Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Dawn of Summer

Hello and happy Monday to all! I personally look forward to Mondays, each and every week! They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

The year is almost half-way through and the dawn of summer (aka: Memorial Day, which is considered the un-official start of summer) is only a week away! Memorial Day was originally established as a day of remembrance, set aside to honor our veterans who died, serving in the U.S. military.

Our hearts go out to their surviving families, as those veterans gave their lives, protecting our country and our freedoms. Therefore, while we enjoy celebrating our freedoms this coming weekend, keep in mind at what cost we have them, in the first place! Likewise, let us also commemorate those veterans for the ultimate sacrifice they all made for us.

Traditionally, many towns honor their local veterans with floral wreaths and small American flags on their graves, as well as with community parades and special memorial services. Afterward, many of us will celebrate the extended weekend with pot-lucks or family picnics or backyard barbecues [as it is National Barbecue Month, too]!

#NationalBarbecueMonth

For some reason, Americans always like to find ways to “celebrate”, even the most somber of days, with optimism, happiness, and hope – and, of course, food! As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is one of those holidays that didn’t make Wikipedia’s top 10 celebrated Public Holidays in the United States. But it’s still noteworthy as being celebrated with a lot of food!

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 turn out. How little did we know what big challenges would tempt us to give up [and] to succumb to defeat.

#RoadTripDay

#NationalCoolerDay

Additionally, this coming Friday will also be National Road Trip Day and National Cooler Day! It’s one of those times, with the extended weekend, when hundreds of thousands of people (me and my husband included) will hit the road for a long weekend getaway – or maybe just a one day journey with a picnic somewhere.

After my parents became 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” (that’s what Dad called it when he got lost). They were together and away from “it all”, just enjoying each other and the beautiful Michigan scenery!

#PureMichigan

Sometimes, however, work would always manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, as Mom usually managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home. My husband and I can relate to the road trip getaway. We love taking road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes area, is a wonderful place to explore and unwind from a hectic work week.

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)]

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, p. 1)

GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE

One thing among many that I have learned from Good Sam, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.

Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose. You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed.

Try a little enthusiasm! …Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated. (p. 1)

The trouble with trying to be happy all the time is that most people look for one particular condition or experience or possession, from which they hope to derive complete contentment, forgetting that happiness is a moment – not a forever! (p. 4)

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.’ – Gloria Pitzer, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979)

LAST THOUGHTS…

Here are four basic tips for planning road trips that I shared last year…

    • Always bring a real roadmap, as there are places that actually don’t have any cell service for miles.
    • Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour or two to other map dots along the way!
    • Stop frequently and take breaks – “smell the roses”, photograph the memories, and talk to the locals.
    • Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

I hope you enjoy your extended weekend and 2022’s dawn of summer!

IN CLOSING…

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

In honor of May, also being National Salad Month, here is Mom’s secret recipe for Seven Layer Salad – from her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 37), a revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).

This was always a popular dish that Mom to took to many summer pot lucks. I also shared this recipe with Kathy Keene’s “Good Neighbor” audience, on WHBY (in Appleton, WI), around this time last year.

#NationalSaladMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of May’s observances include… American Cheese Month, Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Get Caught Reading Month,  National Inventor’s Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Today is also… National Lucky Penny Day and National Taffy Day!

May 24th, is… National Yucatan Shrimp Day, National Brother’s Day, National Escargot Day, and National Wyoming Day! 

May 25th, is… National Brown-Bag It Day and National Wine Day!

May 26th, is… National Blueberry Cheesecake Day!

May 27th, is… National Grape Popsicle Day! Plus, as the Friday before Memorial Day (for 2022), it is also… National Don’t Fry Day! 

May 28th, is… National Brisket Day, National Beef Burger Day, and National Hamburger Day! [NOTE: It’s also National Hamburger Month!] In honor of the latter three, here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation of White Castle’s sliders…

#NationalBeefBurgerDay

#NationalHamburgerDay

#NationalHamburgerMonth

Sunday, May 29th, is… National Coq Au Vin Day!

#TGIM

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

…21 down and 31 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Super Sunday Feast Bowl

Happy 5th Monday (2021) and happy February to everyone! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

http://therecipedetective.com

#SuperBowlSunday

There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football. Thus, in honor of both, Mom and Dad, I want to write a little about the colossal Super Bowl event that is only 6 days away, now. This year the big extravaganza is being held in Tampa Bay, FL.

And it just so happens that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFC champions, facing-off (at home) against the AFC’s champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a rare event when a city hosting the Super Bowl actually has their own team in the event, as the hosting cities are set years in advance. Therefore, Tampa Bay Floridians have been celebrating on a huge scale, as the NFC champions AND Super Bowl LV hosts!

Despite the pandemic that has been plaguing our country and the rest of the world for nearly a year – and continues to do so – parties are still being planned for the big event (even if on a smaller scale than usual), squares are being bought, bets are being placed and all the usual hype about the half-time show and “special” TV ads have already begun!

It seems that there’s always something to celebrate, every day of every year – even if it’s not an “official” holiday – and next Sunday is no exception! Football is not something Mom celebrated but Dad certainly did! Regardless, Mom did always like to entertain – especially with food and drinks – and almost any excuse for a “party” would do!

#NationalSnackFoodMonth

Over the past five and a half decades, the Super Bowl has evolved from a simple championship football game into a cultural phenomenon and an un-official holiday. How perfect that February is also National Snack Food Month, since the most popular Super Bowl party eats are from the snack foods category! At home, snacks are usually prepared from common pantry ingredients and don’t require a lot of preparation. They’re typically “finger-foods” intended to be convenient, easy, quick, and satisfying.

Whether packaged/processed or homemade, snacks are usually small portions of food that are generally eaten between meals and/or before bedtime. However, the category of snack foods (like the Super Bowl event, itself) has evolved from simple cookies, popcorn, pretzels, chips, dips, and the like to also include appetizers like pizza bites, chicken wings, nachos, fondues and deep-fried morsels of just about anything; as well as sliders!

[Below is a re-share of Mom’s famous imitation of sliders, like White Castle’s, who were one of the few corporations that took her imitation for what it was – a compliment – and approved, buying a bunch of her cookbooks to give to all of their company’s executives!]

Last year, according to an article at TheDailyMeal.com, The Most Popular Super Bowl Party Foods, Ranked [written by Carolyn Menyes (Jan. 13, 2020)], the #1 favorite snack food choice was chicken wings! Others that made the top 15 list in this article include sandwiches like subs, pulled pork, and sliders; as well as nachos, chili, pigs-in-blankets, potato skins, guacamole and a half-dozen others.

Another article, Ranking the Best Super Bowl Party Foods, from the staff at SI.com, lists 12 favorite Super Bowl snacks of their own – some not listed in the other article. A couple that I really liked were jalapeño poppers and crab dip. However, they were both in agreement with the #1 choice being wings!

Wikipedia.com claims that about “28 million pounds… of chips, 1.25 billion chicken wings, and 8 million pounds… of guacamole are consumed during Super [Bowl] Sunday”. I searched for Brady’s and Maholmes’ favorite Super Bowl snacks. It seems that Brady is a vegetarian and health nut, while Maholmes seems to like KC Barbeque (go figure).

#CookingWithQue

If you’re a vegan, like Brady, check out Que’s Baked Cauliflower Wings! Que is from our Detroit area and often appears on our local Fox2 News show. This lady is awesome – and I’m not even vegan!

For your Super Bowl celebration (or any day for that matter), below is a repeat sharing of Mom’s imitation for Hot Wings like she had at one of our local Hooters’ restaurants many decades ago… followed by one of her satirical columns about football.

Hot Wings, like Hooters, by Gloria Pitzer

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 301-302)

Originally from… “MINDING THE HEARTH” – a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer (circa 1970s)

[FOOTBALL SEASON]

I am resigned to my life with an armchair quarterback, for I know that the garlic in our matrimonial gladiola patch is PRO FOOTBALL! From September to March, every year, there is always going to be a gigantic communication gap in our house.

The art of conversation isn’t really lost. It’s merely hidden behind the pre-game warm-up, installing a power offense which will take advantage of decent, but not blinding, speed in the backfield in a right-handed attack with a lot of blocking in a size-out pass pattern.

I guess the reason I’ll never win an argument with my husband in the fall is that I can’t understand one single word he says. I even tried to leave him once during an NFL game, but it wasn’t until the Super Bowl was over (5 months later) that he even noticed I was gone.

I admit, I don’t know much about football, but I still insist it isn’t quite fair that the fellow who worked so hard last season, doing a terrific job as quarterback, wasn’t promoted to HALF-back this season! Anyway, the last time I tried to cultivate an interest in the game was the time my husband called me in to watch the last two minutes of an exciting game. (Mind you, I use the term ‘exciting’ very loosely!) I guess it was exciting.

Paul kept jumping up and down, hollering, ‘Look at them go!’ All I learned from that experience, was that two minutes of football is equal to 20 minutes of Daylight Savings Time. An ordinary Sunday afternoon at our house would begin as he slipped into his George Blanda sweatshirt and punted his bottle of Ironized Yeast Tablets across the room, then he would step up to the TV set and announce, ‘Gloria, is there anything you’d like to say to me before football season begins?’

Perhaps you understand why every fall I join ‘Parents Without Partners’. Because my husband would only notice me if I were to run through the living room with… a number on my back. I can forgive him a lot of faults, especially during football season, but… When he asked if I had anything to say to him before he turned on the set, it was no wonder I replied, ‘Do I have to say it all now?’

‘…You know better than to speak to me during an instant replay!’ he snapped.

‘All right,’ I screamed. ‘Why do you love football better than you love me?’

‘I don’t know,’ he said, scratching his head. ‘But I love you better than basketball! … Love you? Of course, I love you! That’s my job. I’m your husband! Besides, I love EVERYBODY!’

‘I suppose you’d like to have dinner in the living room, in front of the TV,’ I said tartly. ‘Or should I time it for the half-time extravaganza?’

‘Half-time will be fine. By the way,’ he asked, ‘what are we having for dinner?’

‘Film clips of last Sunday’s roast!’ [I answered.]

‘That’s not funny,’ he snapped. ‘I’m getting hungry!’

‘Good!’ I said bitterly. ‘Then the pre-dinner line-up includes whose off-sides that can set the table while I give you a slow-motion replay of how your son kicked the oven door while I was pampering a Boston butt-cuss (an illegal substitution for pork roast) and spelled out Billy Sims with 659 parsley flakes on a field of mashed potatoes.’

‘Okay,’ he chuckled. ‘I can take a joke as well as the next guy. But what are we really having for dinner?’ He asked.

[I answered.] ‘PICKLED PIGSKIN – that’s what!’

WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION IN MIND, you must now understand why it is that I have never written a book for women. I thought I did not have enough information to hold a woman’s interest for more than one or two chapters. But I do NOW, and I’m going to entitle it ‘EVERYTHING YOU NEVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT FOOTBALL – and were sorry you asked!’

Football season, the punt of no return, is that once-a-year experience that makes me wonder, as my husband sits, watching one game after the other on TV, why he hasn’t worn out HIS end zone! It’s my own fault. I tried to cultivate an interest in the game so that we could share something besides the absence of conversation between us on weekends from September through February.

But looking back, it seems that all we have been able to share, instead, is the compelling urge to see this season over with. I want to see it over with, so that we can be a family again, and my husband would like to see it over with, so that he can see how closely he came to determine the winning team at the Super Bowl!

My armchair quarterback keeps giving advice on every play. Every time this happens, I expect Tom Landry to stretch his arm right through our picture tube and point at my husband, insisting, ‘Hey, you – you with all the advice! Go in for Dupree!’

Mind you, this is the same man who has committed to perfect memory such statistics as how many touchdowns and yards run, his favorite player has mastered, but he can’t remember his own shirt size, where he left his car keys, our kids’ middle names, nor his mother’s telephone number!

But, at least, he is not as emotional over the game as some husbands I know. Just last weekend, I visited my friend while she was in traction in the hospital, bandaged from head-to-toes like an Egyptian mummy – while her apologetic husband leaned over her, explaining, ‘Honey, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times… NEVER walk in front of the TV during a 95-yard punt return!’

I SUPPOSE, ONE THING I CAN ALWAYS DO, while he watches television football games, is the grocery shopping. After all, somebody must! We can’t eat without groceries. While I have tried to train Paul for retirement, by trying to teach HIM how to shop for the food, I don’t believe he is ready, yet, for his ‘solo flight’ down the aisles of the A&P!

I’m the food-shopper with outstanding guilt-complex who is driven to [let]to  poor souls with 4 items in their arms to go ahead of me – unless they’ve brought their lunch with them and are prepared to spend a month in line behind me, explaining the 3 carts of groceries to the person behind me who has never had feed a family of teenagers.

One must chance that while you are permitting all those nice people to pass you up with their one or two items more than the express line will allow, and YOUR ice cream is in a puddle on the floor under your cart that is being mopped up by a disgruntled stock boy! Things like this occasionally afford me the reputation of being recognized by butchers everywhere as, ‘Here comes that nut who always has to see the other side of the roast!’

Parties for Super Bowl Sunday typically involve large gatherings of friends and families, including those who aren’t even fans of the game. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the “Super Sunday” event (even during a continuing pandemic) always gives people a good excuse for getting together (if only in small, safe groups) to socialize, watch the big game and half-time show – and let’s not forget about the buffets of snacks, appetizers and sweets to consume (as well as the beer)!

The consensus seems to be that Super Bowl Sunday is America’s second biggest day of food consumption, next to Thanksgiving. Maybe that’s why half of the Super Bowl ads are usually food focused. One could say that the Super Bowl parties, themselves, have evolved into a food-fest competition! The top three contenders, for the past few years have been between chicken wings, pizza, and nachos.

I agree with what Jenna Helwig noted in her article (Feb. 5, 2016), You’ll Never Believe How Much Food We Eat On Super Bowl Sunday, on Parents.com, regarding the “second biggest day of food consumption”. Jenna argued that the “Super Bowl actually better reflects what most of us really WANT to eat: classic junk food. From chips and wings to nachos and beer, the Super Bowl is our excuse to just chow down and enjoy all the foods that we rarely eat or feel like we should eat the rest of the year. It should go without saying: There is no place for food guilt during the Super Bowl.”

In honor of the approaching Super Bowl Sunday, below is a re-share of Mom’s “secret recipe” for Meatballs like Win Schuler’s; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Gloria Pitzer’s – The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 57)!

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, some of February’s other month-long, national celebrations include: Black History Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, National Grapefruit Month, Great American Pies Month, National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, & Canned Food Month.

Furthermore, some other celebrations for this week include:

Today is National Baked Alaska Day, National Get Up Day, & National Texas Day! Below is a re-share of Mom’s imitation for Texas Fruitcake, like that of the famous Puddin’ Hill legacy.

#NationalTexasDay

Tuesday is National Heavenly Hash Day, National Tater Tot Day, and National Groundhog Day!

Wednesday is National Carrot Cake Day!  For that celebration, here’s another re-share of Mom’s imitation for “Awrey’s Karat Cake”…

#NationalCarrotCakeDay

Thursday is National Thank a Mail Carrier Day & National Homemade Soup Day! It is also the start of Boy Scout Anniversary Week [February 4th-10th, annually]!

Friday is Bubble Gum Day & World Nutella Day!

Saturday is National Chopsticks Day, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day, National Frozen Yogurt Day, & National Play Outside Day [which is on the first Saturday of EVERY month]! It is also the start of Pride in Food Service Week [starting on the 1st Saturday in February]!

Sunday is also National Send a Card to a Friend Day & National Fettuccine Alfredo Day!

Additionally, Sunday will also be the start of National Jell-O Week, National Marriage Week, Freelance Writers Appreciation Week [which is the 2nd full week in February], & the Great American Pizza Bake week!

#GoodNeighbor

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

In case you missed WHBY’sGood Neighbor” show last week, below is a link where you can listen to the recorded podcast of Kathy Keene and I, discussing Super Bowl snacks and some of Mom’s favorite Mexican-style appetizers from page 65 of her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018).

https://www.whby.com/2021/01/25/laura-pitzer-emerich-7/

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

#TGIM

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

…5 down and 47 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Where Did All The Good Noshes Go? – Part 1

Happy Monday to one and all! And, as usual, #TGIM – because I always look forward to Mondays, for they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!

Just last week, I saw a commercial announcing the 84th birthday (1936 – the same year that Mom was born) of the “Big Boy” restaurants chain and their signature, self-titled, double-decker, cheese burger. The “Big Boy” was introduced to the public long before Ray Kroc started the McDonald’s fast food chain, offering the same double-decker, cheese burger – slightly changing the name to “Big Mac”!

Funny note: In the mid-1970s, the McDonald’s Corporation was very upset, to say the least, when Mom started imitating their signature offerings and, likewise, slightly changing the name of her products to “Big Match”! The only difference was that Mom was selling the recipes, not the final products, so people could make their favorite products, at home, themselves (and at less of a cost than eating out).

I compared the “Big Boy” to the “Big Mac” – both offer 2 beef patties with a “special” sauce (resembling 1000 Island dressing), lettuce, pickles, onions, and cheese on a 3-piece, sesame seed bun. I found that the “Big Boy” is (normally*) “plated” and “presented” to you, in an eye-pleasing, palatable way, at your table, by a waiter/waitress (*except right now, during Covid-19 restrictions, as you can only get it as take-out/delivery in many areas).

Conversely, the “Big Mac” is assembled quickly, (some might say it’s “thrown” together) without regard for eye-pleasing palatability, and it’s served to you in a disposable, cardboard box at the cashier’s counter/drive-thru window. Additionally, you first have to pay for it, sight-unseen; then you can take your food to a table, yourself, to sit and eat; or you can leave with it, to eat elsewhere.

That’s basically what separates a restaurant chain apart from a fast food or “cafeteria-style” chain – how it’s ordered, along with being paid for first, and then how it’s received (in disposable packaging). I was inspired to look into what else classifies fast food chains from restaurant chains and which ones were the oldest in the U.S.

Although a wide variety of different foods, in either establishment, can be made FAST, the term, “fast food,  is a commercial term limited to food sold in a restaurant (or “store”) with frozen, preheated and/or precooked ingredients. In the restaurant realm, food that is made fast is called “short order”. 

I found that a restaurant chain is a set of “related” eateries  in different locations that are either under a shared corporate ownership or a franchising agreement. What depicts a restaurant/eatery (from the fast food establishments) is the majority of its food sales are in-store, with sit-down service, where the food is served in washable dishes and/or baskets for consumption on the premises.

[Of course, Covid-19 restrictions have affected that explanation, as most restaurants are, for now, limited to only take-out, curbside services and deliveries.]

Did you know that, fast-food and restaurant chains have been around for over a century? I formed a list of 30 of the oldest restaurant and fast food chains I could think of, but as I wrote a small paragraph about each one, it ended up being too long for one blog post. So, I’ve cut my list to give to you over the next few weeks’ blog entries. I stooped at 1940 for today’s blog entry and I will continue with the nostalgic list over the next week or two, as well.

Some information I learned from these three, wonderful articles: https://www.oldest.org/food/fast-food-chains/ and https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/the-countrys-oldest-chain-restaurants/ and https://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Media/Slideshow/2017/01/13/26-Oldest-Restaurant-Chains-America?page=25 – along with material I gathered from Mom’s 40+, self-published cookbooks and hundreds of newsletter issues, as she has written about and made many imitations of the famous foods from almost all of the following chains. I’ll also re-share, with you, some of Mom’s recipes for these famous chains that I’ve shared in previous posts.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 7)

FAMOUS FOODS FROM FAMOUS PLACES

THEY LAUGHED! THEY DOUBTED! They even tried to take me to court when some famous food companies insisted that I stop giving away their secrets. They couldn’t believe me when I said that I did NOT know, nor did I want to know, what they put in their so-called secret recipes. I did know that there are very few recipes that can’t be duplicated or imitated at home. And we could do them for much less than purchasing the original product. I proved…it can be and should be done!

FAMOUS FOODS FROM FAMOUS PLACES have intrigued good cooks for a long time – even before fast foods of the 1950’s were a curiosity. When cookbooks offer us a sampling of good foods, they seldom devote themselves to the dishes of famous restaurants. There is speculation among the critics as to the virtues of re-creating, at home, the foods that you can buy ‘eating out’, such as the fast food fares of the popular franchise restaurants. To each, his own!

Who would want to imitate ‘fast food’ at home? I found that over a million people who saw me demonstrate replicating some famous fast food products on The Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981) DID – and their letters poured in at a rate of over 15,000 a day for months on end! And while I have investigated the recipes, dishes, and cooking techniques of ‘fine’ dining rooms around the world, I received more requests from people who wanted to know how to make things like McDonald’s Special Sauce or General Foods Shake-N-Bake coating mix or White Castle’s hamburgers than I received for those things like Club 21’s Coq Au Vin.

Nathan’s Famous is the oldest restaurant chain I could find. It first opened as in 1916 on Coney Island (NY); founded by, husband and wife, Nathan and Ida Handwerker! They built a reputation on and are most famous for their all-beef franks and signature-spiced Coney sauce, which are also marketed in grocery stores in all 50 states. There are more than 300 Nathan’s Famous restaurants. The original one still stands at the corner of Surf and Stillwell Avenues, in Coney Island, New York. Mom developed several of her own copycat versions of “Coney Sauce” over the decades, but never accredited any as being like that served by Nathan’s Famous restaurants.

A&W is the next oldest chain I could find. Originally, it started as a drink stand, founded by Roy W. Allen in California in 1919. Allen’s employee Frank Wright partnered with him in 1922 and they founded their first restaurant in Sacramento, CA, in 1923. A&W developed the first “drive-in” carhop option to “casual dining”. However, It didn’t franchise until 1925. Thanks to A&W, by the WWII era, carhop services for drive-up establishments, serving burgers and other “fast food” choices, became common place. A&W’s signature Root Beer Float was always a family favorite treat for us. Mom developed several imitations of A&W’s menu offerings, including their Coney sauce!

White Castle was the next fast food chain establishment to open in 1921. It was founded, initially, by Billy Ingram, in Wichita, KS. The small, square hamburger (called a “Slider”), for which they are most famous, was declared the most influential burger ever, by Time® Magazine, in 2014! White Castle was one of the few fast food chains that were actually FLATTERED by Mom’s imitations of their products, sending her a very complimentary letter and a check to purchase a bunch of her cookbooks for all of their company’s executives.

Howard Johnson’s was founded in 1925, by Howard Deering Johnson; starting as an ice cream/soda fountain shop, near Boston, that was very popular. It later grew into a full-service, family restaurant in 1929, in Cape Cod.

Most famous for its signature orange roof and cupola, the Simple Simon and the Pie Man plaques, and its limited-menu food items – including it’s most famous 28 flavors of creamy, “homemade” ice cream, GRILLED hot dogs, and fried clam strips – it officially became a chain in 1935, when the first “link” opened in a “hot spot” in the Orleans district of Cape Cod, where Routes 28 and 6A meet. Howard Johnson’s continued to grow, becoming one of the biggest restaurant chains in the country. It evolved even more, in 1954, by becoming a chain of motels, as well.

Mom developed her own versions of their ice creams, sherbets, Boston Brown Bread, and Clam Chowder – just to name a few!

The Krystal restaurant first opened in 1932, in Chattanooga, TN. It was founded by Rody Davenport Jr. and J. Glenn Sherrill, who were “inspired” by the White Castle they visited in Chicago. Like the McDonald’s-Big Boy copycat story (above), they also offered their customers small, square hamburgers called “Sliders”.

In 1936, in California, Bob Wian founded the first restaurant in the soon-to-be-famous Big Boy® chain of family restaurants. The Big Boy® restaurants went under slightly different owners’ names per region/franchise – but always with “Big Boy” in the title. Bob’s Big Boy® is in California. Frisch’s Big Boy® is in Ohio. Big Boy® Restaurants (formerly Elias Brothers’…) are in Michigan and Shoney’s are in Tennessee.

Big Boy® was always one of our family’s favorite restaurant chains! Mom loved to imitate their dishes at home when we couldn’t afford to go out; and she replicated just about every item their menus featured! I’m working on a “Master Index List” of all the recipes from all of Mom’s works. So far, there are 35 recipes listed that Mom developed to imitate her favorite Big Boy® offerings at home – most of which appeared in her first 4 cookbooks, and many of those were among her “Original 200” recipe cards, on which Mom had built her Recipe DetectiveTM legacy.

Also, finding its start in 1936, was Chicken in the Rough; which was founded by Beverly and Rubye Osborne, in Oklahoma City.

Only two other cities, besides Oklahoma City, still serve “Chicken in the Rough” today – Port Huron, MI (just north of where we live, in St. Clair) and in Sarnia, Ontario (Canada), just east of Port Huron, across the southern base of Lake Huron, where it meets the north end of the St. Clair River.

Although most people would assume McDonald’s was the first fast-food chain, it actually didn’t start until after many others of their famous competitors. In fact, it was decades after the launches of A&W and White Castle, in 1954, when Ray Kroc purchased the McDonald’s fast food chain from the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac.

Mom absolutely loved McDonald’s! She imitated many of their menu offerings. In fact, it was her imitations of McDonald’s “Special Sauce” and the “Big Mac” that began her “Original 200” recipes collection, on which she built her Secret RecipesTM and Recipe DetectiveTM legacy!

The soft-serve ice cream formula was first developed in 1938 by John Fremont “J.F.” “Grandpa” McCullough and his son Alex. They convinced, friend and loyal customer, Sherb Noble to offer the product in his ice cream store. In 1940, the soft-serve ice cream chain, called Dairy Queen, was launched in Joliet, IL and operated by Sherb Noble. In 2001, the “Grill and Chill” eatery concept was added to some of their ice cream shops. Mom imitated several of their sweet treat offerings – but just going there was always a fun treat in itself!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

IN CLOSING…

Next week, I’ll cover the launching of other fast food fare chains from 1941 through 1960!

#NationalTrailMixDay

In honor of today, being #NationalTrailMixDay, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Snacker Crackers”, as seen in her self-published cookbook, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 104). Add your favorite nuts, dried fruit, and/or chocolate chips/candies. Enjoy!

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

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is TODAY around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST)!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#CelebrateEveryDay

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

…35 down, 17 to go!

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

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Love People Day

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

#NationalLovePeopleDay

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

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

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

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

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

YOU’VE MADE A FRIEND

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

Mom & Dad’s first camper

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

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

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

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

LOVE ENTERTAINING GUESTS

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

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

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

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

#HowToDecorateAKitchen

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

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

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

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

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

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

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

ENTERTAINING…

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

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

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

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

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

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

#NationalPizzaMonth

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

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

IN CLOSING…

#NationalCookieMonth & #HomemadeCookiesDay

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

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

White Tassel Hamburgers (like White Castle’s)

White Tassel Hamburgers

By Gloria Pitzer, Secret Restaurant Recipes (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Apr. 1978, 6th Printing, p. 10)

Ingredients:

  • 4 TB Minced Onion
  • 1/4 cup Hot Water
  • 2 lbs. Ground Sirloin
  • 3 oz. Baby food Strained Beef (jar)
  • 2/3 cup Clear Beef Broth (or prepared Bouillon)

Instructions:

  1. Soak minced onion in hot water until soft. Mix ground sirloin & baby food strained beef with beef broth or prepared bouillon.
  2. Make patties uniform in size, flattening 3-4 ounces of meat mixture to 1/4 ” thick. Fry each patty quickly in 1 TB oil on a hot griddle. Make 3 or 4 small holes in the patties, with the tip of a knife or skewer, during frying to ensure even doneness. Cut hot dog buns in half and cut away the rounded ends. [Not available in 1981, companies now market “slider” buns!]
  3. Fry 1 tsp. of softened onions under each patty when turning to fry the other side. Slip patties into buns and serve with pickles, mustard & ketchup. Add chips on the side.
  4. The number of servings is questionable, depending on how many Sliders™ you can eat! Freeze whatever patties are not fried right away.

NOTE:  This recipe did not appear in the 1st printing of the Secret Restaurant Recipes cookbook…but, I don’t know if it was in any other printings between the 1st and 6th ones.

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Imitation

About White Castle®

Founded Billy Ingram and cook Walter Anderson, White Castle is the oldest American hamburger fast food restaurant chain with its first locations opening in 1921 in Wichita, Kansas. It is known for square burgers, sometimes referred to as “sliders” (officially spelled and trademarked as “Sliders”) that were priced at five cents until the 1940s, and remained at ten cents for years thereafter.

Besides a being a great concept, with a killer little burger, White Castle also set some amazing records. First fast-food hamburger chain ever. First industrial-strength spatula. First mass-produced paper hat. First to sell a million hamburgers. First to sell a billion hamburgers. First frozen fast food for sale.

And something for all of the guys to remember, every year on February 14, White Castle offers to reserve a candlelit table for two, complete with a server for Valentine’s Day.

For more information, check out www.whitecastle.com It has a ton of information including nutrition, White Castle history and terminology, locations, what’s new and some great promotions.

Source: whitecastle.com & wikipedia.com