Happy Monday to all! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you! And the last Monday of each month has become extra special to me ever since last April, when I started getting together with Kathy Keene, host of the “Good Neighbor” show on WHBY (Appleton, WI) and reminiscing about Mom, who was a regular on Kathy’s show, once a month, for almost 13 years, from June 1992 through December 2005.
Today, around 11:08am CDST/12:08pm EDST, I will be reminiscing about Mom, once again, with Kathy Keene, during the first part of her “Good Neighbor” show! You can listen to it live or later at WHBY.com!
[***CORRECTION: (ABOVE) RESCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, THE 25TH – SAME TIME…]
Times were tough back in the early 1970s, when Mom decided to leave her job at the paper to start her own newsletter – and not just for our family. Mom wanted to share all the ways she found to save money, especially with her own growing family of seven, through her “eating out at home” ideas. Mom always knew who her target audience was for her “copycat cookery” crusade and where to find them!
While other forms of media were great, too, radio turned out to be the most solid cornerstone in the building of the success of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM business. The public loved her “new idea” [at least is was at that time] for making your own fast food, junk food and other coveted food favorites right at home, easily, and at less cost.
Right from the start, Mom and radio formed a seemingly natural friendship. The people she got to know through her regular radio visits across the country and internationally became like a second family to Mom. She wrote about them often in her books and newsletters. Mom’s radio visits always made her day shine, even when the skies were grey.
Many of the people with whom Mom worked in that industry said she had a great “radio voice”. While, Mom had also appeared on some pretty famous TV “talk” shows, over the years, she really felt more “at home” when she was being interviewed on radio talk shows. She also found the audiences of the radio talk shows she was on to be the most positive and receptive audiences of all!
Over the decades, Mom received a lot of “fan mail” and requests from all around the world. The radio shows’ audiences, to whom she often spoke, asked for a wide array of recipes for recreating their favorite restaurant and grocery store products. Even after 40 years [1974-2014], as the food industry evolved, there were always more, new and interesting challenges for Mom to conquer.
‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’― Theodore Roosevelt
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)
BOB ALLISON’S “ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR” [SHOW] – HI, NEIGHBOR!
One of the nicest things about being a writer is that you can work at home. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, as soon as my kids were out the door to the school bus, I set up my $39.95 Smith Corona portable typewriter at the kitchen table, where I was one step away from the stove, refrigerator and recipes I was curious to test and write about.
The view from the kitchen table included the front yard and the North Channel of the St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway to everyone else) – the riverside was [called] the front yard and the roadside was the back yard. The old house had its faults, I’ll grant you, but nobody could refuse a view like we had, living on the banks of that river!
There was always something going on outside, sufficient to inspire a feeling of well-being, which every writer must have to do their job well. In keeping with “write about what you know best”, I could put every economical recipe I used to feed my family of seven to good use, sharing the Secrets with others.
One of my addictions in those days was a daily recipe radio show called Ask Your Neighbor, hosted by Bob Allison over the WWJ-Detroit radio airwaves. He always opened his two-hour show by saying, “if you have a household problem you cannot solve, then call… (and he’d give a phone number) …and ask your neighbor!”
I called him frequently with answers to his other listeners’ recipe questions, until I became “a regular” on the show. With Bob’s generous help in mentioning my monthly newsletter, my subscriptions began to climb to 300, and 400. I was finally showing a profit! That gave my husband, Paul, some relief from his skepticism that I would eventually outgrow my obsession with writing.
From Bob Allison’s listeners alone, Paul and I had received over 1000 letters in one day! …It is as much a thrill for me today, to hear somebody on Bob’s Ask Your Neighbor show request that “Gloria, The Secret Recipe Detective” try to duplicate a recipe, as it was for me decades ago when it all began.
‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ – Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)
Mom wrote and self-published hundreds of newsletters and at least 40 books filled with not only thousands of her own “secret” recipe imitations, but also with her humorous stories and anecdotes, helpful kitchen and household tips, as well as some history or background information about many of the companies and products she imitated.
Mom really knew how take the monotony out of meal time! She designed her books and newsletters much like patchwork quilts, with a piece of this and a piece of that; offering a variety of things that might interest her readers. She intended them to be as much coffee-table or bedside-table reads as they were recipe collections for the kitchen.
There were no other books or newsletters on the market (in the 1970s) that were offering what Mom did! Her compositions stood out and captured a lot of attention that spread like wildfire! It was a perfect storm – from the unique layout and subject matter of her books and newsletters to the media exposure she got – mostly through radio but also via newspapers, magazines and TV – bringing about Mom’s fame as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM of the food industry.
I’m still working on a time line that spans about 35-40 years, of all of Mom’s radio and TV appearances, as well as newspaper and magazine interviews. I will eventually be adding this timeline to TheRecipeDetective.com website’s “Media Friends” tab. I’ve been gathering the information through my copies of her many books, newsletters and other works.
I’m also continuing to work on a “Master Index” of Mom’s complete recipe collection and am updating the “Recipes” tab with Mom’s imitations that I’ve shared in my blog posts.
‘The experiences we have encountered in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio [and television] broadcasting and newspaper [and magazine] exposure… I have met some of the nicest people in the world, some of the most generous people who want to share their good ideas with me as much as I want to share mine with them. Of these good people, I will speak often and lovingly.’– Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)]
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. 75)
THE CHALLENGE TO INSPIRE
WE EMBRACE THE challenge to inspire… 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 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.
When the publishers initially rejected Mom’s creative offerings because they weren’t the picturesque, routine and monotonous cookbooks, which they thought the public wanted; Mom was only more determined to publish them, herself! After all, she was part of the public too – and these were the kind of books she wanted!
When you think about it, writing and publishing are only minor steps in the whole “book process” compared to marketing; which is probably an author’s biggest challenge because it involves so much more personal time and effort. For Mom, it was a labor of love!
To say, “Mom really enjoyed her promotional schedule of radio talk shows after each of her cookbooks (and newsletter issues) ‘premiered’,” would be an understatement! For Mom, her radio “visits” across the country, even internationally, felt more like having an “after party”, over and over again!
Like any proud mom, she loved to talk about her babies (the recipes, newsletters and cookbooks)! In fact, Mom’s relationships with radio talk shows and their hosts went on for more than 32 additional years, when she was eventually forced to fully retire for health reasons.
As I’ve mentioned in previously, Mom briefly ventured into TV talk shows for some of her cookbook promotions – most notably were the two times that she was on the Phil Donahue Show (in 1981 and 1993). Regardless, Mom always felt more at home on the radio. I suppose that’s in part because she was actually at home, doing most of her radio roundtables by phone, from her kitchen and/or office (in the next room).
Mom was a natural at marketing herself, her talents and her products. Maybe it stemmed from her own upbringing, as both of her parents were realtors. I may have inherited Mom’s loves for writing, art and creativity in general; but I’m definitely lacking in her confidence and marketing talents!
‘It is as much a thrill for me, today, to hear somebody… request that ‘Gloria, The Secret Recipe Detective’ try to duplicate a recipe, as it was for me a decade ago when it all began.’ – Gloria Pitzer (May 1982)
[*NOTE: That thrill continued to remain with Mom, for many more decades, until she passed away in January 2018.]
Mom often wrote about her radio visits in her numerous books and newsletters – even including her up-coming radio schedules in her newsletter issues, so that her readers in those areas could tune in. Nowadays, you can “tune in” to just about any show, from anywhere, via the internet!
On one of the very first pages of Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018), which I helped her to rewrite for the new digital generation from her favorite, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983), is a “thank you list”, dedicated to radio stations, talk show hosts, and others with whom Mom worked.
They significantly contributed to the first decade of the growing success of Mom’s Secret RecipesTM business. Incidentally, Mom’s relationships with radio talk shows and their hosts went on for more than 32 additional years, when she was basically forced to give it up for health reasons. Nonetheless, like family, she kept in touch with many of them; even after her “retirement” in 2014.
I must say, the internet is an awesome source of information and archives in which to find some of Mom’s old No Laughing Matter columns; as well as her old cookbooks that have been out of print for years.
Some of her old books can still be found for sale on Amazon and eBay (sometimes for ridiculously high prices, because they’re no longer in print). As well as her last book that was published by Balboa Press in January 2018.
Unfortunately, on the flip side of that coin, because of all the information that can be found on the internet in just a few key words, those kind of call-in talk shows that Mom used to frequent, are now going to the wayside, like the old drive-in movie theaters.
I have heard from quite a few people, since starting these blogs (September 2018), who’ve told me that they still have copies of Mom’s books and newsletters and how special they remain to them. I pour through my copies all the time for inspiration for, both, cooking and writing!
I recently reminisced with another of Mom’s friends in radio, Art Lewis, who hosted the “Listen to the Mrs.” program, along with co-host, Sue Smith, on WSGW-Radioin Saginaw, MI – which, until a couple of years ago, had been on the air since 1952.
Art mentioned how he loved to kiddingly tease Mom about the oven in her and Dad’s RV, which sparkled like new – because she never used it! I would love to hear from you, as well! Please write to me at [email protected] or contact me on Facebook (@TheRecipeDetective) with YOUR memories of my mom!
Tuesday is National Dog Biscuit Day and National Banana Bread Day! In honor of which, below is an imitation for Banana Bread Like The Grand Hotel’s that I helped Mom develop, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best Of The Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 182).
Feel free to click on any of these links (above) – THEY ARE NOT ADS (except for Mom’s last cookbook), just information Mom would’ve found interesting, too – because she advocated to learn something new every day!
There’s an amazing alliance, all around the world, whose intent it is to basically evolve society for the better through DAILY Random Acts Of Kindness. Their website, by the same name, promotes making random acts of kindness “the norm” and offers a lot of great stories and other inspirations about different ways to spread kindness throughout the week – but, please, don’t stop there!
There are many, eminent, positive, health benefits in relation to kindness for both, the givers and the receivers. For example, acts of kindness are recognized for making those involved happy and happiness is well-known to drive up energy, as well as self-esteem; which, in turn, is also good for the heart and, thereby, likely to help us live longer. You can read more about the health benefits of kindness at https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-of-kindness.
‘THE GREATEST WASTE in the world is the difference between what we are, and what we could be!’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 10)
As I’ve recommended in previous posts, WisdomQuotes.com offers many inspirations from which to choose at least one idea a day to implement throughout the whole year! I think we should all make a new resolution to be more kind, on a DAILY basis.
It’s been said many times over that practice makes perfect. Practice also creates habits that will, in turn, hopefully, become our “new norm”. I’ve heard that habits take about a week to form, therefore, I want to recommend, once again, Chrystle Fiedler’s challenge in “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.’
This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 30)
MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY
Have you ever had your day suddenly turn sunshiny because of a cheerful word? Have you ever wondered if this could be the same world because someone had been unexpectedly kind to you. You can make today [that way] for somebody! It’s only a question of a little imagination, a little time and trouble. Think now, ‘What can I do today, to make someone happy?’
IS A SINGLE HEART REJOICING over what you did or said?
Does the one whose hopes were fading, now with courage, look ahead?
Do you waste the day or lose it? Was it well or sorely spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber, do you think that God will say,
‘You have earned one more tomorrow, by the work you did today’?
Between the thousands of recipes in her self-published cookbooks and newsletters, Mom always placed many of her own Food-for-Thought editorials, bits of wisdom, and food-for-the-soul inspirations; all written with a great love and passion for helping and informing her readers – whether requested by them or just something she came upon and thought it might be of interest to them. I try to do the same when I write.
‘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, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 17)
Mom was a really big advocate for being kind to and loving others. She would often question why we all couldn’t just get along, as “we’re all God’s children”, she would say. To myself (NEVER out loud), I would often sarcastically whisper, in reply: “Wouldn’t that be sibling rivalry then?”
Mom really tried to be a positive example, lifting up others through her writings – from her food-for-thought columns (throughout the 1960s and 1970s) that were syndicated to multiple magazines and newspapers across the country to her hundreds of self-published newsletters (January 1974 through December 2000) and MANY DOZENS of cookbooks (1973- 2018).
Mom even wrote a few books dedicated strictly to her food-for-thought and inspirational ideas. Throughout, Mom would always emphasize the importance of really caring about each other, being kind and loving. She held a strong faith in Love and all the things it could overcome and yield. Mom would often inter-changed the word “Love” with “God”.
‘…Probably nothing that you couldn’t [or wouldn’t] attempt, now, without a reasonable chance of success. But, by removing the risk you might attempt things that were a bit more daring or slightly more challenging.’ – Gloria Pitzer
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 14)
As a man grows older he reads more of the ‘Book of Experience’ and less of the pages of ‘Prophecy’. He thinks more of the real worth of folk, and less of their shortcomings. He boasts less and boosts more. He concludes that snobbery is a confession of inferiority, and kindly consideration of others is the hallmark of the only aristocracy worth mentioning.
He hurries less and usually accomplishes more. He comes to realize that age is but a state of mind and that the greatest reward that one can win is the respect, understanding and love of his fellow man. [As Aldous Huxley said:] ‘The most valuable of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it has to be done, whether you like it or not.’
‘Success is not in never failing but in never fearing to begin again!’ – Gloria Pitzer
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 24)
DOING SOMETHING NICE
Don’t expect the world to think you’re wonderful just because you do something ‘good’ – for someone else! Good people do good things all of the time – everyday, and no one pats them on the back for it. You have to do good – not for what others are going to think of you, but what you’re going to think of yourself!
If you get a kick out of doing something good for somebody… do it! But don’t expect any rewards or special recognition for having gone out of your way. Every once in a while you may be complimented for something good that you’ve done, and that’s very nice.
But most of the time, whatever you do is to make yourself feel better about what has to be done, or what should be done! It’s not a matter of conscience, but of compassion. Either you have it, or you don’t!
‘My favorite daily newspaper in Boston has the slogan, ‘to bless all mankind and injure no man’. That is how I would want to write my own publications.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 86)
Besides happy and healthy, kindness is also known to help others feel valued. Thus, showing even the smallest amount of kindness can go a really long way. Like the Greek storyteller, Aesop, once said: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” In other words, a culture of kindness can have a positive ripple effect; inspiring others to pay it forward, in the same fashion.
Being kind and compassionate should happen every day! After all, weren’t we taught to be good and kind since we were toddlers in Kindergarten, or even earlier? Why do we seem to forget that important lesson as we get older?
According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum (the author) “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children, i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living ‘a balanced life’ of work, play, and learning.”
As I previously wrote about, in November, kindness is truly an essential part of society, bridging the divides of race, religion, gender, and other such things – even politics. This is an excellent week to celebrate kindness, considering all of the political upheaval still going on in our country. It’s still needed more than ever, as divided we fall but united we stand!
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matt. 7:12) is considered the elementary “Golden Rule”, by which we all should live. According to Wikipedia, the name came about “because there is ‘value’ in having this kind of respect and caring attitude for one another.”
As I wrote in one of my blog posts, “TheGolden Rule”, it’s a basic, moral principle for society to adopt and employ, encouraging everyone to treat each other with kindness and respect, for that’s how we should want to be treated, as well! It’s a simple and reasonable guiding principle, by which to live, everyday!
‘I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 8)
In so many ways, Mom and Dad, both, set good examples for me to follow. I’m proud to do the same, setting a good example for my children to follow; and I can only hope that that they will continue the tradition, as well, making kindness their daily norm.
The giving of the best of ourselves should be done without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude! It is through acts of kindness and giving from our hearts that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE!
Like a smile, a random act of kindness – just because – can be contagious. But, unlike the coronavirus, that’s a good thing. Plant the seed, every day, and watch kindness grow wild!
‘Greatness is measured by kindness – education and intellect, by modesty – ignorance is betrayed by suspicion and prejudices – real worth is measured by consideration and tolerance of others.’ – B.C. Forbes
EVEN 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!
‘Friends are a treasure and when we count our blessings we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered.’ – Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 100)
Thus, in honor, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for Milwaukee Cheese Soup; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 71)
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Yesterday was, among other things, the start of Freelance Writers Appreciation Week. It’s one of those special, week long “chances” we get (each year) to be grateful for writers! I’m a big fan of reading so I’m very grateful for the creative talents of writers, producing works that are inspirational, educational, informational, entertaining, thought-provoking, and so much more.
I consider myself to be a writer but not a freelancer, as I don’t make any money from my writings or this blog. Freelance, per Dictionary.com, means “selling [one’s] work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.”
In fact, even the links that I incorporate into my blog posts are not ads and I don’t receive money (or anything else) for anyone clicking on them. I include them merely because I find their subject matter to be relative and current, as well as at least one or more of the adjectives I listed above. Simple as that!
Mom started her career in freelance writing when she was a young teen. What began as winning essay writings for various contests turned into food-for-thought columns that she syndicated to various newspapers and magazines as a young adult. Writing, you could say, was always in Mom’s blood.
As I wrote in my introduction picture, I started this blog (and continue it) to raise awareness of Mom’s trailblazing talents in the food industry, as the ORIGINAL creator of copycat cookery; but also for the wonderful legacy that she left all of us through her own freelanced, syndicated, and self-published writings.
Mom wasn’t just the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM, who investigated and developed (in her own kitchen) imitations of popular restaurant dishes, fast food items, pantry-shelf products, and more. Mom also filled all of her books and newsletters with just about as much food-for-thought editorials and food-for-the-soul inspirations as she did food-for-the-table recipes and kitchen tips.
Mom always wanted her creations to be just as much at home on the living room coffee table or even 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!
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. 22)
JOURNALISM IS a peculiar profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since 1954]. I’ve worked among writers who wrote to live, while the rest of us lived to write. We had to communicate to reach out to someone with ideas, with thoughts, with reasonings and [remembrances].
Somehow, we had to make a difference, touching others with some good – like the single stone tossed into the still waters of a shimmering pond, the ripples begin, as they always do, where the stone touched the water’s surface and responded around and around, until the widest circle touched the grassy edge [of the shore], again and again.
While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire – not if they are truly writers. Editors retire. [Even] reporters retire from their work at some given point. But old writers never die, they just run out of words.
[Unfortunately, Mom ran out of words on January 21, 2018. But her legacy will always live on!]
The pros and cons of freelancing can be limitless, depending on so many different factors for different people. Freedom, control, flexibility, and independence are just some of the possible perks that attract freelancers. However, there’s always an “on-the-other-hand” side to that coin too.
No paid benefits (like vacation, personal, or sick times; nor, employer “sponsored”, health insurance), a lack of job security, “client” development, and unstable/sporadic work opportunities are just some of the disadvantages that weigh heavy on a struggling freelancer.
Thus, it takes a lot of courage to devote one’s talents (in more ways than one), to succeed as a freelancer – whether it’s part-time or full-time. Either way, you have to be able to put yourself out there, selling you and your “brand” just as much as your creations.
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 86)
HOW I CAME TO KNOW WRITING LAYOUTS & PUBLISHING SKILLS
I WALKED INTO THE OFFICE [of the Roseville Community Enterprise], kids in tow, and John [McPartlin] asked, ‘what can I do for you?’ To that I replied, ‘it’s what I can do for YOU. I’m here to apply for the job of suburban correspondent.’
He said there had to be some mistake, for they were not looking for one. I told him I realize they were not looking for one, but nonetheless, they did NEED one, and I was prepared to provide them with good articles, reports on area municipal meetings and any other features they would require.
‘Inspiration doesn’t make appointments!’ – Gloria Pitzer
John was reluctant, I am sure, to give me the job, but the association did prove to be a very beneficial one for both of us. I learned to key line while working for him, which enables me to now lay out all of my own work, without the assistance of a ‘publisher’.
From my work with John, I also learned about advertising production and sales and proofreading, as well as typesetting with the IBM composer, the very machine that now sets the type of this page and all of our work, making it ‘camera-ready’.
The important lesson I learned, however, from working under John McPartlin was how to recognize a good story and how to write it properly. My favorite daily newspaper in Boston has the slogan, ‘to bless all mankind and injure no man’. That is how I would want to write my own publications.
I learned, among many things, that writers do labor for the love of their work, like a lot of people do, and they live with discipline and constant rejections, which ultimately will separate ‘the men from the boys’ in this profession. The gift is like a slave-master, and the writer must write no matter what else is neglected or sacrificed. So writers settle for rewards of recognition rather than financial security.
Security, to a serious writer, is an amplitude of ideas. Seniority means nothing. Effort and ability mean everything. Competition? There are approximately 400,000 professional writers today  with their articles or books in print, all clamoring for attention from a few thousand were the publications and book publishers. In my specific field, there are over 45,000 cookbooks on the market today . These are, both, collaborators and competitors.
‘A writer’s tools are ideas and ideas are funny little things that don’t work unless you do!’– Gloria Pitzer
A writer’s tools are ideas and ideas are funny little things that don’t work unless you do! Often, ideas come without an appointment – like at 2 o’clock in the morning, or in the middle of a pleasant lunch and a lovely restaurant. Then you pull out pen and paper and make notes because the ideas are fresh, and you cannot let yourself postpone the surge of inspiration you instinctively feel is touching you at that moment.
All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them but confront them. Touching this ultimately, and it pricks you; grasp it boldly, and its spines crumble. It goes back to basically the expectancy of good, which takes some thoughtful consideration. Despite overwhelming challenges, expectancy of goods sustains us, dissolves doubts, even impels a beneficial change in our thinking. Infinitely more than wishful thinking, it’s Divine Law in operation, governing each of us.
From the mimeograph machine that I hand cranked and inked, with every 200 copies, came the first pages of our newsletter and the first 200 recipes of favorite dishes from famous places. Actually, I added only a few recipe cards at the time to each of the early issues of the newsletter and these grew from 25 to 50 to 100, finally being concluded with 200 selections as of our February 1977 issue.
Those we offered through the newsletter and on 4 x 6 cards have never been published in one complete edition, so we now offer this collection to celebrate over 20 years of our continuous publication of our Secret RecipesTM. In most of these 200 recipes I’ve not had to alter the ingredients nor the technique but in some that had no regard for what is considered wholesome, I’ve made a few changes and improvements.
It never occurred to me that the dishes we were trying to imitate would not be of interest to a deserving family of readers, who simply wanted to enjoy dining-in as if they were dining out. From that day, in August 1976, when this recipe enterprise became this family’s only source of income, it was a welcomed challenge to be able to work at it, not as a job, but always is a joy.
People often question my ability to continue at it with untarnished enthusiasm and never having had to deal with what is called ‘writers block’. I can’t imagine a day when I am not writing and enjoying every moment of it. The 200 original secret recipes were only the beginning of what I felt would eventually become a well-described collection of worthy recipes. And it happened exactly that way.
Yesterday began the Great American Pizza Bake week (and Tuesday is National Pizza Day – see more below). In honor, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for Skillet Pizza; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 76).
Tuesday is National Pizza Day & National Bagel and Lox Day! The following recipe is a re-share of Mom’s imitation for pizza like Little Caesar’s (as seen in a number of her cookbooks and “free recipe offers”.)
There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football. Thus, in honor of both, Mom and Dad, I want to write a little about the colossal Super Bowl event that is only 6 days away, now. This year the big extravaganza is being held in Tampa Bay, FL.
And it just so happens that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFC champions, facing-off (at home) against the AFC’s champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a rare event when a city hosting the Super Bowl actually has their own team in the event, as the hosting cities are set years in advance. Therefore, Tampa Bay Floridians have been celebrating on a huge scale, as the NFC champions AND Super Bowl LV hosts!
Despite the pandemic that has been plaguing our country and the rest of the world for nearly a year – and continues to do so – parties are still being planned for the big event (even if on a smaller scale than usual), squares are being bought, bets are being placed and all the usual hype about the half-time show and “special” TV ads have already begun!
It seems that there’s always something to celebrate, every day of every year – even if it’s not an “official” holiday – and next Sunday is no exception! Football is not something Mom celebrated but Dad certainly did! Regardless, Mom did always like to entertain – especially with food and drinks – and almost any excuse for a “party” would do!
Over the past five and a half decades, the Super Bowl has evolved from a simple championship football game into a cultural phenomenon and an un-official holiday. How perfect that February is also National Snack Food Month, since the most popular Super Bowl party eats are from the snack foods category! At home, snacks are usually prepared from common pantry ingredients and don’t require a lot of preparation. They’re typically “finger-foods” intended to be convenient, easy, quick, and satisfying.
Whether packaged/processed or homemade, snacks are usually small portions of food that are generally eaten between meals and/or before bedtime. However, the category of snack foods (like the Super Bowl event, itself) has evolved from simple cookies, popcorn, pretzels, chips, dips, and the like to also include appetizers like pizza bites, chicken wings, nachos, fondues and deep-fried morsels of just about anything; as well as sliders!
[Below is a re-share of Mom’s famous imitation of sliders, like White Castle’s, who were one of the few corporations that took her imitation for what it was – a compliment – and approved, buying a bunch of her cookbooks to give to all of their company’s executives!]
Last year, according to an article at TheDailyMeal.com, The Most Popular Super Bowl Party Foods, Ranked [written by Carolyn Menyes (Jan. 13, 2020)], the #1 favorite snack food choice was chicken wings! Others that made the top 15 list in this article include sandwiches like subs, pulled pork, and sliders; as well as nachos, chili, pigs-in-blankets, potato skins, guacamole and a half-dozen others.
Another article, Ranking the Best Super Bowl Party Foods, from the staff at SI.com, lists 12 favorite Super Bowl snacks of their own – some not listed in the other article. A couple that I really liked were jalapeño poppers and crab dip. However, they were both in agreement with the #1 choice being wings!
Wikipedia.com claims that about “28 million pounds… of chips, 1.25 billion chicken wings, and 8 million pounds… of guacamole are consumed during Super [Bowl] Sunday”. I searched for Brady’s and Maholmes’ favorite Super Bowl snacks. It seems that Brady is a vegetarian and health nut, while Maholmes seems to like KC Barbeque (go figure).
If you’re a vegan, like Brady, check out Que’s Baked Cauliflower Wings! Que is from our Detroit area and often appears on our local Fox2 News show. This lady is awesome – and I’m not even vegan!
For your Super Bowl celebration (or any day for that matter), below is a repeat sharing of Mom’s imitation for Hot Wings like she had at one of our local Hooters’ restaurants many decades ago… followed by one of her satirical columns about football.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 301-302)
Originally from… “MINDING THE HEARTH” – a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer (circa 1970s)
I am resigned to my life with an armchair quarterback, for I know that the garlic in our matrimonial gladiola patch is PRO FOOTBALL! From September to March, every year, there is always going to be a gigantic communication gap in our house.
The art of conversation isn’t really lost. It’s merely hidden behind the pre-game warm-up, installing a power offense which will take advantage of decent, but not blinding, speed in the backfield in a right-handed attack with a lot of blocking in a size-out pass pattern.
I guess the reason I’ll never win an argument with my husband in the fall is that I can’t understand one single word he says. I even tried to leave him once during an NFL game, but it wasn’t until the Super Bowl was over (5 months later) that he even noticed I was gone.
I admit, I don’t know much about football, but I still insist it isn’t quite fair that the fellow who worked so hard last season, doing a terrific job as quarterback, wasn’t promoted to HALF-back this season! Anyway, the last time I tried to cultivate an interest in the game was the time my husband called me in to watch the last two minutes of an exciting game. (Mind you, I use the term ‘exciting’ very loosely!) I guess it was exciting.
Paul kept jumping up and down, hollering, ‘Look at them go!’ All I learned from that experience, was that two minutes of football is equal to 20 minutes of Daylight Savings Time. An ordinary Sunday afternoon at our house would begin as he slipped into his George Blanda sweatshirt and punted his bottle of Ironized Yeast Tablets across the room, then he would step up to the TV set and announce, ‘Gloria, is there anything you’d like to say to me before football season begins?’
Perhaps you understand why every fall I join ‘Parents Without Partners’. Because my husband would only notice me if I were to run through the living room with… a number on my back. I can forgive him a lot of faults, especially during football season, but… When he asked if I had anything to say to him before he turned on the set, it was no wonder I replied, ‘Do I have to say it all now?’
‘…You know better than to speak to me during an instant replay!’ he snapped.
‘All right,’ I screamed. ‘Why do you love football better than you love me?’
‘I don’t know,’ he said, scratching his head. ‘But I love you better than basketball! … Love you? Of course, I love you! That’s my job. I’m your husband! Besides, I love EVERYBODY!’
‘I suppose you’d like to have dinner in the living room, in front of the TV,’ I said tartly. ‘Or should I time it for the half-time extravaganza?’
‘Half-time will be fine. By the way,’ he asked, ‘what are we having for dinner?’
‘Film clips of last Sunday’s roast!’ [I answered.]
‘That’s not funny,’ he snapped. ‘I’m getting hungry!’
‘Good!’ I said bitterly. ‘Then the pre-dinner line-up includes whose off-sides that can set the table while I give you a slow-motion replay of how your son kicked the oven door while I was pampering a Boston butt-cuss (an illegal substitution for pork roast) and spelled out Billy Sims with 659 parsley flakes on a field of mashed potatoes.’
‘Okay,’ he chuckled. ‘I can take a joke as well as the next guy. But what are we really having for dinner?’ He asked.
[I answered.] ‘PICKLED PIGSKIN – that’s what!’
WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION IN MIND, you must now understand why it is that I have never written a book for women. I thought I did not have enough information to hold a woman’s interest for more than one or two chapters. But I do NOW, and I’m going to entitle it ‘EVERYTHING YOU NEVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT FOOTBALL – and were sorry you asked!’
Football season, the punt of no return, is that once-a-year experience that makes me wonder, as my husband sits, watching one game after the other on TV, why he hasn’t worn out HIS end zone! It’s my own fault. I tried to cultivate an interest in the game so that we could share something besides the absence of conversation between us on weekends from September through February.
But looking back, it seems that all we have been able to share, instead, is the compelling urge to see this season over with. I want to see it over with, so that we can be a family again, and my husband would like to see it over with, so that he can see how closely he came to determine the winning team at the Super Bowl!
My armchair quarterback keeps giving advice on every play. Every time this happens, I expect Tom Landry to stretch his arm right through our picture tube and point at my husband, insisting, ‘Hey, you – you with all the advice! Go in for Dupree!’
Mind you, this is the same man who has committed to perfect memory such statistics as how many touchdowns and yards run, his favorite player has mastered, but he can’t remember his own shirt size, where he left his car keys, our kids’ middle names, nor his mother’s telephone number!
But, at least, he is not as emotional over the game as some husbands I know. Just last weekend, I visited my friend while she was in traction in the hospital, bandaged from head-to-toes like an Egyptian mummy – while her apologetic husband leaned over her, explaining, ‘Honey, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times… NEVER walk in front of the TV during a 95-yard punt return!’
I SUPPOSE, ONE THING I CAN ALWAYS DO, while he watches television football games, is the grocery shopping. After all, somebody must! We can’t eat without groceries. While I have tried to train Paul for retirement, by trying to teach HIM how to shop for the food, I don’t believe he is ready, yet, for his ‘solo flight’ down the aisles of the A&P!
I’m the food-shopper with outstanding guilt-complex who is driven to [let]to poor souls with 4 items in their arms to go ahead of me – unless they’ve brought their lunch with them and are prepared to spend a month in line behind me, explaining the 3 carts of groceries to the person behind me who has never had feed a family of teenagers.
One must chance that while you are permitting all those nice people to pass you up with their one or two items more than the express line will allow, and YOUR ice cream is in a puddle on the floor under your cart that is being mopped up by a disgruntled stock boy! Things like this occasionally afford me the reputation of being recognized by butchers everywhere as, ‘Here comes that nut who always has to see the other side of the roast!’
Parties for Super Bowl Sunday typically involve large gatherings of friends and families, including those who aren’t even fans of the game. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the “Super Sunday” event (even during a continuing pandemic) always gives people a good excuse for getting together (if only in small, safe groups) to socialize, watch the big game and half-time show – and let’s not forget about the buffets of snacks, appetizers and sweets to consume (as well as the beer)!
The consensus seems to be that Super Bowl Sunday is America’s second biggest day of food consumption, next to Thanksgiving. Maybe that’s why half of the Super Bowl ads are usually food focused. One could say that the Super Bowl parties, themselves, have evolved into a food-fest competition! The top three contenders, for the past few years have been between chicken wings, pizza, and nachos.
I agree with what Jenna Helwig noted in her article (Feb. 5, 2016), You’ll Never Believe How Much Food We Eat On Super Bowl Sunday, on Parents.com, regarding the “second biggest day of food consumption”. Jenna argued that the “Super Bowl actually better reflects what most of us really WANT to eat: classic junk food. From chips and wings to nachos and beer, the Super Bowl is our excuse to just chow down and enjoy all the foods that we rarely eat or feel like we should eat the rest of the year. It should go without saying: There is no place for food guilt during the Super Bowl.”
In case you missed WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show last week, below is a link where you can listen to the recorded podcast of Kathy Keene and I, discussing Super Bowl snacks and some of Mom’s favorite Mexican-style appetizers from page 65 of her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018).