Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Gardening Versus Convenience

Happy Monday to everyone! Unlike The Carpenters’ song, ‘Rainy Days & Mondays’, I love to CELEBRATE Mondays! They are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

Mother Nature’s grand arena is bursting with activity, as spring has been awakening the earth. Life is regenerating all around us. Now is a great time to get out in the yard and gardens since the whole month of April is celebrating, among other things – Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Garden Month, National Straw Hat Month, and Stress Awareness Month! [I’ll tell you in a little bit how that one is related to the others.]

#NationalGardeningDay

Furthermore, Wednesday is National Gardening Day! So, if you haven’t been out in the garden yet – this is certainly the week to do it! An old adage says, “April showers bring May flowers” (some fruits and vegetables too). But it’s a little more involved than that. First, you have to get the soil ready – mulching, weeding, composting, etc. – before you even plant the bulbs, seeds or seedlings.

When planting vegetables, some seeds are better to start indoors, such as tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and broccoli. After about 6-8 weeks of growth, they’re transplanted in the garden, when there are more optimum weather conditions. Some seedlings don’t transplant well and, thus, should be sown right into the ground when weather allows. Examples of such include corn, beans, and peas. They should also be covered at night, whenever frost conditions are possible.

April is a great time, depending on your USDA planting zone, to start planting and growing perennial fruits and vegetables like asparagus, chives, rhubarb, raspberries, horseradish and more. I already have the first four in my gardens. My asparagus is usually the first to pop up, around late May.

This is also a good time to start “cold crop”, annual plantings such as cabbage, spinach and other “greens”; as well as root vegetables like potatoes, onions, carrots and beets. I’m not sure from where Mom got her original interest in gardening, as well as her green thumb; but I think I might have inherited it too.

Mom’s garden, in Algonac, had a lot of perennials, but I remember helping her plant seedlings for strawberries and tomatoes every spring when I was young! Then there was the subsequent harvesting of our labors from the family’s little garden and orchard. I recall picking tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb. Mom would turn it all into culinary delights such as sauces, jams, pies, cobblers, and the like.

When Mom first started writing and publishing her own newsletter, in 1974, aside from her recipes she also included a smorgasbord of different topics that homemakers, like herself, would be interested in. One of the sections was full of gardening tips.

Mom liked to use coffee grounds and ground-up, dried, egg shells to help her tomato plants thrive. A tip she learned from my Dad’s mom, who gardened and canned a lot of tomatoes, sauces and jams in her own lifetime!

But as Mom’s “Secret Recipes” business grew quickly, within a few years she had very little time to spend on her garden, because she was spending more time investigating further secrets of the food industry. Subsequently, she dropped the gardening section in the newsletter to make room for more copycat recipes!

After we moved from Algonac to St. Clair, in 1977, Mom did continue to, at least, have a few tomato plants in patio pots every spring through fall. She always had a green thumb, both, in the house and in the garden!

While most of Mom’s cookbooks (and newsletters) focused on imitating fast food, junk food, and restaurant dishes at home; one of her books dealt exclusively with imitating convenience foods, grocery products and “extenders” at home – The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979) – aka: “Book 5”.

When Mom used to describe the book for advertisements, she’d say “this exceptional cookbook includes some basic principles of canning and freezing foods, as well as making your own mixes, sauces and seasonings for a great financial savings compared to buying them!”

Besides the obvious financial savings and nutritional aspects of growing your own food, gardening has many other healthy advantages. According to Six Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening, as posted by OrganicLesson.com (Published 2/26/2018, Updated 1/30/2021), gardening strengthens the muscles (as it can be a physical workout) and boosts the immune system.

Gardening is also known to increase happiness, stimulate the brain, and relieve stress. As I said in the beginning, April is Stress Awareness Month, too! Growing any kind of garden can be very therapeutic if you’re feeling stressed out and/or cooped up from this past year of quarantining for the Covid-19 pandemic.

Additionally, if you’ve gained what’s being coined as the “Covid 15” weight growth, 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on HowStuffWorks.com) claims that two hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more!

If you don’t have your own garden, or the room for one, just a few patio pots will work. You can also check around your area for a community garden in which you can participate. Gardening has a windfall of benefits! I’m already looking forward to putting on my straw hat (as it is National Straw Hat Month) and getting back into my garden beds this spring.

No matter what’s planted, anyone can burn a lot of calories by taking care of a garden, as there are so many physical aspects involved – planting, mulching, weeding, composting, pruning, watering (repeating the last four or five tasks, over and over, at least a couple times a week for a few months) and finally harvesting!

‘The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.’ – Aldous Huxley, English Writer & Philosopher (1894-1963)

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

We all know that when life gives us lemons, we should make lemonade! But did you know that as much as 75% of grocery products (including lemonade) are considered to be convenience foods, requiring minimal effort, which can be made at home with what life gives you (and a little effort)? Plant the seeds! In fact, many annuals produce their own seeds for future plantings, too.

Ever since the pandemic us hit hard, the art of homesteading found another revival movement. More people are learning how to grow their own food and make their own OTC health and beauty products. Many are even starting home/internet businesses, selling their homemade products to those who don’t have the time or talents for it, themselves.

WHEN YOU CAN’T FIND WHAT YOU NEED AT THE MARKET – MAKE YOUR OWN… I learned the following “trick” from my local EOC Head Start group, three decades ago, when my children were small…

EASY HOMEMADE CORN SYRUP – The best substitute for 1 cup of corn syrup is to dissolve 1¼ cups sugar (or sugar substitute equivalent) into ¼ cup HOT water. For dark corn syrup, use brown sugar; for light corn syrup, use white sugar. By the way, a 4:1 ratio of white sugar to boiled water will also yield (when cooled to room temperature) an excellent homemade nectar for hummingbirds!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979)

LIFE IS A CLIMB

MANY PEOPLE FEEL that life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.

Going through life without noticing the scenery and trying to see some of the beauty that is there – waiting to be recognized – reminds me of running helter-skelter up and down the supermarket aisles without seeing the ABUNDANCE that is there. Just take a moment to look at the heart-breaking plight of starving people in many parts of the world and, then, take a good look at the aisles and aisles of food available in this country!

We have so much available to us here… Many people fill their backyards each spring with flowers and shrubs, when they could easily plant food-seeds instead, thus cutting something off that weekly grocery bill!

‘Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.’ – Arnold Bennett, English Novelist (1867-1931)

Convenience foods are boxed, canned and packaged food products that are manufactured for our expedient ease because we’ve become a too-busy-with-other-things, accessibility-laden society! Consider, also, that these shelf-stable products are filled with unnatural and unpronounceable preservatives and synthetic additives, in order to last for years on the grocery stores’ shelves, as well as in our own pantries.

If you’re concerned with all the additives that are put into convenient, shelf-stable groceries, then homemade is one way you can control the ingredients. Plus, you can also save money – as long as you don’t add the value of your time into the equation! The ‘overhead costs’ and ‘expected profits’ that are added to manufactured convenience foods are what actually kill our food budgets at the check-outs!

LAST THOUGHTS…

Here’s a garden decorating idea I want to re-share from a couple of years ago! I love it when things can serve more than one purpose – thus, my Christmas deer, lawn ornaments (lights removed) serve as trellises in my vegetable garden, during their “off-season”! They’re great for various vining plants like cucumbers, beans and peas; AND, as a bonus, I don’t have to worry about finding storage space for the large figures!

Suggestions for observing April’s garden-related celebrations include having a picnic in a garden or going to a nursery and buying a new plant. You could also decorate your garden (as it’s also National Decorating Month) by adding some garden art and/or a seating area, where you can relax and enjoy it all! Another way to observe is by giving a gardening gift to someone special, like seeds, garden gloves, or a patio plant! Don’t forget to share your ideas on social media with a hashtag!

#NationalDecoratingMonth, #KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth, #LawnAndGardenMonth, #NationalGardenMonth

IN CLOSING…

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

#NationalFreshCeleryMonth

In honor of April, also being National Fresh Celery Month, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for a simple “Cream Soup Base”, with two of her many options for turning it into Cream of Cauliflower or Cream of Celery soup!

As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 117).

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

APRIL IS still celebrating, among other things… National Month of Hope, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, National Volunteer Month, and Scottish-American Heritage Month!

Some other celebrations for the week include:

Today is also… National Big Wind Day, National Colorado Day, National Licorice Day, and National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day! Therefore, here’s Mom’s take on a grilled cheese sandwich – college dorm-style!

Tuesday is… National Make Lunch Count Day, National Peach Cobbler Day, and National Scrabble Day!

Wednesday is… National Dolphin Day, National Pecan Day, National Reach as High as You Can Day, and Look Up at the Sky Day!

Thursday is… National Banana Day, National Glazed Spiral Ham Day, National Rubber Eraser Day, National Take a Wild Guess Day, Get to Know Your Customers Day (which is the 3rd Thursday of each quarter), and National High Five Day (which is the 3rd Thursday in April)!

Friday is… National Eggs Benedict Day, National Orchid Day, and National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day!

Saturday is… National Cheeseball Day, National Ellis Island Family History Day, and National Haiku Poetry Day!

Sunday is… National Animal Crackers Day and National Columnists’ Day! It is also the start of National Volunteer Week (which is the 3rd full week of April)!

#WHBY

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

#TGIM

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

…15 down, 37 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Working From Home

Happy Monday to all! #TGIM – every week, I long for each Monday to arrive, as they are my #52Chances per year to share my “Memories of My Mom”!

For years, breakfast has received a lot of attention, as it has been considered by many health professionals to be “the most important meal of the day”. However, as families’ schedules got busier and more hectic, they started enjoying more and more “quick” breakfasts on-the-go.

Thus, dinner – the EOD (end-of-day) meal – became the most important meal for many families because that’s when they, all, could usually get together. I remember, when my siblings and I were growing up, Mom always made a big deal out of dinnertime for our family. That was usually when we would all get to discuss our day’s activities and events and make plans for the next day or the coming weekend.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s

What about the under-praised lunch break? That thing we sometimes get, somewhere amidst the events of our workday. It’s the time we take to replenish ourselves, if we’re lucky. Sometimes it’s a rushed, 10-minute protein bar occasion or a brown-bagged, eat-while-you-work sandwich. Sometimes employees, who are extremely busy with their workday, don’t even realize they’ve missed their “break” entirely until it’s hours past due.

#NationalMakeLunchCount 

Today is National Make Lunch Count DayNationalDayCalendar.com accredits TGI Fridays – a popular, countrywide, restaurant chain – for this national celebration. TGI Fridays created a study, four or five years ago, through which they found that the majority of the American workers they studied suffered from what they considered “FOLO” (aka: Fear Of Lunching Out). They observed that many office employees “eat lunch at their desk at least twice a week (73%) while one-third have lunch at their desk every day of the week.”

However, as this was probably written before the pandemic and “Stay-At-Home” orders, they went on to say – most likely, in order to promote eating out, such as at one of their restaurants – “Don’t fear lunching out any longer!” Of course, we can’t do that now, in our current atypical norm of physical distancing and no-contact food deliveries or curbside pick-ups due to the highly contagious Covid-19 virus that has overwhelmed the whole world.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

TGI Fridays suggests that taking a break AWAY from the workday improves productivity. But now, most of those Michiganders who can are working from home and staying at home as much as possible, following “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders. We can still include taking an actual lunch break during our workday by LEAVING our home office or work area for at least 20-30 minutes. Step away from it all in order to refuel and refresh – body, mind and soul. Both, our brains and our bodies, need to have a few physical breaks throughout our workdays. You’ll find it improves your focus, creativity and productivity.

NationalDayCalendar.com asks us to share our creative ways to “Make Lunch Count” today and any day! Promote your ideas on social media, using #NationalMakeLunchCount.

Since today is National Make Lunch Count Day, make it a point, especially today, to not only not skip lunch but to also focus on enjoying every minute of it! Stop what you’re doing and step away for a little while – take a BREAK to really appreciate your lunch and all it has to offer you – body, mind and soul. Make yourself a “Chef’s Salad” or “Dagwood-Style Sandwich” – anything – but take the time to enjoy the making of it, as well as the consumption of it!

#DoingMIPart

Since we’re still staying home and staying safe, get creative with how to “eat out at home”! Mom was a big inspiration for how to make our favorite fast food and junk food choices at home. If the weather is nice, have a picnic in your yard, or dress your dining room up to “feel” like your favorite restaurant and copycat your favorite dish from there. Anything to get away from the workday, for a little while at least.

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

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. 65-66)

WORKING FROM HOME: A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THE RECIPE DETECTIVETM

AN ORDINARY DAY for us begins at 6:30 AM. Even though, I may have had a midnight or middle of the night radio show to do, the alarm still goes off at the crack of dawn. I realized some time ago that I could not roll out of bed and go directly to the stove to make the coffee and scramble the eggs and then, upon cleaning up after all of that, still go directly to my drawing board and my IBM composer for the rest of a long day.

I COULD but I would not have had a good attitude. So, Paul and I go, instead, to the restaurant in the mall downtown and let THEM make the coffee and scramble the eggs for us. Then we stop by the post office and pick up the mail and, by the time we are back home, I feel like a normal working person who leaves the house every morning to go to their office.

#NationalMakeLunchCount

Depending on how swamped we are with mail and subscriber contacts, book orders and government papers to be filled out and filed, we will try to take a break around noon for either a sandwich at our desks or, better yet, will run down the street to the Burger King for an orange juice and fish sandwich or over to The Voyageur [restaurant] for half of a ‘Captain’s Salad’ or a croissant special and a view of the St. Clair River, with freighters passing up and down stream that we can feel truly inspired and refreshed when we leave there. A break like that will renew our creative energies and also give us a chance to ‘visit’ with each other – a practice that few married couples really seem to enjoy much anymore – if they ever did at all.

These breaking off periods of getting away from the house and our office within, look to others, I suppose, as if we really aren’t that busy that we can frequent the local restaurants as much as we do. What they don’t see, however, is the kitchen where, for three or four solid hours, I was testing and trying to develop a particular recipe – making it perhaps three or four times before either giving up on it or feeling victorious and happy to print it in the next newsletter.

We take a lot of kidding about how often I am seen pushing a cart in the local supermarket and how often I am seen ‘eating out’ that you’d ever guess I cooked at all. It is, because I try to maintain and encourage a happy balance between the recipe testing and our normal life with friends and family, that we have never found the enterprise in which we are engaged, a burden to us. So many people we know do nothing but complain about their jobs, their work and regret. My cup runneth over and over and over! I WOULDN’T GIVE IT UP FOR THE WORLD!

By five or six o’clock in the evening, we’re ready for another break; and, in between, I have probably talked to two or three radio stations, answering questions for their listeners as they call into the station; which, by the miracle of telephone, puts us in touch with each other as if the host, the listener and I were all in the same room!

The radio visits that began with [our] good friend, Bob Allison, and his very successful show [‘Ask Your Neighbor’], with nearly 30 years, opened so many interesting and helpful doors for us. All of the other radio stations since, with whom I work, became a part of our schedule after years of providing listeners with the right information, with entertaining ideas and friendship and concern for their needs.

Sometimes I have received calls from hosts of radio shows who heard me on another station than their own and asked to set up an hour with them. Some of the programs run two hours. Many of them only use 15 minutes in which to discuss a healthy menu on the latest restaurant dish to imitate at home. No two radio shows are ever exactly alike, yet in one respect they are all incredibly enthusiastic and inquisitive…

Photo by Susan L. Tusa for an article about Mom in People Magazine (May 7, 1990; p. 81)

I know I’m doing something important… But I’ve had my moments of despair, when I’ve felt, ‘What am I doing?’ – 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. 119)

IN MY KITCHEN, where all of these famous recipes are developed and tested and prepared for publishing, I have one significant problem. The ‘Good Hands People’ are about to declare my kitchen an accident going someplace to happen! My sense of organization is not what Heloise would enthusiastically endorse. So, even when my cup runneth over and over and over, I can’t always find my mop!

It is with appreciation that, in spite of my lack of organization, Mary Ellen Pinkham, the famous household hints author, took an interest in our recipes just recently. I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I am either in the kitchen, cooking up something for the next book [or] the next issue of the newsletter; or I’m writing about what I’ve been cooking – with time in between to do two, sometimes three, radio shows a day, on a regular basis, running anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. No two shows are ever alike – with the exception of the [wonderful] hospitality and warm response from the listeners.

I have had very few unhappy experiences on the air… Some of the highlights of these radio broadcasts will probably remind you of the first time you heard of me, through one of these shows, for this is where most of our family of readers have come and they continue to listen with as much enthusiasm and as many challenges [for me to decipher] today as they did the day I spoke to my first radio audience and became affectionately dubbed by them ‘The Recipe Detective’. I thank them!

#NationalPecanDay

In honor of National Pecan Day, which is tomorrow, here is another favorite fan-choice of Mom’s “Original 200” copycat recipes…

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

#NationalGardeningDay

Tomorrow is National Gardening Day! So, if you haven’t gotten out in the garden since my blog post last week – regarding #LawnAndGardenMonth , #NationalGardenMonth and #KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth – tomorrow is still as good a time as ever!

After all, April showers bring May flowers – but, first, you have to get the soil ready before you can even plant the seeds. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have the seeds before they were deemed “non-essential” (in Michigan) and banned from being sold, which I don’t understand! How can seeds, which are the source of most foods AND medicinal herbs, be “non-essential”? I’m glad I already have seeds and bulbs from our last planting season!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

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

…15 down, 37 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Home Is Where Our Health Is

Happy Monday and happy April to one and all! #TGIM – I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year to share my memories of Mom!

“Home is where the heart is…” – a very old proverb, which was originally attributed to “Pliny the Elder” (A.D. 23-79). The proverb has many interpretations. For so many people, “home” is not necessarily a structure but, rather, wherever we are, as long as we’re with our loved ones. “Home-sweet-home” memories are deeply ingrained in many of our hearts, like a Norman Rockwell painting.

It’s nearly impossible to forget whatever our individual interpretations of “home” is in our lives. However, nowadays, that proverb is taking on a whole new meaning and interpretation, as Michigan, like many other states, is under a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order; meaning we should all stay home, only going out for ESSENTIAL things, like food and medicine. As we try to flatten this pandemic curve, it’s becoming more and more like “Home is where our health is!” Additionally, many are now learning more and more about “DIY” and self-sufficiency skills.

#StayHome

Still, so many people just aren’t adhering to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order that many of us are under because they are more concerned about their constitutional rights being infringed upon than the health and welfare of their families, neighbors, communities and other surrounding communities as well. To those I say, “GET OVER IT!” Just bite the bullet and do what NEEDS to be done. It’s only for a little while, IF WE ALL PARTICIPATE! “This, too, shall pass!” Remember, everything in life is temporary – including life, itself.

Shout out, one more time, to MarcAndAngel.com, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”. It’s five years old but timeless, as it really applies to the current, challenging days that we’re all facing. I found this passage particularly inspiring:

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt; you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.”

For the last few weeks of March, at the end of my blog posts, I’ve been promoting getting a jump-start on two of April’s national month-long observances, #NationalMonthOfHope & #StressAwarenessMonth because, more than ever, as NationalDayCalendar.com says, regarding stress awareness, “we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.”

#LawnAndGardenMonth 

#NationalGardenMonth 

The month of April is also celebrating national observances for lawns, gardens and landscapes – among other things! Gardening can be very therapeutic if you’re feeling stressed out and/or cooped up. With extra time on our hands these days, my husband and I are able to dedicate more time than usual to our annual outdoor spring cleanup and garden bed prepping duties.

Besides the fresh air and sunshine being a great mood-lifter, I find gardening to be a great stress reliever, as well as a wonderful low-impact exercise. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, our new norm has many people wanting to learn more about homesteading, self-sufficiency and growing their own groceries. I wrote a blog post called “Grow & Make Your Own Groceries” in March of 2019. It’s a great subject to revisit!

In their off-season, I re-purpose my Christmas deer lawn ornaments as trellises in my vegetable garden! They’re great for various vining plants like cucumbers and squash AND I don’t have to worry about storing them.

20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on HowStuffWorks.com)  claims that pushing the lawn mower for 1 hour can burn 324 calories; plus, spending 30 minutes raking up the clippings will burn another 171 calories.

#KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth

That article also suggests that picking up yard-waste can, ironically, reduce your waist size; advocating that 4 hours of hard work, cleaning up the yard, burns about 1,800 calories! That’s 450 calories per hour! Additionally, 2 hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more, depending on the specific activity involved. The added perk is growing your own healthy herbs, fruits and vegetables at a much lower cost than going to the grocery store. Now is the season to start your gardening!

I’ve mentioned before that one of my personal favorites of Mom’s self-published cookbooks is The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979) – aka: “Book 5”. The cookbook is no longer in print, but I have seen some used copies on, both, eBay and Amazon. When I was a young mother and struggling to make ends meet, money was tight, and the pantry was often close to bare! Much like now, due to the food (and money) shortages going on during this pandemic.

Mom’s “Homemade Groceriescookbook was always my go-to-source AND still is! It teaches me how to make a lot of my favorite grocery products at home; as well as, how to stretch or extend other products, saving me quite a bit of money on my monthly grocery expenses for a family of five!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

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. 12)

WHAT’S VALUABLE – THE FAMILY

THE FAMILY IS IMPORTANT to this troubled world that seems not to know what direction to go in for comfort and relief. So, I cater, in our publications, mostly to this family, with all of the old-fashioned values I can gather and still not sound corny or even ‘preachy’!

That for which I am most grateful, however, as I see how our family has worked together in helping us to build this dining room table enterprise into a substantial and professional operation, is the friendship that has grown over the years between [Paul, me and] the five children…my cup runneth over!

There’s a renewed movement to make a lot of things at home. Not only can we control the ingredients for a particular diet/lifestyle that way but, also, save money too! That is, basically, what inspired Mom to write that particular cookbook in the first place. Back in 1979, a lot of people were getting concerned, and rightly so, with all the additives that are put into our convenient, shelf-stable, grocery products. Furthermore, we can usually save money, making it ourselves – as long as we don’t add the value of our time into the equation!

The “work” of homemakers and the value of their time is often taken for granted by their families. However, the services they provide could earn a substantial salary in the open market – chef, maid/housekeeper, laundress, nanny, teacher, chauffeur, personal shopper, secretary, counselor, nurse, groundskeeper and gardener. In addition to these skills, homemakers also contribute a lot more to the home and family of which no amount of money can fill the needs.

According to Porcshe Moran, in her enlightening article, “How Much is a Stay-At-Home Parent Worth?”, a homemaker [aka: stay-at-home-parent] could earn an annual salary of about $178,201, according to 2019 data she obtained from Salary.com. The following picture shows the data I obtained through Salary.com and Indeed.com regarding the average salaries paid, in Michigan, for the above-mentioned homemaker skills.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there weren’t readily available services for chefs, maids, laundresses, nannies, teachers, chauffeurs, personal shoppers, secretaries, counselors, nurses, groundskeepers and gardeners – people did for themselves. About the only food things that were usually purchased at the “General Store”, for the homestead kitchen, were the “staples” that most people couldn’t make, themselves; such as flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cornstarch, etc. Most homesteaders were self-sufficient in, at least, the basic things to survive.

If we didn’t catch it or kill it, ourselves, fish was purchased at the fish market; while foul, farm and other meats were bought at the butcher shop. Likewise, if we didn’t have our own cow or goat to milk or hens from which to gather eggs, fresh dairy products were usually delivered to our homes by the local creamery. Additionally, since we can’t all be bakers, fresh baked goods could be procured at the local bakery. Similarly, if we couldn’t grow our own, we went to the farmer’s market for fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979, p. 1)

Many people feel that life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.

Going through life without noticing the scenery and trying to see some of the beauty that is there – waiting to be recognized – reminds me of running ‘helter-skelter’, up and down the supermarket aisles, without seeing the ABUNDANCE that is there. Just take a moment to look at the heart-breaking plight of starving people in many parts of the world and, then, take a good look at the aisles and aisles of food available in this country! [Written in 1979.]

We have so much available to us here…many people fill their backyards each spring with flowers and shrubs, when they could easily plant food-seeds instead, thus cutting something off that weekly grocery bill!

‘The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.’Aldous L. Huxley, English Writer and Philosopher (b. 1894, d. 1963)

What happened to us, as a society? We’ve become a too-busy-with-other-things, instant-gratification-and-convenience-overloaded culture! About half a century ago, we evolved into times when both parents, in a family unit, had to work to make ends meet. The value of time changed dramatically, especially for the homemaker. Self-sufficiency and homesteading became a dying skill among many of the newer generations, who’ve opted to spend their time differently in exchange for conveniences – even to the extent of wanting more and more convenient food products.

Too many families are struggling to survive, right now; and it’s predicted to get worse before it gets better. Before this pandemic, there wasn’t enough time for a lot of people to make things from scratch, as they chose to spend their time on other things. We opened the door for convenient, processed foods in order to save us some time (instead of money), as time suddenly became a more valuable commodity. We still have about 16-18 “waking hours” in our days, every day. At some point, we just started prioritizing them differently – and now we must do it all over again, given our new norms these days.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

‘Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.’Arnold Bennett, English Novelist (b.1867, d.1931)

The ‘high demand’,overhead costs’ and ‘expected profits’ that are added to the prices of ‘convenience’ food products are what kill us at the grocery store check-outs! The lack of real nutrition that’s missing from these manufactured goods are not benefiting our health any either. They’re loaded with unnatural shelf-life stabilizers, none of which are found in homemade groceries, where YOU control the ingredients!

Most of Mom’s cookbooks focused on imitating fast food, junk food and restaurant dishes at home – except for “Book 5”, which deals exclusively with homemade grocery products and “extenders”. This exceptional cookbook includes some principles of canning and freezing foods, as well as making your own mixes, sauces and seasonings at a great financial savings compared to buying them at the store! Although, sometimes, we just can’t financially or physically afford convenience. The concept of homemade was hugely popular once and is, now, making another comeback.

#NationalBeerDay

In honor of National Beer Day, which is tomorrow, the following beer cake recipe was quite a popular choice from among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

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

…14 down, 38 to go!