Chili Mignon, Like Chasen’s Chili

CHILI MIGNON, Like Chasen’s Chili

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 63)… [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

This is a favorite of my family! It’s so close to Chasen’s Chili, which Liz Taylor & Richard Burton would always have flown to them, wherever they were in the world! From my “Better Cooker’s Cook Book” (out of print now), this was one of my most-often requested recipes!

INGREDIENTS:

3 pounds ground beef

1 small onion (the size of an egg), chopped

5 ribs celery, sliced paper thin

4 tablespoons corn oil

½ teaspoon season salt

10-ounce can beef broth

4 cups strong, black, hot tea

6-ounce can tomato paste

4 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin powder

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon each: garlic salt and oregano powder

3 tablespoons vinegar

16-ounce can stewed-tomatoes

4 cans (1-lb each) red kidney beans, un-drained

2 cans (10-oz each) Campbell’s Chili Beef Soup

INSTRUCTIONS:

Brown the beef with the onions and celery in the oil, crumbling the beef to the consistency of rice. When the onions are transparent and the beef is no longer pink, put it in a Dutch-oven or slow-cooker and add everything else to it. Simmer it, covered, on low heat for about 2 hours – or until all flavors have blended to your taste and it’s piping hot, but never let it boil!

OTHER OPTIONS:

TEXAS STYLE CHILI: Dilute the finished chili [above] with two 12-ounce cans Busch Light beer! Ed McMahon never had it so good! Left-overs freeze well in family- or individual-sized containers. Serves 10 to 12.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Also see…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Original Secret Recipe Detective

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan Map Dots

Happy Monday! If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you probably know that I always look forward to Mondays, as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share, with you, Memories of My Mom!

#TheRecipeDetective

Last week, I heard a story about a fellow Michigander who’s literally been collecting map dots, traveling to every town in our state. He has an awesome Facebook page, called Scott’s Michigan adventures,  where he’s been depicting his travels. I thought it was very inspiring, as my husband and I love exploring Michigan, too! However, we’ve never physically collected the map dots.

I’ve written a number of blog posts about how much we love to hit the road, whether for a day trip or a weekend get-away; like Mom and Dad always did, especially to explore our beautiful state. In my completely Michigander-biased opinion, having been raised by two other born-and-bred, proud Michiganders, this is one of the most beautiful states in our country!

In a couple other blog posts, I’ve mentioned that Michigan has 3,288 miles of shimmering, fresh water coastline; bordering four of the five Great Lakes, which are part of the historic St. Lawrence Seaway. In fact, Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the U.S., and we live less than a mile from where it goes by our hometown of St. Clair. We love seeing the big ships pass through our area, which has been home to many captains of the Great Lakes’ freighters.

#PureMichigan

Moreover, Michigan is second only to our largest state, Alaska, for the greatest length of U.S. coastline; regardless of whether it’s sea or fresh water. My husband and I consider ourselves lucky to live in such a phenomenal state! Given enough time and money – and especially a better vehicle – we’d love to travel and explore the historic lighthouses and towns that dot Michigan’s shoreline. Now there’s a bucket list, all by itself.

Within its thousands of miles of shoreline, Michigan also has over 19 million acres of forests that cover 53% of the state – most of which is considered timberland. This state is home to an abundance of significant places and beautiful sights. By the way, the brilliant fall colors are in full bloom in the northern half of the state right now – and can be seen from space!

What’s more, this state is (or was) the home of many famous people, iconic foods, and renowned restaurants – past and present. Even more than that, as I’ve also mentioned in previous blog posts, it’s home to a lot of special Americana oddities!

My husband and I love to discover those little peculiarities that make each Michigan town we visit special. After all, every town has a story to tell. Rose City is a Michigan map dot we visited this summer that’s home to a phenomenon we call “gravity hill” (aka: “magnetic hill” or “ghost hill”). Have you ever experienced rolling UP a hill?

Just a few months ago, we enjoyed this peculiar experience near the end of an old gravel road, called Reasoner. A large farm sat at the end of the road, up a second, larger hill. It was truly amazing when we started rolling backwards, while in neutral, UP the small hill we just came over!

Good directions to this spot (and instructions) can be found at http://www.eureka4you.com/magnetichillworldwide/RoseCity-MI.htm. But a really good video of the same experience we had can be viewed at https://99wfmk.com/reasnerroad2018/.

We have a book, called Weird Michigan, by Linda S. Godfrey (Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.; New York, NY; 2006), which has been one source of inspiration for some of our explorations. Page 182 mentions Rose City’s “gravity hill” marvel.

The book also tells about another hill, at a Michigan map dot called “Putney Corners”, in Blaine Township; which is in Benzie County, south of the Traverse City area and west of Crystal Mountain. I’ve also heard of a similar one just across the Mackinac Bridge, near St. Ignace, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both of those are now on our new bucket list of Michigan map dots.

There are some map dots, within a couple hours’ drive from us, that we enjoy so much we visit them at least a few times each year. One such place, located near Saginaw, was also a favorite map dot of Mom and Dad’s, called Frankenmuth.

Tourists flock to this village from all around the world and stand in line for hours to get one of the world-famous chicken dinners offered at either one of the two largest establishments in the middle of town – the Bavarian Inn and Zender’s.

This town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, bakeries, fudge shops, hotels, breweries and other quaint little stores that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland to the Frankenmuth Brewery! Below is a re-share of Mom’s imitation of Frankenmuth’s famous chicken.

During the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes, as The Recipe DetectiveTM, she came up with about a dozen imitations from some of Frankenmuth’s establishments; including some of the other world-famous dishes available at the town’s two major restaurants. Mom also imitated some of the sweet confections from the town’s wonderful bakeries and fudge shops.

After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, their travels really blossomed. They bought a camper and toured even more – often mixing work with pleasure (as Mom’s work was her pleasure). Figuratively speaking, they collected a lot of map dots, not only in Michigan but all over the U.S. It was undoubtedly much more affordable to do, with only the two of them!

Joining the Good Sam RV club was always one of their most favorite experiences and a big source of wonderful map dot memories. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters of Good Sam.

Mom also wrote about the trips she and Dad took, often, in their newsletter issues – from the new restaurant dishes they tried, as they traveled, to the marvelous dishes they experienced at some of Good Sam’s “bring-a-dish-to-pass” events, during their “Samborees”. Equally notable were the great friendships they developed everywhere they went.

To the Good Sam RV Club (MI & OH Branches): “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country, relative to their recipe interests and food needs… Since our camping experiences with…’Good Sam’, [Paul and I] have truly adopted their slogan, ‘In Good Sam, there are no strangers – only friends we haven’t met yet!” – Gloria Pitzer (1989)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)

GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING

FRIENDS ARE THOSE PEOPLE who know everything there is to know about you, but like you anyhow! …Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October.

Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’

MORE 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, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; 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!

LAST THOUGHTS…

When planning your next road trip to explore some amazing places, be open to taking a few fascinating detours and don’t forget to journal your map dots, while discovering the coolest, off-the-beaten-path places along the way! Here are a few other basic tips…

  1. Always bring a real map, as there really are places that don’t have any cell service for miles.
  2. Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour.
  3. Stop frequently and take breaks – smell the roses, photograph the memory, and talk to the locals.
  4. Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

#NationalCaramelMonth

#NationalBakeAndDecorateMonth

#NationalDessertMonth

Since this is National Caramel Month, National Bake And Decorate Month, and National Dessert Month, here’s Mom’s imitation of Awrey’s Bakery Caramel Frosting for Cakes; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 8). Awrey’s Bakery originated in Detroit – another Michigan map dot!

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

REMINDER: OCTOBER IS ALSO NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s month-long drink/food-related celebrations include… Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Cookie Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel MonthNational Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, and Vegetarian Month!

Other October observances that could be food-related include… Italian-American Heritage Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Reading Group Month, National Go On A Field Trip MonthNational Kitchen & Bath Month, Polish American Heritage Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and Self-Promotion Month!

Additionally…

As the third week in October, this is… National Kraut Sandwich Week! Plus, the third FULL week in October is also… National Wolf Awareness Week, National Business Women’s Week, National Friends of Libraries Week, National Free Speech Week, and National Retirement Planning Week!

Furthermore…

Today is also…National Chocolate Cupcake Day! Plus, as the third Monday in October, it’s also… National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day!

Tomorrow is… National Kentucky Day and National Seafood Bisque Day! Plus, as the third Tuesday in October, it’s also… National Pharmacy Technician Day!

October 20th is… National Youth Confidence Day and National Brandied Fruit Day! Plus, as the third Wednesday in October, it’s also… National Hagfish Day and Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day!

October 21st is… National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day! The third Thursday in October is also… National Get Smart About Credit Day! Additionally, as the third Thursday of the fourth quarter, it’s… Get to Know Your Customers Day, too!

October 22nd is… National Make a Dog’s Day, National Nut Day, and National Color Day!

October 23rd is… National Boston Cream Pie Day, National Mole Day, and National TV Talk Show Host Day (also Johnny Carson’s birthday)! Plus, as the fourth Saturday in October, it’s also… National Make A Difference Day!

October 24th is… National Food Day, National Bologna Day, and United Nations Day! Plus, as the fourth Sunday in October, it’s also… National Mother-in-Law Day!

#TGIM

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

…42 down and 10 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Gone But Not Forgotten Eateries

Once again, happy Monday! Personally, I love Mondays! They’re my 52 Chances per year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

Detroit has been home to many famous restaurants in the past century. Gone but not forgotten are influential places like the Ponchatrain, Roma Café, and Topinka’s to name a few momentous restaurants from days of old. The Machus Red Fox was another influential, Detroit bistro; infamous for being the last place Jimmy Hoffa, former Teamsters’ Union president, was seen alive before he “disappeared”!

The London Chop House was yet another historical Detroit eatery (owned by the Gruber brothers), where many famous, elite people dined. “The Chop”, as it was called, went through some really hard times in the 1980s, finally closing its doors in 1991. However, it was re-opened in 2012 by a new owner, gambling on nostalgia to re-kindle what once was. So far, even throughout the past 19 months of Covid-based restrictions, it’s paid off!

Mom developed a few imitations from each of these famous places’ selections, but that’s not all. Department store dining rooms were another niche in the food industry, from which Mom found inspiration, imitating “famous foods from famous places”.

DepartmentStoreHistory.net claims: “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.”

The mention of Hudson’s (a former Detroit icon) particularly brought back many wonderful childhood memories of shopping and dining with my mom and sisters, in the 1970s. Hudson’s was one of Mom’s favorite department stores! In fact, she imitated about three dozen offerings from its dining room and bakery. They were famous for their Maurice Salad. Here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation.

Likewise, Alex Witchell wrote an article (Feb. 25, 2019) about the best department store restaurants, which I found at NYPost.com. In it, she reminisced about those by-gone days of shopping and lunching with her own mom and sisters. Of course, I related to a lot of it. Another great read, about department stores with amazing restaurants, is by Katherine Martinelli (July 20, 2018), at EatThis.com.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, 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 couldn’t 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 erased 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 as an honest man, caring for his customers as much is his creditors, that word spread and the store became one of Detroit’s most important, not only in the state, but eventually in the entire country.

He 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, merged with Dayton and with Marshall Fields, 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…

When Mom used to take me and my sisters to the malls and department stores it was an all-day “working” and shopping event, combined! Each of us girls would get a handful of Mom’s business cards and, while we shopped, we’d stick them in various places throughout the stores.

I always thought it was so fun! It was a really innovative way to advertise locally to her target audience, which then was the homemaker, like herself. Mom found her inspiration for this marketing method from an interview she heard of an award-winning car salesman from the Detroit area.

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 [each] and a total of 200-300 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 [area of] 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.

After a couple hours of shopping and “advertising”, we’d take a lunch break in one of the department stores’ dining rooms.  While doing her “investigative review”, Mom always found something new, to mimic at home. Another notable “gone-but-not-forgotten” Detroit area restaurant is Stouffer’s. Long before the company became a frozen food empire, in 1946, it was first famous for its creameries and then for its restaurants; opening one in Detroit, in 1929.

Sanders, still famous for its sundae toppings and chocolate delicacies (but which is now owned by Kar’s Nuts), is another company that once had a famous eatery in Detroit, serving more than just sweet treats. Mom loved going there as a young girl to eat at their lunch counter. She developed at least 56 imitations from Sanders’ offerings.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 38)

SANDERS

Fred Sanders was born in Biehl, Baden (Germany) in 1848 and brought to this country at the age of one… His father, a baker, settled his family in Peru, Illinois and it was there that Frederick learned his first baking lessons, after school and in the evenings. But his hopes went beyond what he viewed as the prosaic business of baking white bread and rolls.

At 17 years, he sailed for Germany to learn the secrets of confectionery and catering. With passport in hand, personally signed by William Seward, Secretary of State in the Lincoln Cabinet, he worked his way across the Atlantic as a ship’s baker.

He learned his trade rapidly in Karlsruhe. Within three years he opened his own small shop on a narrow street in Frankfurt. The shop prospered but his young wife, Rosa, wanted to return with him to America; where, after less than successful experiences in Philadelphia and Chicago, including being burned out by the great Chicago fire of 1871, Frederick finally came to Detroit.

They started all over again. With some misgivings, he opened the shop on the northeast corner of Woodward and State Streets – where the J. L. Hudson’s block was to rise later. With limited capital drained to outfit his shop, Frederick managed a loan from W. H. Edgar, founder of Edgar’s Sugarhouse.

Within a year, Frederick’s products were recognized as quality and he moved across Woodward, just north of Michigan Avenue, where he remained for many years and prospered. He created the first ‘soda’ as we know it today – and by accident, when some sweet cream softened. It was an instant success.

Once… a fan he used to cool his foods continually broke down. He called for someone to service the fan, which contained one of the first electric motors made. The electric shop sent over a young man to repair Mr. Sanders’ fan, and it is of interest to note that the young man’s name was Henry Ford. He fixed the fan – and it ‘stayed fixed’ – without causing Mr. Sanders any further interruptions in business.

Frederick Sanders brought his son-in-law, John Miller, into the business in 1900, taking him away from Colonel Goebel, the Detroit brewer. With this, the Sanders Company’s success was certainly charted. Concurrently, the business became a partnership, shortly after the founder’s death in 1913, when John Miller and Frederick’s son, Edwin, and his grandson became the company’s chief officers and owners. In 1970, Sanders had more than 50 of their own stores and over 300 departments in supermarkets.

LAST THOUGHTS…

REMINDER: OCTOBER IS ALSO NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

IN CLOSING…

Since this is National Apple Month and National Dessert Month, plus, Thursday is National Dessert Day – here’s Mom’s imitation of “Apple Crisp, Like Holiday Inn’s” [from the 1960s]; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 13).

#NationalAppleMonth

#NationalDessertMonth

#NationalDessertDay

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of October’s month-long drink/food-related celebrations include… Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Applejack Month, National Bake and Decorate Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Pasta Month National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, and Vegetarian Month!

Additional October observances that could be food-related include, among other things… Italian-American Heritage Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Reading Group Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, Polish American Heritage Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and Self-Promotion Month!

Moreover, as the week of October 16th, this is also… National Food Bank Week!

Today is also… International Day of the Girl Child and National Sausage Pizza Day! Plus as the second Monday in October, it’s… Native American Day and Columbus Day, too! Plus, it’s the start of… National School Lunch Week! In honor, here’s a re-share of Mom’s secret recipes for Lunch Box Brownies With Fudge Cake Icing!

Tuesday, October 12th is… National Savings Day, National Vermont Day, National Freethought Day, National Farmer’s Day, and National Gumbo Day!

October 13th is… National Train Your Brain Day, National Yorkshire Pudding Day, and National Take Your Parents To Lunch Day (which changes annually)! Plus, as the second Wednesday in October, it’s also… National Curves Day!

Friday, October 15th is… National Shawarma Day, National Cheese Curd Day, National I Love Lucy Day, National Grouch Day, and National Boss’s Day!

October 16th is… National Sports Day, National Liqueur Day, National Dictionary Day, Global Cat Day, and Department Store Day! Plus, as the third Saturday in October, it’s also… National Sweetest Day!

Sunday, October 17th is… National Mulligan Day and National Pasta Day!

#TGIM

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

…41 down and 11 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Original Secret Recipe Detective

Happy Monday and happy October to everybody! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalWomensSmallBusinessMonth

#NationalWorkAndFamilyMonth

#SelfPromotionMonth

October is chucked full of wonderful, month-long observances. Among them, in relation to Mom, are… National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, and Self-Promotion Month! Additionally, this is also National Book Month and National Cookbook Month!

When Mom left her job at the newspaper, in the early 1970s, she went home to start her own business; incorporating our whole family into her dining room table operation. Call it fate or whatever – Mom carved out a unique niche in the food industry that people, like herself, needed and wanted!

She called her concept “copycat cookery”! She also described it as “eating out at home” and “taking the junk out of junk food”, among other things. Mom was determined to discover how to imitate America’s favorite, famous fast food & restaurant dishes at home, as well as frozen and shelf-stable grocery items.

If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others, because, she believed, great recipes were meant to be shared! She was an innovator in the 1970s – developing her own copycat recipes and marketing her talents, herself, through the media – which, then, consisted only of newspapers, magazines, television and radio talk shows. No internet!

In the early years of her business, Mom sold her recipes individually, printed on 4”x6” index cards from a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room. She began with a small catalog that quickly grew to about 200 recipes. Then she expanded, publishing her own monthly newsletter and blazing that trail of uniqueness through all the “Betty Crockers” and “Julia Childs” of that time.

It didn’t seem to take long before Mom’s recipe library grew even more through requests from her growing fan-base. She then began self-publishing multiple cookbooks (at least one a year for over 30 years!) She was getting national, as well as international recognition for being the Secret Recipe DetectiveTM – the title given to her by her fans. Here’s Mom’s story in her own words…

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 292-293). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

BEHIND THE SCENES

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

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

The one year that I spent at Michigan State (when it was still a college, mind you…) was one year in which I learned 2 important things – I could not pass my Creative Writing course and I was ‘kicked out’ of Home Economics!

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

I took a position with the J. Walter Thompson Advertising company in Detroit, working as a secretary to the copywriters. I met my husband, Paul, there when he returned from a 4-year tour of service with the Air Force. We started dating and one year later we were married. That was 1956.

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

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

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

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

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN

When Columbia Features and I parted company, they had acquired only 2 additional papers from me and lost several more. Within 6 months, I had regained all my original papers and was syndicating the column from our dining room table, where we then lived in what my friend, Bob Allison, called ‘beautiful downtown Pearl Beach’…

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

BOB ALLISON’s ‘ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR’

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

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

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

So, in December 1973, I put together my first issue of what came to be my ‘Secret Recipe Report’, a newsletter that… brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry… That afternoon, I put out my charter issue, sending samples of it to those whose names and addresses I had on file from having written to me at the paper. That was the beginning of ‘Secret Recipes’!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 295). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

WE WANTED OUR CAKE AND WE WANTED TO EAT IT, TOO!

We wanted to eat out at a price we could afford; and, when we couldn’t afford to eat out, we wanted to dine-in as if we were eating out! At the time, there were few recipes for this kind of cooking. We wanted to spend less time preparing the foods and less money on the ingredients and still serve a dish to those who shared our table with us that would be equal to – if not better than – anything we could buy in a restaurant or from a supermarket. For all of these reasons, I have pursued the investigations of the food industry with the greatest joy and the utmost care, translating into recipes, those secrets that I have been able to decipher.

LAST THOUGHTS…

REMINDER: OCTOBER IS ALSO NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

IN CLOSING…

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

#NationalChiliWeek

#NationalChiliMonth

Since this is National Chili Week, as well as this being National Chili Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Chili Mignon, Like Chasen’s Chili”; as seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 63). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s month-long drink/food-related celebrations include… Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Bake and Decorate Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Dessert Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza MonthNational Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, and Vegetarian Month!

Other October observances that could be food-related include… Italian-American Heritage Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Reading Group Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, and Polish American Heritage Month!

Additionally…

Today is… National Cinnamon Bun Day, National Taco Day, and National Vodka Day! Plus, as the first Monday in October, it’s… National Consignment Day and National Child Health Day! Also, as the first full Mon.–Fri. work week in October, this is… Customer Service Week! And as the first Mon.-Sun. week in October, it’s also… Financial Planning Week!

Tomorrow, October 5th is… National Rhode Island Day, National Do Something Nice Day, and National Apple Betty Day! Plus, as the first Tuesday in October, it’s also… National Eat Fruit At Work Day! 

October 6th is… National Orange Wine Day, National Plus Size Appreciation Day, National German-American Day (this is also German-American Heritage Month), and National Noodle Day! In addition, as the first Wednesday in October, it’s also… National Pumpkin Seed Day and National Walk to School Day (plus, it’s International Walk To School Month)!

Thursday, October 7th is… National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day, National Frappe Day, and National Inner Beauty Day!

Friday, October 8th is… National Fluffernutter Day, National Hero Day, and National Pierogi Day!

October 9th is… National Moldy Cheese Day! And, as the second Saturday in October, it’s also… National Costume Swap Day and I Love Yarn Day!

Sunday, October  10th is… National Angel Food Cake Day, National Cake Decorating Day, National Handbag Day, and World Mental Health Day (speaking of which, it’s also… Positive Attitude Month!) Additionally, as the week of the 16th, Sunday is also the start of… National Food Bank Week (likewise, it’s Tackling Hunger Month, too!)

#TGIM

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

…40 down and 12 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Fall And Family

Happy Monday and happy fall y’all! I always look forward to Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalFallFoliageWeek

I LOVE fall – it’s definitely my favorite season! I adore the crisp, cool nights and lukewarm days. I love seeing the trees change colors. Incidentally, yesterday was the start of National Fall Foliage Week! I also love going to the cider mill for fresh apples, donuts, and (of course) cider. Plus, Octoberfest jubilees are popping up everywhere!

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Speaking of which… October is almost here! Thus, we’re rounding the bend, this week, for September’s finale. However, it is still September for a few more days, so there is still time left to celebrate some of its many wonderful observances – such as…

…National Fall Hat Month, International Update Your Resume Month, National Little League Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, and National Whole Grains Month! But that’s not all…

Moreover, since this is the last week in September, it’s also… National Keep Kids Creative Week! Additionally, relative to that, since this is the fourth Monday in September, today is also… National Family Day; which promotes making and sharing meals together, as well as family bonding around the kitchen table.

#NationalFamilyDay

#SelfImprovementMonth

September is also Self-Improvement Month! Family meals, prepared and eaten together, provide vast opportunities for strengthening ties, building better relationships, and creating a sense of belonging, which leads to better self-esteem.

When my siblings and I were growing up, Mom always made our meals family-style! We’d fill our plates and talk about our days, passing the serving dishes around the table while elbowing each other whenever Mom and Dad weren’t looking. We’re far from being the Brady Bunch or Walton’s family!

We ate together because that’s how our meal was served. The food may have been like that in a restaurant, but Mom would always remind us that our kitchen wasn’t a restaurant where you could drop in any time and place an order for whatever you’d like. In our household, you ate what was made and when it was served, or you would probably have to go hungry until the next meal.

However, I can’t remember any of us even being willing to miss one of Mom’s meals, so that was never really an issue in our household. Mom would always joke about being a bad cook in her many editorials but, even before she became famous for being the Secret RecipesTM Detective, she really was a great cook!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.6)

COOKING IS MORE THAN TURNING ON THE STOVE – IT’S PLEASING PEOPLE!

As often as we put things off, in life, it’s a shame that we don’t care more about the ‘now’, the ‘todays’, the here-I-am and here-you-are, and what can we do for each other to make things as good as possible for [both of] us! I know! There are people who can’t be bothered with such nonsense. They have jobs to work and bills to pay, things to worry about and goals to achieve.

‘If you’re going to talk about cooking and foods… what are you going off on tangents for, talking about people and their feelings?’

This is a question I’ve been asked over and over by inquiring reporters, wanting to know why we’re successful at what we do, why people go to such trouble to locate us and order our books! I think they answer their own question. Don’t you?

After all, cooking is not for robots! The way we present our food to those who share our table with us takes into account more than plopping the pot roast onto a platter and announcing, ‘Supper’s ready!’ Is that where it ends? When a meal is presented, there are many considerations for the cook.

Besides the balance, nutritionally, there’s the effort to please those who will hopefully enjoy the food. And trying to please those you’re feeding is a direct appeal, a definite effort, to consider someone’s feelings, the feelings of enjoyment and consequently of approval – approval of the food and… the one who prepared it.

Every day, the homemaker, with a family to feed, meets the challenge of proving they can be proficient, both, in the selections of foods, [as well as] the preparation and presentation of it and the management and the management of the cost.

Cooking is more than turning on the stove and opening the refrigerator. It’s pleasing people! It’s caring about what they might like to eat. It’s doing your best to prepare and present the dishes so that mealtime is not just a daily routine – but an occasion.

The cookbook industry has offended us… as if the recipes were designed for mindless bodies – not for folks with feelings! Food fanatics continue to advise us on how to feed the body while we let the famished affections go hungry.

The critics’ smoking guns right now are aimed at curing physical maladies with food administered medicinally. Food, as medication, is used as both a preservative and a cure. But what heals the broken spirit – the sensitive, the distressed, the lonely, the shy and withdrawn?

It takes more than adequate fiber intake; minimum daily nutritional needs being filled to cure the body of ills created by stress and anguish. It takes loving, caring and being loved and cared about in return!

There was a time, not very long ago, when the average family’s busy lifestyle made it difficult to eat a single meal together, let alone three – with both parents working outside the home and the kid’s after school activities and weekend sports.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck and, unexpectedly, families were, more or less, confined together, 24/7 – for all the meals and everything else in between, as well! Our homes suddenly became our hubs, encompassing the office, school, gym, salon, cinema, eatery and so much more!

‘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!’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen on the front page of the 128th issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Sep-Oct 1987).]

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.10)

HAVING A GOOD ATTITUDE TOWARD COOKING

Having a good attitude toward cooking, is the most positive way to approach the experience. Some folks really LOVE to cook, and they consequently do it well. But many of them can only turn out a handful of dishes perfectly and, therefore, limit their cooking practices, as well as their opportunities to eat foods that are unfamiliar to them.

Cooking is one of those skills that improve with practice, as does anything we undertake. But most of us are so conditioned to living in a world of instants that if a dish requires more of us than to add water – or to defrost and heat – we’re at a total loss in the kitchen!

Our life styles are changing more and more each day. We’re living in the age of fast food, instant coffee, Minute Rice, … one-step floor cleaners, quick breads, split-second decisions, rapid transit travel and planes that go 700-MPH – so why shouldn’t cooking be hurried along as well?

When you don’t really like to cook, it’s hard to imagine that it does have a positive side to the experience. Gourmets live to cook, while the rest of us cook to live – and just as often, would prefer it if we didn’t have to cook at all. This attitude toward getting the whole thing over with as soon as we can, is a reflection of the pride we fail to take in our accomplished dishes. When you thrive on compliments for your culinary skills it’s different.

When you do not have a positive interest in good cooking practices, you, likewise, don’t expect your creations to warrant compliments. The best thing for you to do is start ‘small’ – working with only a few ingredients at a time, until you get the feeling of how certain foods go well together, what flavorings compliment them, the best way to present the food when you serve it, so that it looks even better than it will taste.

Long, complicated recipes that require numerous ingredients and pampering are not always as good as those dishes that require only a few ingredients and a short time to prepare. We have made the mistake of believing that ‘fast’ food is totally without merit, therefore cannot be wholesome, nutritious, nor worth the time and cost, but ‘fast’ can be good if it is properly prepared.

LAST THOUGHTS…

One more thing I love about fall is my “fall cleaning” ritual. Just like in the spring, I actually get a little giddy about flipping the mattress, rotating the seasonal clothes, and moving the living room furniture around – just some of the things I usually do in the fall (and spring) season. I know I’m strange – this is me – I’m okay with it!

This time of year also harvests more Americana nostalgia, decreased stress levels, and increased creativity. It’s time to put away the summer essentials and tidy up our homes to usher in the fall seasonal holidays. Furthermore, on average, Americans spend about six hours per week cleaning their homes.

The American Cleaning Institute estimates that over half of Americans dread cleaning the bathroom, while almost a quarter hate cleaning the kitchen, one-fifth dislike dusting and mopping, and about one-sixth loathe doing the laundry. Sorry, Mom – your most hated housekeeping task, making the bed, did not make it onto this list! Personally, dusting is my least favorite, mostly because it impacts my allergies more than anything else.

#NationalCornedBeefHashDay

In honor of TODAY, being National Corned Beef Hash Day; plus, this is still National Americana Month and Better Breakfast Month – here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Glorified Hash, which I thought, when I was growing up, was a lot like the Libby’s product but better. This recipe was among Mom’s “Original 200” recipe cards collection and appeared in her very first, self-published cookbook… The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Algonac, MI; 1973, p. 35).

COMING SOON…

OCTOBER IS NATIONAL BOOK MONTH & NATIONAL COOKBOOK MONTH!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Other celebrations for this week include:

Today is also… National Chocolate Milk Day!

Tomorrow, September 28th is… National Drink Beer Day, National Good Neighbor Day (which used to be on the 4th Sunday), National Strawberry Cream Pie Day, and National North Carolina Day! The fourth Tuesday in September is also… National Voter Registration Day!

September 29th is… National Coffee Day and VFW Day! The last Wednesday in September is also… National Women’s Health & Fitness Day

Thursday, September 30th is… National Love People Day, National Chewing Gum Day, National Mud Pack Day, and National Hot Mulled Cider Day

Friday starts the month of October, which observes, among other things (pictured below)…

October 1st is also…  National Homemade Cookies Day! Plus, as the first Friday in October, it’s… National Manufacturing Day, National Body Language Day, and World Smile Day, too! The week of October 1st is also… Active Aging Week!

October 2nd is… National Fried Scallops Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month, it’s also… National Play Outside Day!

Sunday, October 3rd is… National Techies Day and National Boyfriend Day! As the start of the first FULL week in October, it’s also… International Post Card Week and National Newspaper Week!

#TGIM

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

…39 down and 13 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan’s Mosaic Melting Pot

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

I’m so thankful that each of my parents’ parents migrated to this beautiful state that we’ve all called home for five generations, now. Similar to the rest of the North American continent, Michigan is a multicultural “melting pot”; accentuating the sum of its various heritages into one whole society of Michiganders.

However, nowadays, Michigan is considered to be more of a “mosaic” society; where different cultures live together, in harmony, as a community; respecting and celebrating each other’s customs, while retaining pride in their own heritages’ identities. Our individual heritages hold distinct, traditional senses of family and belonging. They identify with our history, values, customs, and culture; as they’re handed down from one generation to the next.

Many families usually describe their cultural heritage by the ethnic and social background from which they came. It indicates a “shared bond” of belonging to a community. Mom always described our family’s cultural heritage as we had a ‘Heinz 57’ ancestry, because we were a multicultural family.

Having a sense of community unites us all, because being part of a community makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. Being part of a community gives us opportunities to connect with other people and it makes us feel safer and more secure. It’s important for everyone to have a sense of belonging to a community.

There’s a great [PDF] read about multiculturalism, comparing the old “melting pot” theory to the new “mosaic” concept at MIRealtors.com.

Photo by Gloria Pitzer – Algonac, MI (May 1967)

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. 56)

SMALL-TOWN AMERICA – PEARL BEACH AREA HISTORY

At the time all of this was taking place, we were living on Pointe Tremble Road in Clay Township, better known as Algonac, although we were not actually within the city limits. The Township was one of those areas that people didn’t really have any community pride in it that time. Down the road from us, however, was a six-square-block area called Pearl Beach. This part of the North Channel area, on the outskirts of Algonac, had played a historical part in the colorful development of that part of Clay Township and of Michigan.

In the 1920s, rumrunners and bootleggers ran their booze by small boats from the shores of Pearl Beach to Harsens Island and then across to Canada. Down the road was the Chris-Craft plant where, during World War II, the PT boats were built. Chris Smith, who had founded the company, was quite a prominent member of the community.

The best part about Pearl Beach, however, is that it wasn’t a ‘legitimate city’. It was just an ‘area’, but Paul always promoted it as being the best place in the world to live, because it had no city politicians to contend with, no shopping center, no school system of its own and didn’t even have a police or fire department because they had never really needed one. Clay Township provided services of that nature to Pearl Beach.

One thing it DID have, though, that proved to be to our liking and benefit professionally… It did have a post office! The postmaster [at that time], Newt Aspenliter, even lived right next door to the post office. So, in keeping with the uniqueness of what I wanted to offer, I thought that coming from Pearl Beach would have more appeal to the public than anywhere else would.

1969 – Cheryl (Loli), Mom, me & Debi – Algonac, MI

#ItalianAmericanHeritageMonth

Among other things, the month of October observes celebrations for three of the largest heritages in America’s (and Michigan’s) “melting pot” – that of the Italian, German, & Polish cultures. According to Michigan’s Diverse Ethnic Heritage this state is also home to large communities of all three of these heritages, plus many others! The auto industry in Michigan attracted a variety of immigrants, coming to live the “American dream”.

‘The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.’ Investopedia.com

According to the 1990 U.S. Census and HardCoreItalians.blog, Detroit was home to the 7th largest population of Italian-Americans in the United States. As I mentioned earlier this month, Italian-American cuisine was always one of Mom’s favorite food areas to investigate – places like Olive Garden and Pizza Hut (for example) gave her many dishes from which to taste, test, and imitate.

Earlier this month, I also wrote about Michigan’s city of Frankenmuth, having the largest German-Heritage community in the state. It was always a favorite road trip of Mom and Dad’s, as well as for me and my husband, still.

#GermanAmericanHeritageMonth

#PolishAmericanHeritageMonth

Among other things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) is that it’s National Polish-American Heritage Month! This is another fabulous source of some really great food like bagels, paczki (filled donuts that have their own special day), rosol (chicken broth), golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls), pierogi (dumplings), bigos (hunter’s stew), potatoes and kielbasa (Polish sausage).

FYI: the Polish word ‘pierogi’ is already in plural form (for ‘pierog’).

Did you know that President Regan passed Resolution 577 in 1984, formally naming August as National Polish-American Heritage Month? A couple of years later, the commemorative month was changed to October so schools could participate in the celebratory events during the school year. October was also significant in the change, as it was the same month in which the first Polish settlers came to Jamestown, VA (in 1608).

According to Wikipedia.com, Polish-Americans are the second-largest Central European immigrant group in the U.S., following the Germans. Additionally, per the 2000 U.S. Census, Michigan was then home to the third largest Polish population in the States. New York was first and Illinois was the second largest.

However, per capita, Michigan actually had the largest Polish population; while its neighboring state, Wisconsin, had the second largest Polish population, per capita. The majority of Michigan’s Polish-American community is concentrated in Metro-Detroit’s tri-county area – namely Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. The city of Troy (in Oakland County) became the epicenter of the Polish population, in Michigan, after their migration from the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck.

The Polish community is the second largest ethnic group in Michigan and have been a significant part of the history of Detroit and the state of Michigan. The Detroit area’s large Polish community was, for many years, concentrated in Poletown and Hamtramck, two suburbs of Detroit. These Polish communities became vital centers of immigrant social life, with small businesses and professional organizations.

Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers. It became a predominantly Polish industrial town in 1914, when the Dodge Brothers automotive plant first opened. The Dodge plant offered significant employment opportunities for the surrounding community. By the 1970s, Hamtramck had grown to a 90% Polish-American population. The following recipe is from Mom’s “Original 200” collection – an imitation of Pineapple Bars like she used to get at one of the great Hamtramck bakeries.

#NationalCookbookMonth

NOTE: Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!

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

#PolishCuisine

Paczki Day (pronounced ‘poonch-kee’) – also known as Fat Tuesday – is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. [By the way, like pierogi, paczki is already in its plural form.] The traditional reason for making paczki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by the household’s Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.

The Polish bakeries in Detroit’s tri-county area (and further, yet) are swarmed every year, as Michiganders seek out their annual dose of the high-calorie-and-fat paczki (donuts) in commemoration of this day, whether they’re Polish or not – or celebrate Lent or not.

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 – A QUESTION of VALUES

Toss a stone into the midst of a still, glassy pond. See the ripples begin to spiral around until the entire surface of the pond is but a series of rings, reaching toward every inch of the edge – without beginning, without end. Constructive behavior works the same way.

It touches individuals with inspired options, which in turn touches the community and even the world. Every little bit of good counts. It breaks down barriers. Like the rippling effect of the pond, one good intention carried out can increase in dimension to eventually encompass the broadest surface.

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!

IN CLOSING…

Today is National Pumpkin Day – in honor of that, here are two more of Mom’s “secret” recipes for Pumpkin Bread and Vanilla Glaze! As seen in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition; p. 158).

#NationalPumpkinDay

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

Today is my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on her “Good Neighbor” show at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and a few of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/ so you can listen to it at your leisure!

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…43 down, 9 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Significance Of The Pretzel

Happy Monday, everyone, 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!

#NationalPretzelMonth

Still happening during this month of October is National Pretzel Month… Not to be confused with April’s National SOFT Pretzel Month, as October encompasses ALL pretzel styles and types.

Pretzels come in a multitude of ways – soft, hard, knotted, twisted, and straight, just to name some of the most common styles. For best flavor, soft pretzels should be eaten shortly after they’re made, while hard-baked pretzels have a long shelf-life.

Additionally, pretzel dough, itself, has captured the imagination of bakers, over the centuries; as it can be found in many different flavors, shapes and other forms – like bread, rolls and buns. Pretzels have had a long history and large influence on the American food industry. Supposedly, the pretzel is the oldest known snack food in America.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 264)

DRINKS AND SNACKS have given an unlikely edge to a suffering food industry that was never anticipated as being possibly successful. Potato chips, pretzels, dips and appetizers have been more than well-received by a public that the industry was once certain had tried everything they could have been offered and will probably not buy another new idea! How wrong!

Whenever a new snack item or beverage has been introduced to the public, it has been received with enthusiasm, until proven unworthy of patronage, because we have become an on-the-run generation of picky eaters.

Some just don’t want to get involved any longer with a big meal experience. Some don’t want to take the time to make the foods and then, serve them and, finally, clean up afterward. We look for snacks and beverages to serve our guests and to enjoy individually in our most private and leisurely moments.

FROM THE OFFERINGS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY have come some relatively good ideas, such as the baked potato chip product. Pretzels have gone from the 200-year-old tradition of hard and dry-baked to a soft, bread-like product, liberally sprinkled in salt and topped with prepared mustard and, as a fast food enterprise, has been one of the leading money-makers in the industry.

Historically, food has usually been a comfort source for most people, especially in a common response to stress and anxiety. Science has shown, time and again, that emotions and food are linked together. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” will often make you feel better, at least temporarily.

Pretzels are considered to be “comfort foods”, as these types of foods provide a nostalgic or sentimental value but have very little nutritional value, if any at all.

According to an article at Delish.com, pretzels “had inherent religious associations [regarding the legend that it was first invented by Italian Monks in 610 A.D.], but they also came to be associated with Lent because they didn’t use eggs or dairy products, which were traditionally prohibited during the period of fasting and restriction.”

#GermanAmericanHeritageMonth

When German immigrants began settling in Pennsylvania, around 1710, they brought their pretzels and recipes with them. German home-bakers who lacked eggs or lard could still bake this relatively filling, concentrated “bread” with only three easy ingredients – flour, water, and salt.

According to an article I read at History.com, on the pretzel’s history, here, in America: “In 1861, Julius Sturgis founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.” Continuing on, the article also said: “Sturgis also claimed credit for developing the first hard pretzels – or at least, for being the first to intentionally bake hard pretzels (rather than leave the soft ones in the oven too long by accident).”

There is another great article, also explaining some of the history and significance of the pretzel, by Carole Christman Koch at BerksMontNews.com. She claims, in her article, that “Pennsylvania is the center of pretzel production in the U.S., making 80 percent of the nation’s supply.”

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Michigan has a quite large population of German-Americans in Frankenmuth, where the German heritage emanates from all of the breweries, restaurants, bakeries, fudge/candy shops, cheese houses, and even the little souvenir stores. Frankenmuth’s Bavarian style pretzels are a classic Octoberfest snack, which are baked fresh, daily!

Mom was always a big fan of pretzels (in any form or fashion), as well as recipes with only a few ingredients! She was a firm believer that “three, four and five ingredient recipes that are totally reliable, are sufficient to satisfy even the most reluctant cook” – as she wrote in many of her editorials on “short-cut cookery”.

Additionally, Mom wrote that the short recipes, with which she enjoyed working, while quite basic, had endless options “for expanding each into fancier dishes or…different flavorings than [for which] the original [recipe] calls.” Below is Mom’s own 4-ingredient recipe for Soft Pretzels, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 274).

#NationalCookbookMonth

Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!

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

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in, the introduction of…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p. 2-3)

THE RELUCTANT COOK

DEAR FRIEND, the cook who meets every culinary challenge with confidence is one to be admired. They set an example to follow – impossible as that may be! For those of us who react to most recipes with reluctance, however, cooking [and baking] is an experience we muddle through, without mastering any of the myriad facets of fancy fare!

We want reliable recipes – rather than cookbook complications! We want successful results, without ridiculous rules! We want simple procedures, without pitfalls, when we put our prescriptions into practice!…

The problem with most recipes is the awesome number of ingredients required. You [may] wonder, looking at a bowl of batter, ‘Did [I] put in four cups of flour – or did the phone ring just then and it was only three?’ Did you remember the salt and, if you didn’t, was it that important that you left it out – because somebody interrupted you at that point and your last memory of adding an ingredient was erased by the interruption!

Of course, the confident cook never worries about things like that. They forge ahead brilliantly, creating cuisine that would make you and I faint at the mere thought of trying it. And even when you and I DO finally achieve a success, we’re not sure it’s supposed to turn out that way – that easily – because our record of near-misses, far out-weigh our scores of success!

THE RELUCTANT COOK isn’t looking for absolute perfection! We want only to create the illusion that we can cope with culinary accomplishments, riding the surfboard of certainty over the sea of success!

A RECIPE IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE COOK WHO PREPARES IT!

No matter how wonderful a recipe is rated to be, no two people are going to have identical results with the same formula. This is enough to throw any reluctant cook into a tither – anticipating failure before you even pick up a spatula or get out the mixing bowls!

However, this fact should not come as a surprise to the experienced cook. Even experience in the kitchen has not been enough to relieve you of ALL reluctance! …No two dishes ever come out exactly alike… This is the option each cook has to take with every recipe. You always put a little more into the making of a dish than the recipe requires.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Joy Of Not Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 109)

LIKE AN EXPERT

SOME COOKS WHO FIND JOY IN N-O-T COOKING – Anymore Than You Have To, don’t mind at all baking their own bread, biscuits, rolls, muffins and cakes. It’s a strange thing that baking is a kind of therapy for the same cooks who don’t like to pamper a roux, stir a sauce nor baste a roast.

Bread-baking gives one a sense of real accomplishment in the kitchen, especially when you can’t do other things well in the realm of creative cuisine. It’s hard to muff a muffin batter when you don’t even have to get out your electric mixer to put it together.

It’s gratifying to dig your knuckles into a pillow of yeast dough and work off your frustrations by kneading the dough into elasticity, suitable for yielding one heck-of-a good loaf of bread.

Among other food-related things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) are the following 10 “foodie” occasions, from one of my favorite sources – NationalDayCalendar.com:

National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, National Pork Month, National Sausage Month – as well as National Polish-American Heritage Month (another fabulous source of some really great “comfort foods” that I’ll write about next week)!

#PolishAmericanHeritageMonth

#PolishCuisine

‘I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war’s fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy and ever-increasing enjoyment.’– M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf (1942).

IN CLOSING…

#BrandiedFruitDay

In honor of tomorrow, being National Brandied Fruit Day, here is Mom’s “secret” recipe for Brandied Fruit… As seen in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes Al’ A Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 9).

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

#PumpkinCheesecakeDay

Since Wednesday is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, here is a special repeat of Mom’s Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie! Enjoy!

Next Monday, will be my regular monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show; with host, Kathy Keene, at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and one or two of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/ so you can listen to it at your leisure!

#WHBY

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…42 down, 10 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Eating Better, Farm To Table

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

#NationalFarmersDay

The “farm-to-table” process means that fresh, locally sourced food is sold to local consumers and restaurants. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutrients within 24 hours of being picked, so fresher produce is more nutritious and local is the freshest. For some really great suggestions on how to support your area’s local farmers, be sure to read 7 Ways to Support Local Farmers at RealMomNutrition.com.

#EatBetterEatTogetherMonth

Along with National Farmers Day in the foodie world, October is also, among other things, Eat Better Eat Together Month! The consensus is that eating together, as a family, creates stronger bonds. Additionally, eating together supposedly helps to create more balanced and healthy food choices, as well.

Aside from the eating-together thing, I think that the one who plans the menu, as well as buying and preparing the food, is the one responsible for the healthy/unhealthy food choices at mealtime – whether it’s for one or two or a whole clan. It’s a great idea to celebrate eating right and having solid, old-fashioned, close-knit, family meals. But is there really any merit that eating together creates better eating habits and tighter family bonds?

Personally, I’ve found the opposite to be true! When my siblings and I were growing up, at home, we always ate dinner together, as a family; just like in the picture, below. Now, since Mom and Dad are both gone, we rarely ever talk to each other, let alone see each other.

On the other hand, my own children are closer than me and my siblings; but, other than holidays and birthdays, they only had family-sit-down-together-meals for about the first half of their childhoods. If I wasn’t working an afternoon shift somewhere, we were usually on the go, doing soccer or social activities.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s – Algonac, MI (1973)

When I was growing up, family-style meals weren’t just a few times a year, like on holidays and birthdays. Mom tried to make every meal a special occasion! Like typical families, we’d fill our plates and talk about our days, while we passed the serving dishes around.

We weren’t the Walton’s family or the Brady Bunch, by any means! ! We ate together because that’s when the meal was served. It wasn’t a restaurant that you could drop in on at any time and place an order for whatever you like… You ate what was made and when it was served or went hungry until the next meal.

But I can’t remember any of us willing to miss one of Mom’s meals. She would jokingly say otherwise, in her editorials; but even before Mom became famous as the Secret RecipesTM DetectiveTM, she was always a great cook! In addition, Mom CHOSE to make well-rounded meals that covered all the basic food groups, including dessert! That’s how she grew up and what she was taught by her mom.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.6)

COOKING IS MORE THAN TURNING ON THE STOVE – IT’S PLEASING PEOPLE!

As often as we put things off, in life, it’s a shame that we don’t care more about the ‘now’, the ‘todays’, the here-I-am and here-you-are, and what can we do for each other to make things as good as possible for [both of] us! I know! There are people who can’t be bothered with such nonsense. They have jobs to work and bills to pay, things to worry about and goals to achieve.

‘If you’re going to talk about cooking and foods… what are you going off on tangents for, talking about people and their feelings?’

This is a question I’ve been asked over and over by inquiring reporters, wanting to know why we’re successful at what we do, why people go to such trouble to locate us and order our books! I think they answer their own question. Don’t you?

After all, cooking is not for robots! The way we present our food to those who share our table with us takes into account more than plopping the pot roast onto a platter and announcing, ‘Supper’s ready!’ Is that where it ends? When a meal is presented, there are many considerations for the cook.

Besides the balance, nutritionally, there’s the effort to please those who will hopefully enjoy the food. And trying to please those you’re feeding is a direct appeal, a definite effort, to consider someone’s feelings, the feelings of enjoyment and consequently of approval – approval of the food and… the one who prepared it.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Every day, the homemaker, with a family to feed, meets the challenge of proving they can be proficient, both, in the selections of foods, [as well as] the preparation and presentation of it and the management and the management of the cost.

Cooking is more than turning on the stove and opening the refrigerator. It’s pleasing people! It’s caring about what they might like to eat. It’s doing your best to prepare and present the dishes so that mealtime is not just a daily routine – but an occasion.

The cookbook industry has offended us… as if the recipes were designed for mindless bodies – not for folks with feelings! Food fanatics continue to advise us on how to feed the body while we let the famished affections go hungry.

The critics’ smoking guns right now are aimed at curing physical maladies with food administered medicinally. Food, as medication, is used as both a preservative and a cure. But what heals the broken spirit – the sensitive, the distressed, the lonely, the shy and withdrawn?

It takes more than adequate fiber intake; minimum daily nutritional needs being filled to cure the body of ills created by stress and anguish. It takes loving, caring and being loved and cared about in return!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

There was a time, not very long ago, when the average family’s busy lifestyle usually made it difficult to eat a meal together, let alone a healthy one. The so-called experts advised challenged families that, to strengthen the family unit, they should make it a goal to eat at least one meal a day, together, as a group.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck! Suddenly, families were, more or less, confined together 24/7 – for all the meals and everything else in between too! Home suddenly became a hub for the office, school, gym, salon, cinema, eatery and so much more!

Peace of mind comes from being able to successfully deal with stress, which is more important than being able to escape from it – whether that escape is through food or some other source of comfort!

‘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!’ – Gloria Pitzer [as seen on the front page of the 128th issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Sep-Oct 1987)].

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.10)

HAVING A GOOD ATTITUDE TOWARD COOKING

Having a good attitude toward cooking, is the most positive way to approach the experience. Some folks really LOVE to cook, and they consequently do it well. But many of them can only turn out a handful of dishes perfectly and, therefore, limit their cooking practices, as well as their opportunities to eat foods that are unfamiliar to them.

Cooking is one of those skills that improve with practice, as does anything we undertake. But most of us are so conditioned to living in a world of instants that if a dish requires more of us than to add water – or to defrost and heat – we’re at a total loss in the kitchen!

Our life styles are changing more and more each day. We’re living in the age of fast food, instant coffee, Minute Rice, … one-step floor cleaners, quick breads, split-second decisions, rapid transit travel and planes that go 700-MPH – so why shouldn’t cooking be hurried along as well?

When you don’t really like to cook, it’s hard to imagine that it does have a positive side to the experience. Gourmets live to cook, while the rest of us cook to live – and just as often, would prefer it if we didn’t have to cook at all. This attitude toward getting the whole thing over with as soon as we can, is a reflection of the pride we fail to take in our accomplished dishes. When you thrive on compliments for your culinary skills it’s different.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

When you do not have a positive interest in good cooking practices, you, likewise, don’t expect your creations to warrant compliments. The best thing for you to do is start ‘small’ – working with only a few ingredients at a time, until you get the feeling of how certain foods go well together, what flavorings compliment them, the best way to present the food when you serve it, so that it looks even better than it will taste.

Long, complicated recipes that require numerous ingredients and pampering are not always as good as those dishes that require only a few ingredients and a short time to prepare. We have made the mistake of believing that ‘fast’ food is totally without merit, therefore cannot be wholesome, nutritious, nor worth the time and cost, but ‘fast’ can be good if it is properly prepared.

If true happiness is acquired through persistence and patience, it would be like the fable of the elderly Chinese profit who asked for a needle when none could be found. However, somebody offered him a crowbar and a file. He was pleased and assured his friends that it was only a matter of time before he could produce the needle he wanted. – Gloria Pitzer [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018; p. 304) 

#NationalCookbookMonth 

Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!

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

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

#TacklingHungerMonth

Along with October being national Eat Better, Eat Together Month, it’s also Tackling Hunger Month.  In connection with those two month-long celebrations, the 2nd week of October is observed as National Food Bank Week.  Thus, I want to make a local shout out, here, to one of the Detroit area’s food banks, Gleaners!

#NationalFoodBankWeek

I hear about this group all the time on our local news. They do such great things in so many communities! I heard about their wonderful program, Cooking Matters,  which is “a groundbreaking nutrition-education program that connects low-income individuals and families with food by teaching them how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget.” By the way, National Food Day is coming up on the 24th!

#NationalFoodDay

Part of what started Mom’s career as the Recipe DetectiveTM for Secret RecipesTM, was her keen ideas on how to make our family’s food budget stretch during the 1970s’ food crisis Mom started sharing some of her discoveries in the columns she syndicated. It had a snowball effect when she started imitating famous food products and dishes, at home – in her own kitchen, with what she had on hand in her pantry – because our family of seven couldn’t always afford those kind of eating-out treats…that’s how Mom developed her “Copycat Cookery” and “Eating Out at Home” concepts! More on those next week…

#CelebrateEveryDay 

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

…41 down, 11 to go!

Happy #NationalCookbookMonth !

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Comfort In Food

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

#PureMichigan

While spring has sprung on the other side of the world, from us; here, in North America, October is welcoming fall in like no other month! Fall is probably my favorite time of year. The crisp cool nights and slightly-warm, sunny days are another reason to love these autumn months, along with the entertaining celebrations of the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays (my birthday falls in there, as well – lol!)

The trees are ablaze like the top of a rainbow, with various shades of yellow, orange and red. To represent the bottom of the rainbow, splashes of evergreen make these colors pop even more! And, if you’re near any one of Michigan’s gorgeous shorelines (especially when the sun is shining), there is a beautiful, azure blue that never ceases to amaze me. Even purple is represented and speckled throughout, by the many fall flowers that are in bloom! The beautiful color-changes of the Pure Michigan landscape is unbeaten in my book!

Michigan’s Lake Huron-Thumb Area Shoreline, along the M-25 state highway. Photo taken by Laura Emerich, October 2013.

There is something about autumn that makes many people yearn even more for their favorite high-calorie, high-carb, comfort foods. I surveyed some friends over the last few weeks, asking what their favorite comfort foods were; and here are the top 6 answers I received: (1) pizza, (2) potatoes, (3) chili, (4) macaroni and cheese, (5) fried chicken, and (6) chocolate brownies.

By the way, this week, the first week of October, celebrates National Chili Week, among other things. Thus I’d like to re-share, here, with you, Mom’s famous imitation for chili like the famous fast food chain, Wendy’s.

#NationalChiliWeek

#DoSomethingNiceDay

In fact, it is also National Do Something Nice Day! Therefore, I’ll re-share some more of Mom’s related, comfort food recipes throughout this blog post for the other 5 comfort foods listed above.

Comfort foods seem to have a nostalgic, sentimental value that soothes the soul, giving us comfort and peace in times of uncertainty, stress and anxiety. Different people have different go-to favorites. Mine is probably potatoes – baked, mashed, fried, boiled – any style! What is yours?

These cheesy potatoes (pictured below) were another family favorite of ours. It’s an imitation of one of Bill Knapp’s offerings from the 1970s – another one of Mom’s “Original 200” recipes collection.

#NationalCookbookMonth

These cooler days make it more inviting to turn on the oven and do some baking! Whether it’s homemade bread, cookies, pies, brownies, or something else; fresh baked goods are starting to fill our homes with pleasant aromas. The fall season adds scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and cloves to almost everything. Moreover, the fall month of October incites us to break out our cozy, warm sweaters, while making some belly-and-soul-satisfying, comfort foods.

#NationalDessertMonth

#BakeAndDecorateMonth

#NationalComfortFoodDay

December 5th will actually be the “official” celebration for National Comfort Food Day! Thus, you may be thinking: “But that’s two months away!” However, fall has arrived NOW and, as the days are getting shorter and colder – who isn’t already having warm thoughts about their favorite comfort foods? We don’t have to wait until December!

I’ve made Mom’s imitation for dime-store-style mac-and-cheese, like Woolworth once served, several times since fall began.  I recently shared this recipe for another really big, family favorite, comfort food in our household!

There’s a great article and slide show I’d like to recommend you see, called “America’s Best Comfort Foods”, by Emma Sloley (Nov. 28, 2016), at TravelAndLeisure.com. But I must warn you that it’s practically impossible to read/watch it without getting hungry!

#GermanAmericanHeritageMonth

#GermanAmericanDay

The whole month of October is also celebrating National German-American Heritage Month, among other things. In fact, tomorrow, specifically, (October 6th) is National German-American Day. A lot of great comfort foods come from our German-American ancestors! That’s probably why Frankenmuth, MI is a favorite road trip of mine and my husband, as it was for Mom and Dad, too.

#seefrankenmuth

Frankenmuth, Michigan is a city that has been world-famous, for many decades, for their family-style, sit-down, fried chicken dinners with all the side-fixings! Talk about comfort foods – they serve them all and then some! Since fried chicken was mentioned among the top favorite comfort foods (above), here is a re-share of Mom’s imitation for Frankenmuth’s homestyle, fried chicken “like Grandma used to make!”

This wonderful little town is not too far from us for a day trip. It’s located near Saginaw, MI; from where one of Mom’s favorite, regular radio shows still airs – “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio. Tourists flock to this little German-heritage town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get the world-famous chicken dinners offered at either one of the two largest establishments in town – the Bavarian Inn and Zender’s.

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

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

October is also National Italian-American Heritage Month – another source for great comfort foods like pizza and pasta. Likewise, it is also National Pasta Month & National Pizza Month! Below is Mom’s imitation of for pizza like Little Caesar, served decades ago, in the Detroit area – as this was also among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes.

#NationalPizzaMonth

‘Food is more than a physical substance. It has an intangible quality that nourishes our spirits. A good dish, lovingly prepared, at some point in the process of tasting and blending, becomes more than the sum of its ingredients.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out at Home Cookbook (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 1)

#NationalKitchen&BathMonth 

This year, more than ever, most of us are dealing with an overload of stress and anxiety. Food tends to be one of the few things that comfort us in trying times. That’s probably why the kitchen is, more often than not, considered one the favorite rooms in the house – the heart of the home, even.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (05/07/1990)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 66)

COME INTO THE KITCHEN

FAMILY RESTAURANTS and homestyle meals are returning to popularity. During the war-protesting days of Vietnam, the right to ‘be different’, the right to protest, to be individual made anything even slightly related to ‘family’ and ‘home’ forbidden or corny. People became impersonal to each other…

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. The family and home have been reinstated…even in our restaurant industry. Today it is changing back to the personal, the warm, the family. The restaurant industry, in its urgent bid for the public’s loyal attention, is trying to make their dining experiences like your home away from home. Hospitality is becoming their badge of honor!

The kitchen… is the best place to be when we’re home! You’ll notice that current home designers are getting away from the formal dining room area… Homes are becoming more functional in design, as well. In our continuing efforts to economize, to restrict energy sources and to bring the family back to the warm, bright, openness of a country kitchen, we have rediscovered the personal advantages of the best room in the house…

The classic country kitchen is coming back, where there is one large working space close to the appliance area and also open to the informal, large, eating area… It was a warm and workable kitchen that reflected a family as a unit… Every inch of it said: ‘Welcome!’ If you were a stranger when you entered, you were a friend before you left.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 67)

WHAT MAKES A HOUSE A HOME

THE KITCHEN IS THE HEART of our home! It is inelegant to the last detail. But no workable, useable kitchen, one that truly produces the hearty fare to feed the famished affections of a family, should be more than that. Ours is ample.

Only the fantasy fabrications of glossy paged magazines have kitchens that gleam, where cupboards shine, sinks are spotless, refrigerators are free of family condiments, accumulations, papers, notes and such. I personally enjoy my kitchen in our St. Clair home…

And you know what? It was designed by a woman. The builder’s wife designed this home for a big family! I never met her. She died of cancer about the time we bought the house, but I think of her fondly, often, as I enjoy what she planned [seemingly] for us, without ever having met us.

…I realize that I will probably offend the liberationists who work so hard to get the woman OUT of the kitchen, I must applaud those of us who still, by our own choice and out of love, wish to enjoy their homes, families and especially their kitchens!

As sexist as this may sound – for me, my mom, both of my grandmas and most of my aunts; cooking (whether it was for our families or friends or both) is something we enjoy doing for others. It’s one of the best ways we can say, without any words, “I love you” or “welcome” to those with whom we share our tables.

#NationalDoSomethingNiceDay

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. 40)

CARING & GOING FORWARD

We cannot lose sight of our need to care about each other, to strengthen our values and live by that yardstick. Then wringing our hands with worry when the world seems to be in a state of chaos won’t send us running for synthetic comforts, escapes and restitutions that spell out getting even, rather than going forward. And it was the going forward that I worked on so much in those early days, none of which had to do with ‘getting the money’ or having the fame, the glitter and tinsel that goes with recognition.

All I could strive for then, and still do now, is the consistency of purpose, the honesty in presentation and freshness of the ideas – whether in the form of a recipe to imitate a famous food, or as an uplifting article on how to better understand your real selfhood and your relationship to others.

#NationalCookbookMonth

October is also National Cookbook Month!

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

#AppleBettyDay

#NationalAppleMonth

In honor of today, also being National Apple Betty Day and this being National Apple Month, here is Mom’s recipe for imitating an Apple Betty dessert like Stouffer’s Restaurant used to offer many decades ago.

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 1)

As Mom always liked to say, “Happy sleuthing in the kitchen!” Furthermore, may the table you set, always pale in comparison to the example you set!

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

#NationalNewspaperWeek

This week, the first week of October, is also known as National Newspaper Week! I mention that, in relation to food, because newspapers were the cornerstone on which Mom first began to build what eventually became her Secret RecipesTM legacy.

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…40 down, 12 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Great Recipes Need to be Shared!

Happy Monday and, of course, happy National Chocolate Day!

#NationalChocolateDay

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, today is National Chocolate Day and was created by the National Confectioners Association. There are other chocolate celebrations throughout the year – just five weeks ago, I discussed the celebration of National White Chocolate Day.

As I mentioned in that blog entry, “Let us Celebrate Chocolate” (Sep. 23, 2019), Mom LOVED chocolate! And who doesn’t? I love chocolate, myself; but, it doesn’t bode well with my limited, daily, carbohydrate allowance. However, like Mom, I investigated ways I could imitate one of my favorite chocolate treats, no-bake cookies, with limited amounts of carbs.

I remember when I was just a little kid, maybe 4 or 5 years old, I liked to call them “mud puddle cookies”! Now, I can enjoy these treats once again – in moderation, of course, at 3 grams of carbs per 1/8-cup-sized cookie. I call my recipe “Heavenly Low-Carb No-Bakes” and I’ll share it with you at the end of this blog; as this website is sub-titled and as Mom liked to say, “Because great recipes need to be shared!”

One name in chocolate that Michiganders know well is Sanders Candy. The official Sanders story can be found at https://www.sanderscandy.com/about-us. When Mom developed her copycat version of Sanders’ Hot Fudge Sauce, one of her original 200 copycat recipes (from the 1970s) that launched her career as the Recipe DetectiveTM, a secret she discovered was that Nestle brand milk chocolate was the key ingredient in replicating it’s creaminess and flavor, as no other brand brought the same flavor and texture that she was trying to achieve. I’ve shared a couple of her Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce imitations in the “Recipes” tab on this website. It was always one of our family’s top 10 favorites of Mom’s copycat creations!

Sanders Candy logo

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 192)

ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS BAKERIES of our time is, of course, the Fred Sanders’ Company. What they’ve created for Detroiters, in the decades of their thriving popularity, have made lasting-memories. Each time I visit with a radio station, anywhere around the country, a displaced Detroiter will certainly always request a recipe that would be for one of the Sanders’ products that they can’t find in their new area. It is, indeed, a complement to a company that they’ve remained a popular favorite over many years.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 252-254)

When memories visit you, years from now, you will probably recall among the famous ice cream places were Dairy Queen, Baskin-Robbins, Howard Johnson’s, Sanders and Friendly’s restaurants – as well as the famous specialties like Sander’s hot fudge topping, Eskimo pies, Spumoni (with chunks of cherries, almonds and pistachios included) – [plus], creamy, thick malts and milk shakes. These will remain favorites of an adoring public of loyal fans, despite the critics and experts who would have us replace all these with bean sprouts, alfalfa and carob products…

SANDERS’ HOT FUDGE [SAUCE] was one of the nicest experiences I had in working with imitations of the famous recipes, for John (Jack) Sanders, the grandson and president of the company founded by his grandfather, Fred, was one of the sponsors of Warren Pierce’s [Detroit area] radio show. Imagine my reluctance to share, with his listeners, my version of Sander’s hot fudge.

I had previously had so many threatening letters from food company lawyers that I didn’t know what to expect if I heard from the Sanders people! To my amazement, the letter we anticipated did arrive only 2 days after I gave my version of their hot fudge [sauce] to Warren’s listeners. The letter, however, said – if it wouldn’t ruin my fun in trying to duplicate these famous dishes, would Paul and I and all the kids kindly accept an invitation from Jack Sanders to tour their Oakman Boulevard Bakery and Confection plant and meet their Head Chef, Edy Mader.

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 256)

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, between my Secret Recipes and Fred Sanders’ products and, I learned, encouraged many out-of-state orders for their products whenever I talked about them during my frequent radio visits around the country.

‘When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big, big treat…’ – historical slogan for Sanders’ restaurant, bakery and candy company

Another delicious, chocolate creation from Mom’s original 200 recipes (again, from the 1970s), which started her Recipe DetectiveTM career, was that for an imitation of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Mom called her copycat version “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”. As I’ve mentioned before, some food companies, like Sanders, were honored by Mom’s efforts of flattery through imitating their products; while most others threatened her with lawsuits!

The Hershey corporation happened to be a slight mixture of both, threatening and flattered. At first, Hershey’s attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe title, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups” because it too closely resembled their trademark name, “Reese’s”, as to cause confusion between the products; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate. But, instead, Mom explained to them the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat); she also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s brand chocolate in the recipe. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and her offer.

I’ve previously shared Mom’s copycat versions of these yummy chocolate delights (mentioned above) in my blogs and you can also find them in the “Recipes” tab on this website. When it comes to chocolate treats like Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce and Recess Peanut Butter Cups, both were always among our family’s top 10 favorites of Mom’s original copycat creations – and they were also top favorites among Mom’s many fans and followers! So, here they are for you again (see below)!

SO, IN CLOSING…

P.S. MORE ON…

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

Almost 32 weeks ago, on the first day of spring, I adopted a low-carb lifestyle based on the “Atkins Diet”. Having hypoglycemia and being at least 55 pounds overweight, I felt 20 years older than I should have felt. I had a lot of joint pain, sciatica and arthritis problems. Thus, I decided to make a life-style change, like I did when I quit smoking cigarettes over 13 years ago. I chose to commit to living without most carbs – like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and sugar – you know, all the good stuff!

I looked at the Keto diet, but it was too high in fat for me, as I don’t have a gall bladder anymore to filter such things. Those types of carbs that I mentioned above messed with my blood sugar levels, even when I switched to whole grains (though not as much then). In addition, because of my metabolism, it messed with my weight and overall health, as well! I realized that I was only cheating myself whenever I made bad choices on what I ate for meals and snacks. So, I came to terms with the release of most carbs in my life in the same way as I released tobacco from my life-style.

I had to mentally accept that this is a permanent change for me – not just until I reach my goal because, if I go back to my old life-style, then I also go back to my obese weight. I’m done with that! Now, I just continue to make wiser choices regarding what I consume; as well as how much because even if something is “carb-free”, it’s not necessarily free of calories or other content. I find that “everything in moderation” is the best rule by which to live. Below are some comparative pictures of me from last year and today.

After starting out at a 20-gram-carb-limit per day, for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit to 25 grams a day and have kept it there, for the most part, ever since. So far, for me, that seems to be the magic number at which I feel my best and not regain any of the weight that I’ve lost. However, I know, with a regular exercise routine, I would be even healthier; but, I have yet to make the mental commitment to it. I need to go through the same mental process for exercising that I did for the other healthier life-changes I’ve made – I need to mentally see it as a priority in my life. But, honestly, for now, it is just another goal for which I need to commit and set my “start date” to just do it!

I miss Sanders chocolate, on this low-carb lifestyle. By the way, sugar-free chocolate is not the same as real chocolate! Though, while I miss chocolate (and other carbs), I don’t miss the 50 pounds that I’ve lost so far! I also don’t miss the back pains and joint pains in my hips, knees and feet – all the parts that had to carry all of my extra weight.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, I created a low-carb, no-bake cookie that I can enjoy as much as I did my favorite high-carb version that was, my friend, Karen’s recipe. I don’t know from where Karen originally got her recipe, but they were sinfully good! Unfortunately, my friend Karen passed away from cancer over four years ago. I miss her dearly and I cherish the wonderful, sweet recipes that she shared with me before she left this earth. But, now, I have to revise them to fit my new low-carb life-style.

Karen Leverich Ladd (1964-2015)

My next challenge is Karen’s recipe for homemade Peanut Brittle. Again, I don’t know if she developed it herself or got it from another source, but it’s another incredible recipe that I want to enjoy again, especially during the coming holidays! First, I need to come up with a low carb version of corn syrup. That’s where my mom’s talents come in handy, as she has a lot of recipes that she developed for imitating grocery products at home, including a homemade version of Karo’s light syrup product. I will have to experiment with it to create a sugar-free/low-carb version that will be able to be substituted for the real thing and still create the same or similar result in the final product.

For the time being, I was determined to make a copycat version of Karen’s no-bake cookies that was low enough in carbs for me to enjoy again – in moderation, of course. I call my version (below) “Heavenly Low-Carb No-Bakes”…and, as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it…

Heavenly Low-Carb No-Bakes by Laura (Pitzer) Emerich

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

October is still, among other things, National Book Month & National Reading Group Month & National Cookbook Month!

#NationalBookMonth #NationalReadingGroupMonth #NationalCookbookMonth

‘A cookbook should be as exciting as a good mystery!’ – Gloria Pitzer

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