Mondays & Memories of My Mom – An Ounce Of Gratitude

Happy Monday and happy “Thanksgiving Week” to everyone! As I mentioned last week, I’m always grateful for Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalGratitudeMonth

‘Gratitude turns what we have into enough.’ – Aesop

Just as “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – an ounce of gratitude is worth a pound of good cheer! Like the ripples from a pebble tossed into the water, a simple “thanks” and a smile can go a long way. It’s well-known that gratitude is associated with positive emotions and good experiences, which are both linked to happiness; and that, in turn, is connected to good health and well-being.

In other words, gratitude improves our physical and psychological health, as well as our self-esteem. Did you know that it can also enhance empathy and reduce aggression? Gratitude helps us deal with adversity and build strong relationships. In connection with all of this feel-good stuff, it can likewise help us sleep better.

Mom loved to write about finding the blessings in everything – any given day or moment; good or bad! That’s just how she was raised, being grateful for something everyday – not just for Life’s gifts, but also for Life’s challenges. Mom willingly confronted and overcame those challenges, empowering herself to do more rather than discouraging herself to fail.

Unfortunately, just when we start feeling comfortable and happy about how life is going, we find that happiness doesn’t happen without intermissions. These are the times in which we should take stock of our lives and be grateful for the good, as well as the lessons. From time to time, we forget that nothing in life is guaranteed to any of us.

Mom was always grateful for her readers, listeners, and fans who kept her inspired with their requests to find the “secrets” to making this dish or that grocery product at home. She was also very thankful to all the media sources that interviewed, wrote, and talked about her imitations of famous foods (from radio and TV talk shows to newspapers and magazines).

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 57). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

I’M VERY GRATEFUL TO CHILI!

ONE OF THE NICEST THINGS about making chili is that it goes so far! After I had walked out of the newspaper editor’s office, telling him to ‘mail me my check,’ I didn’t know if he had fired me or if I had quit! But to go home and start my own paper was an impulsive reaction, if not foolish.

It was a nice job for a housewife with 5 kids. The money wasn’t ‘good’, but it did buy the kids a few things we couldn’t otherwise afford. Paul was working as a draftsman for a sign company in Mt. Clemens and that weekly paycheck was spent on house payments, utilities and insurance even before it was cashed. The money I earned from writing helped and I gave it up because of pride and integrity.

The first thing I did with my writing, at that time, was to take all the recipes I had published in my newspaper column and all of the articles on recipes that I had sold to ‘Lady’s Circle’ and ‘Home Life Magazine’, and secured permission to re-print my own material in a small cookbook. With Free Press columnist, Bob Talbert, to ‘plug’ the little book, I sold all 1,000 copies in a month!

Rather than re-print it at the ‘Quickie-While-You-Wait’ printer shop, I decided I would put those recipes into a monthly publication – not exactly my own newspaper, but certainly worth the opportunity to try it and see if it would pay. We lived on a lot of chili in those days…  

It fed our family of seven nicely – night after night – when there was no money for much else but hamburger and beans! And because I only owned 4 cooking pots – small, medium, large, and the no-life-guard-on-duty size, making chili and any of its spin-offs was substantial fare for us for the time being.

It was a good thing that I kept a complete list of names and addresses of those who wrote to me at the newspaper, requesting recipes, and all of those who purchased my first little cookbook, ‘The Better Cooker’s Cookbook’, for I invited each one by post card to subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

The response was sufficiently enthusiastic to cause me to take on the commitment – but, without Paul knowing anything about it, for he surely would have put his foot down and said, ‘NO!’ Until the newsletter could pay for itself, Paul thought what I was earning was coming from the ironing I did each week for other people at $5 a basket.

Since Paul worked late many nights and bowled two nights a week, he couldn’t keep an accurate account of how much ironing I really did. What I scraped together from the ironing money, I used as a down payment on a hand-cranked mimeograph machine so that I could print my own newsletter.

For nine months, I kept this from Paul; and, with our daughter Debbie’s help, put out the publication, paid off the mimeograph and saw my subscriptions reach 100 readers. That is when I was invited to appear on Dennis Wholley’s television program, ‘AM Detroit’, on WXYZ-TV. I had to tell Paul! He took it rather calmly, I thought; but now, in retrospect, I believe he was suffering from a mild case of shock from it all.

Being grateful for anything and everything is as much a part of the preparation for Thursday’s big celebration as the turkey and all the trimmings that will grace our tables as we gather together, with family and friends, to feast and be joyful. Are you ready for these coming days?

Have you paused to consider GIVING thanks – not only in prayer before your Thursday meal but also directly to everyone you come in contact with throughout the week? Thank your cashier at the busy grocery store this week and the stocking clerk who found an item for which you were looking.

Thank the person who delivers your mail, as well as those who collect your weekly trash. Thank the officers and fire fighters that protect your neighborhood. The list can be endless, but it takes only two seconds to say, “thank you”.

Life is short and fragile. All it takes is one unexpected moment or small event to change everything! What do you take for granted? Focus on the simple things that surround you and be grateful for all you have. Send an appreciative ripple to someone or simply enjoy the one someone else gave to you!

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. 11-12)

WHAT’S VALUABLE – THE FAMILY

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

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

LAST THOUGHTS…

This is the season of hustle and bustle, now! Keep in mind that the stresses it includes can bring out the worst in some people. But always remember that this season of giving also brings out the best in MOST people! An ounce of gratitude is figuratively worth a pound of gold.

And, as Thanksgiving approaches, I can only hope that everyone remembers those people or things for which they are grateful and, whenever possible, tells them! Start by saying “thank you” whenever possible. Everyone appreciates being appreciated!

Additionally, as you gather around the turkey-laden-table with family and/or friends, try not to let the commercialism of the other up-coming holidays interfere with your heart-felt thoughts of gratitude. As for myself, I’m eternally grateful for everything Mom gave me and taught me.

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

IN CLOSING…

Since this is still National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, here are TWO of Mom’s secret recipes for peanut butter treats – Peanut Butter Fudge from Mom’s cookbook, The Second Helping Of Secret Recipes (Nat’l Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1978, p. 12) and Peanut Butter Cookies Like You’ve Never Had Before! The latter recipe can be seen in Mom’s last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 225). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

#PeanutButterLoversMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some November month-long observances include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, National Family Stories Month, National Life Writing Month, National Gratitude Month, Inspirational Role Models Month, and National Novel Writing Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness MonthHistoric Bridge Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Spinach and Squash Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Additionally, this week is… National Bible Week, National Game & Puzzle Week, and Better Conversation Week (which are always celebrated the week of Thanksgiving)!

Furthermore, today is also… National Cranberry Relish Day; thus, here’s a re-share of Mom’s copycat recipe for Frankenmuth-Style Cranberry Relish!

#NationalCranberryRelishDay

Tomorrow is… National Cashew Day, National Eat a Cranberry Day, and National Espresso Day!

Wednesday is… National Sardines Day! Plus, Tie One On Day and National Jukebox Day (which is always the day before Thanksgiving)!

November 25th is… National Play Day with Dad, National Parfait Day, Shopping Reminder Day, and Thanksgiving Day – which is always the fourth Thursday in November!

Friday is… National Cake Day! Plus, as the day after Thanksgiving, it’s also… National Day of Listening, National Native American Heritage Day (plus, it’s National Native American Heritage Month), National Black Friday, National Buy Nothing Day, and National Maize Day!

November 27th is… National Bavarian Cream Pie Day, National Craft Jerky Day, and National Small Business Saturday – which is always the Saturday after Thanksgiving!

November 28th is… National French Toast Day!

#TGIM

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

…47 down and 5 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Old Writers Never Die

Happy Monday, happy November, and happy National Authors’ Day! Personally, I always look forward to every Monday, as they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#FamilyStoriesMonth

November is, among other things, National Family Stories Month! It’s so appropriate to celebrate this in my blog posts all month, as they are always about memories I have of my mom, the ORIGINAL Secret Recipes DetectiveTM; as well as stories of our family and some of Mom’s own stories, too, in relation to random food for thought or one of the day’s “hot topics”.

#NationalAuthorsDay

Plus, as I mentioned in the opening, TODAY is also National Authors’ Day! Mom authored and self-published more than 40 cookbooks in as many years, starting in 1973. Starting in January 1974, she also wrote and self-published a newsletter for 27 years, about copycat cookery and other things that might interest the typical homemaker.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Relatively speaking, I should mention that November is, additionally, National Life Writing Month, National Gratitude Month, Inspirational Role Models Month, and National Novel Writing Month, too! All are awesome reasons to celebrate today and all month long! Especially to me, since I write these tributes for and about my mom, her writing talents (as well as many other talents), and her life as the pioneer who started the copycat cookery movement!

I, for one, am very grateful for the inspirational role model that Mom was to me – just as her mom was to her. I grew up, as Mom did, motivated to seize every possible opportunity (although, there were many I’ve missed over the years). Both of my parents taught me (as their parents taught them) to always put forth my best efforts, in everything I do. Everyone should have at least one good example to follow. We should also strive to be good examples, ourselves. Pay it forward!

‘I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.’ – Gloria Pitzer (This is not a Cook Book, written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)

The authoring seed was planted in Mom’s soul decades before her Secret RecipesTM business really took off in the mid-1970s. Whenever Mom was asked “how it all began”, she always found it hard to pinpoint that one single moment. However, she was initially inspired to be a writer, after watching the 1946 Warner Brothers Picture, “Devotion”, about the Bronte sisters.

Mom said that was when she began to journal, seriously – on a daily basis – usually writing about her life and faith. Mom filled journal after journal with her thoughts and feelings and observations, from the time she was 10 years old until she physically couldn’t, shortly before she passed away in January 2018.

Mom always felt that writing was her “true calling”, claiming that she made a living with her writing, but it was her writing that made living worthwhile! She had committed a little over 70 years of her life to writing – now that’s devotion!

Mom often talked about the time, after seeing the afore mentioned movie, when she had written a poem for a 5th grade writing assignment, which was published in The Detroit News. She thought that may have been the defining moment when her creative writing interests became serious. She was astonished that others found her composition to be that good! Afterwards, Mom entered creative writing contests often – and won quite a few prizes from doing so.

‘The National Essay Award, sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution, offered a $100 scholarship [which was a large sum in the mid-1940s] for the best essay written by a high school senior, entitled What it Means to be an American. I worked so hard on that paper – gave it my all! At graduation, I received the scholarship check and I knew, then, that I would be a serious writer after all.’ – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 20)]

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294)

[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

DIVIDENDS

EVERY SUCCESSFUL ACCOMPLISHMENT with my writing, after high school and the one year in college, was involved with recipes and cookbooks and restaurants. But I couldn’t see that it was a kind of calling. I saw it only as an interest that temporarily kept me writing and making a worthwhile living at it.

WDEE-Radio, in Detroit, gave me a portable radio for a recipe that took 1st place in a contest they conducted – and in 1962, it was WBRB-Radio, in Mt. Clemens, that gave me a check for first place in their recipe contest. Soon after that, Better Homes & Gardens sent me a check for a recipe in a contest they had conducted.

And, in 1964, WJBK-Radio [Detroit] gave me a maple stereo and radio set for their [contest about the] most unusual experience while listening to the radio, when I wrote to them about our ‘Picnicking in the Snow’. Again, the story was food related, including recipes for having a cook-out on the beach, at Metropolitan Park [on Lake St. Clair in Michigan], in the middle of winter, with the radio going to keep us in the proper mood.

#NationalGratitudeMonth

Mom’s faith was always a part of her writing, just as writing was always a part of her faith. She wrote her own daily devotionals in journal after journal. I wish I had those journals now – or at least copies. Over the decades, Mom was greatly influenced, in her writing, by many different, talented women.

One such lady was Maya Angelou, whose story in a 1993 issue of the “Christian Science Monitor”, revealing how her devotion to writing developed with “the yellow pad”, greatly re-inspired Mom to write more about those things for which she was grateful.

Mom wrote about the inspiration on page 10 of the 1994/95 Winter issue her Secret Recipes QuarterlyTM [newsletter]. Maya Angelou was a big motivator, especially in regard to her faith-journaling. The inspiration Mom wrote about came from a 1993 interview Maya had with David Holstrom of “The Christian Science Monitor”.

As Mom wrote in her newsletter, Maya had gone “to her voice teacher in mental turmoil over having to leave her child in Europe when she returned to the States. Frightened for her sanity, she told her teacher that she thought she was going mad.”

Mom went on to tell how Maya’s teacher – instead of showing her pity – had given her a yellow pad of paper and told her to write down all of her blessings on it. Apparently Maya was frustrated, as that wasn’t what she wanted to hear. Her teacher insisted, though; suggesting she start there – with the fact that she could HEAR him! Continuing on, he pointed out that she could SEE the page and could HOLD the pen and so on!

Mom added that Maya had also said, in her interview with Mr. Holstrom, “before I reached the end of the page, I was transformed. So, everything I have written, every book, every stage play, every screenplay, was written on a yellow pad. As soon as I pick it up, I am reminded of my blessings.” Mom was eternally appreciative to Maya for renewing her own gratitude!

Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we own or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM  Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)

Born and bred in Christian Science, with some Jewish, Catholic, and Lutheran influences, as well – Mom was a very devout Christian. No matter what the problems or struggles were, she never lost faith that God had a plan for her. From her parents’ influence, Mom would always try to find something in every day from which to learn, as well as for which to be grateful.

Mom not only wrote about her faith in her own personal journals but also in all of her cookbooks and newsletters. She shared it publicly and openly, like Maya Angelou; with hopes to inspire and help others, who may be at their own crossroads of trials and tribulations.

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. 22)

MY WRITING WAS NEVER A HOBBY

JOURNALISM IS A PECULIAR profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since graduating high school in 1954]. I’ve worked among writers who wrote to live, while the rest of us lived to write. We had to communicate, to reach out to someone with ideas…thoughts…reasonings and remembering.

While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire, not if they’re truly writers. Editors may retire and reporters may retire…at some given point. But, OLD WRITERS NEVER DIE, they just run out of words.

LAST THOUGHTS…

I never thought I’d see the day that Mom would run out of words. I miss her so much. However, her words live on forever in all of her books, newsletters, and columns! I’ve heard from quite a few people, since starting these blog posts a few years ago, who’ve told me that they still have copies of Mom’s publishings and how special they are to them.

Please email me at therecipedetective@outlook.com or contact me on Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective), with YOUR memories of my mom! I’d love to hear from you, too!

Since this is also National Deep Fried Clams Day, here is Mom’s imitation of Big Boy-Style Fried Clam Sauce/Dip; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7).

#NationalDeepFriedClamsDay

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some November month-long observances include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Historic Bridge Awareness Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate MonthNational Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Spinach and Squash Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Additionally, it’s… National Fig Week (which is always November 1st-7th)!

Furthermore, today is also… National Calzone Day, National Vinegar Day, National Cook For Your Pets Day, and National Cinnamon Day! In honor of the latter, here’s a re-share of Mom’s recipe for homemade Cinnamon Ornaments!

Tomorrow is… National Deviled Egg Day and National Ohio Day! For the former (plus, it’s also National Diabetes Month) here’s a re-share of Mom’s secret recipe for Sugar-Free Deviled Eggs!

November 3rd is… National Housewife’s Day, National Sandwich Day, and National Stress Awareness Day – which is always the first Wednesday in November!

November 4th is… National Chicken Lady Day, National Candy Day, National Cash Back Day and National Men Make Dinner Day (must cook… no BBQ allowed!) – which is always the first Thursday in November!

November 5th is… National Doughnut Day and National Jersey Friday – which is always the first Friday in November!

November 6th is… National Nachos Day, National Bison Day (which is always the first Saturday in November), and National Play Outside Day – which is always the first Saturday of EVERY MONTH!

November 7th is… National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day and Daylight Saving Time Ends – which used to be the last Sunday in October but is now always the first Sunday in November! It’s also the start of World Kindness Week, which is always the week of the 13th! Plus, it’s Dear Santa Letter Week and National Young Reader’s Week, which are, both, always the second week of November!

#TGIM

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

…44 down and 8 to go!

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fast Food Fix

#TGIM! Happy Monday to all and happy National Fast Food 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!

#NationalFastFoodDay

Today is National Fast Food Day! What a spectacular day to celebrate! Mom wrote, illustrated and self-published about 40 cookbooks (+/-) and hundreds of newsletter issues, on the subject of imitating fast food and junk food, as well as other restaurant offerings and grocery products at home. How appropriate, now, especially for this year’s Covid-19 restrictions!

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

In a time, not unlike what we are in now – with political upheaval, low wages and high costs of living – Mom found a niche that people wanted! “Eating out at home”, she called it – as she investigated how to imitate fast food, junk food, & restaurant dishes at home; as well as, shelf-stable grocery items. If it saved her household money, she wanted to share it with others to help them save money too.

Mom was reportedly included in the 1976 Guinness Book of World Records for being the first to recreate “fast foods” at home. The people from ‘Guinness’ were particularly interested in Mom’s copycat recipes for “The Colonel’s” secret spices, McDonald’s-style “special sauce” and Arthur Treacher’s-style fish batter. Those are only a few of the hundreds of recipes that are among Mom’s original imitations of “fast food”, starting back in the early 1970s.

Mom’s collection of recipes, from over almost half of a century of developing and collecting, were in the thousands! I’m still working on a master index of all of her recipes and writings for this website. You’ll find copies of those recipes, mentioned above, under the “Blog” tab, in some of my other blog posts; as well as under the “Recipes” tab, which I am continuing to update as well.

#NationalFastFoodDay

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6-7)

IT ALL STARTED WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN

DEAR FRIENDS,

I DO, WITH RECIPES, WHAT RICH LITTLE DOES WITH VOICES! Imitating the ‘Secret Recipes’ of the food industry has been an exciting experience for me. The critics felt that ‘fast foods’ and restaurant dishes were not worth the effort to duplicate at home, when you can just as easily buy the products already prepared!

The critics who contend that ‘fast foods’ are ‘junk foods’ and not good for us, have probably never prepared these foods themselves. Certainly, they have no access to the closely guarded recipes from the food companies that created these dishes, as there are only a few people in each operation that are permitted the privilege of such information! So, 99% of the critics’ speculations are based on their own opinions.

To know what these dishes contained, they’d have to be better [home-chemists] than I; as I have tested over 20,000 recipes with only the finished product as my guide to determine what each contained. ‘Fast foods’ are not ‘junk foods’ unless they’re not properly prepared. Any food that is poorly prepared (and just as badly presented) is junk!

Unfortunately, ‘fast food’ has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are ‘harmful’ to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘finer’ restaurants with wine stewards, linen tablecloths, candlelight, coat-check attendants, and parking valets; which separate the plastic palaces of ‘fast food’ from the expensive dining establishments.

One ‘eats’ at McDonald’s, but ‘dines’ at The Four Seasons. Steak and potato or hamburger and French fries – the ingredients are practically the same. How they are prepared makes the difference!

In the early ‘70s, I was trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, homemaking and a newspaper column syndicated through Columbia Features, when it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a single cookbook on the market that could help me take the monotony out of mealtime. There was not a single recipe in the newspaper’s food section that did not smack of down-home dullness!

‘Okay,’ they said at the newspaper I worked for, ‘YOU write the column on foods and recipes that YOU think would really excite the readers and make them happy!’ I did, but that didn’t make the Editors happy, because it made their [food industry] advertisers miserable.

When I was told that I’d have to go back to monotonous meatloaf and uninteresting side-dishes that made mealtime a ritual rather than a celebration or ‘pick up my check’, I told them to ‘MAIL it to me!’ I went home to start my own paper!

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

It was probably a dumb thing to do, amid an economic recession with the highest rate of unemployment I had ever experienced, but it was worth the risk. I was a dedicated writer that knew someone had to give homemakers something more than what they were being given in the colored glossy magazines, where a bowl of library paste could even be photographed to look appetizing!

There had to be more to mealtime than Lima beans and macaroni and cheese with Spam and parsley garnishes. There also had to be more to desserts than chocolate cake recipes that came right off the cocoa can. The food industry gave us more appealing products than did the cookbooks we trusted.

THEY LAUGHED! THEY DOUBTED! They even tried to take me to court when some famous food companies insisted that I stop giving away their secrets. They couldn’t believe me when I said that I did NOT know, nor did I want to know, what they put in their so-called secret recipes.

[However,] I did know that there are very few recipes that can’t be duplicated or imitated at home. And we could do them for much less than purchasing the original product. I proved…it can be and should be done!

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

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

#WorldTelevisionDay

Who would want to imitate ‘fast food’ at home? I found that over a million people who saw me demonstrate replicating some famous fast food products on The Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981) DID – and their letters poured in at a rate of over 15,000 a day for months on end!

And while I have investigated the recipes, dishes, and cooking techniques of ‘fine’ dining rooms around the world, I received more requests from people who wanted to know how to make things like McDonald’s Special Sauce or General Foods Shake-N-Bake coating mix or White Castle’s hamburgers than I received for those things like Club 21’s Coq Au Vin.

A cookbook should be as exciting as a good mystery! Most are drably written by well-meaning cooks who might know how to put together a good dish but know nothing about making the reader feel as if they’re right there, in the kitchen with them, peeling, cutting, chopping, stirring, sifting and all the other interesting things one does when preparing food.

It is my intention, in [my] book of the food industry’s ‘Secret Recipes’, to make you feel at home in my kitchen, just as if we’re preparing the dishes together…to later enjoy with those who share our tables with us…

Fast food and junk food recipes weren’t found in any of the cookbooks offered back then – and these were the types of restaurants that struggling, middle class families would frequent when they wanted an affordable meal out. What were they going to do when they couldn’t afford to take their family out for such a treat? Mom knew! Make it at home! And she went to work, investigating all the possibilities there were to offer from this new platform; which grew exponentially!  

#NationalGratitudeMonth

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 306)

AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BETTER COOKERY

IF THE GOOD LORD HAD INTENDED FOR ME to be a gourmet cook, I would’ve been born with Teflon hands! Don’t misunderstand – I like to cook! But I do not wish to spend more time in the preparations than is necessary.

NO ONE APPRECIATES good food as much as I do. Don’t ask me how I know – I just do. It does not concern me how a dish has been prepared, if it tastes great and looks good on the table! A gourmet cook would never agree with this philosophy.

However, anyone can become a gourmet cook, that is, if that is what you wish. All you need are numerous ingredients of good quality, a lot of time and patience and twice as much money – not to mention, and unblushing candor for admitting without modesty you are a ‘gourmet’ cook. This admission will intimidate many people just as easily as being faced with the admission that somebody is a terrific dancer, a great singer or an exceptional parent.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

And while it is perfectly acceptable and not the least bit conceited to say one is a ‘gourmet’ cook, there is still a tendency to back off from them because you know how many failures you have experienced and how skilled you would like to be in the kitchen, if only you had the time and the energy – and a generous allowance with which to buy all the right ingredients.

BETTER COOKERY is my answer to the ‘gourmets’, who insist that ‘fast food’ tastes like cardboard – and, sometimes, the various menu selections really do! But there are many family-type restaurants within the division of the ‘fast food’ industry that turn out exceptional meals for very reasonable prices, even giving senior citizens discounts and paying careful attention to how children are serviced.

When you’re a gourmet cook, you naturally have a throbbing desire to enjoy perfection with every dish, whether you’re preparing it, or someone else! To a gourmet cook, compliments go with the territory – failures don’t! They expect EVERY dish to be perfect enough to warrant a complement!

#NationalGratitudeMonth

By the way – who isn’t grateful that they can still get their fast food fix during the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions – whether by drive-thru or curbside pick-up or delivery service or making it at home, ourselves?

#WorldTelevisionDay

Saturday, Nov. 21st, is World Television Day! Thus, next Monday, I’ll share with you more memories of Mom’s 20 years of experiences on television – from 1974 through 1993 – including our own local Detroit (and Ontario, Canada) area programs, as well as national shows like ‘CNN News’, the ‘Phil Donahue Show’ and ABC’s ‘Home Show’!

#FunWithFondueMonth

The whole month of November is also celebrating National Fun with Fondue Month! There are three main types of fondue – cheese, oil, and chocolate. With a little imagination, each type has an endless variety of possible options to change it up from the basic fondue sauce. Mom was a master at taking a basic recipe and turning it into an imitation of one of our favorite restaurant offerings, fast foods, junk foods, or grocery store products.

In honor of #FunWithFondueMonth, below are two versions of Mom’s “secret recipe” for imitating #BarCheeseLikeWinSchuler’s product; as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 275). Mom’s was imitating many of Win Schuler’s products from the very beginning of her Secret RecipesTM legacy. These will be great for the coming holiday celebrations!

*NOTE: The original recipes from the Win Schuler company, for Schuler’s Heritage Cheese Spread & Schuler’s Seasoning Salt, can be found at https://www.theoaklandpress.com/news/longtime-restaurant-tells-its–year-story/article_9b6908aa-3553-52ac-8125-0f549ae6b398.html

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

#WHBY

My next interview on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks!

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…46 down, 6 to go!

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Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Stories

#TGIM! Happy Monday and happy November to one and all! 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 LOVE November for many reasons! First of all – just as Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season, likewise – November is the unofficial start of “the holiday season”, which is most certainly a season of entertaining! Even if we have to keep it small for the continued Covid-19 threats and restrictions.

Growing up, as one of “The Recipe Detective’s” children, I learned a lot from Mom about entertaining, for which I am eternally grateful. Most of our family’s “entertaining” occasions were during the fall and winter holiday seasons – when, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of her hat, Mom could whip up hors d’oeuvres and drinks, as if out of thin air, and on a moment’s notice for unexpected guests that popped in to say hello and visit for a bit.

Whether Mom (and Dad) were entertaining for a few unexpected friends or a scheduled, big family (and friends) event, Mom had a whole “Rolodex” of entertaining ideas in her head from which to draw. That was how Mom grew up, as her mom was the same – and that’s how I was brought up, as well. I’m so grateful for my family!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

#FamilyStoriesMonth

All November long, there is a national celebration of Family Stories Month! I have a sign, hanging proudly, near my dining room table that reads: “There’s a room in every home where the smallest events and biggest occasions become the stories of our lives.”

The table is the same one I grew up with in the 1960s and 1970s. It always seemed to be my family’s favorite spot in which to gather and eat and talk and laugh – about all the many events of our lives; making plans for our tomorrows and creating what became, at least for me, great family stories.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s

In our household, every event, even the smallest, involved food! Imagine how great it was when there were planned events and parties such as for Halloween or a birthday, or even Thanksgiving dinner with a dozen relatives and guests on top of our own large brood. I loved to help Mom in the kitchen!

Lists were made and checked and revised and checked again! It was a circus of juggling time and magic acts all rolled into one! All 5 of us kids had to pitch-in and help on big events, especially us girls…sexist or not, that’s just the way it was back then.

Along with, and related to, Family Stories Month, November is also National Life Writing Month!

According to NationalDayCalendar.com: ‘The goal of National Life Writing Month is to encourage people to write about themselves and their life as they have experienced it thus far (it’s sometimes known as Memoir Writing Month.) Now is the time for you to dedicate yourself to writing personal and family stories, memories, traditions, significant events, and anything else you feel is worth adding to your life story.’

#LifeWritingMonth

That’s basically what I’ve been doing, here, EVERY MONDAY for the past couple of years! However, Mom was practically a life-long-writer-of-life, journaling on the significant events, surrounding her and her family on a DAILY basis. In fact, Mom had been journaling about her life and that of her family since she was about 10 years old until shortly before she passed away – over 70 years – greatly influenced and inspired by the Bronte sisters, whose family story she saw in the 1946 film, “Devotion”.

Devotion” as well as many other events and people influenced Mom as a pioneer and a trailblazer in her field. Mom was a writer, satirist, cartoonist, publisher, marketer, and more – still proud to be a homemaker and yet have a “paying” career (from home) too, where she could cleverly combine the two! Regardless of the WLM (Women’s Liberation Movement), Mom set to work, focusing her topics of writing toward the fence-sitting, semi-liberated homemakers like herself.

Mom wrote, published and marketed her own newsletter (as well as her MANY dozens of cookbooks) for more than a quarter of a century – January 1974 through December 2000.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

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. 23)

IN THE BEGINNING

At the time the assignment was handed to me by the newspaper editor for whom I then worked; I knew more about cooking than anyone else on the staff. I was also the only ‘married lady’ on the staff, which in those days of homemaking, housewives and the Donna Reed show, automatically qualified me to handle the food page at the newspaper (when I had been a feature writer and columnist for a long time.)

I accepted the challenge wholeheartedly because I did want to write for the paper. If they had told me to do the obituaries, I would’ve given even that assignment my best effort. The food page was a challenge for me, in view of the fact that there was no test kitchen at the newspaper. I would be testing the recipes in my own kitchen at home. There was a small compensation in my paycheck at the end of the week for the groceries I used, but not enough to fully reimburse me. I accepted what they gave me gratefully, however…

Of course, I look back now in amazement at what I was able to do for a whole week with a 3-pound package of hamburger. How it began as spaghetti sauce, then sloppy Joe mixture and, with the addition of red kidney beans and some other seasonings, chili concurrently… It was fun, too, now that I recall those early days.

MAKING TIME FOR OPPORTUNITY

But some of the thoughts of which I wished to write were never properly developed on paper and published because there just wasn’t enough time. Later, when I could have made the time, there wasn’t a market for [it]; so, here I am [Dec. 1989], 17 years after the first recipe collection [Jan. 1973] was an outstanding success, still looking for the time and opportunity to write the book I have always wanted to write.

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

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. 42 & 44)

THE HOMEMAKERS’ NEWSLETTER

THE NEWSLETTER BEGAN with the mimeograph in our utility room where I cut the stencils, Inc. the drum by hand, applied the stencils and ran the copies off, a few hundred at a time, allowing them to ear-dry on the dining room table in the next room.

The dining room table was a door to which Paul had affixed for table legs. It was seldom clear of our work. I never gave any thought, then either, to the number of hours that we put into producing the newsletter. We simply worked until the work was finished, or we found a good ‘breaking-off’ point. (p. 42)

BELIEVE ME, it is not easy putting out your own newsletter, and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint or floor plan to follow that will promise instant success… (p. 44)

#InspirationalRoleModelsMonth

Moreover, November is also celebrating National Inspirational Role Models Month! Outside of her family, Mom was greatly influenced, throughout her life, by many talented women – comedians and writers like Carol Burnette, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball top the list. Other talented ladies to whom Mom looked up include Erma Bombeck, Carol Duvall, Betsy Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer; just to name a handful.

As mentioned above, Mom had a lot of great influences among her peers, but they weren’t the only role models to whom she looked up and respected. I mention this here because a lot of people, like Mom (and myself), have role models that are from their own immediate families and ancestors too!

Mom & Dad with each of their moms – December 1985

Mom’s first two (and biggest) influences in homemaking were, of course, her own mom; as well as my dad’s mom – since, when they were first married, Mom and Dad lived with Dad’s parents for a short while. Below is a picture of the “inspiration” story that Mom wrote many decades ago and re-printed in one of the last issues of her newsletter.

When it came to entertaining, food was usually the “guest star” in our house. Whether it was an hors d’oeuvre or a main entree, Mom never just served from the pot or “threw” it on a dish. She cared about how it was presented because she cared about everyone with whom she shared her table.

Additionally, Mom never made “just enough”, because in our household, you never knew when unexpected guests would pop in or the dish would be such a hit that we’d all want second helpings! If Mom over-planned and there were left-overs, she was also a sorceress at re-inventing left-overs into a whole new meal.

I’ve always tried to do the same as a mom & wife, myself. Like Mom, it makes me feel good to make others feel good – especially through food. It’s a universal icebreaker and relationship-builder. That’s what Mom taught me since I was young and afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends at school. She gave me extra cookies in my lunch to share with the other kids and assured me that and my smile was all I needed. It worked!

#NationalGratitudeMonth

Again, that’s still not all that November is celebrating. In relation to the others I’ve mentioned so far, it is also National Gratitude Month! For me, Mom is “that source” from which I derive most of my own inspiration. And I am grateful for all that she’s given me, all that she’s taught me and all that she continues to teach me throughout her everlasting writings. They truly are “the stories of our lives”!

EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 113)

GRATITUDE

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, was always my mother’s advice to me when I would try to bend a sympathetic ear, imploring her to comfort me and keep me company in my occasional misery. And, of course, misery does love company!

But counting my blessings was the last thing in the world I felt up to doing when the world seemed to be so hopelessly bleak, and whatever problem I had at the time, seem so devastating to me. Now here I am telling my own children the same thing. Only I tell my own children to count their opportunities, for an opportunity is just a blessing in disguise!

I wish I had known this years ago. What frustrating disappointments I could have avoided, or at the upmost, handled better. I would’ve used the enthusiasm and the optimism that I acquired during the last two years or so to work off those petty resentments that separate us from folks whom we could really care about, if we only get to know them better, and perhaps understand why we’re in conflict.

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Naturally, if we judge everything by what we see on television, we’d know that’s impossible – that people in conflict can’t resolve their differences, or so the reports indicate in those real-life fantasies that exaggerate greed, envy and contempt as if the motivation for these traits were purely justified. I don’t think they ever are!

Preparing your assortment of thoughts and feelings in a compatible mixture, in order to produce successful relationships, is really no different than preparing an assortment of compatible ingredients in a recipe for a dish that promises to be a stunning success on the dinner table.

Whether it’s a recipe for preparing a very good dish, or a very good relationship, the basics are still the same – compatible ingredients, attention to detail, thinking about what you are doing, and making logical adjustments as you go!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of today, November 2nd, being National Deviled Egg Day and National Ohio Day, here are TWO of Mom’s “secret recipes” – one for Deviled Eggs, as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 68); and another for her version of Ohio Buckeyes, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Reprinted – June 2002, p. 72).

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

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