Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Americana Happiness

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



The unofficial end of summer is just around the bend now, as September and Labor Day are quickly approaching. Today is the celebration of National Beach Day! Michigan is home to countless beaches, having 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes! Moreover, there are thousands of rivers and smaller lakes with beaches throughout the state.


Kids are going back to school next week (if they haven’t already), so it’s a great time to “play hooky” and hit the shoreline for one last summer celebration! Before you know it, the trees will be in full, fall colors like a Bob Ross painting! Football (pre-season) is already here, and Halloween merchandise is out in all of the stores, while Christmas stock is building up in their back storerooms.


My husband and I love to go for day trips around Michigan’s “Thumb Coast”, stopping at different beaches to take in the magnificent views and collect some rocks for our garden beds. One time, I found a rock on which someone had painted a silhouette of our state on a sea of white-capped, blue waves and wrote “Michigan Home Sweet Home”. On the back was the artist’s mark and Facebook page (Sanilac Rocks).


It inspired us to collect other beach rocks, on which we, too, can paint something area related and leave them on various Michigan beaches, to which we go, for others to find; hopefully spreading some happiness in the process. Maybe it will inspire others, like us, to do the same.

I haven’t made a Facebook page for our rocks, like the one from the rock I found. I may just add them to my own Facebook art page @ClearImpressionsofMI. I haven’t really used it in a couple of years, as I’ve been focusing more on writing this blog, as well as updating this website and my Facebook page for Mom, @TheRecipeDetective.

‘FRIENDS ARE A TREASURE and, when we count our blessings, we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered.’ – Gloria Pitzer

Mom and Dad loved to take a day or a weekend to just go on a scenic road trip and unwind from the workload at home, mentally refreshing themselves. Often, however, “work” would manage to creep back in whenever they stopped somewhere for a bite to eat. Mom always managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home.

My parents seemed to make friends everywhere they went. Some trips were just for relaxation and fun. But other trips involved some planned Secret RecipesTM work too. Mom really did enjoy what she laughingly called her “work”. It was easy to incorporate a restaurant review and an imitation of a dish (or two) into any trip.

Even an occasional, in-studio, radio show interview could be worked into a vacation or road trip, instead of through the phone lines, as Mom usually did. Once, Mom and Dad went on a “working” road trip/vacation to Branson, MO with one of her favorite radio show hosts, Art Lewis, from ‘Listen To The Mrs.’, on WSGW-Radio (Saginaw, MI) and “the crew”.

DEAR FRIENDS – The best part of April will be our bus trip to Branson, Missouri with ‘The Art Lewis Tour. Art is the co-host of my every Tuesday radio visits on [‘Listen To The Mrs.’] WSGW-Radio (Saginaw, MI)…Paul and I haven’t been to Branson in 8 years. The best part…we aren’t doing the driving…Art is! And we’ll be in the company of so many new friends! – Gloria Pitzer [As seen on the cover of her Spring-1995 newsletter, Secret Recipes Quarterly.]

Mom and Dad always loved to travel, especially after they became empty-nesters. They’d spend many of their spring-through-fall weekends here and there, camping with their “Good Sam RV Club” friends from the Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana chapters. In fact, Art Lewis used to love to give Mom some friendly teasing about the oven in her and Dad’s camper, as it was always gleaming like new – because it was never used!

Mom mentioned them all often – Art Lewis, Good Sam RV Club, and the friends they made – throughout her old newsletters, as well as in some of her self-published books. She always had happy remembrances and stories to tell about all the wonderful people they met, the delicious food they ate, as well as the beautiful places in which they stayed.

‘Recipe seminars that I have conducted for the Good Sam RV organization in, both, Michigan and Ohio, have given me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country relative to their recipe interests and food needs.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61)


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, pp. 23-24)


…Throughout upstate Michigan, the roads borough through tunnels of green trees for miles and miles. There’ll be light traffic on these curving two-lane highways with single cars spaced two blocks or so apart coming toward you. There was the quaint and very unique Settling Inn at the village of Northport, the most northern point of M-22. And farther south there was the Sugarfoot Saloon at Leelanau, near the Sugarfoot Mountain Resort.

It was quiet country, secluded but refreshing, compared to sophisticated urban activity. At County Road 669, a sign announced, ‘Sleeping Bear Dunes straight ahead on M-22’. The road curved like a long licorice ribbon, up and down the hillsides of densely grown White Birches, Scotch Pines, Maples, Oaks and Poplars.

Suddenly we were conscious of how clean the air smelled. The city wasn’t like this! What a lovely contrast! What a splendid memory!

The first time we saw the Traverse Bay area and upstate Michigan, we fell in love with it. It was Labor Day and summer was still at the peak of its promise. Six weeks later, we went back to the bay area to feast our eyes on the glorious, fiery colors of fall. There was a crisp, clean chill in the air.

Those long, straight, two-lane roads through the peninsula still lay like licorice ribbons on the slopes and hills of Old Mission region. The side roads were cut like corridors through a series of canopies in brilliant orange, red and yellow, where the trees were all standing like military sentries in full dress uniforms, crossing their branches above the roads like honor guards with their swords raised high.

It was a trip back into another time zone – peaceful valleys and wooded hillsides abundant was sturdy hedges of tall trees framing well-manicured cherry orchards, acres upon acres of them, as well as apple groves in great abundance everywhere!

Here and there a farmhouse and a weather-worn, well-kept barn reminded you that it was a populated and prosperous region, after all. The prosperity appeared to represent hard work, a practical living style and simplicity of needs, unlike the atmosphere of city dwelling.

Some of the recipes from dishes of this area have become my personal favorites. At the Settling Inn, in the village of Northport, a huge and tasty sandwich presented on their own homemade bread, sliced quite right, and buttered on one side, grilling it until crispy, is the specialty of the house. Then the sandwich fillings are applied to the un-grilled side of the bread, and it’s assembled neatly and cut in half. With a mug of dark beer on a hot day, it hit the spot!



Mom’s story reminded me that in just a couple of days it will be September, which is, among other things, National Americana Month! “Americana” is a style that reflects the stereotypical, cultural phenomenon of “Norman Rockwell basics” – the simple elements of American life, including those traditions and remembrances which have woven us together over the past couple of centuries and made us all Americans.

It includes everything that celebrates America’s cultural heritage, history, folklore, and geography. It’s a timeless, classic style that never goes out of fashion or falls from popularity. Like Mom’s description (above) of her and Dad’s drive in the Traverse Bay region of Michigan’s “Tip-Of-The-Mitt” area.

According to How To Capture Americana In Photography, by Britton Perelman (2018 – Updated Aug. 27, 2020), as seen at, “Americana is any artifact relating to the history, geography, folklore, and cultural heritage of the United States…  We often associate ‘nostalgia’ with Americana… Examples of Americana include Coca-Cola memorabilia, white-picket fences, blue jeans, apple pie, rock and roll, and small towns.”


In honor of this still being National Sandwich Month, at least for a couple of days, here are THREE of Mom’s Sanders imitations, for their lunch-counter sandwich spreads that Mom used to enjoy when she was young! There were many Sanders imitations among Mom’s original index-card-recipes.

Mom’s Sanders-Style Chicken Salad, Tuna Salad, and Ham Salad Sandwich Spread can be found in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 37). It’s no longer in print but used copies of Mom’s self-published cookbooks can usually be found on Amazon and eBay.

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


There’s only a couple days left of August, for observing: National Dog Month, Family Fun Month, International Peace Month, National Brownies at Brunch Month, National Catfish Month, National Crayon Collection Month, National Goat Cheese Month, National Golf Month, National Immunization Awareness Month, National Panini Month, National Water Quality Month, National Wellness Month, and Romance Awareness Month!

Other celebrations happening this week include:

Today is… National Toasted Marshmallow Day and National Grief Awareness Day!

Tomorrow, August 31st is… National South Carolina Day and National Trail Mix Day!

Wednesday launches the month of September, which observes: Better Breakfast Month, Fall Hat Month, International Update Your Resume Month, 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 Preparedness Month, National Rice Month, National Self-Care Awareness Month, National Sewing Month, Self-Improvement Month, and Whole Grains Month!

September 1st is also… National Chicken Boy Day and National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day!

Thursday, September 2nd is… National Blueberry Popsicle Day!

September 3rd is… National Welsh Rarebit Day and U.S. Bowling League Day! In fact, the first Friday in September is always… National Lazy Mom’s Day, National Food Bank Day, National College Colors Day, and National Chianti Day!

Saturday, September 4th is… National Spice Blend Day, National Wildlife Day, National Newspaper Carrier Day, and National Macadamia Nut Day! As the first Saturday in September, it’s also… National Tailgating Day and National Play Outside Day (which is always the first Saturday of EVERY MONTH)!

Sunday, September 5th is… National Cheese Pizza Day and National Be Late For Something Day! It’s also the start of National Waffle Week!


…35 down and 17 to go!


Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Food Effect

Happy Monday to everybody, once again! I, personally, 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!



As August continues to celebrate Happiness Happens Month, I want to get back to how food affects our happiness, which I touched on briefly a few weeks ago. The inspiration came from a mention of it in Ann Pietrangelo’s article, How To Be Happy: 25 Habits To Add To Your Routine (Jan. 15, 2019). I recommend checking out the full article at

I thought it was really interesting when Ann pointed out, in #4 Eat With Mood In Mind of her article, that different types of food can affect our moods in different ways; confirming that we are what we eat! So I wondered, if foods affect our moods and happiness, then what should we eat to always feel our best and happiest? Ann’s examples included the following generalizations…

Carbohydrates release serotonin, a ‘feel good’ hormone. Just keep simple carbs — foods high in sugar and starch — to a minimum because that energy surge is short, and you’ll crash. Complex carbs, such as vegetables, beans, and whole grains, are better.

Lean meat, poultry, legumes, and dairy are high in protein. These foods release dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost energy and concentration.

Highly processed or deep-fried foods tend to leave you feeling down. So will skipping meals.

Start by making one better food choice each day. For example, swap a big, sweet breakfast pastry for some Greek yogurt with fruit. You’ll still satisfy your sweet tooth, and the protein will help you avoid a mid-morning energy crash. Try adding in a new food swap each week.

The consensus on my Google searches seems to agree with Ann. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” will often make you feel better, at least for a short period of time. These foods are usually the carb-type, of which Ann mentioned to be mindful because of their high sugar and/or starch contents. I know, from personal experience, they can negatively affect blood-sugar levels.

Granted, they provide at least a temporary nostalgic or even sentimental value to our mood – but at what cost? They have very little nutritional value if any at all. Junk foods and fast foods are also considered to be “comfort foods”. This would be a good point at which to remind everyone that Mom was the pioneer who first took the junk out of junk food by imitating our favorites at home, where we can control the ingredients!

In fact, one can say with some certainty that not all fast food is junk food AND not all junk food is fast food! By general definition, “junk foods” are considered to be those foods that are heavily processed; typically containing high amounts of either trans fats, sugar, corn syrup, fructose, or salt (or a combination of any of those). Additionally, junk foods are high in calories. Beware – they are also high in luscious, tasty delightfulness and can be addictive!

Science has shown, time and time again, that emotions and food are very much linked together in many ways! Food is often the guest of honor at almost any event! As with eating for self-satisfaction, cooking is also a great source for happiness – whether it be for self-satisfaction or in pleasing others. Between the cooking AND the eating, I figured that I get to happily enjoy food twice as much! Although too much of a good thing is not always a good thing!

According to “Studies have shown that consuming junk food ONCE-IN-A-WHILE does not have a negative effect on health – it is only when one eats junk food for a majority of their meals that their diet can be considered unhealthy. Consuming large amounts of foods considered to be “junk”, can lead to several health problems, including a high risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart issues.”

Mom was a big believer in the psychological influences of food. Some foods are considered “happy foods” as they contain something called tryptophan, which is transformed into serotonin in the body. Additionally, serotonin is well-known to relax most of us, improve mood and, in general, produce feelings of happiness. Dark Chocolate is rich in many mood-boosting compounds.

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.

I read a really great article at, which I refer to from time-to-time, called When It Seems Like Things Are Falling Apart, They’re Really Just Falling Into Place, by Paul Hudson (Sep. 23, 2014). The timeless advice and reasoning in this almost-7-year-old article, regarding how to deal with stress and create your own happiness, sounds like it could’ve been written for these days and the pandemic situation. I highly recommend the read!



Many of us find happiness in food! Writing and cooking were among Mom’s top stress-relievers that made her happy. Being the Secret Recipes Detective for 40 years, Mom was more apt to be found in the kitchen, creating a new imitation of another popular restaurant dish or at her desk writing about the latest imitation she developed.

Mom loved to write about a lot of different things that she thought would interest her readers. She’d been calling it “Food For Thought” since the 1960s, when she wrote for various newspapers. She always liked to say that she made a living with her writing, but it was her writing that made living worthwhile. It gave her purpose and especially happiness!

‘Start now! Good thoughts and good feelings reinforce each other…When you hold on to one good thought, the better you’ll do things that make you feel good about yourself…Nothing will work for you unless you work for it.’ – Gloria Pitzer [This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p.32)]


As seen in…

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


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!

Furthermore, while we’re on the subjects of happiness and the emotional effects of food, I also want to write a little bit about this also being National Sandwich Month. Sandwiches are super choices, whether for a meal or snack – especially in the summertime! They’re so versatile – from the bread to the fillings, even whether it’s served hot or cold or either way!

In honor of National Sandwich Month, here is a re-share Mom’s copycat version of Schlotzsky’s sandwich rolls, as usual, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

‘Having a goal gives us hope and it’s hope that keeps us going, enabling us each to meet whatever the world dishes out.’ – Gloria Pitzer [This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p.24)]


Mom penned her prayers, feelings, memories and hopes in journal-after-journal. She often wrote about finding happiness in every day we’re given on Earth. Mom truly believed that – good and bad, alike – everyday had some form of a blessing within it. That’s how Mom was raised, to be grateful everyday – not just for the joyful moments, but also for what she confronted and overcame or from which she learned.

My mom believed that life’s best lessons and experiences came out of life’s biggest disappointments, teaching us how to turn a “let-down” into a “set-up” for something else – maybe even something better – something out there, through the window that opened when the door was closed.

Mom also believed that every new day is a turning point and that each experience (again, good and bad, alike) eventually contributes in some way to our growth and happiness. She called it Mixed Blessings (which became the title of one of her books in 1984) and for those things she was always grateful.


In honor of National Sandwich Month and TODAY, being National Cuban Sandwich Day, which is a Florida-based variation of a ham and cheese sandwich; here is Mom’s imitation of a Monte Cristo – Toronto-Style, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 185) [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…


Some of this month’s observances include: National Dog Month, Family Fun Month, Get Ready For Kindergarten Month, International Peace Month, National Back to School Month, National Brownies at Brunch Month, National Catfish Month, National Crayon Collection Month, National Goat Cheese Month, National Golf Month, National Immunization Awareness Month , National Panini Month, National Water Quality Month, National Wellness Month, and Romance Awareness Month!

Yesterday began the last FULL week of August, which is… National Composites Week! The last week of the month is also… Be Kind to Humankind Week!

Other celebrations happening this week include:

Today is also… National Ride The Wind Day and National Sponge Cake Day!

Tomorrow, August 24th is… National Maryland Day, National Peach Pie Day, and National Waffle Day! In honor of the latter, here’s another re-share of Mom’s Waffle House imitation… [NOTE: National Waffle Week is coming soon too!]

Wednesday, August 25th is… National Park Service Founders Day, National Whiskey Sour Day, National Kiss and Make Up Day, National Secondhand Wardrobe Day, and National Banana Split Day!

Thursday, August 26th is… National Dog Day, National Women’s Equality Day, and National Cherry Popsicle Day!

Friday, August 27th is… National Pots De Creme Day and National Just Because Day!

August 28th is… National Thoughtful Day, National Red Wine Day, and National Cherry Turnovers Day!

August 29th is… National Chop Suey Day and National Lemon Juice Day!


…34 down and 18 to go!