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
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES
As seen in…
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-Radio in 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!
In honor of February’s Great American Pies Month and National Bake for Family Fun Month [see another baking recipe further below, too], here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for Strawberry Pie, like that of New York’s famous Lindy’s; as seen on page 29 of her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997)!
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
According to NationalDayCalendar.com, some other February month-long, national celebrations that are still going on this week include: Black History Month, National Snack Food Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, & Canned Food Month.
Additionally, other celebrations for this week include:
Today is the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week and National Invasive Species Awareness Week. It is also National California Day, National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, and National Margarita Day!
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).
Wednesday is National Tortilla Chip Day!
Thursday is National Chocolate Covered Nut Day, National Clam Chowder Day, National Toast Day, and National Chili Day! In honor of which, below is a re-share of Mom’s famous imitation for “Wednesday’s Chili”…
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!
…8 down and 44 to go!