PAN PIZZA CRUST

PAN PIZZA CRUST

By Gloria Pitzer

This easy pizza crust recipe is from one of Mom’s “free recipes and ordering information” sheets, given out in the late 1980s, and has only 3 ingredients – just stir & spread! A similar version to it can be found on page 54 of Mom’s self-published cookbook, The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990)

Ingredients:

12-oz beer (or Club Soda)

2 TB oil

2 ½ cups self-rising flour

Instructions:

Stir beer (or Club Soda) and oil together with a sturdy mixing spoon in a large bowl. Add flour and beat vigorously until smooth and moist. Dump dough into middle of Pam-sprayed, 12- or 13-inch, round pizza pan. Spread dough evenly with back of a large, wet spoon. (Note: Dipping spoon into cold water keeps the dough from sticking.) Use the spoon to patch any holes in the dough.

Bake the crust, empty, for 10 minutes at 400°-F; then, remove and, immediately, add your favorite sauce while it’s warm. Top with cheese and other favorite garnishments. Return to oven to bake for another 20-30 minutes or until toppings are bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the crust appears golden brown around its rim.

Cut to serve 4 – or one teenager!

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Beautiful Biscuits, Better than KFC’s

Beautiful Biscuits – Better than KFC’s

By Gloria Pitzer

Ingredients:

2/3 cup real buttermilk

1/3 cup real mayonnaise

2 1/2 cups Bisquick, plus a little extra

Pam spray

Melted butter (enough to brush 8 biscuit tops twice)

Instructions:

In a 1 1/2-qt mixing bowl, with an electric hand mixer on medium-speed, beat together the first three ingredients, adding the Bisquick a little at a time and working in the last cupful with a sturdy mixing spoon until you form a soft dough.

Dip your hands in a bit of extra Bisquick to divide and shape dough into 8 patties; making each about 1-inch thick, and placing them close together in a Pam-sprayed 9-inch or 10-inch Pyrex baking dish.

Using a pastry brush, wipe all the tops with a bit of melted butter. Bake at 400-degrees (F) for 25 minutes or until golden brown. At once, after removing from oven, wipe the tops in a bit of melted butter again.

Makes 8 biscuits, which freeze well for months!

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

BIG BUCKET IN THE SKY! CHICKEN

 

Original illustration by Gloria Pitzer; edited by Laura Emerich

BIG BUCKET IN THE SKY! CHICKEN

By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press, January 2018; 1st Printing, p. 88)

THE FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE that first called attention to my recipes nationally – through the ‘National Enquirer’, ‘Money Magazine’, ‘Catholic Digest’, ‘The Christian Science Monitor’, ‘Campus Life Magazine’ and, yes, even ‘Playboy Magazine’ – was this following combination of ingredients. The method is quite unorthodox and the original idea for developing it in this manner, came from a conversation I had with ‘Col. Sanders’ over the air with radio station WFAA in Dallas when I was a regular guest on a talk show with them for several months. We discussed the secrets of the food industry with listeners by phone from our homes. The Colonel was fascinated by the publicity I had received for my ‘Big Bucket in the Sky’ fried chicken recipe and agreed that I was on the right track if I’d add more pepper. He loved pepper! He also suggested browning the chicken in a skillet and, then, oven-baking it until tender to achieve a likeness more to the original recipe he had created in 1964. He told me to look around the grocery store for 1 packaged product to replace the 11 spices – which I did diligently – and discovered that powdered Italian salad dressing mix was the secret!

So, I set to work to revamp the recipe. My original recipe was quite close to the famous Colonel’s product, but the coating kept falling off – because, as he explained, I couldn’t get the oil hot enough. He liked peanut oil, himself, but suggested that I could achieve a similar result by using corn or Crisco oil – with 1 cup solid Crisco for every 4 cups of oil. He talked about the quality in his product changing after turning the business over to new owners.

When Heublein Conglomerate bought out the franchise, they paid a few million dollars for ‘The Colonel’s’ recipe and technique. It seemed unlikely that a home-kitchen-rendition of such a famous product could be had for the price of my book. But the letters came in – ‘best chicken we ever had’; ‘l-o-v-e-d that fried chicken recipe’; ‘our favorite chicken recipe – so, please don’t change it’; and ‘maybe the colonel should have YOUR recipe!’

Ingredients:

3 pounds of chicken fryer parts – cut small

2 packages Good Season’s Italian Salad Dressing mix

3 tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons salt

¼ cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 ½ pints of corn oil

2/3 cup Crisco solid shortening

1 cup milk

1 ½ cups boxed pancake mix combined with: 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp powdered sage and 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions:

Rinse chicken and wipe pieces dry.

Make a paste out of the first five ingredients. Brush to coat chicken evenly with the paste…the underside as well. Stack pieces in a large refrigerator container, seal in foil and refrigerate several hours or, better yet, overnight.

1 ½ hours before serving, heat oil and Crisco, until melted, in a heavy saucepan. Put just enough of this into two large heavy skillets so that it covers the bottom of each 1-inch deep and just set the rest aside, as the oil will have to be replaced as you remove fried pieces and continue to fry more.

Dip each pasty chicken piece, 1st in milk and then in pancake mixture (having combined it as directed above with the last three ingredients.) Dust off excess mix and place skin-side down in the very hot oil mixture.

Brown the chicken on each side until golden. Then, place browned pieces in shallow baking pans, single-layered with skin-side up. Spoon remaining milk over pieces. Seal with foil on only 3 sides of the pan.

Bake for 40 minutes at 375°F or until chicken is fork-tender, basting with milk and pan drippings every few minutes. Remove foil and bake another 8-10 minutes or until crispy. Serves 6-8. Leftovers keep up to a week refrigerated.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Nostalgia

Happy Monday! According to NationalDayCalendar.com, August 19th is National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day! To celebrate, I’ll be including Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade soft-serve ice cream, like Dairy Queen’s, at the end of today’s blog entry.

#NationalSoftIceCreamDay

Dictionary.com says that nostalgia “is a wistful desire to return in thought… to a former time in one’s life, to one’s home or homeland, or to one’s family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.” Just like the memories I write about my mom every week. In fact, the 1-year anniversary of Mondays & Memories of My Mom is coming up next month! The time is flying by so fast… and, it seems, the older I get, the faster time flies!

Did you know… on this day in history, 100 years ago, William B. Ward first registered the trademark, Hostess, for the breads and cakes they made? In my April 8th blog entry, Eating out at Home, I included the following story Mom wrote about James Dewar, who invented the ‘Twinkie’, while working for the Continental Baking Company; which was, later, bought by Interstate Bakeries Corporation and renamed Hostess Brands.

Originally, when the baking company was founded in the early 1900s, it was called Ward Baking Company. For a more in depth history of the Ward family, their baking company, Twinkies® and the drama that surrounded them, check out the article about it, by Bloomberg News, on the FinancialPost.com website, at https://business.financialpost.com/news/twinkie-history-spiced-with-murder-scandal-suggests-icon-will-survive.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 204)

James Dewar, original date/source unknown

IT’S NO SECRET!

James Dewar started out driving a horse-drawn wagon in Chicago and, by 1930, was manager of the Continental Baking Company’s Chicago establishment. [That’s when] he invented the ‘Twinkie’, a sponge-type cake with a creamy vanilla-flavored filling. It has been called the ‘Grand-daddy’ of modern snack foods. Today, the finger-sized cream-filled cake is as big a confectionery sensation as it was when Dewar first introduced his creation to American cuisine. The company that put out the Twinkie was originally called [Ward Baking Company, then] the Continental Baking Company and later became the Hostess company.

At the time, he wanted to give the public something reasonably priced, for the Great Depression of the 30s brought grave times to this country. Treats like the cream-filled Twinkies, would be a luxury to people who couldn’t afford otherwise. For decades, the appealing factor about the Twinkies national popularity has been that it is affordable! Dewar put 2 cakes in each package, selling them for 5-cents a pair. For the price of a nickel, it was quite a bargain.

Dewar remembered how the Continental Baking Company was selling small finger-sized shortcakes for strawberry season in the 1930s. The pans they used to bake them in were not being used except for the spring promotion to produce the shortcakes. He, therefore, came up with the idea of preparing the same shortcake in those pans, but filling each cake with an injection of vanilla cream.

The Twinkies became an immediate success! The idea for the name, on the other hand, came while he was on a business trip to St. Louis and saw a billboard advertising ‘Twinkle Toes Shoes’, which was, then, a terrific sales pitch. The name ‘Twinkies’ was a spinoff of that shoe advertisement. From then on, the cakes took off.

When Dewar retired from Continental in 1968, he boasted often to the press that he ate scores of Twinkies® every day. That’s not a bad endorsement for the critics who claim junk food will shorten your life span.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Nostalgic!

Do you remember the run on Twinkies® in November of 2012? The Hostess Brands company had announced it was going out of business and utter chaos ensued as the masses swarmed the stores to buy all the yummy, cream-filled, sponge cakes (and other Hostess cakes & breads) that they could find! Twinkies® were actually being auctioned on eBay for THOUSANDS of dollars!

I remember Mom laughing about all of the hype on auction-bidding for Twinkies® and hearing someone say (although I don’t remember the who-when-and-where of it all) that if people had cared as much about the Hostess cakes years earlier, as they were then [in November or December of 2012], Hostess wouldn’t have had to close their doors in the first place!

There’s a great article by James R. Koren called “Beverly Hills Billionaire to take over Twinkies maker Hostess Brands” (L. A. Times; July 5, 2016) that explains how the Hostess company, under various names and ownerships, was saved from bankruptcy and closures – more than once over the past century.

When the announcement was first made, almost 7 years ago, that Hostess was closing for good, I wasn’t worried about never having Twinkies® again… of course, I couldn’t have them anyway because I’m hypoglycemic. But that’s beside the point, which is… that my mom taught me how to make my own!

In fact, Mom taught everyone how to make their own “junk food” at home through her 40-plus cookbooks, hundreds of newsletters, many TV appearances and on her thousands of radio talk-show interviews across the country and around the world! I shared the following copy of Mom’s make-alike version for Twinkies®, which she called Hopeless Twinkles©, in my blog entry, A Day in the Life of the Happy Homemaker, a couple of months ago.

‘Hopeless Twinkles’ recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

My mom was the first to develop homemade, make-alike versions of junk food, like some of Hostess’ famous cakes – which were among her early 1970s, “original 200”, recipes collection that she printed on index cards, with a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room; and they were sold through the mail for 25-cents each. Mom also printed her junk food, make-alike recipes in her newsletters, beginning in January 1974 through December 2000.

Using the name “Hopeless” instead of “Hostess”, Mom included three Hostess Brand make-alike recipes in her first copycat-cooking book, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; January 1977). Later that year, Mom included another five copycat recipes of Hostess products (again, using the name “Hopeless” for her versions) in her very next cookbook called The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977).

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 1-2)

Jul 1977 – The 2nd Helping… (front & back covers)

DE-BUNKING THE JUNK!

What is the truth about junk food? The food experts have been referring to many snack foods and fast foods as ‘junk’ in an attempt to disqualify their value when compared to foods containing high amounts of protein and vitamins.

No one has confirmed a definition of the expression ‘junk food’, yet the public has been conditioned to accept any snack food, sweets, candies, confections, baked goods and many beverages as ‘junk food’ when, in reality, these are not without nutritional value.

All by itself, a raw carrot could hardly support the human system substantially; neither could a cup of yogurt. Yet, a candy bar or a small piece of cake or a hamburger on a bun is considered, by some of the food industry’s most prestigious experts, as having little or no food value in our daily diets.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

The junk food paradox has caused school systems and other public institutions to ban the sale of any foods we would consider snack items, making it illegal, in fact, in the state of Michigan and some others, if such items were sold to children through vending machines on the premises.

This is infuriating to the good cooks and… food chemists among us, who know that JUNK FOOD is actually any food that is poorly prepared. ALL food has nutritional value. Some just seem to have more than others. But, in the final analysis, it is purely personal taste that will determine the popularity of one food over another.

The ‘fast food’ industry has been the most successful of any phase in the business. Their success depending largely on the fact that their recipes are all closely guarded secrets! I say, ‘baloney!’

‘There really are very few recipe secrets!’ – Gloria Pitzer

As a very believing public, we have been spoon-fed a good deal of shrewd publicity by some very skilled… advertising people, who count on our susceptibility to commercial advertising campaigns to buy their products. Whether we’re buying a hamburger in one of McDonald’s restaurants… or a Twinkie off of the grocer’s shelf, we still believe that these products can’t be equaled by any other company in the industry, nor by the average cook in a standard, home kitchen… AND this is wrong!

‘You’ll be amazed at the number of recipes you can duplicate in your own kitchen – and those you can, at least, come close to imitating – with far more success than the advertising people give us credit!’ – Gloria Pitzer

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet) 153 days ago – no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff! I admit, I am a carbohydrate addict; but, by limiting my carb-intake to 25 grams a day, I’ve lost 40 pounds so far! I’d like to lose 5-10 more pounds yet. I just keep working on it one day at a time. It takes a lot of will power, as well as a lot of “won’t power” – I WON’T give in to the urges!

I went camping with my husband and a group of our friends over a week ago – and it was tough not to roast one single marshmallow or indulge in one of my best friend’s yummy baked goods. Except for Pork Rinds, most of my snacks consist of sugar-free gelatin, extra creamy Cool Whip, meats, cheeses and veggies with ranch dip… all of which needs to be kept cold.

So, we had to take an extra cooler this summer. I miss the kind of “convenience” snacks that are easy to just “grab-n-go”. We still tent-it with a couple of others, while most of our friends have “moved up” and into campers and motor homes – with refrigerators and freezers… when you have electricity! I’d like to get a camper, someday, like my parents’…

Mom & Dad’s Camper

IN CLOSING…

#NationalSoftIceCreamDay

In honor of National Soft Ice Cream Day, I’m sharing the following recipe, which is actually from Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 257) and not one of her “free offer recipes”… but, I guess it is now; so, happy National Soft-Serve Ice Cream Day!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

DREARY QUEEN FROZEN CUSTARD

Here is an at-home imitation of the very popular soft-serve custard ice cream product that has made many restaurant names famous [since the 1950s]!

Prepare a 3 1/8-ounce package vanilla pudding (NOT instant) with only 1 2/3 cup milk and one egg yolk beaten into it. Stir mixture in medium saucepan over medium-high heat until smooth and mixture “just” comes to a boil. Remove from heat at once and stir in 2 tablespoons butter until melted and smooth. Chill pudding in freezer for about 45 minutes. Beat together ½ pint whipping cream, a dash of salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup powdered sugar until very thick and stiff. Beat chilled pudding with an electric mixer for 1 minute. Don’t mind the darkened coating on top of the pudding – that blends right back in when you beat it well. Then, thoroughly STIR (do NOT beat) the whipped cream mix into the smooth pudding. Transfer to a 6-cup freezer container. Freeze until firm. Break it up in a chilled, stainless steel or aluminum mixing bowl, using chilled beaters on an electric mixer. Beat 2 egg whites, in a small bowl, until stiff but not dry; adding 3 tablespoons corn syrup. Set aside. Beat the whipping cream mixture until smooth and creamy. Fold egg white mixture into that, using lowest speed of mixer. Freeze until firm enough to scoop. Makes 1 ½ quarts. Freezes up to 6 months.

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; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – How to Have a Yard Sale in One Easy Breakdown

Hi everyone! Another fabulous Monday is upon us and, either, this week celebrates National Bargain Hunting Week, according to NationalDayCalendar.com; or it was last week, as BargainHunting.webs.com, describes that it’s celebrated from the first Monday of August through the following Sunday and has been observed, annually, since 1996.

A celebration for bargain hunting would have probably been among Mom’s top 10 favorite kinds of festivities, as she was always a pushover for a good bargain! Even in her last few months, when every little activity or bought of excitement seemed to drain her of energy, she still insisted on going to the J.C. Penny’s store in our local mall to bargain shop in their purse department! That was her second favorite thing to do – writing, of course, was always #1. Nevertheless, Mom LOVED purses – especially when they were on sale or clearance!

#BargainHuntingWeek

Like mother, like daughter – I’m a bargain shopper, too; not for purses, per say, but for my own favorite kinds of things. The big orange clearance signs just seem to beckon us, like the vibrant orange trumpet flowers that lure the hummingbirds. It’s an irresistible summon that feeds a wanting hunger. I don’t know who originated the saying, but it’s so true… “it’s more about the journey than the destination” – which is very similar to NationalDayCalendar.com’s comment: “The hunt for the bargain can be just as exciting as the item discovered.”

Quite often, on our weekend road trips around Southeastern Michigan and the “Thumb Area”, my husband and I will try to find new antique and 2nd-hand shops to investigate. We’ve discovered, on our many explorations, that, demographically, certain areas have better bargains on certain things than others.

However, that observation is based solely on the kinds of things that WE are looking to buy; for example, we often look for old farm, nautical and bar items – to name a few. We’ll find more nautical stuff near our Great Lakes and more farm stuff further inland. Bar items are everywhere – but, we find them cheaper further inland, than near the Great Lakes.

Whenever I’ve gone to garage/yard sales and antique/2nd-hand shops, I usually walk away with something that was a bargain, at least to me. I have an eclectic array of different tchotchke collections, such as Blue Mountain Pottery, Christmas village pieces and Michigan lighthouse sculptures to name a few.

If this is National Bargain Hunting Week, then I will certainly be on the lookout for a super bargain! That just gives me one more reason to check out some more yard/garage sales, as well as antique and 2nd-hand shops! This past weekend, there was an annual “Antiques & Yard Sale Trail” that ran all the way around the “Thumb Area” of Michigan, along (and near) the M-25/M-29 “Circle Tour” Highway.

I’ve shopped the “Trail” a few different years and, living near the main highway for it, I’ve also hosted a few of my own yard sales during the event. Overall, I think I prefer to shop it rather than “work it”, as I like to refer to it; because hosting a YARD sale is a LOT of work! I wish I had a garage!

A garage would be a lot easier to set up in – since, to begin with, it’s a solid, enclosed, protected area. If I had a garage, I could set up my tables earlier and put stuff out a little bit each night as I clean out different rooms of our house. I have to do it all in one day, the day before my sale starts; because it’s under a temporary structure that’s somewhat open to the elements.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I used to have yard sales every year (at least once – sometimes twice) to recycle and recirculate my bargain finds, making room for more and/or different stuff. Due to various extenuating circumstances, I haven’t been able to host a yard sale in the last 5 years, though. I don’t miss the work, as that’s getting harder on me, the older I get! But I do miss setting up my “store” and operating it.

To begin with, I don’t even plan a yard sale unless a few conditions are met, first: I need to have a Wednesday through Saturday free of time, to set it up, work it and tear it down; the weather needs to be favorable, at least for the most part because I don’t have a solid garage for protection from the elements; and I need to have enough of other-peoples’-treasures to sell, because most people don’t even stop if all you have “in your store” is a small table with a dozen things or less on it and around it.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Michigan weather changes often. Thus, since I don’t have a garage, I use two large screened tents, which set up side-by-side has 20’x22’ of covered space – close to the size of an average 2-car garage. These are important to keep my tables and displays dry or shaded, whatever the weather may bring. But, in part because I’m OCD, I need a day to set these up, along with all my tables and clothes rods. Then I can bring out all the boxes of stuff that I’ve cleaned out of closets, cupboards and the basement; and set up my “store”.

I like to make my yard sales “worth stopping and shopping”! Maybe it’s because I’m OCD (or CDO – alphabetically) or because of all my years of working in retail – but, I set my sales up by “departments”, with each table/area representing a different department. There are clothes, shoes and other such accessories that are all grouped by sizes, in one area; furniture and décor in another area; kitchen appliances and gadgets are all in another area. Other “departments” that I usually create with my tables and displays include bed and bath stuff, hardware and tools, sporting goods, yard and garden, books, electronics and so on. To save time on pricing everything individually, I use general pricing posters – for example “All Clothes $1 per Piece”.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

I get a lot of compliments on my yard sale set-ups because they’re so organized. I also sell a lot because I price my stuff to sell… I’m not putting it all out there just to haul it all back in because I wanted to squeeze out every penny I could from my “junk” that MIGHT be somebody else’s “treasure”. I look at each item as if I was going to purchase it at someone else’s sale and I ask myself, “What would I be willing to pay for that?” (Then, again, I’m kind of cheap – because, like I’ve said, I love bargains!)

Here’s another one of Mom’s No Laughing Matter stories, in which she wrote about a garage sale experience she had when we were living in Pearl Beach. I think this was from around the mid to late 1970s; maybe the summer before we moved to St. Clair. The story is titled, Have a Garage Sale in one Easy Breakdown. As I’ve mentioned in other blog entries, previously, I can’t find the exact date of when Mom wrote this story, nor in what papers it was published. Among others, sprinkled across the country, most (if not all) of Mom’s No Laughing Matter columns were published in the Port Huron (MI) area’s “Times Herald” in the 1970s.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

HAVE A GARAGE SALE IN ONE EASY BREAKDOWN!

By Gloria Pitzer – Recipe DetectiveTM

Until you’ve had a garage sale, you just don’t know what you’re missing. I’ve just had one and I know! I’m missing three garbage cans, my husband’s workbench, a swing set, four lawn chairs and our station wagon. Actually, those items weren’t for sale, but you can’t refuse a good price when it’s offered to you.

All I really wanted to sell was a few odds-and-ends like 7 dozen Ruby Bee Jelly glasses, a coke bottle mosaic of my mother-in-law, a transistor radio guaranteed to crack plaster when operated by a teenager, an illustrated guide book to Disneyland and my husband’s bowling ball.

Of course, if the truth were known, I just had to do something about the closets before we were cited for contempt by the Pollution Control Commission. The kids were cleaning out their rooms and dragging out microscopes that had only examined curdled milk. There was an electric train with which only their father had played, a guitar that never played a tune (but made a neat tennis racket), socks that scratched and even their old report cards. But, I drew the line when it came to selling their toothbrushes and underwear. I mean, a person has to be reasonable about these things!

I had heard that garage sales were successful, but I didn’t believe it until I saw 23 cars double-parked in our drainage ditch, a pick-up truck on the back porch and a dune buggy in the furnace room! It takes a garage sale to prove that a woman will buy anything, if she thinks it’s on sale.

Afterall, what can one do with a dead philodendron plant – a plastic one, yet? I also learned that there’s no exercise so efficacious for the upper arms as standing in the midst of a group of mad women and trying to keep them from taking the rafters apart while trying to get at our storm windows (which I’ll have you know were NOT for sale); but, little did they care.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

One woman offered me a dollar for the dress I was wearing, and I had to run half a block to catch up with the lady who gave my son 50 cents for the sheets on the clothes lines. Did she care it was my laundry and I had to make the beds before the day was over – and where would I be without those sheets?

I finally had to administer first aid to the two girls who fought so bitterly over which of them was going to drag off to their car a plaid CPO jacket and a pair of blue worsted men’s slacks! Mind you. I wouldn’t have cared under any other circumstances, but my husband was still in them AND he didn’t want to go with either of them. He wanted to stay home and watch the ball game on TV!

By 6pm, they had bought everything that wasn’t breathing, barking or encased in concrete. As I sat at the kitchen table, counting up the profits of the day, my husband came staggering in, bruised and breathless. ‘You know that guy with the flat-bed truck, who’s been hanging around all day?’ [He asked.] ‘Well, he just gave me $50 and drove off with our garage!’

It all goes to prove, if I had put a price on those kids of ours, I might have sold them – but, who could afford to feed them once they got them home?

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Enjoy your week – go on a journey – find a bargain – AND post it on Social media with:

#BargainHuntingWeek

IN CLOSING…

#NationalJulienneFriesDay

Today is, also, according to the foodie calendar at OCFoodies.com, National Julienne Fries Day. Julienning is a specific style of cutting, as explained really well on Wikipedia; and using this style of cut on potatoes creates long, thin fries that are similar to what McDonalds serves. Many different root vegetables can be julienned. Since I can’t have potatoes in my low-carb lifestyle, I plan to julienne some carrots to fry for myself, using the same process as Mom directs in the following recipe.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Fun

Happy Monday, again! August has arrived and, among other things, it’s Family Fun Month!

In my last couple of blog entries, I have been reminiscing about some of my childhood memories of our family vacations; brought to mind, while reading through my copies of Mom’s old, 1970s articles from her No Laughing Matter syndicated columns. I’ve come across some more of Mom’s memories related to those which I recently shared. So, since this is Family Fun Month, I want to share more of those “family fun” times with you today.

Below is a couple of summertime stories that Mom wrote for her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter; they’re titled, respectively, How to Travel with Your Kids (And Live to Tell About It!) and How I Spent my Summer Vacation. As before, I can neither find the exact dates of when Mom wrote these articles, nor when/where they were published. However, again, the descriptions of us on vacation on the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes are from that long summer vacation we took in 1971, to see our relatives, in West Virginia, from Dad’s side of the family.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

HOW TO TRAVEL WITH YOUR KIDS…

(And Live to Tell About It!)

By Gloria Pitzer

I have nothing against traveling with our kids – as long as we can go in separate cars. A current poll, taken among the mothers of the Sears Sandbox symposium shows 10 to 1 in favor of going around Harsens Island on a skateboard, as opposed to traveling anywhere by car with their kids – even to the mailbox at the end of the [200-foot long] driveway.

For one thing, any trip is going to be automatically rated ‘X’ when, before you can get out of your own driveway, you must first settle which child is going to sit next to a window and which child won’t. Before the trip is scarcely underway, we can always depend upon the child who rolls the window down, because they need some air, to be sitting next to the child who wants the window up because they’re cold.

The Sunday supplement ads for vacation-minded families, who want matching luggage, are a waste of time. Who wants matching luggage, when it should, by all rights, be packed in a U-Haul truck and immediately be disorganized the minute you unlock the motel room [or cabin] door… because this is usually the exact moment I have to find a clean shirt and slacks for the one who spilled their Dairy Queen [treat] all over themselves. If I told him once, I told him a hundred times: ‘let me hold the shake for you while you drive, Honey!’

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The real trouble with packing, I feel, is that you usually end up taking all the wrong kind of clothes. When you leave home in the middle of a driving snow and the skies are icy grey and bleak, it doesn’t occur to you that 450 miles south you’ll be shedding the snow jackets and galoshes; wishing you had brought those shorts and tennis shoes, after all.

It is completely ridiculous to allow any child to pack their own suitcase. Chances are, they will try to convince you that one change of underwear is going to be adequate for a 10-day vacation – and that’s when I visualize myself spending all of my time sitting out the duration of our trip, watching my enzymes and bleach race their way to the dirt and grime in some out-of-the-way, ‘coin-op’ laundry [facility].

Some of the motel rooms we’ve stayed in, have been pretty nice; but, then, there are some others that left us feeling we could have had the same conveniences, for which we were paying $50 per day, for free had we stayed at home. If [I] can’t wash 6 days [worth of] dirty underwear in the wash basin, [we] can’t stay there!

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Not one of the lovely travel brochures I read showed ‘the happy family’, as they pull up to the Pennsylvania turnpike gate without realizing that the baby ate the toll card along the way. I can say, with all honesty, that we intimately know every public restroom on the Ohio and Pennsylvania turnpikes… not to mention, 3 plazas in West Virginia and several in Niagara Falls. Another thing about traveling with the kids is that, invariably, the best restaurant is always just around the bend, after you’ve [already] stopped at the worst [one].

We are further engaged in the constant inquiries of the children who will, at annoying intervals, in the perfect unison of an acapella choir ask: ‘When are we going to get there?’ The remainder of the trip is spent… painfully telling them that I never wanted to read the roadmap for [Daddy] in the first place; and how was I to know that he wanted Exit 7, not 11! And how do you explain to the service station attendant that you were foolish enough to let your wife read the map and now you’re lost? I’ll be darned if I know – but, before we take another trip with the kids, we’ll have a bumper sticker on our car that reads: ‘Approach with caution – driver under the influence of children!

Photo by Gloria Pitzer (1970-ish)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

How I Spent my Summer Vacation

(And Other Fond Memories of Days Gone By)

By Gloria Pitzer

I see the neighborhood kids are in the spirit of summer… and it makes me remember, quite fondly, those days during which our own five youngsters were home and very much underfoot. Although, some of the memories are pleasantly enjoyed today, in the absence of our offspring, some of those by-gone days were not all pretzels and beer!

I recall really trying to enjoy summer vacation, even though I had the feeling I was just a first grade version of ‘See Mother Run’. Most of the vacation weeks (and I use the reference loosely), were spent wandering through aspirin lectures, asking perfect strangers: ‘How many more days until school opens?’

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

As I [remember], we stopped spending vacations with the children; considering how, one summer, we spent 2 weeks on the turnpike… and lived to tell about it… there honestly were positive virtues to the 9am to 3pm [school] schedules, which left us mothers 5 days a week, from September through June, during which we were not answering dumb questions.

For one thing, it was none of the kids’ business why I looked pale and plump in a bathing suit. I knew, the minute I walked into Chubby Chicks’ Swimwear Boutique, summer (for me) would mean running under the lawn sprinkler in very dark glasses and a body shirt, cleverly created out of a porch awning by some shut-in from General Hospital!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Actually, it was my husband’s idea, out of consideration for the neighbors, that he only let me sit on the patio in my bathing suit after dark. He also claimed that I discouraged mosquitos. This is the same man who would stand on the porch, whenever I sang in the shower, so the neighbors could see that he was not beating me!

The same man, mind you, who would come home from (and I quote him exactly) ‘an exhausting day of fishing’ and ask, seriously – when was I planning to clean off the top of the refrigerator, did I write to his mother, did I have fun at the Book Mobile with 5 kids and would it be alright if we ‘ate out’ that, by his definition, was hot dogs in the backyard over a fire in the grill that I would have to make.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

He just didn’t understand why I spent my summer vacation counting the days ‘til school opened again! But, then, he never had to find band aids for braless Barbie dolls and G.I. Joe [‘action figures’], who got sucked into the vacuum cleaner hose periodically.

My lovable, better half never had to wander through a vast wasteland of Pop Tart wrappers and Mr. Misty cups; while 7 neighborhood kids motorbiked their way through the yard, the flower beds and into the center of a National Noise Abatement Program, sympathetically excused by 3 probation officers who did not have to live next door to them!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Summer vacation, as some laughingly refer to those 10 weeks [mid-June to September], is NOT a vacation; but, more like an endurance test – during which, those families who stayed together, got on each other’s nerves! It was enough to leave a mother looking like a wire service photo that, by all rights, should have been printed under the caption: ‘NEVER MIND SENDING HER KIDS TO CAMP – HELP SEND THIS MOTHER AWAY!’

It’s mothers that need the vacation – not the kids! Ten weeks of kids at home and Mother could develop a personality of a dental drill with a voice to match! But, as I recall, telling the 5 kids one day, everything would be alright as soon as Daddy got home.

And the questions I had to answer all by myself – questions like: ‘How many more days until school starts?’, ‘Can I have a popsicle?’, ‘Can I have my allowance?’, ‘How come you’re always yelling at me?’, ‘Have you seen my tennis shoes?’, ‘Why doesn’t anybody like me?’… and those were just the questions my HUSBAND asked! Compared to all those [questions] that the kids would ask me during the day, I could [better] take those which my husband posed to me. He meant well. But, he never did understand that a mother’s vacation doesn’t start until school does!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Mom always had a very satirical sense of humor – not just in her writings and in her drawings, but in life in general. I always admired how much Mom took on, all by herself. She almost always worked from home, doing jobs for which she was paid money; and then the other, harder work at home for which she only got perks – like hugs and kisses and love. Mom wore many hats while simultaneously raising a husband and five kids, as well as an array of pets! I struggled to do the same with having only three kids, instead of five! If you consider the whole birthing process, to begin with, mothers know better than anyone – like the German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, said – “that which does not kill you, makes you stronger.”

IN CLOSING…

#NationalWaffleDay

In honor of today, also, being National Waffle Day; I want to give you a copy of one of Mom’s “free offer” recipes for pancakes, as I couldn’t find a waffle one among them.

In order to be made properly, waffles require a waffle iron that creates a distinct pattern and crispy exterior. Waffles contain more fat than pancakes; because of the greater amount of oil used in making them, the raw batter is thinner when making waffles than when making pancakes. Thus, to create waffles from the following recipe, increase the amount of oil and post your creations on social media with #NationalWaffleDay!

Recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

PANCAKES, LIKE PERKINS’ by Gloria Pitzer

Ingredients:

12-oz can of 7-Up (or Sprite – diet or regular)

2 eggs

2 TB sugar (or an equal sugar substitute)

2 TB oil

3 C Bisquick

Instructions:

Put it all into a blender on high speed, using an on-off pulse to agitate for 2 minutes or until smooth. Let batter stand for 10 minutes before using it. Allow ¼ cup of batter for a 6-inch round pancake prepared on a hot, lightly greased griddle. Makes 16 pancakes. The batter freezes well, to use within 3 months.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Vacation Returns

Happy Monday! Today is National Lasagna Day & National Chicken Wing Day! I hope you get a chance to enjoy it, whether you’re making it or eating it – or both!

Summer is almost half-way through already! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun! My husband and I just celebrated our 15-year wedding anniversary last week. I remember our youngest child asking us, a few days before the wedding, how long we were going to be on our honeymoon and, without missing a beat, my, then-husband-to-be said with a big grin, “for the rest of our lives!” Rather than going on vacation to celebrate, as we usually do, we had a big, backyard pig roast to celebrate with our family and friends. Memories were made!

In last week’s blog entry, Make the most of Summer, I mentioned some of my childhood memories of our family vacations; and, this past week, while reading through some of Mom’s old articles from her No Laughing Matter syndicated columns, I came across some related memories to share with you today.

Below is a copy of an article Mom wrote, called Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort). However, I can’t find an exact date of when Mom wrote it or when it was published. But, Mom’s memories, describing all 7 of us ‘Pitzer Pack Rats‘ on vacation together for three weeks, cross country and back, in the station wagon – I remembered that vacation! It was 1971 and we all went to see our relatives, from Dad’s side of the family, in West Virginia.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort)

By Gloria Pitzer

It is only upon returning from a vacation that we realized just how much we could use one! Ours was nothing to write home about, so all of you out there, who were looking for a postcard from us, now know why you didn’t get one. If – [even] when I [was] at home, among conveniences, and circumstances used to force me to once write those ‘please-excuse-my-child’ notes in lipstick on the back of a Citizen’s Federal Savings [bank] slip, and take telephone messages down in the dust on the end tables – you just know that any postcard I’d be apt to send from our vacation would probably be written in campfire charcoal on the back of a Handi-Wipe!

I still hate to refer to it in the strictest sense as a ‘vacation’. I mean, a cross country trip by station wagon with our five kids would be anything BUT a vacation! And somehow, I recall that the cross country trip got even more cross as we crossed the country, when we were traveling with the kids – especially on the way back [home].

We spent more time deciding which child got to sit next to the window than we ever did reading the road maps – and that was just in the driveway, before we even left home! Upon reading those maps, however, we would be forced to make the crucial decision – deciding which fork in the road to take. Usually, [we chose] the wrong fork in the road – but, then, we had never been lost that way before.

Photo by Cheryl Pitzer; Ohio, 2012

Once in a while, and even to this day, when Paul and I travel alone, without the children to distract us, we’ll find we’re lost on some turnpike off ramp and, when out of state we’ll hope to see another vehicle with a Michigan license plate and start to follow them because we’re convinced that they know where they’re going and will probably, at least, get us back to the state line. But, in our case, [we] could use a bumper sticker for the car that reads: ‘Don’t follow me. I’m lost too!’

When the children were vacationing with us, in the old days, it seemed that ‘who-sits-next-to-the-windows’ is an on-going debate. The argument got so sticky at one point that I simply buried my face in a AAA tour book and pretended not to hear them until, from the midst of the back seat crowd, came a tortured voice, which pleaded in anguish, ‘But I HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Nonsense!’ I said, without looking up. ‘Give me one good reason WHY you HAVE to sit by the window!’

‘Because,’ said the voice with some agitation, ‘I’m driving! I’m Daddy!’

Even the cost of a simple vacation has been affected by the national inflation, I see today. You might say the cost of getting away, has gotten away; because, if you really wish to relive your vacation, the only way you can do it these days is to show your friends colored slides of all of your traveler’s checks!

We did learn a few things, though, about our trips [that] I’m perfectly willing to share with you. We now realize that the same vacation conveniences that would cost us $90 a day, while traveling, we could have had for free if we had stayed home. Besides, nothing can deflate your ego, or undermine your significance as a person, like returning from a 3-week vacation; and, as you begin to carry the suitcases from the car into the house, have your neighbor greet you with: ‘Hi there! Going someplace?’

All we have to recall of our last vacation is the vivid memory of how the best restaurant to eat in was always just a block down the road from the one we stopped at and thought it would be the last one we’d come to before dark.

But, I will always remember how Daddy would lie on the beach about how he was missed at the office! And…that hitchhiker we picked up, who, within 5 minutes, begged us to let him out of the car because he had been suddenly drenched with a Dairy Queen milkshake and 6 popsicle sticks were poked into his fringe-sleeved, suede jacket.

As I said, if you’re traveling with children, and you think you need the vacation you’re about to take, it’s nothing compared to the one you’ll be ready for when you get back!

I had almost forgotten about how we (my siblings and I) used to fight over who got to sit next to the windows… because it wasn’t fair that the boys were older – they were always older! As the two youngest and smallest of the bunch, Cheryl and I often got put in the “way-in-the-back-seat” of the station wagon. Nowadays, that’s called “third row seating”; but, Cheryl and I called it the “way-in-the-back-seat”.

Sure, we each got a window seat by being “way-in-the-back”, but we were also facing the BACK; so, all we got to see was what we already passed – plus, facing backwards often gave me motion sickness. But, what Mom said about getting lost a different way – I remember that too! Instead of asking, “are we there yet”; we used to ask Dad, “are we lost yet” or “is this a new scenic route?”

After my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they often chose to go on a road trip somewhere. It didn’t matter if it was a planned route or the “other scenic route”, because they were together and away from it all, just enjoying each other and the beautiful scenery passing by… without ever having to hear, again, “he’s teasing me” from one of us girls in the “way-in-the-back” seat about one of our brothers!

My husband and I can relate to that, as we’ve gone through it too. We love taking road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes area, is a wonderful area to explore and unwind from a hectic work week. I hope you enjoy your work week – but, if not, hit the road!

IN CLOSING…

#NationalChickenWingDay

In honor of National Chicken Wing Day, I wanted to give you a summer rerun recipe of Mom’s “Chooser’s Wings” (pictured above), inspired by Hooters’ chicken wings AND her Barbequed Baby Chicken Legs recipe (one of my personal favorites), as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 91), which was not among any of her “free recipe” offers:

BARBECUED BABY CHICKEN LEGS

By Gloria Pitzer

These are chicken wings, split at the joints, with the boney wing-tips discarded. Arrange them side-by-side in a single layer in a greased, shallow baking pan. Coat liberally in any barbecue sauce. Bake at 375°F, uncovered, for 20 minutes per pound of chicken (3 pounds will serve 6 to 8.) About every 10 minutes or so, apply additional barbecue sauce to the pieces as they’re baking, without turning them.

P.S. There are only a few days left of July. Other national food (or foodie-related) celebrations that have been going on for the whole MONTH and still are, according to NationalDayCalendar.com, include:

National Baked Bean Month

National Culinary Arts Month

National Grilling Month

National Hot Dog MONTH – however, National Hot Dog DAY, 2019, was July 17th (changes annually)

National Ice Cream Month – however, National Ice Cream DAY, 2019, was July 21st (changes annually – always the third Sunday in July)

National July-Belongs-to-Blueberries Month

National Picnic Month

Independent Retailer Month – however, Get to Know Your Customers DAY, 2019, was July 18th (changes quarterly – always the third Thursday of each quarter: January, April, July, October.)

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Make the most of Summer

As always, happy Monday to everybody! Today is also National Penuche Fudge Day – so, happy Penuche Fudge Day and, if you can, enjoy a luscious piece somewhere; then, hashtag it on social media!

#NationalPenucheFudgeDay

According to Merriam-Webster.com, penuche is a fudge usually made of brown sugar, butter, cream or milk, and nuts. There’s also a great sounding recipe for a traditional penuche on a 2014 blog entry from Jennifer Buggica, “The Foodie Patootie”, at https://thefoodiepatootie.com/national-penuche-fudge-day/. I wish I could eat it – but, unfortunately it’s too sweet for my hypoglycemic system. I’ll have to work on a sugar-free, low-carb version, even if it won’t be a traditional penuche.

In the summer of 1976, Mom self-published a little cookbook, called The American Cookery Cookbook, of which the Henry Ford Museum bought some copies to put in its bi-centennial collection. That was the only cookbook, of Mom’s, in which I could find a copy of a traditional-style penuche recipe. Mom called her recipe ‘San Diego Penuche’.

However, Mom’s 1997 recipe for fudge like Disney World’s (see that recipe near the end of this blog) is very similar to a traditional penuche. About a month ago, I had shared with you a different recipe version, from Mom, for fudge like Disney World’s.

No matter where you go across North America – from a little German town in Michigan, called Frankenmuth, to See’s Candy shops in California to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL to the Maple Leaf Village in Niagara Falls, Ontario – fudge is a tourism staple and the making of fudge, before our very eyes, has become an art form, as well as a form of entertainment for millions of North American tourists every year.

I can’t have fudge anymore because of my low-carb lifestyle AND hypoglycemia. I miss my carbs so much! Some sugar-free and low-carb versions of anything may still taste okay, but they’re just not the same, nor really as good! However, I can still reminisce about the real tastes as I watch the fudge-makers perform their magic shows through the big picture windows of all the little fudge shops in all the tourist areas I visit!

It’s still fun to watch them, live, transforming their thick, molten liquid creations – like the river flowing through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – by pouring the confections out of big vats and onto large, cold, marble slabs. Then, the fudge-makers fold the gooey mixture over and over again, cooling it and thickening it through the process, until they’ve formed long loaves of thick, sweet goodness to be sliced like bread. It doesn’t cost me any carbs to stand there and smell the sweet, sugary aromas – and reminisce about the flavors I remember from my childhood!

1970, Pitzer Vacation at Mackinac Island, MI

I have so many wonderful, childhood memories of family, summertime trips to popular tourist spots like Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), Disneyland (Los Angeles, CA), Toronto and Niagara Falls (both, in Ontario, Canada). In addition, are our own beautiful “up north” Michigan destinations like Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Everywhere we visited, there was usually a fudge shop at which to stop and see a fudge-making performance, as well as to buy some of their tasty treats.

An interesting story on the history of fudge and how it came to be a tourism staple, in the first place, can be found at https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/205844/how-did-fudge-become-a-staple-of-tourist-towns/. Another great article to check out, on the subjects of fudge and tourism, is called “Why does every Tourist Attraction sell Fudge?”, by Kat Eschner (Smithsonian.com; May 12, 2017), at https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/why-does-every-tourist-attraction-sell-fudge-180963152/.

1979, Pitzer Vacation at Niagara Falls, Ontario

Going through Mom’s old photo albums brings up so many more memories of our family, summertime vacations. Mom, almost always, was the one to photograph all those special moments; although, Dad would take a picture every now and then, so Mom could be in some shots as well. Back then, there weren’t “selfies” or digital cameras with the capabilities of capturing thousands of pictures!

Years ago, every shot needed to count because your roll of film was limited to a certain number of photos, and you didn’t know if any of them would come out right until you had the film printed – there was no instant viewing and deleting, like we can do now. Photo technology has come such a long, long way over the last 50 years.

I remember when Polaroid cameras and disposable cameras were the new, cutting-edge technology! Now your cell phone is an all-in-one-personal-assistant with a built-in camera to capture every “Kodak moment” as it happens! AND, not only that, but, now, you can also skip the whole printing process and still share your photos through the internet via emails and social media sites or, more privately, through text messages!

Mackinac Island Memories – Somewhere In Time

I would have to say, the Mackinac Island fudge shops are probably my favorite ones of all! And the summer vacations we spent on Mackinac Island were always the most memorable! Except for the smell of horse dung, baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many heavenly scents from the sugary confections being made in the fudge and candy shops to the wonderful aromas seeping from the island’s restaurants and bakeries to the heavenly scents surrounding all the beautiful gardens that are everywhere. Mackinac is a very nostalgic place – no cars are allowed on the island, so getting around it is usually done by foot, bicycle or horse in some manner.

Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; it was always a magical trip back in time… especially the summer when the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience! [NOTE: long before that, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel. In 1947, Ethel Merman swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of This Time for Keeps. Thus, the pool was named after her.]

Photo of Gloria Pitzer, on the porch of The Grand Hotel, taken by Laura Pitzer, 1979

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

SOMEWHERE IN TIME – MACKINAC ISLAND [MI]

Our reservations were made in February, that year, to spend the Fourth of July week at The Grand Hotel on historic Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. We had heard, when we arrived, that Universal Pictures was filming a movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and that our 2-day stay at the hotel might be disrupted from the usual routine we were used to when we stayed there. The place was booked, and we were lucky to have those 2 days because other customers had canceled. The scene when we arrived was one of spectators and glamorous Hollywood activity in the lobby and on the grounds.

Paul was just teeing off at the green next to the golf pro shop, the next morning, when we heard a sympathetic moan from the beautiful leading man, himself, as he locked up his bike and headed across the street to the filming activity. I know I should have run after Christopher Reeve for his autograph, but I was in shock!

Later, in the hotel lobby, we watched the scene when Christopher Reeve checks into The Grand and, later, when he and Jane Seymour take a buggy ride away from the entrance of the hotel with Christopher Plummer looking on. Take the time to enjoy seeing the movie they were filming – we’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait to see it again! It’s for everyone who has ever been in love – or who has ever visited lovely Mackinac Island, as we do every summer.

In one scene of the movie you’ll notice, on the main street of the village, a sign over a shop that reads ‘Murdick’s Fudge’, a recipe which I have coveted for years. Finally, after dozens of tests, I came up with the secret for purporting this product at home… It whips up in 5 minutes and, a week later, it’s still smooth and creamy. – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235)]

After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, they bought a camper and traveled even more – being that it was much more affordable with only the two of them! Joining the Good Sam club was always one of their most favorite experiences. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters. Mom also wrote about her and Dad’s trips in most of her summer newsletter issues, especially about all the great new friendships they made everywhere they went. They always looked forward to the Good Sam “Jamborees”!

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING

Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]

MY “DIET” UPDATE:

On the first day of spring, I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet). Thus far, it has been 124 days of no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff… and, boy, do I ever miss the good stuff! It feels just like when I quit smoking cigarettes over 13 years ago. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – at least for a while! I must admit, I’m a carbohydrate addict!

In fact, I never realized how much I ate (and how little my husband ate) until I started this low-carb lifestyle/diet. I HATE waste and throwing out food! But, after I started my new lifestyle, I realized that I was the only one who had been eating up the left-overs, so food wouldn’t go to waste. It’s been difficult, learning to cook two, small, single meals at a time. I’ve been so used to cooking large portions for so long.

After starting this new lifestyle out at a daily carbohydrate limit of 20 grams, for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit up to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far. It seems to work for me. But, whenever I don’t keep track of my carb-intake, I go over my limit. I can feel its effects the next day, and it doesn’t feel good (such as an upset stomach and the shakes from a drop in my blood sugar level); plus, I re-gain a pound or two.

I mentioned in my last “Diet Update” that I had recently started using almond flour to make some Keto recipes. I still LOVE the 90-Second Microwave English Muffin! I like to turn my “slices” into a Monte Cristo sandwich for breakfast. It’s a little piece of heaven for about 9-grams of carbs!

I’ve also been experimenting with some of my favorite cookies and dessert recipes, using sugar-free and low-carb ingredient substitutions. I have developed a no-bake cookie concoction that can be panned up and cubed like fudge. I also like to use a no-flour, 3-ingredient, peanut butter cookie recipe that’s been around for years, substituting my own low-carb ingredients!

As of today, I’ve lost about 37 pounds! However, my “exercise regimen” is STILL not steady, to say the least! Nevertheless, I need to change that because I continue to not spend near enough time weeding my gardens or going for brisk walks. Thus, I won’t stop trying to make those things part of my already irregular, daily routine. My goal is to lose another 8-13 pounds, but I don’t have a deadline set. I’ll get there when I get there, but I WILL get there!

IN CLOSING…

Last month, I shared a version of Mom’s Disney World-Style Fudge from one of her free recipe and information sheets… Below is a different version of that recipe, as seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 9) – and its ingredients are more similar to those of a traditional penuche. Again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

 

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Copycat!

Happy Monday! I hope everybody is having an awe-inspiring, magnificently marvelous Monday!

As defined by Wikipedia, copycat refers to someone “who adopts, copies, imitates, mimics, or follows the same thing as someone” else. In fact, one of the lines of Wikipedia’s various examples of copycat says, “…reference to a recipe that tastes like a restaurant recipe or famous product purchased in a store”, just as Mom had started developing in the early 1970s. If anyone knows of another copycat, who started imitating famous restaurant and grocery products before my mom, please contact me! [https://www.facebook.com/TheRecipeDetective/ OR therecipedetective@outlook.com]

In one of my earlier blogs, Imitation, I reminisced about how Mom had always referred to herself as “the Rich Little of the food industry”, because she could imitate their famous dishes and products like Rich Little could imitate famous voices.

Additionally, according to Wiktionary, to imitate is to follow a model or pattern; or to make a copy, counterpart or semblance of something… OR, as it also mentions… to plagiarize, which is, basically, stealing someone else’s work and passing it off as one’s own.

I’ve previously discussed this subject in a couple of my other blog entries as well. Mom never knew what the companies actually used in their recipes, but she could create her own semblance of their products – that’s not plagiarism! However, there have been instances, over the years, of others blatantly stealing Mom’s work (sometimes word-for-word and sometimes changing a few words or exchanging ingredients, like flour, salt and baking powder instead of self-rising flour) and, then, passing it off as their own work!

I find it astounding, the number of “foodie” copycats who (since Mom introduced her first “copycat” cookbook, called Secret Restaurant Recipes, in 1976) have copied the ORIGINAL COPYCAT and all the subsequent copycats that have followed henceforth. Yet, I can’t find any type of written history on the subject of the “copycat recipes movement” – nor, in any other similar terms – yet, there’s no denying that the movement exists and, I think, it’s becoming a billion dollar industry!

I’m feeling inspired and frightened, all at the same time, to take up that challenge, myself – to write the history of copycat cooking – it’s like my mom is on my shoulder telling me, optimistically, to “go for it – it’s a ‘meant-to-be’!” Simply because, a couple of weeks ago, a friend randomly showed me a book, while we were sitting together at a backyard barbeque.

The book is called Ottissippi and it’s written by a local woman, Cheryl Morgan; who discovered there was an untold story of the history of the Anishinabe people in our Southeastern Michigan area. Thus, she decided to be the one to pull together all the bits and pieces of factual information she could find throughout our Great Lakes region and turn it into a beautifully told history. I was very impressed by her story.

But, that’s the kind of thing Mom would’ve called a “meant-to-be” event… it seems random at the time, but soon after you see the reasoning behind why that happened… as everything happens for a reason! I’ve been searching for a history on the “copycat recipes movement”, using various different terms and search engines; but, I have yet to find anything! Shouldn’t there be a written history on that subject – or is it just me, who feels that way?

 

Paul & Gloria Pitzer, Algonac, MI

When I was doing a search on the term “copycat recipes movement”, both, Bing and Google brought me SO MANY results on copycat recipes! Nevertheless, there were no articles or books on the subject of the “movement”. I am amazed that Mom’s name didn’t even come up on any of the first pages of results!

One of the rabbit holes I followed on Bing’s search results, led me to a “copycat recipes” term-search on Amazon.com. Out of 116 results (sorted by “Featured”), not one of Mom’s cookbooks came up until #46; which was her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018). Mom wrote and self-published a cookbook called, The Copycat Cookbook, in April 1988, which didn’t even come up in any of the first few pages of results! Likewise, when I changed the searched term to “secret recipes”, Mom’s last cookbook didn’t come up until #58 of more than 7,000 results (again, sorted by “Featured”).

Additionally, when I searched a similar term like “secret restaurant recipes” – which is the title of Mom’s self-published cookbook from 1976 (first edition, also known as “Book 1” in a series of 6) that I believe really kick-started the “movement”, in the first place; following Mom’s initial publishings of copycat recipes from famous restaurant dishes to fast food, junk food and grocery products – Mom’s cookbook didn’t come up until #183 of more than 1,000 results (once again, sorted by “Featured”).

The recipes in Mom’s “Book 1” had originated from her self-published newsletter, the National Homemakers Newsletter; which began in January of 1974, AFTER Mom had started developing a following of readers, in the early 1970s, from her syndicated newspaper columns, in which she first developed and printed some of her ORIGINAL copycat, make-at-home recipes for things like McDonald’s “Special Sauce” and Sara Lee’s Cheesecake.

Long story, short… newspaper advertisers kicked up a fuss… editor “strongly suggested” Mom go back to hum-drum brownie recipes… Mom quit and started her own publication, giving the public what they wanted; as she discovered from their requests, because there wasn’t any other source (at that time) from which to feed the ever-growing hunger for recipe secrets to imitate famous restaurant dishes, fast food, junk food and grocery products at home.

Mom has written her story, about being the Recipe DetectiveTM and how it all began, in many of her self-published books. It has also been told repeatedly by many reporters and talk show hosts over the decades, after she first fired up a lot of national attention, in the mid-1970s. It all began from requests by her readers, in the early 1970s; people who wanted to know how to IMITATE famous food products at home! However, following Mom’s first appearance on The Phil Donahue Show in July of 1981, the nation was more than just fired up – it exploded with the copycat recipes phenomenon!

Mom and Phil Donahue, 1993

Copycat recipe authors, whose names popped up on Amazon.com when I searched for the term “copycat recipes” (again, sorted by “Featured”), before my mom’s name ever appeared, included Lina Chang, JR Stevens, Todd Wilbur, Becky Bopp, Olivia Howard, John Andrews, Alexander Moretti, Bonnie Akins, Ron Douglas, Stephanie Manley, JP Brown, Samantha Schwartz, Nathan Isaac and David Pietras; plus, company names such as Six Sisters’ Stuff, Taste of Home, Prime Publishing and Publications International Ltd.

However, I have yet to find any “copycat foodie” who was published before my mom; nor any, since, who’ve given any kind of inspirational reference to her for having carved out this particular niche in the realm of recipes and copycat cookery. Mom was the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, the trailblazing pioneer who began the “copycat recipes movement” in the first place. I may be biased, but I feel like, since it has become more than a movement (it’s a huge “industry”, now), some kind of recognition is due Mom for having carved out this niche in the first place – and it makes me, all the more, want to shout Mom’s story from the roof tops!

1985 Gloria Pitzer

Thus, I’m still feeling inspired to take up the challenge to write Mom’s biography, including a history of the “copycat recipes movement”. That’s kind of why I started this blog series, Mondays & Memories of My Mom, in the first place; to carry the torch for Mom’s legacy and to keep telling her story – to those who remember Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM, to those who won’t admit to it because they’ve copied (sometimes plagiarized) the ORIGINAL copycat and to the newer, digital generation who probably doesn’t even know that there is a history behind the “copycat recipes movement” and it began with Gloria Pitzer!

Not too long ago, I was asked, by one of the talk show hosts Mom used to work with, why people like Todd Wilbur and Ron Douglas can get away with blatantly copying Mom’s work. The only answer I could find to that a few years ago, when Mom wanted to re-pursue Wilbur for plagiarism, was an online article called, “Recipes, Copyright and Plagiarism” by Jonathan Bailey (published March 24, 2015).

I thought the author gave a wonderful, easy-to-understand explanation of plagiarism – specifically among recipe writers – and how difficult it is to prove, let alone prosecute, the theft of someone else’s original work, especially in recipes, that’s being passed off as one’s own work. Such as Todd Wilbur did to Mom in the late 1980s; and which I discussed in an earlier blog, Mother, May I?

It’s not fair that people like that can get away with what I (and many others) would consider plagiarism, even if it is just borderline, by simply changing a few words or ingredients or measurements (like 2 TB, instead of 1/8 cup)… and seeking their own fame and fortune from it as well! Even Mom often stated, in her own cookbooks, that she could frequently come up with the same result by using different ingredients; as she often revamped her make-alike recipes to compensate for such things as ingredients that were no longer available, which prompted Mom’s homemade grocery recipes and subsequent cookbook.

Mom wrote in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I can’t Find My Mop, about how her mom taught her certain cooking techniques; but, it was my Grandma Pitzer who, first, taught Mom how to make certain grocery products at home to save money (after she had married my dad and they were living with Dad’s parents for a short time).

Additionally, Mom, who was always a big fan of saving time and exertion, would often “revamp” her recipes to include “ingredient short cuts” (like using Mayonnaise in place of oil and egg or boxed cake mix in place of some flour and sugar ingredients). That’s how Mom came to develop her cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986), which she reprinted in June 2002 because of the popularity that shortcut cooking had gained. That cookbook was my latest source for many of the newest “thank you” notes I added to the “Media” tab, yesterday, on this website.

#MediaFriends

1986 Apr – Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

“COPYCAT COOKERY doesn’t limit you to traditional ingredients or old fashioned methods for recreating your favorite dishes at home and you’ll find, in my recipes, that I often use pantry-shelf products to replace several other ingredients… SIMPLE INGREDIENTS, but marvelous results, with a smidgeon of the effort that more complicated from-scratch recipes offer!” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, pp. 41 & 65)

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer, 1986

Today, July 15th, is National Give Something Away Day!

SO, IN CLOSING…

This easy pizza crust recipe is from one of Mom’s “free recipes and ordering information” sheets, given out in the late 1980s, and has only 3 ingredients – just stir & spread! A similar version to it can be found on page 54 of Mom’s self-published cookbook, The Best of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Feb. 1990)… again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. Thanks!

PAN PIZZA CRUST

By Gloria Pitzer

Ingredients:

12-oz beer (or Club Soda)

2 TB oil

2 ½ cups self-rising flour

Instructions:

Stir beer (or Club Soda) and oil together with a sturdy mixing spoon in a large bowl. Add flour and beat vigorously until smooth and moist. Dump dough into middle of Pam-sprayed, 12- or 13-inch, round pizza pan. Spread dough evenly with back of a large, wet spoon. (Note: Dipping spoon into cold water keeps the dough from sticking.) Use the spoon to patch any holes in the dough.

Bake the crust, empty, for 10 minutes at 400°-F; then, remove and, immediately, add your favorite sauce while it’s warm. Top with cheese and other favorite garnishments. Return to oven to bake for another 20-30 minutes or until toppings are bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the crust appears golden brown around its rim.

Cut to serve 4 – or one teenager!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

As always, happy Monday to everybody! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your Independence Day celebrations and the extra-long weekend! I want to wish a big “happy birthday” to the famous Austrian Chef, Wolfgang Puck, AND happy 130th birthday to the USA Wall Street Journal!

Also, in history – yesterday was the 38-year anniversary of when Mom FIRST appeared on the Phil Donahue Show! That was definitely a milestone event, to say the least! St. Clair’s little post office was swamped with a million letters, throughout that summer and fall, just from that show, which aired and re-aired around the world for about a year! It was truly an overwhelming response that none of us ever expected. More about that story appears in one of my early blogs, More than 15 Minutes of Fame.

Secret RecipesTM was just a family affair (other than my parents’ recent hiring of an Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend) until that summer! Then my parents needed to pay some of my friends to temporarily come in and help with all the extra mail…from sending out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets for all the SASEs that came in, from the show airing that offer, to sending out the thousands-upon-thousands more newsletter issues, from all of the extra subscription orders that came from those “free sheet” mailings.

Donahue 1981 promo

Every year, the summer months seem to wiz right by me, never getting to completely enjoy them. While, on the other hand, winter seems to linger on endlessly! I want to savor every wonderful day of summer this year. It seems to pass by so fast here, in Michigan. Inspired by an article I read at https://www.beautyandtips.com/fun/10-fun-things-to-do-in-the-summer/ , I created a summertime bucket list of 5 things I want do this summer (as seen in photo below).

I’m a list-maker! Thus, I also started making another list of what I want to pack for our perfect picnic. Since I’m living a low-carb life-style, now, and my husband is not, I have to rethink our favorite classic picnic dishes to accommodate the both of us. That means most everything will need to be made and packed ahead of time, in individual servings rather than the usual family-style dishes. Great ideas on how to plan the perfect picnic and the related recipes can be found at, both, the Food Network’s and Taste of Home’s websites!

Our list of favorite picnic classics is similar to those listed in Sara Elliott’s Top 10 Picnic Foods, as seen on HowStuffWorks.com. When I plan my own picnics, I like to use the summertime classics that Mom used to make, I love her homemade dishes like fudge brownies, chocolate chip cookies, coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salads, fruit salad and fried chicken, which is always great, either, hot or cold!

I‘ve been learning to make my own low-carb versions of a lot of dishes I used to make and enjoy with my husband. For instance, I missed no-bake cookies, which I used to call “Mud Puddles” when I was a little girl. Thus, I took my favorite recipe apart and, like my mom, discovered how to make the same thing a different way; replacing the sugar with a sugar-substitute and the peanut butter with a low-carb version (I really like Skippy’s “Natural Creamy”), plus some unsweetened coconut in place of the oatmeal. I can, once again, savor those wonderful delights (IN MODERATION), while my husband enjoys a few of his own sweet favorites, fudge brownies and chocolate chip cookies!

In addition, instead of the potato and pasta salads that my husband will enjoy, I can have a low-carb spring greens salad with fresh-picked vegetables from my garden, bacon bits, shredded cheese and my own, homemade, low-carb 1000 Island or ranch dressing. My husband always says he’d “rather eat the rabbit than the rabbit food!” I’ve also learned to make low-carb versions of coleslaw and meatloaf that we both enjoy – you can count us among those who like their meatloaf, either way, hot or cold. In addition, grilled chicken, instead of fried, is also a low-carb substitution that I can utilize for both of us (hot or cold)!

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 68)

BIG BUCKET IN THE SKY!

Speaking of fried chicken – in a side note – while surfing the web, recently, for old articles about my mom, I ran across an article by John Owen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, published March 1, 1994, that said, in part…

COLONEL SANDERS’ ORIGINAL RECIPE was pressure-cooked in oil. The spicing is supposed to be a secret. One researcher concluded there are only four “secret herbs and spices” in the late colonel’s recipe. Another…The Recipe Detective…offers an excellent approximation but contains 11 herbs and spices. And it’s probably better for you because it is oven-cooked. Gloria Pitzer calls it “Colonel Sanders-Style Chicken.” – By John Owen

It should be noted that, since 1977, Mom actually called her imitation of KFC’s original product (as it used to be, before “The Colonel” sold it) “Big Bucket in the Sky!” chicken; following threats of legal action for trademark infringements from the KFC Corporation’s Trademark Manager in Dec. 1976. KFC had also sent copies of that letter to The National Inquirer, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Detroit Free Press and WHO-radio for the reporters in those medias who wrote articles or talked about Mom’s imitation of “The Colonel’s” original product to, likewise, stop referring to it as “The Colonel’s Style” or “KFC’s Style” chicken.

Here’s a great “extended version” of the Colonel-Sanders-related story mentioned above (part of it is a summer rerun from my earlier blog, More than 15 Minutes of Fame). The following is Mom’s favorite recipe experience from “The Phil Donahue Show”, as it appears in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press, January 2018; 1st Printing, pp. 86-89), along with Mom’s “Big Bucket in the Sky!” chicken recipe from one of those pages, as well:

Mom & Phil Donahue 1993

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

FRIED CHICKEN has always been a basic American favorite, even before it was a restaurant offering. It was ‘down-home’ and wholesome and has never lost its popularity. When Colonel Harland Sanders, in his retirement years, took a can of his favorite secret spices & herbs and his precious fryer and traveled across the country demonstrating his technique for preparing chicken. No one dreamed it would someday become one of the most successful corporations of the American restaurant industry, much less of the American free enterprise system, itself!

There are very minute differences between the popular restaurants in the way that their individual recipes are prepared… My own favorite is still the original recipe that we sampled when we were traveling [through] Ontario many, many years ago, and stopped at the White Horse Inn, where ‘The Colonel’, himself, was preparing his chicken and passing samples around to the customers. If the owners of the restaurant liked the response, Harland Sanders would provide them with the spices and the technique for preparing it under his name, which he eventually did – growing to the largest in the business.

Cartoon by Gloria Pitzer

THE SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE – WITH THE COLONEL’S HELP

I look back now to 1976 and 1977 and realize how fortunate I was to have had my life touched by so many helpful people – so many famous people! It’s almost incredible that what started out to be merely the frosting on the cake, of my monthly newsletter, soon became the whole cake!

While duplicating the secrets of the food and restaurant industry was only going to be a part of the publication I was writing, it was a surprise to me that the interest and the response from the public led to my specializing in the fast food division entirely! I thought my first book was going to be my ‘only’ book on that subject, but – six books later – I was still seriously, but lovingly, engaged in the pursuit of new information and challenging recipe imitations. [Side note: In total, Mom wrote and self-published over 40 books, in 30 years, 1973-2003.]

…One summer, while visiting relatives in West Virginia, we sampled some pan-fried home-style chicken that was every bit as good as the chicken produced in a pressure fryer. Paul’s 82-year-old-aunt claimed, why the chicken always came out just right every time she made it, which was religiously every Sunday, was the pan! She used an 80-year-old wrought iron skillet that had never been washed in soap and water. She ‘seasoned’ it with shortening – lard, mostly – and she kept it in the oven of her wood-burning, porcelain-enameled stove, where it was always warm.

THE FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE that first called attention to my recipes nationally – through the ‘National Enquirer’, ‘Money Magazine’, ‘Catholic Digest’, ‘The Christian Science Monitor’, ‘Campus Life Magazine’ and, yes, even ‘Playboy Magazine’ – was this following combination of ingredients… [as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it…]

See, also, http://therecipedetective.com/2018/11/06/big-bucket-in-the-sky-fried-chicken/ for another version included in this story.

The method is quite unorthodox and the original idea for developing it in this manner, came from a conversation I had with ‘Col. Sanders’ over the air with radio station WFAA in Dallas when I was a regular guest on a talk show with them for several months…

‘The Colonel’ was fascinated by the publicity I had received for my (original) ‘Big Bucket in the Sky’ fried chicken recipe and agreed that I was on the right track if I’d add more pepper. He loved pepper! He also suggested browning the chicken in a skillet and, then, oven-baking it until tender to achieve a likeness more to the original recipe he had created in 1964. He told me to look around the grocery store for 1 packaged product to replace the 11 spices – which I did diligently – and discovered that powdered Italian salad dressing mix was the secret!

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective

So, I set to work to revamp the recipe. My original recipe was quite close to the famous Colonel’s product, but the coating kept falling off – because, as he explained, I couldn’t get the oil hot enough. He liked peanut oil, himself, but suggested that I could achieve a similar result by using corn or Crisco oil – with 1 cup solid Crisco for every 4 cups of oil. He talked about the quality in his product changing after turning the business over to new owners…Heublein [Incorporated]…

It seemed unlikely that a home-kitchen-rendition of such a famous product could be had for the price of my book. But the letters came in – ‘best chicken we ever had’; ‘LOVED that fried chicken recipe’; ‘our favorite chicken recipe…please don’t change it’; and ‘maybe the Colonel should have YOUR recipe!’

I don’t recall ever getting tired of fried chicken, while taste-testing all those “duds”; until Mom achieved the perfect result, for which she was aiming. There were never any bad “duds”! They just didn’t have the precise taste or quality (or both) that Mom was trying to attain.

On occasion, I’ve heard or read comments from some people who’ve tried one of Mom’s recipes and said, while it tasted really good, it didn’t taste like the product it was supposed to be imitating. Nevertheless, they loved it and continued to use the recipe as their families’ favorite “go-to” selection.

As I’ve mentioned before, in a previous blog (New Year, New Attitude), you’ll find some recipes, even in chain restaurants, will have slight, state-to-state or region-to-region, cultural differences. In addition, recipes are occasionally changed over the years to accommodate such things as public trends, healthier selections, availability factors and/or economic reasons among others.

In Crouton Crackerjacks’ wonderful YouTube video of a guy making (and giving proper credit for) Mom’s imitation of Cracker Barrel’s Buttermilk Biscuits, the guy says that the biscuits he’s making taste nothing like Cracker Barrel’s, to him. BUT, he does add that, all-in-all, it is an excellent biscuit – regardless of what restaurant inspired it – it’s his family’s favorite biscuit recipe! Check out the video at https://youtu.be/CLc0Hkbwz7c. AND see Mom’s recipe at the end of this blog for her “Beautiful Biscuits – Better than KFC’s”!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

For instance, regarding recipe changes, after Harland Sanders sold his company and recipes to Heublein Incorporated, they changed a recipe that resulted in “The Colonel” suing them for misuse of his image in promoting products he hadn’t developed. [From “The part of KFC’s Story They Don’t Want You to Know”, by The Useless Info Junkie at https://theuijunkie.com/colonel-sanders-sued-kfc/]

During his later years, Harland Sanders became very critical of the “new” recipes dished up by the new KFC owners, as he believed they had cut costs and allowed quality to deteriorate. BrightSide.me offers up more examples of corporate recipe changes in their article, 11 Products That Have Surprisingly Changed Over Time, at https://brightside.me/wonder-curiosities/11-products-that-have-surprisingly-changed-over-time-418560/.

IN CLOSING…

[NOTE: This is bonus recipe, for you, is a photo copy of Mom’s “Beautiful Biscuits, better than KFC’s” – from one of her “free recipe” offers.]