Today is, among other things, National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day! For many years, Mom loved to joke about being a kitchen klutz, herself. She always said, “If God had intended for me to cook, He’d have given me Teflon hands!” To me, she was a gourmet cook!
As I’ve mentioned many times, 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.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 306)
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
AFTERTHOUGHTS ON BETTER COOKERY
IF THE GOOD LORD HAD INTENDED for me to be a gourmet cook, I would’ve been born with Teflon hands! Don’t misunderstand – I like to cook! But I do not wish to spend more time in the preparations as is necessary.
No one appreciates good food as much as I do. Don’t ask me how I know – I just do. It does not concern me how a dish has been prepared, if it tastes great and looks good on the table! A gourmet cook would never agree with this philosophy. However, anyone can become a gourmet cook, that is, if that is what you wish.
All you need are numerous ingredients of good quality, a lot of time and patience and twice as much money – not to mention, and unblushing candor for admitting without modesty you are a ‘gourmet’ cook. This admission will intimidate many people just as easily as being faced with the admission that somebody is a terrific dancer, a great singer or an exceptional parent.
And while it is perfectly acceptable and not the least bit conceited to say one is a ‘gourmet’ cook, there is still a tendency to back off from them because you know how many failures you have experienced and how skilled you would like to be in the kitchen, if only you had the time and the energy – and a generous allowance with which to buy all the right ingredients.
‘BETTER COOKERY’ is my answer to the ‘gourmets’, who insist that ‘fast food’ tastes like cardboard – and, sometimes, the various menu selections really do! But there are many family-type restaurants within the division of the fast food industry that turn out exceptional meals for very reasonable prices, even giving senior citizens discounts and paying careful attention to how children are serviced.
When you’re a gourmet cook, you naturally have a throbbing desire to enjoy perfection with every dish, whether you’re preparing it, or someone else! To a gourmet cook, compliments go with the territory – failures don’t! They expect EVERY dish to be perfect enough to warrant a complement!
What can I say – Mom knew how take the monotony out of meal time! She designed her publishings like patchwork quilts, with a piece of this and a piece of that, sewn together with love, faith, and humor; offering a variety of things that would interest her readers. She intended them to be “coffee-table-reads” just as well as recipe collections for the kitchen.
There were no other cookbooks or newsletters on the market, back then, that offered what Mom did! Her compositions stood out and captured a lot of attention that spread like wildfire! It was a perfect storm – from the subject matter and unique layout to the media exposure she received – mostly through radio but also via newspapers, magazines and TV – all of which generated Mom’s reputation as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM of the American food industry.
Mom was greatly influenced by comedians and writers like Carol Burnett, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball. Other talented ladies who inspired Mom, include Erma Bombeck, Elsie Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer – just to name a handful.
In fact, a lot of the crafty format that Mom used in her newsletters and cookbooks was also influenced by her own favorite crafter, Carol Duvall; who, in the 1970s, had a “Craft Letter” (as she called it) and a 5 minute crafting segment on WDIV-TV (Channel 4, Detroit), called “Here’s Carol Duvall”. The two became fast friends.
That was long before Carol had moved from the Detroit area to Traverse City area, then on to ABC’s “Home” show in California (1988-1994); before she began hosting “The Carol Duvall Show” on HGTV (1994-2005), and prior to moving to the DIY network (2005-2009).
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. 119)
LUCK, as the critics said, really had nothing to do with our success, unless the definition of LUCK is when preparation and experience meet opportunity. That is, indeed, a blessing worth counting twice, also. However, I have learned from my very wise mother, whose advice was always inspiring and encouraging, that rather than count my BLESSINGS, I should carefully count my OPPORTUNITIES!
In my kitchen, where all of these famous recipes are developed and tested and prepared for publishing, I have one significant problem. The ‘Good Hands People’ are about to declare my kitchen an accident going someplace to happen! My sense of organization is not what Heloise would enthusiastically endorse. So, even when my cup runneth over and over and over, I can’t always find my mop!
It is with appreciation that, in spite of my lack of organization, Mary Ellen Pinkham, the famous household hints author, took an interest in our recipes just recently. I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me.
I am either in the kitchen, cooking up something for the next book [or] the next issue of the newsletter; or I’m writing about what I’ve been cooking – with time in between to do two, sometimes three, radio shows a day, on a regular basis, running anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. No two shows are ever alike – with the exception of the [wonderful] hospitality and warm response from the listeners.
I have had very few unhappy experiences on the air… Some of the highlights of these radio broadcasts will probably remind you of the first time you heard of me, through one of these shows, for this is where most of our family of readers have come…
And they continue to listen with as much enthusiasm and as many challenges [for me to decipher] today as they did the day I spoke to my first radio audience and became affectionately dubbed by them ‘The Recipe Detective’. I thank them!
Merriam-Webster.com says that gourmet is “of, relating to, or being high quality, expensive, or specialty food typically requiring elaborate and expert preparation” – but also, simply, as “one who takes pleasure in eating and drinking”; being a connoisseur in food and drink and the discriminating enjoyment of them. Mom agreed, in that…
In honor of June, being National Country Cooking Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Marie Calendar-Style Cornbread”; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 100).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
Some of this month’s observances include… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Candy Month, National Camping Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, and National Soul Food Month!
Tomorrow is… U.S. Army Birthday, National Strawberry Shortcake Day, National Bourbon Day, National New Mexico Day, and National Flag Day! Plus, Sunday began the week-long observance of… National Flag Week (12th-18th for 2022)!
Thursday, June 16th, is… National Fudge Day! Here’s Mom’s imitation of “Mackinac Island Light Fudge”!
June 17th, is… National Eat Your Vegetables Day, National Stewart’s Root Beer Day, National Apple Strudel Day, and National Cherry Tart Day! Plus, as the third Friday in June (for 2022), it’s also, National Take Back the Lunch Break Day! Additionally, as the Friday before Father’s Day, it’s also… National Wear BLUE Day!
June 19th, is… National Garfield the Cat Day, Juneteenth, and National Martini Day! As June’s third Sunday, it’s also Father’s Day and Turkey Lovers’ Day (plus, it’s National Turkey Lovers Month, too)!
…24 down and 28 to go!