Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Good Neighboring

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

This past Thursday was the 2-year anniversary of my launching this blog, which I created to honor my mom’s legacy as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, food industry investigator of Secret RecipesTM. The title, which Mom eventually trademarked, was bestowed on her in the mid-1970s by her Detroit area radio listeners, as she was frequently on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show, answering recipe quandaries on how to make just about anything. Mom delighted in that honor, of being the Recipe DetectiveTM, for over 40 years, until she passed away in January 2018.

#GoodNeighborDay

Today is, among other things, National Good Neighbor Day! The celebration was created in the early 1970s by Becky Mattson (Lakeside, Montana). In 1978, Jimmy Carter, then President, issued Proclamation 4601, creating the official national celebration of Good Neighbor Day. It was annually celebrated on the 4th Sunday in September until 2003, when the annual date was changed specifically to September 28th.

There’s an art to good neighboring but, just like anything else in life, it takes time to master the ability. I wish every ones’ neighborhoods were like that of Mr. Rogers. Fantasy or not, the real-world application was always based on caring for and helping one another – plain and simple!

Good neighboring, however, has taken on a new meaning this year, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic and temporary restraints. Thus, necessity has, once again, become the mother of invention as we find new, safe ways to interact with our neighbors and our communities – because, as human beings, we all NEED some kind of interaction with others!

Have you noticed that neighboring and neighborhoods have changed over the years? In the past, people used to bring their new neighbors casseroles or baked goods, just to introduce themselves and say: “Hi and welcome to the neighborhood!”

Sometimes they would offer to help on the “move-in” or some other project. Sometimes they would stop by for a cup of coffee and to chat about the neighborhood. Neighbors  used to borrow/share things (and not just a cup of sugar), like tools and garden equipment, so everyone didn’t have to go out and buy expensive items that they didn’t often use.

When we work at being the best neighbor we can be, then our neighbors are more likely to give back in return, as will their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors too. Think about it – there could be an epidemic of good neighboring! Wouldn’t that be a better pandemic to spread throughout the world?

It all begins with the golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” We’ve been learning about this since our preschool and kindergarten years. Why does it seem like a lot of us tend to forget about it once we age into the double digits?

It is one of the easiest and best characteristics in good neighboring. Thus, we should all remember it and practice it daily; treating others with respect and kindness, because the way we treat our neighbors will affect how they treat us, as well as their other neighbors (and so on).

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

I remember when my family and I first moved to St. Clair from Algonac – one of our new neighbors came over with food for our dinner that evening so Mom didn’t have to worry about doing that amidst all the unpacking. That made such a wonderful, lasting impression on us. Additionally, since I was 12 (almost 13, at the time), they also asked if I would be interested in babysitting for them once in a while. That was my first “paying” job outside of the “family business”.

One way anyone can be a good neighbor is to simply take pride in their neighborhood… Keep it clean and tidy and pleasant looking. We don’t have to become best friends with everyone in our neighborhood, however, introducing ourselves and learning our neighbors’ names is simply good neighboring and it’s not that hard to do nor does it need to take up a lot of time.

It doesn’t have to be a full-time project (unless you want it to be), but we all need to get more involved in our neighborhoods and communities. Knowing who represents us by going to and participating in our neighborhood association/city meetings once in a while is important. Even attending local events whenever we’re able, to support your community, is good neighboring traits.

Good neighboring is another one of those things that should be practiced and celebrated on a daily basis, rather than annually – and not just in one’s neighborhood but also in one’s community and beyond…

We should all say hello to the people we see, even if it is just in passing. It is so easy to do and can create a ripple effect in someone’s day. Just saying hello is also a way to connect with others without having to create a deep bond because, even if you prefer some distance from your neighbors, it doesn’t really obligate you to anybody.

There are some great benefits of good neighboring, such as in neighborhood security and the willingness of others looking out for you just because you’re a neighbor. So, when you have a big party that isn’t tied to a personal celebration (like a birthday or anniversary), put out the good neighboring welcome mat and invite your neighbors!

Hi Neighbor!” is the name of my blog post at that is a BIG “thank you” note to Mom’s radio, newspaper and TV contacts that helped her to grow her Secret RecipesTM business. I also created a “Media Friends” tab on the website, based on that blog post.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)

BOB ALLISON’S “ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR” SHOW

One of the nicest things about being a writer is that you can work at home. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, as soon as my kids were out the door to the school bus, I set up my $39.95 Smith Corona portable typewriter at the kitchen table, where I was one step away from the stove, refrigerator and recipes I was curious to test and write about.

The view from the kitchen table included the front yard and the North Channel of the St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway to everyone else) – the riverside was [called] the front yard and the roadside was the back yard. The old house had its faults, I’ll grant you, but nobody could refuse a view like we had, living on the banks of that river!

There was always something going on outside, sufficient to inspire a feeling of well-being, which every writer must have to do their job well. In keeping with “write about what you know best”, I could put every economical recipe I used to feed my family of seven to good use, sharing the Secrets with others.

One of my addictions in those days was a daily recipe radio show called Ask Your Neighbor, hosted by Bob Allison over the WWJ-Detroit radio airwaves. He always opened his two-hour show by saying, “if you have a household problem you cannot solve, then call… (and he’d give a phone number) …and ask your neighbor!” I called him 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 to 300, and 400. 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.

In one of my April blog posts, “Tell A Story Day”, I wrote about how thrilled I was to hear from a lady who used to have my mom on her radio show once a month for almost 13 years, from June 1992 through December 2005.

Her name is Kathy Keene and she hosts “The Good Neighbor Show” on WHBY, in Appleton, WI. The show still airs from 11am to 1pm (Central Time), Monday through Friday. In fact, like Mom, I’ve been on Kathy’s “Good Neighbor” show, monthly; usually on the last Monday of each month, at about 11:08am (Central Time), since April. We’ve been sharing stories about Mom and one or two of her recipes.

Kathy can’t be on-air today, so we are going to talk about Mom this Wednesday, instead (same time). You can listen to it, live or later, from your computer or phone at: https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/. I never tire of telling Mom’s story!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Similarly to National Good Neighbor Day, Wednesday (Sept. 30th) is National Love People Day. And NationalDayCalendar.com recommends that, in honor of it, we should all make a special point to “…offer kindness and care to the people in your community.”

#NationalLovePeopleDay

While love doesn’t really make the world go around (since that is actually a gravitational thing), it does make the ride more enjoyable! According to NationalDays.com, National Love People Day was started by Life Line Church (Chicago) a few of years ago.

So, it’s a fairly new “National Day” celebration that even has its own website, promoting “loving your neighbor”! NationalDays.com says, among other things, that it is a day “to lift others up”. Of course, we should lift others up EVERYDAY – but let us all make a special point of it on Wednesday!

Mom always tried “to lift others up” in everything she wrote – starting with her multiple columns that were syndicated to multiple magazines and newspapers across the country to her hundreds of self-published newsletter issues (January 1974 through December 2000) and 40+ cookbooks (from her first one in 1973 to her last one, just before she passed away, in January 2018).

Mom loved to combine recipes (or food-for-the-table) with household hints, food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul – that’s what made her books stand out from all the rest; that and her being the first to start the copycat recipes movement in the food industry…particularly in the fast food and junk food categories, which were considered “taboo” foods by the critics.

Nonetheless, people wanted to know how to make these things at home and there were no other sources for this before Mom started her investigating, as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Given enough time, there wasn’t very many things that Mom couldn’t figure out how to imitate and she lovingly shared her secrets with her “neighbors” all around the world.

#NationalLovePeopleDay

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. 2)

WHY CAN’T WE ALL GET ALONG?

IF I COULD have my way, the whole world would be friends; but then, it is an unrealistic hope, considering the course of human events and behaviors. We can’t even find friends within the same family, most of the time!

…I have met some of the nicest people, in the world, [and] 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.

Having come from a somewhat lonely childhood and years of struggling to overcome the emptiness of indifference from relatives to whom I had spent, what seemed like an eternity, trying to reach out… I, now, continue to emphasize, in my own publications [and] throughout my books, the importance of caring – of REALLY caring about each other.

In tribute to Good Neighboring, here is one of Mom’s copycat recipes for a wonderful “comfort food” (of which I will discuss more in next week’s blog post) that you can share with your neighbors!

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 58)

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

Next Monday, October 5th, is National Do Something Nice Day!

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…39 down,  13 to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Retailers And Restaurants Unite

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

Over the past few weeks I’ve been identifying some of the oldest, American fast-food/restaurant-chain franchises, whose famous menu choices were among the building blocks upon which Mom created her legacy as the Recipe DetectiveTM. She investigated, tested and imitated their famous dishes at home, in her own kitchen, and shared her developments in her self-published newsletters and cookbooks – as well as through radio and TV talk-shows – for over 40 years (1974-2014).

#NationalAmericanaMonth

As I mentioned last week, September is National Americana Month! It’s a great opportunity to reminisce about the “Norman Rockwell basics” of life in America. We often idealize and idolize those simple things that have uniquely woven us together as Americans!

When I think of the nostalgic icons that represent Americana to me, in terms of food-related, I think of the famous fast-food chains across our country, as well as the traditional state fairs, carnivals, and carhop drive-ins. Even department store restaurants and dime store cafeterias make the reminiscing list for me!

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

Department store eateries are just another niche in the vast food industry from which Mom found inspiration in imitating “famous foods from famous places”. DepartmentStoreHistory.net says: “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.” Their mentioning of Hudson’s (a former Detroit area icon), really brought me a lot of pleasant childhood memories.

In fact, there was a report on the iconic J.L. Hudson’s site, in Detroit, not too long ago, in our local news; as it is being re-developed. The Detroit Hudson’s store was once the tallest department store in the world! It was such a sad day, when they closed their doors in 1983; and even sadder, when the iconic, historical building was imploded in 1998.

There is a lot of great information about the new project and the history of Hudson’s at https://www.hudsonssitedetroit.com/. Mom imitated at least 28 menu offerings from the Hudson’s dining room – as Hudson’s was one of her favorite places to shop and dine! She used to joke that she wanted her ashes spread around Hudson’s purse department, after she was gone.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 16)

HUDSON’S OF DETROIT – THE WAY IT ONCE WAS!

During the financial panic of 1873, Joseph L. Hudson was a young man, working with his father in a men’s clothing store in Michigan. Times were hard. Customers could hardly pay their bills. After Joseph’s father died, partly from worrying, young Joseph struggled with the business for about three years and eventually went into bankruptcy, in spite of all he tried to do to bring the business up.

He paid his creditors [60 cents] on the dollar and, with great determination, began over again! Through remarkable enterprise and ingenuity, in 12 years, he owned a store in Detroit. Even more remarkable, he located all the creditors whose claims had been embraced by the bankruptcy proceedings and paid them in full – even though they did not ask it of him.

This so astounded the business world in 1888 – that Hudson’s reputation was of an honest man, caring for his customers as much is his creditors. Thus, word spread, and the store became one of Detroit’s most important, not only in the state, but eventually in the entire country.

[Hudson] established major shopping centers in Metropolitan Detroit, beginning in 1953 with the magnificent Northland Center, the first of its kind in the country. At the time of this writing [1997], Hudson’s has merged with Dayton and with Marshall Fields and no longer offers the personal hometown touch that it used to have.

Their original building on Woodward and Farmer Street, in downtown Detroit, once controlled the shopper’s mecca; with Kern’s and Crowley’s, as well, in that area. We have seen the passing of a great institution, but I am so glad I did not lose the precious recipes [for which] the Hudson’s dining room and bakery were known…

Recently, I read an article by Katherine Martinelli (July 20, 2018), at EatThis.com, about stores with amazing restaurants. I was flooded with memories of going to the malls and big department stores, like Hudson’s, as a young girl, in the 1970s.

I remember when Mom would take me and my sisters to the malls and department stores like Sears, J.C. Penny’s and J.L. Hudson’s. It was an all-day shopping event combined with Mom’s work, as each of us girls would get a handful of her business cards to stick in the pockets of various clothes and purse displays while we shopped. It was an innovative way she had developed, to advertise to her “target audience”, based on inspiration from a Detroit car salesman. It was so fun!

After a few hours of shopping and marketing, we’d all take a break to have lunch in one of the department stores’ dining rooms, where Mom found a lot of great dishes to mimic at home. My sisters and I had a 5-star rating system of our own for the restaurants we went to with Mom on any of her investigative reviews – it was, actually, largely based on how clean they were, especially in their restrooms!

Alex Witchell wrote an article Feb. 25, 2019 about the best department store restaurants, which was posted on the NYPost.com website. In it, she reminisced about those by-gone days of shopping and lunching with her own mom and sisters. I related to a lot of it.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 43)

MARKETING INSPIRATION

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

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

From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [areas] in the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores. From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response.

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

Due to the ever changing shopping and eating habits of Americans, we’ve seen the rise and fall of many retail establishments. In this new era of Amazon and online shopping, department stores and malls are now becoming more like the relics of bygone days.

The idea of eating where you shop can be tracked back to 18th century Europe. Many argue about who started the idea of “eating where you shop” in America. Macy’s claims to have opened the first restaurant within a department store in May 1878 (originally Marshall Field’s Walnut Room).

Others say that in-store restaurants were already established (in America) earlier, in the 1870s, when Wanamaker’s, in New York and Philadelphia, were offering consumers the first in-store eateries, in which shoppers could pause in the middle of their bargain-hunting excursions to rest and have some sustenance (before continuing on).

The idea was based on the theory that the longer consumers remained in a store, the more they were likely to look at more things and, thus, buy more things. It was a groundbreaking marketing tactic to attract and keep shoppers!

‘You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door, if you’re in the back yard looking for four-leaf clovers.’ – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)]

In a 2015 essay by Angela Serratore, “In Praise of the Department Store Restaurant”, at Racked.com, she wrote: “Department store restaurants allowed middle-class women in the throes of consumer ecstasy to pause and refresh themselves in a manner that was, above all, civilized… The food was fancy but not overly so – consommé, tongue sandwiches, and delicate fruit salads all appear on a 1901 Macy’s menu – and nothing served would render a woman incapable of continuing to shop after she’d finished.”

Famous department stores with restaurants, cafés and tea rooms – as they were often called – which come to mind, past and present, include Marshall Field’s, JL Hudson’s, JC Penny’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, Nordstrom’s, and Lord & Taylor’s.

Even the, later, general merchandise, “big box” stores like Walmart, Target, Kmart, Kresge’s, Sears, and Woolworth’s joined the band wagon with their own lunch counters and cafeterias – or they rented space within their stores to “established brands” like Starbuck’s and Subway. From most of these places, Mom imitated at least one of their famous dishes, but usually more.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 2)

We’ve seen Mom-and-Pop shops struggle to compete against department and “big box” stores, which competed with the all-inclusive mall settings, which are now struggling to compete against virtual stores, online. Small and large retailers, alike, have been disappearing due to the rise in online shopping over the years, but it especially exploded this year due to the brick-and-mortar store closings for the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Those establishments that were not already involved with the growth of the internet and hadn’t yet closed their doors, were teetering on bankruptcy due to the rise in online shopping over in-store shopping, especially among the newer generations. To make matters worse, those retailers who were hanging on by a thread, trying to come up with new marketing gimmicks to bring consumers back to their brick-and-mortar stores, were more-or-less “done-in” by the pandemic’s restrictions.

Additionally, according to a blog at Cheapism.com, about 38 companies that were already on shaky ground have filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, this year, due to the various impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. Among those listed were iconic department stores like Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor’s, J. C. Penny’s, and Sears-Kmart.

In memory of Hudson’s iconic footprint, here is Mom’s imitation of the famous Hudson’s Maurice Salad & Dressing…

As seen in her self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 16)

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

#GoodNeighborDay

Next Monday, September 28th, is National Good Neighbor Day!

Additionally, I will be on the Good Neighbor show, next Monday (at about 11:08am Central Time); which is hosted by Kathy Keene, on WHBY!

You can listen, live or later, through the station’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/.

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…38 down, 14 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Where Did All The Good Noshes Go? – Part III

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

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

#NationalAmericanaMonth

September is National Americana Month – a time to reflect on and reminisce about the “Norman Rockwell basics” of life in America; those simple things that have uniquely woven us together as Americans! When I think of Americana, in terms of food-related, I think of the nostalgic icons of fast-food chains, state fairs, carnivals, and drive-ins. Even department store restaurants and cafeterias make the reminiscing list for me (and I’ll be writing more about them next week)!

Fast-food is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you like hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, French fries, onion rings, tacos, burritos, pizza, fried chicken, and deep-fried fish – even breakfast foods – they are all among the most popular “fast-food” menu offerings, as well as the most popular consumer choices around America. The fast-food industry has been evolving for over 100 years – the prime of which is considered to have been during the 1960s and 1970s; as so many franchises launched across the country, it was like a “baby boom” in the food industry. Soon after, American fast-food franchising grew globally, as well.

The more critics argued about how bad fast food and junk food was for our health and well-being, the more people wanted to covet it. Mom always contended that “fast food” was food that was prepared quickly and that was done at fine restaurants such as Devon Gables’ Tea Room, as well as fast-food chains like McDonald’s. Mom would also maintain that “junk food” was merely food that was poorly prepared.

Additionally, as Mom said in her last cookbook, “…fast food has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are harmful to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘finer’ restaurants with wine stewards, linen tablecloths, candlelight, coat-check attendants, and parking valets; which separate the plastic palaces of fast food from the expensive dining establishments. One ‘eats’ at McDonald’s, but ‘dines’ at The Four Seasons. Steak and potato or hamburger and French fries – the ingredients are practically the same. How they are prepared [and presented] makes the difference!” – [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6).]

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 70 & 71)

SMORGASBORD – FREEDOM OF CHOICE

It’s a mistake to think of the fast food industry as being confined to hamburgers and fries and buckets of chicken or fish. It is really a more versatile banquet of menu selections than the critics give us time to consider. The public is fickle and very easily swayed by the aggressive opinions of self-styled experts who preach the evils of fast food with all the charisma of a revival tent evangelism; and we, the believing public, will go in whatever direction the wind blows the strongest!

Nobody dreamed that the step-child of the food industry would ever have endured this long – for, to everybody’s surprise, fast food has, indeed, become the ‘Liza Doolittle’ of the restaurant industry. The humble streetcar diner of the 1950s and 1960s has blossomed into the Cinderella of the commercial dining division of the food industry. It has soared in sales while all other major enterprises have suffered set-backs in the shadow of the recent economic gloom! [NOTE: That was originally written in 1982, showing that history surely does repeat itself.]

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The reason the fast food industry has become a virtual smorgasbord of appealing menu selections is that it is affordable! People who work hard for their money and have little of it left after essentials have been paid for, look for leisure and escape hatches by which they can derive a little pleasure for the money they have left to spend on such luxuries.

Fast food chains cater to crowds with very little fuss, but surroundings that reflect informality. The costs of eating out, however, have increased along with everything else. Now it’s becoming less and less appealing to spend the same money on one fast food meal that would also buy a bag of groceries that could make several meals at home!

So, we can have our cake and eat it too! We can dine in as if we’re eating out – whether we choose to be catered to by wine stewards and parking valets or whether we wish to impersonate the plastic palaces of the fast food kingdom – eating out at home can be a pleasant experience.

SECOND THOUGHTS

FAST FOODS HAVE ARRIVED IN OUR CULTURE at a point in our growth as a society, when ‘time’ is of the essence… held cheaply, spent foolishly, and made to be one of the most aggressive influences in our lives.

The calendar and the clock have given a sense of order to civilization. Our lives are, both, governed by and regulated by the limitations of these two man-made inventions. In a world created and perpetuated by an infinite Spirit, man has adjusted to the divisions of time. The records of one’s birth and death are accounted for by date and moment; and all the time in between is categorized by years, months, weeks, days, hours, moments—even seconds. We are hardly conscious of the limitations to which we submit ourselves by confining our lives to the measurements of calendar and clock divisions.

Without even realizing it, we are constantly meeting deadlines in our lives. We catch a bus, a train, a plane in accordance with the hour and minute scheduled. We compete in and watch sports that honor seconds by which winning and losing, and records are determined.

It is, with some frustration, that man attempts to occasionally free himself of the obligation to live within the framework of the deadline. Our work is subject to how much we can accomplish within a repeating allotment of time. Our leisure is limited by the number of hours and minutes that remain.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Even the successful results of the foods we prepare is completely dependent on the timing we employ. From this, we have derived ‘instant coffee’, ‘the 3-minute egg’, ‘day-old bread’, ‘Minute Rice’, ‘Hour-by-Hour’ deodorant soap, ‘the 5-minute phone call’, ‘the 12 Days of Christmas’, and on and on. We can have a ‘good time’, a ‘great time’, a ‘bad time’. About the only thing not governed by, nor subject to, time is love.

So, ‘Fast Foods’ arrived when it could be most appreciated and most recognized. ‘Fast’ indicates – or, at least, implies – that there will be time left over one would not ordinarily have with food that was NOT ‘fast’. Most food preparations require a lot of time.

But ‘Fast Food’ was capitalized on by the promotional people as being something the on-the-go generation could enjoy and would buy, because they had better things to do than sit around restaurants waiting to be waited on; when, instead, they could run in and out with a meal and be on their way to the fun things in life – or on the way to the more time-consuming things in their life, such as work or business of one kind or another.

With the extensive research into the effects of stress, pressure put upon many people from having too little ‘time’ to be relaxed, to enjoy leisure, freedom from worries, there has been a turn-around in the fast food promotional field. Now they are gradually – without you hardly even being aware of it – changing to a ‘family’ restaurant theme. They want to bring back the old-fashioned, close-knit, solid family unit. Back and forth, like the pendulum of a clock, the gimmicks are given a new face and flavor. The public will eventually become conditioned to the new theme and ‘fast food’ will take on a cosmetic change that we will hardly even notice.

Continuing on with my depiction of 30 of the oldest fast food chains and restaurant franchises in America, which I started a couple of weeks ago; the following 11 chains emerged between 1953 and 1969, many from whom Mom imitated several of their popular menu offerings.

I’ve  shared some of those recipes in previous blog posts so I’m re-sharing them, here, again. A few of the other recipes pictured below came from Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, which is a rewrite I helped her do of her favorite self-published cookbook from 1982, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook. A total of 12 of Mom’s related copycat recipes are pictured below. Enjoy!

[NOTE: For a little piece of Americana, hard copies of Mom’s last cookbook are available, for sale, at $20.99 each through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253.]

#BetterBreakfastMonth

#BetterBreakfastMonth

Italian-American cuisine was one of many of Mom’s favorite food areas to investigate. She “covered” many “hits” from the older, popular chains such as Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s; as well as newer chains, like Olive Garden, for an example.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 72)

PIZZA AND PASTA DISHES

ITALIAN CUISINE has been a part of our American restaurant industry since the early days of its discovery – if you recall – by an Italian, Columbus! If Christopher Columbus had never tasted pizza or spaghetti with meatballs, then he surely didn’t know what he was missing! But the influence of good Italian cooking in our American ‘Melting-Pot’ cuisine has had a long life of appealing dishes that have influenced, still, other food creations.

The pizza, as we know it in this country, was the creation of an Italian baker in New York’s East side during the late 1800’s. Dock-workers and sailors frequented the bakery for their lunch food, requesting a slice of cheese with their bread and glass of ‘Vino’. The enterprising baker dreamed up what was probably the very first delicatessen in the restaurant industry.

WHEN THE CUSTOMERS REQUESTED bread and cheese, he also added some spicy tomato sauce to it, like an open-face sandwich; and, as the popularity of the dish grew, he topped it off with sausage and other condiments until someone asked him what he called his dish. He thought a moment and replied, ‘Pizza!’

It came from the same word as the musical term, pizzicato, to pinch or pluck a stringed instrument, such as a violin or guitar. Thus, pizza may have been so-named from the fact that the dough, being rounded at first, is pinched and plucked outward until circular and flat.

For whatever reasons, the Italian baker went without recognition for his creation until we were informed by a woman, in her 80’s, that her father and his before him worked the docks in New York where the legend of the beginning of the pizza was a well-known story, handed down from generation to generation, that the dish was, indeed, created in this country and preserved with Italian traditions for all of us to enjoy.

The pasta dishes of our American restaurant cuisine have been expanded to include some very interesting creations, employing imagination when combining compatible ingredients. Although there are probably as many recipes for good sauces as there are cooks to prepare them and restaurants to serve them, I chose only a few for this book that would offer a good, basic dish.

#BiscuitAndGravyWeek

In Mom’s 1998 reprint of her self-published cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes (aka: “Book 6”, in a series), she published her delicious imitation of TGI Friday’s Crazy Layer Cake; which I will share with you at a later date.

When it came to deep-fried, battered fish, Arthur Treacher’s establishments did it best and they were always our family’s favorite! Mom’s version, called Archer Teacher’s Fish & Chips, was among her “Original 200” collection.

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

#GoodNeighborDay

Mark your calendar! September 28th, 2020 will be National Good Neighbor Day!

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…37 down, 15 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Where Did All The Good Noshes Go? – Part II

I hope everyone had a happy Monday, yesterday; enjoying a safe and memory-making Labor Day weekend. This is a belated #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

Over 125 years ago, Labor Day became an official, national holiday. It is celebrated yearly, on the first Monday in September. Just as Memorial Day has become the unofficial start to summer, Labor Day has, likewise, become the unofficial end to summer.

While there doesn’t seem to be many traditional customs for observing it, there are various kinds of individual community celebrations, including picnics, parades, outdoor concerts, festivals, fireworks and even shopping events; as retailers always offer huge Labor Day weekend deals and discounts to move out the rest of their summer stock. Moreover, many families like to take advantage of the extra-long weekend to go on one, last, summer vacation before the kids go back to school.

However, this is 2020 and what’s “normal” has been put on hold (temporarily – we hope)! This year, family camping has become even more popular than ever, as families can travel safely (for the most part) with their own food, shelter, and personal belongings. There’s a funny statement that I’ve seen on social media, from time-to-time, in a few different forms that basically says, “only Americans will spend thousands of dollars a year on STUFF just to live like hobos.”

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

#NationalILoveFoodDay

Coming up, on Wednesday, September 9th, is the national celebration of “I Love Food Day”. What a fabulous thing to celebrate! As I wrote about in many previous blog posts, Mom was a pioneer and trailblazer in the food industry – creating a new niche in the fast food and franchise restaurants’ field! In the early 1970s, Mom took on an “interesting challenge” to infiltrate and investigate the alleged secrets of the retail food industry.

In the mid-1970s, Mom was nicknamed the “Recipe Detective” by the radio listeners of Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” call-in program, because she could decipher what combinations of ingredients and techniques could be used at home to imitate many favorite restaurant dishes and fast food items; as well as packaged “junk foods” and other supermarket products, for which people were searching to replicate.

Mom developed hundreds (and eventually THOUSANDS) of recipes; imitating “famous foods from famous places” right at home and for less cost than going out! During the 1970s, Mom trademarked the nickname, as it became her signature format.

Fast food and junk food products were the most requested recipes for which Mom was asked to decode and devise a copycat version. Those types of recipes weren’t found in cookbooks or any other source being published at that time. People were clamoring to find out how to make their favorites at home. After all, fast foods epitomized the very restaurants where most American families, like ourselves, were apt to patron if they wanted an affordable meal!

As a wife and mother of five, herself, in a struggling economy, Mom personally saw a necessity for the family unit to be able to afford dining out. That’s how and why she came up with the concept of “eating out at home”; though, she didn’t mean “grilling in the backyard”!

Mom had always seemed to possess a special talent for determining the origins of flavors in dishes – even in many supermarket products. Some of her recipes used unlikely ingredient combinations that were unheard of at that time, to achieve a certain flavor, color and/or texture. She also had a special talent for promoting herself and her unique creations. Right from the start, “radio” and Mom formed a seemingly natural friendship/partnership. She knew who her target audience was and where to find them!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

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

The public loved the “new idea” of making the taboo fast food and junk food products, which critics claimed were so bad for us, right at home, where the cook controls the ingredients that went into it – taking the junk out of junk food. Mom proved that it could be done easily at home and at less of a cost, as times were tough, and money was tight – especially for the average American family.

People know what they like, and Mom found a way to help them “have their cake and eat it too!” Mom claimed to be able to take the junk out of junk food by making it at home, where you can control the ingredients. It was a break through that had many companies up in arms – that someone could possibly duplicate their product at home and then share it with the public! However, Mom never knew what the companies’ actual “secret recipes” were for their scrumptious products, as she wrote about in the following passages.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out at Home (Nat’l Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 2-3)

You don’t have to know exactly how the original dish was prepared by the commercial food chains. All you need is a basic recipe to which you will add that ‘special seasoning’ or that ‘secret method of preparation’ that sets one famous secret recipe apart from those similar to it…

When I work to duplicate a recipe so that the finished product is as good as (if not better than) a famous restaurant dish, I begin by asking myself a series of questions: I want to know what color the finished dish has…[and] was it achieved by baking, frying or refrigeration?…What specific flavors can I identify?… and about how much of each may have been used…

Similar tests are used in chemistry…[to]…break down the components of an unknown substance and try to rebuild it. So the cook must work like a chemist (and not like a gourmet; who, most of the time, never uses a recipe – but, rather, creates one.)

The most remarkable part of the duplication of famous recipes is that you can accept the challenge to ‘try’ to match their [dish or product]. Sometimes, you will be successful. Sometimes you will fail in the attempt. But, at least, it can be done [‘practice makes perfect’], and it certainly takes the monotony out of mealtime when, for reasons of financial inadequacy, we can’t always eat out…even if we could afford to eat at all or most of our meals away from home, wouldn’t that become monotonous in time?

STOP CHEATING YOURSELF of the pleasure of good food. Eat what you enjoy, but DON’T OVER eat…This is what really causes the problems of obesity and bad health – rather than believing the propaganda of the experts that ‘fast food’ is ‘junk food’…It is not! Poorly prepared food, whether it is from a fast-service restaurant or a [$20-plate in a] gourmet dining room, is ‘junk’, no matter how you look at it…if it is not properly prepared.

TO DEBUNK THE JUNK…don’t think of Hostess Twinkies as junk dessert but, rather, the very same cake ingredients prepared in the Waldorf Astoria kitchens as the basis for their “Flaming Cherries Supreme”. All we did [to imitate the product] was shape the cake differently, adding a little body to the filling and putting it INSIDE the cake, rather than on top as the Waldorf did!

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

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

Mom has always tried to encourage the inner cook in all of us, through her love of food. Even if you didn’t think you could cook at all, Mom could make you feel like a gourmet, making your own creations and bringing joy back into eating at home. Her recipes are always fun and easy to follow. She also made them simple to “customize”, to suit your own diet needs.

‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ ― Theodore Roosevelt

Mom’s original concepts of “eating out at home” and “taking the junk out of junk food” has brought so much joy to so many people who couldn’t afford such “luxuries” as eating out or buying certain grocery items. Mom gained a lot of followers in the copycat movement (also some plagiarists), having started this concept in the early 1970s.

Still shot from mom’s Phil Donahue appearance 4-16-93

Last week, I started a list of 30 of the oldest fast food franchises and family restaurant chains that have developed since the early 1900s. Most of those in the list are among the “famous places” where Mom investigated and imitated “famous foods”. The first one, pictured below, should have been included among last week’s list.

Continuing on, here are some more chains that developed between 1940 and 1954…

Mom imitated many different donuts from many different chains. As for Dunkin’, Mom imitated their potato doughnut, printing it in her cookbook, Eating Out At Home (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1978, p. 36). In the late 1930s, Vernon Rudolph started selling a potato doughnut, under the name Krispy Kreme.

That I know of… Mom made an imitation of their Ranchero Sandwich, which appeared in her cookbook, Top Secret Recipes Al A Carte, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1979, p.41). She also imitated their hamburgers, which was printed in her cookbook, My Personal Favorites (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 2000, p. 25)

Mom made dozens of imitations of the KFC menu offerings, changing the titles of her products’ recipes from “KFC” to “Big Bucket In The Sky!” Many were among her “Original 200” collection. She also wrote about the “Colonel” and his original franchise concept in most of her books.

Denny’s is another full-service, family restaurant that Mom enjoyed frequenting to taste and develop her own versions of their dishes, such as their chicken-fried steaks and English Breakfast. Mom also imitated their famous Honey-Mustard and Marinara sauces.

Burger King’s ORIGINAL, “real” onion rings are not the same as the “minced” ones they serve now. Mom imitated many other of their “original” offerings, such as their onion rings, steak sandwiches and chocolate milkshakes.

The more I looked back on the different “famous places” for noshing during my childhood, the more I found that triggered those melancholy memories. Thus, the list goes on! Therefor, next week, I’ll share some more family-friendly franchises that have launched since 1955.

In honor of Big Boy’s recent 84th birthday/anniversary, here is another one of Mom’s copycat recipe for their famous Big Boy Hamburger sauce…

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7)

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

September 28th, 2020 will be National #GoodNeighborDay

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…36 down, 16 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Where Did All The Good Noshes Go? – Part 1

Happy Monday to one and all! And, as usual, #TGIM – because I always look forward to Mondays, for they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Just last week, I saw a commercial announcing the 84th birthday (1936 – the same year that Mom was born) of the “Big Boy” restaurants chain and their signature, self-titled, double-decker, cheese burger. The “Big Boy” was introduced to the public long before Ray Kroc started the McDonald’s fast food chain, offering the same double-decker, cheese burger – slightly changing the name to “Big Mac”!

Funny note: In the mid-1970s, the McDonald’s Corporation was very upset, to say the least, when Mom started imitating their signature offerings and, likewise, slightly changing the name of her products to “Big Match”! The only difference was that Mom was selling the recipes, not the final products, so people could make their favorite products, at home, themselves (and at less of a cost than eating out).

I compared the “Big Boy” to the “Big Mac” – both offer 2 beef patties with a “special” sauce (resembling 1000 Island dressing), lettuce, pickles, onions, and cheese on a 3-piece, sesame seed bun. I found that the “Big Boy” is (normally*) “plated” and “presented” to you, in an eye-pleasing, palatable way, at your table, by a waiter/waitress (*except right now, during Covid-19 restrictions, as you can only get it as take-out/delivery in many areas).

Conversely, the “Big Mac” is assembled quickly, (some might say it’s “thrown” together) without regard for eye-pleasing palatability, and it’s served to you in a disposable, cardboard box at the cashier’s counter/drive-thru window. Additionally, you first have to pay for it, sight-unseen; then you can take your food to a table, yourself, to sit and eat; or you can leave with it, to eat elsewhere.

That’s basically what separates a restaurant chain apart from a fast food or “cafeteria-style” chain – how it’s ordered, along with being paid for first, and then how it’s received (in disposable packaging). I was inspired to look into what else classifies fast food chains from restaurant chains and which ones were the oldest in the U.S.

Although a wide variety of different foods, in either establishment, can be made FAST, the term, “fast food,  is a commercial term limited to food sold in a restaurant (or “store”) with frozen, preheated and/or precooked ingredients. In the restaurant realm, food that is made fast is called “short order”. 

I found that a restaurant chain is a set of “related” eateries  in different locations that are either under a shared corporate ownership or a franchising agreement. What depicts a restaurant/eatery (from the fast food establishments) is the majority of its food sales are in-store, with sit-down service, where the food is served in washable dishes and/or baskets for consumption on the premises.

[Of course, Covid-19 restrictions have affected that explanation, as most restaurants are, for now, limited to only take-out, curbside services and deliveries.]

Did you know that, fast-food and restaurant chains have been around for over a century? I formed a list of 30 of the oldest restaurant and fast food chains I could think of, but as I wrote a small paragraph about each one, it ended up being too long for one blog post. So, I’ve cut my list to give to you over the next few weeks’ blog entries. I stooped at 1940 for today’s blog entry and I will continue with the nostalgic list over the next week or two, as well.

Some information I learned from these three, wonderful articles: https://www.oldest.org/food/fast-food-chains/ and https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/the-countrys-oldest-chain-restaurants/ and https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Media/Slideshow/2017/01/13/26-Oldest-Restaurant-Chains-America?page=25 – along with material I gathered from Mom’s 40+, self-published cookbooks and hundreds of newsletter issues, as she has written about and made many imitations of the famous foods from almost all of the following chains. I’ll also re-share, with you, some of Mom’s recipes for these famous chains that I’ve shared in previous posts.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

FAMOUS FOODS FROM FAMOUS PLACES

THEY LAUGHED! THEY DOUBTED! They even tried to take me to court when some famous food companies insisted that I stop giving away their secrets. They couldn’t believe me when I said that I did NOT know, nor did I want to know, what they put in their so-called secret recipes. I did know that there are very few recipes that can’t be duplicated or imitated at home. And we could do them for much less than purchasing the original product. I proved…it can be and should be done!

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

Who would want to imitate ‘fast food’ at home? I found that over a million people who saw me demonstrate replicating some famous fast food products on The Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981) DID – and their letters poured in at a rate of over 15,000 a day for months on end! And while I have investigated the recipes, dishes, and cooking techniques of ‘fine’ dining rooms around the world, I received more requests from people who wanted to know how to make things like McDonald’s Special Sauce or General Foods Shake-N-Bake coating mix or White Castle’s hamburgers than I received for those things like Club 21’s Coq Au Vin.

Nathan’s Famous is the oldest restaurant chain I could find. It first opened as in 1916 on Coney Island (NY); founded by, husband and wife, Nathan and Ida Handwerker! They built a reputation on and are most famous for their all-beef franks and signature-spiced Coney sauce, which are also marketed in grocery stores in all 50 states. There are more than 300 Nathan’s Famous restaurants. The original one still stands at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, in Coney Island, New York. Mom developed several of her own copycat versions of “Coney Sauce” over the decades, but never accredited any as being like that served by Nathan’s Famous restaurants.

A&W is the next oldest chain I could find. Originally, it started as a drink stand, founded by Roy W. Allen in California in 1919. Allen’s employee Frank Wright partnered with him in 1922 and they founded their first restaurant in Sacramento, CA, in 1923. A&W developed the first “drive-in” carhop option to “casual dining”. However, It didn’t franchise until 1925. Thanks to A&W, by the WWII era, carhop services for drive-up establishments, serving burgers and other “fast food” choices, became common place. A&W’s signature Root Beer Float was always a family favorite treat for us. Mom developed several imitations of A&W’s menu offerings, including their Coney sauce!

White Castle was the next fast food chain establishment to open in 1921. It was founded, initially, by Billy Ingram, in Wichita, KS. The small, square hamburger (called a “Slider”), for which they are most famous, was declared the most influential burger ever, by Time® Magazine, in 2014! White Castle was one of the few fast food chains that were actually FLATTERED by Mom’s imitations of their products, sending her a very complimentary letter and a check to purchase a bunch of her cookbooks for all of their company’s executives.

Howard Johnson’s was founded in 1925, by Howard Deering Johnson; starting as an ice cream/soda fountain shop, near Boston, that was very popular. It later grew into a full-service, family restaurant in 1929, in Cape Cod.

Most famous for its signature orange roof and cupola, the Simple Simon and the Pie Man plaques, and its limited-menu food items – including it’s most famous 28 flavors of creamy, “homemade” ice cream, GRILLED hot dogs, and fried clam strips – it officially became a chain in 1935, when the first “link” opened in a “hot spot” in the Orleans district of Cape Cod, where Routes 28 and 6A meet. Howard Johnson’s continued to grow, becoming one of the biggest restaurant chains in the country. It evolved even more, in 1954, by becoming a chain of motels, as well.

Mom developed her own versions of their ice creams, sherbets, Boston Brown Bread, and Clam Chowder – just to name a few!

The Krystal restaurant first opened in 1932, in Chattanooga, TN. It was founded by Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill, who were “inspired” by the White Castle they visited in Chicago. Like the McDonald’s-Big Boy copycat story (above), they also offered their customers small, square hamburgers called “Sliders”.

In 1936, in California, Bob Wian founded the first restaurant in the soon-to-be-famous Big Boy® chain of family restaurants. The Big Boy® restaurants went under slightly different owners’ names per region/franchise – but always with “Big Boy” in the title. Bob’s Big Boy® is in California. Frisch’s Big Boy® is in Ohio. Big Boy® Restaurants (formerly Elias Brothers’…) are in Michigan and Shoney’s are in Tennessee.

Big Boy® was always one of our family’s favorite restaurant chains! Mom loved to imitate their dishes at home when we couldn’t afford to go out; and she replicated just about every item their menus featured! I’m working on a “Master Index List” of all the recipes from all of Mom’s works. So far, there are 35 recipes listed that Mom developed to imitate her favorite Big Boy® offerings at home – most of which appeared in her first 4 cookbooks, and many of those were among her “Original 200” recipe cards, on which Mom had built her Recipe DetectiveTM legacy.

Also, finding its start in 1936, was Chicken in the Rough; which was founded by Beverly and Rubye Osborne, in Oklahoma City.

Only two other cities, besides Oklahoma City, still serve “Chicken in the Rough” today – Port Huron, MI (just north of where we live, in St. Clair) and in Sarnia, Ontario (Canada), just east of Port Huron, across the southern base of Lake Huron, where it meets the north end of the St. Clair River.

Although most people would assume McDonald’s was the first fast-food chain, it actually didn’t start until after many others of their famous competitors. In fact, it was decades after the launches of A&W and White Castle, in 1954, when Ray Kroc purchased the McDonald’s fast food chain from the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac.

Mom absolutely loved McDonald’s! She imitated many of their menu offerings. In fact, it was her imitations of McDonald’s “Special Sauce” and the “Big Mac” that began her “Original 200” recipes collection, on which she built her Secret RecipesTM and Recipe DetectiveTM legacy!

The soft-serve ice cream formula was first developed in 1938 by John Fremont “J.F.” “Grandpa” McCullough and his son Alex. They convinced, friend and loyal customer, Sherb Noble to offer the product in his ice cream store. In 1940, the soft-serve ice cream chain, called Dairy Queen, was launched in Joliet, IL and operated by Sherb Noble. In 2001, the “Grill and Chill” eatery concept was added to some of their ice cream shops. Mom imitated several of their sweet treat offerings – but just going there was always a fun treat in itself!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

IN CLOSING…

Next week, I’ll cover the launching of other fast food fare chains from 1941 through 1960!

#NationalTrailMixDay

In honor of today, being #NationalTrailMixDay, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Snacker Crackers”, as seen in her self-published cookbook, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 104). Add your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and/or chocolate chips/candies. Enjoy!

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is TODAY around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST)!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…35 down, 17 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Give Me Liberty

Once again, happy Monday to everyone! I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share memories of my mom with you! Thus, as always, #TGIM!

This Wednesday, August 26th, will be the centennial anniversary of the passing and ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women their voting rights.

But gaining the right to vote, for women, was only the beginning of the Women’s Civil Rights Movement (aka: the suffrage movement), which evolved into advocating for better job opportunities, fairer wages and advancement prospects, higher education opportunities, sex education and even birth control.

#WomensEqualityDay

August 26th is nationally celebrated as Women’s Equality Day, and honors the exceptional struggles that women face on a daily basis. It also teaches us and reminds us of the triumphs of women’s rights activists, such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth C. Stanton.

Let’s not forget Betty Friedan’s “Strike for Equality” and Gloria Steinem, who, in the 1960s and 1970s, lead the feminist movement, known as Women’s Lib, which went on to fight for more rights and equality issues to which women were still denied, compared to men.

For more information about the national celebration for Women’s Equality Day, check out these two websites: http://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/August/womensequalityday.htm and https://nationaltoday.com/womens-equality-day/.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

It was during WWII, when many American men were fighting over seas, that more and more women were needed to work outside of the home in factories and other male dominated industries. In fact, Rosie-the-Riveter became an icon for recruiting women to work in American factories.

Eventually, whether by choice or necessity, more and more women began breaking away from the traditional homemaker roles they were conditioned to assume, such as mothering children, cooking and cleaning. Many found another sense of fulfillment in the “outside, working world”.

The era of the Woman’s Liberation Movement, in the 1960s and 1970s, was a time, very similar to our recent “women-empowerment” campaigns and all of the political upheaval of late. Even today, the WLM still fights for women, as there still exists issues of unequal pay and promotions in the work place. There still remains many discriminations that generations just don’t stop re-generating.

While Mom was always in favor of equal rights for all, she was never fully on board with the whole Woman’s Liberation Movement. Before the Civil Rights Act, Mom’s generation was conditioned to do (or not do) certain things based on their sex, age, ethnicity, and such. Now it’s the 21st century and, as a human race, we are still trying to recognize and shatter the unwitting philosophies and teachings of our past.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 295)

A MEAL BY ANY OTHER NAME

FAST FOOD RECIPES were not published in the best-sellers – and these were the restaurants where families were apt to frequent if they wanted a meal that was affordable! Paul and I could take all 5 of the children to Capri’s, an Italian restaurant down the road from us in Pearl Beach, and we could feed the whole family for less than $10, providing we ordered the large pizza with only pepperoni and cheese on it and one soft drink for each of us. It was not for substance that we ate out. It was for entertainment.

We could take the kids to McDonald’s and it did the same thing for us that going to the movies did for our parents. It was an affordable pleasure. It was a diversion from meatloaf and pot roast and peas and carrots. It was a treat. We looked forward to it. We felt good about the experience and even better after it was over. It carried us through a long week of paying the utilities, insurance, house payments and car payments and grocery expenses.

When we had to have our 10-year-old station wagon repaired, we had to skip eating out that week. If one of us had to see the dentist, it might be 2 or 3 weeks before we could afford to eat out again. We made do with what we had. We could make the most of what we had. In the 1950s and 1960s and early 1970s, this is the way parents raised their families, budgeted their earnings and allowed for their pleasures.

Things changed, as well they should. Women went out to work. If they weren’t working to supplement the family income, they went to work for their own satisfaction. Whatever the reasons, families changed. Eating at home became less and less appealing – and less and less convenient. Homes were built with smaller kitchens and bigger bathrooms. Microwave ovens were more affordable – and defrost and heat became more popular.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in… “No Laughing Matter”; a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer

(date unknown; circ. 1970s)

GIVE ME LIBERTY OR…

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT to Women’s Lib, I don’t think they can help me. I think they’ve done enough for me already! Frankly, I think I was doing alright before they came along. At least I could get a seat on a bus. Now I’m lucky if a man will offer to hold my packages for me.

I can also remember when cutting the grass was considered “man’s work”. These days my husband flips me two-out-of-three to see which of us gets the lawn mower and who will fix the iced tea and sit on the patio chair to watch.

Last week, I was visited by a new militant group of women in our neighborhood who are protesting the proposed 4-day work week for MEN. They advocated a simple test. If you cannot get through a two-week vacation and the Christmas holidays with a man who over-waters your house plants and alphabetizes your refrigerator then how can you get through a three-day weekend, 52 weeks out of the year?

For you must then decide if you have to run the sweeper [aka: vacuum] while he’s taking a nap, or does he have to take a nap while you’re running the sweeper. Arguing with a husband (especially when he’s your own), is like taking a shower/bath in a scuba outfit. But I have a theory!

There are some things in this liberated life, which a woman just cannot control. You have tasted instant failure when neither of you can agree on who gets custody of the only controls on the electric blanket; and if it’s fair that she who makes the garbage must also carry it out; and whose mother calls more – yours or his?

This is the same man who warned me not to go into labor on his bowling night and who, on Christmas, gave me a monogrammed tool box and a gift certificate from Sunoco for an oil change and lube job, and a can of Easy-Off in my stocking.

The liberating females of our society have missed the joy of knowing what it means to live with a man who claims he’s always out of socks, but YOU know there are two more pairs in the drawer and [of course] only YOU can find them!

Most husbands are generally quite liberal with their wives in spite of the ‘Lib Movement’… I’ll have you know that my husband has always allowed me to make all sorts of important decisions – like: ‘Does that child need a nap?’ ‘Should that baby have her pants changed?’ ‘Do you really need another new pant suit?’ ‘Must your mother call here every day?’ ‘Should we recognize Red China?’ ‘Will they find Howard Hughes?’

The only liberation I want is to get away from the kids once in a while, without having the school counselor label me as a parent who doesn’t care. When you cannot free yourself from the oven encased in molten lasagna and apple pie fossils, you know that liberation is but a piper’s dream in your soap opera saga.

On the other hand, my husband takes a realistic approach to my emancipation. He claims women have never had it so good… (What does HE know?) His trying to tell me about women’s rights is like trying to tell General Eisenhower about World War II. However, I look at it this way: ‘Either give me liberty… OR GIVE ME A CLEANING LADY!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in… “No Laughing Matter”; a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer

(original date unknown; circ. 1970s)

JUST A HOUSEWIFE AND A PRO!

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.

I am still constantly amazed by the timelessness of a lot of the issues about which Mom wrote in her syndicated columns, newsletters and cookbooks. I guess the old adage is true – the more things change, the more they stay the same because history really does tend to repeat itself!

I’ve mentioned many times in my own writings how much Mom has influenced me. I enjoy writing and would love to make a living at it, as it really does make living worthwhile! Sorry, in advance to the women’s-lib-supporters, but I also enjoy being a homemaker more than working outside the home to make ends meet – I enjoy cooking and cleaning and taking care of my home and family – as long as it isn’t expected of me, simply because I’m a woman.

#NationalWaffleDay

In honor of today, being National Waffle Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for waffles like Hotel Astor’s, as seen in The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 41). There’s also a recipe within this recipe for how to make your own homemade cake flour. Happy cooking!

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene at WHBY-Radio in Wisconsin, is coming up next week! Be sure to check it out on Monday, August 31st around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST)!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…34 down, 18 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happiness Is Contagious

Happy Monday everyone – and feel free to spread the happiness around, as this is #HappinessHappensMonth! Thus, #TGIM – because I happily look forward to Mondays, for they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share these memories of my mom!

Happiness means different things to different people. Furthermore, while there are those that believe otherwise, money does not really buy happiness – even though it does purchase THINGS that we enjoy temporarily, at least. Happiness is not a commodity that can be bought, sold, and/or traded. True happiness comes from deep within us and is totally free!

According to a study, conducted over a decade ago that still rings true, happiness is contagious! The study indicated that when one person is happy, the effect can spread up to three degrees in a social network; thereby, reaching family and friends, as well as family and friends of family and friends.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#HappinessHappensMonth

It’s sort of like a virus, in that your happiness can affect the feelings of people with whom you come in contact, as well as those with whom each of them come in contact. Think about it… People whom you may never know are going to be happier tomorrow because you made someone else happy today. In turn, the same can happen to each of those people… so you can see how quickly it can spread.

Mom found a unique way to spread happiness through her renowned writings and recipes, as well as through her lesser-known cartooning. She had a contagious sense of humor and happiness about her that appealed to newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and TV talk-shows that continually requested interviews with her for four decades! The audiences were always very receptive to Mom’s “happiness virus” as well.

Mom was a pioneer, carving out An incredible new niche in the food industry with her “secret recipe” imitations that covered everything from fast food favorites, to “taboo” junk foods, to grocery store packaged products, to famous restaurant dishes, and more!

They not only made our family happy, but also millions of strangers and their families and friends, most of whom we never met, personally. But they, too, found happiness in making Mom’s copycat versions of their favorite noshing guilty-pleasures; as well as eating and sharing the creations they made!

Like Mom’s recipes, which never failed to spread happiness, I found her many humorous stories to also be contagiously happy. Mom had quite a talent for spinning a yarn. Her stories always bring a smile to my face and a laugh to my lips.

I hope that the hodge-podge of excerpts (below) from Mom’s writings about Life’s mysterious ways and how Secret RecipesTM began, step-by-step before Mom even realized it had begun… will bring you as much joy and happiness to read as it brought me to re-write it for you.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

The following excerpts can be found in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)

THE CARTOONS & JOHN McPARTLIN

The cartoons… had been the very beginning of my work in newspapers, as I provided ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’ and, later [in between which I was writing at the ‘Algonac Courier’], the ‘Richmond Review’ with a cartoon panel I called ‘Full House, As Kept By Gloria Pitzer’. The cartoons were published every week for four or five years.

At the same time, I was also giving another paper a panel entitled ‘Could Be Verse’, which was three or four lines of rhyme or bumper-sticker-type logic. One, for instance, read: ‘All marriages are happy… Love songs and laughter – What causes all the trouble is the living together AFTER!’

They were silly verses but fun to do at the time. From that, came [my] column entitled ‘No Laughing Matter’, which ran weekly for about six years; and, during some of that time, it was syndicated by Columbia Features out of New York. [p. 52]

AMAZING CHANGES

So, the time I spent trying to keep up with what was going on in the food industry, also included what was going on in the world in general. I wrote about everything the homemaker might be interested in, and in those days – the early 1960s and into the 1970s – women were trying to break loose from the housewife stereotype. [WLM –  Women’s Liberation Movement, which began in the late 1960s.]

It was a difficult period for those of us born during The [Great] Depression, raised during World War II and almost too young for Korea, but too old for Vietnam. The automation [evolution] that took so many jobs away from us, forced our generation into further education in order to compete.

I felt the pressure of having to keep up with the progressive community in which we lived. But little did I know, at the time, that every one of those precious experiences and semi-tribulations were actually stepping stones to a more stable lifestyle that was to come years later… [p. 52-cont’d]

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

STRETCHING FOOD & LEFT-OVERS

…We couldn’t afford anything beyond our immediate needs, at that time. And both of us came from parents who had survived The [Great] Depression of the 1930s, so we had been schooled to believe that credit was acceptable, as long as it was for [a house or] an emergency only!

If we needed something or wanted something, we would, according to the philosophy by which we had been brought up; first, save the money from what we had earned and then, go out and buy what we could afford. So our needs, 20 years ago [in 1969], were rather basic and included house payments, insurance, gas for the station wagon to get Paul to his job in the city all week and for our utilities.

Last but not least, if there was anything left over, [it went towards] groceries. Sometimes the groceries even had to wait a week or so and we’d make do with what we had… I would, then, learn how to do more with less. I learned how to mix the less-expensive reconstituted dry milk with regular whole milk, adding a few drops of vanilla and a pinch of sugar to each quart. The kids didn’t like it, especially compared to what they called ‘real’ milk; but, if I put it through the blender when combining the milk powder and water and refrigerated it all night, they accepted it without grumbles. [p. 30]

HOMEMADE GROCERIES & ‘PITZER PATTER’

It was during those ‘doing-more-with-less’ years that I also learned how to make the margarine mixture from canned milk and a number of other ingredients that gave me a product equal to anything at the store but for a fraction of the cost.

My recipe files were, then, beginning to grow in my aptitude for trying to develop new combinations of ingredients to produce a specific dish or food product was being energetically pursued due to necessity. When I figured how to camouflage 3 pounds of hamburger so that we could live on it for a whole week, not eating the same thing twice, I knew I was blessed. I wanted to share all of this great information with others. The opportunity was close at hand!

At that particular time, most of the information went into a newsy column I wrote for Charles Hasse’s ‘Algonac Courier’, which I called ‘Pitzer Patter’. Amid the gossip of who was going to Florida and who had just returned [and] what the schools were doing to celebrate the next holiday, I would tuck in these recipe ideas and they were so well-received [by the readers] that it was a cinch I would become ‘hooked’ on recipes sooner or later. [p. 31]

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

JOHN McPARTLIN & THE ‘RICHMOND REVIEW’

My column at the ‘Algonac Courier’ was not exactly what the publisher wanted, but that did not defeat me either. When he indicated he was thinking of dropping the column, I called John McPartlin, who was, then, the editor of the ‘Richmond Review’, a paper that was beginning to compete with Algonac for the same reading area.

Since I had worked for John when he was at ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’ while we were living in the Mt. Clemens area, I felt certain he would be able to use my work. And he did use it. He even paid me more than I was getting at the Algonac paper with many more opportunities there to learn various skills that have since contributed to the self-sufficiency of our present operation. [p. 41]

1973 – Promotional ad Mom developed and sent to various newspapers and magazines for syndication, marketing her own talents.

THE CARTOONS & FAMILY TALENTS

I didn’t “draw”. I doodled. The rest of my family could draw. My uncle, Earl Klein, is a celebrated artist in Southern California, who has spent most of his professional life with Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera and other wonderful studios. His own company, Animation Inc., produced the milk commercials for TV that included, ‘Daddy, there’s a cow in the bedroom!’

Another of Uncle Earl’s commercials was the [Michigan] Faygo commercial, ‘Which way did he go… Which way did he go… He went for FAYGO!’ He even did the Cocoa Wheats commercial with the cuckoo clock. One of my mother’s other brothers, Herb Klein, was also an artist and had his own advertising agency in Detroit for many years.

My [two] younger sisters are, both, accomplished artists. Paul and I are glad to see even our children are blessed with this ‘artistic gift’, as our son, Michael, has gone through the Pasadena Arts Center to become an art director for many fine advertising agencies over the years…

Our daughter, Laura… Is just as talented as her brother, but she has had not a smidgen of special training. Her illustrations are currently with the Center For Creative Arts here, in St. Clair, and also at the Mortonville Shoppe across from the old Morton Salt Company plant in Marysville. My doodles can hardly fall into a class with either of our children, but they are fun to do and have also pleased the family over the years. [p. 75]

CHALLENGES & OPPORTUNITIES

MY RELATIONSHIP with John McPartlin went back quite a few years to the time we were living in Clinton Township, near Mt. Clemens [1961]. Debbie was just a baby and I had no thoughts at that time of increasing the size of our family beyond Bill, Mike and Deb.

I wanted to finish college, which, to Paul was a senseless decision; considering that my ‘job’ was already consuming my entire day and that was, of course, as a wife and a mother. (Not necessarily in that order.) Paul felt a woman did not have to go to college if she planned to have a family and keep house, except to supplement her husband’s income for absolute necessities.

This, dear friends, was a notion, deeply embedded in his thought by the times during which we both were raised – when, silly as it seems by today’s standards, it was not important for the woman to have an education who only planned on having children and ‘keeping house’! Once our own daughters were at the age when college was to be considered, you’d be amazed at the sacrifices that same man was willing to make to see his own daughters through their schooling!

But, getting back to how I FIRST met John McPartlin – I finally talked Paul into letting me return to college at night to take the two classes I needed for the teaching certificate that would permit me to substitute teach for a limited time each semester. [p.82]

THE SCHOOLS

The schools were walking distance from where we lived. I assured Paul that I would be home when the children were and that my good friend, Eleanor Westbrook, down the street from us, was willing to babysit if necessary when I was asked to teach.

Sometimes I was only given 30-minutes notice, so Eleanor’s being there was a tremendous blessing. One of the things that really opened the door for me to teaching in the Clinton Dale schools was the fact that I had recently had [a food-related] article published in the Christian Science Monitor and, while the principal acknowledged that he was not a [Christian] Scientist, he did respect the newspaper and thought that anyone who had been published in it was an excellent writer…

The principal was not sorry he hired me, for the job required filling in for a teacher who would be out about six weeks due to an auto accident in which she was injured. I took over her class AND initiated a school newspaper while I was there – a project that was important to me, even though I worked on it without pay, but it led to my meeting John McPartlin, the editor, at that time, of ‘The Roseville Community Enterprise’.

The involvement with, both, the teaching assignment and the operation of the school newspaper led to other writing experiences that I had no idea would each contribute eventually [step-by-step] to the operation of Secret RecipesTM. [p.82 – cont’d]

In honor of… #HappinessHappensMonth… And, since some people find happiness in chocolate, I’d like to share with you Mom’s imitation of cream-filled cupcakes, like Hostess’!

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks. Be sure to tune in – Monday, August 31st around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST)!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…33 down, 19 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Make Happiness Happen

Happy Monday! August reigns and it’s National Happiness Happens Month! Additionally, #TGIM – because I happily look forward to Mondays; as they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share memories of my mom with all of you!

#HappinessHappensMonth

For the whole month of August, one of the subjects of focus and celebration is HAPPINESS! Thus, as Elbert Hubbard said: “Happiness is a habit – cultivate it!”

Likewise, Mom said, of true happiness [as seen in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; January 2018, p. 304)]: “If [it] is acquired through persistence and patience, it would be like the fable of the Chinese profit who asked for a needle… when none could be found… somebody offered him a crowbar and a file. He was pleased… that it was only a matter of time before he could produce the needle he wanted.”

Mom used to tell me, whenever I was feeling overwhelmed and frustrated about all of the tough challenges I was facing, in life, that happiness is not found in what I think I want or in the stuff I attain; but, rather, in who I am. Mom would insist that true happiness came from within all of us. It is not about the things you have in life. It’s more about what you learn from life, that counts. After all, it’s the journey, not the arrival, that matters the most.

Surprisingly, or not, there are still those who truly believe that their level of happiness is in direct proportion to their level of success and financial worth. Nevertheless, “success levels” (if such things can really be measured) have no real correlation with how many things nor how much money one acquires.

Mom thought that real success was found in how well we lived our lives – for the good of ourselves and “our maker”, as well as for the good of others. Thus, she also trusted that we should always DO something that will make a positive impact on others.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, pages 1 & 4)

GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE

One thing among many that I have learned from Good Sam, our national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.

Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose. You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed.

Try a little enthusiasm! …Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated.

The trouble with trying to be happy all the time is that most people look for one particular condition or experience or possession, from which they hope to derive complete contentment, forgetting that happiness is a moment – not a forever!

We all expect life to be good to us – at least, some of the time. But, when things don’t work out the way we plan, or hope, there’s an overwhelming tendency to feel down, as if all Life ever gives us is lemons. Yet, we all know the old adage for that (another quote from Elbert Hubbard) is to “make lemonade” with it.

Remember, though, that you need a lot of sugar to make a good lemonade. From wherever the sweetener comes – whether it’s self-love, inner-happiness, or something else – we need to pour all of it, all over it!

Mom always believed that the best learning experiences that Life gave us, often came out of our biggest disappointments. By simply turning “let-downs” into “set-ups” for something else – something better, some happening out there, through the window that God opened after the door was shut – we would then overcome and conquer.

In addition, Mom also taught me that every new day was a turning point for each and every one of us and that each experience, good and bad alike, eventually contributed in some way to our own personal growth and inner-happiness. For that, I am continuously grateful.

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. 61)

THE RIPPLE EFFECT OF GOOD

Whenever our best intentions are carried out for the good of all concerned, only good can result. How could good possibly produce something bad? It’s often just the still small voice of wisdom that turns us in the right direction. When it does, how silly it is of us to give credit to coincidence or chance. The purpose of something good is, of course, to bless, to enrich and to comfort and why, then, does even knowing this makes so many folks feel uncomfortable?

Having more doesn’t necessarily make us better-off, and most people limit their definition of good to an increase in more THINGS. Sometimes the good is not material, nor the least bit tangible, but instead is a feeling – a comforting and reassuring confidence – that, yes, everything can be all right, after all!

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

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 8)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Being able to get a handle on life by not letting it get the best of us, when the lemons outweigh the levity in our relationships, is a recipe worth having. Resolving the problem with recipes in the kitchen is something we’re all willing to accept, because cooking is an individual and very personal experience – a creative challenge for some, a positive involvement for others.

Yet, we accept the risk of failing at what we attempt with foods, more readily than we will with our relationships with other people. It’s a puzzle to me that we are willing to endure such a paradox, that we’ll put more effort into the table we set than into the examples we could set – and/or choose to follow.

Another wise bit of advice, of which Mom once wrote, is that… “the opportunities available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity, or rejection, or weary from over-work…” Continuing on, she also said, “You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.” [As seen in My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)].

Thanks to the happiness that Mom taught me to find within myself, first, I can also enjoy the happiness I find in other things like the colors of a rainbow after a storm, or the happy-go-lucky smile of my grandson, or the nuzzles and purrs from my cats (and my husband), or the sun sparkling on the magnificent blue waters of The Great Lakes, or the cheerful sounds of the birds and other wildlife in my backyard, or the aroma of a Crock Pot© Sunday meal – slow-cooking throughout the day – things that don’t have a price tag attached them! Where do you find your happiness?

STILL, 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. 92)

GOING IT ALONE

ONE OF THE BLESSINGS of being your own boss is that you can enjoy the freedom of discussing…subjects in your own publication, where you wouldn’t dear if someone else were publishing it, and you were subject to total agreement between you and them over all material published.

PEOPLE EXPECT US TO BE BETTER.

Whenever somebody has mentioned to me that they are surprised that the newsletter or the recipe books include non-recipe material, I usually replied, ‘I’m surprised that you’re surprised!’ Food for the table and food for thought should, and often do, go hand-in-hand. In our publications there will always be room for the kind of material that is humorous and uplifting – as the case may be.

I respond easily to the unusual, if it has a beneficial influence on others and find it a joy to share such information. The response is always encouraging. I am still hearing good comments on the little book we sent out in the fall of 1988, entitled ‘Good Thoughts And Things To Smile About’, which we did not sell, but GAVE to those people we felt we should express appreciation for their kindness and attention either to our work or to our family.

The little acts of overcoming the annoyance, impatience, indifference, apathy, that sometimes seem to be so much a part of our day – can make an enormous difference in the quality of our lives. This may not always seem easy, but each false tendency can be detected and rejected because it is wholly without foundation. Genuine love, caring, alertness and patience replace annoyance, indifference, apathy and impatience.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 94)

EVERY DAY, IN OUR OFFICE

Every day, in our office and our home, because it’s hard to separate the two, is the fact that things here are quite unpredictable! The layout of the newsletter is done – as I described it before – like a patchwork quilt, [as] are the books, at best, for there is not enough ‘quiet’ time in which to carry out a major project. Mostly, it is 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!

There are visits from the rest of the family, a phone call from my mother once in a while, when she needs somebody to talk to… and I am always a ready listener. There are the discussions over how to handle a particular problem with a shipping order, or how a dish should be coming out that doesn’t! Countless things occur in this office (and/or home) that contribute to the overall picture.

This is what I tried to describe recently to Julie Greenwalt of People magazine, when she called and asked me to think about those typical things that happen here which they could be photographed to accompany the story she was writing about us. It will be interesting to see how it comes out, as this book [cited above] will be ‘going to press’ before People does with their story… [which came out in their May 7, 1990 issue].

I love the attitude of George Burns, who was always an inspiration to everyone, of every age! Doing what we like best, whether we succeed or not, is what keeps us going and keeps us happy. I cannot imagine doing something badly that I enjoy doing. So, of course, we do our best at something we enjoy, because that is part of the satisfaction of doing it – seeing the good that results from our efforts.

[Paul and I,] both, take time during the week to enjoy something completely unrelated to our work and even our family. I bowl on a wonderful women’s league every Wednesday morning and Paul bowls with the men’s league on Friday nights.

For the past four or five years, I’ve driven to Algonac, about 40 miles round-trip, to participate in one of the nicest groups I’ve had the privilege of belonging to; and while I have yet to have that 200-game, whether I bowl badly or splendidly, I drive home all smiles, happy that I went! Paul, on the other hand, bowls just down the street from us here in town. He bowled so much when we were dating, I tell people we were married by an ordained pin setter!

In honor of…

#HappinessHappensMonth

And, since some people find happiness in chocolate, I’d like to share with you Mom’s imitation of Big Boy’s Chocolate Pie. Happy cooking!

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

#WHBY 

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…32 down, 20 to go!

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

 

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – De-Stress With Happiness

Happy Monday and happy August! As always, #TGIM – I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Stress and anxiety often accompany any kind of lifestyle changes. We’ve been going through these kinds of times for centuries – the names and places may have changed but the feelings of stress and anxiety remain the same. These days, some of the new lifestyle changes we’re dealing with include staying home as much as possible, extreme sanitizing practices, wearing masks in public, and social distancing – just to name a few.

Now it’s August and the pandemic is still rearing its ugly head in many “hot spots” due to people crowding and not properly wearing PPE, if at all. In addition, a lot of people are worried about sending kids back to “brick-and-mortar” schools before/after Labor Day. Some are trying to push online learning and home-schooling. But not every parent is cut-out to be a teacher and online learning is not easy, let alone available, for everyone.

Stress is just another word for worrying – only more severe – in how it affects us, both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, the trying times that we’ve been facing, especially this year, are not going away anytime soon. Many experts are telling the media that it will likely get worse before we see it really start to get better.

Sadly, life doesn’t always go the way we want and, from time to time, when we start getting comfortable with how life is going, we forget that nothing in life is guaranteed to any of us. I recently read a really great article, “When It Seems Like Things Are Falling Apart, They’re Really Just Falling Into Place”, by Paul Hudson (Sep. 23, 2014) at EliteDaily.com. The timeless advice and reasoning in this almost-6-year-old article, about dealing with stress and creating your own happiness, sounds like it could have been written for our current pandemic situation. I highly recommend the read!

#SimplifyYourLifeWeek

#HappinessHappensMonth

Writing and cooking were among Mom’s top stress-relievers. Being the Secret Recipes Detective for 40 years, one was more apt to find Mom in the kitchen, creating an imitation of a popular restaurant dish or at her desk writing about the latest imitation she developed.

However, Mom also loved to write random bits of, what she called, “Food for Thought”. Almost half of what she published in all of her cookbooks and newsletters was devoted to “Food for Thought”, as she felt it was important to have a proper balance between good thoughts for the soul and good food for the table!

Mom’s other favorite stress relievers included reading “motivational”, “inspirational”, and “positive thinking” books; as well as crocheting and laughing at her favorite comedians like George Burns and Carol Burnett. As the old adage says, “laughter is the best medicine.” Mom always added to that, “you can’t smile on the outside without feeling good on the inside.”

When dealing with the stress of operating a family-run, cottage-style, dining room table business that was booming faster than expected, Mom also enjoyed listening to music and going for a walk along the St. Clair River or taking a long drive with Dad, beside the Lake Huron shoreline. There are countless techniques for managing stress these days. Yoga, dancing, bread-making, meditation, and exercise are just a few examples.

Like Mom, when I’m under stress, I also enjoy writing, cooking, listening to music (different music, though), going for walks, and/or taking a shoreline road trip with my husband to lift myself out of the rut. What kinds of things help you to de-stress and be happy? Use the hash tags (above) to share, what works for you, on social media.

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. 96-97)

RETHINKING OUR LIVES

If you have ever seen one million letters, you know how we felt when we tried to handle the overwhelming response. It was exhausting! Our home, which was both, our office and our sanctuary, too, became like a factory; with [extra] people helping us to process the mail, eventually having to return thousands of orders to the customers with our deepest regrets that we could not, in all fairness to them, delay their order.

The onslaught of mail forced us to do this. We were all working from seven in the morning to one or two the next morning, just to open the mail. We burned up two electric letter openers! Our phone bill was lost in the mail and when we forgot about our utilities having to be paid every month, our phone was dead one day when I picked it up.

From then on, our utilities were phoned in to us by the company so that we could keep them paid without having to sort through thousands of letters, looking for the bills. There were trays of mail stacked three and four deep in our living room, bedrooms, the basement, too.

At one point, I lay my head down on my desk and cried, reading the angry letters that were coming from probably very nice folks who thought we were trying to do something illegal, because they had not received their free recipes. They probably had not sent us their self-addressed, stamped envelope, either, which we have always required for the service.

As soon as we realized what the mail was doing to us, we tried to get Donahue’s people to stop the continued scheduled showing of our appearance. But that show remained on their repeat circuit for almost a year, playing in the Panama Canal zone, Greenland, Iceland, Australia and hundreds of small town stations across the states.

Most of the letters received from them still asked for the free recipes that were included with the order blank for a self-addressed stamped envelope to us. The offer would have been good for us if it had only been shown that once – the day on which we appeared on the show, but for nearly a year afterward the requests came and the complaints came and the threats to report us to postal authorities for not sending those free recipes, tore us apart emotionally and physically!

We had put so much money into returning the orders we could not fill in every postage stamp that we put on envelopes that requested free recipes also came out of our pocket, so it was an experience of mixed blessings. It cost us so much more than we had anticipated.

We talked about making a move to California in the fall of 1981. I really wanted to move out there to be closer to my sister, Hazel. Our son, Michael, was also living in Pasadena where he was attending the art center. It seemed like a wonderful opportunity for us to leave… St. Clair and begin a new life in Los Angeles…

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. It was a time to learn and to grow. – Gloria Pitzer

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018, 1st Printing; p. 299)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 67)

WASTING TIME – WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE SIMPLE JOYS?

Unfortunately, were waiting for that golden day, that one lovely moment in which we feel everything is finally grand – everything is finally just the way we have always wanted it to be! Everything we’ve been working for and moving toward has been attained. We can relax! We’ve lost the weight we wanted to lose. The house is finally in ‘company is coming’ order. The bills are all paid. The bank account is adequate. Our children are living productive, useful lives.

Everything will be wonderful – and then, and probably only then, do we feel we have the right to be happy! Until we achieve that perfect moment, that ideal existence, however, we’re looking forever ahead to it, not even seeing the opportunities – small as they might be – to be happy, now, with what we already have, with who we are [and] with what we’re already doing.

Paul & Gloria Pitzer – 2012, Niagara Falls, Ontario

Everyone, at one time or another, seems to go through such trying times; carrying burdens we can’t seem to shake, with no one to help us make the load seem lighter. And in doing so, we end up making our mishaps more important than our smallest achievements. How easily we waste the time we have now, entertaining false pride as if it were the honored guest at our table of regrets. We try to avoid being natural, being ourselves, because it is usually less than we think we should be, or what others expect us to be.

So we look toward the moment when we’re sure everything will fall into its proper place. We finally have the time to call a relative we’ve been meaning to visit. Will write that newsy letter to the friend we somehow lost touch with. We’ll take that cake to the neighbor we haven’t had the chance to call on but meant to. But we can’t do those things now – not while were working out important problems and have so many things to worry about. Worrying takes time!

I’m nearly convinced that there is no such perfection toward which to work and for which to wait. Waiting seems an idol waste [of time] when there are so many things I want to do that have been pushed aside because obligations and commitments came first. Instead of looking ahead two years from now, days from now, hours from now, I look to the next moment. Human beings are not immortal, but some of us put off the wonders of living, as if we had forever to realize them.

For each moment that I didn’t enjoy as much as I could have, I’d like to be ready just in case I have a second chance at having them again. I would like to have all of our children with us around the dinner table once more, and really enjoy it, to make up for all of those times that I took their being there for granted. That would be a perfect moment, a perfect day!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-Jun. 1988, p. 1)

NO SUCH THING AS A SURVIVOR!

I finally met someone who agrees with me that it is not a compliment to be called a ‘survivor’ – when one has apparently been able to meet the challenges of life and keep on going. Surviving is too much like wading around in a puddle of old problems or troubles.

Instead, I’d rather be considered a ‘pilgrim’ – going forward, pressing on. And, if I were told that I could no longer give others hope, I don’t think I would ever enjoy living again, but would probably just exist instead!

#NationalBrowniesAtBrunchMonth

In honor of August being, among other things, National Brownies At Brunch Month; here are two of Mom’s famous copycat recipes… Hostess-Style Brownies & Fudge Frosting, as seen in her cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Recipes Book (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI; June 1997, pages 14 & 53). How’s that for some chocolate-covered happiness? Happy baking!

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

Find some time to enjoy the many national celebrations going on today, this week, and all month long…

#InternationalClownWeek

For International Clown Week, this week, here is one of Mom’s “Food for Thought” articles; about a small businesses that disappeared…

#FamilyFunMonth

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/family-fun-month-august/ & https://ucdintegrativemedicine.com/2018/08/family-fun-month/#gs.xodbky

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…31 down, 21 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Summertime Vacation Time

Happy summertime Monday to one and all! As always, #TGIM – I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

We’re almost to the middle of summer and those hot and humid “dog days” continue to hound us, with no relief in sight. These are the days that a lot of Michiganders like to head “up north” to vacation in a slightly (usually) cooler and drier atmosphere – especially when close to one of the Great Lakes!

I have so many fond memories, from my childhood, of some of our own Michigan, summertime, family vacations. Mom and Dad took us to so many wonderful places around Michigan like the Tahquamenon Falls and Soo Locks in the U.P., as well as Petoskey, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island in the “Tip of the Mitt” region.

Other “nearby” trips (to where we lived in the “Thumb Area”) included Sandusky’s Cedar Point Amusement Park and Aurora’s SeaWorld, both in Ohio; as well as Grand Bend, Toronto and Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada. I tried to expose my own children to, at least, most of these wonderful places as well… Making memories!

Every summer that I can remember, while growing up in the “Thumb Area” of Michigan, there was usually a couple of these family trips; along with some special one-day-events like a festival, going to the beach, picnicking at a park and backyard barbecues that filled our summers with a lot of fun memories.

1970, Pitzer summertime vacation time at Fort Mackinac

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in “No Laughing Matter”, by Gloria Pitzer (no printed date available)

HOW I’M SPENDING MY SUMMER VACATION

I am really trying to enjoy this summer vacation, even though I have the feeling I’m just a first grade version of ‘See Mother Run’. Most of the vacation weeks (and I use the reference loosely) were spent wandering through aspirin lectures asking perfect strangers: ‘How many more days until school opens?’

We didn’t try to vacation anywhere with the children this year, considering how we spent two weeks on the Turnpike with them last summer and lived to tell about it.

…There are positive virtues to the ‘nine-to-three’ schedules, which leave mothers five days a week, from September through June [minus the long Christmas and Easter breaks], during which they are not answering dumb questions.

For one thing, it is none of the kids’ business why I look pale and plump in a bathing suit. I knew the minute I walked into ‘Chubby Chicks Swimwear Boutique’ that summer, for me, would mean running under the lawn sprinkler in very dark glasses and a body shirt, cleverly created out of a porch awning by some ‘shut-in’ from ‘Green Acres’.

Actually, it was all my husband’s idea. For, out of consideration for the neighbors, he only lets my sit on the patio in my bathing suit after dark. He claims I even discourage mosquitoes. This is the same man who will also stand on the porch whenever I sing so the neighbors can see he isn’t beating me!

The same man who can come home from (and I quote exactly) ‘an exhausting day of fishing’ and ask, seriously, when am I going to clear off the top of the refrigerator, will I write to his mother, did I have fun at the ‘book mobile’ with the five kids, and is it alright if we ‘eat out’ tonight… meaning, of course, hot dogs in the backyard!

He doesn’t understand why I spend my [summer] vacation counting the days until school opens again. But he doesn’t have to find band-aids for bra-less Barbie dolls and G.I. Joes, who have been sucked up into the vacuum cleaner hose.

He doesn’t have to wander through a vast wasteland of ‘Pop-Tart’ wrappers and ‘Mr. Misty’ cups, while 37 neighborhood kids motorbike their way through the yard, the flower beds, and into the center of a national noise abatement program, sympathetically excused by three probation officers who don’t have to live around here!

Summer VACATION – as some teachers laughingly refer to the 10 weeks, during which ‘families who stay together, get on each other’s nerves’ – is NOT a vacation! It’s enough to make a mother look like a wire service [‘Wanted’] photo that, by all rights, should be printed under the caption: ‘NEVER MIND SENDING HER KIDS TO CAMP… Help send this mother away!’

It’s mothers who need the vacations – not the kids! Ten weeks of kids at home [all day] and Mother can develop a personality of a dental drill with a voice to match! But, as I told the kids the other day, ‘as soon as Daddy gets home, everything will be all right.’

Sometimes it’s not easy on a mother to come up with the answers to questions all by herself, like: ‘How many more days until school starts?’ … ‘Can I have a Coke?’ … ‘Did you see my sneakers?’ … ‘Can I have a popsicle?’ … ‘How come you’re always yelling at me?’ … ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’ … ‘Can I have my allowance?’ – but, compared to all of the questions the kids ask me during the day, I can take THOSE [above] from my husband.

He means well, even though he doesn’t understand that a mother’s vacation doesn’t begin until school does in the fall!

Mackinac Island, Michigan is a very nostalgic place – the summer vacations that I spent there with my family are my most memorable ones. Except for the smell of horse dung (which, besides bicycles, horses are the popular mode of transportation on the island, as motor vehicles aren’t allowed), baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many DIVINE scents!

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

Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; to me, as with many others, it was always a magical trip back in time! That was especially the case one summer, in 1979, when we were staying at the Grand Hotel while the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience; plus, we all got to meet Jayne Seymour, Christopher Plummer, and Christopher Reeves!

[On a side note – long before Somewhere in Time was filmed there – in 1947, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel called This Time for Keeps. The famous leading actress in that movie, Ethel Merman, swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of it there; thus, as I learned during one of our family trips, the pool was named after her.]

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES

As seen in “No Laughing Matter”, by Gloria Pitzer (no printed date available)

VACATION RETURNS (OR THE LAST RESORT)

It is only upon returning from a vacation that we realized just how much we could use one! Ours was nothing to write home about, so all of you out there, who were looking for a postcard from us, now know why you didn’t get one.

If – when I [was] at home, among conveniences, and circumstances used to force me to once write those ‘please-excuse-my-child’ notes in lipstick on the back of a Citizen’s Federal Savings [bank] slip, and take telephone messages down in the dust on the end tables – you just know that any postcard I’d be apt to send from our vacation would probably be written in campfire charcoal on the back of a Handi-Wipe!

I still hate to refer to it in the strictest sense as a ‘vacation’. I mean, a cross country trip by station wagon with our five kids would be anything BUT a vacation! And somehow, I recall that the cross country trip got even more cross as we crossed the country, when we were traveling with the kids – especially on the way back [home].

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

We spent more time deciding which child got to sit next to the window than we ever did reading the road maps – and that was just in the driveway before we even left home! Upon reading those maps, however, we would be forced to make the crucial decision – deciding which fork in the road to take. Usually, [we chose] the wrong fork in the road – but then, we had never been lost that way before!

Once in a while, and even to this day, when Paul and I travel alone, without the children to distract us, we’ll find we’re lost on some turnpike off ramp and, when out of state we’ll hope to see another vehicle with a Michigan license plate and start to follow them because we’re convinced that they know where they’re going and will probably, at least, get us back to the state line. But, in our case, [we] could use a bumper sticker for the car that reads: ‘Don’t follow me. I’m lost too!’

When the children were vacationing with us, in the old days, it seemed that ‘who-sits-next-to-the-windows’ is an on-going debate. The argument got so sticky at one point that I simply buried my face in a AAA tour book and pretended not to hear them until, from the midst of the back seat crowd, came a tortured voice, which pleaded in anguish, ‘But I HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Nonsense!’ I said, without looking up. ‘Give me one good reason WHY you HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Because’ said the voice with some agitation, ‘I’m driving! I’m Daddy!’

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Even the cost of a simple vacation has been affected by the national inflation, I see today. You might say the cost of getting away, has gotten away; because, if you really wish to relive your vacation, the only way you can do it these days is to show your friends colored slides of all of your traveler’s checks!

We did learn a few things, though, about our trips [that] I’m perfectly willing to share with you. We now realize that the same vacation conveniences that would cost us $90 a day, while traveling, we could have had for free if we had stayed home.

Besides, nothing can deflate your ego, or undermine your significance as a person, like returning from a 3-week vacation; and, as you begin to carry the suitcases from the car into the house, have your neighbor greet you with: ‘Hi there! Going someplace?’

All we have to recall of our last vacation is the vivid memory of how the best restaurant to eat in was always just a block down the road from the one we stopped at and thought it would be the last one we’d come to before dark.

But I will always remember how Daddy would lie on the beach about how he was missed at the office! And…that hitchhiker we picked up, who, within 5 minutes, begged us to let him out of the car because he had been suddenly drenched with a Dairy Queen milkshake and 6 popsicle sticks were poked into his fringe-sleeved, suede jacket.

As I said, if you’re traveling with children and you think you need the vacation you’re about to take, it’s nothing compared to the one you’ll be ready for when you get back!

However you choose to spend your summertime vacation time – I hope you make a whole bunch of happy memories and enjoy it to the max!

IN CLOSING…

#NationalChickenWingDay

In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for chicken like Popeye’s…

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is TODAY around 11:08am (CDST)/12:08pm (EDST)! Be sure to check it out, as we’ll be discussing cookies!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…30 down, 22 to go!

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