Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Those Hounding Dog Days

#TGIM – Thank God It’s Monday, again; and, as such, #HappyMonday to all! I personally look forward to every Monday because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

Here, in the northern hemisphere, we’re almost to the middle of summer and the unbearable, sweltering heat of “The Dog Days” continue to hound us, with practically no relief in sight! Many Michiganders are almost wishing the “Polar Vortex” would pay us another quick visit.

“The dog days” is a term we often hear, and many of us assume that it refers to how much dogs will lethargically lie around on these extremely hot, intolerable days. But did you know that “the dog” is actually an ancient celestial reference?

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

According to History.com’s “Why Are They Called ‘The Dog Days of Summer’?”, a great article by Christopher Klein (no date available), “… it’s a throwback to the time when ancient civilizations tracked the seasons by looking to the sky. The ancient Greeks noticed that summer’s most intense heat occurred during the approximate 40-day period in the summertime when Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, rose and set with the sun…”

During this time of the year, ancient Greeks believed that Sirius (aka: “the dog star”), which is also part of the Canis Major (aka: Greater Dog) constellation, gave off heat like the sun because it was so bright. They supposed, therefore, that it’s daytime appearance, along with the sun, contributed to the extreme heat and high temperatures.

By the way, when Sirius breaks its sync with the sun and returns to shining in the night sky, it’s considered to be a sign of the end of “the dog days”. FarmersAlmanac.com’s, “Why Are They Called ‘Dog Days Of Summer’?” (by Farmer’s Almanac Staff; updated July 11, 2022) claims that the exact dates of “the dog days” vary by latitude.

Currently, in the U.S., it’s around July 3rd through Aug. 11th; but the Almanac also reports that, in ten thousand years or so, Sirius’ coordination with the rising and setting sun “will fall back so late on the calendar that future civilizations in the northern hemisphere will experience ‘the dog days’ of winter.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI)

(Published in the Port Huron Times Herald; Aug. 18, 1977)

SUMMER CAN BE FUN – BUT NOT FOR MOTHER!

INASMUCH AS THIS IS an election year, I wish the governor would include me in a kind of relief program to cover mothers of children who are on vacation for the summer. After two weeks of muddy blue jeans and wet towels, my Biz Bag turned in a letter of complaint and left for Yellowstone. And the refrigerator door has not closed since school did.

‘With Avon, you get personal service’, they tell me on TV. Well, since the kids have been home on vacation, my Avon lady asked me to pick up my order… in a locker at the bus terminal.

Of course, summer has not always made me feel like a wart on a hog at bay. In the days of my energy, I could spend a languid afternoon with the entire family at the beach and frolicking through the sand, could sally forth to the Good Humor truck, with brood in tow, while each one took 20 minutes to decide which flavor they would take.

I know you won’t believe this, but I could then bring myself to embrace a child with all of the tranquilized sweetness of Doris Day and plead: ‘Please, Michael, tell Mommy where you buried Daddy!’ I wouldn’t have minded so much except Daddy was carrying the money for the Good Humor man in his swim trunks pocket.

And it was completely unreasonable to expect the Good Humor man to accept one of the children as collateral – or ALL of them for that matter – until we could uncover Daddy. For these are the same children who follow you through the souvenir pavilion, commenting candidly: ‘Look, Mommy. That Lady has her wig on crooked.’ And ‘doesn’t that man have funny looking knees?’

At moments like these, I know I was never meant for motherhood. It can be very depressing. But gone are the days when I approached summer vacation with the children as if I had the unfailing cheer of Betty White and Ralph Edwards.

I wasn’t meant to spend my life serving Kool-Aid and Crispy Critters to swarms of children who embark on our porch like occupational troops in the Berlin Airlift.

I always found that, just as I was about to walk the gangplank of gloom, a cheerful neighbor (probably the mother of ONE) would enumerate for me all the blessings of having the children at home and prescribe how to enjoy them while they’re small – which is exactly like trying to tell me the only way to save money in Las Vegas is to step off the plane and walk directly into the propellers.

I mean, how can anyone live with children, who think all it takes to open a limeade stand is the garden hose and a sack of lime; who now slam the same door all summer they left open all winter; who, for the entire 87 days of summer [vacation] will ask questions like: ‘Why can’t we go see FRITZ THE CAT? It’s a cartoon – isn’t it?’ And ‘Why do you have that twitch in your neck, Mommy?’ Or ‘Can I put a band aid on this worm?’

If a summer relief program is out of the question for mothers like me, I personally feel that the least the governor could do is declare me ‘A Depressed Area!’

It’s hard to get much work done during the dog days. It’s the kind of sweltering heat that makes me want to sell my stove in my next yard sale! In fact, the Thumb Coast’s M-25/M-29 Yard Sale Trail is coming soon! This is the time of year when I usually break out my cookbooks for microwaving, grilling, or set-and-forget crock-pot ideas!

What can I say? It’s still JULY, which equals SUMMERTIME and is practically synonymous with GRILLING! Hence, we’re continuing to celebrate National Grilling Month and National Picnic Month – and probably will continue to do so throughout August, as well!

Just about everywhere I go, these days, the smells of backyard cookouts – with sizzling burgers, chicken, hot dogs (it’s also National Hot Dog Month) bratts, or steaks – seem to drift through all the neighborhoods around me. Thus, sharing grilling ideas and creations on social media with #NationalGrillingMonth is very much encouraged.

LAST THOUGHTS…

I like to mention the social media sharing because Mom always believed that great recipes need to be shared! Whether you grill with gas or propane or lighter fluid and charcoal… Whether you have a small, tabletop hibachi or a large, deck-sized apparatus… What’s your special outdoor noshing go-to?

Whenever you light up your grill, especially this month, know that you’re part of an ongoing celebration for National Grilling Month. On a side note, be aware that July is considered the driest and hottest month of the summer, too; therefore, be mindful of the dangers of fire and be prepared – take extra precautions!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Hot Fudge Sundae Day – plus, it’s still National Ice Cream Month, too – here is Mom’s secret, 4-ingredient recipe for “Hot Fudge Sundae Topping” (with a variation for “Hot Butterscotch Topping”, as well); from her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 6).

#HotFudgeSundaeDay

#NationalIceCreamMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

July’s other observances include: World Watercolor Month, National Baked Bean Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Horseradish Month, Independent Retailer Month, National Blueberry Month, and National Peach Month!

Today is also… National Merry-Go-Round Day, National Threading the Needle Day, and National Wine and Cheese Day!

Tomorrow is… National Aunt and Uncle’s Day, National Bagelfest Day, National Coffee Milkshake Day, and National All or Nothing Day!

Wednesday, July 27th is… National Love is Kind Day, National Scotch Day, National Crème Brulé Day, and National New Jersey Day!

#LoveIsKindDay

July 28th is… National Milk Chocolate Day, Buffalo Soldiers Day, and National Waterpark Day! Plus, as the fourth Thursday in July (for 2022), it’s also… National Refreshment Day! Additionally, it’s also the last Thursday in July (for 2022), so it’s also… National Chili Dog Day!

Friday, July 29th is… National Lasagna Day, National Lipstick Day, and National Chicken Wing Day!

Saturday, July 30th is… National Father-in-Law Day and National Cheesecake Day! In honor of the latter, here’s two more new shares of Mom’s copycat recipes – “Hotel Astor’s Cheese-less Cheesecake” and “Hudson’s Chiffon Cheesecake” – both from her “Original 200” collection.

#NationalCheesecakeDay

Sunday, July 31st is… National Avocado Day, National Raspberry Cake Day , and National Mutt Day!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

#TGIM

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

…30 down and 22 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Monday

Happy Monday to everyone! You know I always look forward to each and every Monday, as they’re my 52 Chances per year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#TGIM

EVERY DAY IS A NEW BEGINNING! I think Mondays especially represent the 52 weekly, fresh opportunities we have each year… to learn something new; to stop and smell the roses; to see the sun rise and set; to meet a stranger; to share our talents with others; to lend a helping-hand to someone in need; or to simply appreciate all that life has to offer! How do you spend your Mondays?

For me, Mondays are when I blog about my mom’s legacy, as the ORIGINAL copycat cooker, the Secret Recipes Detective. I enjoy sharing some of her stories and a recipe or two from her massive collection every week. I try to use Mondays for carrying Mom’s torch forward and bringing attention to all of her pioneering efforts in the industry.

Through Mom’s stories and my own remembrances of her, I want to re-inspire love in the kitchen, in the home, in the family, throughout the neighborhood and community, as well as around the world – just as Mom did – because, as she often loved to recite, from her lifelong faith, “let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…

This is not a Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, pp. 7-8)

ESCAPE

THE HAPPIEST LITTLE ESCAPES in our lives can be, to us, what the spout is to a tea kettle that is up to its neck in hot water! It can give us an outlet for letting off steam – in a nice way! Everyone, who has their own little escape from the harsh realities of everyday life, seems to fare better than those who have absolutely nothing to which to escape.

I escape to a good book that will make me smile – or better yet, laugh right out loud, like George Burns has written. I escape to crocheting and good music, to long walks and long drives in our motor home, with my husband. There are so many lovely little escapes that each of us can choose that it’s a wonder more of us who seem to suffer from unreasonable burdens and false responsibilities, don’t seek out their retreats more often. It helps! (p. 7)

‘GOOD CHEER IS something much more than faith in the future, it is gratitude for the past and joy in the present! – Gloria Pitzer

HAPPINESS IS…

I WASN’T KIDDING WHEN I said I envied happy people more than I did wealthy or famous people. From what I’ve read and what the rich and famous have said in filmed interviews, not too many of them are really happy with their wealth and their fame.

John Luther said that ‘happiness is not a matter of good fortune or worldly possessions. It’s a mental attitude. It comes from appreciating what we have, instead of being miserable about what we don’t have. It’s so simple – yet so hard for the human mind to comprehend.’ I agree! (p. 8)

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

I often learn something new from NationalDayCalendar.com, which also claims that “Mondays are often full of new beginnings.” The website even suggests that “not only does the observance [Thank God It’s Monday Day] focus on the first Monday in January, but on every Monday throughout the year.”

I LOVE THAT! Especially since I post these blogs every Monday, in memory of my mom. They always energize and inspire me for the rest of my week’s workload (both, paid and unpaid.) I can only hope that they energize and inspire others as well.

Since I started this blog series a few years ago, writing has become one of my “escapes”. It’s very therapeutic for me, just as it always was for my mom. I’ve written more than a few blog posts about Mom’s love for writing ever since she was a young girl and how it bloomed into a legacy, as the Recipe Detective; investigator of the secrets of the food industry.

Mom loved to tell everyone that, for her, writing made a worthwhile living, but it also made living worthwhile. During her last few years, while suffering from dementia, Mom’s love for writing and journaling came as second-nature to her. Even though she couldn’t write as much as she used to, every little bit helped her to deal with the forgetfulness, immensely!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 37)

SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY [JOURNALING]

‘AS WE GO THROUGH life, each of us is making a notebook of memories, whether we put our notes on paper, or only on the pages of the mind,’ wrote Dorian Smith. As we write, it’s important that we note the little thing each day, for that time to come, when those notes may be our greatest joy, just remembering them.

So note the day the lilacs bloomed; the day your kindness to a friend was appreciated and acknowledged; the moments of looking up at the black, summer [night] sky, studded with thousands of tiny stars, shinning like diamonds; and the night the moon was shining across the snow-covered yard, making it look like a blanket of sequins.

Make note of those lovely things that… made you smile, made you glow inside. Put them all down on the pages of your mind, to turn to sometimes when nothing seems to be going well for you, and you need reassurance that things will be good again…

TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY

[As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,] ‘Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in. Forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. Begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with old nonsense. This day is all that is good and fair. It is too dear, with its hopes and invitations, to waste a moment on yesterdays.’

Once more, I want to emphasize that every day is a new beginning! Try something different – as Darius Rucker sings, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” If any one day is not the day for which you hoped, make the most of it, as best as you can, or find an “escape” to get you through. Just remember that another new day will rise tomorrow!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 53)

[LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERYDAY TO] GET WHAT YOU REALLY WANT OUT OF LIFE…

IT’S HARD TO SAY which is worse, the person who doesn’t know what he wants and won’t be happy until he gets it, or the one who knows what he wants and can’t get it.

Very little can stop the person who is on their way to where they want to go in life. They’re motivated by enthusiasm for what they want to accomplish. I’m thinking now of the blind woman who was determined to learn how to cook. Each day she worked with her ingredients, tasting each and marking the containers so that she would know how to find them.

She worked and worked with the stove and how to regulate the heat so that she would not undercook, nor overcook anything. With each new day, she set for herself one thing she would learn to do. Her exhilaration at the small successes only made her more anxious to tackle a bigger accomplishment.

Within six months, she proudly entered her from-scratch chocolate cake in the county fair, and took home the blue ribbon, awarded to her by six judges who tasted 25 other entries and did not know that she was blind.

TO SUCCEED!

Enthusiasm is the tool of accomplishment. A genius is not someone who was exceptionally intelligent – as if made in some other image than from which the rest came, but merely someone driven to constructive action by a great enthusiasm. The essence of enthusiasm is that we feed on challenge!

‘Guard well your speech, as though it were a treasure chest; for, in truth, it is. Your words spoken or written are the jewels of expression by which you communicate with your fellow beings.’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 53)

LAST THOUGHTS… FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 20)

DON’T WORRY ABOUT TOMORROW

LIVING ONE DAY at a time is one of the best recipes for happiness and for achievements of great value. Don’t worry needlessly about the future! It only uses up your energies that you surely need for the day at hand. Just remember that every day will hold good and bad, pleasure and a little suffering, too; a lot of joy and sometimes some pain, but don’t ever forget that these are the ingredients for making life either delicious or disastrous!

Grasp the good. Deal with the bad! Remember the pleasure. Forget the suffering as soon as you can. Hold onto the joy. Don’t let the pain get the best of you! When the pain leaves, don’t look back on it again. Taste the delicious flavors of the world around you!

#NationalBagelfestDay

In honor of TODAY, being National Bagelfest Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Bagels like The Bagel Factory’s; as seen in her cookbook, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 31). It was also among her “Original 200” collection. As always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share this.

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of July’s observances include: World Watercolor Month, National Baked Bean Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Grilling Month, National Horseradish Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Ice Cream Month, Independent Retailer Month, National Blueberry Month, National Picnic Month, and National Peach Month!

Other celebrations happening this week include:

Monday, July 26th is… National Aunt and Uncle’s Day, National Coffee Milkshake Day, and National All Or Nothing Day!

Tuesday, July 27th is… National Love Is Kind Day, National Scotch Day, National Crème Brûlée Day, and National New Jersey Day!

Wednesday, July 28th is… National Milk Chocolate Day, Buffalo Soldiers Day, and National Waterpark Day!

Thursday, July 29th is… National Lasagna Day, National Lipstick Day, and National Chicken Wing Day! Plus, as the last Thursday in July, it’s also… National Chili Dog Day!

[NOTE: See last week’s blog post for Mom’s imitation of “O’Nasty Coney Sauce”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 66).]

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Friday, July 30th is… National Cheesecake Day and National Father-in-Law Day! Here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation for Cheesecake like Sarah Lee’s – another one of her “Original 200” collection.

Saturday, July 31st is… National Avocado Day, National Raspberry Cake Day , and National Mutt Day!

Sunday is the 1st day of August! Some of August’s observances include: National Dog Month, Family Fun Month, Get Ready For Kindergarten Month, Happiness Happens Month, International Peace Month, National Back to School Month, National Brownies at Brunch Month, National Catfish Month, National Crayon Collection Month, National Goat Cheese Month, National Golf Month, National Immunization Awareness Month, National Panini MonthNational Sandwich Month, National Water Quality Month, National Wellness Month, and Romance Awareness Month!

As the first week of August, it’s also… International Clown Week and Simplify Your Life Week! Additionally, the first FULL week of August celebrates… National Farmers Market Week, National Exercise with Your Child Week, and Stop on Red Week!

August 1st, itself, is also… National Raspberry Cream Pie Day, National Girlfriends Day, and Respect for Parents Day! And, as the first Sunday in August, it’s also… American Family Day, National Friendship Day, and National Sisters Day!

#TGIM

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

…30 down and 22 to go!

Neiman Marcus-Style Cheesecake

Neiman Marcus-Style Cheesecake

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 32)

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 TB flour

3 pkgs. (8-oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature

6 egg yolks, well-beaten

1 TB vanilla

1 TB lemon juice

the rind of half a lemon, grated fine

1 cup heavy cream

6 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Instructions:

Cream together the sugar, flour cream cheese, and beaten egg yolks. Add vanilla, lemon juice, rind, and heavy cream. [See below for crumb mixture.] Fold in the stiff egg whites. Pour this into a crumb-lined 10″ springform pan. Bake 1 hour at 350°F. Turn off oven and open door about 1 inch or so, letting cheesecake remain undisturbed IN OVEN to cool completely. Serves 12.

CRUMB CRUST for Neiman Marcus Cheesecake

Crush into fine crumbs 1 box Zwieback – or use 2 cups graham or Ritz cracker crumbs – mixing with 1/2 cup sugar and 1/3 cup butter. Press mixture evenly over bottom of a greased  10″ springform pan and half-way up the sides.

Refrigerate several hours or overnight BEFORE adding prepared filling [above] and the crust will be firmer even when the filling must be baked in the crust as well. This recipe requires patience, time, and perfection – but the results are so rewarding!

Cheesecake Tips for Lower Fat and Cholesterol Options

By today’s “less fat” standards, use instead of the 6 real eggs (yolks and whites) an equivalent with the Egg Beaters product. Also use fat-free cream cheese. Omit the heavy cream entirely, using liquid non-dairy creamer with 2 TB cornstarch for body.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Dreams Come True