Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Celebrate Your Neighbors

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

#TheRecipeDetective

#DoSomethingGoodForYourNeighborDay

Today is National Do Something Good for Your Neighbor Day! A neighbor was once defined as being near or next door to another. That has since expanded broadly to include any fellow human being.

Key traits of good neighbors include being friendly, available, and approachable. Other good traits are being respectful, mature, helpful, and trustworthy. Friendly neighbors always welcome new residents, introducing themselves, as well as other neighbors; always maintaining relationships and being sociable.

Generations ago, it was commonplace to know most, if not all, of your neighbors! However, according to a great article by John Anderer (Dec. 27, 2019), Sign Of The Times: 75% Of Adults Aren’t Friends With Any Of Their Neighbors, “1 in 4 people are living somewhere with ‘no sense of community spirit’ in their neighborhood.”

Over the decades, people have withdrawn from socializing with their neighbors. Furthermore, John wrote that “56% say they have no interest in getting to know those who live next door any better than they already do. But the survey did find that people living in rural areas (18%) are more likely to have friends in their neighborhood than city dwellers (15%).”

Mom celebrated “neighbors” (in the broader meaning) over the radio airwaves for many decades, 1974 to 2014, starting with Bob Allison and his Detroit area Ask Your Neighborshow’s audience, who were the first to call her “The Secret Recipe Detective”.

Bob and Mom formed a fast friendship, and she soon became a regular guest on his show every Monday for decades, sharing her secrets for imitating famous foods.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977)

ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR

FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS, we had only a hundred readers or so. Then, because some good folks in the media took a liking to the newsletter and mentioned it, subscriptions picked up. Bob Allison of Detroit’s WWJ-Radio [show], Ask Your Neighbor, probably gave us the most enthusiastic reception, which led to our becoming a sponsor of the show and caught the attention of the ‘Detroit Free Press’ ‘Newsweek’, ‘National Enquirer’ and many others until we found our circulation had jumped…to nearly 4,000 in a little more than a year.

The duplications of the famous name recipes stirred the [public’s] interest. It was a service that apparently had not been offered to the public yet, and one we were most happy to supply. The humorous columns I had [been syndicating] to newspapers just a few years before became a popular attraction in the monthly newsletter…

The operation grew so quickly that it had the whole family working seven days a week, just to keep up with the orders. All of our five children helped to assemble, staple, address, and mail out the copies under my husband’s supervision, until we reached about 3,000 readers and then we found it [to be] such a full-time activity that my husband resigned from his position of 20-some years as an account t executive for a sign company… just  to devote all of his attention to running my ‘office’. 

It was such a joy to be doing something for people that brought them so much happiness and our own family such a sense of unity. When our oldest son, Bill, went off to college… and our [other] son, Mike… we had to replace them. It was pure luck [or Divine intervention] that one of my friends, and the wife of one of the Little League coaches that Paul had worked with in baseball, here, in town, was anxious to help us out.

Sherry Ellis joined us, and I can only describe her as ‘bubbling like a happy brook’ – the best thing that this office could have hoped for. Debbie, our oldest daughter, continued to help us after school and our two younger daughters, Laurie and Cheryl… It even included my mother’s assistance and, you’ll note, I have used some of her recipes. Without her, I never would have learned to boil water properly. She’s a superb cook!

[As of] January 1977, we will publish our 37th monthly issue of the ‘National Homemaker’s Newsletter’ and we [now] have close to 5,000 readers. We say that getting the newsletter is just like getting together once a month for coffee with friends!

It was a bittersweet day when Mom published her last newsletter (Issue #219) in December 2000 – after 27 years of “getting together” with her thousands of readers, who she always thought of as her neighbors and friends. But she reveled in keeping in touch with them through her radio “appearances”.

By the way, Mom also celebrated neighbors for almost 13 years (June 1992 through December 2005), as did I for 13 months (April 2020 through May 2021), with radio talk show host, Kathy Keene, and her “Good Neighbor” show’s audience, on WHBY in Appleton, WI. I’m honored to have been able to share that with her.

According to a consensus of online advice, a few great ways to make friends with your neighbors, new or otherwise, include taking the initial step (if they haven’t come to you) and knocking on their doors, with a greeting and introduction.

Sometimes organizing a housewarming party or backyard barbecue can create a great ice-breaker event between neighbors, in which they can get to know each other. Such gatherings help neighbors and neighborhoods find common ground on which to connect.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, from…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, pp. 50 & 59)

DON’T GIVE UP!

PEOLE NOWADAYS GIVE UP too easily. They’ll donate a dollar to an anonymous recipient of any given charity but won’t give two words to an offended neighbor – the two most important words of successfully living side-by-side – ‘I’m sorry.’

You don’t throw away the patient because the bandage needs changing. You try again, and again, and again for some common ground of understanding. Otherwise, how will we, as a society, ever be able to love our neighbors across the world, until we’ve first learned to love those across the street? (p. 50)

SATISFACTION GUARANTEED

IT’S GOOD TO HAVE good neighbors! I guess that’s why I never want to move from this house. We don’t even know all of our neighbors by name, but we recognize their smiles and respond to their waving when we passed by or see each other in town.

The other day I asked one of the older neighbors on the block where he got his lovely outlook on life, which he said he borrowed from Khalil Gibran: ‘I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind.’ (p. 59)

LAST THOUGHTS…

IN CLOSING…

Today is National Barbecue Day AND it’s National Barbecue Month! In honor, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for sugar-free “Barbeque Sauce” AND FOUR MORE – #DoSomethingGoodForYourNeighborDay – related recipes including sugar-free versions of Apple Sauce, Ketchup, Apple Butter, and Catalina Dressing; all of which are found in her self-published cookbook, Sugar-Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, pp. 12, 50, 54 & 67).

#NationalBarbecueDay

#NationalBarbecueMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of May’s observances include… American Cheese Month, National Asparagus Month, National Egg Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Hamburger Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Other celebrations this week include… National Bike to Work Week, which began yesterday; with National Bike to Work Day observed on Friday!

Today is also… National Love a Tree Day, National Mimosa Day, and National Biographer’s Day!

Tomorrow is… National Pack Rat Day, National Cherry Cobbler Day, National Walnut Day, and National Idaho Day!

May 18th, is… National Visit Your Relatives Day, National No Dirty Dishes Day, and National Cheese Soufflé Day! Plus, as the third Wednesday in May (for 2022), it’s also… National Juice Slush Day! In honor, here’s a re-share of Mom’s “Orange Brutus” recipe that is 3-in-1; from her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 32)!

#NationalJuiceSlushDay

Thursday, May 19th, is… National Devil’s Food Cake Day!

May 20th, is… National Pick Strawberries Day [plus it’s National Strawberry Month] and National Quiche Lorraine Day! Plus, as the 3rd Friday in May (for 2022), it’s also… National Pizza Party Day!

May 21st, is… National Strawberries and Cream Day! Did you pick strawberries yesterday? Plus, as the 3rd Saturday in May(for 2022), it’s also… National Armed Forces Day and National Learn to Swim Day! 

Sunday, May 22nd, is… National Craft Distillery Day, World Paloma Day, National Maritime Day, National Solitaire Day, and National Vanilla Pudding Day!

#TGIM

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

…20 down and 32 to go!

Orange Brutus

Orange Brutus

By Gloria Pitzer – part of her “Original 200” recipes collection.

This particular version can be seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

Remember, Brutus is the fella who ‘did in’ Julius! The 3 original versions of this frozen orange concoction were first printed on page 52 of Gloria’s Secret Fast-Food Recipes (1977) cookbook. This is the way it used to taste, like an orange Creamsicle, when it was first introduced in the 1920s. Today it’s a little different, and easier to recreate at home!

Ingredients:

3 cups orange juice

1 envelope Dream Whip powder

1/2 tsp vanilla

3 1/2-oz box instant vanilla pudding powder

3 additional cups of orange juice

Instructions:

Combine ingredients in blender until smooth. Pour into a pitcher and add 3 more cups of orange juice. Serve over cracked ice for 6 lovely drinks!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – A Rose by Another Name

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – A Rose by Another Name

Happy Monday to all and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom! I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful, memory-making Mother’s Day yesterday!

I’m Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started these blogs last September to channel the memories I have of my mom and how she impacted my life – as well as the lives of so many others the world over. I’m one of five children of the trailblazing pioneer who originated the copycat recipe movement, as my mom is Gloria Pitzer; aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator of Secret RecipesTM. As such, my inherited love for writing, which came from my mom’s genes, took me on this incredible journey, down a new and diverse path of blogging to honor her legacy.

In the back, left to right, is Cheryl, Debbie, me & our dad…In front, left to right, is Lady (under the table), Bill and Mike. Pitzer family photographed by Gloria Pitzer, March 1973

TheRecipeDetective.com website was originated by my brother, Mike, years ago to help bring our parents’ Secret RecipesTM business into the digital age, on the internet. I remember when Mom got her first computer…she tried to learn how to operate it, even just to get into her email; but, she was too frustrated by the new technology and ended up giving the computer to one of her grandkids, who new what to do with it. Mike managed the website and email until he passed it on to me last summer, because I wanted to start these blogs about our mom, in tribute to her legacy!

Mom passed away over a year ago – in January of 2018. Shortly before her passing, Mom’s last cookbook was published by Balboa Press. I worked, together, with Mom for over two years to write it. It’s actually a rewrite of Mom’s favorite self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (May 1983, 3rd Printing), freshly formatted and somewhat updated for a new, digital generation. The writing/rewriting collaboration put our mother-daughter relationship on a whole new level.

In the process of publishing the new/old cookbook through Balboa Press, they REQUIRED us to change the book’s title (or they wouldn’t publish it) because it too closely resembled the title of another cookbook by the famous Betty Crocker! It was supposed to! Regardless, I failed to get through to the publishers that the whole premise of the entire cookbook was a parody of IMITATIONS, from the title of the book, Better Cookery Cookbook v. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, to the recipes, themselves – Hopeless Twinkles, for example, is similar to Hostess Twinkies; and Wednesday’s Chili sounds similar to Wendy’s, the fast food chain.

Balboa suggested calling the new book Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook, but that wasn’t good enough for Mom and I. Thus, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places – the Best of the Recipe Detective”, grudgingly became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – the Best of the Recipe Detective, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places” remaining. I suppose, contrary to Charles Colton’s famous quote, imitation isn’t always considered flattering!

As a matter of fact, there were a lot of food companies that were totally offended by a small-town homemaker, not only imitating their products in her own kitchen, but also naming her recipes to sound like theirs! As well as, sharing her recipes with the public, so they could also “eat out, at home!” Many companies complained of copyright infringements and threatened her with lawsuits, but none of them actually took her to court. One company, however, started an ad campaign, using a 1970s, stereotype housewife with a claim that even she can’t make their product at home!

Stouffers’ and Orange Julius’ attorneys were among the worst of the top 10 complainers in that offended category. Continuously, the Orange Julius people threatened Mom with lawsuits regarding one of her “Original 200” make-alike recipes, “Orange Judas”, as found (in 3 versions) on page 6 of her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurants Recipes Book (Jan. 1977). In fact, neither company liked it when Mom AND the media referred to her recipes’ finished products as being like their products, nor did they want her recipes’ names to sound anything like their own products’ names.

Mom renamed her “Orange Judas” recipe a number of times, and still couldn’t appease that company! Regardless of their lawsuit threats, she finally settled on “Orange Brutus” for the recipe’s name. In a way, Mom turned that “lemon into lemonade”, so to speak; since, as she promoted it, “Brutus was the one who ‘did in’ Julius!” [See Mom’s recipe at the end of this blog.]

All the fights between the companies saying she infringed on their copyrights and Mom wanting to pursue her right to create her own homemade versions and promote them, just spurred her on all the more! She felt that, if all of these companies’ attorneys were persistently huffing and puffing to blow her house down, she must be on the right path and she must have gotten pretty close with her imitations too!

On the other hand, some food companies, such as White Castle and Sanders Chocolates, were honored by Mom’s efforts at flattery by imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey and General Foods corporations happened to be a slight mixture of both. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe titles, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups” and “Shape & Bake”, for they too closely resembled their trademark names, “Reese’s” and “Shake & Bake”, as to cause confusion between the products; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.

To the Hershey corporation, Mom explained the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat); she also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s chocolate in the recipe. In the original version of this recipe, Mom used Nestle’s brand and noted not to substitute on the brand. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer.

Mom also worked with the General Foods corporation, changing the title of her coating mix to “Shook & Cook”, with which General Foods was, likewise, pleased. Mom had sent General Foods a copy of an editorial page from her newest cookbook (at that time), The Joy of NOT Cooking…Anymore than You have To (1983). In the editorial, Simple Reproductions, Mom wrote about her recipe imitations and their effect on certain “big” companies, comparing her opposite encounters with General Foods’ attorneys and Stouffers’ attorneys.

Gloria Pitzer, the Recipe DetectiveTM

General Foods was pleased with Mom’s editorial compliments on their helpful approach and even offered Mom complete cooperation at any time with any of their products that she used as ingredients in her recipes. As Mom said in the editorial, “now that’s a BIG company – big in spirit and in customer relations. I purchase all of their products as often as I possibly can to show my approval of their efforts not to alienate a customer.” Unlike Stouffer’s hammer approach, General Foods took a scalpel approach to reach a remedy that could benefit, both, them and Mom.1 There was no problem with the recipe Mom presented as an imitation of their product, they just wanted a different title for it to protect their trademarks and copyrights.

As I wrote about in an earlier blog, ImitationMerriam-Webster.com says that imitation means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…” and Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” Thus, Mom often referred to herself as “the Rich Little of recipes”. Rich Little was a famous, stand-up comedian and extremely good imitator of celebrity voices; while Mom was a comedic writer and cartoonist, as well as an imitator of “famous foods from famous places”!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I found it ironic – and still do – that over the years, since Mom officially started her Secret RecipesTM enterprise in 1973, so many people have imitated her, the ORIGINAL famous foods imitator. It’s a niche Mom originally carved out in the early 1970s. But, not all of those who have followed since have given Mom the appropriate credit due her for being the original sleuth to uncover the supposed secrets of the food industry, imitating the “famous foods from famous places” at home! Kudos to those who have given Mom the proper credit, though!

In other news…

#Women’sCheckupDay

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, among some of the national celebrations taking place right now, today is National Women’s Checkup Day! According to the website, there are five healthy habits “they” recommend women do to improve their well-being… (1) maintain regular checkups, (2) be physically active, (3) stick to a healthy diet, (4) don’t smoke and (5) follow general safety rules. Use #Women’sCheckupDay to post your tribute to women’s health on social media.

#NationalStrawberryMonth

In addition, for foodies and gardeners, alike, NationalDayCalendar.com says that May is also National Strawberry Month! The website suggests that, to observe the holiday, you could visit a “pick-your-own” strawberry farm (or go to your local farmers’ market), plant a few strawberry plants of your own (or in a community garden) and/or prepare a recipe that uses strawberries. The website also gives a few links to some good strawberry recipes.

However, I have a great recipe for you, here, with a strawberry alternative! As discussed above, this famous frozen drink imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the beginning of her self-publishing business in 1973, as it’s one of her “Original 200” recipes. It has appeared in several of her cookbooks, in a few different versions and under a few different names; but, all of which Mom personally created. This form (pictured below) can currently be found in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!

NOTE: Mom’s strawberry version of this Brutus drink appeared in her cookbook, The Three-In-One Book of Less Fat and Sugar & Best Bread Recipes (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 11), which is no longer in print, but used copies may be found on Amazon or eBay. This strawberry version calls for 7-Up or Faygo Red Pop and a strawberry Kool-Aid type of drink powder instead of the orange juice or Tang ingredients that some of her other versions include. I posted one of those other versions in a previous blog, Recipes and Radio, back in November of last year.

The cookbook also offers a version of just the “powdered mix” to jar up and mix, by tablespoonful, with individual glasses of your own chosen liquid. Mom’s recipes were often quite flexible in this way, as she recognized (having 5 children and a husband to feed) that a lot of peoples’ tastes vary, and good recipes should be able to accommodate such taste variances.

1 References to scalpel and hammer are from a former television show, Person of Interest (Season 3, episode 12), when Shaw says, “There’s a time for a scalpel and a time for a hammer. It’s hammer time!”

2 The earliest written form I can find of this proverb is a reference by William Shakespeare, in his 1600 play, As You Like It, when Rosalind asks, “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”