Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Gardening For Health & Groceries

Happy Monday and happy June! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!





Since yesterday was the first Sunday in June, this is National Gardening Week! In fact, today’s also National Gardening Exercise Day! Plus, since gardening is usually done outdoors, I also wanted to point out that it’s National Great Outdoors Month, too! That’s a win-win-win! It’s like a “hat trick” for gardening!

With the rising costs of groceries and the continued broken links in supply chains, many people have started growing some of their own food. Others have also taken up raising chickens, fishing, and hunting to supplement the rising costs of eggs and meat, as well. You could say that homesteading has found a new regeneration, especially in the last few years!

There are so many groceries you can make at home, from the garden to the kitchen. First, plant the seeds; then you also have to weed, mulch, compost, water, and repeat until harvest time. However, the editors of Publications International, Ltd. claim in their article, 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn (as seen on, that two hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more!

Gardening is very healthy in more ways than one! There’s the obvious nutritional value from growing your own food. In addition, it provides a lot of essential Vitamin D; since, as I mentioned earlier, it’s mostly an outdoor activity, where the sunshine is a natural source for Vitamin D!

According to an infographic, 6 Wonderful Health Benefits of Gardening, on, gardening also strengthens the immune system, relieves stress and elevates happiness; providing a physical workout, stimulating the brain and encouraging a healthier diet! No broken links in that supply chain of winning benefits to gardening!

Mom had a raised garden bed, when we lived in Algonac, about 8-ft square. I remember helping her plant strawberries, pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers! I also recall picking rhubarb, apples and pears (from our little orchard and along our driveway) for her pie and cobbler recipes.

During the first couple years of writing and self-publishing her newsletter, Mom included gardening tips each month. Eventually that went to the wayside, along with some other “segments”, to make room for more “secret recipes”. As Mom’s recipe business grew in the mid-1970s, she had a lot less time to spend on a garden.

I enjoyed learning how to garden from Mom! I always loved harvesting the fruits and vegetables, from which she created so many wonderful dishes and desserts. Her strawberry-rhubarb pie was one of my favorites! [NOTE: There’s a copy of her sugar-free recipe near the end of this post.]

After we moved to St. Clair, she couldn’t devote anymore time to a garden again, but she did continue to, at least, have a couple of tomato plants in patio pots every spring to fall. Mom had a very green thumb with all the plants, in the house and the garden.

I think Mom picked up a lot of her gardening skills from Dad’s mom, who always had a wonderful tomato garden, when she lived on French Road in Detroit. Mom learned a lot about canning from her, too. I remember Mom always using coffee grounds and grounded egg shells in her gardens and patio pots to help her tomato plants flourish.

While most of Mom’s recipes focused on imitating fast food, junk food, and restaurant dishes at home; many covered duplicating convenience foods, grocery products and “extenders” at home, as well. She even published a collection of them in her cookbook, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979).

When Mom described that cookbook for advertisements, she said “this exceptional cookbook includes some basic principles of canning and freezing foods, as well as making your own mixes, sauces and seasonings for a great financial savings compared to buying them!”

She learned the basics from my Grandma Pitzer and continued learning on her own, through trial and error – and some advice from Better Homes & Gardens and other such magazines. Mom loved to save money on the family budget and, whenever she discovered such ways, she also loved to share her secrets!

I still save my coffe grounds and egg shells for my own garden. My Christmas deer, lawn ornaments (lights removed) are repurposed as “trellises”, during their off-seasons, for my vining cucumbers and summer squash – then I don’t have to worry about storing them!

People are regaining interest in growing and making their own food, as well as DIY health and beauty products. Many have started small, online business, especially in the past few years; selling their products from home to those who may not have the time or talents for making it, themselves.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; August 2000, Issue 215, p. ?)


MY OWN INSPIRATION to become a better cook than I was came originally from the two most important influences in my young life, my mother and my mother-in-law. From my mom I learned the elegant, artistic presentation of even the most humble leftovers and the joy of making any meal an occasion rather than a ritual.

From my mother-in-law, I learned (while we were living with Paul’s parents), the art of practical food preparations, preserving and canning techniques not always found in the popular cookbooks… How to make your own ingredients when you were out of something.

And so, by combining the lessons learned, from both women, I became an accomplished cook (and much against my better judgement)!

Since then, inspiration has come to me from various other sources, including the big, boring, generic cookbooks. These recipes are always a challenge to try and “Pitzerize”, condensing the lengthy number of ingredients into only a few and arrive at a similar result.

It’s something you will become accustomed to doing once you have used Secret RecipesTM for a while. Whatever requires, for instance, tomato sauce, vinegar, and a little sugar makes use of ketchup, instead – a good replacement of 3 ingredients. Likewise, others will occur to you as you continue to cook. If inspiration doesn’t come to you immediately, give it time and, with practice, I promise it will.


Now’s a great time for getting outdoors and gardening! The weather is getting nicer, and the daylight hours are getting longer. If you don’t have your own garden, or room for one, you can plant a few seeds in patio planters; or check your area for a community garden, in which to participate!

When planting vegetables, some seeds are better to start indoors, like tomatoes, peppers, cauliflower, and broccoli. After 6-8 weeks of growth, the “seedlings” can be transplanted in the garden, when the weather conditions are more optimum for your planting zone.

Some seedlings don’t transplant well and should be sown right into the ground when weather allows. Examples include corn, beans, and peas. Cover them at night, with a sheet, if frost conditions are possible.


In honor of TODAY, being National Applesauce Cake Day, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for “Applesauce Cake”; as seen her self-published cookbook – Eating Out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; September 1978, p. 32).


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


Some of June’s observances include… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Candy Month, National Camping Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Soul Food Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!

Today is also… National D-Day and National Drive-In Movie Day!

June 7th, is… National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, National VCR Day, and National Oklahoma Day!

June 8th, is… National Best Friends Day and National Upsy Daisy Day!

June 9th, is… National Donald Duck Day and National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day! Here’s Mom’s secret recipes for [Sugar-Free Strawberry] Rhubarb Pie AND [Sugar-Free] Strawberry Jam & Ice Cream Topping; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar-Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, pp. 6 & 10).


June 10th, is… National Egg Roll Day, National Ballpoint Pen Day, National Iced Tea Day, National Black Cow Day, and National Herbs and Spices Day – here’s Mom recipe for imitating “the Colonel’s”, as seen in her last book – Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – Best Of The Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 90)!


Oven Fried Kentucky-Style Chicken – available on this website, in the “Recipes” tab. HUNDREDS more recipes in…


June 11th, is… National Making Life Beautiful Day, National Corn on the Cob Day, and National German Chocolate Cake Day! Plus, as the second Saturday in June, it’s also… National Rosé Day!

June 12th, is… National Red Rose Day [it’s also National Rose Month], National Jerky Day, National Peanut Butter Cookie Day, and National Loving Day! Plus, as the second Sunday in June (for 2022), it’s also… National Children’s Day!


…23 down and 29 to go!

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