1975 – Gloria Pitzer’s Snow Thyself was a sort of “self-help” book written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this book was sub-titled “The 1975 Happiness Handbook” and had an 8.5” x 11” format with 16 pages full of feel-good stories, quotes and meditation. No information could be found regarding the price for which it sold.
1974 – Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter – written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI) – started as “a monthly compendium of fact and fancies”, as Gloria referred to it, adding that it was “the almost-magazine…not quite a newspaper…that can build into a book.” NO LONGER IN PRINT – this was, originally, a small, 3-ring binder-style publication, printed in a 5.5” x 8.5” format with 12 back-to-back pages packed full of “food for the table and food for thought”, household tips, humorous quips and cartoons; plus, a “Readers Swap Shop”. The newsletter originally sold for $0.50 per issue, as well as $2.75 for a 6-month subscription or $5 for a 1-year subscription.
Over the decades, the newsletter evolved with the changing times – the name slightly changed a few times, as well as the size and number of issues printed in a year; plus, of course, the cost grew with inflation too. By 1976, it was being published monthly in an 8.5” x 11”, 10-page format and sold for $0.50 per copy or $6 for a 1-year subscription. By 1978 the name slightly changed to Gloria Pitzer’s National Home News Magazine, though the format remained the same; and it sold for $7 per 1-year subscription.
In 1980, Gloria Pitzer revised the newsletter again, getting right to the heart of cooking – reducing the number of ingredients to comply with your time and, most of all, your budget. While the format size remained the same, the name was changed to “Gloria Pitzer’s Monthly Cookbook of Secret Recipes”. Each copy contained about 100 recipes and sold for $1 per issue, or you could subscribe for a full year.
Starting with the Summer issue of 1984 (Jul-Aug-Sep), the newsletter was published quarterly under the name Gloria Pitzer’s Cook’s Quarterly, still in an 8.5” x 11” format with up to 20 pages full of “Food for Thought” & “Thoughts on Food”; plus, household hints, short cut cooking tips and recipes for imitating favorite restaurant dishes and grocery products at home. It sold for $10 per 1-year (4 issues) subscription or $2.50 for a single issue.
By 1986, the newsletter was being published every 2 months under the name Secret Recipes Newsletter. Still in the 8.5” x 11” format, the 12-page publication boasted at least 50 recipes per issue along with humorous stories, “Food for Thought” and news on nutrition, restaurants and product reviews. It continued to sell for $10 for a 1-year subscription of 6 issues (or $2 per single copy) until 1989, when the price was raised to $12.50 for a 1-year subscription (or $2.50 per single copy). Then, in 1991, the price went down to $12 per year and $2.50 for single copies. The bi-monthly newsletter was temporarily retired after the March-April 1994 issue.
However, in 1995, the publication was back by popular demand under the name Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Quarterly for $16 per year (4 issues) with 20 pages per issue; each issue featured at least 75 recipes for imitating famous restaurant dishes and grocery products at home; plus, more “Food for Thought”, household hints and cooking tips. But, by 1997, the publication went back to the bi-monthly, 12-page format under the old name, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter and sold for $16 per 1-year subscription (6 issues) or $2.75 per single copy.
In January 1998, the newsletter went back to being a monthly publication with the name shortened to Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes. The 8.5” x 11”, 8-page format was still full of “Food for Thought”, household hints and tips, famous restaurant recipes and grocery products you can make at home. During its last year of publication, it sold for $18 per 1-year subscription or $2 per single copy. It was permanently retired, after 27 years, with the December 2000 issue.
“Every issue is like getting together for coffee with friends!” SM– Gloria Pitzer
We’d love to hear from anyone who still has old copies of her original newsletters! Please write to us at: email@example.com
Happy Monday to everybody! I hope you make today special for somebody, even if it’s only for yourself!
My name is Laura Emerich and Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”, is my mom. She passed away almost a year ago (it’ll be a year next Monday) and I started this blog series in September (2018) to carry on her legacy of love with her “Secret Recipes”. To me, her love of writing and cooking and inspiring others in the same was a big part of her legacy – especially since I collaborated with her during the last few years of her life to re-write her favorite cookbook, “The Better Cookery Cookbook” (1983), so it could be re-published to inspire new generations in the “digital age”! Shortly before Mom passed away, it went to print, being published by Balboa Press with the title adjusted to “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”.
ASPIRE TO INSPIRE
Have you ever wanted to be amused and inspired at the same time? Mom’s many talents gave me that feeling! I aspire to inspire happiness, as Mom did for so many years, for so many people. As such, this week, I’d like to build more on last week’s blog, “New Year, New Attitude”, and the references I made to inspirations because Mom was, and continues to be, such a huge inspiration in my life. My mom wrote the following excerpt in her book, “My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop”, [self-published by Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, Dec. 1989; p. 75]:
We embrace the challenge to inspire…The care and concern that an author has for their readers is part of the pleasure of presenting interesting ideas in either an entertaining way or in an informative way. I try to balance my own presentations between the two. When I am broadcasting over the numerous radio stations around the country, sometimes around the world, I try to lift the listener to a new height of interest and enthusiasm, and I leave the serious side of nutrition to the experts, who have the medical background to support their claims. My hope is to present my recipes in such a way that cooking is a joy and never a job! I try to present these recipes with the same concern as I do giving a gift to a special friend. Each of our 5 children, who have grown up helping Paul and me with these recipes, have gone out into the world with this legacy of love and enthusiasm. We can only hope that they use what we have given them.
Photo taken by Gloria Pitzer (1988-ish); The Pitzer “kids” – Bill, Michael, Debbie, Laura and Cheryl
I can only hope that I’ve made Mom proud of what I’m doing with her legacy of love… especially regarding this blog series, her website and her last cookbook; developing and promoting them, in her memory and honor, with the love and passion and so much more that she instilled in me and continues to inspire in me. I want to take this blog, as well as her website & book, to new heights for her. It’s a work in progress though. I’ll be honest – while I love to write, promoting and selling are not my forte.
“In doing our best, we run into road blocks we hadn’t counted on; and it is not the falls we take that make the difference, but how well we recover and continue on that matters.” – Gloria Pitzer [“My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop”, self-published by Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, Dec. 1989; p. xi]
My inherited love for writing has always been in me. One of my favorite and youngest memories of Mom & I is when she was first teaching me how to write, from how to hold the pencil to how to draw the letters to how to form the words by putting those wonderful letters together. Much like Mom, when I was growing up, I was always drawing, reading and writing little stories, as well as a lot of poetry. Whether it was inspired by or inherited from my Mom, English was always my favorite subject throughout school and I always loved the essay assignments the most!
“Succeeding against the odds…When I look back now, I realize that I was so busy trying to prove that others were wrong about me, I couldn’t see how events were already taking place that would sooner or later put me where I had always wanted to be – writing for a worthwhile living, while it made living worthwhile.” – Gloria Pitzer [“My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop”, self-published by Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, Dec. 1989; p. 81]
Mom always hated when “the press” referred to her as having turned a hobby into an occupation. Writing was never a hobby to Mom, and she used to say that being a writer isn’t what she did; but, rather, who she was! I could always relate to that! She also loved to say in a lot of her publishings that, while she made a worthwhile living at writing, it was her writing that made living worthwhile. I’ve never made a living at writing, but I’d certainly love to do that!
My road block, however, is promoting and selling; which is much more of a learning process for me, while it just seemed to come naturally for Mom. Luckily, I love to learn! Another one of the things Mom inspired in me is my passion to learn – she’d always say, “learn something new every day!” Along with my “new year, new attitude” resolution for 2019, I’ve determined that every day is a defining moment for each of us, in which experience and knowledge, together, influence our personal evolution; thus, we need to seize those moments and do our best to make the most out of them!
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers
Nowadays, knowledge is literally and instantaneously at our finger tips! For most of my life, I was a bookworm. I continue to love the hard copy in my hands; but, now, I’m also a world-wide-web-worm! There’s so much out there from which to learn! But you have to be self-motivated to and self-inspired to grab the book or the computer and open the “pages” and read, soaking it up like a sponge! Of course, you also have to be able to differentiate between what’s fact and what’s fiction; but, that’s a discussion for another time.
One particular couple I’ve found on the web, from whom I love to learn, are Alex & Lauren of createandgo.co. They have been inspiring me a lot in this learning process I started for blogging and promoting, because I would love to afford do this full-time and completely give up my part-time, “real-paying” job as a data collector.
“The best way to learn any new pattern of behavior – whether it is eating or dancing or jogging or working – is to break it down into small manageable parts and work through them step-by-step!” – Gloria Pitzer, [“Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”, published by Balboa Press (January 2018) – a re-write by Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing), page 283]
It was always such a mystery to Mom why some people were willing to endure such an irony of accepting the risk of failing at what they attempt with foods (preparing, presenting, etc.) more readily than they will the failings with their relationships with other people, and that they’d put more effort into setting a good table rather than setting a good example. I’m inspired by Mom to do both.
Once again, as with my pervious blogs, I’d like to close with one of Mom’s make-alike recipes that appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (2000), which she used to give out in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope; asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. In keeping with the Super Bowl season of party planning (or attending), this is a photo copy of her imitation of Hooters-Style Wings, which I think she originally called Chooser’s Wings and, later, changed it to Hoosier’s Wings.
Note: this particular chicken wings recipe was not included in Mom’s last cookbook, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing). However, recipes for many other wonderful chicken and other related dishes, as well as wonderful morsels of Food for Thought and humorous antidotes can be found in the “Chicken” chapter or section of this book on pages 86-104. Enjoy!
If you’re new to here, my name is Laura Emerich and Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”, is my mom. I started this blog series in September (2018) to carry on Mom’s legacy, as that is what “Secret Recipes” was to her and what it became to me, especially over the last few years of her life while I collaborated with her in re-writing her favorite cookbook, to be re-published by Balboa Press, and inspire a new generation – a digital generation!
There’s always something special about celebrating a new year! It’s commonly looked upon as a chance to start over and wipe the slate clean; to forgive and forget or just bury the hatchet and move on. It’s a time to improve and better ourselves, so as to evolve in the human race. The beginning of a new year is a time when people want to make real and positive changes in their lives. Simply changing the calendar out seems to be a turning point that offers us up new inspiration and attitude. It’s a fresh new start, a new beginning for whatever we aspire. The older I get, especially since I lost my mom almost a year ago, the more I realize that every day I wake up is a turning point in which I have to develop and grow a new and positive attitude!
In the same way as Joel Osteen was one of Mom’s favorite inspirationalists, she was one of mine. What does it mean – to inspire someone? Whether it be through their words or through their actions, it’s about motivating someone else from within their souls; sparking their fire in some stirring and exciting way that helps them strive for and achieve their desired successes.
As the song goes, ‘should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?’ – it begs the question as to whether or not we should forgive and forget. If Mom could have had her way, the whole world would’ve been friends forever. However, even she knew that was an unrealistic hope, considering the course of human behavior and events. But, even though history tends to repeat itself, there’s no reason not to start making new, inspiring history to repeat!
So often, people can’t even find friends within the same family. Mom always felt that the family unit was so important to our troubled world, which seemed to lack any direction in which to go for comfort and relief. Nonetheless, she continued to hope – as do I. Mom often emphasized, in her writing, the importance of really caring about each other. She held a strong faith in LOVE and all the things it could overcome and yield. She found common ground for this caring attitude in the loving manner that cooks have toward the food they prepare and present to those with whom they share their tables.
‘You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door, if you’re in the back yard looking for four-leaf clovers.’ – Gloria Pitzer (‘My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop’, written and self-published by Gloria Pitzer, Dec. 1989; p. 4)
I grew up, as my mom did, inspired by my parents to seize opportunities (although there were many I didn’t see and, thus, missed) and to always put across my best efforts in everything I do. When I can’t do “Plan A”, I go to “Plan B”! Everyone should have a few good examples to follow. As my mom once wrote about her mom [on page 8 of her self-published book, This is not a Cook Book (Oct. 1986)], I shall repeat for her – and this is a perfect example of inspiring history repeating itself – ‘My mother is another good example I’ve followed. Her best gift and her greatest asset is that she’s always been a patient listener and a wise advisor. She was absolutely loyal to my father…The world could turn [its] back on her children, but she would always be there for them when we needed her. She’s given me an example that’s going to be tough to equal.’
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, Oct. 1986; p. 8)
I can only hope that I have done the same with my own children, as I feel Mom did with me and my siblings; as her mom did with her and her siblings as well! James Keller once said, “A candle loses nothing in lighting another candle.” Mom embellished on it a bit by adding that if you can’t be a lighthouse, be a candle!
Happy birthday, Mom! (1/7/1936)
As with my pervious blogs, I’d like to share with you one of Mom’s make-alike recipes that appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (2000), which she used to give out in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope – this is her Red Lobster-Style Cheese Biscuit, which she calls “Glad Lobster Cheese Biscuits” – asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
Note: this particular biscuit recipe was not included in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (May 1983, 3rd Printing). However, many other wonderful bread-type recipes and humorous stories can be found in the “Breads” chapter or section of this book on pages 141-182.
I’d also like to give a shout-out to Crouton Crackerjacks, who did a wonderful YouTube video, making Mom’s version of Cracker Barrel’s Buttermilk Biscuits, which the guy in the video says tastes nothing like Cracker Barrel’s biscuit even though it is an excellent biscuit. Keep in mind that some restaurants change their recipes over the years and, even in a chain like Cracker Barrel, not every restaurant across the country makes every dish exactly the same. All-in-all, it’s an excellent video to check out at https://youtu.be/CLc0Hkbwz7c and, like the guy in the video claims, it is an excellent biscuit recipe that my mom developed – regardless of what restaurant inspired it.
In closing, I wish a very happy New Year to everyone! Be determined and decided to have a splendid and awe-inspiring year!
Allow me to introduce myself to any new visitors here – I am Laura (Pitzer) Emerich, and this is my blog, Mondays & Memories of My Mom, a tribute to the legacy of a woman who helped to make me who I am, as well as a mentor and “trail-blazer” for so many others. To me, she’s “Mom”; but, to the world, she’s Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL Secret Recipe Detective. In the early ‘70s, Mom started developing (writing and testing) her own recipes that mimicked popular dishes in the restaurant, grocery and fast food industries.
Illustration by Gloria Pitzer
She marketed her talents – as I wrote in my first blog, A Legacy of Love– “through newspapers, magazines, local television talk shows…but, especially through radio talk shows. For nearly 40 years she was a regular on a few local radio talk shows such as ‘Ask Your Neighbor’, hosted by Bob Allison on WWJ-Radio, which still airs out of the Detroit area today and ‘Listen to the Mrs.’, which is still hosted by Art Lewis on WSGW-Radio in Saginaw, MI. Mom said Warren Pierce of ‘The Warren Pierce Show’ put her ‘in touch with some of the most responsive and enthusiastic listening audiences.’ That show also still airs out of the Detroit area on WJR-Radio. Mom did radio shows all over the country – mostly by phone, from the comfort of home.”
She passed away almost a year ago, 2 weeks after her 82nd birthday, leaving behind a beautiful legacy of faith, love, generosity, sarcastic humor and a wide range of artistic talents. I feel so lucky to have all these memories of her and how she contributed to making me the woman I am today. So, I want to share those wonderful recollections with the world, which is so easy now through the internet and social media; and try to carry on her legacy in my own way. Mom was such a huge influence in my life. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows – you have to have storms to get those rainbows and appreciate the sunshine even more! So, it’s all good!
Photo by Paul Jaekel, Jan. 2016
During the last few years of Mom’s life, I got to know her in a new way – one that I missed out on in my self-centered teen years. I was helping Mom to rewrite her favorite cookbook, from 1983, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, to be published by Balboa Press. Mom never wanted to let any of her cookbooks be published by a company that wanted to change her creations. But, times changed and so did situations, as well as attitudes. The publisher we chose for the project didn’t want to change very much of anything except the title (because it too closely resembled The Betty Crocker Cookbook title, which it was supposed to in the first place) and a few illustrations (because they had the likeness of “The Colonel” on them.) I also had to change the layout slightly; not because of the publisher, but because of the digital revolution and the printed format we chose for the final product. Mom and I also had to choose some parts to be totally omitted due to their lack of current relatability or something else. Years ago, Mom would’ve said, “Never! Not any of it!” But, she learned over the years that it’s better to go with the flow than swim against the tide. I’ve always loved to write, myself; something Mom always nurtured in me. Re-reading Mom’s creative “Food for Thought” articles and discussing them with her, brought us closer in a whole new way. Mom’s favorite thing in life was to write. She also loved to mentor those who shared the love! She always said, “I make a living with my writing – but, it’s my writing that makes living worthwhile!”
“When you’re wishing for a happier, fuller life, a life with real meaning, there’s a need to remain steadfastly receptive to intuitions & inspirations that whisper to the listening thought of hope & courage.” – Gloria Pitzer [as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 183, Nov-Dec 1997; pg. 10]
Now, it’s New Year’s Eve! This is the time that most of us spend recalling, reasoning, recollecting, reflecting, reminiscing, remembering, ruminating and resolving to do and be better than we’ve ever been, even more than we are right now – resolutions are made that call for improvement and change in ourselves! Making a New Year’s resolution is a common tradition, whereas people resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or to, otherwise, improve their life.
The New Year’s Eve anthem (a musical composition of celebration), Auld Lang Syneis an old Scots poem penned by Robert Burns in 1788; but made known more famously by Guy Lombardo’s version, which he and His Royal Canadians band sung every New Year’s Eve for about 38 years (1939-1977). The title literally translates into basic English as “old long since,” which basically equals “days gone by” or can be even more loosely interpreted as “for the sake of old times.” Any way you cut it, it’s traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight to say goodbye to the old year and celebrate the new one. However, it is also heard at funerals, graduations, and other special occasions as a farewell or ending to that event.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne! For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne. We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne.” – Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)
The most commonly sung [or should I say “mis-sung” – in our own special drunken interpretations?] parts of Auld Lang Syne are the 1st verse and chorus, which begs the question, “Should we leave it behind us and forget about it?” I ask myself, how am I to learn from my mistakes if I forget them? Mom once said, “You never realize what a good memory you have until you try to forget something.” [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 146, Sep-Oct 1990; pg. 7] However, this is another, earlier viewpoint from Mom on the subject of forgetting, as she wrote in a small “Food for Thought” piece in one of her newsletters:
“Some things, perhaps, are better left unsaid and forgotten – or, like the woman in The Bible, who looked back when she was warned not to, we just might become pillars of emotional salt; hardening our feelings and losing our sense of compassion, rather than become someone with perspective, with our eyes on where we’re going, rather than where we’ve already been.
Being able to get a handle on life by not letting it get the best of us, when the lemons outweigh the levity in our relationships, is a recipe worth having. Resolving the problems with recipes in the kitchen is something we’re all willing to accept, because cooking is an individual and very personal experience – a creative challenge for some, a positive involvement for others. Yet we accept the risk of failing at what we attempt with foods, more readily than we will with our relationships with other people. It’s a puzzle to me that we are willing to endure such a paradox that we’ll put more effort into the table we set than into the examples we set…” [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 130, Jan-Feb 1988; pg. 8]
In closing, as with my pervious blogs, I’d like to share with you one of Mom’s make-alike recipes that appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet, which she used to give out in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope; asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. This is a photo copy of her 2000 imitation of a sugar-free, Strawberry Fluff-Style dessert like the one served at Old Country Buffet. It’s a great dessert to take to parties as a dish-to-pass, allowing yourself and others, whose New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, to indulge and not feel guilty!
Note: this particular sugar-free recipe was not included in Mom’s last cookbook, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing). However, many other wonderful sugar-free recipes and humorous stories can be found in the “Dieting” Dishes chapter or section of this book on pages 283-291.
Finally, dear strangers and friends, on this celebratory occasion of ringing in the new year, I wish for you all to cherish your memories – good and bad – as they are all a part of who you are and will help you in becoming who you want to be in 2019! As Mom would always say, “Happy sleuthing in the kitchen!”… But, may the table you set, pale in comparison to the example you set! Happy New Year to you all!
If you’re new to this site and this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started this blog to honor my mom’s legacy as the ORIGINAL Secret Recipes Detective – Gloria Pitzer. Since the early ‘70s, Mom was “busting” the secret recipes of the fast food industry, as well as some “fine” restaurants and grocery products too! As I mentioned in my last blog, “Imitation”, Mom never really knew their exact recipes, but she could imitate them very well!!!
I’ve been writing these weekly blogs, about the many wonderful memories I have of Mom as I was growing up, since this past September. Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s recipes with each one. For the 35-plus years that Mom “worked her business”, she offered (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free recipes, along with information on how to order her currently (at that time) available self-published cookbooks, as well as how to subscribe to her newsletters; which were published monthly in the beginning, then bi-monthly and quarterly and back to monthly until she permanently retired it.
Five weeks ago, I shared another blog, “Time to Make the Cookies”, regarding cookies as they related to some of my memories of Mom, and including her make-alike version of one the Famous Amos cookies (with an alternative option.) Rather than repeating those memories, here, with these Mrs. Fields make-alike cookie recipes (below) that Mom also gave out for free (merely asking for proper credit when shared), I thought I’d write about making a new memory.
While surfing the internet around Thanksgiving time, I came across a Martha Stewart link, “8 Steps to Hosting a Cookie Swap”. I hadn’t participated in a cookie swap/exchange since my first two kids were toddlers (in the late “80s!) Anticipating the coming of “the final push” to get all my Christmas cookies made in time for holiday visitors and last minute gift-giving, I planned my first (hopefully annual) Christmas cookie exchange party with some of my girlfriends, who also hadn’t participated in any such event in a long time, if at all. While Martha’s ‘8 Steps’ was a great source of inspiration, I added some of my own ideas too!
I started (as in Martha’s ‘Step 1’) by inviting people. I created a private “event” through my personal Facebook page and invited about 18 girlfriends that were nearby and whom I knew (or thought) liked to bake and socialize (not to discriminate against my male friends who also enjoy baking, but the perk was for female bonding time.) Although, one friend’s “significant other” popped in to share some male bonding with my husband while all of us ladies “cackled” amongst ourselves; which was perfectly fine. Martha Stewart’s link suggested inviting up to 8 friends; but, having hosted other types of parties over the years, I knew that only one-third to half of invitees actually come. So, I invited 18 friends and about 8 people RSVP’d that they could come. Hindsight being foresight, next year, I will probably, also, “snail-mail” personal invitations because not everyone (in my generation) knows about Facebook created events; plus, it’s something tangible that they can hang on their refrigerator or calendar as a reminder.
On the event page, I asked everyone to post what cookies they were thinking about bringing (as in Martha’s ‘Step 2’), so we didn’t end up with 5 people bringing the same type. I suggested everyone bring 8 dozen cookies – no matter how many people actually come, I posted, if you bring 8 dozen of the same type, you’d be taking home 8 dozen of a variety. The more that come, the more of a variety there will be. I also asked that they post their recipe there, on the event page, (or email or text me a copy) so I could print out the necessary copies for everyone attending (instead of them making their own copies, not knowing how many copies to actually make.) However, only a few shared their recipes on the event page or texted me a picture of it in time for me to copy them for everyone.
Instead of making display cards or having everyone make multiple copies of their recipes on cards (as in Martha’s ‘Step 3’) for the cookie table, I bought little “brag books” from my local Dollar Tree store. I found and printed out a cute little cookie jar graphic to put in the cover’s picture window on each book. Then I printed out copies of the recipes that I had received before and at the party, inserting them into the pages of each book – for everyone to each take home from the party as a memento and, in which to continue collecting other cookie recipes.
On my party prep checklist, I forgot to list ‘creating a packaging station’ (as described in Martha’s Steps 4 through 7) for wrapping up all the dozens of cookies that everyone was going to take home. I was going to buy things at the dollar store for this; but I didn’t write it down and, then, was distracted by the crowd at the store, and just wanted to hurry and get out of there with my “brag books” and “door prize” picks. Fortunately, some of my friends must have anticipated this – one brought special Christmas trays on which everyone could to take home their cookies and some others pre-wrapped their dozens of cookies in decorative bags and tins for easy grabbing!
Not listed in Martha Stewarts ‘8 Steps’, but which occurred to me, is to serve snacks. Whenever I host anything (in-bred from my mom), I, at least, serve something to munch on – it’s always an ice-breaker! So, I decided to prepare a bunch of simple finger-food snacks for everyone to enjoy besides the cookie samples. Having hypoglycemia, myself, I knew I couldn’t snack on all that sugar and wanted to offer my friends the same option. One friend, who couldn’t make cookies in time for the party, but didn’t want to miss out on the “girl time”, brought a wonderful spinach dip and crackers for the “snack table” instead. All were welcomed, cookies in tow or not! Afterwards, I found that Martha Stewart did have a follow up to the ‘8 Steps’ regarding finger-foods to serve at your cookie swap – https://www.marthastewart.com/274426/holiday-cookie-swap-finger-foods
As everyone started showing up, I got wrapped up in setting up the snack table, making introductions between those who didn’t know each other and, of course, in the socializing. Thus, I forgot all about putting out the coffee, tea and punch that I had planned (Step 8); but I did have bottled water for everyone (thanks to my wonderful husband – who always has my back – as he brought in a cooler full of the iced-down bottles for all of us!)
Also, not listed in the “8 Steps”, I decided to offer a few “door prizes”. Martha did make mention of voting on a favorite cookie during the test-tasting, but I was debating between having a few cute, little shower-type games for us to play or just drawing a few names from a hat (or something like that.) In the end, because the socializing was going so well and I didn’t want it to stop, I just had my husband draw 3 names out of a bowl containing all the names of the ladies who showed up; and each of those 3 ladies went home with an extra little gift bag from me.
Unfortunately, it didn’t dawn on me until after my first friend left and others were getting ready to do the same that I should have been taking pictures of everyone and their wonderful baked goods! I did get my husband to take one picture of all of us before anyone else left, which I could immediately send to everyone through my Messenger App. Note-to-self: next time, delegate (in advance) someone to be “the photographer”, which wasn’t in the 8 Steps either! Anyway, I hope I created some special new memories for my friends. I know I will cherish the memories of that day, myself, flaws and all! In fact, I am really looking forward to doing it all again next year!
Photo by Laura Emerich, Dec. 14, 2018
In the mean time, this is a picture of the cookie recipe I chose to make for my friends – my mom’s make-alike version of Mrs. Fields Soft Sugar Cookies – as printed on her later “Free Recipes/Information” sheets (2000) under the name “Mrs. Meadows”, along with her make-alike version of Mrs. F’s Crisp Buttery Cookies, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
*Special note: I used a 1/8-cup scoop to ball up my cookies and I had about 50 cookies. This recipe says it yields 2 dozen…it should be 4 dozen.
In addition, this is a picture of Mom’s 1985 version of Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies from her older “Free Recipes/Information” sheets, again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
Note: Unlike the previously shared “free” recipes in my blogs, the Mrs. Fields make-alike cookies I’ve included in this blog also appeared in some of Mom’s other previously self-published cookbooks and newsletters; but, they didn’t make it into her last cookbook [“Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing).]
Hi, again, everyone! First of all, happy Chanukah/Hanukkah to all of those celebrating this wonderful 8-day, traditional Jewish “festival of lights”! Whether you say “Shalom” or “Noel” – both words mean “Peace”. It is the season of love, hope and understanding! We are all different, yet so alike, and that’s okay. Cheerish it! Embrace it! Own it! Celebrate it! “Let there be peace on Earth…” and let it begin with each and every one of us!
“Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes [TM] Quarterly, Winter 94/95.
As I make out this year’s Christmas cards from my husband and I to all of our friends and family, I can’t help but reminisce over the past year. Last Christmas was a rough one, as Mom’s health seemed to deteriorate in December. I didn’t do the yearly card tradition for my husband and I; as, instead, I helped Mom to write and send out her own Christmas cards – not knowing it was for the last time. It was such a rollercoaster ride that month and the next, as she seemed to get better and worse and better again (which, I understand, is usually what happens at “the end”) until she passed away peacefully on January 21st, of this year, lovingly surrounded by family and care-givers and friends.
One “hidden blessing” in Dementia is the ability to recall old memories with clarity, like they happened recently. Mom often reminisced with me and my kids and grandson on our visits with her, about stories of some of our relatives, whom were long gone, from her chilhood memories. She couldn’t understand how she could remember such things, like they happened yesterday, but couldn’t remember who she actually saw or spoke to that previous day. It was also very hard for her to look in the mirror, as she didn’t really recognize the face staring back at her because her mind was often in the past, including how she looked then and not currently. As discussed in Scrapbook Photo Albums are Therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Patientsby Mark B. Mizen, Ph.D., Director of Technology at Creative Memories; Saint Cloud, MN, photographs and scrapbooks and journals are such important “tools” for those who suffer from Dimentia and Alzheimer, as well as for their families, friends and care-takers.
If only hindsight was forsight! I wish now, that I had written more of her stories down or, better yet, recorded the conversations. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. Over 26 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about her and my dad’s plans for a Christmas present to me and my siblings, of a cassette recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their most dearly remembered and cherished moments; plus, memories of their grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know; as well as other stories about the family that we could pass on to future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. It would’ve been priceless to me and my own children, as well as to my grandson.
I’ve always loved Mom’s artistic way with words. Her love for writing and journaling helped her, somewhat, to deal with the Dimentia from which she suffered after a double stroke and “grand mal seizure” in 2015. The writing was as much a form of therapy for her as it was just a natural reflex. Mom penned her feelings and memories in journals for most of her life. My younger sister has all the journals that still exist. Some were lost or destroyed over the years. But, Mom also recorded some of her feelings and memories in every one of her publications too. I really do enjoy re-reading all of her “Food for Thought” memories that are in her old books and newsletters of which I still have copies. A lot of what she wrote about was regarding finding the blessings in any given moment – good and bad, alike – for that was how she was raised. Being grateful everyday for what she confronted and overcame was a big part of Mom’s journaling.
In later years, Mom was largely influenced in this effect by Maya Angelou, who told of her experience with “the yellow pad” in an interview with David Holstrom of “The Christian Science Monitor” (1993) – Maya said she went 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. He gave her a yellow pad and told her to write down her blessings. She said she didn’t even want to hear that, but he insisted that she start with the fact that she could hear him, that she could see the page, that she could hold the pen. “Before I reached the end of the page,” she [Maya] said, “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.”
“The celebration of the moments worth remembering continues to have its place. ” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes [TM] Quarterly, Wnter 94/95.
As with my prervious blogs, I’d like to end by sharing one of Mom’s recipes with you that appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. This picture contains a copy of Mom’s 1985 make-alike version of California’s famous See’s Candy fudge (an easy, favorite treat she liked to make at Christmas time):
This recipe, unlike most of the others I’ve shared here, does not appear in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], an 8.25×11-inch, “Perfect Bound Softcover”, 322-page cookbook (also available as an eBook) published in January 2018 and available for purchase (ISBN: 9781504391214.) However, you will find, in this book, Mom’s make-alike recipes for Niagara Falls Fudge as offered at the Maple Leaf Village in Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada); as well as her “Somewhere In Time Chocolate Fudge”, like “Murdick’s Fudge”, Mackinaw Island, MI referenced in a scene in the movie, after which she named her version.
Hello to everybody and happy Monday, again! For those whom are new to this site, let me introduce myself – I am Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and my mom is Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL Secret Recipe Detective! I started this blog in September of this year to celebrate my mom’s legacy.
Mom’s 1983 cookbook’s back-cover, as found on page 316 of her last book – “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing).]
She was such a tremendous trail-blazer! Mom was the first one, starting back in the early 70’s, to discover ways for making your favorite restaurant & fast food dishes, as well as many grocery products, right in the comfort of your own home and she also found a way to share those “secrets” about which many companies wanted to keep her hushed. But the funny thing is, if she had actually “discovered” their real “secret” recipes, then it was purely by accident because Mom didn’t really KNOW any of their actual recipes unless they happened to share them with her (and only a few did so.) However, she could figure out the basics of any dish and tweak it to the specific flavors of a specific maker’s dish or product in order to imitate it! As Mom would always say, “I do with recipes what Rich Little does with voices!” She was the original pioneer of the “make-alike”, “copycat”, “eating out at home” and “homemade groceries” movements.
Besides her writing, cooking and artistic talents, Mom was a very devout Christian. No matter what problems and struggles were thrown into her path, she never lost her faith and she always found something in it by which to learn and be grateful. She often wrote about it (faith) in her cookbooks and newsletters, to simply share with and inspire others. Mom thought good cookbooks should feed the mind and soul, as well as the body; and that’s how she always wrote her books and newsletters – with “Food for Thought” editorials and quips, as well as some product or company history, little-known-facts and tidbits of information, as they related to certain recipes.
Last week was my first Thanksgiving without Mom here. It was a bitter-sweet experience. I miss her so much, but I’m also at peace and happy that she is with my dad now. He passed away over three years before Mom; and they were heart-wrenching days, weeks, months and years for her to be without him. They were together for 60 years – day in and day out – especially, after Mom started her “Secret Recipes” business and Dad left his employer to manage the business end of things for Mom, while she handled the creative and promotional end. Still, in those 39 months without Dad, Mom never lost faith that they’d, someday, be together again and that it was not for her to know why, how or when – only that it will be.
I am so grateful for everything Mom has given me and taught me in my life-time with her. As the last of the Thanksgiving left-overs disappear and we gear down for the final holiday shopping push – such as on this popular and ever-growing “Cyber Monday” extravaganza – I can only hope that everyone remembers those things for which they were giving thanks just a few days ago, as they gathered around the turkey laden table with family and/or friends, and that they are not letting the commercialism of the up-coming holidays interfere with those heart-felt thoughts of gratefulness. I think that gratitude is the simplest and purest gift that you can give anyone at any time – a smile and a “thank you” can go a long way – even for those whom we’ve perceived to have done us wrong in some way, we can be grateful for the learning experiences that are derived from the struggles we faced.
“Grateful for the Struggles” –
Sometimes, just for a moment – other times, for much longer. Nonetheless, we have to deal with each struggle as it arises. We don’t analyze what’s going on. We don’t blame other people for our pain. We don’t justify our fears, today, by regretting what took place in the past. We’re dealing with our attitude right now – right where we are in the present moment. We don’t worry about what will or won’t occur in the future. We are capable of making some good decisions when we are called on to make them. Whether we did or not in the past is the past. We’re not the same person, today, we were then. We’re not even the same person we were yesterday, but we are learning lessons all of the time. Melody Beattie [The Language of Letting Go] says, “Our past is a series of lessons that advance us to higher levels of living and of loving.” – Gloria Pitzer [The Recipe Detective ™ Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 218, November 2000; page 2]
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 (and at less cost.) She was also very grateful to all the media sources (newspapers and magazines, as well as radio and TV talk shows) that interviewed, wrote and talked about her imprints in the food industry, especially in the “fast food” area. She was also grateful to us, her family, for supporting and helping her in so many different ways – as office, art and promotional assistants; as well as recipe and taste testers – but also including staying out of her hair when need be.
It was [in the early 70’s] while I was writing for the Pt. Huron Times Herald that I was asked to do the food page column…and found myself answering a stack of readers’ mail. The first question I came to really launched what was to become “Secret Recipes”. A reader wanted to know “how to make the sauce like ‘a place’ called McDonald’s puts on their double-decker hamburgers.”
“A place called McDonald’s” meant a drive into the city, where this place, then, only had one arch. A sample of their “secret sauce” turned out to be a very good Thousand Island dressing, not unlike what Bob’s Big Boy [later known as the Elias Brothers’ Big Boy] was already using on their double-decker. After a few taste tests at home, the family agreed that we had come pretty close to their sauce, and so I included my version of their product in my food column along with a few other tidbits. The response from readers was so gratifying that the editor was only too happy to have me continue along this path for several weeks to come. Each week, I took another famous place, similar to McDonald’s, and tried to recreate a dish at home that would come close to what the restaurant called a “secret recipe”.
I was doing just fine until the week I decided to do a cheesecake recipe – the one that “nobody doesn’t like”. Well, those wonderful people had just bought a whole page of advertising in that week’s food section, and they thought it was not only ungrateful, but down-right rude of us to run a recipe for a product that was supposed to be just like theirs. I could see their point. The editor was beside himself with worry and immediately told me to drop the column!
I thought ahead to the time when we could, as Colton once said, “flatter them with the sincerity of imitation”, but they were hardly flattered. I wanted to talk with the advertisers and try to work out something that w-o-u-l-d flatter them and their product, but the editor would not hear of it. He told me to go back to the old way of doing the food column…OR…I could pick up my check. Well, I was so sure that the recipe imitation idea would work, if not with his paper, with somebody else’s that I told him to “mail it to me!” And I went home to eventually start my o-w-n paper – what is now our “Secret Recipes Newsletter”, and as the events leading up to and beyond developed, step-by-step, the learning experiences contributed beautifully to the outcome.
This is the make-alike version of McDonald’s famous Big Mac Sauce that Mom developed for making at home, which she called “The Big Match Special Sauce”, including the introductory back-story, as seen on page 11 of her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)]; as well as being on Mom’s free recipes and information sheets, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. The 8.25×11-inch, “Perfect Bound Softcover”, 322-page cookbook (also available as an eBook ) was published in January 2018 and can be purchased here: https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252 (ISBN: 9781504391214.)
WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT HAMBURGERS without talking about the most successful of the fast food chains – McDonald’s! It’s the only company in the fast food industry that has succeeded in cornering the market on family food and fast service restaurants – the world over! McDonald’s was the trend-setter; the hometown hospitality example in the industry. They took meat and potatoes and turned it into a billion-dollar enterprise.
Hamburgers, French fries and milkshakes were making their menu debut at “drive-in” restaurants, where car hops took your orders and returned with trays of food that hooked on to the window of your car. Kids cruised these places in their parents’ Edsel, Hudson and Kaiser-Fraser sedans back then. Hamburger “joints” were less than desirable to most people who appreciated good food and a pleasant dining-out experience. But these drive-ins had one interesting thing in common that appealed to the public – they were AFFORDABLE!
It was 1954 and Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s, was 52 years old. Hardly the time in one’s life when they’d start to think about launching a new enterprise, but rather a time when most began to think about retiring! On one of his sales trips, Ray Kroc, a Dixie Cup salesman, met the owners of a thriving hamburger restaurant in California. Eventually, Kroc purchased the business from Maurice (Mac) McDonald and his brother, Richard. Mac & Dick had a fetish for cleanliness. Their place in San Bernardino was spotless! And much like Ray Kroc in his own experience years later, they weren’t too keen about teenagers. They avoided catering to the teenage market exclusively because kids loitered, were noisy and threw food around. The McDonald’s concept was for “the family!” McDonald’s wasn’t the first company to create a fast food concept; but, by far, it was the most recognized and the most profitable in the industry. While fast food has taken it on the chin for every conceivable infraction of culinary achievement that the critics could possibly contrive, McDonald’s still came out on top!
THE BIG MATCH ATTACH – This is the double-decked, at-home-hamburger recipe that promises you will shock the socks off everyone who tries your improvisation of the famous “Golden Arch’s” very own “Big Mac”.
All you need for one ‘Big Match’ is: 2 all beef patties, “Special Sauce”, lettuce, cheese, onions, pickles & 2 sesame seed buns. Sear both sides of the 2 patties in a bit of oil on a hot griddle, cooking to medium-well. Place each patty on the 2 bottom halves of the buns. To each of these, add a tablespoon of Special Sauce (see below), lettuce, cheese, onions and pickles to taste. Assemble one atop the other and add one of the bun tops to the top of that. Serve at once to anyone having a Big Match Attach!
THE BIG MATCH SPECIAL SAUCE
1 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
1/3 cup creamy French dressing
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dry, minced onions
In a small mixing bowl, stir all ingredients together with a spoon, as listed. Makes 2-cups sauce. Keeps up to a week or so if refrigerated & well-covered. Do not freeze this.
The version pictured below is from Mom’s “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (2000), asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
Happy holidays everyone! They are really creeping up fast! Thanksgiving is only 10 days away!!! Before we know it, it’ll be the Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve – and then a whole new year will be upon us!
This was always the time for Mom to start baking like a “mad woman”, stock-piling and freezing dozens upon dozens of cookies, fudge and candy confections for gifts and entertaining.
There are so many different types of cookies – as they say, ‘more than Carter has pills!’ Sometimes they’re called “biscuits” or “bars” or “squares”. Some are baked in an oven – and even that fluctuates between hard, soft or chewy – while others are set in the refrigerator or freezer.
Cookies use an array of ingredients including, but not limited to: butter, eggs, oil, peanut butter; plus, various sugars, flours, oats, spices and cocoas/chocolates. Many optional additions include coconut, peanuts, various nuts, candies, baking chips, raisins and many types of dried fruits. Some cookies are frosted or coated in some type of sugar. Mom even developed a cookie recipe a long time ago (as seen at the end of this blog), mixing dry cake and pudding mixes together with mayonnaise!!!
One of my earliest memories, from when I first started going to school, was of being afraid that no one would like me and that I wouldn’t have any friends. Mom gave me a lunch sack full of cookies and told me “the quickest way to their hearts is through their stomachs” and, if I shared the cookies with the other kids, I would surely make friends. It worked! In later years, it worked just as well to help my own kids “break the ice” and make new friends!
There’s no doubt that cookies make people feel good. They are often used as a reward for children, as well as adults, doing good deeds and using good manners, among many other things. Cookies can put a ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy day like nothing else can. There was a time, when my youngest child was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. She was withdrawn and anti-social, rarely smiled or showed any kind of emotion – but, mom could always pull her out of her shell, somewhat, with cookies! They were one of the few things that made her genuinely smile.
The following is Mom’s 1983 composition on the subject of “Cookies and Candies”, written for that particular chapter in her book, “The Better Cookery Cookbook”, plus her 1983 make-alike version of the Famous Amos cookies, which appear on pages 214-215 in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
COOKIES AND CANDIES really bring out the little child within us all. There is something almost rewarding about simple confections that the food industry has also been able to capitalize on the products of this division with great marketing success. The 1st bakery marketing efforts in the American frontier days included delicacies of French origin, Danish breads and cakes, Austrian strudel and pies of truly colonial persuasion. The candies, which were originally for special religious observances, have been taken into the fold of a prospering industry and have continued, despite repercussions of the critics, skepticism of sugar and artificial sweeteners, to please the public…
…When I compiled my favorite cookie and candy recipes for this section, I was really torn between what to keep and what to leave out. I wanted to share with you every single wonderful memory of a pleasing product, you could hopefully imitate in your own kitchen, as a compliment to the original…
…In cookie-baking, the spirit of ‘reward’ is still there, as it was when we were youngsters, and remains a tradition – we will always find a place and a reason for having a cookie jar in the kitchen…
…Years ago, when our 5 children were still in the sandbox set, holding tricycle symposiums in my flowerbeds and declaring our yard a national park for every child in the township, I had this ridiculous maternal notion that a cookie could cure countless conditions. So, I was wrong! Cookies did not remedy a Barbie doll with a missing string in her back or a G.I. Joe without a backpack in the ‘complete accessory kit’, as promised in the catalog. But, special cookies from a warm and sunny, semi-cluttered kitchen, did take the ‘bite’ out of a scraped knee and the ‘owie’ out of a bump on the head – and even though it wouldn’t bring the pet turtle back to life, a cookie and a kiss from Mom made the world seem a little bit brighter. I doubt that things have changed very much with mothers and their children since my own grew up… Even now…they all check the cookie jar with the same delight as they expressed when they were youngsters.
FAMOUS NAMELESS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
My original version had a dozen ingredients. Look at how I shortened it! Still, the results are identical! An interesting note on the popularity of these cookies… A few years ago, [around 1980], I received a letter from Dr. Joyce Brothers, in which this was the only recipe she requested. I sent her the longer, from-scratch version. I hope she has a chance to try this version. One thing I noted about the original cookie is that it has a “sugary” consistency to it. It’s almost like a confection. When Amos, himself, was interviewed in Family Circle magazine a few years ago, he offered them the recipe for making his kind of cookie at home. I tried that recipe 3 times and it was NOT one bit like his famous cookies. To be like his product, the cookie must be firm, a little crisp, but not dry, and have a definite brown-sugar-flavor and crunchy-texture to it. You can add chopped raisins to the finished batter and you can double the chocolate chips – but do be sure, if you are imitating the original product, that you include some pecan halves, as well as chopped pecans, for these really ‘make’ the cookie!
4-ounce package each: walnut chips and pecan halves
Mix the dry pudding powder with the dry cake mix in a roomy bowl. Combine thoroughly, using a slotted spoon or large meat fork. Then, mix in the mayonnaise; but, don’t use an electric mixer! When well-blended, add the chips and nuts. Drop by rounded spoonful, 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes at 350°F. It’s important to permit the cookies to cool at least 2 minutes on the baking sheet before moving them, carefully, to paper towels to continue cooling. These are very fragile while warm but tend to firm-up while cooling. Makes 4 ½ dozen. Keep at room temperature in a tightly covered container for up to a month! They freeze poorly. Note: If weather is very humid, you’ll note that these become quite limp if they stand out, uncovered, for any length of time. If you store the cooled, firm cookies in an airtight container they should remain crisp despite humid weather.
In February 1988, Mom appeared on The Home Showand they surprised her with an in-person visit from Wally Amos (Famous Amos Cookies), himself. I really wish I could find an actual recording of that show! Mom said he was such a nice man and really loved her version of his product – but made her promise to never go into the cookie business! The following is Mom’s updated make-alike version of the Famous Amos Cookies, from her time on The Home Show, as it appeared on her “Free Recipes & Information” sheet (2000) with an additional “Turtle Sundae Cookies” variation:
What’s “best” to me may not be the same as what’s “best” to you or to anyone else. But, from all the comments I’ve read on the subject, a LOT of people seem to feel that the best things in life really are the “free stuff”.
As far back as I can remember, my mom taught me that the best things in life aren’t necessarily tangible things! Mom – as do I – always treasured things like feelings, thoughts and expressions of caring. A smile or a hug or a strong, loving, family bond (be it by blood or by choice) have always been very important “best things” too.
All of these kind of things are given and received freely…at no monetary costs. I’ve tried to teach these “values” to my kids also – as my mom taught me and her mom taught her – now my daughter teaches these values to her son. Chivalry, courtesy and civility are not dead – nor can it hibernate, as long as we continue to teach it to each new generation!
Mom once wrote: “We must…remove price tags from people. Everyone has worth; the excitement lies in the discovery of their value!…Wealth does not equal worth and so the amount of money we could have earned, but turned down instead, as a result of keeping our publications at home, is not as important as the work itself.” – as found in her self-published book, ‘My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop’, 1st Edition, December 1989; p. 106
In the Fall season of 1981, after the over-whelming response to her 1st appearance on the Phil Donahue Show – Mom was repeatedly laying her head on her desk, “in tears of anguish and fatigue”, as the family-operated, dining-room-table business went from “rags-to-riches”, in terms of public response to her creations. But, fame was not all it was jacked-up to be; and, it was taking its toll on everyone! The cookbooks couldn’t be printed fast enough, to fill all the orders that were continually coming in; some customers were upset that they hadn’t received their orders, due to all sorts of confusing reasons; and the family was stressed-out and crumbling apart from all the related fall-out of “fame”. Hence, I left home early (just before my 17th birthday), running away with a boy of whom my parents disapproved.
Mom and Dad thought that, by moving to the Los Angeles area with my younger sister (near one of my older brothers, Mike, and Mom’s oldest sister, Hazel, and her family), they could all have a new beginning and leave all their problems behind, in St. Clair. As I did, in moving to the Houston area with my boyfriend. All of us soon realized we were mistaken – about what we thought we wanted/needed and how to go about getting it.
In California, it wasn’t long before Mom and Dad started missing the things about St. Clair that originally attracted them to move there from Algonac, in the first place…the friendliness of the town, the security of walking the streets without fearing harm, the simplicity of her small-town life. As much as they loved being near their family members, out there, that they rarely got to see, Mom couldn’t work or create in California! The peace and contentment she sought, but couldn’t find there, made her suddenly re-appreciate the freedom she had of living in a small, mid-west town, and she was eager to go “home”. She went back to what she loved best – writing and radio “visits” that kept her connected with her “readers” and “listeners”.
During that same time period, while I was on my own journey in the Houston area with my boyfriend, I also found that to be so true. It wasn’t long before I realized that being in a new place with my boyfriend was not making either of us happy. After 5 months in the Houston area, my boyfriend and I, along with another couple, moved back to our hometown area in Michigan. But, things still weren’t good/better for either of us. I was looking through rose-colored glasses at something that was just not meant to be.
Mom found out, through friends of mine, where I was living and how I was struggling. She started sending me little, anonymous, “angel” cards with a $20 bill – no return address or any writing other than my name and address on the envelope. I knew it was from her, even though the writing was “disguised”. Angels were our “connection”. While the money did help – that I cannot deny – it was the “anonymous” angel cards, themselves, that meant the most to me. She was reaching out, without any pressure or judgement. After my boyfriend and I split up, circumstances led me back to a loving and forgiving relationship with my parents.
Back to the best things in life – as I said in the beginning – things like feelings, thoughts and expressions of caring. A smile or a hug or a strong, loving, family bond (be it by blood or by choice) have always been very important “best things”! They are the things that truly make me happy…given and received freely…at no monetary costs.
Before Mom hung up her hat and magnifying glass to fully retire, (in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope) she was graciously giving away “free” sheets of 12-20 of her “best”, most popularly requested, recipes and information on what publications she had in print and how to get them. All her recipes are copyrighted; and one thing she always asked for, when she gave permission to copy, was to give her the proper credit for it. I am going to share one of those recipes with you each week, here in my blog, as they also appear in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
In last week’s blog, “More than 15 Minutes of Fame”, I shared her “Big Bucket In the Sky Chicken” recipe, which was also on the “free sheet”. This week, as “Pumpkin Season” begins, I’d like to share Mom’s favorite butter pie crust recipe from that “free sheet”, which is also found in her last book (cited above) on page 243.
BUTTER CRUST(My Most Dependable & Very Favorite Recipe!)
[Like Baker’s Square’s product!]
Melt ¼ pound butter – NOT margarine – in a small sauce pan on medium heat until it’s frothy, but don’t let it change color or become the least-bit brown. (I like to put the stick of butter into my heat-proof, 1 ½-quart, glass mixing bowl, placing it in the microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on “Defrost”.)
As soon as the butter is melted, and while it’s still hot, dump in the remaining ingredients: 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon and 1 cup all-purpose flour.
Turn your electric mixer on high and beat mixture in a bowl for about 30 seconds or until it comes away from the center and hits the sides of the bowl. Quickly gather it into a ball and pat it out to cover the bottom and sides of a Pam-sprayed, 10-inch, Pyrex pie plate. (Pyrex plates work best with this very rich recipe.) If you don’t have Pam, grease the pan in Crisco only! It might stick otherwise!
Bake crust at 375°F for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Fill as desired. Makes one 10-inch pie crust. Note: Do not double this recipe. The dough becomes difficult to work with as it cools and, then, it crumbles and breaks apart. Make one single recipe at a time.
To make top crust: Pat out a single recipe, as given above, on a Pam-sprayed and waxed-paper-lined dinner plate. Invert crust over filling spread in crust-lined pan, per recipe of your choice. Lift off plate and peel back waxed paper. Make slits for steam to escape. Gently press crust to rim of pie pan with a floured fork (or a fork dipped in ice water.) Use an egg-wash if you wish (one egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water and brushed lightly – lapping it, rather than pressing it, over top of crust), but the butter in this crust should allow it to brown beautifully without the wash. Bake per filling recipe directions. Generally, the best temperature is at 375°F for 25 to 28 minutes or until filling begins to bubble up through the slits in the top crust in the crust is golden brown.