Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Virtual Shopping Slays Malls

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#CyberMonday

Today is, among other things, one of the biggest virtual shopping days of the year, otherwise known as Cyber Monday. It was officially named so by the National Retail Federation in 2005. Since early this century, continuous increases in online shopping, over the years, have caused a ripple effect of brick-and-mortar stores and malls having to close their doors.

After the Covid-19 pandemic started a couple of years ago, online shopping has soared. Cyber Monday sales are far surpassing Black Friday’s sales, by leaps and bounds. Virtual shopping has become so much more commonplace, now – especially with the younger generations.

I’ve noticed, this year, a lot of brick-and-mortar stores have been offering extremely early “Black Friday deals” to compete with online sales campaigns like “Prime Day”, “Cyber Monday”, and the like. I feel bad for them. I prefer shopping in person, myself. Besides, there have been more and more warnings on my local news programs for “buyers beware”, as scams are everywhere in cyber-land.

Regardless, virtual stores are competing on the world-wide web for everyone’s hard-earned dollars; offering rock-bottom, price-cut deals and fast or free shipping. These days, with inflation and the cost of fuel, shipping can be a deal maker or breaker on many online purchases.

Traditionally, since about the 1950s, Black Friday has been the highpoint of holiday shopping, when shoppers physically went out to the brick-and-mortar stores for the all-time-best deals of the year. Extreme shoppers have waited in lines outside of stores for hours (even days) before they opened for their “special” Black Friday deals.

However, the trend is changing, now. Due to the ever increasing online shopping, over the past couple decades, we’ve witnessed the closings of many small shops, department stores, and malls across America. It’s a new “Amazon era” for online shopping and home delivery. Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar retailers are becoming relics of the past.

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. 108)

SMALL BUSINESSES DISAPPEARING – THE CLOWN SHOP IS GONE!

IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE to change things, yet I noticed this morning, for the first time, that the clown shop in the mall is gone – vacated, empty. I kept meaning to go there, but in the year or two that it was there, time passed, and I never did. It must’ve been a wonderfully unique shop – operated by a retired circus clown, from what I’ve been told.

Yet, I put off stopping in to see what gifts [and] what fun he had to offer. My husband was in the shop perhaps a few times. He even bought me a little clown statue for my birthday last January [1988] and the thimble shaped like a clown for our niece in California. I was going to stop into the shop soon. I really was.

Now that the shop is gone, I feel personally responsible for the loss. And, of course, multiply me by a few hundred folks in town, too, who could have stopped but didn’t, even though they meant to. We’re all to blame for the loss.

Of course, the shop was located on the ‘street side’ of the mall, too, rather than in the concourse, so it would have to be a special trip around the buildings to get me there. But now that I think about it, I’m saddened by the prospect that my not patronizing the shop contributed to its going out of business.

Certainly, we need clowns in this life. And while my feet are usually anchored firmly in reality, I feel a great need for stepping often into the light-hearted dimension of the whimsical, the amusing, the ridiculous. There comes a time, each day, when the sadness of the tragedies in the worldly arena seem just too much to bear, too much to accept.

The newscasts of radio and television hammer away hourly, repeatedly at whatever catastrophe has occurred recently. There seem to be no good reports of what’s going on in the world. I know there is good. We just don’t hear too much to cheer us though.

The clown shop could easily have provided something to lighten the gloom, lifting the shade to see beyond hardship and unhappiness. But it looks as if people are becoming hardened to the beauty of simplicity and humor. It looks as if they’re growing paranoid instead about their priorities, about cholesterol, sodium, the sun’s rays (which we used to call ‘sunshine’), about how much they should weigh and how long they will live.

More human energy seems to be spent desperately worrying about the uncertainties of the future than is used to enjoy the simple beauty of our NOW! Our precious ‘now’ should hold more than fear. It should instead hold wholesome fun and the expectancy of good.

The interest in outsiders and people with marginal lives is rooted in my own sense of self as I look for the erasers of the gloom, diversions from the serious and the morbid. By no means do I imply that gloom and seriousness and what is morbid should be ignored.

It should be a must be dealt with, but it should require more of our attention than does the lovely, the light-hearted, the lively in life. I could have found some little offering of fun in the clown shop. ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you. [Cry] and you [cry] alone.’ [Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Solitude (1883)]

If I cry, it is because I know it was there – like a lot of life’s jewels at our feet. I just didn’t do anything about it. If I get another opportunity to patronize a good and wholesome thing, like the clown shop, I will. I promise I will – even though the clown shop is gone.

#NationalSalespersonDay

#FamilyStoriesMonth

When I was a young teen, Mom used to take me and my sisters to Lakeside Mall. Back then, that was the popular place to shop, with its big, anchor, department stores like Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penny’s and J.L. Hudson’s. It was an all-day shopping and working event.

Mom gave each of us girls a handful of her business cards to stick in the pockets of various clothes and purse displays, while we shopped. She developed this innovative way to advertise, locally, after hearing an inspiring interview of an award winning car salesman from Detroit. By the way, National Salesperson Day is on Friday of next week (for 2022)!

After a few hours of shopping and marketing, Mom treated us to lunch at one of the department stores’ dining rooms, where she usually found more great dishes to imitate at home. You can’t do that when you shop virtually. There aren’t any interactions with other people – no smiles, no conversations, etc. – I miss those days, at the mall, with Mom.

MORE 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!

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!

LAST THOUGHTS…

Did you know that synonyms for “cyber” include replicate and imitate? I find it ironic that Mom, the ORIGINAL recipe replicator, never learned how to use the internet to replicate and expand her mail-order business in the new millennium’s digital era.

Early in the new millennium, Mom bought a computer and tried to learn how to operate it, but it proved to be too over-whelming for her to comprehend. She felt so stressed from it, she ended up giving her new computer to one of her grandchildren, instead.

In August 2008, my brother, Mike, created the TheRecipeDetective.com’s original website for Mom and Dad’s business. It was a new platform from which they could promote their current Secret RecipesTM offerings and give out free recipes too, as Mom traditionally had done from the beginning.

#NationalGratitudeMonth

Since Mom and Dad knew nothing about technology, Mike created and managed the website for them for 10 years. They were so grateful for his help in that area! The summer after Mom passed away, I wanted to start writing this blog about her being the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”. I asked Mike if I could put my blog on the website that he was still managing. Instead, he transferred the domain to me. For that, I am forever grateful to him, too!

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

IN CLOSING…

In honor of Thursday, being National Pie Day, here’s TWO of Mom’s copycat pie recipes. The first one is for Grasshopper Pie, like Michigan’s famous Chuck Muer’s and Win Schuler’s restaurants once served; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 251). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

#NationalPieDay

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

This second pie recipe of Mom’s was first printed in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979). It’s called Vinegar Pie, from our northern, mid-west roots. Mom updated the recipe and reprinted it in her self-published cookbook, The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 148).

#JoyOfNotCooking

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

November observes, among other things… National Banana Pudding Lovers Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Inspirational Role Models Month, National Life Writing Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, National Spinach and Squash Month, National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Today is also… National French Toast Day!

Tomorrow is… Electronic Greetings Day! Plus, as the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (for 2022), it’s also… National Day of Giving!

November 30th is… National Personal Space Day, National Mason Jar Day, National Mousse Day, and National Mississippi Day! Plus, as the Wednesday after Cyber Monday, it’s also… National Package Protection Day!

Thursday is the start of December, which celebrates, among other things… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, National Operation Santa Paws (which runs the 1st-24th), National Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

December 1st is also… National Eat a Red Apple Day, National Day With(out) Art Day, and National Rosa Parks Day!

December 2nd is… National Fritters Day, National Mutt Day, and Special Education Day! Plus, as the first Friday in December, it’s also… Faux Fur Friday and National Bartender Day [for 2022]!

December 3rd is… National Roof Over Your Head Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month, it’s also… National Rhubarb Vodka Day and National Play Outside Day (which is always the first Saturday of EVERY month)!

December 4th is… National Cookie Day, National Dice Day, and National Sock Day! Additionally, the first week of December celebrates… National Cookie Cutter Week!

#TGIM

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

…48 down and 4 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Grateful For Imitation Inspirations

Thank God Its Monday, once again; and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalGratitudeMonth

#InspirationalRoleModelsMonth

Mom was always grateful for her “readers”, “listeners” and “fans” who kept her endlessly inspired with their requests to find the “secrets” for making their favorite fast food items, restaurant dishes, and grocery products at home (and for a lesser cost).

Mom was also very grateful for all the media sources that interviewed, wrote and talked about her innovative recipe ideas. She was also grateful for us, her family; for supporting and helping her – as office, art and promotional assistants, as well as recipe testers and “flavor specialists” (aka: taste testers) – plus, for staying out of her hair when needed.

‘I felt as if the hand of Providence had poured me out a blessing and it was pressed down, shaken together and running over.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 15)

Furthermore, Mom was also an inspirational role model to so many copycat cookers that followed her lead. Many wrote to her for advice about how to do what she was doing. She loved to inspire and encourage other writers. Unfortunately, however, some just plagiarized her work and called it their own.

‘Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.’ – Charles Caleb Colton

Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” However, not everyone takes it as such; because there’s a fine line between imitation and plagiarism. I’ve discussed this subject in a few of my blog posts, previously.

Mom didn’t plagiarize anyone – she was the ORIGINAL copycat. Nor did she plagiarize anyone’s recipes. She didn’t know what was really in the big food companies’ “secret recipes”. On the other hand, to imitate them at home, she could make some good, educated guesses for her own semblance of products.

Still, there’ve been instances, over the years, of others blatantly stealing Mom’s work – sometimes word-for-word and sometimes changing a few words or exchanging similar ingredients (like using “1/8 cup” instead of “2 TB” or using flour, salt and baking powder instead of self-rising flour) and then, passing it off as their own work!

Regardless of what Todd Wilbur would have you think about how he started being a “copycat cook”; long story, short… he actually got his start in the by ordering a copy of my mom’s cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes, in April 1989. He then proceeded to copy and even plagiarize her recipes.

Wilbur claims he was inspired by Mrs. Field’s publicized cookie recipe – but it was actually Mom’s work that inspired him! Eventually, he may have developed some of his own copycat recipes that were different from Mom’s – unless he was plagiarizing other people’s work as well!

Check out this great 2002 article about Mom at SanDiegoReader.com, How Can I Enjoy A Big Mac Without Actually Leaving Home; including an updated end response from a reader, about Todd Wilbur stealing from the ORIGINAL Secret Recipe Detective.

I was once asked, by a radio talk show host, who interviewed Mom regularly, why people like Todd Wilbur can get away with blatantly copying her work. The simplest answer I could find, at the time, was in an online article at PlagiarismToday.com called, Recipes Copyright And Plagiarism, by Jonathan Bailey (published March 24, 2015).

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 being passed off as one’s own work.

I still feel 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.

I want to reach those who remember Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and those who won’t admit to it because they’ve copied (or plagiarized) the ORIGINAL copycat, as well as the new, digital generation who probably doesn’t even know that there’s a history behind the “copycat recipes movement” and that it began with my mom, Gloria Pitzer!

The following is another commentary Mom wrote, specifically about developing the recipe to mimic Treacher’s fish batter and plagiarism.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 73-74)

ARTHUR TREACHER IMITATION

THE MOST EXCITING ATTENTION we received was the recognition given us by the Arthur Treacher people. At the time, the Arthur Treacher fish batter was unique. It was crispy and golden brown and very light. Everyone we talked to about fish wanted to know how to recreate the Treacher fish batter at home.

The original challenge came directly from Bob Allison’s ‘Neighbors’. The TV commercials advertised that it was ‘the meal you cannot make at home!’ I tried to disprove that. Finding the nearest Arthur Treacher restaurant [from ‘beautiful, downtown Pearl Beach’] was the real challenge.

With a friend, I drove into Mt. Clemens and located one. After dozens of tests and trying what I thought would be a good Oriental Tempura batter, again, I was disappointed. I tried every fish batter I could find, in every possible recipe source [at the time], over a 6- or 7-month period.

Finally, one day, by accident, I was preparing fish for our dinner – without any thought being given to Arthur Treacher’s batter – and on a lark, mixed together boxed pancake mix and some Club Soda.

Only because the plumber was working on the pipes and had turned off the water temporarily, did I resort to that Club Soda, so that I wouldn’t have to put off preparing dinner until the plumber was finished. Everybody had someplace to go that evening, so dinner had to be fast and on time.

Wouldn’t you know it! There, on the platter, was a mountain of the most beautiful, golden, crispy fish that you would have sworn came right from Arthur Treacher’s own kitchen! The next day, I retested the recipe and tried to work out some of the little flaws that we came across, before I could report back to Bob Allison and his ‘Neighbors’ over, then, WWJ-Radio, Detroit.

The biggest problem was how the coating kept falling off the fish during frying. It turned out, I had to correct two things – coating [the] moistened fillets, first, in plain flour, before dipping [them] into the batter, and then having the oil precisely at 385F. Oh! And a third point: Never use tongs – or the coating would break apart.

Once the fish recipe proved to be free of faults, I sent a copy of the recipe to Carol Haddix, the Food Editor of the Detroit Free Press [at that time], for her comments. I had talked with her, by phone, during the many weeks that I worked on perfecting the batter, trying to discover why the batter would sometimes fall off the fish; why the fish was, sometimes, greasy; and a number of other problems.

 She offered me the benefit of her experiences with frying fish and told me to get her a copy of the recipe, if I ever perfected it. When she published [my] recipe in the paper, it carried her approval as “on target”.

So, it does, therefore, have ample validation that the recipe is ours and does belong to “Secret Recipes”, in spite of the number of people I have had to confront on the issue over the years, regarding the plagiarism of it from our publications.

Because our recipes and newsletters are all “dated publications” and are subject to Interstate Commerce, we don’t use the same copyright procedures that book publishers use. We validate the originality by date of publication and back it up with radio and newspaper endorsements and involvement with the development and printing of the recipes for public use.

But, that one recipe really caught the attention of the press! The wire services picked up Carol Haddix’s story about us and the fish batter recipe and, before long, it appeared in over 100 papers…[and the rest is history!]

Imitating Arthur Treacher’s fish was not a quick development for mom, and others have tried to lay claim to this secret; but, in truth, Mom was the one to originally discover the “secret” ingredients AND process involved in developing a matching product at home.

Unlike a lot of the companies, whose products Mom imitated, Treacher’s people accepted the copycat imitation as the homage of flattery that it was meant to be. White Castle was another company that enjoyed Mom’s imitation of their slider. Hershey’s as well, in regard to her imitation of their Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

LAST THOUGHTS…

#NationalGratitudeMonth

As we approach Thanksgiving this week, keep in mind and at heart that November is National Gratitude Month! It’s so easy to take a few seconds to say, “Thank you!” There’s a great article at SeeBeyond.cc, Gratitude from the Heart and Mind [author unknown (Nov. 6, 2018)], that discusses, like the random acts of kindness, about which I wrote last week, how there are mental and physical benefits to being grateful, as well. Check it out!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Stuffing Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Waldorf Astoria Stuffing Sidedish; as seen in her self-published cookbook…

#NationalStuffingDay

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

November observes, among other things… National Banana Pudding Lovers Month, National Family Stories Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Gratitude Month, National Inspirational Role Models Month, National Life Writing Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, National Spinach and Squash Month, National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Today is also… National Gingerbread Cookie Day!

Tomorrow is… National Cranberry Relish Day!

Wednesday, November 23rd is… National Cashew Day, National Eat a Cranberry Day, and National Espresso Day! Plus, as the day before Thanksgiving (for 2022), it’s also… Tie One On Day and the start of… National Deal Week (23rd-29th for 2022)!

November 24th is… National Sardines Day! Plus, as the fourth Thursday in November (for 2022), it’s also… Thanksgiving Day!

Friday, November 25th is… National Play Day with Dad, National Parfait Day, and National Shopping Reminder Day! Plus, as the day after Thanksgiving (for 2022), it’s also… National Day of Listening, National Native American Heritage Day, National Black Friday, National Buy Nothing Day, and National Maize Day!

November 26th is… National Cake Day! Plus, as the Saturday after Thanksgiving (for 2022), it’s also… National Small Business Saturday!

Sunday, November 27th is… National Bavarian Cream Pie Day and National Craft Jerky Day!

#TGIM

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

…47 down and 5 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fast Food & Kindness

#HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

This is World Kindness Week, which is always the week of November 13th. While kindness should be practiced every day, world-wide, special attention is brought to it this week – whether you’re a giver or receiver, celebrate it!

The “giving season” has begun. Some kind-hearted people are once again paying for other people’s fast food orders, while sitting in line at the drive-thru. I’ve also seen multiple church groups pay for people’s gas at stations around the Detroit area. Kindness is in the air!

‘Happy is the person who has a good supply of the milk of human kindness and knows how to keep it from souring.’ – Gloria Pitzer

Wednesday is also celebrating, among other things, National Fast Food Day! Over 50 years ago, fast foods and junk foods were always getting a bad rap from the critics, regarding how unhealthy they were. But my mom figured out how to make those taboo foods at home – where she controlled the ingredients, taking the junk out of junk food.

Mom was a trailblazer in the 1970’s, when she carved a new niche in the food industry. She called her creations “copycat cookery” for “eating out at home”. The fact is, fast food recipes weren’t found in any cookbooks, back then. So Mom found ways to imitate our favorite fast foods at home, for less!

She looked forward, every day, to investigating all the possibilities there were to offer from this new platform! If it saved her household money, Mom wanted to share it with everyone, to help them save money too!

From 1974 to 2014, Mom shared her discoveries in her self-published cookbooks and newsletters, offering a free sampling (about 10-15) of her recipes, in exchange for a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope), along with information on how to order her available cookbooks and subscribe to her newsletter.

The fast food recipes featured in her 1980 sample sheet are pictured above. You can also find them individually on the Recipes tab of this website. Mom wrote the following editorial about her humble beginnings with recipe requests and popular, fast-food, make-alike dishes.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; January 2018, 1st Printing)

[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

A MEAL BY ANY OTHER NAME

FAST FOOD RECIPES were not published in the best-sellers – and these were the restaurants where families were apt to frequent if they wanted a meal that was affordable! [In the 1970s] Paul and I could take all 5 of the children to Capri’s, an Italian restaurant down the road from us, in Pearl Beach.

We could feed the whole family for less than $10, providing we ordered the large pizza with only pepperoni and cheese on it and one soft drink for each of us. It was not for substance that we ate out. It was for entertainment.

We could take the kids to McDonald’s, and it did the same thing for us that going to the movies did for our parents. It was an affordable pleasure. It was a diversion from meatloaf and pot roast and peas and carrots.

It was a treat. We looked forward to it. We felt good about the experience and even better after it was over. It carried us through a long week of paying the utilities, insurance, house payments and car payments and grocery expenses.

When we had to have our 10-year-old station wagon repaired, we had to skip eating out that week. If one of us had to see the dentist, it might be 2 or 3 weeks before we could afford to eat out again. We made do with what we had… (p. 295)

THE “ORIGINAL 200”

MY LIST OF ‘SECRET RECIPES’ had grown to 200 and we offered them, on 4×6-inch cards [that I printed on my mimeograph], at $.25 each or 5 for a dollar. It was quite a packaging process to fill the combinations of orders, so I put all those recipes into a book.

It was going to be our only book on the subject, since most of the recipes were fast foods – but, as it turned out, it was only the first in a series of five books. After ‘Book One’ took off and became a very good seller, I did a Bicentennial American Cookery book as a limited edition and was pleased when the Henry Ford Library at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan ordered copies for their Bicentennial collection. That was July 1976… (p. 296)

WE WANTED OUR CAKE AND WE WANTED TO EAT IT, TOO!

WE WANTED TO EAT OUT at a price we could afford; and, when we couldn’t afford to eat out, we wanted to dine-in as if we were eating out! At the time, there were few recipes for this kind of cooking.

We wanted to spend less time preparing the foods and less money on the ingredients and still serve a dish to those who shared our table…that would be equal to – if not better than – anything we could buy in a restaurant or from a supermarket.

For all of these reasons, I have pursued the investigations of the food industry with the greatest joy and the utmost care, translating into recipes, those secrets that I have been able to decipher. (p. 297)

Over the decades, Mom offered free samples of some of her most requested recipes, starting with her “Original 200” collection. As the years went on, she changed up the free sample recipes she offered, as some also came from her most popular requested recipes, during the radio interviews she did around the country.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 55)

THE SAMPLE RECIPES

SIGHT-UNSEEN WAS HARDLY appropriate to ask people to buy a publication that they could not first examine. I spent all of one day and most of the next, thinking about and trying out a single page description with a few sample recipes from the publication that I could send out to interested and perspective subscribers.

To this day [1989 – and continued through 2014], we still use the same procedure, and it has worked very well. We offer, for a self-addressed stamped envelope, 12-15 sample recipes and, on the other side of the page, all the [ordering] information on our books and newsletter.

Incidentally, Mom didn’t just investigate and develop imitations of popular restaurant dishes, fast food favorites, pantry-shelf products, etc. She was also a writer, and she filled her books and newsletters with almost as much food-for-thought editorials and food-for-the-soul inspirations as she did food-for-the-table recipes and kitchen tips.

Mom wanted her creations to be as much at home on the living room coffee table or on the bedside table as they were on the kitchen counter. Her books and newsletters were like no others, which put her writings in a unique position to be noticed – and that they were!

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 92)

PEOPLE EXPECT US TO BE BETTER

WHENEVER SOMEBODY HAS MENTIONED to me that they are surprised that the newsletter or the recipe books include non-recipe material, I usually replied, ‘I’m surprised that you’re surprised!’ Food for the table and food for thought should, and often do, go hand-in-hand.

In our publications there will always be room for the kind of material that is humorous and uplifting – as the case may be. I respond easily to the unusual, if it has a beneficial influence on others and find it a joy to share such information. The response is always encouraging.

I am still hearing good comments on the little book we sent out in the fall of 1988, entitled ‘Good Thoughts And Things To Smile About’; which we did not sell, but GAVE to those people we felt we should express appreciation for their kindness and attention, either, to our work or to our family.

The little acts of overcoming the annoyance, impatience, indifference, apathy, that sometimes seem to be so much a part of our day – can make an enormous difference in the quality of our lives. This may not always seem easy, but each false tendency can be detected and rejected because it is wholly without foundation. Genuine love, caring, alertness and patience replace annoyance, indifference, apathy and impatience.

LAST THOUGHTS…

RandomActsOfKindness.org is a great website that promotes doing random acts of kindness as part of our normal routine. They offer a lot of inspiring stories about such acts, as well as scientific health benefits. Check out The Science Of Kindness, which claims it fuels personal energy and self-esteem, makes you happier, and is good for your heart; all of which helps you live longer.

It’s said that “practice makes perfect”. Practice also creates habits that, in turn, become our “norm”. In addition, habits generally take about a week to form, thus, I want to re-recommend Chrystle Fiedler’s kindness challenge, from “Why Being Kind Makes You Healthier” (as seen at… StarTribune.com; July 24, 2019). Chrystle wrote:

‘Try the seven-day kindness challenge. That means, do at least one act of kindness every day for seven days. Ground rules: Do something different each day; push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once and be sure one of your acts of kindness is anonymous — no one should ever find out who did it.’

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

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Pickle Day, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for Bread And Butter Pickles; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 22). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

#NationalPickleDay

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

November observes, among other things… National Banana Pudding Lovers Month, National Family Stories Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Life Writing Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, National Spinach and Squash Month, National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Today is also… National Family PJ Day and National Spicy Guacamole Day! [NOTE: It’s also my birthday and the 48th anniversary (1974) of Mom’s first TV appearance – on “AM Detroit”, with host, Dennis Wholley; at WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, in Metro Detroit.]

Tomorrow is… National Bundt (Pan) Day, National Philanthropy Day, National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day, National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day, National Raisin Bran Cereal Day, and National America Recycles Day!

November 16th is… National Button Day and National Indiana Day! Plus, as the Wednesday (for 2022) of American Education Week (which is always the week before Thanksgiving), it’s also… National Educational Support Professionals Day!

November 17th is… National Baklava Day, National Take A Hike Day, National Homemade Bread Day! Plus, as the third Thursday of November (for 2022), it’s also… the Great American Smoke-Out!

November 18th is… National Vichyssoise Day! Plus, as the Friday before Thanksgiving, it’s also the start of… National Farm-City Week (18th-24th for 2022)!

Saturday, November 19th is… National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day!

Sunday, November 20th is… National Peanut Butter Fudge Day and National Child’s Day! Plus, as the start of the week of Thanksgiving, it’s also… National Game & Puzzle Week and Better Conversation Week!

#TGIM

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

…46 down and 6 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Folklore

Happy November to everyone! Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday, as well. I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

I love November! Among other things, it celebrates National Life Writing Month and National Family Stories Month! Every family is chuck-full of stories and folklore. In hindsight, I wish I could go back in time and record all the old, family stories I used to hear from my grandparents and their siblings whenever we gathered together for family reunions and various holidays.

I’m grateful to know some of my family’s folklore from the stories about which Mom wrote in her many self-published books and newsletters. I found more stories in the scrapbooks and shoe boxes of old letters and cards that Mom and Dad (and their moms) had saved from our relatives, over the decades.

Stories of how and what everyone was doing. Back then, they’d write to each other at least a couple times a year with the latest happenings in their families. Some relatives lived in Michigan, some were in Ohio, some were in California – but they all kept in touch with each other.

That was a few generations ago. These days we have social media platforms, like Facebook, with which to keep in touch, across the miles in almost “real time”. Mom used to share highlights of our family’s happenings in all of her publishings. She thought it was a natural thing to do, sharing her family’s news with her readers, because they were her family, too.

#NationalLifeWritingMonth

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 25)

LIVING AT HOME

(A story by Gloria Pitzer, based on family folklore.)

CROOKED PATH WAS a mid-western, sage brush hamlet, settled shortly before the Civil War by pioneers in covered wagons. Grandma was born there a few years after the war – the oldest daughter of her father’s second marriage.

Fortunately, for Grandma, her father dabbled in a little of this, a little of that; owning the saloon in town, a boarding house, and the town’s mercantile [store]. Her diary tells how she learned to cook at the boarding house, where she met Grandpa, who was renting a room there.

He married her in the parlor – much against her parents’ better judgement. On her 16th birthday and 17th birthday, they were blessed with the births their first two of eleven children – six boys and five girls. We were never quite certain what work Grandpa was in, but it took them from the plains of Nebraska to Ohio, to West Virginia and, eventually, to Michigan, with abbreviated residencies in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

From her ‘Recipe Journal’ notes, it seemed clear that Grandma’s ‘Backdoor Bakery’ supported the family’s income rather substantially for many years. Grandpa was probably a professional handyman from what we’ve been able to piece together from Grandma’s ‘Recipe Journal’. She made meticulous notes on recipes, to the effect: ‘This is the pie I baked from the California lemons that Gus Maxwell gave Pa for fixing his plow.’

[Another entry said:] ‘The hens Pa got in payment for the book cases he made for Judge Burns made a fine stew, good soup, and six loaves of chicken sausage.’ [And another said:] ‘The sack of brown sugar Yostman gave Pa for mortaring up his stove pipes made a good caramel pie – sent to ailing Bessie Forbes, down the road.’

From studying the quill-pen entries, I gather that work was the most essential part of life 80 years ago. By contrast, today’s workmanship is inferior to anything produced by the craftsman of yesterday. I wonder why people, today, are so unhappy with their own work – as if the tedium of labor is not really the problem.

Isn’t it typical that those who hold work to be without value are, themselves, empty? To imply, today, that work is without meaning is actually to also imply that life is without meaning – which most of our social influences do rather thoroughly.

Grandma’s cookery appears to let nothing go to waste. The broth from Judge Burns’ hens also made the gravy for the stew, the meat portion made the sausage and the bones from the carcass were ground fine and buried in the vegetable plot in the back of the firewood shed.

Apparently, Grandma and Grandpa were considered among the prosperous of their community because they were productive, although, never wealthy. At least, we do know that they were indeed happy. But the definition of ‘happiness’ in Grandma’s own handwriting was: ‘Happiness sometimes comes from ignorance – from not knowing how much better our life might be.’

One of the aunts confided that Grandma placed great importance upon the strength of her family and the respect they gave their father because her own life, with her parents, was less than memorable. Her life centered around her family – the heart of which seemed to be the kitchen. Their nourishment, however, was not [solely] food but [also] love that came from ‘actions’ rather than lip service!

#FamilyStoriesMonth

Today, families tend to keep in touch and up to date with each other electronically – mostly on social media platforms. I’ve known families who’ve created their own private websites with pictures and posts from the family members of special events happening in each other’s lives.

There are also websites like FamilySearch.org, GenealogyExplained.com, Ancestry.com, and USA.gov/genealogy; which help you find relatives and create family trees, too. Some are free and some cost money. One of these days, I’d love to try to find all of Mom’s family tree.

Dad’s parents were from neighboring counties in West Virginia. Both of their families kept long records of their ancestors, going back a couple hundred years, at least. I’ve previously printed a series of Mom’s family stories, which she shared in several of her books and newsletters – mostly about my dad’s mom’s family (the Knotts), their farm and Dad’s grandma’s “Backdoor Bakery”.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 3)

THE BACKDOOR BAKERY

(The family saga, as written by Gloria Pitzer, based on ‘kin-folk-lore’.)

GRANDMA NEVER INTENDED to bake for profit. She did it because Grandpa couldn’t keep a job. He was a talented man – restless and easily bored with the same job for very long.

When the oldest daughter, Vivian, went to work in the city at the hospital, she always had something good for lunch that Grandma had baked; and, after a number of the doctors and nurses in the employees’ lunchroom had sampled the baked goods, Vivian was taking home requests to bake special orders for a fair price.

Word spread very soon about Grandma’s baking talents. If somebody wanted a wedding cake or special coffee cakes for holidays or other celebrations, Grandma took the order and filled it promptly. They finally had to turn the back ‘washroom’, next to the kitchen, into a storage and working area to accommodate another stove and more counters and cupboards.

If someone came to the house, usually up the walk to the [front] porch and rang the pull-cord attached to the clapper on the milk-wagon bell, somebody would answer the door and direct the prospective ‘customer’ down the walk, around the flower beds, and along the gravel driveway to ‘the backdoor’.

Of course, at the back of the house, there were two doors. One went to the cellar and the other into the new kitchen room. So Grandpa hammered up a sign in the appropriate place reading: ‘This is the backdoor.’ – with an arrow pointing to it.

Soon afterward, Knowles (or Butch, as we called him – one of the older boys) added a hand-carved sign that said: ‘Bakery’. From then on, it was always called ‘The Backdoor Bakery’. And when they moved into a building in the business district of town, years later, Grandma picked one with a nice back entrance to a little traveled side-street so that the sign would be easily transferred to it.

LAST THOUGHTS…

Writing was always in Mom’s blood. She wrote and self-published a lot of “our family’s story”, in 1989, in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop. The book was basically about how she was led by a special calling to start her Secret RecipesTM legacy. Plus, being that it was a “family enterprise” (like Dad’s grandma’s “Backdoor Bakery”), it was a big part of our family’s story.

Do you know your family’s story? Every family has a story to tell – in fact, many stories. They can be pieced together from old pictures, cards, and letters or by tracing your ancestors’ roots through various online sources. It’s the perfect time to research and write about your family’s story, as it’s… National Life Writing Month and National Family Stories Month!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of November, being National Pepper Month, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for Stuffed Green Peppers; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Eating Out At Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 22) – aka: “Book 3”.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

November observes, among other things… National Banana Pudding Lovers Month, National Historic Bridge Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Gratitude Month, National Inspirational Role Models Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, National Spinach and Squash Month, National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (also in February), and National Vegan Month!

Today is also… National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day!

Tomorrow is… National Cappuccino Day, National Harvey Wallbanger Day, and National Parents As Teachers Day! 

Wednesday, November 9th is… National Scrapple Day and National Louisiana Day!

Thursday, November 10th is… U.S. Marine Corps Birthday, National Forget-Me-Not Day, and National Vanilla Cupcake Day!

Friday, November 11th is… National Sundae Day and Veterans Day!

Saturday, November 12th is… National French Dip Day, National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day, and National Chicken Soup for the Soul Day!

Sunday, November 13th is… National Indian Pudding Day and World Kindness Day!

#TGIM

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

…45 down and 7 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Trick Or Treat

Happy Halloween! Additionally, Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday, too. I look forward to Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

Centuries ago, “happy” was never said in conjunction with “Halloween”. It was a day (or, rather, a night) to be feared, as many believed that this was when the borders between the realms of the living and the dead were opened to evil spirits.

Last year, I wrote about some of Halloween’s origins in my blog post, Americanized Halloween, and how it has changed, over the centuries; especially in America, going from a spiritual night to fear, into a non-religious, fright-embracing, candy-begging week/month-long event to market and celebrate it – American-style.

Halloween has come a long way from its origin, a couple thousand years ago; when it was a Celtic pagan ritual, with bonfires and costumes to welcome in the harvest and ward off evils spirits. The most prevalent change for observing Halloween in America started in the 1800s, with the influx of Irish immigrants that came here.

Popularity grew for celebrating the day with community parties and neighborhood gatherings for families and celebrators of all ages. Of course, retail marketing jumped on board to make it a fun (and profitable) celebration, with companies making and selling candy, costumes, decorations, and more. Even Hollywood cashed in on the new spirit of Halloween.

Communities and local media sources encouraged families to take the scariness out of what was once known as “All Hallows Eve” – or recreate it into a “fun fright”. The Americanized holiday that millions of people came to celebrate, focused more on fun activities and treats for kids and adults, alike; while still having bonfires and costumes – not to ward off evil spirits but, rather, to strengthen community ties.

By the 20th century, parades, pumpkin festivals, pumpkin-carving events, and neighborhood “trick-or-treating” were also incorporated into the mix of fun, celebratory activities for Halloween. [To learn more about the origins of Halloween and how it came to be what we celebrate now, check out History.com.]

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

No Laughing Matter, a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer (no date on reprint)

[Originally printed in her syndicated Food For Thought column, circa 1969]

HALLOWEEN TRICK IS FINDING WEIRD ATTIRE

EVERY YEAR, I KEEP hoping somebody will do something about Halloween costumes. Shopping for really weird costumes poses a problem when we are still offered the same monotonous choices we were given back in the Neo-Saddle-Shoe days of [my] own tarnished youth.

Somehow, I’ll locate those boxes in the attic that contain all the rain-soaked, Donald Duck outfits, Bozo suits, Frankenstein masks with missing elastics, and the gypsy attires. And if I do, I’ll be able to clothe an entire hippie colony for at least a year.

Somewhere, I also have a box of threadbare pillowcases stained with licorice and lipstick that didn’t wash out. However, if I’m lucky, I won’t have to give our 12-year-old a bag this year because he says he’s ‘going to eat the stuff right on the spot!’ And, if it’s an especially good year, he promises to save me all the chocolate Easter bunnies he gets. Mike told me not to worry about getting his sister a mask, ‘since Debi doesn’t need one!’

I’ve decided their father can take them trick-or-treating this year! I’m still quite hurt from the tactless comment made by the neighbor at the end of the block, who offered me the candy corn last year because he thought I had a sensational costume. Trouble was, I wasn’t wearing one! I looked like an accident, going somewhere to happen!

‘That’s my mom!’ Mike told the man. ‘But if you think she looks scary now, you should see her in the morning!’

That kid is going to get underwear for Christmas! In fact, a few more comments like that may turn me against honesty, altogether.

Actually, some of the costumes the kids have dreamed up, themselves, have shown more ingenuity than the manufacturers who produce kids’ costumes that are somehow programmed to self-destruct before a mother can find a safety pin to fasten the neck opening.

You’d think, for $2.98, they would at least put gripper snaps or zippers or supply you with their safety pins on those skimpy outfits. Do they care that a mother cannot locate a safety pin when she needs one, without summoning the aid of Mannix and Mr. Keane, Tracer of Lost Persons?

Trying to find safety pins for Halloween costumes in October is as likely as finding D batteries for Christmas toys in December!

Naturally, all my good suggestions went out the window, so the kids tried to put their own costumes together and I’m supposed to act surprised, when they come calling at our house Halloween night. Now, maybe I won’t be able to recognize my offspring, but one thing’s for sure… I can certainly identify my sheets!

Or, if you’ll excuse the pun – they don’t have a ghost of a chance of fooling me!

When I was growing up, in Algonac, in the 1970s, I remember having fun with my family going to the annual Halloween parties at our local Lions Club, where Dad was a member for at least a decade. They’d have costume contests for adults and children, a bonfire, arts and crafts activities, family “hayrides”, carnival-like games (such as bobbing-for-apples), music and dancing.

There was also a big bring-a-dish-to-pass smorgasbord of wonderful food and treats. Did you know that food is the most common denominator in almost every observance or celebration – in any country – regardless of culture or religion?

Mom usually made our costumes until we were big enough to create our own. I can remember various years, dressing up as a ghost, witch, black cat, scarecrow, hobo, Raggedy Ann, and an angel. I also remember making popcorn ball treats, with Mom, to take to school for Halloween parties. (See recipe in “Last Thoughts”, below.)

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Food For Thought, a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer [circa 1973]

EVERYDAY IS HALLOWEEN AROUND HERE!

WHERE WE LIVE, in ‘Halloween Heights’, trick-or-treat is nothing to get excited about. I mean, explaining mischief to the kids in this neighborhood is like trying to explain sex to Dr. Reuben. With the kids on our block, Halloween is a way of life; religiously observed on any day that has the letter ‘Y’ in it!

Last year, we rushed out and bought 100 pieces of penny candy. A lot of good that did! The first kid who rang our doorbell wanted to borrow a cup of bullets. The year before that, nobody rang the doorbell… Somebody had stolen it.

And to think that when we first moved into this neighborhood, from the ‘big city’ 8 years ago; things were so dull all we had to look forward to was our dentist appointments. We couldn’t wait until some families moved in, with children for ours to play with.

Imagine our surprise when we got our wish but learned that those kids gave incentive lectures to pickpockets. They carry their BB guns around in violin cases. Even their sweatshirts are inscribed with slogans like ‘Boris Karloff is a SISSY!’ ‘The mafia wants to join you!’ And… ‘Do unto others before they do it unto you!’

Halloween to these kids is about as exciting as Girl Scout Thinking Day is to the Godfather. They don’t have time to fool around with child’s play. At least, not until they’ve finished putting up all of their signs, reading: ‘KEEP ON THE GRASS!’

I don’t understand them at all. Halloween used to be a marvelous time for masquerading and mischief when our parents would take us to the Five-and-Dime to select a costume and warn us not to fall for the first ugly face we see.

The kind of costumes we used to wear for trick-or-treat would completely turn off today’s kids. After all, they dress that way for school every day. There was always something so wonderfully scary about when we were kids. The kids in this neighborhood aren’t scared by anything.

They aren’t afraid of their parents. They aren’t afraid of the police. They’d probably run Godzilla out of town if they had the chance! For the kids in this neighborhood, doing a good deed is making a contribution in your name to local crime statistics.

Be careful! If one of them ever asks you for the time, it means they want your watch! Listen! Because of the kids in this neighborhood, my Avon lady sends me my order BY MAIL!

Remember how kids used to swallow goldfish as a teenage prank? Well, around here the kids swallow piranhas! Fortunately, though, they haven’t bothered me much. Somebody told them the syndicate has a contract on me – and they didn’t realize that it meant my column was being carried in newspapers across the country.

It wouldn’t do any good to pass out candy to these kids, this Halloween. By the time they ring the bell, we look through the peephole, unfasten the lock, slide back the bolt, unhook the chain, leash-up the German shepherd, disconnect the burglar alarm, and open the door – it would be Thanksgiving!

LAST THOUGHTS…

In honor of this being Halloween AND the last day of National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for the Popcorn Balls we used to make, together. The recipe was printed in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 38).

#PopcornPoppinMonth

In just over a few weeks, what’ll feel like the blink of an eye, Thanksgiving will be here. Equally as quick, the hustle and bustle of all the December holidays will follow soon after and then the new year will be upon us! 2023 is only 62 days away. Wow! Try not to blink or you might miss it!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being the last day of National Caramel Month, here’s four of Mom’s copycat recipes for Hot, Sundae Toppings Like Sanders’; including Caramel, Bittersweet [Chocolate], Butterscotch, and Fudge. These are from her “Original 200” collection, as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 36).

#NationalCaramelMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

#NationalCookbookMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Besides being the last day of October and Halloween, today is also… National Caramel Apple Day and National Girl Scout Founder’s Day!

Tomorrow, as the start of November, observes (among other things)… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Family Stories Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Gratitude Month, National Inspirational Role Models Month, National Life Writing Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, National Spinach and Squash Month, National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (also in February), and National Vegan Month!

Tomorrow is also… National Authors’ Day, National Calzone Day, National Cinnamon Day, National Deep Fried Clams Day, National  Cook For Your Pets Day, and National Vinegar Day! Plus, it’s the start of… National Fig Week, which is always November 1st-7th!

November 2nd is… National Deviled Egg Day and National Ohio Day! Plus, as the first Wednesday in November (for 2022), it’s also… National Stress Awareness Day!

November 3rd is… National Housewife’s Day and National Sandwich Day! Plus, as the first Thursday in November (for 2022), it’s also… National Men Make Dinner Day!

November 4th is… National Chicken Lady Day, National Candy Day, and National Cash Back Day! Plus, as the first Friday in November (for 2022), it’s also… National Jersey Friday!

November 5th is… National Doughnut Day! Plus, as the first Saturday in November (for 2022), it’s also… National Play Outside Day, which is always the first Saturday of EVERY month!

November 6th is… National Nachos Day! Plus, as the first Sunday in November (for 2022), it’s also… National Daylight Saving Time Ends!

#TGIM

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

…44 down and 8 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Kitchen

Thank God Its Monday, again! #HappyMonday to everyone. I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

I love October as much as Mondays. It celebrates so many subjects related to Mom, among them are National Book Month, National Cookbook Month, Eat Better & Eat Together Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, Positive Attitude Month, Self-Promotion Month, and even National Kitchen & Bath Month.

#NationalCookbookMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

#NationalKitchenAndBathMonth

The kitchen can often be the ultimate deal maker or deal breaker for most home buyers. It was a very important factor for my parents (particularly Mom, of course). More and more, people with families are looking for homes with large kitchens that have room within for the family dining table – rather than there being a formal, separate dining room.

My family’s favorite gathering place has always been the kitchen. It was the place where we all gathered to eat, laugh, and talk about the day’s events. I have a sign on a wall by my own kitchen table that reads: “There’s a room in every home where the smallest events and biggest occasions become the stories of our lives.” It’s so true!

Since 2020, the importance of the family kitchen increased ten-fold. The dining table became more than just a place where we ate our meals. It became the family’s epicenter, even more so than the old normal. It functions as an office and classroom desk/work area, as well as a wide array of other things.

#WomensSmallBusinessMonth

#WorkAndFamilyMonth

But that’s not new to my family, as we grew up with Mom’s Secret Recipes business growing and taking over the whole dining room of our house in Algonac. Of course, the kitchen was another hub for all of her recipe developments, also. Mom wrote a lot of articles about the kitchen and its importance to the cook as well as to the family unit.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 66)

COME INTO THE KITCHEN

THE KITCHEN – IT’S THE BEST place to be when we’re home! You’ll notice that even current home designers are getting away from the formal dining room area, the same way auto designers are abandoning the limousine, the regal and roomy sedans, with their plush interiors, for more functional models.

Homes are becoming more functional in design, as well. In our continuing efforts to economize, to restrict energy sources and to b ring the family back to the warm, bright openness of a country kitchen, we have rediscovered the personal advantages of the best room in the house.

Oh, there will always be the sleek and satiny modern designs of circles, rectangles, and dimensional art forms in the immaculate whites and the startling blacks and the platinum trim and aluminum coldness of contemporary décor.

But the classic country kitchen is coming back where there is one large working space close to the appliance area and also open to the informal, large eating area.

One kitchen design that I truly enjoyed and wished I had thought of it years ago, was a portion of one wall in the eating area that had a shoe molding frame glued to enclose one area that contained a haphazard arrangement of family snapshots, superimposed, over early school drawings by their children; a few post cards depicting a favorite vacation spot when the kids were little and bold handprints of each child, with their names lettered beneath.

The other walls were tastefully decorated with framed favorite recipes and measuring utensils and baskets that were really used, every day, rather than portray the useless object of décor. It was a warm and workable kitchen that reflected a family as a unit rather than the individuals.

There was no reflection of a magazine layout for a swanky and impersonal organization in that room. Every inch of it said, ‘Welcome!’ If you were a stranger when you entered, you were a friend before you left.

It’s been another year, in which many of us have been dealing with an overload of stress and anxiety. Food tends to be one of the few things that usually comfort us in trying times. That’s probably another top reason why the kitchen is, more often than not, considered to be one the favorite rooms in a house. In fact, it’s often regarded as the HEART of the home.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 66)

FAMILY & HOME

FAMILY RESTAURANTS and homestyle meals are returning to popularity. During the war-protesting days of Vietnam, the right to be ‘different’, the right to protest, to be individual made anything even slightly related to ‘family’ and ‘home’ forbidden – or corny. People became impersonal to each other…

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. The family and home have been reinstated…even in our restaurant industry. Today it is changing back to the personal, the warm, the family. The restaurant industry, in its urgent bid for the public’s loyal attention, is trying to make their dining experiences like your home away from home. Hospitality is becoming their badge of honor!

The kitchen… is the best place to be when we’re home! You’ll notice that current home designers are getting away from the formal dining room area… Homes are becoming more functional in design, as well. In our continuing efforts to economize, to restrict energy sources and to bring the family back to the warm, bright, openness of a country kitchen, we have rediscovered the personal advantages of the best room in the house…

The classic country kitchen is coming back, where there is one large working space close to the appliance area and also open to the informal, large, eating area… It was a warm and workable kitchen that reflected a family as a unit… Every inch of it said: ‘Welcome!’ If you were a stranger when you entered, you were a friend before you left.

‘Things changed, as well they should. Women went out to work. If they weren’t working to supplement the family income, they went to work for their own satisfaction. Whatever the reasons, families changed. Eating at home became less… appealing – and less… convenient. Homes were built with smaller kitchens… Microwave ovens were more affordable and defrost-and-heat became more popular.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 295)

It’s been another year, in which many of us have been dealing with an overload of stress and anxiety. Food tends to be one of the few things that usually comfort us in trying times. That’s probably another top reason why the kitchen is, more often than not, considered to be one the favorite rooms in a house. In fact, it’s often regarded as the HEART of the home.

AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 67)

KITCHENS

KITCHENS ARE NO LONGER FOR COOKING! They’re for snacking. Kitchens are not designed today [1982] for families, but for the individual. There are no shelves for keeping favorite cookbooks nearby, to work with the recipes in them.

Kitchens have become hallways from the outside to the rest of the house that is designed to make lasting impressions on the people who have to be impressed! We have neat little places for artificial plants and artifacts of just the right color, to tie it all together.

The way the magazines and showroom floor models of furnishing groupings do! Homes should be, however, a reflection of us! Not an echo of somebody else.

A kitchen designed for a cook, for a family to enjoy belongs to the designers of 50 years ago. I wish homemakers would design kitchens instead of those high educated, sophisticated, degree-holding architects and interior decorators who never have to cook in them.

Never have to untangle a preschooler from the Mixmaster cord, or retrieve G.I. Joe dolls and E.T. puppets from the cake batter bowl. You cannot expect a 5-foot-3-inch tall homemaker to be able to use the top cupboard shelf of a kitchen that was designed by a 6-foot-2-inch man at a drawing board in a high-rise office building, probably thousands of miles from where the home he’s drawing will be built.

People who now design kitchens in homes are not the same ones who will live in them, who will cook at their inadequate stoves; baking in their very small ovens, washing dishes at their misplaced sinks.

In the homes I have seen, in searching for one for our family, I longed so much for the one I had left in St. Clair; that I had to come back to truly appreciate it. And you know what? It was designed by a woman. The builder’s wife designed this house for a big family!

I never met her. She died of cancer about the time we bought the house. But I think of her fondly, often, as I enjoy what she planned for us, without ever having met us. And, while I realize that I will probably offend the liberationists who worked so hard to get the woman out of the kitchen, I must applaud those of us who still, by our own choice, and out of love, wish to enjoy their homes, their families, and especially – their kitchens!

For ages, the kitchen was always the heart and soul of the family unit, until people became busier with activities outside the home – work/school, sports, and other extracurricular activities. That’s partly what contributed to the success of fast food fares – families became more & more on-the-go individuals.

LAST THOUGHTS…

This may sound sexist, however, as for me, my mom, both of my grandmas and probably most of my aunts and great-aunts – cooking was always something we enjoyed doing for others. I find cooking to be one of the best and easiest ways to say, “I love you” or, simply, “welcome” to those with whom I share my table!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of Friday, being National Chocolate Day, and October being National Dessert Month and National Bake and Decorate Month, here’s Mom’s secret recipes for Gourmet Fudge Cake & Fudge Icing; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 66).

#NationalChocolateDay

#NationalDessertMonth

#BakeAndDecorateMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s observances include: German-American Heritage Month, Italian-American Heritage Month, National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, National Caramel Month, National Chili Month, National Cookie Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Reading Group Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Polish American Heritage Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, Tackling Hunger Month, Vegetarian Month, and World Menopause Month!

Today is also… National Food Day, National Bologna Day, and United Nations Day!

Tomorrow is… National Greasy Food Day!

Wednesday, October 26th is… National Tennessee Day, National Mule Day, National Pumpkin Day, and National Mincemeat Day!

Thursday, October 27th is… National American Beer Day, Navy Day, and National Black Cat Day!

October 28th is… National First Responders Day! Plus, as the last Friday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Breadstick Day!

October 29th is… National Cat Day, National Oatmeal Day, National Hermit Day, and World Stroke Day! Plus, as the last Saturday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Trick or Treat Day!

Sunday, October 30th is… National Publicist Day and National Candy Corn Day! It’s also… Halloween Eve (aka: Devil’s Night), as well as being Halloween Safety Month!

#TGIM

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

…43 down, 9 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Passion To Profit

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday, once again, to everyone! I look forward to every Monday because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

NOTE: Apparently, I sometimes get my Mondays mixed up – as I just realized this morning that my post from last week was supposed to be the one I had wrote ahead of time for this week, because I was going on a little vacation. So this is the post I meant to put up last week…

Expanding on last week’s blog post, I’d like to continue discussing some of October’s observances in relation to Mom – National Book Month, National Cookbook Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, National Self-Promotion Month, and National Positive Attitude Month.

#PositiveAttitudeMonth

Mom’s passion for writing began when she was about 10½ years old. She was greatly influenced by the 1946 Warner Brothers movie about the Bronte sisters, called Devotion. That’s when she started journaling on a daily basis.

In fact, Mom continued journaling throughout the rest of her life; which amounted to over 71 years of hand-written chronicles full of thoughts, ideas, faith and positive attitude – now that’s DEVOTION! Mom often thought about writing “the great American novel”. However, fate always took her writing in another direction.

It seemed that every writing contest Mom entered and won was usually for something she wrote, in relation to food. She always trusted that God was guiding her to where she needed to be.

#WomensSmallBusinessMonth

After writing a variety of homaker-focused columns for newspapers, directly and syndicated, for about 15 years, Mom discovered a completely new niche in the food industry. She called it copycat cookery – imitating “famous foods from famous places” at home.

Her readers loved it and wanted more, requesting her to imitate their favorites; but the food industry advertisers didn’t like it, requesting her editor stop it. Mom decided to quit, and went home to start her own business, developing and writing recipes to imitate a variety of favorite fast foods, junk foods, restaurant dishes, and grocery store products.

#WorkAndFamilyMonth

She involved all of us kids and eventually Dad, as the small family business, run from our dining room table, grew and grew. Mom started her small family business, selling her recipes individually; printed on 4” x 6” index cards, suitable for easy filing. Her collection quickly grew to hundreds of recipes.

#NationalBookMonth

#NationalCookbookMonth

To better offer her growing catalog of “secret recipes”, Mom started writing, illustrating and (with Dad) self-publishing about 40 cookbooks (+/-), between 1973 and 2002. In that time, she also wrote and self-published a few “Food for Thought”/positive attitude books. Additionally, from January 1974 through December 2000, she penned & illustrated hundreds of newsletter issues.

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. 53)

RISKS – THE HARD ROAD TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY

THERE ARE MANY RISKS involved with going into business for yourself, no matter what product or service you intend to offer. If I had thought more about the risks, than I did about the possibilities, I never would have moved an inch toward doing any of the things about which I now write.

My husband is not a risk-taker. I am. We complement each other well. He still becomes uneasy and anxious about every new idea I have for another book or another project, on the basis that ‘we can’t afford it.’

I have learned, over the years, to keep many of my projects to myself until they are completed, which in the long run, saves Paul from worrying unnecessarily about something that will very likely turn out well, and keeps me from worrying that Paul is worrying.

Some people experience a certain let-down, after reaching what they consider ‘the top’. When they finally reach the Everest of their ambitions [and] make it to the top, they start to wonder why they were in such a hurry to get there anyhow.

Like Lee Iacocca, who was only in his mid-40s when he was president of the Ford Motor Company, writes in his autobiography, [that he had] no idea what he was going to do ‘for an encore’! I have never had to worry about this, fortunately.

When I have been asked about goals or destination, it is been my feeling that every corner I turn has a new goal, a new destination awaiting us. I have never thought of any one point as being the top. Life has so many wonderful opportunities for each of us to take advantage of, that it does not seem reasonable that I should give myself the limitations that would determine just how far I should be able to go.

Because this was never a hobby, never WORK, never a job, I have had no problem with the worry or concern that accompanies a position from which one expects to retire. I would not want to give up what I have been doing since I was a child [writing].

It would be unfair to have to give up doing something that has also brought so much pleasure and good information to so many people. It was, however, only when I realized what I should be writing about and what I should be sharing with the readers – what I knew best – that things really began to happen.

Of course, my husband wisely reminds me, when someone asked about writing their own cookbook, that WRITING it is the easiest part. Knowing how to SELL it is the hard part!

#SelfPromotionMonth

LAST THOUGHTS…

‘Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ – Mark Twain

I believe that if you can find something you love to do and turn it into a career, you’re very lucky. I’ve found many interesting reads online, over the past few years, regarding how to find hobbies that make you happy and how to generate income from them. Here are just some of the ones I’ve enjoyed reading.

10 Tips To Turn Your Hobby Into A Business (updated 5/2/22) by Stephanie Vozza at LegalZoom.com

‘It’s Never Too Late To Start A New Hobby (updated 5/27/22) by Elena Peters at MakingMidLifeMatter.com

20 Productive Hobbies That Will Make You Smarter And Happier (no date) by Chris Haigh, at LifeHack.com

‘30 Best Profitable Hobbies That Make Money (updated 9/7/22) by Sara, the dreamer at GatheringDreams.com

Perhaps, you’ve already travelled that road and are looking to retire but don’t want to totally give up what you love doing. Consider the opposite route, as in How To Run A Business As A Hobby (no date) by Christian Fisher at SmallBusiness.Chron.com.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of October, being National Apple Month, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for Apple Bread; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 100).

#NationalAppleMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s observances include: National Eat Better & Eat Together Month, German-American Heritage Month, Halloween Safety Month, Italian-American Heritage Month, National Applejack Month, National Caramel Month, National Chili Month, National Cookie Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, National Pasta Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Reading Group Month, National Seafood Month, National Pear and Pineapple Month, Polish-American Heritage Month, National Rhubarb Month, National Spinach Lovers Month, National Vegetarian Month, and World Menopause Month! [October is also the anniversary of Mom’s FIRST appearance on the Kelly & Company show, in Detroit (1990).]

#NationalCookbookMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

October 10th is… National Angel Food Cake Day, National Cake Decorating Day (as well as being National Bake and Decorate Month), National Handbag Day, and World Mental Health Day! Plus, as the second Monday in October (for 2022), it’s also… Native American Day and Columbus Day! Additionally, it’s also the start of… National School Lunch Week!

October 11th is… National Sausage Pizza Day, as well as it being National Pizza Month and National Sausage Month!

October 12th is… National Vermont Day, National Freethought Day, National Farmer’s Day, and National Gumbo Day! Plus, as the second Wednesday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Take Your Parents To Lunch Day, National Curves Day, and National Stop Bullying Day (as well as it being National Bullying Prevention Month)! The Wednesday of the second FULL Week in October is also… National Fossil Day!

Thursday, October 13th is… National Train Your Brain Day, National Yorkshire Pudding Day, and National No Bra Day!

October 14th is… National Dessert Day, as well as it being National Dessert Month!

October 15th is… National Shawarma Day, National Cheese Curd Day, National I Love Lucy Day, and National Grouch Day!

October 16th is… National Sports Day, National Liqueur Day, National Dictionary Day, and Department Store Day! Plus, as the third Saturday in October, it’s also… National Sweetest Day! Additionally, as the week of October 16th, it’s… National Food Bank Week, which goes with it also being… National Tackling Hunger Month!

#TGIM

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

…42 down and 10 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Happy Place

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

NOTE: Apparently, I sometimes get my Mondays mixed up – as I just realized this morning [Oct. 17th] that I mixed up my posts for this week and next, as I had wrote one ahead of time because I was going on a little vacation. Sorry! Mistakes happen…

October is so beautiful, when all the colors of fall are ablaze – that’s my “happy place”. A happy place can be an actual location – or anything that makes you feel happy when you think about it, visualizing it in your mind. There are so many simple things in life that make us happy and bring us inner peace. Most don’t even cost a thing!

Seeing the trees change colors in the fall, taking a walk in nature, sitting on the banks of a lazy river, feeling the sun shining on your face, having coffee and conversation with close friends, playing with your kids/grandkids, helping a friend, and dancing to your favorite song like no one is watching you are just some examples.

#WorkAndFamilyMonth

‘Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ – Mark Twain

It’s not very often that you’ll hear someone say, “work is my happy place.” However, when you love what you do, like Mom, as I discussed in last week’s blog entry, it’s certainly a possibility. Mom’s writing made her happy and gave her inner peace. So much so, it turned into her legacy of love.

She always described her newsletter as being like “getting together for coffee…with friends.” Designing and writing it was her happy place. It was with a heavy heart that she retired her newsletter in December 2000, after 27 years of self-publishing it.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 6)

INNER PEACE

‘HOW TO ATTAIN INNER PEACE’ is always the message most critics take pleasure in degrading when a new book on ‘self-improvement’ makes the bestseller list. They somehow make it sound like being able to ‘attain inner peace’ is a fault that one should avoid or try to correct.

They somehow make it sound corny and unappealing. They really shouldn’t go to all that trouble to put down a potentially good idea – even if it does border on the humanly impossible condition. The only people I know, who have attained inner peace, are dead!

However, I do know a lot of people who are perfectly happy with themselves and the quality of their life and seem to feel good about who they are, what they have, how they relate to others. They don’t have to go looking for happiness. It has a way of finding them!

This is the kind of person who is certainly not exempt from turmoil or problems or burdens, but how they handled their situations and how they expressed themselves to others, it occurred to me, was a recipe in itself.

I made notes on the various ingredients that appear to comprise their good feelings and found the observations were worth sharing, since this is the age of the frustrated individual, the ‘don’t-get-me-involved’ community of strangers.

When you come across the person who you know can help to ease the burden, make a problem less overwhelming, and they are asked to give information that they obviously can contribute, don’t be surprised if their answer is ‘how-should-I-know?’

[‘…Mixed Blessings…’] is made up of a number of columns I wrote and tried to sell on a weekly basis to a number of newspapers. They weren’t interested. However, each time I shared some of these with our radio friends, there were requests for copies of the essays, with even more interest than we had for our recipes.

The time seems right now that all of these columns, or essays, should be put into a book, because I see more and more evidence of people not caring about each other as much as they should – as much as they could.

#PositiveAttitudeMonth

Living a happy life is feeling true joy in how you live your life, trying to make the very best of it. Mom thought of happiness as the “secret sauce” that adds flavor to our best efforts and intentions. It’s widely believed that happy people are generally more positive and have more success at achieving their goals.

Having a happy place to go to, for at least a little while, even if only in our minds, actually helps us to better put things in perspective. It distract our minds away from negative, stressful thoughts. Another benefit of having a happy place is that it’s a mood-booster, increasing feelings of gratitude, as well as decreasing anxiety and panic.

The consensus of what makes most peoples’ lives happy is credited to family and relationships, topping the “lists”. Other popular sources for having a happy life include loving what you do and who you are, thinking positively, being optimistic, and being grateful. Dad would say, “happy wife – happy life”; but Mom believed in “happy spouse, happy house.”

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, pp. 78-79)

HAPPINESS

IT’S HARD TO SAY which is worse, the person who doesn’t know what he wants and won’t be happy until he gets it, or the one who knows what he wants and can’t get it. It’s a shame that so many people believe being truly happy means being completely pacified.

Most people who admit to being unhappy look toward a time when they’ll be happy, once they are making more money, or they have a nicer home, or a newer car. They make the mistake of measuring their degrees of happiness by a yardstick of acquisitions, when, in fact, happiness is not from the things around us, but from within us.

The power to be happy is not what you want or what you get, but what you are! It’s not what you get in life, but what you get out of it, that counts. We each have our own unique way of making someone happy – like the lively little Cub Scout in my group, when I was once a den mother.

I asked each of the boys in our den if they had made anyone happy since our last meeting and how. One boy said, ‘last week, I went to see my grandmother and I made her very happy. This week I came back home and made her even happier.’

So many people are so picky about the unimportant experiences in life that they can’t even recognize the important experiences when they occur.

They believe happiness has to be something sensational and ecstatic to even qualify as happiness, when, in fact, some of the simplest pleasures, some of the most restful moments can hold but a sprinkling of happiness… and/or contentment.

If we’d only take the time to say, ‘hey, I feel good right this moment! I am happy! I can’t make it last forever, even though I’d like to, but if it did last forever, I’d soon forget how nice it was, because it was different. And being like this forever would get to be pretty boring. In which case, I wouldn’t be happy anymore.’

I wonder why the critics always insist on asking people, being interviewed on television, if they’re happy. I have yet to hear anyone say, ‘no, I’m not!’ Since when does happiness have to be a constant condition attained only after specific achievements have been experienced, certain goals attained, well, fame and success have been realized?

Even the so-called ‘inner peace’ that were supposed to be seeking, in order to combat stress and find contentment, means little when we define what makes each of us happy. It’s too bad we can’t be happy for the people who have found their sense of happiness, without belittling them for having achieved it.

Whatever it takes to be happy is as individual as fingerprints! We each seek our own. Happiness is a moment – not a forever!

LAST THOUGHTS…

Like Mom, I can certainly relate to writing as being a “happy place”, for me. I love writing these weekly blog entries about my memories of her and how she’s impacted my life, as well as the lives of so many others. I love hearing from people about their memories of being in the kitchen with their moms, creating special dishes or treats from my mom’s recipes.

Please continue sending me your happy memories and stories of how Mom touched your life at therecipedetective@outlook.com – I look forward to hearing from you!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of this being National Cookie Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Bill’s Brother’s Mother’s Cookies [like Tom’s Mom’s], as seen in her self-published cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Dec. 1999, 21st printing; p. 42). I also shared this recipe with Kathy Keene’s “Good Neighbor” audience, on WHBY (Appleton, WI), in July 2020.

#NationalCookieMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s observances include: National Eat Better & Eat Together Month, German-American Heritage Month, Halloween Safety Month, Italian-American Heritage Month, National Apple Month, National Applejack Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, National Caramel Month, National Chili Month, National Dessert Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Pretzel Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, National Pear and Pineapple Month, Polish-American Heritage Month, National Rhubarb Month, National Self-Promotion Month, National Spinach Lovers Month, National Vegetarian Month, and World Menopause Month!

#NationalCookbookMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

The week of October 16th is… National Food Bank Week, as well as it being National Tackling Hunger Month! Plus, as the third week in October, it’s also… National Kraut Sandwich Week, National Business Women’s Week (as well as it being National Women’s Small Business Month), National Friends of Libraries Week (as well as being National Reading Group Month), and National Free Speech Week (as well as it being NATIONAL BOOK MONTH)!

October 17th is also… National Mulligan Day and National Pasta Day (as well as being National Pasta Month)! Plus, it’s National Boss’s Day (which is annually on Oct. 16th, unless it falls on a weekend; then it’s observed on the closest workday, which is the 17th for 2022)! Additionally, as the third Monday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Clean Your Virtual Desktop Day!

October 18th is… National Chocolate Cupcake Day, as well as being National Bake and Decorate Month!

October 19th is… National Kentucky Day and National Seafood Bisque Day! Plus, as the third Wednesday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Hagfish Day and National Support Your Local Chamber of Commerce Day!

October 20th is… National Brandied Fruit Day and International Chefs Day! Plus, as the third Thursday of the fourth quarter, it’s… Get to Know Your Customers Day, which occurs on the third Thursday in every quarter (Jan., Apr., Jul., and Oct.).

Friday, October 21st is… National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!

October 22nd is… National Nut Day and National Color Day! Plus, as the fourth Saturday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Make A Difference Day!

October 23rd is… National Boston Cream Pie Day and National TV Talk Show Host Day! [October is also the anniversary of Mom’s FIRST appearance on the Kelly & Company show, in Detroit (1990).] Plus, as the fourth Sunday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Mother-in-Law Day!

#NationalMotherInLawDay

#TGIM

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

…41 down and 11 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Work And Family

Happy October and #HappyMonday to all! Thank God Its Monday – every week, I look forward to Monday; as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

October is special in so many ways besides being one of the most colorful months in Michigan. In relation to my mom, the Secret Recipe DetectiveTM, it’s also, among other things, National Eat Better & Eat Together Month, a subject of which I discussed in last week’s blog entry, as it relates to family bonding.

In addition and still in relation to Mom, October also observes National Book Month, National Cookbook Month, National Women’s Small Business Month, National Work and Family Month, National Self-Promotion Month, and National Positive Attitude Month!

#WomensSmallBusinessMonth

In a time, similar to these days – with political upheaval, low wages, and rising costs of living – Mom quit her job as a columnist at a local newspaper, after finding a niche in the recipes industry that people wanted and needed and being told by her editor to stop fulfilling it, as it was upsetting their food industry advertisers.

Mom went home to start her own “paper”, combining her humoristic cartoons with tips, tricks, and hints; as well as her “Food for Thought” and “No Laughing Matter” columns, in addition to her copycat cookery concept for “Eating Out At Home” – designed like a classic quilt, with pieces of this and that put together with love to create a functional work of art..

She “went to work” at home, every day, discovering how to recreate our favorite fast food & restaurant dishes from regular pantry items and without any special gadgets or appliances. She often incorporated the help of me and my siblings (and, later, Dad’s help); thereby, creating a small, dining-room-table, cottage-style, family business.

#WorkAndFamilyMonth

Mom’s copycat cookery didn’t stop at fast food and restaurant dishes. She also created imitations for shelf-stable groceries and freezer products purchased at the supermarket, as she discovered more things to make at home and thereby save money.

If something saved our household budget money, she loved to share it with others to help them save money too. She often referred to it as literally and figuratively having your cake and eating it too!

Mom’s trailblazing copycat cookery concept began in the 1970s, developing and writing her own recipes, as well as self-publishing them. Plus, she self-promoted her talents through newspapers and magazines, as well as through local, national, and international TV and radio talk shows.

#NationalCookbookMonth

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. 36)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN

IT WAS THE WORST possible time to launch a new business. The unemployment rate was terribly high. There was a newsprint paper shortage. There was a gasoline shortage. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication, however.

My confrontation with the editor at the Times Herald over the cheesecake recipe [like Sarah Lee’s], was probably the best thing that ever happened to me – us, as a family, in fact. I was forced to finally do something that, until then, I had only talked about doing because the advice I had listened to was bent on having somebody else handle my work.

Of course, I could not tell Paul what I was going to do – that I was going to publish a newsletter and I was going to try and sell subscriptions to it all without the help of the [publishing and syndicating] agencies to which I had previously been turning.

I was determined to make this idea work because I knew it was a good idea! It was a service that was needed and one that I could provide without ever having to leave the children again. With the help of the Almighty, I had every confidence that turning out a recipe newsletter was going to be something that would bless everyone concerned: me, the readers, the products mentioned, the reviews of restaurants – every idea was a blessing!

#SelfPromotionMonth

Mom’s favorite way to market her ground-breaking recipes was through radio talk shows. For nearly 40 years, she was a regular weekly or monthly guest on numerous radio talk shows, geared toward working homemakers all over the country and internationally. She promoted herself, her copycat cookery concepts, along with her recipes, books, and newsletter.

Mom liked to describe her newsletters as being like a visit from a friend – as you sit at the kitchen table, having coffee, discussing various topics of the day and sharing household tips and recipes. I would describe it, simply, as Mom’s “happy place” and her “legacy of love”.

In the early years of her home-based business, Mom sold her recipes for a quarter each, printed on 4”x6” index cards, from a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room. It didn’t seem to take long before her recipe library grew to hundreds, through requests from fans of her writing.

Within a few years, she went from recipe cards to monthly newsletters and multiple cookbooks; seemingly in the blink of an eye, as her recipes collection grew from hundreds to thousands. Over the years, it evolved into what finally became known as Secret RecipesTM – her legacy of love!

#NationalCookbookMonth

I find it so ironic that over the decades, since Mom officially launched her Secret RecipesTM enterprise, in 1973, so many people have imitated her, the ORIGINAL copycat cook. However, not all have given Mom the appropriate credit due her for being the first to uncover the supposed secrets of the food industry, imitating “famous foods from famous places” at home! Kudos to those who have, though!

#NationalBookMonth

LAST THOUGHTS…

Friday is (for 2022), among other things, National Body Language Day and World Smile Day; which go hand-in-hand, as a smile is part of body language. It’s welcoming, soothing, friendly – even contagious, as Mom described in her self-published book, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43).

#WorldSmileDay

Gloria Pitzer, 1985

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!

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!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of this being National Chili Week and October being National Chili Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for California Chili; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar-Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 93).

#NationalChiliWeek

#NationalChiliMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

October’s observances include: National Halloween Safety Month, Italian-American Heritage Month, National Applejack Month, National Bake and Decorate Month, National Bullying Prevention Month, National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Dessert Month, National Fire Prevention Month, National Go On A Field Trip Month, National Kitchen & Bath Month, National Pickled Peppers Month, National Pizza Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Pork Month, National Reading Group Month, National Sausage Month, National Seafood Month, National Pear and Pineapple Month, Polish-American Heritage Month, National Rhubarb Month, National Spinach Lovers Month, National Tackling Hunger Month, National Vegetarian Month, and World Menopause Month!

#NationalCookbookMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Today is also… National Techies Day and National Boyfriend Day! Plus, as the first Monday in October (for 2022), it’s… National Consignment Day and National Child Health Day! Additionally, as the start of the first, full, Monday-through-Friday workweek in October, it’s also… Customer Service Week!

Tomorrow is… National Cinnamon Bun Day, National Taco Day, National Golf Lover’s Day, and National Vodka Day! Plus, as the first Tuesday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Eat Fruit At Work Day! 

October 5th is… National Rhode Island Day, National Do Something Nice Day, and National Apple Betty Day (as well as being National Apple Month)! Plus, as the first Wednesday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Pumpkin Seed Day and National Walk to School Day, while it’s also… International Walk To School Month!

October 6th is… National Orange Wine Day, National Plus Size Appreciation Day, National German-American Day (as well as being German-American Heritage Month), and National Noodle Day (as well as being National Pasta Month)!

October 7th is… National Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day (as well as being National Pretzel Month), National Frappe Day, and National Inner Beauty Day!

October 8th is… National Fluffernutter Day, National Hero Day, and National Pierogi Day! Plus, as the second Saturday in October (for 2022), it’s also… National Chess Day, National Costume Swap Day, and I Love Yarn Day!

Sunday, October 9th is… National Moldy Cheese Day!

#TGIM

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

…40 down and 12 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Bonding

Thank God Its Monday and #HappyMonday to everyone! I always look forward to Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#NationalFamilyDay

Today, being the fourth Monday in September (for 2022), is National Family Day; which promotes making and sharing meals together, as well as family bonding around the kitchen table, according to NationalDayCalendar.com.

Furthermore, they claim that when parents engage with their children over a meal, their relationships greatly improve. It’s an opportunity for children to learn about responsibilities in preparing meals, setting the table, and cleaning up. It helps in making them feel like they’re part of a team. By the way, September is also Self-Improvement Month!

It’s widely believed that when family meals are prepared and eaten together, it provides a vast amount of opportunities for strengthening bonds, building better relationships, and creating a sense of belonging, all of which leads to better self-esteem.

#SelfImprovementMonth

As I’ve described in many other blog posts, when my siblings and I were growing up, Mom always made our meals family-style. Everyone sat together, at the same time, talking about our days while passing the serving dishes around the table, and occasionally elbowing or kicking each other when Mom and Dad weren’t looking.

We’re far from being like the Brady Bunch or Walton’s family. Nonetheless, we always ate together. Basically because that’s when the meal was served. Mom always reminded us that the kitchen wasn’t a restaurant, where you could drop in any time and place an order for whatever you’d like.

In our household, we ate what was made and when it was served, or we might have to go hungry until the next meal. However, I can’t remember any of us willing to miss one of Mom’s meals, anyway; so that was never really an issue in our household.

Mom would always joke, in her many editorials, about being a bad cook. However, long before she became famous for being the Secret RecipesTM Detective, she was already a great cook in our house! I’m grateful for all she’s taught me.

There was a time, pre-Covid-19, when most average families led busy lifestyles, with both parents working outside the home and the kid’s having after school activities and weekend sports; making it very difficult to eat just one meal together, let alone three.

Then the pandemic struck and, unexpectedly, families were, more or less, confined together, 24/7 for many months – all the meals and everything else in between, as well! Our homes suddenly became central hubs, encompassing the office, school, library, gym, salon, cinema, diner, bar and so much more!

‘The divine principle of good cooking is not a secret! It is taking pleasure in the activity; in the information previously retained and called upon through the facilities of memory. The spirit of good cooking is individualistic. It is not shrouded in mystery – but in love, for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it!’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen on the front page of the 128th issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Sep-Oct 1987).]

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.6)

COOKING IS MORE THAN TURNING ON THE STOVE – IT’S PLEASING PEOPLE!

AS OFTEN AS WE PUT things off, in life, it’s a shame that we don’t care more about the ‘now’, the ‘todays’, the here-I-am and here-you-are, and what can we do for each other to make things as good as possible for [both of] us! I know! There are people who can’t be bothered with such nonsense. They have jobs to work and bills to pay, things to worry about and goals to achieve.

‘If you’re going to talk about cooking and foods… what are you going off on tangents for, talking about people and their feelings?’

This is a question I’ve been asked over and over by inquiring reporters, wanting to know why we’re successful at what we do, why people go to such trouble to locate us and order our books! I think they answer their own question. Don’t you?

After all, cooking is not for robots! The way we present our food to those who share our table with us takes into account more than plopping the pot roast onto a platter and announcing, ‘supper’s ready!’ Is that where it ends? When a meal is presented, there are many considerations for the cook.

Besides the balance, nutritionally, there’s the effort to please those who will hopefully enjoy the food. And trying to please those you’re feeding is a direct appeal, a definite effort, to consider someone’s feelings, the feelings of enjoyment and consequently of approval – approval of the food and… the one who prepared it.

Every day, the homemaker, with a family to feed, meets the challenge of proving they can be proficient, both, in the selections of foods, [as well as] the preparation and presentation of it and the management of the cost.

Cooking is more than turning on the stove and opening the refrigerator. It’s pleasing people! It’s caring about what they might like to eat. It’s doing your best to prepare and present the dishes so that mealtime is not just a daily routine – but an occasion.

The cookbook industry has offended us… as if the recipes were designed for mindless bodies – not for folks with feelings! Food fanatics continue to advise us on how to feed the body while we let the famished affections go hungry.

The critics’ smoking guns right now are aimed at curing physical maladies with food administered medicinally. Food, as medication, is used as both a preservative and a cure. But what heals the broken spirit – the sensitive, the distressed, the lonely, the shy and withdrawn?

It takes more than adequate fiber intake; minimum daily nutritional needs being filled to cure the body of ills created by stress and anguish. It takes loving, caring and being loved and cared about in return!

LAST THOUGHTS…

SunshineClinic.org’s blog, Five Steps To Strengthen Family Relationships, (author/date unknown) nails a lot of great points about the importance of family bonding. I also like what Lindsey Veeh suggests in her timeless article, 6 Ways To Bring Your Family Closer Together (June 3, 2013). She suggests, “Make Sunday night family night. Invite extended family over to promote bonding with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives.”

There are other great family bonding activities besides cooking and eating together. Have a family game night or movie night. Go for a walk together. Do volunteer work as a family unit. Write your family story, with everyone contributing their favorite memories! Any time spent together, bonding and enjoying each other’s company, is priceless.

‘THE TOTAL OF LIFE is measured by the good we do. It is our cherished hope that every branch of our family tree will bear luscious fruit that will enrich mankind and make the world a better place.’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 23)

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

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Dumpling Day and National Pancake Day, here is Mom’s secret recipes for “Beer Batter – Pancakes & Dumplings”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 114). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].

#NationalDumplingDay

#NationalPancakeDay

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

September’s observances include: Better Breakfast Month, Little League Month, National Americana Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, Self-Improvement Month, and Whole Grains Month!

Today is also… National Johnny Appleseed Day!

Tomorrow is… National Chocolate Milk Day and National Corned Beef Hash Day!

September 28th is… National Drink Beer Day, National Good Neighbor Day (which used to be on the 4th Sunday), National Strawberry Cream Pie Day, and National North Carolina Day! Plus, as the last Wednesday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Women’s Health & Fitness Day!

Thursday, September 29th is… National Coffee Day!

#CoffeeDay

Friday, September 30th is… National Love People Day, National Chewing Gum Day, National Mud Pack Day, and National Hot Mulled Cider Day!

Saturday is the start of October, which observes, among other things (as pictured below):

[October is also the anniversary of Mom’s FIRST appearance on the Kelly & Company show, in Detroit (1990).]

October 1st is… National Homemade Cookies Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of October (for 2022), it’s also… National Play Outside Day, which is the first Saturday of every month. The week of October 1st is also… Active Aging Week. Additionally, it’s… the start of the National Christmas Seal Campaign (which always runs Oct. 1st to Dec. 31st).

October 2nd is… National Fried Scallops Day! Plus, the first week of October [2nd-8th for 2022] is also… National Chili Week and National Newspaper Week!

#TGIM

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

…39 down and 13 to go!