By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979)
1 long zucchini
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 TB vanilla
3 cups biscuit mix
1 tsp baking soda
1 TB cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
Grate but do not peel the zucchini. Measure out and set aside 2 cups of it. Beat the eggs [with electric mixer] for 5 minutes. Add sugar, oil, zucchini, and vanilla. Blend [well].
Beat in biscuit mix, baking soda, cinnamon, and walnuts. When smooth [except for the nuts] and blended, pour into two greased and floured 9-inch, bread loaf pans. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire racks. [Makes 2 loaves.]
Mom (and Dad) faced many uncertainties during the 1970s recession. Early in the decade, Mom left her job at the local newspaper to start her own paper, giving her readers the kind of recipes they wanted, according to the many requests she received.
Mom’s business quickly evolved over the years, in name and design – starting as Happy Newspaper Features, until finally becoming known as Secret RecipesTM – with her Recipe DetectiveTM brand being recognized world-wide. The detective persona came about from her radio audience fans.
In the early years of her home-based business, Mom sold her recipes for a quarter each, printed on 4”x6” index cards, from a mimeograph she kept in our laundry room. It didn’t take long before her recipe library grew to hundreds, mostly through requests from her fans.
The food industry offered unlimited possibilities, for imitating our favorites at home. Within a few years, Mom went from recipe cards to monthly newsletters and multiple cookbooks. She self-published her first cookbook in 1973 and started her newsletter January 1974.
For the first year, at least, Mom “secretly employed” me and my siblings to help her; while simultaneously trying to hide the new “family business” from Dad, at least until it showed a decent profit.
It wasn’t long before Mom started getting calls from local TV stations (and our neighboring Canadian stations), for interviews on news and talk shows; at which point, she had to tell Dad what she was doing.
Within two years, Dad had to take an early retirement from his sign company job; to help Mom, full-time, with the “family business”. That’s why, in our house, every day was National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, since it was a home-based business and we all helped Mom in some way – even if it was just staying out of her way.
Mom “went to work” at home, every day, discovering how to recreate our favorite fast food & restaurant dishes from regular pantry items and without any special gadgets or appliances. She even expanded into imitating grocery products, too. If she could save money on our family’s entertainment and grocery budgets, she wanted to share it with everyone!
‘Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ – Mark Twain
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. 36)
HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN
IT WAS THE WORST possible time to launch a new business. The unemployment rate was terribly high. There was a newsprint paper shortage. There was a gasoline shortage. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication, however.
My confrontation with the editor at the Times Herald over the cheesecake recipe [like Sarah Lee’s], was probably the best thing that ever happened to me – us, as a family, in fact.
I was forced to finally do something that, until then, I had only talked about doing because the advice I had listened to was bent on having somebody else handle my work.
Of course, I could not tell Paul what I was going to do – that I was going to publish a newsletter and I was going to try and sell subscriptions to it all without the help of the [publishing and syndicating] agencies to which I had previously been turning.
I was determined to make this idea work because I knew it was a good idea! It was a service that was needed and one that I could provide without ever having to leave the children again.
With the help of the Almighty, I had every confidence that turning out a recipe newsletter was going to be something that would bless everyone concerned: me, the readers, the products mentioned, the reviews of restaurants – every idea was a blessing!
Mom designed her newsletter and cookbooks like warm, comfortable quilts; combining her unique copycat cookery recipe concept for “Eating Out At Home” with humoristic cartoons, household and gardening hints, cooking tips and tricks; as well as adding in her syndicated “Food for Thought” ideas and “No Laughing Matter” columns.
They were all uniquely put together, with love and devotion, creating functional works of art; as Mom wanted them to be just as comfortable on the coffee table as they were on the kitchen counter.
Mom’s favorite way to market her ground-breaking copycat recipes concept was through radio talk shows. For nearly 40 years, she was a regular weekly or monthly guest on numerous radio talk shows (geared toward working homemakers), around the country and in Canada. On occasion, she was also a guest “on-air” with radio stations in other countries.
Mom liked to describe her newsletters as being like a visit from a friend – as you sit at the kitchen table, having coffee, discussing various topics of the day and sharing household tips and recipes. I would describe it, simply, as Mom’s “happy place” and her “legacy of love”.
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. 53)
RISKS – THE HARD ROAD TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY
THERE ARE MANY RISKS involved with going into business for yourself, no matter what product or service you intend to offer. If I had thought more about the risks, than I did about the possibilities, I never would have moved an inch toward doing any of the things about which I now write.
My husband is not a risk-taker. I am. We complement each other well. He still becomes uneasy and anxious about every new idea I have for another book or another project, on the basis that ‘we can’t afford it.’
I have learned, over the years, to keep many of my projects to myself until they are completed, which in the long run, saves Paul from worrying unnecessarily about something that will very likely turn out well, and keeps me from worrying that Paul is worrying.
Some people experience a certain let-down, after reaching what they consider ‘the top’. When they finally reach the Everest of their ambitions [and] make it to the top, they start to wonder why they were in such a hurry to get there anyhow.
Like Lee Iacocca, who was only in his mid-40s when he was president of the Ford Motor Company, writes in his autobiography, [that he had] no idea what he was going to do ‘for an encore’! I have never had to worry about this, fortunately.
When I have been asked about goals or destination, it is been my feeling that every corner I turn has a new goal, a new destination awaiting us. I have never thought of any one point as being the top. Life has so many wonderful opportunities for each of us to take advantage of, that it does not seem reasonable that I should give myself the limitations that would determine just how far I should be able to go.
Because this was never a hobby, never WORK, never a job, I have had no problem with the worry or concern that accompanies a position from which one expects to retire. I would not want to give up what I have been doing since I was a child [writing].
It would be unfair to have to give up doing something that has also brought so much pleasure and good information to so many people. It was, however, only when I realized what I should be writing about and what I should be sharing with the readers – what I knew best – that things really began to happen.
Of course, my husband wisely reminds me, when someone asked about writing their own cookbook, that WRITING it is the easiest part. Knowing how to SELL it is the hard part!
Writing was always in Mom’s blood. She wrote and self-published a lot of “our family’s story”, in 1989, in her book, My CupRunneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop. The book was basically about how she was led by a special calling to start her Secret RecipesTM legacy. Plus, being that it was a “family enterprise”, it was sub-titled ‘The True Story of a Family’.
Every family has a story to tell – in fact, many stories. They can be pieced together from old pictures, cards, and letters or by tracing your ancestors’ roots through various online sources. It’s the perfect time to research and write about your family’s story, as it’s… National Tell a Story Day and tomorrow is National DNA Day!
In honor of tomorrow, also being National Zucchini Bread Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Zucchini Bread; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 52).
DESSERTS from D-Zerta became a life-saver whenever I wanted a snack and couldn’t think of anything sinfully delicious (plus, low-cal and low-carb!) Prepare the gelatin per box directions, but substitute sugar-free soda for the required water in the directions. Sugar-free cola and cherry gelatin is very good! Sugar-free 7-UP or Vernors goes well with the strawberry-flavored gelatin, also!
1 envelope D-Zerta lemon-flavored gelatin
8 ounces cream cheese
¼ cup heavy (un-whipped) whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla or lemon extract
½ cup finely crushed pecans or walnuts
Prepare gelatin per envelope directions [with sugar-free lemon-flavored soda rather than water] and placed in refrigerator until it is syrup-like, but not firm. Meanwhile, beat together the cream cheese, heavy (un-whipped) whipping cream, sour cream, and vanilla or lemon extract. When smooth and creamy, fold in the syrup-like gelatin mixture.
Grease a 9-inch layer cake pan and dust it evenly over the bottom and sides with pecans or walnuts. Shake out the excess nuts but reserve them for the top of the desert. Pour in the cheese mixture. Sprinkle top with the remaining nuts. Chill until firm. Garnish each “reasonable” serving with whipped cream. Serves 8.
DESSERTS FROM D-ZERTA became a life-saver whenever I wanted a snack and couldn’t think of anything sinfully delicious (plus, low-cal and low-carb)! Prepare the gelatin per box directions, but substitute sugar-free soda for the required water, in the directions. Sugar-free cola and cherry gelatin is very good! Sugar-free 7-Up or Vernors goes well with strawberry flavored gelatin, also!
1 envelope D-Zerta cherry-flavored gelatin
2 cups sugar-free cherry soda
8-oz cream cheese
¼ cup heavy (un-whipped) whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp almond extract
½ cup finely crushed pecans or walnuts
Whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings, to garnish
Prepare D-Zerta per envelope directions (with sugar-free cherry soda rather than water) and place in refrigerator until it is syrup-like, but not firm. Meanwhile, beat together the cream cheese, heavy (un-whipped) whipping cream, sour cream, and almond extract.
When smooth and creamy, fold in the syrup-like gelatin mixture. Grease a 9-inch layer cake pan and dust it evenly over the bottom and sides with the finely crushed pecans or walnuts. Shake out the excess nuts but reserve them for the top of the dessert.
Pour in the cheese mixture, adding a small dollop of whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings to garnish. Sprinkle top with the remaining nuts. Chill until firm. Serves 8. Remember the “reasonable” serving rule!
Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan with solid shortening. Preheat oven to 350°F (325°F for colored Bundt pans). Beat ingredients well [as listed] with electric mixer on high speed [for] 3 minutes. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 350°F (325°F for colored Bundt pans) for 50 minutes or until [toothpick] inserted in center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool upright, in pan, on wire rack about an hour. Loosen edges with tip of knife. Invert onto serving platter. Drizzle cake with our Blender Icing [aka: Thin Vanilla (Blender) Icing]. Refrigerate leftovers to serve within a week. Freeze to serve within 3 months.
When WJR Radio, Detroit, sent Warren Pierce to cover the wedding of Lady Diana and Prince Charles, Warren saved a very special recipe for me. It was created by the chef of the country inn where Prince Charles and his royal party dined on the way to the theater.
His favorite dish there was an egg creation, quite like strata, but without the bread. When Warren returned from his assignment in Great Britain, he phoned me for a radio conversation with the chef from England. The chef was on one phone, I on the other and Warren bringing us together on the air for his afternoon program.
It was, indeed, an honor to talk with someone of his stature. The recipe he shared with us was not in exact measurements, but rather in technique – and it works beautifully… A true Royal dish!
2 eggs, separated
2 more whole eggs
¼ cup un-whipped whipping cream (heavy cream)
¼ pound butter
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup well-chopped boiled ham
¼ cup minced or finely diced green pepper
2 green onions (finally snipped with kitchen scissors, whites and the green stems)
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon season salt
Separate 2 eggs. Beat the whites until stiff, but not dry, and set aside. Beat the 2 yolks with the 2 whole eggs, using an electric mixer on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until thick and lemon colored. Slowly beat in the un-whipped whipping cream (heavy cream) and then fold in the stiffly beaten whites.
Melt the butter in a heavy 10-inch skillet, but do not let it change color. Regulate the heat under the skillet so that the butter remains golden yellow, but hot and melted. Pour in the egg mixture. Do not stir it. Over the top of the egg mixture – sprinkle the cheddar cheese, ham, green pepper, green onions, pepper, and season salt.
Let it cook about 3 minutes on medium to low heat or until the edge of the egg begins to thicken. Then fold it over so that the uncooked part with the ham, etc., is enclosed in the middle. Turn it carefully to cook the top part, about 2 minutes, and serve it promptly, while piping hot, with a hollandaise or béarnaise sauce on the side. Serves 2 royally!
1st LAYER: Melt butter in medium saucepan… [Meanwhile, combine the next 5 ingredients, as listed, in large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter to this] and mix well. Press warm mixture into bottom of a Pam-sprayed, 13-inch baking pan. Make…
2nd LAYER: Combine powdered sugar, hot milk, melted butter, salt, vanilla, and peanut [or pecan] brittle. Spread evenly over 1st layer. Prepare 3rd layer next.
3rd LAYER: In top of double boiler, over simmering water, melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips with the water, [last] 2 tablespoons of butter, baking chocolate, and paraffin. [Stir until smooth.] Pour this mixture over the 2nd layer and refrigerate 24 hours, before cutting into bars or squares.
Keep refrigerated to use in a week or so or freeze to use in a few months. Makes 3 dozen 1-inch pieces.
The harmonized arrivals of Spring, Easter, and April bring with them “new life” and fresh colors. Mother nature is decorating with bright pops of colors all over the place – in the tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, just to name a few! Similarly, April celebrates National Decorating Month!
Decorating goes hand-in-hand with my spring cleaning ritual of moving the furniture around. I also switch out my dark, winter accent colors with my lighter, brighter, spring tones. I do this through simple changes in the curtains, throw blankets, and decorative pillows. Color is one of the most effective and in-expensive components in decorating.
In the 1980s and 1990s, I sold attractive accessories (at in-home gatherings) from a Texas-based company, called Home Interiors & Gifts. It was one of my favorite jobs. I loved meeting new people in small, home gatherings and teaching them about decorating, like the Home Interiors’ team taught me.
I learned a lot of wonderful decorating techniques from my HI&G sales team. I also learned great social skills, public speaking, and selling techniques. I especially loved learning about Feng shui and color psychology.
Carl Jung is the pioneer of color psychology [aka: colorology] – the study of how colors affect our perceptions and behaviors. He’s well-known for his investigations into color properties and their effects on emotions. Color is used to represent so many different things.
Astrology includes color association in the various zodiac signs, having main “power” colors that represent certain characteristics. According to Taylor Markarian’s interesting read (updated: 02/21/2023) at Reader’s Digest [rd.com], Aries is denoted by red.
I thought red was an appropriate choice, as Aries is the first sign of the zodiac and, from what I remember learning in a college child psychology class years ago, it’s the first primary color infants focus on, as their vision improves after birth.
Continuing on, Markarian claims Taurus is represented by green – bulls do love to eat grass. Gemini [aka: “the twins”] is represented by happy yellow. Cancer [aka: “the crab”] is represented by glamorous silver and Leo [aka: “the lion”] is represented by gold – like his golden mane.
Virgo follows, represented by natural, down-to-earth brown. Libra is “pretty in pink”. Scorpio is dramatic in black and Sagittarius is represented by ambitious purple, while Capricorn is represented by solid, dependable gray (and brown).
Aquarius is aptly represented by blue – the color of water. Likewise, Pisces [aka: “the fish”] is represented by a light shade of green – like a rainbow trout. Keep in mind that color associations and representations can vary by region and many other factors.
Interestingly, since every zodiac sign is ruled by at least one planet, every planet likewise has at least one color that represents its characteristics. According to NASA.gov, Mercury is represented by grey. Venus is represented by brown and grey. Earth is represented by blue, as well as brown, green, and white.
Mars is represented by red, as well as brown and tan. Jupiter is represented by brown, orange, and tan, with white cloud stripes. Saturn is represented by golden brown and bluish gray. Uranus is represented by the tertiary color blue-green. And, last but not least, Neptune is represented by blue.
Additionally, according to Color-Meanings.com, even the seven days of the week are represented by at least one color. The first day – Sunday – like the first zodiac sign, is similarly represented by energizing red. I especially like that Monday is represented by HAPPY yellow.
Additionally, Tuesday is represented by ambitious purple. Wednesday [aka: “hump day”] is represented by yellow, red and/or multi-colors. Thursday is represented by the creative freshness of yellow-green (a tertiary color). Friday is represented by a trustworthy but cautious bluish gray. Finally, Saturday is represented by dramatic black.
At SteelKaleidoscopes.typepad.com, I found an interesting interpretation of which colors represent each of the twelve months of the year. According to If Months Were Colors (Author unknown; Oct. 31, 2009), January is represented by white, as it’s a snowy, fresh start to the year. I agree.
February is represented by red, due to Valentine’s Day [which is the heart of the month (pun intended)]. The writer then suggests gray represent March, for [moody] “cabin fever” and the color of the snowbanks along the sides of the roads. I think March is better represented by green for St. Patrick’s Day and the beginning of spring.
The page also suggests that April is best represented by pink because of the blossoming spring flowers and May is best represented by blue because of growing optimism in the warming days. I think light purple [aka: lilac] is a better color for May, as that’s when lilacs start blooming.
June is yellow for “sunshine, beaches and good cheer”; while July is orange for the “searing” summer heat. For obvious reasons, I think red, white, and blue better represents July. August is represented by gold, as summer heat peaks. I’d link August to summer harvest colors – orange, yellow, green, and red for tomatoes, peppers, corn, summer squash, and melons.
The page also suggests purple for September, acquainting it to school colors, civic pride and productivity. I think blue is a better representative of September for knowledge, intuition, imagination, inspiration (and going back to school). Go Blue!
October is obviously represented by orange for Halloween [and pumpkins] and fall leaves. November is represented by brown for the cornucopia of the fall harvest and Thanksgiving turkeys. Last but not least, December is aptly represented by green and red for Christmas. Silver and gold are also good representatives of December, for that matter.
Color is a persuasive marketing tool, about which I wrote in The Color Effect. Marketing concepts use color theory to elicit certain feelings or psychological effects from potential consumers. In fact, there’s been a lot of studies done on the various effects colors have on us, in general. The Cause & Effect of color is a fascinating subject.
How to Use the Psychology of Colors When Marketing, by DashBurst (June 19, 2014; updated Sep. 7, 2021), as seen at SmallBizTrends.com, admits that “The psychology of color is used in advertising and marketing to evoke emotional reactions.” The article also includes an interesting history about colors.
Mom had a knack for decorating, herself. Maybe it’s in our “artistic/creative genes”. However, certain color schemes and styles are more popular by region and time eras. Mom also used colorology when she chose the cover colors for each of her self-published books.
Color theory is an assortment of guidelines designers use to present appealing and visually interesting color harmonies or schemes, using the color wheel (as well as color psychology). Colors are neatly organized on an illustrative tool called a color wheel, starting with the three primary colors – red, blue, and yellow – placed equally apart on the wheel.
A 50-50 combination of any two primary colors makes one of the three secondary colors – orange, purple, green – placed appropriately between each of those, on the wheel. Likewise, there are six tertiary colors, between each of the primary and secondary colors. Tertiary colors come from combining a primary color with its adjacent secondary color.
The colors of the wheel are categorized into cool and/or warm temperatures. Cool colors include green, blue, purple, and the tertiary colors between them. Cool colors often remind us of grass, water/sky, and flowers (lavender/lilacs), creating a calm and soothing effect. I’ve noticed that the Northern Lights often appear in this range of colors, as well.
Warm colors include red, orange, yellow, and the tertiary colors in between them. Warm colors are often energizing and brilliant, even mesmerizing; reminding us of things like campfires, sunrises, and sunsets. High-energy bees and hummingbirds are very attracted to warm colors.
Neutral colors, such as white, grey, and black are neither warm nor cool. Brown is a hybrid that’s created from both warm and cool colors. Different shades of brown are made by combining two opposite colors on the “wheel”, such as red and green, yellow and purple, or blue and orange.
Many companies choose colors for their brands or logos that best represent them and indicate certain values. For example, KFC and Coke are associated with red, which indicates fun and excitement.
Culver’s and Pepsi’s logos are primarily in trustworthy blue. Similarly, Subway’s and Starbuck’s logos are green, which is often associated with being organic and/or fresh. Likewise, McDonald’s uses exciting red and happy yellow in its logo and décor.
People psychologically associate colors with certain things – like green grass, blue water, yellow sun, and white clouds, to name some general examples. Yet, people are so different – children to adults, females to males, and so on – that personal associations with any one color can vary greatly. It all comes down to individual interpretation.
Having said that, however, there’s a lot of common color associations, about which I learned, while selling the Home Interiors & Gifts products. Overall, color associations are timeless. Here’s my generalized list of colors associations.
Purple, like its two ingredients (red and blue), is associated with power, confidence, trust, and loyalty. Purple is also associated with royalty, elegance, authority, and seniority.
Blue is associated with loyalty, trust, calmness, peace, and stability. Blue is also associated with first-place ribbons and being a winner. Indigo is a dark shade of blue that adds a deep, dramatic, intensity to blue’s general effects.
Green, like its two ingredients (yellow and blue), is usually associated with inner peace and joy; as well as with growth, good taste, freshness, and It evokes feelings of a healthy and organic environment. Green is also associated with luck, money, success, and goodwill.
Yellow is associated with sunshine, joy, and energy. It’s bright and happy, which stirs up feelings of confidence, ingenuity, and artistic creativity.
Mom did all the decorating in our houses when I was growing up. I remember our kitchen in Algonac having yellow and blue accents. Gold and green accents were in the living room and the bedroom I shared with my two sisters was adorned with purple accents.
Orange, like its two ingredients (red and yellow), is associated with power and energy. Orange generates sociability, fun, and innovation. It’s not just for Halloween anymore!
Red is associated with leadership and confidence. It’s very active and grabs your attention, creating feelings of excitement, power, and strength. Red is synonymous with the heart, passion, and love. Pink is a light tint of red (mixed with white), simplifying the effects by adding a bit of youth and innocence.
Brown is associated with characteristics of being down-to-earth, natural, trustworthy, dependable, and sturdy (like a tree). Bronze is a metallic brown, with similar associations. Metallic décor adds classic and/or modern elements.
Black is associated with modern and traditional characteristics; representing perfection, drama, sophistication, primness and formality.
Grey is moody and stormy. But it’s also considered to be rugged, conservative, and solid (like a rock).
White is innocent and heavenly, like clouds and angels’ wings. It’s simple, honest, new, and clean.
Silver is a metallic associated with wealth, prosperity, strength, stability, glamour, grace, and elegance. It is modern, innovative, influential, refined, sleek, and sophisticated. Silver is also linked to the celestial energies of the moon and stars.
Gold is another metallic, similar to yellow in color but its associations are more like purple’s – royalty, elegance, authority, and seniority. Gold also represents pedigree, power, confidence, and wealth.
In honor of next Sunday, being National Cherry Cheesecake Day, here’s Mom’s secret recipes for Waist Watcher Cheesecake, in 2 versions, lemon and cherry; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 286). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
Today’s National Encourage a Young Writer Day, among other things. Mom loved mentoring anyone (young and old, alike) who shared her love for writing! She was also my mentor – in writing and so many other things, from being creative to being a mom.
Mom’s love for and devotion to writing began when she was a young girl. The writing seed bloomed into a legacy, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM. Mom loved talking about how writing made her a worthwhile living, but it especially made living worthwhile. She loved to help others find that joy, too.
I try to write something every day, now, myself. Since starting these blog posts, over 4½ years ago, writing has become very therapeutic for me, just as it was for Mom. Like Mom, I’m most happy and content when I’m writing and creating something, artistically. I just wish I could make a living with my writing, as she did with hers.
I can feel her angel hugs, even now, as I’m typing this; and she’s whispering, in my ear, “be patient”. Mom believed that fate was a “meant-to-be” moment. She put her faith in fate and followed where it led. As a result, she became the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM!
For 40 years, Mom wrote articles, recipes, newsletters, and cookbooks but she never thought of it as work (even though it was). Like the old adage says, “find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)
SOMETIMES, WE FORCE ourselves into making hasty decisions; when, it turns out, this can be a misguided attempt to try to shape an event that just isn’t ready to be shaped yet! Encouragement to be patient and consider all of the options was always one of the supportive ways that my parents tried to see me through the rough times, when I was growing up.
No matter what the problem, the emphasis was always on being patient; on letting my listening thought be receptive to new ideas, right ideas. I was never disappointed when I waited. I might have been a little impatient, but the more experiences I had with waiting, the easier it [became]. (p. 20)
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.
There is great joy in an exchange of ideas, specifically when you have something of value to share. When that exchange of ideas flows from a mutual appreciation of the good in human life, there is no doubt that the abundance of good continues to unfold around us from only one Unlimited Source.
We don’t think too much about that Source until we’re in real trouble. Then, we’re willing to reach out because, after all, what have we got to lose? Too bad we don’t tap that Source when everything is going well and exercise our ability to think [and be grateful], which is something very few people take the time to do. (p. 22)
Similarly, fate’s “meant-to-be” influences have taken me and my own inherited love for writing on this incredible learning journey, blogging about Mom and her wonderful, ground-breaking creations. Before the copycat recipes, Mom wrote several series of articles about a variety of topics she thought would interest other people like herself.
I try to do the same in my blog posts, mixing Mom into a variety of topics that might interest other people like us; as well as, to honor her legacy as a writer and influencer. Creative writing has always made me feel close to Mom. She was always my biggest fan, encouraging me throughout my life.
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. 43)
HOW TO LAUNCH A NEWSLETTER
WHENEVER I AM ASKED by somebody wanting to launch a newsletter of their own, how to get started, I wish I could just send them a blueprint or a floor plan, like you would when you build a house or a garage.
With newsletter writing and marketing, it’s all based on individuality, and experience being the best teacher and then having a responsive audience. It all begins with the sale. You have to know to whom you will be directing your material and how you will be meeting their needs. Nobody can tell you HOW to do that.
You either know how or you don’t! If you don’t know how to talk to your reader, you’re like a lighthouse without a light! You have to let your light shine and part of the preparation for communicating with your reader is to know HOW to talk to them, what they need from your newsletters that will enrich them or make their lives better.
‘There’s a powerful wisdom we don’t understand. It comes down to believing…to having faith.’ – Gloria Pitzer
AGAIN, 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, pp. 47-48)
THE BEGINNING OF THE FAMILY ENTERPRISE
I HAD USED A RECIPE in one of my newspaper columns at the Port Huron paper for a sauce like McDonald’s used on their hamburgers. It was such a hit with the readers… It seemed so obvious… Repeat the recipes that were so popular at the paper for those few weeks, only this time putting them into my own newsletter.
I couldn’t wait to get home and get started putting together all of the recipes I could find that had anything at all to do with fast food restaurants or franchise eateries. Nobody, but nobody had done that yet.
There were cookbooks on how to do it the way the gourmets did and recipes from famous inns and restaurants with wine stewards and parking valets, but never from a hamburger palace or a pizza carry-out! Those were considered SECRETS. One thought led to another and soon the whole format was taking place on the paper in front of me.
HOW TO SELL IT – RADIO
The request for more and more came almost as immediately as the recipes would circulate, mostly through Bob Allison’s [radio] show, but as well through our newsletter, which was then growing to a circulation of nearly 1000.
The idea soon developed to put these famous secrets on index cards and sell them as, I explained earlier, we did prior to the first series of books.One step led to another and each step came from having absolute faith that failure was impossible.
When you unselfishly search for something to do, something to share, I have learned from first-hand experience, you never come away disappointed. I wasn’t looking for the rewards or gratification – only the service for the product. That, I believe, is why it all worked out so beautifully.
One of the first radio affiliations that I had, other than my regular visits with Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ [radio show], was with Warren Pierce at WJR in Detroit. In those early interviews we talked with Warren’s listeners, answering questions about imitating famous foods and one of the most often requested recipes on that show was for hot fudge like Sanders (Fred Sanders Confectionery Company).
It was right after I had given the recipe on the air and immediately after Carol Haddix had printed my recipe for that ice cream topping in the Detroit Free Press that a letter came from Jack Sanders, Chairman of the Board of Sanders and great-grandson of the company’s founder.
At once, I looked at the envelope and imagined trouble because I had come so close to the original with my recipe.But quite the contrary!
It was an invitation to Paul and me and our family to visit the Sanders’ plant and headquarters in Highland Park (Michigan) and to see, he wrote to us, ‘if it doesn’t spoil your fun’ how their products were really made.
We became good friends after that exciting tour and in our ‘Fast Food Recipe Book’ I give you some 16 pages of information and history, plus recipes that have been inspired by Sanders products.
Writing a newsletter is not as easy an endeavor as it may seem. Obviously, like blogging, it requires a regular production schedule and a long-time commitment to it. For success and longevity, it also entails devotion, duty, and dedication – call it “the 3-D effect”.
It takes so many little steps – literally and figuratively – to get where you want to be – in life, in love, and in livelihood. I’ve taken many little steps, myself; especially after helping Mom re-write her favorite, self-published cookbook – Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (as she couldn’t do it again, herself).
After the book went to print, I needed to learn the “ins & outs” of using social media and blogging, to promote it and Mom’s legacy, as the ORIGINAL Secret Recipes DetectiveTM. I’m still learning new things, as I go. It’s a slow process since I’m not tech-savvy.
Regardless, I love blogging, whether I’m doing it for a few people or for thousands of people. I don’t even know how many people read my posts but I keep writing them, nonetheless. I love getting emails and messages from those who’ve come across my writings and happily remember my mom and her Secret RecipesTM legacy.
In honor of Saturday, being National Banana Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Banana Bundt Cake”; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 66).
This Wednesday is the 30th anniversary of Mom’s SECOND appearance on the Phil Donahue show (in 1993)! I wrote about Mom’s experiences with the Donahue Show appearances a few years ago, in my blog post, Fortunate. That episode broke records!
Let me back-track a bit. The year, following Mom’s FIRST appearance on the Donahue Show, in July 1981, was probably the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of her family-run, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We didn’t expect, nor were we set up for over a million letters in response, requesting the free recipes offered on the show.
Secret RecipesTM was just A FAMILY AFFAIR! Other than one full-time Administrative Assistant, it was just my parents, taking care of the day-to-day operations of their self-publishing, mail-order, recipes business, with a little help, now and then, from me and my sisters, after school.
For months, following Mom’s 1981 appearance, the Donahue show re-aired that episode around the country and around the world and we received over a million letters; necessitating the need to bring in some extra help, including some of my high school friends, to assist with all of the extra mailings we had to prepare and send out.
We mailed out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets, in exchange for all the self-addressed stamped envelopes that poured in, per the offer they had announced on the Donahue show. We were also mailing out thousands more newsletter issues, from all of the new subscriptions that followed.
As chaotic as it was, in the end, Mom recognized that the Donahue Show opened a lot of doors for her that might never have happened, otherwise. It brought her unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of new eyes, fairly quickly (as it was before household internet) worldwide. She felt very fortunate and grateful.
There’s no denying that Mom pioneered a ‘movement’, carving out a new niche in the food industry – “copycat cookery”. There was nothing else like it, at that time. Critics said the “fad” wouldn’t last long. But Mom inspired a crusade of “copycats”. Unfortunately, some went as far as copying Mom’s work, to the point of plagiarism, prompting legal battles.
The pressure of everything was straining Mom and Dad and tearing our family apart. [NOTE: April is National Stress Awareness Month!] Mom swore she’d never do another national TV show. However, she was talked into doing several more, over the years, including Donahue, AGAIN!
I LOOK BACK NOW… and realize how FORTUNATEI was to have had my life touched by so many helpful people – so many famous people! It’s almost incredible that what started out to be merely the frosting on the cake, of my monthly newsletter, soon became the whole cake! – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 86)
When the producer of the Donahue Show called Mom, after 12 years, asking her to come back, in April 1993, Mom hesitantly agreed but only on the condition that they not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event for the show!
The “Recipe Detective” episode had the most requested transcript, of all time, shattering the last record into tiny bits! The Donahue Show sent Mom a congratulatory letter and plaque to commemorate the historic event. Unfortunately, the show ended it’s 29-year stretch (1967-1996) a few years later, re-running the 1993 episode of Mom that year, too.
There are “grainy” recordings of the 1993, hour-long episode on YouTube, in a series of 5 segments. I wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s July 7th, 1981, appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org – and thank you, in advance!
Did you know… Mom was the FIRST person (circa 1975) to develop a make-at-home version for imitating the cream-filled, golden-sponge-cake delight at home? Thus, I was surprised to find, when I searched for “twinkie recipes” on Google, Mom’s imitation wasn’t even listed in the first two pages of “About 1,520,000 results…”!
So MANY copycats have copied the ORIGINAL copycat – yet so FEW have given her the proper credit she deserves, for being the inventor of copycat cookery. On that note, I also searched for “Pitzer Twinkie recipe”. Mom’s recipe, from this website, which I first shared in a 2019 blog post, was the THIRD one listed, out of “About 161,000 results…”).
Did you know… on August 19th, 1919… William B. Ward registered the trademark name, Hostess, for his family’s company’s breads and cakes division? Additionally, it was James Dewar, while working for the Ward family at the Continental Baking Company, who invented the original Twinkie®.
Originally, when the baking company was founded in the early 1900s, it was called Ward Baking Company. Soon after, it was known as the Continental Baking Company. Then it was purchased by Interstate Bakeries Corporation and renamed Hostess Brands.
For a more in-depth history of the Ward family, their baking company, Dewar’s Twinkies® and the drama that surrounded all of them, check out a fascinating article (as written by Bloomberg News), on FinancialPost.com, about the Twinkie history, spiced with murder & scandal! I’ve included, below, the short story that Mom wrote about Dewar decades ago.
A little over 10 years ago (in November 2012), there was a big run on Twinkies®. Hostess Brands Company had announced it was going out of business and utter madness ensued, as Americans swarmed the stores and internet to buy every Twinkie® they could find!
Some were being auctioned on eBay for THOUSANDS of dollars – and people were paying it! Our Canadian neighbors still had Hostess Brands in their country. They were laughing at us and joking about the lengths to which Americans would go, to get their hands on the suddenly-hard-to-find, coveted Twinkies®.
A spokesperson for Hostess Brands sarcastically asked the media where all of those Hostess enthusiasts were BEFORE they had to file for bankruptcy.
TO DEBUNK THE JUNK…don’t think of Hostess Twinkies as ‘junk’ dessert but, rather, the very same cake ingredients prepared in the Waldorf Astoria kitchens as the basis for their ‘Flaming Cherries Supreme’. All we did [to imitate the product] was shape the cake differently, adding a little body to the filling and putting it INSIDE the cake, rather than on top, as the Waldorf did! – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 3)
Today’s also National Find a Rainbow Day. Likewise, it’s the National Month of Hope! A quote on NationalDayCalendar.com, claims rainbows are considered symbols of beauty, as well as signs of hope and promise. When April showers come and the sun’s rays are opposite them, in the sky, look for the beautiful “arc of many colors”, created by Mother Nature.
Scientifically, they’re simply made from a combination of elements – like the sun being opposite the rain, in the sky, and “reflections and refractions of light” in the droplets of water. This can also be imitated in your backyard, on a sunny day, with a garden hose, spraying water. Try it!
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. 34)
WHEN YOU HEAL THE HURT
IT HAS BEEN SAID that ‘when God closes a door, He opens a window’ – for those who have the wit to discover it. Among the ill, the handicapped, the disfigured… are an astonishing number of people who have found their ‘windows’. In quiet resurrections, they have risen out of their pain and despair and shattered hopes to new ambitions, new satisfactions and new happiness.
Though largely unsung, these men and women have in them the stuff of heroes! Their battles of necessity are fought alone… in endless hours and days and months. But, in these battles, they somehow develop a special kind of courage and, sooner or later, the breakthrough comes. Then, in spite of all the odds against them, they dare to say: ‘I may not have much candle left but, with what I have, I’ll shed a light.’
So, if you can’t be a lighthouse – be a candle! Let your light shine so that those on whom it may fall, will be blessed; and, like a springboard, bounce right back to make you feel good about it…
This made me think – besides being a light, “BE A RAINBOW” to someone! Shine beauty on them, giving hope and a promise for betterment of whatever may need it.
In honor of TODAY, being World Party Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Prince Charles’ Skillet Strata”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 135). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
Having an incurable curiosity, it follows that I should find the study of nutrition and the importance certain foods have in our diet, a very interesting endeavor, of which I have never tried. THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING NEW TO LEARN, some new information, interesting discoveries to make cooking a positive pursuit.– Gloria Pitzer [Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984), p. 15)]
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…