Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan’s Mosaic Melting Pot

#TGIM! Happy Monday to all and happy National Pumpkin Day! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

I’m so thankful that each of my parents’ parents migrated to this beautiful state that we’ve all called home for five generations, now. Similar to the rest of the North American continent, Michigan is a multicultural “melting pot”; accentuating the sum of its various heritages into one whole society of Michiganders.

However, nowadays, Michigan is considered to be more of a “mosaic” society; where different cultures live together, in harmony, as a community; respecting and celebrating each other’s customs, while retaining pride in their own heritages’ identities. Our individual heritages hold distinct, traditional senses of family and belonging. They identify with our history, values, customs, and culture; as they’re handed down from one generation to the next.

Many families usually describe their cultural heritage by the ethnic and social background from which they came. It indicates a “shared bond” of belonging to a community. Mom always described our family’s cultural heritage as we had a ‘Heinz 57’ ancestry, because we were a multicultural family.

Having a sense of community unites us all, because being part of a community makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. Being part of a community gives us opportunities to connect with other people and it makes us feel safer and more secure. It’s important for everyone to have a sense of belonging to a community.

There’s a great [PDF] read about multiculturalism, comparing the old “melting pot” theory to the new “mosaic” concept at

Photo by Gloria Pitzer – Algonac, MI (May 1967)


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 56)


At the time all of this was taking place, we were living on Pointe Tremble Road in Clay Township, better known as Algonac, although we were not actually within the city limits. The Township was one of those areas that people didn’t really have any community pride in it that time. Down the road from us, however, was a six-square-block area called Pearl Beach. This part of the North Channel area, on the outskirts of Algonac, had played a historical part in the colorful development of that part of Clay Township and of Michigan.

In the 1920s, rumrunners and bootleggers ran their booze by small boats from the shores of Pearl Beach to Harsens Island and then across to Canada. Down the road was the Chris-Craft plant where, during World War II, the PT boats were built. Chris Smith, who had founded the company, was quite a prominent member of the community.

The best part about Pearl Beach, however, is that it wasn’t a ‘legitimate city’. It was just an ‘area’, but Paul always promoted it as being the best place in the world to live, because it had no city politicians to contend with, no shopping center, no school system of its own and didn’t even have a police or fire department because they had never really needed one. Clay Township provided services of that nature to Pearl Beach.

One thing it DID have, though, that proved to be to our liking and benefit professionally… It did have a post office! The postmaster [at that time], Newt Aspenliter, even lived right next door to the post office. So, in keeping with the uniqueness of what I wanted to offer, I thought that coming from Pearl Beach would have more appeal to the public than anywhere else would.

1969 – Cheryl (Loli), Mom, me & Debi – Algonac, MI


Among other things, the month of October observes celebrations for three of the largest heritages in America’s (and Michigan’s) “melting pot” – that of the Italian, German, & Polish cultures. According to Michigan’s Diverse Ethnic Heritage this state is also home to large communities of all three of these heritages, plus many others! The auto industry in Michigan attracted a variety of immigrants, coming to live the “American dream”.

‘The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.’

According to the 1990 U.S. Census and, Detroit was home to the 7th largest population of Italian-Americans in the United States. As I mentioned earlier this month, Italian-American cuisine was always one of Mom’s favorite food areas to investigate – places like Olive Garden and Pizza Hut (for example) gave her many dishes from which to taste, test, and imitate.

Earlier this month, I also wrote about Michigan’s city of Frankenmuth, having the largest German-Heritage community in the state. It was always a favorite road trip of Mom and Dad’s, as well as for me and my husband, still.



Among other things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) is that it’s National Polish-American Heritage Month! This is another fabulous source of some really great food like bagels, paczki (filled donuts that have their own special day), rosol (chicken broth), golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls), pierogi (dumplings), bigos (hunter’s stew), potatoes and kielbasa (Polish sausage).

FYI: the Polish word ‘pierogi’ is already in plural form (for ‘pierog’).

Did you know that President Regan passed Resolution 577 in 1984, formally naming August as National Polish-American Heritage Month? A couple of years later, the commemorative month was changed to October so schools could participate in the celebratory events during the school year. October was also significant in the change, as it was the same month in which the first Polish settlers came to Jamestown, VA (in 1608).

According to, Polish-Americans are the second-largest Central European immigrant group in the U.S., following the Germans. Additionally, per the 2000 U.S. Census, Michigan was then home to the third largest Polish population in the States. New York was first and Illinois was the second largest.

However, per capita, Michigan actually had the largest Polish population; while its neighboring state, Wisconsin, had the second largest Polish population, per capita. The majority of Michigan’s Polish-American community is concentrated in Metro-Detroit’s tri-county area – namely Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. The city of Troy (in Oakland County) became the epicenter of the Polish population, in Michigan, after their migration from the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck.

The Polish community is the second largest ethnic group in Michigan and have been a significant part of the history of Detroit and the state of Michigan. The Detroit area’s large Polish community was, for many years, concentrated in Poletown and Hamtramck, two suburbs of Detroit. These Polish communities became vital centers of immigrant social life, with small businesses and professional organizations.

Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers. It became a predominantly Polish industrial town in 1914, when the Dodge Brothers automotive plant first opened. The Dodge plant offered significant employment opportunities for the surrounding community. By the 1970s, Hamtramck had grown to a 90% Polish-American population. The following recipe is from Mom’s “Original 200” collection – an imitation of Pineapple Bars like she used to get at one of the great Hamtramck bakeries.


NOTE: Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!


Paczki Day (pronounced ‘poonch-kee’) – also known as Fat Tuesday – is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. [By the way, like pierogi, paczki is already in its plural form.] The traditional reason for making paczki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by the household’s Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.

The Polish bakeries in Detroit’s tri-county area (and further, yet) are swarmed every year, as Michiganders seek out their annual dose of the high-calorie-and-fat paczki (donuts) in commemoration of this day, whether they’re Polish or not – or celebrate Lent or not.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61)


Toss a stone into the midst of a still, glassy pond. See the ripples begin to spiral around until the entire surface of the pond is but a series of rings, reaching toward every inch of the edge – without beginning, without end. Constructive behavior works the same way.

It touches individuals with inspired options, which in turn touches the community and even the world. Every little bit of good counts. It breaks down barriers. Like the rippling effect of the pond, one good intention carried out can increase in dimension to eventually encompass the broadest surface.

Whenever our best intentions are carried out for the good of all concerned, only good can result. How could good possibly produce something bad? It’s often just the still small voice of wisdom that turns us in the right direction. When it does, how silly it is of us to give credit to coincidence or chance. The purpose of something good is, of course, to bless, to enrich and to comfort and why, then, does even knowing this makes so many folks feel uncomfortable?

Having more doesn’t necessarily make us better-off, and most people limit their definition of good to an increase in more THINGS. Sometimes the good is not material, nor the least bit tangible, but instead is a feeling – a comforting and reassuring confidence – that, yes, everything can be all right, after all!


Today is National Pumpkin Day – in honor of that, here are two more of Mom’s “secret” recipes for Pumpkin Bread and Vanilla Glaze! As seen in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition; p. 158).


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

Today is my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on her “Good Neighbor” show at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and a few of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at so you can listen to it at your leisure!



…43 down, 9 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Significance Of The Pretzel

Happy Monday, everyone, and #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!


Still happening during this month of October is National Pretzel Month… Not to be confused with April’s National SOFT Pretzel Month, as October encompasses ALL pretzel styles and types.

Pretzels come in a multitude of ways – soft, hard, knotted, twisted, and straight, just to name some of the most common styles. For best flavor, soft pretzels should be eaten shortly after they’re made, while hard-baked pretzels have a long shelf-life.

Additionally, pretzel dough, itself, has captured the imagination of bakers, over the centuries; as it can be found in many different flavors, shapes and other forms – like bread, rolls and buns. Pretzels have had a long history and large influence on the American food industry. Supposedly, the pretzel is the oldest known snack food in America.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 264)

DRINKS AND SNACKS have given an unlikely edge to a suffering food industry that was never anticipated as being possibly successful. Potato chips, pretzels, dips and appetizers have been more than well-received by a public that the industry was once certain had tried everything they could have been offered and will probably not buy another new idea! How wrong!

Whenever a new snack item or beverage has been introduced to the public, it has been received with enthusiasm, until proven unworthy of patronage, because we have become an on-the-run generation of picky eaters.

Some just don’t want to get involved any longer with a big meal experience. Some don’t want to take the time to make the foods and then, serve them and, finally, clean up afterward. We look for snacks and beverages to serve our guests and to enjoy individually in our most private and leisurely moments.

FROM THE OFFERINGS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY have come some relatively good ideas, such as the baked potato chip product. Pretzels have gone from the 200-year-old tradition of hard and dry-baked to a soft, bread-like product, liberally sprinkled in salt and topped with prepared mustard and, as a fast food enterprise, has been one of the leading money-makers in the industry.

Historically, food has usually been a comfort source for most people, especially in a common response to stress and anxiety. Science has shown, time and again, that emotions and food are linked together. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” will often make you feel better, at least temporarily.

Pretzels are considered to be “comfort foods”, as these types of foods provide a nostalgic or sentimental value but have very little nutritional value, if any at all.

According to an article at, pretzels “had inherent religious associations [regarding the legend that it was first invented by Italian Monks in 610 A.D.], but they also came to be associated with Lent because they didn’t use eggs or dairy products, which were traditionally prohibited during the period of fasting and restriction.”


When German immigrants began settling in Pennsylvania, around 1710, they brought their pretzels and recipes with them. German home-bakers who lacked eggs or lard could still bake this relatively filling, concentrated “bread” with only three easy ingredients – flour, water, and salt.

According to an article I read at, on the pretzel’s history, here, in America: “In 1861, Julius Sturgis founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.” Continuing on, the article also said: “Sturgis also claimed credit for developing the first hard pretzels – or at least, for being the first to intentionally bake hard pretzels (rather than leave the soft ones in the oven too long by accident).”

There is another great article, also explaining some of the history and significance of the pretzel, by Carole Christman Koch at She claims, in her article, that “Pennsylvania is the center of pretzel production in the U.S., making 80 percent of the nation’s supply.”

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Michigan has a quite large population of German-Americans in Frankenmuth, where the German heritage emanates from all of the breweries, restaurants, bakeries, fudge/candy shops, cheese houses, and even the little souvenir stores. Frankenmuth’s Bavarian style pretzels are a classic Octoberfest snack, which are baked fresh, daily!

Mom was always a big fan of pretzels (in any form or fashion), as well as recipes with only a few ingredients! She was a firm believer that “three, four and five ingredient recipes that are totally reliable, are sufficient to satisfy even the most reluctant cook” – as she wrote in many of her editorials on “short-cut cookery”.

Additionally, Mom wrote that the short recipes, with which she enjoyed working, while quite basic, had endless options “for expanding each into fancier dishes or…different flavorings than [for which] the original [recipe] calls.” Below is Mom’s own 4-ingredient recipe for Soft Pretzels, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 274).


Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!


As seen in, the introduction of…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p. 2-3)


DEAR FRIEND, the cook who meets every culinary challenge with confidence is one to be admired. They set an example to follow – impossible as that may be! For those of us who react to most recipes with reluctance, however, cooking [and baking] is an experience we muddle through, without mastering any of the myriad facets of fancy fare!

We want reliable recipes – rather than cookbook complications! We want successful results, without ridiculous rules! We want simple procedures, without pitfalls, when we put our prescriptions into practice!…

The problem with most recipes is the awesome number of ingredients required. You [may] wonder, looking at a bowl of batter, ‘Did [I] put in four cups of flour – or did the phone ring just then and it was only three?’ Did you remember the salt and, if you didn’t, was it that important that you left it out – because somebody interrupted you at that point and your last memory of adding an ingredient was erased by the interruption!

Of course, the confident cook never worries about things like that. They forge ahead brilliantly, creating cuisine that would make you and I faint at the mere thought of trying it. And even when you and I DO finally achieve a success, we’re not sure it’s supposed to turn out that way – that easily – because our record of near-misses, far out-weigh our scores of success!

THE RELUCTANT COOK isn’t looking for absolute perfection! We want only to create the illusion that we can cope with culinary accomplishments, riding the surfboard of certainty over the sea of success!


No matter how wonderful a recipe is rated to be, no two people are going to have identical results with the same formula. This is enough to throw any reluctant cook into a tither – anticipating failure before you even pick up a spatula or get out the mixing bowls!

However, this fact should not come as a surprise to the experienced cook. Even experience in the kitchen has not been enough to relieve you of ALL reluctance! …No two dishes ever come out exactly alike… This is the option each cook has to take with every recipe. You always put a little more into the making of a dish than the recipe requires.


As seen in…

The Joy Of Not Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 109)


SOME COOKS WHO FIND JOY IN N-O-T COOKING – Anymore Than You Have To, don’t mind at all baking their own bread, biscuits, rolls, muffins and cakes. It’s a strange thing that baking is a kind of therapy for the same cooks who don’t like to pamper a roux, stir a sauce nor baste a roast.

Bread-baking gives one a sense of real accomplishment in the kitchen, especially when you can’t do other things well in the realm of creative cuisine. It’s hard to muff a muffin batter when you don’t even have to get out your electric mixer to put it together.

It’s gratifying to dig your knuckles into a pillow of yeast dough and work off your frustrations by kneading the dough into elasticity, suitable for yielding one heck-of-a good loaf of bread.

Among other food-related things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) are the following 10 “foodie” occasions, from one of my favorite sources –

National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, National Pork Month, National Sausage Month – as well as National Polish-American Heritage Month (another fabulous source of some really great “comfort foods” that I’ll write about next week)!



‘I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war’s fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy and ever-increasing enjoyment.’– M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf (1942).



In honor of tomorrow, being National Brandied Fruit Day, here is Mom’s “secret” recipe for Brandied Fruit… As seen in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes Al’ A Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 9).

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


Since Wednesday is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, here is a special repeat of Mom’s Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie! Enjoy!

Next Monday, will be my regular monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show; with host, Kathy Keene, at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and one or two of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at so you can listen to it at your leisure!



…42 down, 10 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Eating Better, Farm To Table

Happy Monday to all! Additionally, happy National Farmers Day! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you! #TGIM!


The “farm-to-table” process means that fresh, locally sourced food is sold to local consumers and restaurants. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutrients within 24 hours of being picked, so fresher produce is more nutritious and local is the freshest. For some really great suggestions on how to support your area’s local farmers, be sure to read 7 Ways to Support Local Farmers at


Along with National Farmers Day in the foodie world, October is also, among other things, Eat Better Eat Together Month! The consensus is that eating together, as a family, creates stronger bonds. Additionally, eating together supposedly helps to create more balanced and healthy food choices, as well.

Aside from the eating-together thing, I think that the one who plans the menu, as well as buying and preparing the food, is the one responsible for the healthy/unhealthy food choices at mealtime – whether it’s for one or two or a whole clan. It’s a great idea to celebrate eating right and having solid, old-fashioned, close-knit, family meals. But is there really any merit that eating together creates better eating habits and tighter family bonds?

Personally, I’ve found the opposite to be true! When my siblings and I were growing up, at home, we always ate dinner together, as a family; just like in the picture, below. Now, since Mom and Dad are both gone, we rarely ever talk to each other, let alone see each other.

On the other hand, my own children are closer than me and my siblings; but, other than holidays and birthdays, they only had family-sit-down-together-meals for about the first half of their childhoods. If I wasn’t working an afternoon shift somewhere, we were usually on the go, doing soccer or social activities.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s – Algonac, MI (1973)

When I was growing up, family-style meals weren’t just a few times a year, like on holidays and birthdays. Mom tried to make every meal a special occasion! Like typical families, we’d fill our plates and talk about our days, while we passed the serving dishes around.

We weren’t the Walton’s family or the Brady Bunch, by any means! ! We ate together because that’s when the meal was served. It wasn’t a restaurant that you could drop in on at any time and place an order for whatever you like… You ate what was made and when it was served or went hungry until the next meal.

But I can’t remember any of us willing to miss one of Mom’s meals. She would jokingly say otherwise, in her editorials; but even before Mom became famous as the Secret RecipesTM DetectiveTM, she was always a great cook! In addition, Mom CHOSE to make well-rounded meals that covered all the basic food groups, including dessert! That’s how she grew up and what she was taught by her mom.


As seen in…

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


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.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

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 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!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

There was a time, not very long ago, when the average family’s busy lifestyle usually made it difficult to eat a meal together, let alone a healthy one. The so-called experts advised challenged families that, to strengthen the family unit, they should make it a goal to eat at least one meal a day, together, as a group.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck! Suddenly, families were, more or less, confined together 24/7 – for all the meals and everything else in between too! Home suddenly became a hub for the office, school, gym, salon, cinema, eatery and so much more!

Peace of mind comes from being able to successfully deal with stress, which is more important than being able to escape from it – whether that escape is through food or some other source of comfort!

‘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)].

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.10)


Having a good attitude toward cooking, is the most positive way to approach the experience. Some folks really LOVE to cook, and they consequently do it well. But many of them can only turn out a handful of dishes perfectly and, therefore, limit their cooking practices, as well as their opportunities to eat foods that are unfamiliar to them.

Cooking is one of those skills that improve with practice, as does anything we undertake. But most of us are so conditioned to living in a world of instants that if a dish requires more of us than to add water – or to defrost and heat – we’re at a total loss in the kitchen!

Our life styles are changing more and more each day. We’re living in the age of fast food, instant coffee, Minute Rice, … one-step floor cleaners, quick breads, split-second decisions, rapid transit travel and planes that go 700-MPH – so why shouldn’t cooking be hurried along as well?

When you don’t really like to cook, it’s hard to imagine that it does have a positive side to the experience. Gourmets live to cook, while the rest of us cook to live – and just as often, would prefer it if we didn’t have to cook at all. This attitude toward getting the whole thing over with as soon as we can, is a reflection of the pride we fail to take in our accomplished dishes. When you thrive on compliments for your culinary skills it’s different.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

When you do not have a positive interest in good cooking practices, you, likewise, don’t expect your creations to warrant compliments. The best thing for you to do is start ‘small’ – working with only a few ingredients at a time, until you get the feeling of how certain foods go well together, what flavorings compliment them, the best way to present the food when you serve it, so that it looks even better than it will taste.

Long, complicated recipes that require numerous ingredients and pampering are not always as good as those dishes that require only a few ingredients and a short time to prepare. We have made the mistake of believing that ‘fast’ food is totally without merit, therefore cannot be wholesome, nutritious, nor worth the time and cost, but ‘fast’ can be good if it is properly prepared.

If true happiness is acquired through persistence and patience, it would be like the fable of the elderly Chinese profit who asked for a needle when none could be found. However, somebody offered him a crowbar and a file. He was pleased and assured his friends that it was only a matter of time before he could produce the needle he wanted. – Gloria Pitzer [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018; p. 304) 


Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!

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


Along with October being national Eat Better, Eat Together Month, it’s also Tackling Hunger Month.  In connection with those two month-long celebrations, the 2nd week of October is observed as National Food Bank Week.  Thus, I want to make a local shout out, here, to one of the Detroit area’s food banks, Gleaners!


I hear about this group all the time on our local news. They do such great things in so many communities! I heard about their wonderful program, Cooking Matters,  which is “a groundbreaking nutrition-education program that connects low-income individuals and families with food by teaching them how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget.” By the way, National Food Day is coming up on the 24th!


Part of what started Mom’s career as the Recipe DetectiveTM for Secret RecipesTM, was her keen ideas on how to make our family’s food budget stretch during the 1970s’ food crisis Mom started sharing some of her discoveries in the columns she syndicated. It had a snowball effect when she started imitating famous food products and dishes, at home – in her own kitchen, with what she had on hand in her pantry – because our family of seven couldn’t always afford those kind of eating-out treats…that’s how Mom developed her “Copycat Cookery” and “Eating Out at Home” concepts! More on those next week…


…41 down, 11 to go!

Happy #NationalCookbookMonth !

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Comfort In Food

Happy Monday and happy October! Additionally, #TGIM – because I always look forward to Mondays as they are my #52Chances a year,  in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!


While spring has sprung on the other side of the world, from us; here, in North America, October is welcoming fall in like no other month! Fall is probably my favorite time of year. The crisp cool nights and slightly-warm, sunny days are another reason to love these autumn months, along with the entertaining celebrations of the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays (my birthday falls in there, as well – lol!)

The trees are ablaze like the top of a rainbow, with various shades of yellow, orange and red. To represent the bottom of the rainbow, splashes of evergreen make these colors pop even more! And, if you’re near any one of Michigan’s gorgeous shorelines (especially when the sun is shining), there is a beautiful, azure blue that never ceases to amaze me. Even purple is represented and speckled throughout, by the many fall flowers that are in bloom! The beautiful color-changes of the Pure Michigan landscape is unbeaten in my book!

Michigan’s Lake Huron-Thumb Area Shoreline, along the M-25 state highway. Photo taken by Laura Emerich, October 2013.

There is something about autumn that makes many people yearn even more for their favorite high-calorie, high-carb, comfort foods. I surveyed some friends over the last few weeks, asking what their favorite comfort foods were; and here are the top 6 answers I received: (1) pizza, (2) potatoes, (3) chili, (4) macaroni and cheese, (5) fried chicken, and (6) chocolate brownies.

By the way, this week, the first week of October, celebrates National Chili Week, among other things. Thus I’d like to re-share, here, with you, Mom’s famous imitation for chili like the famous fast food chain, Wendy’s.



In fact, it is also National Do Something Nice Day! Therefore, I’ll re-share some more of Mom’s related, comfort food recipes throughout this blog post for the other 5 comfort foods listed above.

Comfort foods seem to have a nostalgic, sentimental value that soothes the soul, giving us comfort and peace in times of uncertainty, stress and anxiety. Different people have different go-to favorites. Mine is probably potatoes – baked, mashed, fried, boiled – any style! What is yours?

These cheesy potatoes (pictured below) were another family favorite of ours. It’s an imitation of one of Bill Knapp’s offerings from the 1970s – another one of Mom’s “Original 200” recipes collection.


These cooler days make it more inviting to turn on the oven and do some baking! Whether it’s homemade bread, cookies, pies, brownies, or something else; fresh baked goods are starting to fill our homes with pleasant aromas. The fall season adds scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and cloves to almost everything. Moreover, the fall month of October incites us to break out our cozy, warm sweaters, while making some belly-and-soul-satisfying, comfort foods.




December 5th will actually be the “official” celebration for National Comfort Food Day! Thus, you may be thinking: “But that’s two months away!” However, fall has arrived NOW and, as the days are getting shorter and colder – who isn’t already having warm thoughts about their favorite comfort foods? We don’t have to wait until December!

I’ve made Mom’s imitation for dime-store-style mac-and-cheese, like Woolworth once served, several times since fall began.  I recently shared this recipe for another really big, family favorite, comfort food in our household!

There’s a great article and slide show I’d like to recommend you see, called “America’s Best Comfort Foods”, by Emma Sloley (Nov. 28, 2016), at But I must warn you that it’s practically impossible to read/watch it without getting hungry!



The whole month of October is also celebrating National German-American Heritage Month, among other things. In fact, tomorrow, specifically, (October 6th) is National German-American Day. A lot of great comfort foods come from our German-American ancestors! That’s probably why Frankenmuth, MI is a favorite road trip of mine and my husband, as it was for Mom and Dad, too.


Frankenmuth, Michigan is a city that has been world-famous, for many decades, for their family-style, sit-down, fried chicken dinners with all the side-fixings! Talk about comfort foods – they serve them all and then some! Since fried chicken was mentioned among the top favorite comfort foods (above), here is a re-share of Mom’s imitation for Frankenmuth’s homestyle, fried chicken “like Grandma used to make!”

This wonderful little town is not too far from us for a day trip. It’s located near Saginaw, MI; from where one of Mom’s favorite, regular radio shows still airs – “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio. Tourists flock to this little German-heritage town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get the world-famous chicken dinners offered at either one of the two largest establishments in town – the Bavarian Inn and Zender’s.

The town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, bakeries, fudge shops, hotels, breweries and other quaint little stores that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland (which is all Christmas, all year) to the Frankenmuth Brewery!

Over the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes as “The Recipe DetectiveTM”, she came up with about a dozen great imitations from the Frankenmuth establishments; including some of the famous restaurant dishes available at the two major restaurants mentioned above, as well as some bakery and confection offerings, from the local bakeries and fudge shops.

October is also National Italian-American Heritage Month – another source for great comfort foods like pizza and pasta. Likewise, it is also National Pasta Month & National Pizza Month! Below is Mom’s imitation of for pizza like Little Caesar, served decades ago, in the Detroit area – as this was also among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes.


‘Food is more than a physical substance. It has an intangible quality that nourishes our spirits. A good dish, lovingly prepared, at some point in the process of tasting and blending, becomes more than the sum of its ingredients.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out at Home Cookbook (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 1)


This year, more than ever, most of us are dealing with an overload of stress and anxiety. Food tends to be one of the few things that comfort us in trying times. That’s probably why the kitchen is, more often than not, considered one the favorite rooms in the house – the heart of the home, even.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (05/07/1990)


As seen in…

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


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.


As seen in…

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


THE KITCHEN IS THE HEART of our home! It is inelegant to the last detail. But no workable, useable kitchen, one that truly produces the hearty fare to feed the famished affections of a family, should be more than that. Ours is ample.

Only the fantasy fabrications of glossy paged magazines have kitchens that gleam, where cupboards shine, sinks are spotless, refrigerators are free of family condiments, accumulations, papers, notes and such. I personally enjoy my kitchen in our St. Clair home…

And you know what? It was designed by a woman. The builder’s wife designed this home 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 [seemingly] for us, without ever having met us.

…I realize that I will probably offend the liberationists who work 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, families and especially their kitchens!

As sexist as this may sound – for me, my mom, both of my grandmas and most of my aunts; cooking (whether it was for our families or friends or both) is something we enjoy doing for others. It’s one of the best ways we can say, without any words, “I love you” or “welcome” to those with whom we share our tables.



As seen in…

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


We cannot lose sight of our need to care about each other, to strengthen our values and live by that yardstick. Then wringing our hands with worry when the world seems to be in a state of chaos won’t send us running for synthetic comforts, escapes and restitutions that spell out getting even, rather than going forward. And it was the going forward that I worked on so much in those early days, none of which had to do with ‘getting the money’ or having the fame, the glitter and tinsel that goes with recognition.

All I could strive for then, and still do now, is the consistency of purpose, the honesty in presentation and freshness of the ideas – whether in the form of a recipe to imitate a famous food, or as an uplifting article on how to better understand your real selfhood and your relationship to others.


October is also National Cookbook Month!



In honor of today, also being National Apple Betty Day and this being National Apple Month, here is Mom’s recipe for imitating an Apple Betty dessert like Stouffer’s Restaurant used to offer many decades ago.

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 1)

As Mom always liked to say, “Happy sleuthing in the kitchen!” Furthermore, may the table you set, always pale in comparison to the example you set!

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


This week, the first week of October, is also known as National Newspaper Week! I mention that, in relation to food, because newspapers were the cornerstone on which Mom first began to build what eventually became her Secret RecipesTM legacy.


…40 down, 12 to go!