Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Cover it in Chocolate!

Happy Monday! Today is December 16th and time to celebrate National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day! Although there is no history to be found about the who-when-and-why of the holiday’s origin, it’s still a wonderful concept to celebrate – especially during the coming holidays!

There are many national holidays that celebrate chocolate – and why not? It’s probably the most enjoyed flavor of all-time! You can make just about anything, food or drink, taste better by adding or covering it in chocolate (bacon, too – but, that’s another celebration.)

Stress wouldn’t be so hard to take if it were chocolate-covered. – Origin un-known

Nonetheless, it seems like it’s only during the winter holidays that you can find the really good “specialty items” that are covered in chocolate and ready for unique gift-giving (even if it’s only to yourself) – spoons covered in fancy chocolate designs (for stirring into your hot coffee or cocoa); pretzels, crackers, cookies and fruit to name a few examples that are dipped into special chocolate-coatings that harden as they cool.

However, we don’t have to wait for the holidays to enjoy anything that’s covered in chocolate. You’d be surprised at how easy and quick some of those “specialty”, chocolate-covered treats are to make – thus, maybe, add some to your homemade holidays (as I discussed in last week’s blog entry – of the same name!) They make great gifts for friends, neighbors, co-workers, teachers, care-givers and so on. Again, as I did in that blog entry, I highly recommend Pinterest for a wide-variety of great ideas and inspiration from which to unsheathe!

Michiganders know all about the creamy, luscious, milk chocolate covered delights that are created by Sanders’ Chocolatiers! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a dozen times – Mom was a big chocolate-lover! Especially, when it came to the confections made by Michigan’s finest chocolatiers at Sanders Candy! The official Sanders story can be found at https://www.sanderscandy.com/about-us.

Way back when… during Mom’s radio show interviews across the country, as the Recipe DetectiveTM, she often heard requests for Sanders’ treats from listeners who were re-located Michiganders that couldn’t enjoy Sanders Candy where they were now living. Of course, nowadays, we have the internet and we can order just about anything we want, from just about anywhere, and have it all delivered to our doorsteps! But, sometimes, homemade is just better.

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. – Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump)

I’m sure everyone has some childhood memories of special chocolate delicacies, which tickle them with feelings of love, content and comfort. According to an article by Richard Davies, called 10 Amazing Facts about Chocolate, it is widely believed that chocolate consumption releases a chemical into your body, which is very similar to what is produced when you’re in love.

Other fun facts I found about chocolate, in that article, include…

Did you know that…

…chocolate is lower in caffeine than tea, coffee and Coca-Cola?

…chocolate contains antioxidants which may help prevent cancer and heart disease?

…the shelf life of a bar of chocolate is approximately one year?

For some more fun facts, I found the following information, below, in an article, called 10 Fun Facts about Chocolate, at RighteouslyRawChocolate.com. However, I didn’t see an author listed for whom to give credit.

Additionally, did you know that…

…chocolate comes from the beans of a fruit tree?

… each cacao tree produces approximately 2,500 beans?

…it takes about 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate?

[FYI – that equals 6.25 pounds of chocolate produced per tree.]

… a farmer must wait four to five years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans?

… chocolate has over 600 flavor compounds?

What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate. – Katharine Hepburn

When Mom developed her first copycat version of Sanders’ Hot Fudge Sauce, in the mid-1970’s era, it was part of her “original 200” copycat recipes that launched her career as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Sanders was one of a handful of companies that were flattered (rather than infuriated) by Mom’s imitations and she became great friends with the Sanders family, in the process.

A secret Mom discovered, in replicating the creaminess and flavor of Sanders’ hot fudge sauce, was to use Nestle brand milk chocolate, as no other brought the same taste and texture that she was trying to achieve. I’ve shared a couple of Mom’s copycat versions of Sanders-Style Hot Fudge Sauce in the “Recipes” tab on this website. Her hot fudge sauce was always one of our family’s top 10 favorite treats from her homemade copycat creations!

#ChocolateCoveredAnythingDay

You can use the hot fudge sauce to cover ice cream, brownies or pies – to name a few. Likewise, you can dip cookies or chunks of fruit into the sauce, like a fondue! It all sounds like the makings for a party to me! I wish I could indulge in the real thing. I probably miss Mom’s hot fudge sauce more than any other treat that she made.

#ChocolateCoveredAnythingDay

I have a lot of great childhood memories of when Mom created her homemade, copycat versions of Sanders’ special treats for our family – and it was especially fun to help her make the hot fudge sauce! I remember, as well, when I made this treat with my own kids, when they were small – and it was a big treat for all of us to have Sanders style hot fudge sundaes! In honor of National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day, here is Mom’s favorite make-alike version of their hot fudge sauce:

HOT FUDGE SAUCELike Sanders

By Gloria Pitzer

[Recipe Number 1my own favorite!]

INGREDIENTS:

14-ounce can Eagle Brand milk

14 ounces light corn syrup (use EB milk can to measure)

¼ pound butter*

(*per the “free sheet” directions; the cookbook – as it was written in 1983 – calls for ½ pound)

12 ounces Nestlé’s milk chocolate candy bars – Do not substitute on brand of candy!

a few drops vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

In top of double boiler, over simmering water, combine all ingredients as listed, stirring about 15 minutes until smooth and melted. Cover and continue cooking for at least 30 more minutes, stirring about every 10 minutes. Cool and put through your blender in small portions, using on/off agitation on high speed until mixture is satiny-smooth. Makes 1 quart. Keeps refrigerated up to a month – reheat in top of double boiler over simmering water. Freezes well up to 6 months.

AGAIN, FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

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

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

It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship, between my Secret Recipes and Fred Sander’s products and, I learned, encouraged many out-of-state orders for their products whenever I talked about them during my frequent radio visits around the country. As the slogan for Sanders’ Restaurants, Bakery and Candy company said, ‘When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big, big treat…’

When it’s from Sanders, even a little is a big treat. – Sanders’ Candy Co.

As I said in my blog entry on July 1st, “Sanders doesn’t just create chocolate delights – while they do have a large variety of products – the best things that they create are the memories!” Here is another memory from Mom about the Sanders family, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 256).

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

All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt. – Charles M. Schulz

From song to movie to soap opera titles, we’ve heard how “love is a many-splendored thing.” Oddly enough, many people find love and happiness in chocolate. Mom often demonstrated how to make her version of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, when she appeared on various talk shows over the decades, because it’s so quick and easy – and one of her most requested recipes.

As with her fudge sauce imitation, Mom determined that Hershey’s brand chocolate (of course) is the best chocolate with which to re-create their peanut butter cups at home. In fact, this is another one of our family’s top 10 favorites of Mom’s homemade treats and it, too, was part of her “original 200” copycat recipes!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

As I mentioned earlier, only a handful of companies, like Sanders Candy, were flattered by Mom’s efforts at imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey corporation happened to be a slight mixture of, both, frustrated and flattered. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe title, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”, because it too closely resembled their trademark name, Reese’s, “as to cause confusion between the products”, they said; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.

Then, Mom explained to the Hershey corporation the meaning behind her title and the use of the word recess (as in a retreat). She also offered to only use and promote Hershey’s chocolate in her recipe. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer…and they lived happily ever after!

So, with National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day and the up-coming holiday celebrations in mind, I’d like to re-share with you Mom’s make-a-like version of the famous peanut butter cups that she called “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”; again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

Caramels are only a fad. Chocolate is a permanent thing. – Milton Hershey

IN CLOSING…

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

The Christmas pie (above) would taste even more awesome covered in chocolate! PLUS…

FOR A GREAT GIFT-GIVING IDEA…

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Love People Day

As always, happy Monday! According to NationalDays.com, today is National Love People Day and recommends us to, “…offer kindness and care to the people in your community.”

#NationalLovePeopleDay

While love doesn’t really make the world go ‘round (that’s a gravitational thing), it does make the ride more enjoyable! National Love People Day, according to NationalDays.com, was started by Life Line Church (Chicago) a couple of years ago. So, it’s a fairly new “National Day” promotion of celebration; yet “loving your neighbor” has always been around! NationalDays.com says, among other things, that today is a day “to lift others up”. I think we should lift others up EVERYDAY!

Mom always tried “to lift others up” in everything she wrote – starting with her multiple columns that were syndicated to multiple magazines and newspapers across the country to her hundreds of self-published newsletter issues (January 1974 through December 2000) and 40+ cookbooks (from her first one in 1973 to her last one, just before she passed away, in January 2018).

Mom loved to combine recipes (or food-for-the-table) with household hints, food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul – that’s what made her books stand out from all the rest; that and her being the first to start the copycat recipes movement in the food industry…particularly in the fast food and junk food categories, considered “taboo” foods by the critics. Nonetheless, people wanted to know how to make these things at home and, as the Recipe DetectiveTM, Mom figured it out and lovingly shared her secrets with the world.

‘Friends are a treasure and when we count our blessings we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 100)

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43)

YOU’VE MADE A FRIEND

A SMILE IS the universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!

Mom & Dad’s first camper

People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.

A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!

I remember Mom telling me stories about how, when I was just a couple of years old, no matter where she took me – on a ride in the car or shopping in a store, to name a couple – I always waved and smiled and said “hi” to everyone!

I once thought it was just natural for all people to do that but, in my younger adult years, I found that to be a false belief; as I couldn’t (not wouldn’t) smile when I was going through severe depression. As well, my youngest child has Asperger and it was always very difficult for her to smile, let alone look at people. She consciously works to try to overcome that in herself. Mom used to bribe her for smiles and kisses by bringing her cookies! (See Mom’s recipe for “Mrs. Meadow’s Crisp Buttery Cookies” at the end of this blog entry.)

LOVE ENTERTAINING GUESTS

With October knocking at our doors, are you ready for the coming fall holidays, football parties and general entertaining on the spot? There’s a lot to be said about entertaining company, planned or not. My mom influenced me greatly when it comes to this subject, as her mom did for her.

However, I usually tend to go overboard when I’m making appetizers (or meals) for guests. I don’t want anyone to walk away hungry so I, habitually, offer too many choices; always trying to please all and clean out my pantry at the same time! Thereby, I tend to seclude myself in the kitchen, away from the guests that my husband is left to amuse, himself (at which, by the way, he is very good), in another room, as our kitchen is too small for entertaining.

However, whenever someone comes into the kitchen, offering me their help, I usually decline; as I’m always in my own OCD “timing-mode”, with three different timers set to three or more different dishes that I’m shuffling in pans on the stovetop burners and in-and-out of the oven and onto trivets around the countertops. I like to have everything intermingling and coming together like the interwoven fingers of hands folded in prayer.

Besides which, I have a kind of small kitchen area in which to preform my shuffling “magic”. Speaking of which, National Magic Day is coming up on October 31st and did you know that October, itself, is also National Kitchen & Bath Month? I just thought I would throw that out there – a little food-for-thought to entertain your imagination! In fact, check out this link at Furniture.com about how to decorate a kitchen: https://www.furniture.com/tips-and-trends/how-to-decorate-a-kitchen.

#HowToDecorateAKitchen

There’s a lot of great, timeless, “how to” advice on entertaining in 9 Holiday Hosting Mistakes You Might Not Even Know You’re Making by Nancy Mitchell at https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/8-party-hosting-mistakes-you-might-not-even-know-youre-making-213600 [Published: Dec. 2, 2014] – and it doesn’t have to be for just the holidays.

I discovered that I make a lot of the mistakes that Nancy mentions in her article, and I love her solutions for them! Now, to consciously put them into practice – as old habits die hard! We’ll see how it goes at the next football party that my husband and I host for our friends.

I also learned from Nancy’s article that you don’t really need a lot of elaborate food when you’re entertaining on the spot – save that for a fancy, planned, dinner party. Most of the time, simple works best – like serving easy, throw-together, finger snacks such as little pizzas or some small, slider-style hamburgers (like Mom’s recipes – pictured below and further down).

In addition, having only a few simple foods to choose from is also much less stressful and disrupting from the event. Similar to my mom, I love to cook, and I tend to over-do it because I don’t like anyone to go away hungry (especially when they are here for a while and alcohol is usually consumed.)

Making enjoyable food for people is very rewarding to me. Both of my parents were quite the tag team when it came to entertaining company – whether it was a planned, holiday event for family or an impromptu gathering of friends…

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 277)

ENTERTAINING…

FOODS PREPARED for entertaining have always put me in a positive mood… Positive that, if the food is too good, everybody will keep wanting to come to our house and I’ll never be asked to theirs! On the other hand, if the food is not as good as it should be and I fall short of the best cook in our bunch, somebody will be in my kitchen; checking my stove for the training wheels they think it should have, considering the results of my cooking skills. So, food for entertaining must be fast, festive and flavorful…

When folks drop in… sometimes without notice… I like to be prepared. While there is absolutely nothing I can do to rid the lamp shades of the cobwebs that suddenly show up in the light, I can at least be glad something in the living room matches. With any luck if it is mentioned, I’ll exclaim promptly: ‘Oh, don’t touch that! That’s our daughter’s science project. We’re observing the mating habits of the harmless house spider!’

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

At this point, I can whisk everyone into the kitchen where, somehow, Coke splatters on the ceiling seem to go undetected if we turn [down] the overhead lights and put out some pretty candles. In 2 or 3 minutes, I can be spooning shredded cheddar cheese onto Triscuits, adding a slice of pepperoni and having it all under the broiler while Paul (on cue) delights them with another of his golfing jokes.

His old stand-by is the story of his 2 friends on the golf course, noting 2 women on the green ahead of them, playing very slowly. One of the men asked the other if they shouldn’t go up to the gals and ask if they minded if the men played through… Or chances were they’d never get off the course. So, one of the men went running up to the ladies and got almost to the green when he darted quickly back. His friend asked what happened and why he hadn’t asked about playing through. ‘I can’t do that,’ the man said. ‘One is my wife and the other is my girlfriend!’ So, the other man offered to go up and ask. He got within a few yards of the ladies and he, also, darted back breathlessly, confessing to his friend… ‘Small world, isn’t it?’

By the time they stopped chuckling, the cheese snacks were ready, and the eggnog was out of the ‘icebox’ and into the punch cups, diluted with [Vernor’s] Ginger-Ale (soda) and, depending upon the folks we were entertaining, perhaps a shot of Grandpa’s favorite rum in each cupful! Two or three of these drinks and either Paul’s jokes got funnier – or we forgot how many times he told them…

The following is a picture of a “quickie”, pizza appetizer (from Mom’s free recipe offerings) – great for entertaining on the spot! Since you can substitute just about any ingredient, from the bread to the toppings, it’s almost impossible not to please everyone with this great snack idea! By the way, do you see the similarities between the “Broiler Pizzas” in the picture, below, and the little rye pizza snacks that Mom describes herself preparing in the story, above? That’s just how easy it is to modify the idea of mini “finger-pizzas” to what you have on hand in your pantry and refrigerator.

#NationalPizzaMonth

Because of my low-carb lifestyle, to make my own little pizza, I would have to use one of the 90-second microwave Keto bread/English muffin recipes that I have pinned to my Pinterest board, “Low Carb Diet Plans, Recipes & Exercises”.

I like the English muffin that’s made with almond flour the best – simply because there are less carbs in the almond flour recipe than in the coconut flour option. The bread/muffins can be made ahead of time and frozen in individual packages for easy thawing and toasting when needed. However, 90 seconds – even 2 minutes if you add in the mixing of the few ingredients involved – isn’t a long time, to begin with, if you prefer fresh-made bread. By the way, according to NationalDayCalendar.com, October happens to be, among many other things, National Pizza Month!

IN CLOSING…

#NationalCookieMonth & #HomemadeCookiesDay

In honor of tomorrow being the beginning of October and its celebration of National Cookie MONTH (plus, National Homemade Cookies DAY is also tomorrow), here is another one of Mom’s copycat recipes (from one of her “free recipes” offerings) for crisp, buttery cookies inspired by the Mrs. Field’s product found in most grocery stores; but, Mom named her imitation “Mrs. Meadow’s”.

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