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 !

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