Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Que Sera, Sera!

TGIM! Thank God, it’s Monday, again! Happy Monday to everyone!

I mentioned last week that I plan to make every Monday of this year a memorable beginning to my week – and, hopefully, to yours as well! This week, my focus is on my New Year’s plan, which I mentioned at the end of my blog last week, in the “P.S.” section. For 2020, I want to start a mini e-newsletter, including more of Mom’s “Food-for-Thought”, food-for-the-soul and food for the table inspirations; as well as some of my own too.

I don’t have a “launch” date set for the e-newsletter, yet; as I am still in the process of learning how to create an email list, first. The whole digital process is in no way the same as or even similar to what Mom did by hand for 27 years; the last time being more than 20 years ago. The layouts Mom created and published, herself, were all of her own design. The family helped to label all of the thousands of newsletter issues by hand, then Mom and Dad took them all to the local Post Office and mailed them out to their subscribers by what is now referred to as “snail mail”. That was January 1974 through December 2000!

If you’re not already – you can follow me on Facebook @TheRecipeDetective, on Twitter @recipedetective, on Instagram @recipedetective and on Pinterest @therecipedetective – for that’s where I will be announcing all of my future updates and posts to website, as well as when I’ll be launching my new email sign-up list and the e-newsletter!

When the time came to retire Mom’s Secret Recipes© NewsletterTM, Dad was ready to fully retire, himself, from all of his work in Secret RecipesTM; of course, he was 70 by then and beginning to struggle with his own physical limitations. Mom, being a bit younger, though, never really wanted to “fully retire” from the recipe business, herself. She was a writer – and, as she would often say, “writers never die, they just run out of words.” Well, even Dad would’ve attested that Mom NEVER ran out of words! However, after she had her stroke in 2015, which resulted in her having dementia, Mom struggled with words and writing for a while.

Nevertheless, both, writing and faith were in her blood. Mom had journaled every day, since she was about 10 years old. Her deep-seeded love for writing helped her immensely in the therapy for her dementia, following the stroke, as she couldn’t remember recent events very well. But, by re-reading her journal entries from previous days, it helped her to, somewhat, deal with the forgetfulness.

However, she could never understand why she could remember her youth like it was yesterday but couldn’t remember yesterday; and why she didn’t recognize herself in the mirror or in recent pictures.

As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 6 & 7)


Writer, David Mazel, in a Boston newspaper, talked about looking at old photographs, as if gazing into a lost world, and I know exactly how he feels. I was shuffling through a shoebox full of photos from years ago, feeling it was some other world entirely than the one in which we now lived… where warm memories could stir and awaken me to consider just how well we did with so little, as Paul and I and our five (now, adult) children developed our family enterprise.

Over the years, some images, of how [our] recipe business began, have remained indelible. Others, however, have changed; like the shifting patterns in a rotating kaleidoscope… From that very first article that I wrote for the Royal Oak Tribune [in 1950], when I was 14 years old, to the [last] issue of our Secret RecipesTM Newsletter©…the work has been, truly, a labor of love…

I must have spent hours studying the pieces I wrote in my early days – remembering where I was [and in] what I believed and expected from life when I wrote them. There was always a certainty in each article [and] every book begun but not always finished, then, that life was good and surely God was a loving presence. This always carried me through. It still does.

Just as history tends to repeat itself, once again, the fates had other plans for Mom than she had for herself…as she, instead, began writing just to help herself remember things later. Unfortunately, Mom’s plan to continue writing and advising as the Recipe DetectiveTM had to come to an end…or maybe not – as I became her surrogate writer.

Mom loved Doris Day’s song from the Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956): Que sera, sera! Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera! What will be, will be!’ Mom called those certain, unexpected events in our lives “meant-to-be” moments or happenings – “what will be, will be!” She had complete faith that it was all part of the Lord’s plan (not hers, nor anyone else’s) – and, as she would quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson, ours is not to reason why…

During the last few years of Mom’s life, after her stroke, I got to know her in a whole new way – one that I missed out on during my self-centered teen years in the early-1980s. It was late-2015, when I started the 2-year long process of helping Mom to rewrite her favorite cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition). First, it all had to be edited and re-typed into Microsoft Word in order to be re-published for a whole new digital age of people.

For decades, Mom never wanted to let any of her books be published by a company that wanted to alter her creations. But times changed, as did situations and attitudes. This time, Mom was willing to let someone else do the rewrites and someone else be the publisher.

1974, Gloria Pitzer mimeographing her newsletter and recipe cards.

As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 16)

[A REAL PUBLISHER,] of course, one would surmise…is one who can put your book into print and get it sold for you. Having no actual count of the number of copies we’ve printed and sold, over the years, right at my fingertips; I can only say that we probably give away a good number of what we print [too].

I’ve thought all along that if I could possibly find another way by which to earn the money to pay our bills, I would gladly give my work away free, just for the joy of doing what we do! I have no intentions of ‘retiring’ from this endeavor and my husband, Paul, is slowly accepting this as something that, while it may make us a worthwhile living, also makes that living worthwhile!

WHEN THE MIMEOGRAPH was turning out the pages of my books… I did not look too far ahead to a more sophisticated technique. I took each day as it came and each idea for a cookbook as they also came (and a few of them were NOT cookbooks), trying to present the books with honesty and sincerity and a special enthusiasm that nobody else could give it for us.

My cup had been filling up and running over for a long, long time and I hadn’t even realized it. And that kind of abundance had nothing whatsoever to do with money or fame, but with a sense of direction and yielding – all the rugged way!

Mom and me at her 80th Birthday Party – Photo by Paul Jaekel, Jan. 2016

After researching quite a few publishers, we chose Balboa Press; who, actually, did not want to change much of anything except the title (because it too closely resembled the title of The Betty Crocker Cookbook – as it was intended to, in the first place) and a few illustrations (because they had the “likeness” of “The Colonel” on them.) Additionally, I had to change the layout slightly but not because of the publisher, it was simply because of the digital revolution and the printed format we chose for the final product.

Together, Mom and I chose some parts of the original book to be totally omitted from the new re-write due to their lack of current information, relatability or something else similar. Re-reading Mom’s creative “Food for Thought” articles throughout the book and discussing them with her, brought us closer in a whole new way, with our shared love for writing. Mom loved to mentor those who shared her same love for writing!

As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 75)

The care and concern that an author has for their readers is part of the pleasure of presenting interesting ideas in either an entertaining way or in an informative way. I try to balance my own presentations between the two.

When I am broadcasting over the numerous radio stations around the country, sometimes around the world, I try to lift the listener to a new height of interest and enthusiasm, and I leave the serious side of nutrition to the experts, who have the medical background to support their claims.

My hope is to present my recipes in such a way that cooking is a joy and never a job! I try to present these recipes with the same concern as I do [when] giving a gift to a special friend. Each of our 5 children, who have grown up helping Paul and me with these recipes, have gone out into the world with this legacy of love and enthusiasm. We can only hope that they use what we have given them…

Of course, I can only hope that I’ve made Mom proud of what I’m doing with her legacy of love – her family treasure of Secret RecipesTM and all it entails. While Dad was happy to retire the business, Mom never did want to stop what she was doing. However, at some point in time, our bodies and brains reach a moment when they just can’t do what they used to do. Now, even after the finish of her book, I still continue to write for Mom. I am honored to carry her torch in her memory and continue to inspire people in the kitchen, in the home, in the family and throughout the world.

I want this blog, the website and Mom’s last cookbook to reach new pinnacles in the digital market – in her honor and memory, with all the love and passion that I inherited from her. I’ll be honest, though, it has been (and still is) a work in progress and, while I love to write, promoting and selling are not my forte; as, equally, are not my computer skills. I guess you could say that I am a work in progress also! Something else I inherited from Mom – I love to learn! Unfortunately, the older I get the longer it takes me to learn something new. But that doesn’t stop me! You can teach an old dog a new trick, it just takes a little longer!

Nowadays, knowledge is literally and instantaneously at our finger tips! There’s so much information out there from which to learn – it makes our old sets of encyclopedias look like microscopic drops of water in an ocean! You need to be self-motivated and self-inspired to grab the book or the computer and open the “pages”, reading and soaking it up like a sponge! Of course, you also have to be able to differentiate between what’s fact and what’s fiction because not everything on the web is factual but that’s something you learn with experience.


This year in honor of #52Chances and #MemorableBeginnings, I want to offer you a recipe each week from Mom’s “Original 200” Secret RecipesTM collection – as these are the memorable beginnings of the Recipe DetectiveTM. The following recipe is Mom’s imitation of dark fudge like Mackinac Island serves!

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

According to, today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day! To that, Mom would say, “don’t touch the mess on my desk or you’ll goof up my system!” I, on the other hand, love organization! It’s actually one of my OCD passions.

Excerpts from…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)

WHILE SOME FOLKS claim to have been born under a sign related in some way to the stars and other heavenly bodies, I wish to establish, right here and now, the sign under which I must have been born. It reads: ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE MESS ON THIS DESK OR YOU’LL GOOF UP MY SYSTEM.’ From this, you can imagine how astonished I was when, one day, it occurred to me that Heaven had certainly poured me out a blessing and my cup was running over. But I couldn’t find my mop! That has more or less (actually MORE) been the story of my life…my cup runneth over and over and over. (pp. 14-15)

It is with appreciation that, in spite of my lack of organization, Mary Ellen Pinkham, the famous household hints author, took an interest in our recipes…I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me. (p. 119)


To repeat last week… suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” This year, for me, Mondays are 52 CHANCES to re-tell Mom’s story; hopefully, re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home, in the family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world. Two down, 50 to go! I hope you’ll share this with your family and friends and return next Monday for more!

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