Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Home Is Where Our Health Is

Happy Monday and happy April to one and all! #TGIM – I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year to share my memories of Mom!

“Home is where the heart is…” – a very old proverb, which was originally attributed to “Pliny the Elder” (A.D. 23-79). The proverb has many interpretations. For so many people, “home” is not necessarily a structure but, rather, wherever we are, as long as we’re with our loved ones. “Home-sweet-home” memories are deeply ingrained in many of our hearts, like a Norman Rockwell painting.

It’s nearly impossible to forget whatever our individual interpretations of “home” is in our lives. However, nowadays, that proverb is taking on a whole new meaning and interpretation, as Michigan, like many other states, is under a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order; meaning we should all stay home, only going out for ESSENTIAL things, like food and medicine. As we try to flatten this pandemic curve, it’s becoming more and more like “Home is where our health is!” Additionally, many are now learning more and more about “DIY” and self-sufficiency skills.

#StayHome

Still, so many people just aren’t adhering to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order that many of us are under because they are more concerned about their constitutional rights being infringed upon than the health and welfare of their families, neighbors, communities and other surrounding communities as well. To those I say, “GET OVER IT!” Just bite the bullet and do what NEEDS to be done. It’s only for a little while, IF WE ALL PARTICIPATE! “This, too, shall pass!” Remember, everything in life is temporary – including life, itself.

Shout out, one more time, to MarcAndAngel.com, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”. It’s five years old but timeless, as it really applies to the current, challenging days that we’re all facing. I found this passage particularly inspiring:

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt; you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.”

For the last few weeks of March, at the end of my blog posts, I’ve been promoting getting a jump-start on two of April’s national month-long observances, #NationalMonthOfHope & #StressAwarenessMonth because, more than ever, as NationalDayCalendar.com says, regarding stress awareness, “we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.”

#LawnAndGardenMonth 

#NationalGardenMonth 

The month of April is also celebrating national observances for lawns, gardens and landscapes – among other things! Gardening can be very therapeutic if you’re feeling stressed out and/or cooped up. With extra time on our hands these days, my husband and I are able to dedicate more time than usual to our annual outdoor spring cleanup and garden bed prepping duties.

Besides the fresh air and sunshine being a great mood-lifter, I find gardening to be a great stress reliever, as well as a wonderful low-impact exercise. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, our new norm has many people wanting to learn more about homesteading, self-sufficiency and growing their own groceries. I wrote a blog post called “Grow & Make Your Own Groceries” in March of 2019. It’s a great subject to revisit!

In their off-season, I re-purpose my Christmas deer lawn ornaments as trellises in my vegetable garden! They’re great for various vining plants like cucumbers and squash AND I don’t have to worry about storing them.

20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on HowStuffWorks.com)  claims that pushing the lawn mower for 1 hour can burn 324 calories; plus, spending 30 minutes raking up the clippings will burn another 171 calories.

#KeepAmericaBeautifulMonth

That article also suggests that picking up yard-waste can, ironically, reduce your waist size; advocating that 4 hours of hard work, cleaning up the yard, burns about 1,800 calories! That’s 450 calories per hour! Additionally, 2 hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more, depending on the specific activity involved. The added perk is growing your own healthy herbs, fruits and vegetables at a much lower cost than going to the grocery store. Now is the season to start your gardening!

I’ve mentioned before that one of my personal favorites of Mom’s self-published cookbooks is The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979) – aka: “Book 5”. The cookbook is no longer in print, but I have seen some used copies on, both, eBay and Amazon. When I was a young mother and struggling to make ends meet, money was tight, and the pantry was often close to bare! Much like now, due to the food (and money) shortages going on during this pandemic.

Mom’s “Homemade Groceriescookbook was always my go-to-source AND still is! It teaches me how to make a lot of my favorite grocery products at home; as well as, how to stretch or extend other products, saving me quite a bit of money on my monthly grocery expenses for a family of five!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 12)

WHAT’S VALUABLE – THE FAMILY

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

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

There’s a renewed movement to make a lot of things at home. Not only can we control the ingredients for a particular diet/lifestyle that way but, also, save money too! That is, basically, what inspired Mom to write that particular cookbook in the first place. Back in 1979, a lot of people were getting concerned, and rightly so, with all the additives that are put into our convenient, shelf-stable, grocery products. Furthermore, we can usually save money, making it ourselves – as long as we don’t add the value of our time into the equation!

The “work” of homemakers and the value of their time is often taken for granted by their families. However, the services they provide could earn a substantial salary in the open market – chef, maid/housekeeper, laundress, nanny, teacher, chauffeur, personal shopper, secretary, counselor, nurse, groundskeeper and gardener. In addition to these skills, homemakers also contribute a lot more to the home and family of which no amount of money can fill the needs.

According to Porcshe Moran, in her enlightening article, “How Much is a Stay-At-Home Parent Worth?”, a homemaker [aka: stay-at-home-parent] could earn an annual salary of about $178,201, according to 2019 data she obtained from Salary.com. The following picture shows the data I obtained through Salary.com and Indeed.com regarding the average salaries paid, in Michigan, for the above-mentioned homemaker skills.

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there weren’t readily available services for chefs, maids, laundresses, nannies, teachers, chauffeurs, personal shoppers, secretaries, counselors, nurses, groundskeepers and gardeners – people did for themselves. About the only food things that were usually purchased at the “General Store”, for the homestead kitchen, were the “staples” that most people couldn’t make, themselves; such as flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cornstarch, etc. Most homesteaders were self-sufficient in, at least, the basic things to survive.

If we didn’t catch it or kill it, ourselves, fish was purchased at the fish market; while foul, farm and other meats were bought at the butcher shop. Likewise, if we didn’t have our own cow or goat to milk or hens from which to gather eggs, fresh dairy products were usually delivered to our homes by the local creamery. Additionally, since we can’t all be bakers, fresh baked goods could be procured at the local bakery. Similarly, if we couldn’t grow our own, we went to the farmer’s market for fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979, p. 1)

Many people feel that life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.

Going through life without noticing the scenery and trying to see some of the beauty that is there – waiting to be recognized – reminds me of running ‘helter-skelter’, up and down the supermarket aisles, without seeing the ABUNDANCE that is there. Just take a moment to look at the heart-breaking plight of starving people in many parts of the world and, then, take a good look at the aisles and aisles of food available in this country! [Written in 1979.]

We have so much available to us here…many people fill their backyards each spring with flowers and shrubs, when they could easily plant food-seeds instead, thus cutting something off that weekly grocery bill!

‘The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.’Aldous L. Huxley, English Writer and Philosopher (b. 1894, d. 1963)

What happened to us, as a society? We’ve become a too-busy-with-other-things, instant-gratification-and-convenience-overloaded culture! About half a century ago, we evolved into times when both parents, in a family unit, had to work to make ends meet. The value of time changed dramatically, especially for the homemaker. Self-sufficiency and homesteading became a dying skill among many of the newer generations, who’ve opted to spend their time differently in exchange for conveniences – even to the extent of wanting more and more convenient food products.

Too many families are struggling to survive, right now; and it’s predicted to get worse before it gets better. Before this pandemic, there wasn’t enough time for a lot of people to make things from scratch, as they chose to spend their time on other things. We opened the door for convenient, processed foods in order to save us some time (instead of money), as time suddenly became a more valuable commodity. We still have about 16-18 “waking hours” in our days, every day. At some point, we just started prioritizing them differently – and now we must do it all over again, given our new norms these days.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

‘Any change, even change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.’Arnold Bennett, English Novelist (b.1867, d.1931)

The ‘high demand’,overhead costs’ and ‘expected profits’ that are added to the prices of ‘convenience’ food products are what kill us at the grocery store check-outs! The lack of real nutrition that’s missing from these manufactured goods are not benefiting our health any either. They’re loaded with unnatural shelf-life stabilizers, none of which are found in homemade groceries, where YOU control the ingredients!

Most of Mom’s cookbooks focused on imitating fast food, junk food and restaurant dishes at home – except for “Book 5”, which deals exclusively with homemade grocery products and “extenders”. This exceptional cookbook includes some principles of canning and freezing foods, as well as making your own mixes, sauces and seasonings at a great financial savings compared to buying them at the store! Although, sometimes, we just can’t financially or physically afford convenience. The concept of homemade was hugely popular once and is, now, making another comeback.

#NationalBeerDay

In honor of National Beer Day, which is tomorrow, the following beer cake recipe was quite a popular choice from among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world…

…14 down, 38 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Homesteading

Happy Monday to all! Mondays are my #52Chances each year! So, #TGIM – because it’s another chance for me to share “Memories of My Mom”!

Homesteading was a big part of our roots. Do you think it will be a big part of our future, too? Over the past century, we’ve all experienced some hard times in our lives at some point, or the fallout from it. Especially our ancestors, who lived through the eras of the 1918 influenza pandemic and the 1930s’ Great Depression, just to name a couple.

These are unprecedented times for us. Everywhere, people are being asked to work from home if they can and consider social distancing, if they can’t; plus, thorough hand washings, often, among other recommendations… No more non-essential travel, gatherings or activities are becoming the new norm for us, while toilet paper and cleaning products are being hoarded beyond need!

We are a society of gatherers and we’re used to our freedom to do so. We take our freedoms for granted, making it so difficult for so many of us to physically separate ourselves from others. However, at least now, we have the internet and things like “Facebook Live” and “Face Time” to continue interacting with others. So, we’re all alone together!

My area, recently, had a run on bread that was quickly followed by a run on yeast, as people are resorting more and more to making their own. Given our current circumstances, I think we’re all going to be trying to learn more about old-fashioned “homesteading” skills now. That’s why, last week, I shared my homemade disinfectant recipe with you, as disinfecting sprays and wipes were also becoming a rare commodity – and, as Mom would say, “because great recipes need to be shared!” (Asking only for proper credit if you do!)

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

This week, if you want to make your own bread and can’t find yeast, I have one of Mom’s wonderful copycat recipes for you at the end of this blog entry. It’s called “Beer Bread” and it’s from page 152 of Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018). The element of yeast is already in the beer and the alcohol content evaporates with the cooking process, creating an awesome bread! (Again, asking only for proper credit if you share it!)

Who would’ve thought that Mom’s original ideas, back in the 1970s, about duplicating famous dishes in our own kitchens and “Eating Out At Home”, as well as creating “Homemade Groceries”, would be so popular, yet again, as restaurants across the country have been closing their dining rooms in an effort to help squash the spread of the Covid-19 virus through gatherings in their establishments.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

WE ALL EXPECT life to be good to us – most of the time. That isn’t too much to ask, now, is it? But when things don’t work out the way we had planned or [as we had] hoped… the tendency is there to feel [that] life gave us lemons. The best experiences often come out of the biggest disappointments. So, when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade – turning a ‘let-down’ into a ‘set-up’…

Norman Vincent Peale once said that God never closes a door that he hasn’t opened a window. But the opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity or weary from overwork… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.

To seize every opportunity to express your very best effort is the kind of motivation with which I grew up and have passed on to our five, now-adult, children. When they all lined up for this Memorial Day snapshot [in 1969 (below)], before we left to march in the big parade in beautiful, downtown Algonac; little did we know how beautifully our [lives] would tun out. How little did we know what big challenges would tempt us to give up [and] to succumb to defeat.

Photo by Gloria Pitzer (1970-ish)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 40)

‘We must not let the snags overcome us and render our lives a misery instead of a blessing.’ – Gloria Pitzer

THE MIRROR OF LIFE reflects much more than we see. Writer, David Meisel, said, ‘Life itself is a story that only God knows in its entirety.’ In living our own personal story, each one of us must see the need to minimize fear and magnify hope, to minimize anguish and magnify patience. Truth, in its simplicity, proves that we are best served by periodic self-examination – our thought, our internal rules, our face in the mirror; and what we each believe to be true, what we perceive is life lived for good – for others’ good as well as our own.

My mom was a groundbreaking innovator, starting the COPYCAT/HOMEMADE fast food, junk food and famous restaurant dishes concept. She also taught her readers how to stretch food & reinvent leftovers; plus how to make a lot of their own groceries! Her critics thought it was a passing fad that wouldn’t last.

Not only did it last but it also grew by leaps and bounds! Mom created a movement of people wanting to make their own fast food, junk food and grocery products at home. The concept was so contagious that there were many copycats who were copying the ORIGINAL copycat – some were even to the point of plagiarism!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 70)

BACK IN 1976, when The Guinness Book of World Firsts included my discovery of re-creating fast foods at home, it was encouraging. They were most concerned about my version of the Colonel’s ‘secret spices’, McDonald’s ‘special sauce’ and Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, which were among the first recipes that I attempted to imitate. I had been warned, however, early on, by critics, skeptics, newspaper reporters who wrote articles about us and even food experts who contacted us, that my ‘Secret Recipes’ would probably be a short-lived venture, as would the fast food industry itself.

FOR THE PAST 17 years [1973-1989], not a day has gone by without a generous amount of mail or phone calls, expressing an enthusiastic interest in what our family has been doing with the recipes we’ve developed and published, as a kitchen table enterprise. Under the able direction of my husband, Paul, and his full-time management, we have gone from a hand-operating mimeograph machine in our laundry room, to a full-fledged office – staff and all – back, again, to the simplicity of [home and] a two-person operation.

We like it best this way, and we’ve had it all – the sophisticated and expensive means by which we would distribute and publicize our books and newsletter to the exclusiveness of working with radio. I have been invited to do videotapes for TV and VCRs but the filming of our recipes, I have learned, is not as essential to the success of using them, as the critics have insisted. This is proven true through our lending our work, without charge, to the Braille Institute and Books for the Blind, Talking Books. The conversational way in which our recipes are presented, makes a picture unnecessary!

Mom always felt blessed for being able to work from home, doing what she loved most – writing! She often said that she made a living from her writing, but it was the writing that made it all worthwhile! Whenever I sit down to write anything for this blog, I have to say, it certainly feels like the best part of my day!

I love that I can do this blog from home (or anywhere, for that matter)! Unfortunately, it doesn’t make a living for me – not yet, at least. Meanwhile, my “paying job” is considered part of the “essential services” workforce that has been allowed to remain working because it provides a service for the grocery and pharmacy stores’ support systems.

My work takes me all over, to various stores in my county; thus, when I have to work, I remain conscious of my surroundings and practice all the recommended hygiene and disinfecting guidelines. I also try to keep my social distance from others and stay out of close/confined public areas, whenever possible. I don’t want to contract the virus, nor be a carrier of it. But, unfortunately, the bills don’t stop coming in because of this 2020 virus pandemic and they still need to be paid.

BEER BREAD By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018; p. 152)

Ingredients:

2 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 egg, beaten

12-ounce can Busch Light beer

Instructions:

Mix the flour and sugar together with a fork and set aside. Beat the egg and beer together in an accommodating cup. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the liquid. Mix it only until all dry particles have been moistened, like a muffin batter should be mixed. Do not over-beat! Pour into a greased and floured 9-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350°F for about 30 to 35 minutes or until you can insert a thin wooden skewer through the center to the bottom of the pan and remove it without any traces of wet batter. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Wipe top of loaf with melted butter and dust lightly with sugar. Slice when cooled.

NOTE: If the bread appears to fall or sink while cooling, it means you didn’t bake it long enough. If it’s heavy and moist, it means you over-beat it. If it turns out dry and crumbly, it means you didn’t beat it enough – so don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the recipe has only 4 ingredients that you can slap it together and have it turn out beautifully. Combine ingredients with care!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

#NationalStressAwarenessMonth & #StressAwarenessMonth

April is just around the corner and it’s considered National Month of Hope & National Stress Awareness month! Why not “Spring forward” and start observing it today – because, as NationalDayCalendar.com says, “this month, we are all challenged to keep our stress levels low, and our peace levels high.” The website also lists 5 great ways to “de-stress” if you find yourself overwhelmed by your current situation with this pandemic or some other situation.

Shout out to MarcAndAngel.com at https://www.marcandangel.com/2015/02/25/7-ways-to-stay-strong-when-everything-goes-wrong/, for their uplifting article, “7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong”, that really applies to these current, troubled days that we’re all facing! I found the following excerpt from it especially inspiring:

Remind yourself that everything in life is temporary. Every time it rains, it stops raining.  Every time you get hurt; you heal.  After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning… So if things are good right now, enjoy it.  It won’t last forever.  If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either.  Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh.  Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile.  Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending.  You get a second chance, every second.  You just have to take it and make the best of it.”

#ThankGodItsMondayDay

REMINDER: NationalDayCalendar.com suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. 12 down, 40 to go!

 

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