By Mike Royko [Detroit Free Press, The Feature Page; MONDAY, DEC. 10, 1973]
IF YOU spend any time in this corner, you have noticed lately that I have been writing a lot about food, restaurants and eating. It always happens when I go on a strict diet. I satisfy my hungers by writing about food. A shrink could have a field day in my fat-choked noggin about this, and other things, no doubt, but who really cares, right? If it works, then I say write on, baby! The diet is working. I started at 245 a week ago this past Thursday and am right at 230 after a weekend of 1,200-calorie days. But to keep the ol’ write-and-lose therapy going, let me pass on some info about two rather novel cookbooks that have come to my attention.
First, there’s Gloria Pitzer’s handmade (her five kids in Algonac even helped hand-color the cover) delight called, “The Better Cooker’s Cookbook.” Gloria is a delightful newspaper columnist and she notes in the front of her book: “If the Good Lord had intended for me to cook, why wasn’t I born with aluminum hands?”
Another sparkling observation: “Cookbooks do not tell you, for instance, such vital items as the Impossibility of Using Up Easter Eggs!” I really groove on the little asides she tucks between the over 200 sensible recipes. Like this one: “Frankly, I never met a melon squeezer I really liked. They always make me feel so insecure, the way they hold the melon to their eye and thump it like they are expecting a heartbeat.” …It’s a buck and a half and a belly-laugh a page…
By Gloria Pitzer (Feb. 1976, among Gloria’s “Original 200” recipes)
¼ pound (1/2 cup) butter or margarine,
½ cup Crisco or homogenized solid shortening,
1 cup granulated sugar,
¾ cup Pet or Carnation evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter for 5 minutes on medium speed. Add Crisco a little at a time. Cream another 3 or 4 minutes. Add sugar a little at a time while continuing to beat. Then add the milk (mixed, first, with the vanilla), beating and scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl. The longer you beat this, the better it becomes – but food processor preparations are also possible – timing depends on manufacturer’s directions for “creaming”. Mixture will “grow” in the bowl. Keeps refrigerated in covered container up to a month. Use as directed below with the cake “strips” for TWINKLES. Should fill about 2 dozen.
THE YELLOW-SPONGE-LIKE CAKE that I use is the same recipe that I suggest using for imitating at home the cake product from the company ‘nobody doesn’t like’ – who shall remain nameless – YOU can say it out loud… but I can’t!
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 cup whole milk
½ cup butter
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
As listed, beat the ingredients in large mixing bowl on medium speed, beating 1 minute with each addition. Pour batter into 2 square, 8-inch, greased cake pans or Pyrex baking dishes (or a 13 x 9 x 2” pan.) Bake in preheated, 350°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes – for the 2 square pans – both pans in the oven at same time. For the oblong pan, bake 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack. Best to use the cake when it is slightly frozen – about 30 minutes in the freezer. Cut cake into bars – 1.5 x 3.5”. Put bottom-side of each bar facing up on waxed paper. Spread bottom halves with the Twinkle Filling and put together with an un-frosted bar – sandwich style. Wrap in small plastic sandwich bags or snack-size bags. Seal and date. Freeze up to one year – or refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes about 24 cream-filled cakes.
Happy Monday AND happy “Please Take My Children to Work Day”! Yes, Virginia! There is such a thing!
Before my mom was the Recipe DetectiveTM, before she authored all those newsletters and cookbooks, Mom penned and syndicated various “hot topic” and “homemaker” satirical-styled editorials/columns, as well as a series of cartoon panels! One of her later series of columns was called “No Laughing Matter” (aka: “No Laugh ‘N Matter”), which she continued doing for a while, even after the rise of her Secret RecipesTM business took off in the 1970s.
Mom would have had a field day writing a column about this national “Please Take My Children to Work Day” – I can’t believe there really is such a thing! Apparently, it’s been celebrated yearly on the last Monday of June for 16 years (since 2003). This year, that happens to be today! Who knew? I could have used that when my kids were young – NOT! I can just hear my mom laughing and saying the same thing, too!
We got our “me times” the old fashioned way… when the kids were involved in school, sports, play groups, Scouts, city activities… the list goes on, including hiring a sitter for a day every now and then – or exchanging sitting favors with another mom! Sorry – but, really people – you don’t need a national holiday to devise a one-day break from parenting responsibilities! It’s a lifelong commitment. Besides, there’s already a yearly national “Take Your Child to Work Day” on the last Thursday in April!
For more information on what the “Please Take My Children to Work Day” holiday is really all about, you can check out these three websites, on which I found some interesting information; or do a search of your own, but here are some starting points:
In one of Mom’s “No Laughing Matter” columns from the 1970s (not sure what date it was actually published in the papers wherever it was syndicated), Where Have All Our Homemakers Gone?, Mom wrote: “The full-time homemaker is, unfortunately, being short-changed by today’s ‘paycheck-oriented’ society and, if Women’s Lib have their own way, ‘homemaker’ will be a 4-letter word… the women who either by choice or by circumstance makes a career out of making a home.”
Here it is about 40 years later and not much has changed. I constantly recognize the timelessness in a lot of the issues about which Mom once wrote. I guess it’s true – the more things change, the more they also stay the same!
In another “No Laughing Matter” article (circa 1970s), Just a Housewife and a Pro!, Mom wrote: “As a ‘suburban housewife’, I fail to see how anyone could classify my routine as ‘dull’! For one thing, everyone knows that the mother of an active family has no routine! We’re lucky if we can get our slippers on the right feet first thing in the morning. In fact, we’re lucky if we can even find those slippers, having to, first, plow through an undergrowth of Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs on the way to the kitchen, where we must witness testy debates over who gets the [prize] in the box of [cereal] and why a 40-year-old man refuses to take the Donald Duck thermos in his lunch…
What’s wrong with a quest for a roll of Scotch tape that’s your very own or having the phone ring and the call is for you instead of your teenager? [Margaret Mead’s] working definition [of a ‘first-class’ woman, not being a housewife or homemaker,] is a ‘trained, competent, professional woman’. Now, I’d be the last one to contradict an expert, but in defense of women who become wives and mothers… we have had training (although much of it’s on the job), are extremely competent and are professional [according to Webster’s dictionary] in that we have ‘a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or skill’…
If you don’t think it takes learning or skill to varnish a complex-of-disorder with enough love and efficiency that husbands and children grow up with security and comfort, drop around my kitchen some Sunday night… no matter what they tell us [working-outside-the-home homemakers] about turning our kids over to a day care center, there’s nothing like coming home from school to know that Mom’s in the kitchen, whipping up a pitcher of Tang and a plate of Twinkies.” [NOTE: See Mom’s recipe for homemade Twinkies at the end of this blog.]
Mom often referred to our family as being the total opposites of the Brady family on TV! Here’s a take, from the early years of the Recipe DetectiveTM, when Dan Martin of Newsday Wire Features wanted to come to our house in Pearl Beach to interview Mom about her bi-centennial cookbook that he had seen at The Henry Ford Museum in Greenfield Village… To hear Mom tell the story, it was just another day in the life of the “happy homemaker” – the kind of “stuff” from which country songs (or reality TV shows) are made!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
When he knocked on the door that day, it was like inviting him into a Jean Kerr production of “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies”. There were a dozen baskets of ironing here and there in the large dining room, each tagged with the [customer’s] name, phone number and date… Two long tables, under the windows [along the east wall], were covered with freshly mimeographed 4×6 cards of recipes, spread out for the ink to dry. Several times a week, I printed up about 200 recipes, at 50 copies each. At that time, we sold these through our newsletter for 5-for-a-dollar or 25-cents each. We did very well with them too!
In the living room, Debbie’s friends had gathered with their driver’s training manuals to quiz each other for the big day coming up – when those six teenagers would be taking their driving tests. In the kitchen, Cheryl and Lorie were working on Girl Scout badge projects with some of their friends. It was a mad house!
Mr. Pipersack was shuffling in and out of the side porch door [off of the utility room], trying to unplug the bathroom pipes and clean out the septic tank for us. In the back room, where the prehistoric furnace was located in the 80-year-old house, a man from the gas company was arguing with a man from [the electric] company about what was wrong with our furnace and why it wouldn’t work [and recommending that I hide Paul’s wrench!]…
Our oldest son, Bill, was hunting through the kitchen drawers for some tools… so he could get under the hood of his [car] out in the driveway and, then, let Mr. Pipersack pull his truck into the yard. Mike, our next oldest, was on the phone trying to convince a girl that the things she had heard about him weren’t true and, if he could get his dad’s car on Saturday, would she go to the movies with him…
[Furthermore,] the cat was having a litter of kittens under the sewing table and our police dog, Suzie, was about to have a litter of pups and was moping about, looking for comfort…
Had our life been made into a TV series, it probably would’ve been called ‘The Pitzer Pack Rats’! …Based purely on the unfounded talents of our five kids to keep our house looking like it was just about to be condemned by HUD! I pretend not to care for ‘The Brady Bunch’, because I envied their lovely lifestyle, where problems were solved without so much as a hair out of place or a tear shed in despair…
My husband… loved the way the Brady’s bathroom mirror never got steamed up from somebody’s shower and how Mr. Brady never had to threaten a child… for catapulting a meatball off of their fork and into [his] coffee cup the way our kids would! I liked the way their stairway was always free of common household litter and their door wall never had fingerprints on it.
Their house plants flourished and when their phone would ring, it was always somebody… who had something pertinent to contribute to the entire 30-minute story… When [the phone] rings in this house, it’s usually a lady calling long-distance, from Toledo, to tell me about an exciting new offer on my favorite… magazines at drastically reduced rates, or… my Avon lady…
Mrs. Brady lived the kind of saccharine existence all mothers of my day dreamed of, for she never had to explain why they had Coca-Cola stains on the ceiling or how she blew the food budget on a pot roast for Sunday’s dinner, or why she had to take down phone messages in the dust on the end table because she could never locate a pencil and paper when she needed it, like I did!
Her kids did not spend hours on the phone with a friend just listening to each other breathe, nor did they waste their allowances on a record album with a 3-aspirin rating! And, I noticed, the Brady kids never used a windowsill for a foot-rest, a lampshade for a coat rack or a younger brother for a punching bag.
Mr. and Mrs. Brady never argued with each other over his bowling night and her Bridge Club. Have you ever noticed how their oldest boy never stood around, cracking his knuckles when he was bored? Ours did. Everything that happened to them was an object lesson with a happy conclusion where the parents always come out on top, knowing what was best for the youngsters and proving it, too!
We always felt lucky, on the other hand, if Paul and I could only get the cherries out of the fruit cocktail before the kids did! And, while all of the Brady kids uttered adorable little sayings… our teenaged son explained how he had just initiated his new chemistry set by concocting Nitro-glycerin in the utility room.
The Brady Bunch may have lived in a Walt Disney [style] happily-ever-after world, but I did really like them… because [the story] didn’t tell it like it WAS, but how it COULD be! – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 27-29)
Friday marked the first day of summer! On the first day of spring I adopted the low-carb lifestyle (like Atkins). It has been 97 days of no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar – you know, all the good stuff! After starting out at a 20-gram-carb-limit for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far.
I’ve recently started using almond flour to make some Keto recipes. I LOVE the 90-Second Microwave English Muffin! I turned my slices into a Monte Cristo sandwich one morning and, OMG, I was in heaven (and stuffed) for a maximum 9-grams of carbs! I’ve also discovered that some heavy whipping cream and sugar-free, flavored gelatin make awesome “carb-free” desserts!
As of today, I’ve lost about 30 pounds! My goal is to lose another 10 pounds, at least; maybe 15 pounds at most. However, my “exercise regimen” is not steady, to say the least, and I still need to change that! I don’t spend near enough time weeding my garden or going for brisk walks.
Happy Monday to everyone! I hope all the dads out there had an awesome, memory-making Father’s Day with their kids yesterday!
Yesterday was a bitter sweet day for me, as it was my parents’ anniversary, as well as Father’s Day. I’m so happy that they’re together again and yet I miss them, both, so much! Since my dad passed away in the fall of 2014, Father’s Day has become one of those days when I miss my dad more immensely than others! Like any daughter might feel, he was and will always be my hero! Thus, being that yesterday was Father’s Day, I want to share with you an old, satirical editorial that Mom wrote about Dad called “Father’s Day (or) the King and I!” Below is a photocopy of the article, which I found in Mom’s June 1974 newsletter issue.
There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football. However, Mom was always perplexed to come up with an easy answer for people, asking her advice on how to write and publish a cookbook or to start their own newsletter. My mom often wanted to create an easy, step-by-step plan to give people. However, there was no one-size-fits-all answer; not even based solely on what was Mom’s own experiences, hard work and involvement.
Other than 3 of the most commonly known, basic steps – (1) write about what you know best, (2) know who your target audience is and, (3) follow through or sell it to them – Mom could never come up with a more detailed outline that could cover all the multitudes of possibilities involved in writing a newsletter or book. Mom believed that only the trials and tribulations of experience could be the best guides by which to set and accomplish one’s goals.
‘There are all sorts of theories and ideas about what constitutes a good opening line. It’s a tricky thing, and tough to talk about because I don’t think conceptually while I work on a first draft — I just write. To get scientific about it is a little like trying to catch moonbeams in a jar…But there’s one thing I’m sure about. An opening line should invite the reader to begin the story. It should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know about this.’
Instead of composing a “How To…” guide for writing and publishing, Mom wrote “our family story” in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989); in hopes that it might help inspire someone else. Here is a patch-work quilt of excerpts from that book – excerpts which Mom wrote on the subject of creating your own newsletter or book…
FROM MY MOM’S MEMORIES…
THE EXPERIENCES WE’VE ENCOUNTERED in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio broadcasting and newspaper exposure and our own publishing efforts. If someone can benefit from our experiences, all the better. Mostly, though, this is just a story of our family, our five children…and how we made a dent in the hard shell of the publishing industry. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)
At least once a week…I am asked how I got into this business, how it all started and how somebody else can write their own book [or newsletter] and get it published. If there were a formula for our kind of success…I would be happy to share the information…
The experiences that comprise the success and longevity of our Secret RecipesTM include some very wonderful people who have gone out of their way to make it easy for us to present our work to the public…[those were some to whom I’ve started addressing “thank you” notes in my last couple of blogs…among others yet to come.]
Over the years, it has been, not a job, but a joy to continue investigating the secrets of the food industry, combining this information and recipes with the logic of the heart, the food for thought as well as food for the table. It continues to arouse interest and delight in, both, our readers and radio listeners all over the country, as well as the world! – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 14-15)
If someone were to copy our so-called “success”, I could give them no blueprint 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 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)
With…writing and marketing, it’s all based on individuality, on experience being the best teacher and on having a responsive audience…it also begins with a sale. You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that – you either know or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light!
You have to let your light shine – and part of the preparation of communicating with your readers is to know how to talk to them, what they need from your [books or] newsletters that will enrich them or make their lives better. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 43-44)
Believe me, it’s not easy, putting out your own [book or] newsletter; and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint…to follow that will promise instant success. – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 48)
IN THE BEGINNING…
In 1973, Mom wrote and self-published her first cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook. It was a collection of recipes that she had developed, tested and originally published in Cookbook Corner, a recipe column she wrote and syndicated to newspapers for over 5 years prior. Mom laughingly called her collection the “reluctant-cook-budget-tested” recipes.
I’d like to place a big “THANK YOU” note, here, to Bob Talbert(RIP) of the Detroit Free Press fame, along with our condolences to his surviving family and friends. Mom often talked about his helpful boosts in getting her name out to his readers with the wonderful plugs he gave her products. Bob Talbert and Mom had a delightful friendship over the years, and she was quite saddened by his passing in 1999. Bob mentioned Mom’s first cookbook in one of his 1973 columns, where he referred to it as being great “…for a buck-and-a-half-and-a-belly-laugh” per page!
At that point, as Mom’s collection of recipes grew – recipes which she developed and tested initially from requests made by her readers and, then, from the radio listeners of Bob Allison’s Ask Your Neighbor show that she was beginning to know – she decided, rather than writing another cookbook, she’d start writing a monthly newsletter. Mom called it Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter (1974) and referred to it as a “compendium of fact and fancies…the almost-magazine – not quite a newspaper – that can build into a book.” Mom also knew exactly who her target audience was and instinctively saw how to sell it to them!
When Mom made mention of her newsletter during one of her frequent call-ins to Bob’s radio show to answer a listener’s recipe question, he was immediately enthralled to know more about it and how his listeners could get it.
The first few cornerstones, in the building of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM empire, were her fellow journalists, as well as radio talk show producers and their hosts. My mom mailed out advertising fliers that she designed and complimentary copies of her work to every one of whom she could think to promote her talents. The unique niche Mom carved out in the food industry in the mid- to late-1970s, when she dared to embrace the fast food and junk food fare that all the nutritionists were warning the public against consuming, grabbed the public’s attention by storm!
Mom constantly found innovative ways to sell her creations through a lot of business cards (placed everywhere and anywhere allowed) and promotional mailings for radio talk show programs, the wire service, newspapers, magazines and even television that catered to her same focus group (along with a follow-up note or phone call). Mom’s newsletter and her ensuing collection of self-published cookbooks seized the interest of people, all over the country and internationally, as there wasn’t anything else on the market like them!
The History of ‘Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes NewsletterTM’ can be found at http://therecipedetective.com/2019/01/21/the-history-of-gloria-pitzers-secret-recipes-newsletter/. Long story, short version… Originally, Mom’s newsletter was a small (5.5” x 8.5”), 3-ring binder-style publication that could be collected, volume by volume, to form a book. Mom called the “almost-book, almost-magazine” Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter. It boasted 12 back-to-back pages per issue, laid out in the style of a patchwork-quilt and stuffed full of food for the soul, food for thought and food for the table. In addition, there were kitchen, cooking and household tips; plus, humorous quips and satirical cartoons! Furthermore, the early issues included a “Reader’s Swap Shop” and a “gardening tips” page.
‘Every issue is like getting together for coffee with friends!’SM – Gloria Pitzer
Over the decades, the newsletter evolved with the changing times – the subject matter never ran low of ideas to cover, as more and more chain restaurants surfaced with specialty dishes that people wanted to know how to imitate at home, and new “convenient” grocery products were constantly being developed and introduced by various food companies. Mom added restaurant reviews and her radio show schedule to the newsletter issues, eventually eliminating the “Reader’s Swap Shop” and “gardening tips” page.
Along with the changing eras, the name of Mom’s newsletter changed slightly a few different times, as well as the size, number of pages and amount of issues printed per year. Plus, of course, the cost grew with inflation too. To put it in perspective, in 1974, according to DollarTimes.com, the United States minimum wage was $2.00 per hour; which is an equivalent to $10.88 per hour in today’s, 2019, economy.
At times, when Mom was over-busy, authoring new cookbooks, she opted to place the newsletter into retirement for a few short periods of time. But, because of her love for the writing and consistent contact with her audience, Mom would always come back to the periodical, reincarnating it in a new format – much like the “retirement saga” of football-fame’s Brett Favre. Wow! I think I just channeled my dad there!
Among Mom’s things that I have now, I found an original layout for her 1999, 25th anniversary edition of the 1974 newsletter collection, in a 60-page, large (8½ x 11-inch) format book filled with over 250 recipes and her usual added flair that had always set Mom’s books apart from the rest. I’d love to hear from anyone who still has old copies of Mom’s newsletters or any of her books! Please write to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and include your memories of my mom!
IN CLOSING… since yesterday was also National Fudge Day, below is a photocopy of Mom’s imitation for fudge like Disneyland’s and Disneyworld’s famous product, which she shared on one of her “free recipe samples and ordering information” sheets in 1996 or 1997 (I haven’t found a copy of it in any of Mom’s books that I have, but it may have originally appeared in one of her newsletter issues that I don’t have)…
[From Gloria Pitzer’s 2002-2004 free recipes, media promotion sheet.]
1-pound Ball Park franks, each frank sliced in quarters
1-pound bacon, sliced in half
1 small box of round, wood toothpicks
1 cup each: ketchup and sugar
Cut each of the franks into 4 pieces of equal length. Cut each strip of bacon into 3 pieces of equal length. Wrap one piece of bacon around one piece of frank, securing with a toothpick and repeating until all the frank pieces have been wrapped in the bacon pieces.
Arrange all the wrapped and secured pieces in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 400°F for 10-15 minutes, until bacon is “wiggly”. Remove partially-cooked pieces from pan and place in a slow cooker so that they fill it half-full.
Combine equal parts ketchup and sugar until you have enough mixture to keep the pieces submerged – I use 1 cup of each. Cover with a snug-fitting lid and turn it on high for 1 hour and then on low for 2 hours, or until ready to serve.
The toothpicks become nice little handles for picking them up and the heating process does not affect the wood, nor does the wood affect the sauce. Makes 8 to 10 appetizer-sized (4 to 5 pieces) servings. Leftovers, if any, can be refrigerated up to a week.
[This recipe was part of Gloria’s original 200 recipes collection, from the early 1970s, and has been printed in many of her self published cookbooks; the first one being The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 32), which is no longer in print, and the last one is Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 247)]
Preheat oven to 350°F. Put ¼ pound butter or margarine in a 9-inch, square pan and into the preheating oven until butter melts. Meanwhile, put a 10-ounce package Lorna Doone Sugar Cookies (or plain sugar cookies) through a blender until fine crumbs. Combine crumbs with 1 envelope unflavored, gelatin powder and ¼ cup sugar. Add ½ teaspoon cinnamon if you wish. Mix it well.
Remove pan containing butter from oven as soon as it is completely melted. Mix in crumb mixture, reserving ¼ cup of this and setting it aside to use over filling later, and stir to blend thoroughly. Pat remaining crumb mixture evenly and firmly over bottom of pan. Return to oven to bake exactly 8 minutes – which gives you just enough time to prepare the filling (below.)
Mix the following until light and fluffy: 2 large packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, one 8-ounce carton dairy sour cream, 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 2 large eggs, 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed.
As soon as crust is baked, just slip rack out far enough, without even removing the pan from the oven, so that you can pour filling into hot crust. Sprinkle top of filling lightly with the reserved ¼ cup crumb mixture. Return to oven to bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until you can insert the blade of a table knife into the filling, 1 inch from the edge of pan, and it comes out clean. Cool about 30 minutes before cutting to serve – OR chill it thoroughly and serve it quite cold with whipped cream or Cool Whip topping to garnish. Makes 8 servings.
Whenever Mom was asked “how it all began”, she found it hard to pinpoint that one moment. Over the years, she had mentioned numerous times that, as a pre-teen, she was inspired to be a writer after watching a 1946 Warner Brothers Picture about the Bronte sisters, called “Devotion”. That was definitely when she began serious journaling on a daily basis! In fact, from then and for the rest of her life, Mom continued journaling – which came to more than 71 years of chronicles – now that’s devotion!
Mom, likewise, mentioned that, around the same time as seeing the movie, she had also penned a poem for a class writing assignment, which was published in The Detroit News – and how that was probably the turning point when her creative writing interest became serious, as she was so surprised that others found her composing to be that good! After that, Mom loved entering creative writing contests and, often, did so.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES: The National Essay Award sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution offered a $100 scholarship [which was a large sum in the mid-1940s] for the best essay written by a high school senior, entitled ‘What it Means to be an American’. I worked so hard on that paper – gave it my all! At graduation, I received the scholarship check and I knew, then, that I would be a serious writer after all. [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 20)]
WDEE-Radio, in Detroit, gave me a portable radio for a recipe that took 1st place in a contest they conducted – and in 1962, it was WBRB-Radio, in Mt. Clemens, that gave me a check for 1st place in their recipe contest. Soon after that, Better Homes & Gardens sent me a check for a recipe in a contest they had conducted; and, in 1964, WJBK-Radio [Detroit] gave me a maple stereo and radio set for their [contest about the] most unusual experience while listening to the radio, when I wrote to 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 [on Lake St. Clair in Michigan] in the middle of winter, with the radio going to keep us in the proper mood. [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)]
As a young wife and mother in the 1960s, the successes Mom continued to have with writing always had something to do with food and homemaking. Besides doing just about every conceivable job in a small town newspaper office, as had Mom’s ancestors; the editors for whom she worked, often, assigned Mom to also do those type of homemaker/food columns, since she knew how to cook and was the only “married lady” on the staff. As sexist as that may sound, that’s how it was back then. Regardless, it was all a ripple effect that eventually turned Mom’s love for writing, and “writing about what you know best”, into her legacy of love…her empire of Secret RecipesTM.
Hi Neighbors – Appreciation Continued!
Last week, my blog was a big “thank you” note to many radio stations, as well as their shows’ hosts, who became family. There were so many though! I couldn’t get everyone into one blog. Most of those listed in last week’s blog were from a “thank you” page that Mom had originally dedicated to her radio family, as well as some television shows and some members of the press family, in her favorite, self-published cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983).
By the way, that was the book that Mom had me rewrite for her, during the last few years of her life (and have published by Balboa Press), so it could be shared once again with a new digital generation! The “new” cookbook is now called Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective and is available, for sale through the publisher, Balboa Press, at $20.99 each; eBooks are also available for $3.99 each! This particular cookbook, is truly the best of Mom’s legacy – nothing made her happier before she passed than knowing her writing was going to live on!
MY WRITING WAS NEVER A HOBBY
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES: Journalism is a peculiar profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since graduating high school in 1954]. I’ve worked among writers who wrote to live, while the rest of us lived to write. We had to communicate, to reach out to someone with ideas…thoughts…reasonings and remembering.
While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire, not if they’re truly writers. Editors may retire and reporters may retire…at some given point. But, old writers never die, they just run out of words. [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 22)]
I never thought I’d see the day that Mom would run out of words. I’m sure she didn’t either! But, now, her words live on forever in all of her books, newsletters, columns/editorials and so on that people still have! I have heard from quite a few people, since starting these blogs last year, who’ve told me that they still have their copies of Mom’s publishings and how special they are to them. I pour through my copies all the time for inspiration for, both, cooking and writing! Please contact me at email@example.com or on Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective) with your memories of my mom! I’d love to hear from you as well!
I must say, the internet is an awesome source of information and archives to find some of Mom’s old No Laughing Matter columns; as well as her old cookbooks that have been out of print for years, which can still be found on Amazon and eBay (sometimes for ridiculous amounts because they are no longer in print), in addition to her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, that was published by Balboa Press and came out just before Mom passed away last year.
Mom made many mentions throughout her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989), about her radio family (the stations, talk show hosts and their listeners) that I want to thank in today’s blog. I started a “thank you” list in last Monday’s blog, Hi Neighbor. However, I continue to find more and more names throughout Mom’s writings, who should also be thanked! Mom’s radio family was her major inspiration for what to “sleuth-out” in the food industry. They were the ones who initially nicknamed her the Recipe DetectiveTM – a name (and challenge) Mom proudly accepted for decades to come!
Additionally, as I continue to come across more names in Mom’s writings, I will also continue to add their “thank you” notes and internet links (if I can find them) in my blogs and #RadioFamily…as well as on social media! I’m also planning on adding a “Thank You” tab (or something along those lines) on this website, dedicated to all of those whom have made a ripple in Mom’s life as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM.
The names for these NEW “thank you” notes that follow, were collected from Mom’s book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pages 58-61)]. All of these stations, talk show hosts and reporters contributed to the ripples of success for the Recipe DetectiveTM. So, on behalf of my mom and our family, I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to…
…who, after talking to me for only 5 minutes, had so inspired his listeners to want to try our recipes that we received nearly 1,000 letters within 2 days after the radio visit…[Thank you for having created new interests in my recipes.] – Gloria Pitzer (1989)
‘The Microwhiz’…a new radio visit I thoroughly enjoy…[as she] takes my conventional recipes and converts them to ‘micro’ cooking in no time at all! [Thank you for having created new interests in my recipes!] – Gloria Pitzer
…Jim Warren [RIP], host of Moody Radio‘s “Prime Time America”
…Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country, relative to their recipe interests and food needs… Since our camping experiences with…’Good Sam’, [Paul and I] have truly adopted their slogan, ‘In Good Sam, there are no strangers – only friends we haven’t met yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer (1989)
…called and asked me to think about those typical things that happen here, which they could photograph to accompany the story she was writing about us…
Everyday…things, here, are quite unpredictable! Mostly, it’s a day filled with pleasant interruptions – such as the grandchildren dropping by to see us for a few minutes or a radio station calling and asking me to fill in at the last minute! [Thank you! – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 94)]
…Dick Syatt, of WRKO-Radio, Boston, MA (host of the “Hotline” show) –
I remembered what Dick Syatt, one of our radio friends, had told me about finally getting everything you ever wanted, when he said, ‘Hell is God, giving you what you thought you wanted.’ Sometimes we need to have something, lose it and get it back again, before we can really appreciate what we have. I had that chance and I am so glad for it… Thank you! – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 96)]
…CR Powers and Loren Mitchell on AGM-Radio, Santa Fe, NM – where Mom shared her sister’s recipe (my Aunt Hazel) for her awesome appetizers, which she called “Hot Dog & Bacon BBQ” (see picture below for recipe).
Again, I’d love to hear from all of you, who are reading this blog! Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or through Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective) with your own memories of my mom! In closing…
Radio was a solid cornerstone in the building of the success of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM business. Many of the people Mom worked with in that industry said she had a great “radio voice”. While, Mom had appeared on some pretty famous television talk shows, over the years, to discuss and demonstrate her fantastic make-alike recipes for fast food, junk food, fine-dining dishes and grocery products – shows such as PM Magazine, The Phil Donahue Show (twice) and The Home Show; plus, some local (Detroit) talk shows – she really felt more “at home” when she was being interviewed on radio talk shows across the country and internationally. Mom found the audiences of the radio talk shows that she was on to be the most receptive audiences.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES: …Recipe DetectiveTM is the name that was given to me by my radio friends, years ago, because I was able to investigate the secrets of the food industry and come up with workable recipes for imitating their special dishes and grocery products. For nearly 20 years [at that time, 1970-1989], I’ve been writing about these recipe secrets and sharing them with the readers of our cookbooks and newsletter and thousands of radio listeners, across the country; sometimes… the world! – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 23)]
RADIO has become one of the biggest blessings in our work – and my ‘recipe visits’ came about as a result of my initial work with Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show…
I found [radio’s] family of listeners [to be] just like neighbors on our street, friendly and receptive! – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 58 & 59)]
On one of the very first pages of Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018), which I helped her to rewrite for the new digital generation from her favorite, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983), is a “thank you list”, dedicated to some of the stations, talk shows and their hosts, spanning across the country from sea to shining sea; as they had, probably, contributed the most positive ripples to the growing success of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM, up to that time (1972-1982).
However, Mom’s relationships with radio talk shows and their hosts went on for more than 32 additional years, when she was forced to give it up for health reasons. Therefore, I want to take this opportunity to extend Mom’s “thank you” notes to include some other radio stations, talk shows and hosts with whom she came to know and be friends, following this first list (below); which was originally printed in 1982.
The experiences we have encountered in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio [and television] broadcasting and newspaper exposure…
I have met some of the nicest people in the world, some of the most generous people who want to share their good ideas with me as much as I want to share mine with them. Of these good people, I will speak often and lovingly. – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)]
Mom always wrote about her radio visits in all of her publishings – even including her up-coming radio schedules in her newsletter issues, so that her readers in those areas could tune in. Nowadays, you can “tune in” to just about any show, from anywhere, via the internet! Thus, wherever possible, I am including links to the stations and/or hosts, if I can find them. Sad to say, like Mom, many of the hosts, for whom I’ve searched, are no longer with us.
Since I began these blogs to honor Mom’s legacy, I’ve been hearing more and more from people, through social media and emails, who remember her – expressing their own fond memories of Mom. That, in itself, makes what I’m doing with my blogs all worthwhile!I’d like to personally thank everyone (as well as on behalf of Mom), for being such great friends, fans and supporters!
The following “thank you” notes are from page 4 of Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018), with additional excerpts found, mostly, in My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989); as well as some other publishings, where Mom has mentioned these stations, shows and hosts as well.
Sad to say, as I searched for links to some of the names below, I found that many of them, like Mom, have passed on as well. Our condolences go out to all their surviving friends and families – and may they all be resting in peace.
It is as much a thrill for me, today, to hear somebody… request that ‘Gloria, The Secret Recipe Detective’ try to duplicate a recipe, as it was for me a decade ago when it all began. – Gloria Pitzer (May 1982) [*NOTE: That thrill continued to remain with Mom, for many more decades, until she passed away in January 2018.]
THANK YOU, AGAIN, TO…
…Bob Allison & his “Ask Your Neighbor” radio program, formerly on WWJ-Radio (Detroit, MI) and WEXL-Radio (Royal Oak, MI; 1340 AM). Now, you’ll find Bob on WNZK-Radio (960 AM; Detroit, MI) with his son, Rob Allison. The “Ask Your Neighbor” show has been broadcasting since 1962!
[Thank you] for your moral support and interest in my research and development of recipes that imitate restaurant and commercial food products. You’ve been a great friend over the years! – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
“ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR!” – I called [Bob] frequently with answers to his other listeners’ recipe questions, until I became ‘a regular’ on the show. With Bob’s generous help in mentioning my monthly newsletter, my subscriptions began to climb… I was finally showing a profit! That gave my husband, Paul, some relief from his skepticism that I would eventually outgrow my obsession with writing… From Bob Allison’s listeners alone, Paul and I had received over 1,000 letters in one day! [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)]
…Art Lewis and his “Listen to the Mrs.” program [and cohost, Sue Smith,] on WSGW-Radio in Saginaw, MI – which has been on the air since 1952…; and also to Fred Krell [RIP], program director at WSGW-Radio, who had originated the early “call-in” talk shows, “Listen to the Mrs.” and “What’s Your Opinion?”
[Thank you, all, for being great friends over the years! – Gloria Pitzer]
Warren Pierce…was one of my first radio friends with whom I would visit on the air regularly, giving out recipe secrets from the food industry…we found that the listeners’ responses to the famous “make-at-home” recipes prompted some very interesting challenges…my visits, on the radio, with Warren Pierce are still among my favorite experiences in my recipe investigations. I would rather do a radio show with Warren, in fact, than television with anyone else. [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 254)]
[Thank you] for putting me in touch with some of the most responsive and enthusiastic listening audiences. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…Jim White [RIP], Ann Keefe [RIP] & Art Fleming [RIP] of KMOX-Radio, St. Louis, MO –
[Thank you] for all the great years we visited on the air, sharing secrets of some giants in the food industry with your nationwide audience. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…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. [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 54)]
…Bob Cudmore of WGY-Radio, Schenectady, NY [1980 to 1993 night time talk show host for “Contact”… and to his predecessor Bill Miller!]
…for whose listeners have become good friends over the many years of our radio visits with your wonderful audience…[Thank you!] – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
ONE OF MY FAVORITEradio visits, on a monthly basis (and sometimes more often than that) was with a Schenectady station [WGY]. Originally, I worked with Bill Miller, whose…show [called ‘Contact’] drew a good following. It was because of Bill’s interest in the nuns of St. Claire, an order in New York state, who baked a delicious cheesecake and sold it to raise money for the poor, that I was first asked to duplicate the recipe…It was a real challenge. Eventually, however, we did come up with our own version and it was a divine experience, which I called ‘Blessed Cheesecake’.
Bill Miller left WGY and was soon replaced by Bob Cudmore, who had [previously] worked with me… at a Pittsfield, MA station. I continued on with ‘Contact’ for a long while, until…around Christmas of 1988. [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 60)]
…Ralph Story [RIP fellow Michigander] of KNX-Radio (1070 AM), Los Angeles, CA. Also…Jackie Olden, Mel Baldwin and Melinda Leeon KNX’s “Food News Hour” [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 58)]
[Thank you] for introducing me to your west coast audience, which offered me many new restaurants to investigate. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…Bob Barry of WEMP-Radio, Milwaukee, WI (1976-1979) –
…whose newsletter to…radio personalities included notes of my progress and opened many doors for me…[Thank you!] – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
[Thank you] for your encouragement and enthusiastic endorsement as Food Editor of ‘The Washington Post’, making my research of the food industry’s secrets an exciting and interesting labor of love. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
…Ed (& Sydney) Busch of WFAA-Radio, Dallas, TX (1976-1982, hosts of “America Over the Weekend”) –
[Thank you for your priceless contacts and wonderful audience! – Gloria Pitzer]
…Carol Haddix (Food Writer at the Detroit Free Press, 1971-1977 & Food Editor at the Chicago Tribune, 1977-2011)
[Thank you] for an over-whelming response to my ‘Eating Out at Home’ ideas. – Gloria Pitzer (1982)
There are still more thanks to be made, however, they’ll have to wait for my next blog. But, before I go, I want to thank Rosanne Robinson, who found my tribute page for Mom (@TheRecipeDetective) and recently began contacting me through Facebook. She said, in part, that Mom was a regular guest on her radio show at WMB-Radio, adding, “she was my favorite guest and a guarantee my mom would listen too!”
Thank you, Rosanne, for your messages and memories of my mom! Keep in touch! And, to anyone else reading this, please contact me at email@example.com or on Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective) with your memories of my mom! I’d love to hear from you as well!
I can’t find it in me, today, to say, “Happy Monday!” as I usually do in my blog openings. Today is Memorial Day – a solace day, not a happy one. I do hope that families are getting to spend the extra long holiday weekend together though! But, before I get into my blog subject, I want to address the very special meaning of today, as it tends to get lost among the “almost summer” celebrations and activities…
The Real Meaning of Today, Memorial Day
Memorial Day (aka: Decoration Day) was established as a U.S. federal holiday in May of 1971, to remember and honor all those who’ve died, serving in our Armed Forces. However, it unofficially originated, in the spring following the end of the Civil War. That’s when people began noticeably honoring the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves; usually with fresh, spring flowers. There’s a lot of great information (brain food) to be found about Memorial Day at History.com!
Another website that inspired me with Memorial Day food for thought is Thanksgiving.com, where I found some great ideas and traditions to incorporate into our current commercialized celebrations that Memorial Day has come to encompass; as many Americans, myself included, have regarded this day to be the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.
Commercialism has disguised the holiday! Nowadays, parades and picnics are abound! Nonetheless, pre-summer vacations, backyard barbecues and other outdoor gatherings are among the “new” customary activities that families usually enjoy this holiday weekend. As such, the real reason we observe this holiday and the old traditions that were once practiced in honor of it have become lost.
This holiday weekend generates a burst of patriotic colors, as everything gets decorated in red, white and blue, from sea to shining sea, now through Independence Day! However, that’s not why Memorial Day is also known as “Decoration Day”.
We may celebrate our freedoms but let us never forget by what cost! So, I want to share 7 thoughts on old traditions I learned from Thanksgiving.com, to impart to the new generations…and to always remember! Any one of these things or all of these things – there’s something that each of us could/should put into practice for why we really observe Memorial Day in the first place:
Now, onto The Cookbooks I Collected were Collecting Dust!
I’ve written many times about my mom’s inherited love affair with writing and the unexpected journey on which it took her, starting in high school – from working for “small town”, local newspapers (doing almost every conceivable job) to syndicating her own “hot topic-style” columns and cartoon panels to writing and publishing her own newsletters and cookbooks – when her original, girlhood dream was to write “the great American novel”. But, every success Mom had in writing usually had something to do with food and home, rather than dramatic sagas and love stories.
As a swimmer, growing up in our beautiful “Great Lakes” state of Michigan, Mom knew she couldn’t successfully swim against the current; so, she learned to swim with it. Likewise, rather than fight against Fate’s “meant-to-be” moments, Mom put her faith in “Fate” and went where “It” led. As a result, came the birth of the famous Recipe DetectiveTM and, almost simultaneously, all of her children – the recipes, newsletters and cookbooks!
Similarly, the “meant-to-be” powers of Fate have taken me (and my own inherited love for writing) on this unexpected and incredible journey of “blogging” to honor Mom’s legacy. As I mentioned in my very first blog, I had pondered many times in the previous few years, “to blog, or not to blog”; wondering if I could make a living from home at it, as my mom did with her Secret RecipesTM business.
Creative writing has always made me feel so much closer to Mom, as she was always my biggest fan and encouraged it in me for most of my life. Call me a nerd, but English was one of my favorite subjects in school and I always LOVED the essay assignments best! I used to write poetry when I was younger. I included one, dedicated to my mom, in one of my blogs from a few weeks ago. I have enough poems to fill two or three nice size books. But, I’ve never done anything with them – as far as publishing or marketing them. Mom tried to inspire me, but I just didn’t have the self-confidence to promote myself or my talents like her.
In as much as I love to write, I hadn’t done much creative writing for a couple decades. Therefore, when I started helping Mom rewrite her favorite cookbook a few years ago (so it could be republished by Balboa Press for a new digital generation), it rekindled that flame in me. Now, this blogging venture has kind of fallen into my lap and steered me in this direction… However, I’m not making a living at it… Not yet!
Those who aren’t familiar with any of Mom’s cookbooks would probably be wondering, here – how is a cookbook creative writing? That’s because Mom’s cookbooks were not your ordinary counter-top collection of recipes. My mom’s hunger for more than just the ordinary recipe collections that were being offered to people, led to her own personal, but seldom used, collection of “humdrum” cookbooks collecting dust…they just weren’t inspiring her enough.
So, Mom decided to write her own cookbooks…and, when the publishers rejected her creations because they weren’t the picturesque, routine and monotonous cookbooks they thought the public wanted; Mom was only more determined to publish it, herself! After all, she was part of the public too! Plus, she thought, if she wanted more and her recipe column readers wanted more and her increasing, radio fan base wanted more; then maybe she should just create it and publish it herself!
Hence, in each cookbook, between the hundreds of recipes that Mom developed to imitate fast foods, junk foods, restaurant dishes and grocery products; she also tucked in bits of wisdom, inspiration, humor, helpful household hints, kitchen tips and tricks, food-for-thought editorials and even some entertaining and interesting background/historic information on some of the companies/people whose products and dishes she imitated. Thereby, Mom’s cookbooks stood out from all the rest (offered at that time) – no others were like them (unless they copied her; and some did) – because they were just as much coffee table or bedside table reads as they were assemblages of recipes.
My inspiration for this week’s blog (titled after one of Mom’s old syndicated columns) came from an email solicitation I recently received, to pay this company to market Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018), which is mine now.
Basically, the email tried to point out that writing and publishing are only minor steps in the whole “book process” compared to marketing; which, it proclaimed, is an author’s biggest challenge because it involves so much more personal time and effort. Thereby, I suppose, justifying how much it will cost me to pay them, the professionals, to do it for me; thus, saving me from the challenge and all of the time and effort that it costs!
Granted – paying them would save me from all that stuff! But, when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on that kind of stuff, like me; sometimes, you just have to suck-it-up and learn how to do it yourself. Nowadays, you can find YouTube videos on how to do just about anything! Mom didn’t have YouTube to guide her… So, she succeeded on her past experiences in the newspaper business and her own basic instincts.
While marketing may be a challenge for me, I don’t think it was for Mom. I think she really enjoyed the promotional schedules of radio talk shows after each of her cookbooks (and newsletter issues) “premiered”. To Mom, her radio “visits” across the country, even internationally, probably felt more like having an “after party”, over and over again! Like any proud mom, she loved to talk about her babies (the recipes, newsletters and cookbooks)!
Mom briefly ventured into television talk shows for some of her cookbook promotions – as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs – most renowned were the 2 times she was on the Phil Donahue Show (in 1981 and 1993). However, Mom always felt more at home on the radio. I guess that’s because she usually was at home, doing most of her radio roundtables by phone. Although, when my parents used to travel (especially with their “Good Sam” friends), Mom would sometimes find a way to fit in a “live, in studio” radio visit whenever she could.
Mom was a natural at marketing herself, her talents and her products. I may have inherited her loves for writing, art and creativity in general; but I think I’m lacking in her many marketing talents! I get anxiety just from the idea of interviews!
I think I’m more fluent at writing than speaking, because I have more time to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it. Then, factor in that I’m OCD – so that, alone, at least doubles the time it takes me to write (and rewrite and rewrite again) my thoughts and ideas, trying to put them in a “CDO order” – as my kids and husband would always tease me about being OCD, because I like things in alphabetical (and numerical) order. One of my “dream jobs” as an adolescent was to be a Librarian – call me a nerd, but I’ve always thought the Dewey Decimal System is fascinating!
I know, from my own personal experience, that writing can be a long and, sometimes, personally draining process; as much so as marketing! In addition, I grew up with Mom’s authored and self-published creations and accomplishments. Each one became like one of her own children through the whole birthing process!
Similar to the development of life, creating and producing something can be a stressful AND beautiful AND rewarding time – all rolled into one! I felt that more than ever, when I collaborated with Mom to rewrite her favorite cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983), which consumed a couple years of my own life; let alone, the couple of years it took Mom to write the original version. Now that Mom’s last cookbook’s royalties are mine, I need to learn how to promote it, myself, (since I’m not rich enough to pay someone else to do it, as in the solicitation I received in my email). Either that or let it gather dust!
Happy Monday everyone! Welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom by Laura (Pitzer) Emerich.
This is a weekly blog series that I began 8 months ago to honor the legacy of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM and founder of Secret RecipesTM. My mom investigated the alleged mysteries and furtive formulas of the food industry, and discovered how to imitate their famous, popular products and dishes at home!
Beginning in the mid-1970s, Mom was becoming known, world-wide, for busting the mysteries behind making fast food and junk food fare at home! She reasoned that she could take the junk out of junk food if she controlled the ingredients that went into the cuisine in the first place. Mom developed thousands of recipes, imitating the trendy menu choices from many popular chain and fine-dining restaurants, in addition to well-liked, shelf-stable grocery products!
All of these recipes she put into over 35 of her self-published cookbooks and her hundreds of newsletter issues; sandwiching in snippets of satirical humor and caricature illustrations, household hints, “food for the heart and soul” commentaries, her timeless Food for Thought and No Laughing Matter editorials and background/historical information on various companies, chefs, products or dishes as well.
Those are the kinds of things that made Mom’s cookbooks stand out from all the rest, back then; besides being the first to pioneer the copycat recipes movement and carve out such a unique niche, as to capture the public, the critics and the food industry by storm! Each of Mom’s cookbooks and newsletters were designed to be just as much of a coffee table or bedside table read as it was a collection of recipes for the kitchen!
Food for Thought and No Laughing Matter were the titles of two of the news columns that Mom wrote in the late 1960s through the late 1970s, for local newspapers and syndications across the country. Other columns Mom wrote included Pitzer’s Patter and Cookbook Corner. As I’ve mentioned previously, there was also a series of humorous and satirical cartoon panels that Mom drew for The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI) in the late 1960s and early 1970s called Full House as kept by Gloria Pitzer. I’ve been including pictures of some of the panels (as well as Mom’s other illustrations) in many of my blogs.
It seems that Mom’s cartoon panels, either, inspired or were inspired by the various subject matters of her columns. Like the chicken and the egg analogy – I’m not sure which came first (as some are not dated but matched in subject matter). Food for Thought is also part of the title of one of Mom’s few self-published books that were not cookbooks. In fact, Mom called it This is not a Cookbook – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986)!
Mom was always keenly aware that sustenance for our brains (aka: brain food, information, food for the mind or Food for Thought) is just as important for our well-being as are food for the soul and food for the body – as each of us are the sum of mind, body and soul! But, there was not a single cookbook on the market that could give all of that to the readers…not until Mom’s cookbooks came along, that is!
According to UrbanDictionary.com, Food for Thought means: “Learning new information that you never thought was important to think about. It enables you to have a greater intelligence in every aspect of life while feeding your mind.”
Similarly, Merriam-Webster.com says Food for Thought is “something that should be thought about or considered carefully.” Likewise, Dictionary.com declares, besides being “an idea or issue to ponder”, Food for Thought is also a “…metaphoric phrase, transferring the idea of digestion from the stomach to mulling something over in the mind…”; adding that it “dates from the late 1800s, although the idea was also expressed somewhat differently at least three centuries earlier.”
That last little tidbit of information was news to me! Is it to you? Anyway, the moral is that we should follow a well-balanced diet of brain food, as well as soul and body foods, on a daily basis, in order to be truly (and literally) fit from head to toe!
Speaking of “diet”, earlier in March, I wrote two blogs about dieting, food-choices, lifestyle changes and losing weight. Since then, I’ve been saving bits and pieces of ideas, or Food for Thought, on dieting about which I wanted to write further in a future blog. Now, it’s time to revisit the subject, answering the questions – “What diet will work for me?” and “What is BMI?”
As for “What diet will work for me?” There are so many diets out there, and all are as individual as are we! Thus, everyone considering dieting should do their research and feed their brain with information first; but, beware – not all of them are legitimate or safe! Nor, are they all a “one-size-fits-all” approach, from which to simply pick one and run with it! So, first, be informed; but, also, do so by reliable sources!
We all have certain numbers that the health experts say we should know. One such number is called BMI (Body Mass Index), which is generally calculated (using the metric system) by dividing a person’s weight by the square of their height. Most medical professionals will tell you that a generally calculated BMI below 18.5 can indicate conditions of being underweight, signaling that you could be malnourished or have some other underlying medical condition.
On the other hand, if the BMI is in the range of 25-29.9, it indicates being overweight; while any score of 30 or more is considered to be obese. BMI numbers in the higher ranges are indicative of being at risk for possible, future metabolic diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol and heart disease – even type 2 diabetes is within the realm of indicators. BMI is considered the most common measurement for identifying the obesity level.
Believers in the BMI formula feel it is important because of its widely accepted indicators for one’s chances, of having a longer and healthier life, being more favorable if the number is in the so-called “healthy range” of 18.5-24.9. A large body of research supports the idea that people with higher BMIs are more prone to a number of health-related complications. Additionally, experts found that being overweight or obese at middle-age (about 40) is associated with a significantly increased risk of dying prematurely.
Regardless, critics of the BMI formula claim that the formula doesn’t paint an accurate picture because it doesn’t consider other variables of our body make-up such as our activity level, gender, age and race. In addition, it does not distinguish between weight attributed by muscle mass and that which comes from fat, as the latter is lighter than the former. Consequently, someone with more muscle mass than fat mass will have a deceptively higher BMI number.
Additionally, BMI is not always accurate in the elderly either, because these people often have LESS muscle and bone mass than do younger subjects. So, the build and activity level of a woman age 55-60 years old and in menopause, for example, does not (and cannot) compare to the build and activity level of a woman who is 25-30 years old, let alone to men in the same age brackets. Plus, there are inherited biological differences among the various races that can also impact the BMI method!
MY “DIET” UPDATE:
This is Day 62 of my new low-carb (Atkins-like) life-style that I started on the first day of spring. I changed my eating habits and choices and aimed to keep my carbohydrate intake within a 20- to 25-gram target area. I stay completely away from certain carbohydrate sources, such as potatoes, legumes, rice, pasta, breads and sweets…as well as anything else made with flour/sugar. Having hypoglycemia (but not diabetes), this low-carb life-style is good for me, anyway; since my body doesn’t process those types of carbs properly, causing sudden drops in my blood-sugar levels.
So far, I’ve lost about 22 pounds! I had been losing about 3 pounds per week, on average! But, for the last week or two, I seem to have hit a “plateau”. Admittedly, I have yet to add any REGULAR exercise regimen into my already busy days – maybe, because I hate to exercise! Thus, I’ve procrastinated at re-prioritizing things that take up my time in order to make room for exercise, by mis-associating being busy with being active and thinking it can wait. But, sitting and typing at my computer (when I’m not earning a part-time paycheck) are not big calorie burning activities – not even close!
Healthfully.com claims that a 185-pound person will burn about 61 calories sitting at a computer and typing for 30 minutes. Using their calculations, I found that I burn about 130 calories per hour when I’m working on my blogs and this website, even when I’m pinning on Pinterest or posting on my various social media accounts.
However, there’s also a great calorie-burning chart at NutriStrategy.com, where I found that weeding and cultivating my garden this weekend burned about 393 calories per hour for someone my size – and I spent three hours in my vegetable garden getting most of my transplanting completed before it began to rain and storm!
About the only other kind of exercise regimen that I don’t mind doing, besides gardening, is walking! It’s about 1.7 miles around my “block” and it takes me about 30 minutes to walk it at a brisk, 3.5 MPH stride. My 30-minute “brisk” walks burn about 166 calories, given my size, according to NutriStrategy’s chart. I just don’t do it regularly or often enough. Below is a picture I made of information, or Food for Thought, I assembled about what to do if you’re on a weight loss plateau.
#NationalBurgerMonth, #NationalSalsaMonth and #NationalSaladMonth
In closing, for all of you food-lovers out there, I’d like to add that May is host to many food celebrations, including National Hamburger Month, National Salsa Month and National Salad Month – 3 celebrations that, together, make up a great food-for-the-body taco salad! Even though the National Hamburger Month celebration is focused on the sandwich-style “burger”. I would just grind up my seasoned, grilled “burger”, since I can’t have bread/buns anyway, and toss it together with some homemade salsa (see Mom’s recipe below) and shredded lettuce; topping it with some grated cheddar-jack cheese, sliced black olives, and a sprinkling of finely chopped tomatoes, bell peppers and onions to create a marvelous, low-carb taco salad that can also be served on/in a low-carb tortilla.
The following is a picture of Mom’s mild salsa imitation, inspired by Chi Chi’s. This recipe title was one of the original “free” recipes offered on this website before my brother passed the website on to me to cultivate for our Mom’s legacy. However, I don’t know if this was the same version offered then as the recipes didn’t transfer to my site host. The version below is not in her last cookbook, as it was not in Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (1983 edition), from which that one was rewritten. But, I did find this version (below) in The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990, p. 45)… as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!