with the national Sunday Supper month celebration makes a superb combination! Almost every American household has at least one slow cooker (aka: crock pot). Mom always had several, as do I, in a variety of sizes and shapes!

For some unknown reason, my husband seems to take more of an interest in what I make for dinner when its simmering all day in a slow cooker – more so than anything I make on the stove-top or in the oven. I’ve asked him about it and even he doesn’t know why.

I made chili in one of my slow cookers for last Sunday’s supper and my husband made a point of “checking on it” (to smell it, taste it, and stir it) about twice an hour for me, he claimed, even though I was sitting less than 10 feet away from it, all day, while I did some work on my laptop at the dining room table. I have to giggle at him sometimes!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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. 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!

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…

#NationalPizzaWeek

In honor of National Pizza Week,  here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating Detroit’s famous #BuddysPizza; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 82)

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some other fun celebrations to recognize this week (for the 2nd full week of January) include: National Mocktail Week, National Folic Acid Awareness Week, and Universal Letter Writing Week. Additionally…

Today is also National Milk Day and National Arkansas Day!

Tuesday is National Marzipan Day and national Curried Chicken Day!

Wednesday is national Peach Melba Day and Korean-American Day!

Thursday is national Hot Pastrami Sandwich Day!

Friday is national Strawberry Ice Cream Day

…and National Bagel Day!

Saturday is National Fig Newton Day, national Religious Freedom Day and International Hot And Spicy Food Day!

Sunday is national Hot Buttered Rum Day!

It’s also the start of National Handwriting Analysis Week, Hunt For Happiness Week, National Healthy Weight Week, and National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week, which is Jan. 17th-23rd for 2021!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#TGIM

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

…2 down and another 50 to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Mondays, Motivations, And Mentors

Happy Monday to one and all, plus a very joyful 2021! I always look forward to Mondays. It’s my favorite day of the week because it represents the #52Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#CelebrateEveryDay

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

Every single day is a new beginning – each one being a celebration, in and of itself. But today is particularly celebrated, as it’s the first Monday of the first month of a brand new year! Thus, today has been declared “Thank God Its Monday Day”!

As NationalDayCalendar.com claims: “Mondays are often full of new beginnings.” Adding… “Not only does the observance focus on the first Monday in January but on every Monday throughout the year.” Suggesting we should… “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…”

Personally, I love all of that – especially since I write these blog entries, in memory of my mom, and post them every Monday! In the process, I’m always learning new things, as well as teaching them to others. Since I started writing Mondays & Memories of My Mom in September 2018, it has always energized and motivated me for the rest of my week – much the same way writing always energized and inspired my mom. I can only hope that these blog posts about Mom’s legacy energize and inspire you as well.

#NationalMentoringMonth

January is also, among other things, National Mentoring Month and, again, while it is celebrated throughout the whole month, it should also be practiced continually throughout the year! In fact, I have made a #MondayMentor resolution – to try to be a positive mentor, teacher, or influencer for someone each Monday throughout the year!

Mom has been my mentor in so many ways since I was a small child. She was a “creative master” at whatever she attempted. I’ve always wished I had half of her creative talents. Mom wore SO many hats in our family, as well as in the “family enterprise” (as she called it). For our family, she was the cook, maid, chauffer, nurse, seamstress, secretary, teacher, counselor, mentor, and still more.

In her dining-room-table cottage operation, Mom was the recipe developer, author, illustrator, layout creator, publicist, promotion specialist, public speaker/lecturer and more. Mom was a “Wonder Woman” who tried to devote herself to balancing all of it! Mom especially loved to mentor those who shared her love for writing! She had many mentors and influencers, herself, throughout the years.

My mother is another good example I’ve followed. Her best gift and her greatest asset is that she’s always been a patient listener and a wise advisor. She was absolutely loyal to my father…The world could turn [its] back on her children, but she would always be there for them when we needed her. She’s given me an example that’s going to be tough to equal.’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)

I grew up, as my mom did, motivated by my parents to seize opportunities (although, there were many I missed) and to always put across my best efforts in everything I do. Everyone should have at least one good example, if not a few good examples, to follow. Additionally, we should all strive to be a good example, 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)

Mom, herself, was greatly influenced to write throughout her life by many talented women. From the Bronte sisters, whose family story she saw in the 1946 film, “Devotion”, to Maya Angelou, whose story in a 1993 issue of the “Christian Science Monitor” told of how her devotion to writing developed with “the yellow pad”

Mom journaled about her life and that of her family ever since she was about 10 years old. She felt that writing was her “calling” and continued to compose daily, until she physically couldn’t – which was over 70 years of journaling!

Shout-out to screenwriters, as tomorrow is #NationalScreenwritersDayTheir significant influence on us, as a society, is a story for another day.

Devotion” screenplay by: Keith Winter & Edward Chodorov

Comedians and writers like Carol Burnette, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball top the list of Mom’s “Woman-Power” influencers. Other talented ladies to whom Mom looked up include Erma Bombeck, Betsy Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer; just to name a handful.

In fact, a lot of the crafty format Mom used in her newsletters and cookbooks was largely influenced by her own favorite crafter, Carol Duvall; who, in the 1970s, had a “Craft Letter” (as she called it) and a 5 minute crafting segment on WDIV-TV (Channel 4 in Detroit), called “Here’s Carol Duvall”. The two became fast friends.

That was long before Carol had moved from the Detroit area to the Traverse City area, then on to ABC’s “Home” show in California (1988-1994), which was before she began hosting “The Carol Duvall Show” on HGTV (1994-2005), and prior to moving to the DIY network (2005-2009).

In later years, Mom was also largely influenced to continue in her passion for writing by Maya Angelou. In one of Mom’s writings (as seen below), she recounted an inspiring interview Maya had with David Holstrom, “Christian Science Monitor” (1993), as she told of her experience with “the yellow pad”.

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.’

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 113)

GRATITUDE

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, was always my mother’s advice to me when I would try to bend a sympathetic ear, imploring her to comfort me and keep me company in my occasional misery. And, of course, misery does love company!

But counting my blessings was the last thing in the world I felt up to doing when the world seemed to be so hopelessly bleak, and whatever problem I had at the time, seem so devastating to me. Now here I am telling my own children the same thing. Only I tell my own children to count their opportunities, for an opportunity is just a blessing in disguise!

I wish I had known this years ago. What frustrating disappointments I could have avoided, or at the upmost, handled better. I would’ve used the enthusiasm and the optimism that I acquired during the last two years or so to work off those petty resentments that separate us from folks whom we could really care about, if we only get to know them better, and perhaps understand why we’re in conflict.

Naturally, if we judge everything by what we see on television, we’d know that’s impossible – that people in conflict can’t resolve their differences, or so the reports indicate in those real-life fantasies that exaggerate greed, envy and contempt as if the motivation for these traits were purely justified. I don’t think they ever are!

Preparing your assortment of thoughts and feelings in a compatible mixture, in order to produce successful relationships, is really no different than preparing an assortment of compatible ingredients in a recipe for a dish that promises to be a stunning success on the dinner table.

Whether it’s a recipe for preparing a very good dish, or a very good relationship, the basics are still the same – compatible ingredients, attention to detail, thinking about what you are doing, and making logical adjustments as you go!

Devotion, as well as many other events and people, (family, friends, co-workers, & influential strangers) empowered Mom to be a pioneer and a trailblazer in her chosen field; as a writer, satirist/humorist, cartoonist, publisher, marketer, and more. Mom was proud to be a homemaker and yet also have a “paying” career (from home), where she could cleverly combine them, both!

Regardless of the Women’s Liberation Movement, Mom set to work, focusing her writing and food-for-thought subject matter toward the fence-sitting, semi-liberated homemakers and pantry-cupboard cooks like herself; as she wrote, published and marketed her own newsletter for more than a quarter of a century – January 1974 through December 2000 (as well as her 40+ cookbooks).

Two of Mom’s first and biggest influences in homemaking were, of course, her own mom; as well as my dad’s mom – since Mom and Dad lived with Dad’s parents for a short while when they were first married. Below is a picture of the “inspiration” story that Mom wrote many decades ago and re-printed in one of the last issues of her newsletter.

LAST THOUGHTS…

I really consider myself lucky to have “The Recipe Detective” as my mom and that I (as well as everyone else) can continue to enjoy and 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! Furthermore, I love to hear stories from others whose lives Mom has touched, as well.

Since starting the blog and some social media pages in Mom’s honor, I’ve received many emails, comments, and messages from people who remember the joy Mom brought them and their families through her cookbooks, newsletters, TV appearances, and radio interviews. That motivates me to continue carrying Mom’s torch and sharing and writing about the legacy of love she left for all of us!

What motivates or inspires you? I’d love to hear from you! Please write to me at: therecipedetective@outlook.com.

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Something else in which Mom inspired me is my passion to continually learn new things. Besides being grateful for something every day, Mom would also promote learning something new every day. From that, I’ve resolved that every day is a defining moment for me (as well as for each and every one of us) in which a combination of experience, faith and knowledge influence my/our personal evolution(s).

We should seize those moments and days that challenge us and do our best to make the most of them! I am going to strive to Learn Something New Every Day and to share/teach something new, here, every week! As an unpaid and unofficial “non-spokesperson”, I’d like to share some links from one of MY favorite go-to sources of inspiration, besides Mom’s writings, which is NationalDayCalendar.com. They offer such a wide array of information on such a wide array of subjects to learn about and celebrated throughout the year!

IN CLOSING…

#NationalSpaghettiDay

Today is also National Spaghetti Day! In honor, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” (and one of our family’s favorites) for imitating Big Boy’s popular spaghetti dinner at home, Mom called her version “Beg Bouy” Spaghetti. [As originally seen in her self-published book, The 2nd Helping of Secret Recipes Cookbook (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 9).]

P. S. Food-For-Thought until we meet, again, next Monday…

Some other fun celebrations to learn more about this week include: Celebration Of Life Week (January 1st-7th), Diet Resolution Week (January 1st-7th) , & New Year’s Resolution Week (January 1st-7th). Additionally,…

Today is also National Missouri Day!

Tuesday is National Bird Day, national Whipped Cream Day & National Keto Day!

Wednesday is National Cuddle Up Day, National Shortbread Day, national Technology Day, & National Bean Day!

Thursday is National Tempura Day and Mom’s birthday (she would’ve been turning 85)!

Friday is national English Toffee Day & National Joy Germ Day!

Saturday is National Apricot Day!

Sunday is the start of National Mocktails Week, National Folic Acid Awareness Week, National Pizza Week, and Universal Letter Writing Week. Sunday is also national Bittersweet Chocolate Day, national Cut Your Energy Costs Day, National Oysters Rockefeller Day, & national Sunday Supper day!

In fact, all of January is celebrating national Sunday Supper month! Other January month-long celebrations include: National Blood-Donor Month [or #DonateBlood], National Hobby Month, National Hot Tea Month [also: #HotTeaMonth or #TeaTime], National Oatmeal Month, national Slow Cooking Month, & National Soup Month.

#WHBY

#TGIM

…1 down and 51 more, to which I happily look forward!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Make A Plan

Happy Monday to all and #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you! Even though this is the last Monday of 2020, I am looking forward to 52 more chances in 2021!

It’s still December for a few more days. That means it’s still National Write A Business Plan Month! The pandemic effect on 2020 has left many people out of work and others having to close their businesses for good. And, as we start planning our resolutions for the new year, what a great time it is to think about starting a small internet business venture.

There wasn’t internet around when Mom suddenly switched gears and went from a syndicated columnist to a self-published journalist. Additionally, the 1970s were going through major challenges – food shortages, paper shortages, sky-rocketing unemployment, and so forth. But FATE was steering Mom into a particular “business plan”, even though it wasn’t exactly what she had planned for her future writing career when she was young.

#WriteABusinessPlanMonth

‘It was all leading to my eventual work in the food industry – but I couldn’t see that at the time – I could only see that I had to write and with any luck at all, luck would be when preparation and experience met opportunity. The opportunity was close at hand.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)]

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, it was almost half of a century ago when Mom left her newspaper job and began her own family owned and operated, cottage-style, dining room table business. In the fall of 1973 Mom started putting together her first newsletter, titled Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter, following the earlier release of her first, self-published, cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (1973), which was compiled from a collection of recipes she had developed while writing her syndicated, food-for-thought and recipe column called “Cookbook Corner”.

The following excerpts are Mom’s account of how her fate-driven business plan came about…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 296)

[MY] FIRST TELEVISION APPEARANCE [1974]

IT WAS THE WORST POSSIBLE TIME to launch a new business. The unemployment rate was terribly high. There was a newsprint paper shortage. There was a gasoline shortage. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication. It was something I had always wanted to do. I couldn’t tell Paul. I knew that! He would have been far too practical to have approved of my starting my own paper, so I enlisted the help of our children.

I was taking in ironing at the time, at $5 a basket, and sometimes earned as much as $50 a week. The money was supposed to supplement Paul’s paycheck, which – as soon as we found could make ends meet – we discovered somebody had moved the ends. So, I took what money I could from the ironing earnings and bought a mimeograph. I kept it in a big box in the utility room under my sewing table. Paul would hardly pay attention to what I wanted him to think was only sewing paraphernalia.

For 9 months, I mimeograph, assembled and mailed out about 100 copies a month of my newsletter. Bill and Mike helped assemble it and Debbie help me test the recipes and address the copies. I don’t know how we ever kept it from Paul for that long, but I couldn’t tell him what I was doing until I could assure him that I could make a profit. All I was doing was breaking even.

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

Then Dennis Wholley, at Channel 7 in Detroit, called and said somebody had sent him a copy of my newsletter. He was tickled with the crazy names I gave the recipes and the home-spun format. He wanted the entire family to be his guests on his “A.M. Detroit” show on November 14 – which was also our Laura’s birthday.

I couldn’t keep it from Paul any longer, because I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to promote the paper on a popular local television show. He took it quite well, considering the state of shock he must have been in at my announcement. But we took all 5 of the kids with us across town, in a blizzard yet, with Laura having a bout of car-sickness during the hour’s drive there.

And, during that experience, we met Coleman Young, the recently elected mayor of Detroit, who was also a guest on the show. All of Pearl Beach must have been tuned into a.m. Detroit that morning, with half of the population gathered at the Pearl Beach post office, watching the portable set there.

Gloria Pitzer, mimeographing in her early years as the Recipe Detective [TM]

It brought us many new orders for our newsletter, and it wasn’t long before CKLW’s Bob Heinz asked us to appear on his show on New Year’s Day. We, again, took the family over to Windsor, Ontario – across the Detroit River – for another exciting experience and hundreds of letters that followed, wanting to subscribe to the newsletter. By that time, Paul was giving me every evening of his time when he came home from his own job at the sign company, plus all the weekends just to fill the orders.

My list of ‘Secret Recipes’ had grown to 200 and we offered them, on 4×6-inch cards [that I printed on my mimeograph], at $.25 each or 5 for a dollar. It was quite a packaging process to fill the combinations of orders, so I put all those recipes into a book. It was going to be our only book on the subject, since most of the recipes were fast foods – but, as it turned out, it was only the first in a series of five books. After ‘Book One’ took off and became a very good seller, I did a Bicentennial American Cookery book as a limited edition and was pleased when the Henry Ford Library at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan ordered copies for their Bicentennial collection. That was July 1976…

‘Apparently, it’s true, that LIFE is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.’– Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292).]

If someone were to copy our so-called ‘success’, I could give them no blue print for that condition. Each one of the little steps that we had to take to develop the kitchen table activity into a professional business operation, are like the grains of sand that the oyster requires in order to form a pearl. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 25)

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. 42)

HOW IT BEGAN (1973 – 1974)… CRITICAL EARLY ADVANTAGE

THE MIMEOGRAPH did give me the advantage of being self-sufficient without having to go into debt. Paul failed to see the importance of my having to have this, until I showed him the receipt for it having been paid-in-full, and the bankbook that showed him exactly how much I had earned from having printed a newspaper column on the machine, then selling them to 11 newspapers around the state.

John McPartlin had loaned me his newspaper directory, from which I drew the names and addresses of those weekly papers that had a circulation sufficient to afford a dollar per column, per week. Considering the mimeograph only cost $79.95, I feel I did pretty well, skimping and scraping to get it paid for. Paul was skeptical, however, that it would ever be anything then an expensive hobby. I think I must have tried so very hard to be the best I could be, to prove to him that he was wrong about me.

THE NEWSLETTER BEGAN with the mimeograph in our utility room where I cut the stencils, inked the drum by hand, applied the stencils and ran the copies off, a few hundred at a time, allowing them to air-dry on the dining room table in the next room. The dining room table was a door to which Paul had affixed four table legs. It was seldom clear of our work. I never gave any thought, then either, to the number of hours that we put into producing the newsletter. We simply worked until the work was finished, or we found a good ‘breaking-off’ point.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

AGAIN, 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. 43)

MARKETING INSPIRATION

To make the mimeograph pay for itself, I even printed up my own business cards on it, using dime-store construction paper and then cutting the cards apart with scissors until I had neat little stacks of about 50 and a total of 200 or 300 cards. These I distributed at the mall whenever and wherever we might be in one. Paul did not know I was doing this, at first, either, or he would’ve disapproved.

It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too. I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.

From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [areas] in the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores.

From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response. What I had at that time was a little book entitled ‘The Better Cookers Cookbook’ [1973], as opposed to our current popular book, ‘Better Cookery’. [May 1983, 3rd Edition – the one I rewrote for Mom.]

The distribution of information on the book included my mailing a copy of it along with a letter explaining how and why it was written, to several of my favorite newspaper columnists and friends. One with whom I had contact on various subjects before, was Bob Talbert of the Detroit Free Press. He mentioned this little book in one of his columns as ‘for a buck-and-a-half-and-a-belly-laugh’. It worked!

IN CLOSING…

#ChocolateCandyDay

Since today is National Chocolate Candy Day, here is Mom’s imitation for making homemade ‘Mounds’ candy bars, which she called ‘Patter Paul Ounce Bars’; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 223). Enjoy!

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

Learn something new every day!

Some other celebrations for this week include:

Tuesday is National Pepper Pot Day!

Wednesday is Bacon Day! Here’s an encore posting of my Aunt Hazel’s Hot Dog & Bacon BBQ… Enjoy, again!

Thursday is New Year’s Eve & National Champagne Day!

Friday is New Year’s Day 2021 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Saturday is National Buffet Day (Remember those things?) & National Play Outside Day [which is on the first Saturday of every month!]

#WHBY

Today would be my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show – but it had to be postponed to Thursday, the 31st. I will still be on during the first half-hour of the show – starting around 12:08pm (Eastern Time). Check it out live, on New Year’s Eve, (or later) through the station’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…52 down, a whole new year to go!

Happy 2021 to everyone! May it be a more contented and healthier one for all of us!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Yule-Solstice & Humbug-Festivus Days

Happy Monday and happy National Humbug Day! Additionally, happy Winter Solstice and Yule! And let’s not forget #TGIM – as I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#HumbugDay

We’re coming into the hustle-and-bustle of the last stretch of the holiday “to-do’s” before Christmas, which is just around the bend – and today happens to be the national celebration of Humbug Day!

To begin, this is usually a very stressful time of year for most people…having unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and excessive commitments, to name a few examples. Now add on the Covid-19 pandemic spikes everywhere and all the related restrictions on top of that and the Christmas/Yuletide season has become an even more stressful time of year. Some people wallow in the stress and anxiety with their bah-humbug attitudes, while others will put on their boots and forge their way out of the muck, making the best of what they have.

#Festivus

And for the rest of us, Wednesday is Festivus – an alternative outlet, in which “hum-buggers” can air their grievances for the feelings of pressure from the commercialism of the season! Originally, this celebration was formed as an outlet for one family’s pent-up frustrations over the annual chaos of the holiday season. After it was incorporated into an episode of Seinfeld, it became a national sensation!

But this time of year is really such a wonderful and magical season of LOVE! While there will always remain those who like the Scrooge-ish, “Bah-humbug” attitude; I think I come across a lot more people, who are actually spreading around the good cheer than those who are spreading the “hum-bug”.

Mom used to tell me, “the most valuable gift you can give is to be a good example!” This time of year seems to bring out the best “good examples” in most of us. It’s a good kind of contagious “bug” and seems to flow right into the new year. More people are volunteering their time for “good deeds” and helping out those in need by donating money, food, coats, toys and so much more.

Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we ‘own’ or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM  Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 147, Nov-Dec 1990; pp. 1 & 8)

THE CHRISTMAS FEELING

THE EASIEST COP-OUT for those who put a price tag on the pleasures of the holiday & insist that the success of the celebration depends on the amount of money spent on the preparations and gifts. If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about ‘trivials’… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more… (p. 1)

[THE CHRISTMAS FEELING] is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations! (p. 8)

#WinterSolstice

#Yule

Also happening today are the national celebrations for Winter Solstice and Yule. The Pagan Yule celebration existed thousands of years before the Christians began celebrating Christmas! In fact, most of the traditional ways for celebrating the Christians’ Christmas, were actually derived from the Pagan Yuletide traditions of the ancient Nordic and Celtic people.

Ye ol’ Yule’s 12 days of festivities included bonfires, music and dancing, ritual sacrifices (such as lambs), large communal feasts, and gift-giving; as well as decorating with holly, mistletoe and the fresh-cut branches of evergreens. Do you see any resemblances to the traditions of the Christians’ Christmas season celebrations?

The Pagan’s Yule festivities, which is still celebrated in some regions, last for 12 days; beginning with the winter solstice, which usually is somewhere from December 20th to the 23rd, as it changes from year to year. The Christians similarly celebrate the “the 12 days of Christmas”, which takes place annually December 25th through January 5th.

The Yule “log” for the bonfire was actually a whole tree that was meant to be burned for the duration of the 12-day celebration. The Celts believed the sun stood still during the winter solstice and that in keeping the Yule log burning for the whole 12 days encouraged the sun to move, making the days longer.

The largest end of the tree was fed into the hearth first and wine was poured over it, being lit with the remains of the previous year’s Yule log. Everyone would take turns feeding the length of timber into the fire as it burned down, because they believed that letting it burn out would bring bad luck.

The Celts believed that mistletoe possessed healing powers, as well as powers to ward off evil spirits. Today mistletoe is used to encourage the spirit of love.

Additionally, the Vikings traditionally decorated evergreen trees with gifts of wood-carvings and food for the tree spirits, encouraging them to return in the spring. Likewise, the Christians decorate their Christmas trees (also evergreens – fake and real ones) – with ornaments and lights.

And, according to Norse tradition, “Old Man Winter” would visit homes to join in the Yule festivities. The Viking god, Odin was a wanderer with a long white beard and an eight-legged horse. Odin is considered to be the first “Santa Claus”, “St. Nicolas”, or “Father Christmas” – over the centuries and around the world, he has gone by many names.

[NOTE: In the Norse culture, “Jul” (a possible origin of “Yule”) refers to the god, Odin.]

In Yule celebrations, the Norse children would go from house to house with gift baskets of apples and oranges spiked with cloves, resting in sprigs of evergreens. Additionally, the Viking children would leave their shoes by the hearth on the eve of the winter solstice, along with sugar and hay for Odin’s eight-legged horse.

Now Christians go caroling from house to house, including the children; who later “hang their stockings…with care” and set out milk and cookies for Santa, along with carrots for his eight reindeer.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Issue 183, Nov-Dec 1997; p. 9)

CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

Whenever we feel we aren’t strong enough to handle some challenge, we can be sure that there’s, within each of us, a natural spirit, an inner strength upon which we can draw. Even when we feel nearly crushed by overwhelming challenges, we can prevail.

When loving others is involved and our being concerned for their welfare is uppermost, we can’t always stop doing whatever is necessary for us to do to overcome hard times. Our love for those in need won’t let us rest until their needs are met, their burdens eased.

It is tremendous to see what takes place when people act out of their concern for others, for the sake of goodness, an unselfish nature that promises no personal reward for efforts exercised. This, in deed, is the Spirit of Christmas.

‘THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good…’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 8)

According to WorldHolidayTraditions.com, in Holiday Traditions of the United States…, our current holiday traditions come from our world-wide melting-pot ancestry. For example, the tradition of “feasting” during the holidays is characteristic of all nations’ celebrations.

Only the elements of the menus would be different from one nation to another. We get many of our current combination of traditions from our diverse ancestors, who immigrated here from so many different countries, bringing their various customs with them.

As the article explains, a great number of our Christmas carols came from England and Australia. Likewise, the decorated evergreens are from our German ancestry influences (which supposedly influenced our traditional Christmas village displays, as well).

The man in the red suit, whom we’ve come to know as Santa Claus [aka: Father Christmas or St. Nicholas], may have originated in Scandinavia. Likewise, his arrival down the chimney to fill stockings with fruit and nuts is reminiscent of the Netherlands.

Mom and ‘Santa’ 2016

Over the years, America’s influence has fattened up Scandinavia’s red-suited “jolly old St. Nicholas” and blended all the different traditions so that he magically came down everyone’s chimney on Christmas Eve, leaving gifts and stockings filled with treats.

Additionally, “St. Nick” traveled in a sleigh drawn by eight tiny reindeer – as in the classic holiday story, ‘Twas the Night before Christmas. At some point, a ninth reindeer, with a shiny red nose, was added to the sleigh-pulling team. The myth of the reindeer-drawn sleigh began in Switzerland. Additionally, our annual American holiday parades may have been inspired by the Latin nation’s holiday processions.

‘If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about [the] trivial… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.’ – Gloria Pitzer; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, Issue #147, p. 1)

IN CLOSING…

#FrenchFriedShrimpDay

In honor of National French Fried Shrimp Day, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating the Berville Hotel Secret Shrimp and Shrimp Cocktail Sauce, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 109 & 110). Also pictured is a copy of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, which I shared in a previous blog post as well.

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Tuesday is National Date Nut Bread Day

Wednesday is (also) National Pfeffernusse Day & National Roots Day  

Thursday is National Eggnog Day & Christmas Eve

Friday is National Pumpkin Pie Day, Christmas & the start of the Twelve Days of Christmas [December 25 – January 5]

Saturday is National Candy Cane Day, the start of Kwanzaa [December 26 – January 1] & Boxing Day (Canada)

Sunday is National Fruitcake Day

#WHBY

Next Monday would be my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show – but it had to be postponed to Wednesday, the 30th; still during the first half-hour of the show. Check it out live, or later, through the station’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

 

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

…51 down and ONLY 1 MORE to go for 2020!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Plan

Happy Monday to all and #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

It was 47 years ago, this month that Mom put together her first newsletter, which she titled Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter; following the release of her first, self-published, cookbook, titled The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (1973), which was compiled from recipes she developed while writing various, syndicated, food-for-thought and recipe columns.

In honor of December and National Write-A-Business-Plan Month, I want to share with you how Mom just kind of fell into a business plan that she accredits to a higher power, as it wasn’t exactly what she had planned for her future writing career when she was young.

#WriteABusinessPlanMonth

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292)

BEHIND THE SCENES

PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR OF SECRET RECIPES and ‘The Recipe Detective’ are the names that my friends in radio and newspapers have given to me, and I enjoy living up to that assignment! I enjoy working with these recipe secrets, but most of all, I enjoy writing about them.

I’ve been writing all my life… Going way-back to when I was in grade school. I was always writing a book, or a poem or a short story. It was a way of life from my earliest memories – a way over which I seem to have no personal control! I had to write… Preferably about what I knew best at the time. Little did I know that what I would come to know best would be cooking!

The one year that I spent at Michigan State (when it was still a college, mind you – you figure that out! Sophia Loren and I are the same age – and while we may have the same measurements, 36-28-36, mine are neck, wrists and ankles, I’m afraid) … Was one year in which I learned 2 important things – I could not pass my Creative Writing course and I was “kicked out” of Home Economics!

My Creative Writing instructor told me that I typed a neat looking paper and probably should be a secretary, for I would never make it as a writer. My Home Economics instructor advised me to spend the rest of my life having my meals delivered, for I was always finding fault with the way so many cookbooks were written.

I took a position with the J Walter Thompson Advertising company in Detroit, working as a secretary to the copywriters. I met my husband, Paul, there when he returned from a 4-year tour of service with the Air Force. We started dating and one year later we were married.

That was 1956. Bill was born over a year later, and then Mike came 20 months after that, and Debbie came along 20 months after that. I lost 3 babies in the next 3 years, but Laura was born in 1964 and Cheryl came 20 months after that. During those years, Paul was working for a sign company in Mt. Clemens, Michigan – where, in the 20 years he spent with them, he did everything from drafting to purchasing agent to account rep!

I kept up with my writing, always working for one of the suburban papers and constantly free-lancing to magazines. When Redbook sent me $500 for my ‘Young Mother’s Story’ submission in February 1963, called ‘We’ll Never Live with In-Laws Again’, I put part of the money into a typewriter, as I had always had to borrow one before that. I wanted a typewriter more than Reagan wanted to be president!

I put a lot of miles on that $39.95 machine – I designed a column for weekly newspapers and mailed out samples to over 300 newspapers. Within a year, I had acquired 60 regular papers for my “No Laughing Matter” column and another column I called ‘Minding the Hearth’.

Columbia Features in New York offered me a contract, and, for a year, I allowed them to syndicate the column in competition with a new humorist, Erma Bombeck! (Right church, wrong pew for me!) When a big city paper carried Erma’s column, Columbia placed mine in their competing paper. I split with Columbia on a 60/40 basis (I took 40) and finally, by mutual agreement, we broke the contract. I was on my own.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 293)

HOW SECRET RECIPES BEGAN

When Columbia Features and I parted company, they had acquired only 2 additional papers from me and lost several more. Within 6 months, I had regained all my original papers and was syndicating the column from our dining room table, where we then lived in what my friend, Bob Allison, called ‘beautiful downtown Pearl Beach’ – a town so small that I told people City Hall was over a Dairy Queen, our McDonald’s had only one arch and, if we had a Howard Johnson’s, it would’ve had only 3 flavors!

We had a 9-year old station wagon at that time. It burned oil and barely got Paul to work and back without something breaking down! I rode a bike to and from the Pearl Beach post office every day where I mailed out my columns and then looked for responses to ads I had placed in the Tower Press and Grit magazines for recipes on 4×6-inch cards that enabled you to imitate famous dishes at home.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

BOB ALLISON’s ‘ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR

I was a regular participant on Bob Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ radio show that aired 5 days a week for 2 hours in the morning. I used Bob’s program for asking for food information that I needed for my weekly columns. Bob’s audience was very helpful in supplying me with answers. To reciprocate, I would reply to some of the requests made by his audience when they called into Bob’s show.

It was a unique format in that one could not simply call in a recipe or information simply because they wanted to share it with others. The information or the recipe had to, first, be requested by a previous caller. Many of my first ‘Secret Recipes’ were developed because of requests made specifically by Bob’s callers for such dishes as The Colonel’s secret spices, Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, Sander’s hot fudge, Win Schuler’s bar cheese and so on.

At the suggestion of one of Bob’s callers that I should put all my column recipes into a book, I wrote my first edition [1973] called ‘The Better Cooker’s Cookbook’. In less than a month, I had sold 1000 copies. I wasn’t satisfied with the book, so I didn’t reprint it – but, decided that it might work out better if I could do those recipes monthly.

So, in December 1973, I put together my first issue of what came to be my “Secret Recipe Report”, a newsletter that, for 106 consecutive monthly issues, brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry.

The Better Cooker’s Cookbook – written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Algonac, MI; 1973)

I probably wouldn’t have done the monthly, except for a falling-out I had with the editor of a small-town paper for which I was writing a food column. I had published some of my first attempts at duplicating famous dishes in that column and the response was beautiful, until I offended one of the papers biggest advertisers with a rendition of their cheesecake… “The kind that nobody doesn’t like.”

The editor told me I would have to go back to standard recipes like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf or chocolate cake – or I could pick up my check. I told him to MAIL it to me. That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own paper. That afternoon, I put out my charter issue, sending samples of it to those whose names and addresses I had on file from having written to me at the paper. That was the beginning of “Secret Recipes”!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)

THE DIRECTION WAS ALREADY DETERMINED FOR ME!

WHEN I LOOK BACK now, I realize that I was so busy trying to prove that others were wrong about me, I couldn’t see how events were taking place that would sooner or later put me where I had always wanted to be – writing for a worthwhile living, while making living worthwhile! In high school, I pestered the school newspaper sponsor, Mr. Rosen, to let me be on the staff. He had no hope for me at all as a reporter!

I was secretary of the Senior Class, [graduating] January 1954, and Judy Guest was secretary of the [graduating] June 1954 Senior Class. Judy was on the staff of the paper; but, even then, it was well-known that she hoped to write ‘the Great American novel’ –  and that she did, 20 years later, with Academy Award-winning ‘Ordinary People’! Judy’s great-uncle was Edgar A. Guest and Bud Guest, a famous radio commentator, was her uncle. It was only natural that writing would run in her family.

We were friends because we liked each other and were both involved with the same school activities. I was always glad that we continued to keep in touch, if only at Christmas, for nobody appreciated Judy’s eventual success with ‘Ordinary People’ as I probably did, knowing how long she had wanted to accomplish that work.

Somehow, despite my personal objections to the direction in which I appeared to be going, it was just as likely that I would accomplish a properly written cookbook. Even in high school I was put on two-weeks’ probation with the cooking class instructor, for having disregarded the recipe for a pie crust we were assigned to prepare in class. Mine was a recipe that I still use – and have published in this book – for the ‘No Rolling Pin’ crust. Apparently, it’s true, that ‘Life’ is what happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.

DIVIDENDS

Every successful accomplishment with my writing, after high school and the one year in college, was involved with recipes and cookbooks and restaurants. But I couldn’t see that it was a kind of calling. I saw it only as an interest that temporarily kept me writing and making a worthwhile living at it.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

WDEE-Radio, in Detroit, gave me a portable radio or a recipe that took first place in a contest they conducted – and in 1962, it was WBRB, in Mt. Clemens, that gave me a check for first place in their recipe contest. Soon after that, Better Homes & Gardens sent me a check for a recipe in a contest they had conducted.

WJBK-Radio gave me a maple stereo and radio set for their most unusual experience while listening to the radio, in 1964, when I wrote them about our ‘Picnicking in the Snow’. Again, the story was food related, including recipes for having a cook-out on the beach at Metropolitan Park in the middle of winter, with the radio going to keep us in the proper mood.

It was all leading to my eventual work in the food industry – but I couldn’t see that at the time I could only see that I had to write and with any luck at all, luck would be when preparation and experience met opportunity. The opportunity was close at hand.

LAST THOUGHTS

Only two and a half weeks until we ring-in a new year! As I wrote in our Christmas cards last week, I can’t help but reminisce over all of 2020’s trials-and-tribulations compared to those in previous years. The Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions and changes in how we normally lived our lives made 2020 a rough one for all of us.

On the other hand, it gave us cause to re-evaluate what is most important to us. We are all different, so everyone’s “important things” will most likely vary from each other’s; at least, to some degree. We will probably never completely return to those days and those ways. Sometimes, it’s best to just move forward and adapt, as that is how we evolve as a human race.

As 2021 gets closer, I’ve been reflecting on the goals I made earlier this year – the ones at which I succeeded, as well as those at which I failed. It seems to me that it really doesn’t matter when you start a resolution. The important thing is to see it through and commit yourself to its eventual success… The same as you would for a business plan!

IN CLOSING…

#RootVegetablesAndExoticFruitsMonth

December is National Root Vegetables And Exotic Fruits Month! Root vegetables include celery root, onions, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc. They are multi-beneficial to us, providing complex carbs and high-fiber, which aids in weight loss.

Root vegetables and exotic fruits also contain a massive amount of vitamins and minerals, as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. However, while the U.S. produces vast amounts of root vegetables, exotic fruits are a bit harder to come by here, which is why we call them “exotic”. However, you may find them in specialty produce places. These fruits contain large amounts of antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C, iron, and phosphorus.

In honor of National Root Vegetables And Exotic Fruits Month, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #PotatoDumplings; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 103)

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

Learn something new every day!

Some other celebrations for this week include:

Today is National Bouillabaisse Day

Tuesday is National Cupcake Day

Wednesday is National Chocolate-covered Anything Day

Also on Wednesday, through Christmas Eve, is Las Posadas, https://nationaldaycalendar.com/las-posadas-december-16-24/ which is a 9 day Mexican Christmas tradition based on the story of Mary, Joseph, and their search for a safe place to stay before Jesus was born. This has been a tradition in many Latin countries for more than 400 years.

During Las Posadas, communities come together for nine days and nights to festively decorate their homes and make traditional foods and drinks such as corn tamales and “ponche”, a hot drink that is made of fruits like apples, oranges, lemons, prunes, and guava.

Each day is filled with song and prayer, but the main attraction is the group of people who act out and relive the nativity scene. The celebration begins with a procession at night, where participants carry candles, sing, and act out the nativity… And the kids even get piñatas!

Thursday is National Maple Syrup Day

Friday is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day

Saturday is National Hard Candy Day & National Oatmeal Muffin Day

Sunday is National Sangria Day

#WHBY

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…50 down and only 2 more to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Holiday Cards Share Kindness

Happy Monday and happy December! Additionally, happy holidays to all and to all #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

http://therecipedetective.com/category/blog/

#ChristmasCardDay

Wednesday is national Christmas Card Day! Last week, I wrote about Mom’s annual, homemade Christmas card/letters. And that, for an added “gift” of kindness, she would also include some of her favorite holiday recipes.

Additionally, last week, I shared a few of those recipes (from Mom’s 1994, homemade, Christmas card) on-the-air with Kathy Keene – on her “Good Neighbor” show on WHBY in Appleton, WI. If you missed the show, you can listen to the podcast at https://www.whby.com/2020/11/30/laura-pitzer-emerich-amy-albright/.

[NOTE: I’ve included pictures of four of Mom’s 1994 Christmas card recipes (which I shared with Kathy last Monday) throughout this blog post. Happy holidays and happy cooking!]

#WHBY

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

The history/custom of sending Christmas card greetings seems to have begun in England, around 1843, by Sir Henry Cole. The first known Christmas “card” was sent to King James I of England in 1611. Possibly inspired by that holiday greeting, Sir Henry, along with his artistic friend, John Callcott Horsely, created the first “published and sold” Christmas cards; encouraging others to share good memories and holiday greetings between family, friends and others!

Today, even with electronic or e-cards available, we still mail more “hard copy” cards through the postal service – and a wide variety of them too – especially during December! These holiday greetings may be in the form of family pictures or professional photo cards or even a one- or two-page letter that highlights the family’s “big” events for the year.

Another idea that I’ve personally done in past years (before the internet came along), when money was tight, is to send holiday postcards! Postcards have a photo on one side, a simple message on the other side, and are suitable for mailing without an envelope. Plus, they cost less in postage, as well. Holiday postcards are quick and easy to make by recycling previously received Christmas cards.

Holiday greeting cards may be the only communication we send to/receive from a specific friend or family member all year long. These annual greetings touch people’s hearts with an extra bit of meaning during this time of year. It’s even more special when we take the time to say, “We’re thinking of you.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)

Sending Christmas cards has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…

What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.

…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.

I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…

December, and all the holidays within it, was probably one of Mom’s most favorite times of every year. ‘Tis the season of Faith, Hope and Love! ’Tis the season of sentimentalists, as well. Mom said, in the memory above, ‘I am one of those annoying sentimentalists’… I don’t find it annoying to be a sentimentalist, as Mom wrote, and I never have – but, then again, I’m in that sentimentalist club too!

‘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; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly, Winter 94/95.

This year, as I write our messages in Christmas cards, from my husband and I to all of our friends and family, I can’t help but reminisce over this past year’s  trials-and-tribulations compared to those in previous years. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a rough one for all of us. It has certainly given us cause to re-evaluate what things are most important to us. Everyone’s “important things” will probably vary since, as I said (above), “We are all different…”

Please excuse my coffee stain (above)!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue 147 (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov-Dec 1990, pages 1 & 8)

If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends… Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about [the] trivial… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.

[The Christmas Feeling] is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations!

The importance of the personal gatherings over the tangible gifts has become more significant this year. The giving of the best of ourselves – without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude – is what true “Santas” do. My kids never learned “there’s no such thing as Santa Claus”, because I taught them something different, ever since they were each toddlers.

Similar to The New York Sun’s answer to Virginia, I taught my kids that the “spirit of Santa” lives on in each of us through selfless acts of giving from our hearts. It is with this kind of selflessness that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE! With that, there will ALWAYS be a Santa Claus!

Before Mom passed away, while dealing with Dementia, she often reminisced about our ancestors from her childhood memories. She couldn’t understand how she could remember such things so clearly, like they happened yesterday, but couldn’t remember who she saw or spoke to in the previous day.

If only hindsight were foresight! Now I wish I had wrote 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 27 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about plans that she and Dad made for a “someday” Christmas present to us kids of a recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their favorite, cherished moments.

Mom also mentioned sharing memories of their own 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.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)

Breaking through the barriers of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!

The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!

The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but, not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)

LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!

We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of loving the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.

But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…

So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for loving – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!

Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the Christmas season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!

You don’t need to be crafty to create your own homemade holiday cards, gifts, and decorations. Nowadays, ideas and instructions for making just about anything can be found on the world wide web by typing a few key words into a search engine like Google or Bing. The knowledge of the world is, literally, at our finger tips!

My favorite low cost, homemade, gift ideas usually use canning jars – any size or style you want! These jars are so versatile – and reusable too! They can be filled with a homemade dried seasoning mix or baking mix ingredients and a recipe card for what to add and how to use the mix.

Canning jars can also be filled with natural elements like pine sprigs, cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc. for a homemade potpourri that can easily be simmered in a pot of hot water on the stove. They can also be filled with homemade candy, soaps or lotions – there are so many “how to” sites on the internet, from which to gather ideas, inspirations and instructions.

Aside from Bing and Google, Pinterest is often the first source I tap for these kind of ideas and inspirations, as well as YouTube. My own personal page at Pinterest, ldemerich, (which I started many years ago) can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/ldemerich and has quite an eclectic collection of boards.

The OFFICIAL Pinterest page of the Recipe DetectiveTM, which represents Mom and her cookbooks and her legacy, can be seen at https://www.pinterest.com/therecipedetective. Keep in mind, however, that it’s only a couple of years old and I’m still building up boards there. It is a continuous work in progress (WIP), as is this website.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of December being #NationalPearMonth, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #CinnamonPearCup; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 6)!

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

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Today is National Cotton Candy Day

Tuesday is National Brownie Day

Wednesday is also National Pastry Day

Thursday is when Chanukah Begins

Saturday is National Ambrosia Day, Gingerbread House Day, & Poinsettia Day

Sunday is National Cocoa Day

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…49 down, 3 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Holiday Greetings

Happy Monday to all and to all #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#WHBY

This happy Monday is my regular monthly visit (on the last Monday of each month) with Kathy Keene on her “Good Neighbor” show at WHBY in Appleton, WI. We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and a few of her recipes, as well; giving me another reason to love Mondays! Please, tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a podcast link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/ so you can listen to it later, at your leisure!

Today, I’d also like to say, “happy holidays” to everyone, no matter which holiday(s) you may celebrate! Personally, I don’t understand why some people get so upset by the greeting, “happy holidays”. There are other holidays that happen during this season, besides Christmas; and they all have their own “reason for the season” too!

There are those people who claim that saying “happy holidays” takes away from the “reason for the season”; as, to them, this season is only about Christmas and the birth of Christ. Yet, there are also many Christians, as well as non-Christians, that don’t celebrate Christmas at all.

For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses claim that celebrations are pagan rituals and, thus, don’t celebrate any! Additionally, there are others, (both, Christians and non-Christians, alike) who celebrate Christmas, but not as a religious holiday. Instead, they focus on the tradition of Santa Claus (aka: St. Nicholas) and on “giving” from the heart.

I am in that group of people who practice the Santa Claus traditions and take “part in all the holiday fun without buying into the religious aspect of it”, as discussed in a very informative article, “Christian Groups that don’t Celebrate Christmas”, at TheOdysseyOnline.com.

Obviously, no one can tell, just by looking at someone, which holiday they celebrate – or if they celebrate any at all. Thus, saying a generic “happy holidays” greeting, seemingly, covers most of the bases, at least. Obviously, we can’t please all the people all the time. I just don’t understand why people have to be so narrow-minded and upset about the general holiday greeting.

As seen in an article, titled “How to Appreciate Diversity During the Holidays”, written by Simma Lieberman at TheBalanceCareers.com, “Celebrating diversity and inclusiveness is about using the holiday celebration time with friends and family to build understanding and awareness of the traditions and beliefs of others.”

We can’t pick the different types of people out of a crowd – with one exception! That is, if they wear something that is directly related to their particular beliefs, religion or way of life. For a couple of years, at least, I’ve seen pictures of shirts, hats and pins on the internet that say, “You can tell me ‘Merry Christmas!’” I guess, if it upsets you that much when someone greets you with “happy holidays”; then, maybe, you should invest in one of those items and wear it every day in December.

It seems (to me, at least) that the fall-winter holidays are coming and going so fast! It just seems to go by faster as each year passes. Thanksgiving has just passed us by and, before we know it, all within a few days of each other, it’ll be Advent, Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah or Chanukkah), Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve – and then, with New Year’s Day, a whole new (hopefully blessed) year will be upon us!

When I was a child, and even as an adult with my own family, there were always many kinds of holiday treats to make for gifts and gatherings. It was around this time of year that Mom would start her holiday baking & making frenzy, stock-piling and freezing dozens upon dozens of cookies, fudge and candy confections; plus, homemade cinnamon ornaments and jars of various spice mixes for gifts, as well as for entertaining. Making enjoyable food for people was always so rewarding to Mom. It is for me, as well.

One example of a holiday tradition that Mom did, and with which we got to help, was making a candy-covered gingerbread house. I always loved helping to decorate the gingerbread houses that Mom made every year, with all the different candies and frosting! My kids say they enjoyed that too, growing up.

Both of my parents were quite the tag team when it came to entertaining company – whether it was a planned, holiday event for family or an impromptu gathering of friends… Here is one of Mom’s holiday season stories of such a time…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 277)

ENTERTAINING…

FOODS PREPARED FOR ENTERTAINING have always put me in a positive mood… Positive that, if the food is too good, everybody will keep wanting to come to our house and I’ll never be asked to theirs! On the other hand, if the food is not as good as it should be and I fall short of the best cook in our bunch, somebody will be in my kitchen; checking my stove for the training wheels they think it should have, considering the results of my cooking skills. So, food for entertaining must be fast, festive and flavorful…

When folks drop in… sometimes without notice… I like to be prepared. While there is absolutely nothing I can do to rid the lamp shades of the cobwebs that suddenly show up in the light, I can at least be glad something in the living room matches. With any luck if it is mentioned, I’ll exclaim promptly: ‘Oh, don’t touch that! That’s our daughter’s science project. We’re observing the mating habits of the harmless house spider!’

At this point, I can whisk everyone into the kitchen where, somehow, Coke splatters on the ceiling seem to go undetected if we turn [down] the overhead lights and put out some pretty candles. In 2 or 3 minutes, I can be spooning shredded cheddar cheese onto Triscuits, adding a slice of pepperoni and having it all under the broiler while Paul (on cue) delights them with another of his golfing jokes.

His old stand-by is the story of his 2 friends on the golf course, noting 2 women on the green ahead of them, playing very slowly. One of the men asked the other if they shouldn’t go up to the gals and ask if they minded if the men played through… Or chances were they’d never get off the course.

So, one of the men went running up to the ladies and got almost to the green when he darted quickly back. His friend asked what happened and why he hadn’t asked about playing through. ‘I can’t do that,’ the man said. ‘One is my wife and the other is my girlfriend!’ So, the other man offered to go up and ask. He got within a few yards of the ladies and he, also, darted back breathlessly, confessing to his friend… ‘Small world, isn’t it?’

By the time they stopped chuckling, the cheese snacks were ready, and the eggnog was out of the ‘icebox’ and into the punch cups, diluted with [Vernor’s] Ginger-Ale (soda) and, depending upon the folks we were entertaining, perhaps a shot of Grandpa’s favorite rum in each cupful! Two or three of these drinks and either Paul’s jokes got funnier – or we forgot how many times he told them…

Hanukkah – Christmas
Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Like Mom, another family, holiday tradition that I enjoy (which, both, my parents and grandparents inspired in me) is mailing out holiday greeting cards to our friends and family. I buy boxes of various cards and try to write personal, little notes on each of them.

For decades, though, Mom personally MADE our family’s holiday greeting “cards” – which were more like decorative “letters” of greetings and good wishes. Every year they were different and special, with news and highlights about our family’s past year’s events and hopes for the coming year. Often, Mom would put in a special recipe, too.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, p. 3)

HOLIDAY GREETINGS

SENDING CHRISTMAS CARDS has always been a favorite tradition in our house. In 28 years, we only sent store-bought cards twice. Every Christmas, other than that, we made our cards. That was the one important tradition we followed – and still do…

What usually happened was that we had every good intention of confining our list to those who really were important to us [and] who we rarely saw during the rest of the year… I like to put newsy little notes inside that would bring old friends up to date with what we had been doing since we sent them our last Christmas card.

…I am one of those annoying sentimentalists who will, too, read every word of the long, newsy Christmas letters and the page-by-page accounts of how our friends have been doing since the last Christmas.

I don’t know if fewer cards are being sent at Christmas since postage became so expensive – or if we simply don’t know that many people. The tradition, however, seems to be fading…

December, and all the holidays within it, was probably Mom’s favorite time of every year. ‘Tis the season of Faith, Hope and Love! ’Tis the season of sentimentalists, as well. Mom said, in the memory above, ‘I am one of those annoying sentimentalists’… I don’t find it annoying to be, or even to know, a sentimentalist. I think it’s a good thing to be affected and motivated by feelings of tenderness, sadness, happiness or nostalgia!

‘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 RecipesTM Quarterly, Winter 94/95.

#CyberMonday

Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, many more people have converted to shopping online this year. Thus, the exponential growth of the post-Thanksgiving, “Cyber Monday” extravaganza has taken on a whole new meaning for 2020; as virtual shopping has become more commonplace throughout this year than ever before!

As the last of the Thanksgiving left-overs disappear and we gear down for the final holiday shopping blast, I can only hope that everyone remembers those things for which they were giving thanks just a few days ago, as they gathered around their turkey-laden tables, with what family and/or friends they could. Please don’t let the annual commercialism of the up-coming holidays interfere with those heart-felt thoughts of gratefulness.

Remember that gratitude is the easiest gift that you can give someone – an appreciative nod and two simple words (“thank you”) can go farther than you think. It’s a gift that keeps giving! Like the ripples of water, spreading out from shore to shore, when a stone is tossed in – it can affect others with whom that person sees, as well.

In honor of #HolidayGreetings, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for #AngelWings; from her “Original 200” collection of recipes, but also seen in…  Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 280).

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

#WHBY

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…48 down, 4 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Small Screen Significance

Happy Monday to all and #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#WorldTelevisionDay

Saturday, Nov. 21st, was the celebration of World Television Day! Did you know that people have been watching television for almost a century?! Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, most people have been sort of forced into seclusion and television has become a whole new kind of lifeline for them!

Many people use television for more than just entertainment, especially these days. Watching television is a popular way to get your local and world news, as well as unwinding from a long workday or temporarily escaping a stressful life! People of ALL ages also use television as a learning tool, from pre-school age through adulthood.

Today, I want to share with you some more memories of Mom’s experiences regarding television! The following is sort of a timeline of television appearances Mom had as the Recipe DetectiveTM, which I’ve gathered from excerpts of Mom’s writings.

Nov. 14, 1974 – Mom’s very first television appearance was on “AM Detroit”, with host, Dennis Wholley; at WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 in Detroit, MI.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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, pp. 38-39)

THE HAPPY COOKER

All I was doing was breaking even when Dennis Wholley, at channel 7 in Detroit, received a copy of my September newsletter of that first year of publishing. He called, though, and asked me in the family to appear on one of his broadcasts of ‘A.M. Detroit’, which we did – and which also opened up a brand-new door to opportunities I did not dream of encountering so quickly.

Of course, then, I did have to tell Paul all about the newsletter, what I had been doing and why I could not confide in him, knowing how skeptical he would have been about it. He practically agreed with me that, yes, he would’ve doubted that it would have had a future for us. Today, however, he’s willing to see it quite differently.

December 31, 1974 – On New Year’s Eve day, just across the river from Detroit, Mom appeared with Bob Hines on his television show on CKLW-TV, Channel 9 in Windsor, Ontario (Canada).

When I sent Dennis Wholley a copy of the newsletter, I also sent a copy to Bob Hynes, who then was host for the afternoon movie with CKLW-TV, channel 9, across the river [from Detroit] in Windsor, Ontario. There was no response immediately from CKLW, but the day after I appeared on Dennis Wholley’s program, Bob Hynes called and asked if we could visit his show on New Year’s Eve day [December 31] (1974) and bring the entire family too.

The movie that day, I remember, was ‘Tammy and the Bachelor’ with Debbie Reynolds. His guests for the intermission was Lynn Redgrave, who was there to plug her new movie, ‘The Happy Hooker’. When I introduced myself to Miss Redgrave in the studio that day, I said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Redgrave. I understand you are the happy hooker. I’m the happy cooker!’

…It was a thrilling experience. Then several weeks later, with the appearance on Bob Hynes show… The appearances on both of these shows brought us so many subscriptions to the newsletter and as the response increased, so did the amount of time that Paul gave me to processing the orders. He could see that I could not do it alone. Every evening, every weekend and even his two-week vacation from his job at the sign company, were given to working on the recipe orders with me.

Dec. 24, 1976 – Christmas Eve, the following year, Mom agreed to an at-home interview with Jack McCarthy of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

‘Jack McCarthy’s TV interview with us on Christmas Eve [1976], however, for channel 7 in Detroit, was one of the highlights of our experiences.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 68)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 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 St. Clair House, 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.

Winter, 1980-1981 – Mom did another at-home interview – this time, with PM Magazine’s Detroit area TV crew. Mom also appeared on WDIV-TV’s “Noon News” show, on Channel 4 in Detroit, MI

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

July 7, 1981 – Mom’s first appearance on a nationally syndicated show was on “The Phil Donahue Show”. Mom thought it would also be her last (see also: 1993 – below).

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.

For most of the year, following that 1981 appearance, our family faced the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of Dad and Mom’s family-operated, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We were definitely not set up for that massive response! Secret RecipesTM was really just a FAMILY AFFAIR!

Other than a full-time Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend, it was just my parents that took care of the day-to-day operations of their publishing and mail-order business. Every now and then, they’d need me and my siblings for a little extra help. That is, until the 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 temporarily help out with the extra mail that was coming in, as well as going out.

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 people sent in, per the offer that aired on that Donahue episode. We were also sending out thousands of more newsletter issues than before, because of the extra subscription orders that came back from those “free sheet” mailings.

However, as hectic as it was, in the end, it opened a lot of doors for “The Recipe DetectiveTM” that might never have otherwise happened. It brought Mom’s unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of eyes around the world, as that 1981 episode re-ran for about six months or so after its original air-date, on July 7th!

Feb. 1988 – This was Mom’s first appearance on ABC’s “Home” show (Los Angeles, CA) with host, Rob Weller. It was set up by Mom’s long-time friend, Carol Duvall. The show surprised Mom with meeting Wally Amos in person!

May 1990 – Mom did another at-home-interview – this time with CNN News on Memorial Day, plus they came back the next day to tape even more.

Oct. 1990 – This was Mom’s first appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

Mar. 19, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on ABC’s Home show (Los Angeles, CA), with Carol Duvall. For Mom, it did not seem to go as well as the first appearance.

May 8, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).

Surprisingly, in 1993, when the “Donahue” people called again, Mom agreed to return for another episode but only under the condition that the show not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event for the Donahue Show, as its most requested transcript of all time, SHATTERING its previous record!

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 “grainy” segments. I just wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s 1981 appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, email me at: therecipedetective@outlook.com!

1993 – “Ask Mike” was an infomercial developed by Guthie-Renker Corp. (also, produced & directed by Positive Response Television) for Secret RecipesTM and the Recipe DetectiveTM, including food demonstrations and guest appearances by Wally Amos, as “the-man-in-the-street”, conducting blind taste test with random people. Our family received copies of the infomercial when it was finished but it never aired on television; and Mom decided to never do television shows, again, after that experience.

‘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.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 298)]

ONE LAST THOUGHT

BE GRATEFUL

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, alike) eventually contributed in some way to our growth and happiness. For that Mom was always grateful.

‘…The opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity, or weary from over-work… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you are in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.’– Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)].

In honor of Thanksgiving, this week, here are THREE of Mom’s favorite, Frankenmuth “secret recipes” – for stuffing, fruit bread and cranberry relish; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 15)

#Frankenmuth

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

#WHBY

Next Monday (around 11:08AM CT/12:08PM ET), I’ll be on the Good Neighbor show, once again; reminiscing about Mom, with Kathy Keene, on WHBY in Appleton, WI. You can listen live, or listen later, through the station’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…47 down, 5 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fast Food Fix

#TGIM! Happy Monday to all and happy National Fast Food Day! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#NationalFastFoodDay

Today is National Fast Food Day! What a spectacular day to celebrate! Mom wrote, illustrated and self-published about 40 cookbooks (+/-) and hundreds of newsletter issues, on the subject of imitating fast food and junk food, as well as other restaurant offerings and grocery products at home. How appropriate, now, especially for this year’s Covid-19 restrictions!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252

In a time, not unlike what we are in now – with political upheaval, low wages and high costs of living – Mom found a niche that people wanted! “Eating out at home”, she called it – as she investigated how to imitate fast food, junk food, & restaurant dishes at home; as well as, shelf-stable grocery items. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too.

Mom was reportedly included in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first to recreate “fast foods” at home. The people from ‘Guinness’ were particularly interested in Mom’s copycat recipes for “The Colonel’s” secret spices, McDonald’s-style “special sauce” and Arthur Treacher’s-style fish batter. Those are only a few of the hundreds of recipes that are among Mom’s original imitations of “fast food”, starting back in the early 1970s.

Mom’s collection of recipes, from over almost half of a century of developing and collecting, were in the thousands! I’m still working on a master index of all of her recipes and writings for this website. You’ll find copies of those recipes, mentioned above, under the “Blog” tab, in some of my other blog posts; as well as under the “Recipes” tab, which I am continuing to update as well.

#NationalFastFoodDay

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6-7)

IT ALL STARTED WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN

DEAR FRIENDS,

I DO, WITH RECIPES, WHAT RICH LITTLE DOES WITH VOICES! Imitating the ‘Secret Recipes’ of the food industry has been an exciting experience for me. The critics felt that ‘fast foods’ and restaurant dishes were not worth the effort to duplicate at home, when you can just as easily buy the products already prepared!

The critics who contend that ‘fast foods’ are ‘junk foods’ and not good for us, have probably never prepared these foods themselves. Certainly, they have no access to the closely guarded recipes from the food companies that created these dishes, as there are only a few people in each operation that are permitted the privilege of such information! So, 99% of the critics’ speculations are based on their own opinions.

To know what these dishes contained, they’d have to be better [home-chemists] than I; as I have tested over 20,000 recipes with only the finished product as my guide to determine what each contained. ‘Fast foods’ are not ‘junk foods’ unless they’re not properly prepared. Any food that is poorly prepared (and just as badly presented) is junk!

Unfortunately, ‘fast food’ has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are ‘harmful’ to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘finer’ restaurants with wine stewards, linen tablecloths, candlelight, coat-check attendants, and parking valets; which separate the plastic palaces of ‘fast food’ from the expensive dining establishments.

One ‘eats’ at McDonald’s, but ‘dines’ at The Four Seasons. Steak and potato or hamburger and French fries – the ingredients are practically the same. How they are prepared makes the difference!

In the early ‘70s, I was trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, homemaking and a newspaper column syndicated through Columbia Features, when it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a single cookbook on the market that could help me take the monotony out of mealtime. There was not a single recipe in the newspaper’s food section that did not smack of down-home dullness!

‘Okay,’ they said at the newspaper I worked for, ‘YOU write the column on foods and recipes that YOU think would really excite the readers and make them happy!’ I did, but that didn’t make the Editors happy, because it made their [food industry] advertisers miserable.

When I was told that I’d have to go back to monotonous meatloaf and uninteresting side-dishes that made mealtime a ritual rather than a celebration or ‘pick up my check’, I told them to ‘MAIL it to me!’ I went home to start my own paper!

‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’– Seneca (Philosopher, mid-1st century, AD)

It was probably a dumb thing to do, amid an economic recession with the highest rate of unemployment I had ever experienced, but it was worth the risk. I was a dedicated writer that knew someone had to give homemakers something more than what they were being given in the colored glossy magazines, where a bowl of library paste could even be photographed to look appetizing!

There had to be more to mealtime than Lima beans and macaroni and cheese with Spam and parsley garnishes. There also had to be more to desserts than chocolate cake recipes that came right off the cocoa can. The food industry gave us more appealing products than did the cookbooks we trusted.

THEY LAUGHED! THEY DOUBTED! They even tried to take me to court when some famous food companies insisted that I stop giving away their secrets. They couldn’t believe me when I said that I did NOT know, nor did I want to know, what they put in their so-called secret recipes.

[However,] I did know that there are very few recipes that can’t be duplicated or imitated at home. And we could do them for much less than purchasing the original product. I proved…it can be and should be done!

‘Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.’Charles Caleb Colton

FAMOUS FOODS FROM FAMOUS PLACES have intrigued good cooks for a long time – even before fast foods of the 1950’s were a curiosity. When cookbooks offer us a sampling of good foods, they seldom devote themselves to the dishes of famous restaurants. There is speculation among the critics as to the virtues of re-creating, at home, the foods that you can buy ‘eating out’, such as the fast food fares of the popular franchise restaurants. To each, his own!

#WorldTelevisionDay

Who would want to imitate ‘fast food’ at home? I found that over a million people who saw me demonstrate replicating some famous fast food products on The Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981) DID – and their letters poured in at a rate of over 15,000 a day for months on end!

And while I have investigated the recipes, dishes, and cooking techniques of ‘fine’ dining rooms around the world, I received more requests from people who wanted to know how to make things like McDonald’s Special Sauce or General Foods Shake-N-Bake coating mix or White Castle’s hamburgers than I received for those things like Club 21’s Coq Au Vin.

A cookbook should be as exciting as a good mystery! Most are drably written by well-meaning cooks who might know how to put together a good dish but know nothing about making the reader feel as if they’re right there, in the kitchen with them, peeling, cutting, chopping, stirring, sifting and all the other interesting things one does when preparing food.

It is my intention, in [my] book of the food industry’s ‘Secret Recipes’, to make you feel at home in my kitchen, just as if we’re preparing the dishes together…to later enjoy with those who share our tables with us…

Fast food and junk food recipes weren’t found in any of the cookbooks offered back then – and these were the types of restaurants that struggling, middle class families would frequent when they wanted an affordable meal out. What were they going to do when they couldn’t afford to take their family out for such a treat? Mom knew! Make it at home! And she went to work, investigating all the possibilities there were to offer from this new platform; which grew exponentially!  

#NationalGratitudeMonth

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 306)

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BETTER COOKERY

IF THE GOOD LORD HAD INTENDED FOR ME to be a gourmet cook, I would’ve been born with Teflon hands! Don’t misunderstand – I like to cook! But I do not wish to spend more time in the preparations than is necessary.

NO ONE APPRECIATES good food as much as I do. Don’t ask me how I know – I just do. It does not concern me how a dish has been prepared, if it tastes great and looks good on the table! A gourmet cook would never agree with this philosophy.

However, anyone can become a gourmet cook, that is, if that is what you wish. All you need are numerous ingredients of good quality, a lot of time and patience and twice as much money – not to mention, and unblushing candor for admitting without modesty you are a ‘gourmet’ cook. This admission will intimidate many people just as easily as being faced with the admission that somebody is a terrific dancer, a great singer or an exceptional parent.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

And while it is perfectly acceptable and not the least bit conceited to say one is a ‘gourmet’ cook, there is still a tendency to back off from them because you know how many failures you have experienced and how skilled you would like to be in the kitchen, if only you had the time and the energy – and a generous allowance with which to buy all the right ingredients.

BETTER COOKERY is my answer to the ‘gourmets’, who insist that ‘fast food’ tastes like cardboard – and, sometimes, the various menu selections really do! But there are many family-type restaurants within the division of the ‘fast food’ industry that turn out exceptional meals for very reasonable prices, even giving senior citizens discounts and paying careful attention to how children are serviced.

When you’re a gourmet cook, you naturally have a throbbing desire to enjoy perfection with every dish, whether you’re preparing it, or someone else! To a gourmet cook, compliments go with the territory – failures don’t! They expect EVERY dish to be perfect enough to warrant a complement!

#NationalGratitudeMonth

By the way – who isn’t grateful that they can still get their fast food fix during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions – whether by drive-thru or curbside pick-up or delivery service or making it at home, ourselves?

#WorldTelevisionDay

Saturday, Nov. 21st, is World Television Day! Thus, next Monday, I’ll share with you more memories of Mom’s 20 years of experiences on television – from 1974 through 1993 – including our own local Detroit (and Ontario, Canada) area programs, as well as national shows like ‘CNN News’, the ‘Phil Donahue Show’ and ABC’s ‘Home Show’!

#FunWithFondueMonth

The whole month of November is also celebrating National Fun with Fondue Month! There are three main types of fondue – cheese, oil, and chocolate. With a little imagination, each type has an endless variety of possible options to change it up from the basic fondue sauce. Mom was a master at taking a basic recipe and turning it into an imitation of one of our favorite restaurant offerings, fast foods, junk foods, or grocery store products.

In honor of #FunWithFondueMonth, below are two versions of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating #BarCheeseLikeWinSchuler’s product; as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 275). Mom’s was imitating many of Win Schuler’s products from the very beginning of her Secret RecipesTM legacy. These will be great for the coming holiday celebrations!

*NOTE: The original recipes from the Win Schuler company, for Schuler’s Heritage Cheese Spread & Schuler’s Seasoning Salt, can be found at https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/longtime-restaurant-tells-its–year-story/article_9b6908aa-3553-52ac-8125-0f549ae6b398.html

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

#WHBY

My next interview on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…46 down, 6 to go!

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252