Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Cleaning Consumes Calories

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!



Yesterday, being the fourth Sunday in March (for 2023), began the week-long celebration of… National Cleaning Week – one of my favorite times of the year!

According to, “besides a clean home, it’s a week that can produce improved moods, decreased stress levels, and increased creativity. It’s a week to put away winter essentials and tidy up our homes to usher in a fresh start with spring.”

I always look forward to this week! I admit to getting a little giddy about flipping the bedroom mattress, rotating the seasonal clothes, and moving the living room furniture around – just a few of the things I usually do during my spring cleaning ritual.

Every physical activity we do throughout our day can count as exercising. Gardening, walking, and – yes – even household chores. It all burns calories and, thereby, counts toward physical activity.

Last week, I wrote about burning calories while caring for a garden. This week, I want to discuss the calories you can burn, doing various household chores and activities.

According to’s article, 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (date unknown), an hour of various household activities or chores can burn a lot of calories. They wrote about grocery shopping:

“Pushing a cart up and down the supermarket aisles for an hour will burn 243 calories and you’ll get acquainted with all kinds of nutritious, healthful foods. Bag your own groceries, take them out to the car yourself, and return the cart to the corral, and you’ll burn even more.”

Surprisingly, just preparing dinner [with those nutritious, healthful foods you got at the supermarket] for one hour can burn 148 calories. Obviously, kneading bread dough or heavy mixing by hand will burn more calories than smaller tasks. I wonder if Rachael Ray knows that preparing one of her famous 30-minute meals can burn about 74 calories!

Additionally, in one hour, dusting burns 160 calories, mopping burns 306 calories, doing laundry and folding clothes burn 144 calories, ironing burns 153 calories, moving furniture burns 504 calories, while vacuuming and sweeping burn 168 calories.

There’s always something about cleaning, at least one particular task, that someone doesn’t like. They’ll procrastinate and avoid doing it as long as possible. According to’s 10 Top Most Hated Household Chores, cleaning the bathroom (especially the toilet) tops their list.’s Do You Hate Cleaning Your Bathroom?… (March 2022), by Nashia Baker, wholeheartedly agrees that cleaning the bathroom (especially the toilet) is American’s least favorite chore.

But I really want to give an award nomination to’s satirical article, 8 Household Chores I’ll Never Do – Because Who Has Time For This, by Elizabeth Broadbent (Originally Published: Oct. 23, 2016; Updated: June 10, 2021), which takes the subject out of the box. It’s more than just a list of “hated chores”. Check it out!

Other chores most commonly avoided by people include: dusting, mopping, cleaning the kitchen (especially the appliances), making the bed, and doing laundry. Dusting is my least liked chore, as it badly effects my allergies and I have A LOT of ‘tchotchkes’ [pronounced: choch-keys] to dust! But I love them all and am not ready to get rid of them yet.

Mom didn’t care for cleaning dishes, even when we had a dishwasher, making the bed; both of which my sisters and I did, for her, to earn our weekly allowance. We’re all different, in what we like and don’t like to do. To each, their own!

I like to clean and, especially, to organize! I think it’s an OCD thing (to me, that stands for Organize, Clean, & Display). Organizing is my favorite hobby. In fact, my kids and husband like to tease me, saying that I’m CDO, rather than OCD, because I like things in alphabetical (and numerical) order. That’s me – I own it!

In the office, Mom preferred, what she called, an “organized mess”. She kept a sign on her desk (as pictured above), which she picked up somewhere after I took it upon myself, one day, while she and Dad were gone for the day, to clean and organize her desk as a good deed. She wasn’t very happy about it, when she returned, but she was very forgiving.


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)

WHILE SOME FOLKS claim to have been born under a sign related in some way to the stars and other heavenly bodies, I wish to establish, right here and now, the sign under which I must have been born.


From this, you can imagine how astonished I was when, one day, it occurred to me that Heaven had certainly poured me out a blessing and my cup was running over. But I couldn’t find my mop! That has more or less (actually MORE) been the story of my life… my cup runneth over and over and over. (pp. 14-15)

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… I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me. (p. 119)

‘If the good Lord had intended for me to have a clean house, He would have given me a maid!’ – Gloria Pitzer

In my blog post, “Spring into Cleaning” (March 25, 2019) – and others – I mentioned that cleaning was not Mom’s favorite activity, even though she called herself the “Happy Homemaker”. I’m not saying Mom didn’t clean; but she clearly disliked it. And that’s okay.

Not everyone gets a joy out of cleaning any more than they have to. In fact, that would have made a great title for another one of Mom’s self-published books. She often published household hints, in her newsletter issues, to help make the average homemaker’s life a little easier.

The American Cleaning Institute claims that, on average, Americans spend approximately six hours per week cleaning their homes. The most dreaded cleaning tasks, by percentage, are cleaning the bathroom (at 52%), cleaning the kitchen (at 23%), dusting (at 21%), mopping (at 20%) and doing the laundry (at 17%).


As seen in her column…

No Laugh’N Matter (The Times Herald, Port Huron, Michigan; Feb 14, 1974)


Many of you have written, asking what shortcuts I recommend for getting through the hang ups of housework. I thought you’d never ask. And I’m happy to share with you some of the lesser known household hints that you are not apt to find in the elegant publications…

Now, my household hints are NOT necessarily recommended by GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, Dr. Seuss, my mother-in-law, the neighbors, Mr. Clean…but they do work! Unless, that is, you’re expecting miracles.

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS: If, while they are in the refrigerator, leftovers become as hairy as hedgehogs at bay, don’t try to throw them out. Feed them dead flies and keep them as pets!

WHAT TO DO ABOUT COBWEBS: If you have cobwebs in your corners and can’t figure out why, because you don’t have a cob in the house; ignore them if you can’t reach them. If somebody calls them to your attention, exclaim with pride, ‘Oh! I can’t touch those. They’re my son’s science project!’

WHAT TO DO ABOUT JAR LIDS THAT REFUSE TO BUDGE: Tell a 4-year-old not to touch them!

IF YOU HAVE OVER-SIZED HIPS: Wear Jodhpurs. They’ll go out where you do!

IF YOU PUT ON WEIGHT EASILY: Let out your couch!

TROUBLE FALLING A SLEEP? If you can’t count sheep… try talking to the Shepherd!

CONCERNED ABOUT SHORTAGES? Help conserve water… bathe with someone you love! Help conserve paper… stamp out bumper stickers! Get an education… drive a school bus! Eat a beaver… save a tree!

TO CONSERVE ENERGY: Don’t hold post-mortems, brooding over your mistakes. The faster you make one, the less apt anybody is to notice it.



CLEANER FLOORS: If you have tried the miracle product as advertised on TV and you still can’t get your floors to look as clean as those seen on the commercial, write to the manufacturer of that cleaner and have them send you that mop!

SHORT ON SILVERWARE AT MEALTIME? Delegate a search party of children to check out the sand box, toy chest and cold air returns. Chance are, you’ll find them!

TO REMOVE CHEWING GUM from a new, white bedspread, apply peanut butter by rubbing with vigorous motions. If it still doesn’t come out, get a new bedspread!

TO AVOID HAVING YOUR HUSBAND USE THE GUEST TOWELS to clean the carburetor…hang only cleaning rags on the bathroom towel racks!


If you live in a state like Michigan, where it snows at least half of the year, even in spring, you may be interested to know that an hour of shoveling snow burns 405 calories. Also, now that the weather is starting to improve, an hour spent on hand-washing the car will burn 306 calories.

And don’t forget that spending at least one hour of hard work, picking up garbage and debris, while CLEANING up the neighborhood, can also burn a whopping 450 calories AND improve your community! What a great idea and it’s beneficial for all!


In honor of Saturday, being the start of April, which is National Pecan Month, among other things, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Sanders’ 3-Layer (Pecan) Bar Cookies; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 48).


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


March celebrates, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Craft Month, National Flour Month, National Sauce Month, and National Women’s History Month!



[NOTE: Lent began on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, and runs, throughout March, until Thursday, April 6th (for 2023).]

Today is also… National Joe Day, National Scribble Day, and National Spanish Paella Day!

Tomorrow is… National Black Forest Cake Day and National Something on a Stick Day!

Wednesday, March 29th is… National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day, National Nevada Day, and National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day!


Thursday, March 30th is… National Take a Walk in the Park Day, National Doctors Day, National I Am in Control Day, National Pencil Day, National Turkey Neck Soup Day, and National Virtual Vacation Day!

Friday, March 31st is… National Bunsen Burner Day, National Clams on the Half Shell Day, National Crayon Day, and National Tater Day!

Saturday is the start of April, which observes, among other things… Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soft Pretzel Month, National Soy Foods Month, and Scottish-American Heritage Month!

April 1st is also… April Fool’s Day and National Sourdough Bread Day! Plus, as the first Saturday in April (for 2023), it’s…  National Love Our Children Day, National Play Outside Day, and National Handmade Day, too!

Sunday, April 2nd is… National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! Plus (for 2023), it’s also… National Education and Sharing Day! Additionally, the first full week of April is… National Public Health Week!


…13 down and 39 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Benefits Begin

Spring begins today so happy spring and happy Monday to everyone! Thank God Its Monday, again.  I personally look forward to all Mondays; as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!




Spring begins tonight AND April is just around the corner – which is, among other things, National Lawn And Garden Month, as well as National Garden Month! I’ve written in other blog posts, of how growing your own food saves money on groceries – especially if you don’t factor in the value of your time – but gardening is beneficial in other ways, too.

Most gardening requires some amount of physical care and a continuous dedication of time to such care. When Mom started her newsletter in 1974, she used to dedicate about a page to gardening tips and tricks. She was an avid gardener, when she had time. As her business grew, her gardening time shrunk.

Except for most perennials, you can’t just drop some seeds and come back in a few months to reap the harvest. If only it were that easy! Gardening, after tilling the soil and planting the seeds, usually requires a lot of daily, weekly, and monthly activities – like fertilizing, mulching, watering, trimming, pulling weeds, etc.

However, on the upside, all those activities burn calories. Plus, our bodies get a lot of essential Vitamin D, as we’re doing all that outside, in the sunshine, which is a natural source for it! Gardening also contributes to many important life skills like having faith, patience, and commitment, just to name a few.’s infographic, 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening, explains how gardening can also strengthen our immune systems, relieve stress, elevate feelings of happiness, provide a physical workout, stimulate the brain, and even encourage a healthier diet. Check it out.

Gardening is classified as “moderate” or “light aerobic” exercise because it works all the major muscle groups – legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen – as you stretch, bend, lift, pull, push, etc. Tasks that use these muscles build strength and burn calories.

Gardening is also known to improve heart and lung health and help prevent obesity. It also lowers the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Plus, it stimulates serotonin production, in the brain; regulating mood, anxiety, and happiness. There’s growing research on all the positive effects gardening has on, both, mental and physical health.

One hour of light gardening and yard work burns more than walking, at a moderate pace, for the same amount of time, as it works more muscle groups. An hour of gardening, depending on the specific activities involved, can burn about 324 calories or more. Feel the burn!

Pushing a bagless lawn mower (not a self-propelled or rider style) for 1 hour can also burn about 324 calories and raking up the grass clippings for another 30 minutes, burns an additional 171 calories, according to 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (date unknown), on


The afore mentioned article additionally asserts that reducing waste reduces the waist, since picking up yard waste can also reduce your waist size; claiming that 4 hours, of hard yard work, burns about 1,800 calories. That’s a whopping 450 calories per hour! Did you know that riding a bike for an hour only burns about 135 calories?


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 171)


WHENEVER I FIND PEOPLE unable to master a difficult experience, I like to think of Charles Schwab’s theory about sweetening somebody’s self-image with a little praise.

Whatever the situation in life, there are few people who do not do better work, nor put forth greater effort, under a spirit of approval than they ever would under a spirit of criticism. I like to think of approval and praise as our emotional dessert!

The conflict of opinion between the ‘down-home cook’ and the so-called ‘food purists’, over what is good, and which is bad for our diet, reminds me of the story of the two children playing in a garden where their mothers were visiting. One of the children came running to her mother, crying that the garden was a dreadful place!

When the mother asked her why, the child cried that it was full of bushes that had long sharp thorns that scratched her. The other child soon came skipping back to her mother exclaiming that the garden was a delightful place to play and she was having such a wonderful time there.

When the mother asked this child why, the little girl replied that every thorn bush in the garden was full of lovely red soft roses that smelled so nice and felt so soft to the touch… So it must all boil down to what we are looking for in life – the thorns or the roses!

Early spring is usually when I start pruning our large patches of roses and wild, black raspberries, growing in the backyard. Cutting out all the dead stems and canes makes room for new ones to grow. Thick gloves are highly recommended for this task, to help prevent the hands from getting impaled by the thorns!

Because they’re perennials, not much care is required afterward, until it’s harvest time. But I have to closely watch the timing of that or the birds will harvest all the raspberries, first! And while I am happy to feed our backyard feathered friends, I’d like to be able to gather some, myself, for jam and pies and such.


Early spring is also a wonderful time for bird watching, as flocks return (from down south) to roost here! Our cats have been sitting in our dining room window a lot, lately; watching the birds eating from their feeders and around the lawn, and building nests in the houses my husband made and hung for them.

The spring perennials have started peeking through the thawing ground and the bright sunny yellow of witch hazel is popping against the fading winter landscape. But the arrival of Michigan’s state bird, the red-breast robin, is usually one of our first signs of spring, around here.

Some robins don’t even migrate south, in the fall, anymore – not like they used to. I wonder if their adaptation to our more-mild-than-normal winters, lately, is just another sign of the increase in global warming.


A wide variety of birds like to roost in Michigan, March through October. Others are here all year long like the cardinals, woodpeckers and blue jays. However, most of the varieties that we see are migraters – in with the spring season and back out by mid-autumn. Many people, here, are that way, too – they’re affectionately called “snow birds”.

Bird watching is said to be very therapeutic and, trust me, if you feed them, they will come! I remember Mom always putting out special treats of peanuts, bird seed, and peanut butter for the backyard birds (and squirrels). Watching the birds, she said, relaxed her and inspired a flow of creative thoughts, for her writing. My husband and I do the same.

Throughout the spring, we like to put out orange halves and small cups of grape jelly for the orioles that migrate to our backyard. I’ve seen the woodpeckers enjoy these treats too! It’s also a joy to watch the yellow finches fight over the perches on the thistle feeder. But when the oriole wants thistle, all the finches grudgingly move out of the way.

One of our resident woodpeckers made himself heard, early the other morning, with a loud “rat-a-tat-tat”, on an old tree behind our house. It echoed in our quiet neighborhood. Meanwhile, a big “Mama” robin, was perched in another tree, looking into our garden – probably for worms rising from the thawing earth or stuff to add to her nest.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 15)


COOKING IS ONE OF THOSE personal accomplishments that afford us all the opportunity to express ‘talent’. We love being approved of. In fact, we eat it up! It’s the little pat on the back that gives us the incentive to continue trying. And where else, but in the kitchen, can you try to win approval with such satisfying results!

I’m very partial to my kitchen because it is the one place in our home where I feel the most comfortable! Whether I’m there alone, working on a recipe, or sitting at my desk, looking for inspiration on a new article I’m writing, or sharing a cup of coffee with a neighbor or a friend, who’s dropped by – it’s my favorite room!

I have a desk in the kitchen right next to the [sliding glass] door…that overlooks the yard. Our daughter, Debbie, and our son-in-law, Jim, gave me a flowering crab [apple] tree last Mother’s Day, which they planted right in the middle of the yard. I can enjoy it’s flowers each spring; also the very long bare, red branches during the autumn and it’s snow-covered limbs all winter.

It’s my sundial, by which I observed the seasons and the changes involved with this natural wonder. While the Scotch pines around this little tree never change, never go through the transition of bud to blossom to barren branches and then buds again, I can see the contrasts that are parallel to our own personal predicaments.

Some things, places – and yes, even people – never seem to change, while others go through budding and blossoming and withering away, only to come right back to life again in the sunshine of human kindness; as does my tree, in the sunshine of the seasons.


Before Covid-19 hit us, Mackinaw City used to host an annual “Mackinaw Raptor Fest”, celebrating the unique convergence of migrating birds every spring and fall, due to the area’s exceptional location at the rare intersection of two peninsulas and two of the Great Lakes. Mackinaw was one of my parents’ favorite map dots to go for a long weekend.


In honor of March, being National Celery Month, here are THREE of Mom’s copycat recipes – Mackus Red Fox House Dressing, Celery Seed Dressing (Like Women’s City Club – Detroit), and homemade Celery Mix; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 16 & 30). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].





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


March celebrates, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Craft Month, and National Sauce Month!

[NOTE: Lent began on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, and will run throughout March, until Thursday, April 6th (for 2023).]

Today is also… National Proposal Day, National Ravioli Day, and World Flour Day, as well as it being National Flour Month!

March 21st is… National California Strawberry Day, National Common Courtesy Day, National French Bread Day, and National Single Parent Day! Plus, as the third day (Tuesday) of the third full week of the third month (for 2023), it’s also… National 3-D Day!

March 22nd is… National Bavarian Crepes Day, National Goof Off Day, and National West Virginia Day!

March 23rd is… National Chia Day, National Chip and Dip Day, National Near Miss Day, National Melba Toast Day, National Puppy Day, and National Tamale Day!

March 24th is… National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day, and National Cheesesteak Day!

March 25th is… National Lobster Newburg Day!

March 26th is… National Nougat Day and National Spinach Day! Plus, as the fourth Sunday in March (for 2023), it’s also the beginning of… National Cleaning Week.


…12 down and 40 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – It’s Your Story, Run With It

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!




Tomorrow observes, among other things, National Write Down Your Story Day and Sunday is National Let’s Laugh Day! For many years, before Mom began her Secret RecipesTM business, she wrote satirical columns for various papers. Mom’s stories about how she delt with various situations, in our family and at work, always make me laugh.

Mom wrote down her story, often, in all of her self-published books and newsletters. Most notably, she wrote her (and our family’s) story in her self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989), from which I often reference her anecdotes (aka: “MOM’S MEMORIES”).

Mom’s stories, about her dealings with our family’s humorous life-happenings, often blended facts with a little fabrication – just enough to entice a laugh. She was a talented writer. As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, she was greatly inspired, throughout her life, by many talented and funny women like Carol Burnette and Erma Bombeck, just to name a couple.


March is also National Craft Month. Writing a story/book can be considered a craft (an activity involving skill in making things by hand). Like Mom, since I was a young girl, I’ve always loved writing, drawing, and crafting things. Creativity was always encouraged and nurtured by our parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles – whenever I or my siblings crafted anything. I’ve written enough poetry to produce a book or two but I’ve yet to try to publish them.

In my blog posts, I’ve often written about how Mom inspired me – as a writer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook, mother… The list goes on. A variety of artistic and creative skills seem to run in my family. If there is such a thing as an “artistic gene”, I feel lucky and grateful that my family and I seem fortunate to have it.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 25-28)


WHEN I WROTE THAT very first poem that the Detroit News published when I was in the fourth or fifth grade at the US Grant School in Royal Oak, I was headed toward this livelihood and didn’t even know it.

When I wrote “The Young Pioneer” that same year with the girls who lived on the block, after we saw the movie about the life of the Brontë sisters, I was being directed towards this livelihood… Each was a little step in the right direction, in the direction toward which our entire family would come, and gratefully so.

The beginning of my interest in writing seriously began with the poem – a class assignment – and no one could’ve been more surprised than me to find it published in the newspaper… I remember that it was [after] the war ended… World War II. Every Saturday, the kids on the block would walk up town to the main theater where, for 11-cents, we could see a double feature, cartoons and a cliffhanger serial.

The movie that made the biggest impression on me and really started my emotional batteries to move me into writing, was the story of the Brontë sisters [Devotion (Warner Bros. Pictures, 1946)] – Anne, Charlotte and Emily Jane. One of them [Charlotte] wrote ‘Jane Eyre’ and [Emily] wrote the classic novel, ‘Wuthering Heights’.

They wrote without the benefit of a typewriter, which made an impression on me then. So, on the way home from the movie, I coaxed my friends into stopping with me at the dime store so I could buy a pack of notebook paper and a pair of long, heavy shoelaces.

I was going to fashion these into a manuscript like the Brontë sisters used in the movie. Ordinarily, we would’ve gone to the Royal Oak Sweet Shop on Main Street near Fourth for a soda or some Divinity or fudge to nibble on, but I was saving my quarter for writing paper.

It is good, sometimes, in looking back at how far we have come from the first steps that were to lead us into a bright direction… In our office, I have a file drawer that is full of newspaper clippings that have been written about us and our recipes. These go back to 1974…

Before I ever wrote the ‘Secret Recipes Book’ [in 1976], I [had] assembled a small volume of American dishes to celebrate the bicentennial. Several copies of that little book, ‘The American Cookery Cookbook’, were purchased by the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village in Dearborn [Michigan].

A curious young reporter, who was going through the Museum’s collection of new books, came across mine. He tried to purchase a copy, he later told me, by contacting every bookstore in the area. No one had even heard of me. I was not even listed in the ‘books in print’ directory.

So he returned to the museum and copy down the address from the cover of my book, looked us up in the phone directory and gave us a call. Once Dan Martin of Newsday Wire Service Features saw what the production of our monthly newsletter was like, he lost interest in that little bicentennial cookbook.

When he knocked on the door, that day, it was like inviting him into a Jean Kerr production of ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’. There were a dozen baskets of ironing here and there in the large dining room, each [one] tagged with the name, phone number and date promise to the customer who left [it] with me to be ironed.

Two long tables under the windows were covered with freshly mimeographed 4” x 6” cards of recipes, spread out for the ink to dry. Several times a week, I printed up to 200 recipes and about 50 copies of each. At that time, we sold these through our newsletter for five-for-a-dollar or $.25 apiece. We did very well with them too!

In the living room, Debbie’s friends had gathered with their drivers’ training manuals to quiz each other for the big day coming up when those six teenagers would be taking their driving tests. In the kitchen, Cheryl and Lorie were working on Girl Scout badge projects with some of their friends. It was a madhouse!

Mr. Pipersack was shuffling in and out of the side porch door, trying to unplug the bathroom pipes and clean out the septic tank for us. In the back room, where the prehistoric furnace was located that heated our 80-year-old house.

A man from the gas company was arguing with a man from the Edison company about what was wrong with our furnace and why it wouldn’t work. They finally asked me if my husband owned a screwdriver. I told them, ‘of course!’ They looked at each other and then looked at me, then one of them said, ‘hide it!’

Our oldest son, Bill, was hunting through the kitchen drawers for some tools at that moment, so that he could get under the hood of his mustang out in the driveway and then let Mr. Pipersack pull his truck into the yard. Mike, our next oldest, was on the phone trying to convince a girl that the things she had heard about him weren’t true and if he could get his dad’s car on Saturday, would she go to the movies with them.

The cat was having a litter of kittens under the sewing table and our police dog, Susie, was about to have a litter of pups and was moping about, looking for comfort. I now wonder how any serious writer could have found inspiration in that kind of environment.

I almost wish we had given the impression that we were like the Brady Bunch so that the article the reporter was going to write, would have reflected better on our being normal and average; but frankly, I think I like the Brady Bunch because we could all learn so much from their faultless fantasies about family life.

One of my earliest memories of me & my mom is when she taught me how to write the alphabet and my name, from how to hold the pencil and draw the letters, to putting those wonderful letters together into words. I grew to love writing and crafting, mostly because of Mom. English and art were two of my most favorite subjects throughout school.

I was always amazed and inspired by how Mom managed to work at the newspaper and start her own business, doing what she loved most (writing), while juggling all of her other responsibilities; with a husband, 5 kids, and a dog for which to care. We were a dysfunctional, “real life” version of the Brady family.


There’s no better time than now to write your story down. Leave your legacy in a memoir. Capture the essence of who you are. Include your traditions, life-lessons, values, special moments, accomplishments, beliefs and hopes. Share your favorite pictures, too. It’s your story, run with it!

Turn it into a printed book – size doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of options online for “print on demand” companies. Your local printer can probably do it, too. Believe it or not, your story can be a great, personalized gift for family (and close friends) on any holiday or special occasion.


In honor of Saturday, being National Sloppy Joe Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for a Slow Cooker version of “Manwich [Style] Sloppy Joe Mix”; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 33).


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


March celebrates, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Flour Month, National Sauce Month, and National Women’s History Month!



March is unofficially Maple Sugaring Month in Michigan! It’s not a national holiday but making maple syrup is a big event around here! There’s a really great article about sugaring [which is the process of gathering maple sap and making it into sugar and/or syrupNOT the hair-removal process by the same name] at the Michigan State University’s Extension’s website, called March is Maple Syrup Season in Michigan.

[NOTE: Lent began on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, and will run throughout March, until Thursday, April 6th (for 2023).]

This week is also celebrating… National Girl Scout Week.

Today is additionally… National Good Samaritan Day, National Coconut Torte Day, and National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day! Plus, as the day after Daylight Savings Time Day (for 2023), it’s also… National Napping Day!

Tomorrow is… National Children’s Craft Day (plus, it’s National Craft Month), National Learn About Butterflies Day, and National Potato Chip Day! In honor of the first aforementioned, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for Homemade Finger Paints, from her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 44).



Wednesday, March 15th is… American Legion Birthday, National Everything You Think is Wrong Day, National Kansas Day, and National Pears Helene Day!

Thursday, March 16th is… National Artichoke Hearts Day, Everything You Do Is Right Day, and National Freedom of Information Day!

Friday, March 17th is… National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day and St. Patrick’s Day!

March 18th is… National Awkward Moments Day and National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day! Additionally, as the third Saturday in March (for 2023), it’s also… National Quilting Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of “March Madness” (March 12th-April 3rd for 2023), it’s also… National Corn Dog Day!

Sunday March 19th is… National Chocolate Caramel Day and National Poultry Day! [NOTE: Mar. 19, 1991, is also the anniversary of Mom’s second appearance on The Home Show (Los Angeles; ABC-TV), with Carol Duvall.]


…11 down and 41 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Celebrate Women More

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! Welcome to #MemoriesOfMyMom!





As I wrote last week, since 1987, March observes and celebrates National Women’s History Month – to honor women and their endeavors in making the world a better place for ALL women – regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, or religion.

Additionally, yesterday began the start of International Women’s Week. Plus, Wednesday is International Women’s Day. Thus there’s no better time, for me to re-tell Mom’s story about being the trailblazer who started the “copycat cookery” concept in the food industry.

There are so many famous women, who have had great influence and blazed the trail for other women, to recognize world-wide – Amelia Earhart, Queen Elizabeth II, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, Madam Curie, Rosa Parks, Margaret Sanger, Princess Diana, Sandra Day O’Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt, “Rosie the Riveter”, Maya Angelou – and so on!

For some great stories about women’s history, check out’s editors’ story, Famous Firsts In Women’s History (Updated: February 4, 2021), and 100 Women In History, by Jone Johnson Lewis (Updated: July 3, 2019).

I also want to celebrate “moms”! Most of what my mom knew in the kitchen, when she first started what became her “Secret RecipesTM” business, she had initially learned from her mom and mother-in-law (as well as an older sister and many aunts). I think, in most families, the moms are probably the greatest sources of inspiration and influence.

Aside from her family, Mom was also greatly inspired, throughout her life, by many other notably talented women – comedians, actresses, and writers like Carol Burnette, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball probably top the list. Others include Erma Bombeck, Carol Duvall, Elsie Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer; just to name a handful.

I’ve also mentioned more than a few times, in my blog posts, that one of the greatest influences, in Mom’s life as a writer, was the 1946 Warner Brothers film, Devotion, about the lives of the Bronte sisters (also notably talented women, to be recognized, as well). That’s from where Mom’s dedication to writing first blossomed – and it grew for over 70 years!

Mom was a “creative master” at whatever she attempted. I wish I had half of her talent. She wore so many hats in our family and in the “family enterprise”. In our family, Mom was the cook, maid, chauffer, doctor, seamstress, counselor, mentor, teacher, and more.

In her home-based business, Mom was the recipe developer, author, illustrator, layout creator, publicist, promotion specialist, public speaker/lecturer and (again) so much more! She was a “Wonder Woman”, who devoted every day to balancing all of it!

As a semi-modernized, yet somewhat old-fashioned housewife-turned-homemaker-turned-entrepreneur, during the 1970s, amidst the Women’s Lib Movement; Mom felt extremely blessed to be able to write (for a living) – and to be able to do it from home. She always said, she made a living with her writing, but it was her writing that made living worthwhile!


As seen in…

No Laughing Matter, by Gloria Pitzer (circa 1970s)


AS A ‘SUBURBAN HOUSEWIFE’, I fail to see how anyone could classify my routine as ‘dull’! For one thing, everyone knows that the mother of an active family has no routine! We’re lucky if we can get our slippers on the right feet first thing in the morning.

In fact, we’re lucky if we can even find those slippers, having to, first, plow through an undergrowth of Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs on the way to the kitchen, where we must witness testy debates over who gets the [prize] in the box of [cereal] and why a 40-year-old man refuses to take the Donald Duck Thermos in his lunch…

What’s wrong with a quest for a roll of Scotch tape that’s your very own or having the phone ring and the call is for you instead of your teenager? [Margaret Mead’s] working definition [of a ‘first-class’ woman, not being a housewife or homemaker,] is a ‘trained, competent, professional woman’.

Now, I’d be the last one to contradict an expert, but in defense of women who become wives and mothers… we have had training (although much of it’s on the job), are extremely competent and are professional [according to Webster’s dictionary] in that we have ‘a vocation requiring knowledge of some department of learning or skill’…

If you don’t think it takes learning or skill to varnish a complex-of-disorder with enough love and efficiency that husbands and children grow up with security and comfort, drop around my kitchen some Sunday night…

No matter what they tell us [working-outside-the-home homemakers] about turning our kids over to a day care center, there’s nothing like coming home from school to know that Mom’s in the kitchen, whipping up a pitcher of Tang and a plate of Twinkies.

The Women’s Civil Rights Movement [aka: “suffrage”] first gained, for women, the right to vote. However, it didn’t stop there. In fact, it evolved into more, advocating for even more equal rights.

Thus, National Women’s History Month also celebrates the triumphs of women’s rights activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, as well as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, who lead the feminist movement, also known as Women’s Lib.

The WLM went on to fight for more rights and equality issues to which women were still denied, compared to men  – like better job opportunities, equal treatment, fairer wages, advancement prospects, higher education opportunities, sex education, birth control, etc.

Before the Women’s Liberation Movement developed in the 1960s, cooking and cleaning were always deemed “woman’s work”, and it still is (though not as much) throughout most of the world. I actually love cooking and cleaning, myself. I feel accomplished and happy, in feeding others enjoyable food and keeping a clean home.

I always admired how much Mom took on, and balanced, between (what she deemed) her own homemaking and money-making responsibilities. The work of a homemaker is often taken for granted.

From my youngest memories, Mom almost always worked from home (or, when away, while we were in school). She was always able to harmonize her various jobs – those that paid her money and those that paid her in kisses and hugs from us.


As seen in…

“No Laughing Matter”; a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer

(date unknown; circ. 1970s)


WITH ALL DUE RESPECT to Women’s Lib, I don’t think they can help me. I think they’ve done enough for me already! Frankly, I think I was doing alright before they came along. At least I could get a seat on a bus. Now I’m lucky if a man will offer to hold my packages for me.

I can also remember when cutting the grass was considered “man’s work”. These days my husband flips me two-out-of-three to see which of us gets the lawn mower and who will fix the iced tea and sit on the patio chair to watch.

Last week, I was visited by a new militant group of women in our neighborhood who are protesting the proposed 4-day work week for MEN. They advocated a simple test. If you cannot get through a two-week vacation and the Christmas holidays with a man who over-waters your house plants and alphabetizes your refrigerator then how can you get through a three-day weekend, 52 weeks out of the year?

For you must then decide if you have to run the sweeper [aka: vacuum] while he’s taking a nap, or does he have to take a nap while you’re running the sweeper. Arguing with a husband (especially when he’s your own), is like taking a shower/bath in a scuba outfit. But I have a theory!

There are some things in this liberated life, which a woman just cannot control. You have tasted instant failure when neither of you can agree on who gets custody of the only controls on the electric blanket; and if it’s fair that she who makes the garbage must also carry it out; and whose mother calls more – yours or his?

This is the same man who warned me not to go into labor on his bowling night and who, on Christmas, gave me a monogrammed tool box and a gift certificate from Sunoco for an oil change and lube job, and a can of Easy-Off in my stocking.

The liberating females of our society have missed the joy of knowing what it means to live with a man who claims he’s always out of socks, but YOU know there are two more pairs in the drawer and [of course] only YOU can find them!

Most husbands are generally quite liberal with their wives in spite of the ‘Lib Movement’… I’ll have you know that my husband has always allowed me to make all sorts of important decisions – like: ‘Does that child need a nap?’ ‘Should that baby have her pants changed?’ ‘Do you really need another new pant suit?’ ‘Must your mother call here every day?’ ‘Should we recognize Red China?’ ‘Will they find Howard Hughes?’

The only liberation I want is to get away from the kids once in a while, without having the school counselor label me as a parent who doesn’t care. When you cannot free yourself from the oven encased in molten lasagna and apple pie fossils, you know that liberation is but a piper’s dream in your soap opera saga.

On the other hand, my husband takes a realistic approach to my emancipation. He claims women have never had it so good… (What does HE know?) His trying to tell me about women’s rights is like trying to tell General Eisenhower about World War II. However, I look at it this way: ‘Either give me liberty… OR GIVE ME A CLEANING LADY!’


In one of Mom’s “No Laughing Matter” columns, from the 1970s (not sure what date it was actually published in the papers, where it was syndicated), called ‘Where Have All Our Homemakers Gone?’, she wrote:

‘The full-time homemaker is, unfortunately, being short-changed by today’s ‘paycheck-oriented’ society and, if Women’s Lib have their own way, ‘homemaker’ will be a 4-letter word… the women who, either by choice or by circumstance, make a career out of making a home.’

It’s been 50 years since the Women’s Liberation Movement developed. I’m constantly amazed at the timelessness of the issues about which Mom wrote. The old adage is true – “the more things change, the more they stay the same!”


In honor of March, being National Sauce Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Punch-A-Train Rarebit Sauce”; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Eating Out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; September 1978, p. 22).


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


March celebrates, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Craft Month, National Flour Month!

Also being observed this week is… National Procrastination Week [which is the first two weeks in March (1st-14th or 5th-18th, for 2023) or whenever it’s convenient], National Words Matter Week, and Read An e-Book Week (all, 5th-11th for 2023).



Today is… National Frozen Food Day, National Oreo Cookie Day, and National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day!

Tomorrow is… National Flapjack Day, National Cereal Day, and National Crown of Roast Pork Day! 

Wednesday, March 8th is… National Oregon Day, National Peanut Cluster Day, and National Proofreading Day!

Thursday, March 9th is… National Crabmeat Day, National Get Over it Day, and National Meatball Day!

Friday, March 10th is… National Blueberry Popover Day and National Pack Your Lunch Day!

Saturday, March 11th is… National Johnny Appleseed Day and National Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day!

March 12th is… National Baked Scallops Day, National Plant a Flower Day, and National Girl Scout Day, which is also the start of Girl Scout Week (for 2023)! Plus, as the second Sunday in March (for 2023), it’s also… National Daylight Saving Time Day – spring forward! Additionally, on this day…


…10 down and 42 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Celebrate Women

Thank God Its Monday again – so #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!





We’re quickly approaching March, which observes and celebrates, among other things, National Women’s History Month. It was created in 1987 to honor women and their endeavors to make the world a better place for all other women – regardless of their age, race, ethnicity, or religion.

Additionally, next Sunday (March 5th) is the start of International Women’s Week. Plus, next Wednesday, the 8th, is also International Women’s Day. Consequently, what better time is there, for me to re-tell Mom’s story, of being a pioneer in the food industry?

She started the copycat cookery concept in the early 1970s, imitating the “secret recipes” of “famous foods from famous places”, right at home! Mom always felt that we, all, could and should make the world a better place. She liked to do it through her food-for-thought articles, food-for-the-soul advice, and food-for-the-table recipes.

To promote her new recipes business, in the Detroit area, in the mid-1970s, Mom became a regular “guest” on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” radio program. His audience quickly dubbed her “The Recipe Detective”, as she could decipher different combinations of ingredients and techniques, to use at home, imitating our favorite restaurant dishes and fast food items, as well as packaged “junk foods” and other supermarket products.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 55)


RADIO TURNED OUT TO BE the most appropriate way by which we made people aware of what we were doing. Again, my involvement with the wonderful world of radio actually came about without any specific intention of becoming a regular part of the broadcasting field.

For one thing, I didn’t know I had what is considered a ‘radio voice’. I had never heard my own voice, at least, recorded. Heaven knows, our five kids will, to this day, even in their adulthood, testify to the fact that, on occasion, during their upbringing, I have been known to discover conditions that would prompt me to accelerate vocally in a pitch that only dogs in the next county could hear!

My introduction to radio began with Bob Allison and [his] nearly 30-year-running [at that time] ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show. I was folding diapers at the kitchen table, waiting for my favorite, daily segment of ‘My True Story’ to come on the air, when, instead, WWJ announced that it had been replaced with a NEW show.

This new show turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. To this day [December 1989], almost every Monday morning I visit with Bob Allison and his neighbors, now [in 1989] heard weekdays at 10 AM (EST) over WEXL-radio (Royal Oak/Detroit, Michigan), 1340 on your AM dial.

When ‘My True Story’ was replaced by Bob Allison and his ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ show, weekday mornings, I was, at first, very disappointed. [Recipes,] household hints and problems around the house that you cannot solve yourself, seem like just too much homemaking information to please me.

I soon, however, became ‘hooked’ on the show; as almost everybody does, to the point that, on Fridays, when Bob would sign off and say he would talk to us again on Monday, I was spending the weekends, just looking forward to the show on Monday.

I called the show about two or three times a month for the first year or two to ask questions of Bob’s ‘neighbors’ that my newspaper column readers were asking me. When I could not find the answers from consulting other sources, I knew I could rely on Bob Allison’s ‘neighbors’ to come up with the right answers for me.

In return, I would often than phone and an answer that I occasionally had in reply to one of their questions or recipe requests. Bob did not recognize my voice as a regular collar until I had initiated the newsletter, however.

He asked me where the recipe came from that I was giving in reply to one of his listeners requests, which is how his program has always worked. Nobody simply calls in a recipe because they like it. They must, first, be replying to a request made by another caller and, secondly, must have personally tried the recipe.

On rare occasions, Bob will accept a recipe that is NOT tried by the caller, providing it comes from a truly reliable source or has been asked for and not answered for a long time. They also cover services that people are looking for or products that they cannot locate.

This is what has always made Bob Allison’s format so unique, when compared to others like it on the air. In mentioning that the hamburger sauce recipe would appear in the next issue of my monthly newsletter, which I had given in response to one of his listeners previous requests, Bob reacted with great interest and curiosity.

‘You have a newsletter, do you?’ He asked. ‘Well, tell us about it and how much it is and where our neighbors can get it.’

That was all it took to get us well-acquainted with Bob’s ‘neighbors’ and, in no time at all, our subscription orders went from a few too many. Sight-unseen was hardly appropriate to ask people to buy a publication that they could not first examine.

So I spent all of one day and most of the next, thinking about and trying out a single page description with a few sample recipes from the publication that I could send out to interested in perspective subscribers. To this day, we still use the same procedure, and it has worked very well. We offer, for a self-addressed stamped envelope, 15 sample recipes and, on the other side of the page, all the [ordering] information on our books and newsletter.

In the early 1970s, Mom discovered that people were searching to replicate these things but there wasn’t a source around to tell them how – so she created one. Later, Mom trademarked the nickname, “The Recipe Detective”, and it became her signature format.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p.293) [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].


I WAS A REGULAR PARTICIPANT on Bob Allison’s ‘Ask Your Neighbor’ radio show that aired 5 days a week for 2 hours in the morning. I used Bob’s program for asking for food information that I needed for my weekly columns. Bob’s audience was very helpful in supplying me with answers. To reciprocate, I would reply to some of the requests made by his audience when they called into Bob’s show.

It was a unique format in that one could not simply call in a recipe or information simply because they wanted to share it with others. The information or the recipe had to, first, be requested by a previous caller. Many of my first ‘Secret Recipes’ were developed because of requests made by Bob’s callers for such dishes as The Colonel’s secret spices, Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, Sander’s hot fudge, Win Schuler’s bar cheese and so on.

At the suggestion of one of Bob’s callers that I should put all my column recipes into a book, I wrote my 1st edition [1973] called ‘The Better Cooker’s Cookbook’. In less than a month, I had sold 1000 copies. I wasn’t satisfied with the book, so I didn’t reprint it – but, decided that it might work out better if I could do those recipes monthly.

So, in December 1973, I put together my 1st issue of what came to be my ‘Secret Recipe Report’; a newsletter that… brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry.

I probably wouldn’t have done the [newsletter], except for a falling-out I had [at the time] with the editor of a small-town paper for which I was writing a food column. I had published some of my 1st attempts at duplicating famous dishes in that column…

The response was beautiful, until I offended one of the paper’s biggest advertisers with a rendition of their cheesecake… ‘The kind that nobody doesn’t like.’ The editor told me I would have to go back to standard recipes like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf or chocolate cake – or I could pick up my check. I told him to ‘MAIL it to me!’

That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own paper. That afternoon, I put out my charter issue, sending samples of it to those whose names and addresses I had on file from having written to me at the paper. That was the beginning of ‘Secret Recipes’!


Since starting this blog series, in Mom’s honor, I’ve received many emails and social media messages from people who remember the joy Mom brought them and their families through her cookbooks and newsletters. She inspired them in the kitchen. That inspires me!


In honor of TODAY, being National Strawberry Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Strawberry Nut Bread, like The Wine Country Inn” (St. Helena, CA); as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 165). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]. Followed by a re-share of her “Strawberry Freezer Jam” recipe (from page 184 of the same book)!



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


For a couple more days, February is still celebrating… National Fasting February, An Affair to Remember Month, Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Creative Romance Month, National Great American Pies Month, National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, National Snack Food Month, and National Weddings Month!

Today is also… National Polar Bear Day! Plus, as the last Monday in February (for 2023), it’s also the beginning of… National Eating Disorders Awareness Week!

Tomorrow is… National Chocolate Souffle Day and National Floral Design Day!

Wednesday is the beginning of March, which celebrates, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Flour Month, and National Sauce Month! Additionally, National Procrastination Week is the first two weeks of March (1st-14th or 5th-18th (2023) or whenever it’s convenient). [NOTE: Lent began on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, and will run throughout March, until Thursday, April 6th (for 2023).]

March 1st is… National Dadgum That’s Good Day, National Fruit Compote Day, National Minnesota Day, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, and World Compliment Day!

March 2nd is… National Banana Cream Pie Day, National Old Stuff Day, and National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day) [NOTE: If it falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it moves to the closest school day.]

March 3rd is… National Anthem Day, National Cold Cuts Day, National I Want You to Be Happy Day, National Mulled Wine Day, and Soup It Forward Day! Plus, as the first Friday in March (for 2023), it’s also National Day of Unplugging, National Dress in Blue Day, and National Employee Appreciation Day!

March 4th is… National Grammar Day, National Pound Cake Day, and National Sons Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month (for 2023), it’s also… National Play Outside Day!

March 5th is… National Cheese Doodle Day! Plus, as the start of the first full week of March, it’s also the start of… Read an E-Book Week and Words Matter Week!


…9 down and 43 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Homemade

Thank God Its Monday and #HappyMonday to everyone! I look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!




Next Monday celebrates National Retro Day! Retro describes something new that’s imitative of past, classic fashion styles or designs. Nowadays, retro has expanded to describe many other classic things from our past – such as music, movies, TV shows, and even foods.

Additionally, next Wednesday is also the beginning of March, which celebrates National Craft Month! A craft is basically an activity that involves making things skillfully, with your hands. Common retro crafts include macrame, weaving, sewing, knitting and crocheting.

These days, other popular crafts include making beer/wine, jam, soap, pottery, jewelry, candles, aroma oils, etc. Sugaring, which is the process of gathering maple sap and making it into a sugar and/or syrup [NOT the hair-removal process by the same name], is considered a craft, as well.

Unofficially, March Is Maple Syrup Season In Michigan; which is also the title of a timeless, informative article about the traditional (retro) method of sugaring; written by Russell Kidd (March 14, 2013), available at Michigan State University’s Extension’s website.

Making maple syrup is a really big event in Michigan! On the weekends, mid-March to late-April, in different regions around Michigan, you’ll find an array of maple syrup festivals, celebrating the age-old craft of sugaring.

The ideal conditions required for maple sap to flow well are here, as night temperatures hover around the freezing mark and daytime temps warm up, into the 40’s range. The sugaring season normally lasts about four to six weeks, depending on the weather, climate change, and location.

Unfortunately, global warming is shortening the sugaring season. The effect of climate change on the maple syrup season and its average production shows a slight closing of the normal “window of opportunity”, as the season’s start is beginning to shift from March to mid-February…

Once the weather gets too warm and the trees start to bud, the sap is no-longer good for sugaring and the season is done. Around this time of year, since four years ago, I love re-sharing a really great story/video from my local morning news show.

Backyard Maple Syrup, With Jill-of-all-Trades, by Jill Washburn (March 26, 2019), available at, is an impressive segment about how to collect maple tree sap and a simple way to cook down a small batch (about 2 gallons), for a day or so in a slow cooker, until it renders a sweet, thick syrup.

When the mini sugaring process is done, the two gallons of sap yields about a half-cup of syrup, but there’s such a great feeling of accomplishment in being able to say, “I made it, myself!” [FYI: December 17th is the OFFICIAL National Maple Syrup Day.]

I’ve learned that maples with a 25-inch (or more) diameter can handle up to three taps but no trees should ever have more than that. Those with a 10-to-20-inch diameter shouldn’t have more than one tap. At 20-25 inches (diameter), they can sustain up to two taps. In an average season, each tap can produce about 10 gallons of sap, which renders about one quart of syrup.

Here’s a re-share of Mom’s homemade, copycat version of “Syrup, Like Pancake House”, made from pantry shelf products; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1977, p. 32).


Between inflation and supply shortages, people are resorting more to making their own groceries and personal care products. Given our current trend, I think many of us are going to learn more about old-fashioned homesteading skills.

Mom was a trailblazer, with her “copycat cookery concept”. But she also wrote about how to stretch food, reinvent leftovers, and make many grocery products at home! If it saved money on her family’s grocery budget, she had to share it with others. Critics thought her craft (copycat cookery) was a passing fad that wouldn’t last. They were so wrong!

Not only did it last but it grew by leaps and bounds since its inception in the 1970s. Mom carved out a creative new niche in the food industry. People wanted to make their own fast food, junk food and grocery products at home. The concept was so catching that there were copycats copying the ORIGINAL copycat, even plagiarizing her.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 298-299). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].


WE WERE RECEIVING ABOUT 1000 letters a day from the radio shows that I took part in and the newspaper stories that I was more-or-less an acting consultant on subjects related to ‘fast food’. In the spring of 1981, our old friend, Carol Haddix, ran a story about our new book of ‘Homemade Groceries’ in the Chicago Tribune, where she had just been assigned the food department.

The Donahue Show people called once more and requested our appearance. We had just done a PM Magazine show with Detroit and had declined an invitation to appear in New York on Good Morning America, as well as declining an opportunity to have People Magazine interview us – and I still wonder why in the world I said I would do the Donahue show!

I think it was because I had just tangled with Grit, the weekly newspaper in Pennsylvania, over giving credit to the Food editor’s teenage daughter for having developed a fish batter like Arthur Treacher’s, using [my] club soda and pancake mix [recipe] – and received an apology on the back page of one of their issues, placing the item between an ad for corn and callous remover and waste cinchers.

I was also tangling with Jove Publications, who were pressing hard to sell their ‘Junk Food Cookbook’, using my recipes, word-for-word, with credit going to somebody else. I wanted to establish the fact that I was very much in business and willing to protect my copyrighted property with the same enthusiasm and sincerity as the major food companies had exhibited in protecting theirs from my imitations. (And believe me, we’ve heard from all the big ones!)

So, on July 6, Paul and I flew to Chicago, staying at the Hyatt O’Hare, and did the Donahue show live – for an entire hour – on July 7, flying back that same afternoon. The next day, 15,000 letters waited for us at the St. Clair post office.

And every day for 4 months, we picked up thousands of letters – having received by Christmas, well over 1 million letters, requesting information on how to acquire our books, which were still available only by mail from our address. We were bogged down with an unexpected response. It was an experience of mixed blessings!

I’ve often mentioned that my favorite, of Mom’s self-published cookbooks, is The Secrets Of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979). When I was a young mom, struggling to make ends meet, money was tight, and the pantry was almost bare. Mom’s ‘Homemade Groceries’ cookbook was always my go-to source – AND still is.

It teaches how to make a lot of popular grocery products at home; as well as, how to stretch or extend other products, saving a lot of money on the monthly grocery expenses! The ‘high demand’,overhead costs’ and ‘expected profits’ that are added to the prices of ‘convenience’ foods are what kill us at the grocery stores!

The lack of real nutrition that’s missing from these preservative-loaded, manufactured foods are not benefiting our health, either. They’re full of unnatural, shelf-life stabilizers, none of which are found in homemade groceries, where YOU control the ingredients!

Homemade Groceries’ includes easy principles for canning and freezing food, as well as making your own mixes, sauces and seasonings at a great financial savings compared to buying them – especially now! The retro homesteading concept has spawned new interests in “homemade”.

What happened to us, as a society? We became a too-busy-with-other-things, instant-gratification-and-convenience-overloaded culture! About half a century ago, we evolved into times when both parents, in a family unit, had to work to make ends meet, while their children were “raised” in the public schools’ Latchkey program.

The value of time changed dramatically, especially for working homemakers. Self-sufficiency and homesteading became a dying skill among many of the newer generations, who opted to spend their time differently, in exchange for conveniences – even to the extent of wanting more conveniences.

Nowadays, too many families are struggling to survive week-to-week and month-to-month, so cost-saving homesteading skills (re-termed as DIY) are making a renewed comeback. Besides, sometimes, when it comes to food, homemade is just better made, especially if you have to follow a special diet, as you control the ingredients in the product you covet.

‘Necessity is the mother of invention.’ – Plato


Vegetable gardening time is approaching fast. Many growers are starting their seeds indoors, right now, and prepping their garden beds for when it’s time to transplant those seedlings outside – usually after about 8 weeks. I remember when I was young, helping Mom in our little garden and orchard, in Algonac; collecting tomatoes, apples, pears, strawberries, raspberries and rhubarb for her homemade sauces and desserts.

Besides the nutritional and money-saving values of growing your own food, it’s also a healthy activity! You can burn a lot of calories, while tending a garden. There are so many aspects involved – planting, weeding, mulching, composting, watering, harvesting. I’m really looking forward to getting back into my garden soon.


In honor of TODAY, being National Muffin Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “White Mountain Muffins” (aka: Bongo Biscuits); as seen in her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 101).


Here’s also a re-share of Mom’s homemade “Self-Rising Flour” recipe, included on one of her “Free Recipe Samples & Ordering Information” sheets.

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


February celebrates, among other things… National Fasting February, Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Great American Pies Month, National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, and National Snack Food Month!

Today is also… National Cherry Pie Day and National Love Your Pet Day!

Tomorrow is… National Grain-Free Day and National Sticky Bun Day! Plus, as the day before Ash Wednesday (2023), it’s also… Mardi Gras (aka: Fat Tuesday), Paczki Day, Fastnacht Day, and iHop’s National Pancake Day!

February 22nd is… National California Day, National Cook a Sweet Potato Day, and National Margarita Day!

February 23rd is… National Banana Bread Day and National Dog Biscuit Day! Plus, as the fourth Thursday in February (for 2023), it’s also… National Chili Day! And, as the last Thursday in February (2023), it’s also… National Toast Day!

Friday, February 24th is… National Tortilla Chip Day! BONUS: In honor, here’s Mom’s secret recipes for “Tortilla Shells” and “[Homemade] Masa Harina”, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 68 & 70). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].



Saturday, February  25th is… National Chocolate Covered Nut Day and National Clam Chowder Day!

Sunday, February  26th is… National Pistachio Day!


…8 down and 44 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Month Of Love

Happy Valentine’s Eve! Plus, Thank God Its Monday and #HappyMonday to one and all! As usual, I always look forward to every Monday, as they’re my 52 Chances, each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!



February (aka: the “Month of Love”) is also, among other things, National Weddings Month… Generally, most weddings happen on the weekends, especially May through October. Monday holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day, which create “long weekends”, create extremely appealing choices for weddings and honeymoons.

Surprisingly, or not, Valentine’s Day (which is tomorrow) is one of the most popular holidays of the year, on which people plan to have winter weddings or engagement proposals, while Christmas Day is actually one of the least popular holidays – for weddings more so than proposals.


I found an awesome article by (updated 12/15/21), called 9 Things To Know About Getting Married On Valentine’s Day, which covers some really interesting and sensible pros and cons to consider, for anyone thinking about having such a wedding, in the middle of winter.

When considering the budget… Did you know that, generally, about 66% (or two-thirds) of the cost of a traditional-style wedding is wrapped up in the reception – including, for the most part, the venue, catering, and band? There’s also a really fascinating slide show at, about ‘Who Pays For What For The Wedding?’, (Updated: April 15,2021).

This week’s blog post is dedicated to my parents, whose marriage withstood the test of time, as well as many other tests. My parents faced a lot of struggles, like any other couple – between in-laws, raising five kids and various pets, trying to make ends meet during a recession (even when they both worked), and running their own business, from home.

They were truly committed to each other, having been together for 58 years, before Dad passed away in 2014. During the first 20 years of their marriage, Dad worked in various positions at a sign company. In 1976, he retired early to help Mom with her recipes business.

The business had grown a lot in just its first couple of years. In fact, it was already taking all of Dad’s attention, when he wasn’t working at the sign company. During the last 38 of their years together, Mom and Dad lived and worked, side-by-side, 24/7/52. Here’s Mom’s own story about their marriage and compatibility…



As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 62-64)


THE MOST OFTEN ASKED question about Paul and I working together in this family enterprise is how we managed to remain so compatible after 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week, since August 1976. The basis, I believe, for every successful relationship is always between two good forgivers. Sure, we get in each other’s way once in a while. But we never stay mad for long.

When we were in Ventura, California, in August [1989], we visited an old Spanish mission that was founded over 200 years ago. In the church edifice was a one-word sign on the wall near the rear of the room. It’s so greatly impressed me that I thought about it for days. The word was FORGIVE. A powerful message. The essence of The Master’s own message during his earthly ministry nearly 2000 years ago.

FORGIVE – who, why, what for? In forgiving, we free ourselves from the imprisoning thoughts of resentment, of retaliation [and] anger. In forgiving, we let go of bitterness, contempt, even hatred. We are free then to love, to heal, to be healed altogether.

One word – FORGIVE – but 1000 messages. A dictionary says of this word, ‘to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; pardon (an offense or offender).’ Forgive! It’s final, complete. There are no stipulations, no exceptions in the activity of forgiveness – no qualifications for anyone to meet.

Whatever the offense, we let go of the urge to see the offender punished when we forgive. It’s a cleansing action. It wipes clean the slate of past grievances. The more we remember past offenses, the less likely we are to exercise our freedom to pardon.

Sometimes, forgiving ourselves is even harder than forgiving someone else. Forgiving requires loving. And loving is spiritual activity. Spiritual activity is prayer. So, when we are praying, we are also forgiving and, likewise, being forgiven.

Our Heavenly Father forgives us so easily, so completely. He never withholds His forgiveness from His children, His beloved offspring, which include each one of us – you, me, everyone!

So, in examining the meaning of the word forgive, I can erase the pain of past offenses. I can put the word FORGIVE into action – put it to work in my relationship with others. It’s remembering to do so that takes a little work and a lot of practice, but before you know what, it becomes a habit!

The last thing every night and the first thing every morning, I whisper a ‘thank you’ to God for Paul. The last thing every night Paul’s arms around me as we go off to sleep, and I find his arms around me again when awakening in the morning and then, too, my first conscious thought is ‘Thank you, Father, for this good man’s love, for the beautiful partnership we have in our marriage, with our family, in our work… Thank you.’

It’s something I do automatically every night and every morning. Even the laws of physics and physiology can never reveal to us the indisputable way in which the Creator constantly participates in the life of each of us. It points out to me over and over again that the launching pad for successful change around us is actually the change within us!

To be in marvelous accord on a number of important issues in a conversation with someone you love, who loves you back, is grand. But… lasting marriages just do not ‘happen’. They have to be shaped and molded out of the good that one or both who are concerned will see and act upon opportunities to inspire improvements.

Most marriages begin with the expectation that they will last forever. In marriages that do last, forever is not only a hope, but an ongoing philosophy. The partners simply do not think seriously about divorce as a viable option. This attitude that a marriage will last, must last, tempers their approach to conflicts and imperfections.

These people are committed to the marriage, as well as to each other. They know that love needs time to take root and then expand; that in an enduring marriage, time is on your side. Time allows you the security of taking each other for granted, in the best sense of the term, without having constantly to impress or to prove yourself.

I don’t know how or when the transformation took place [for Paul and me], but it did – gradually, beautifully. I am not sure, but perhaps the Divine hand of heaven moved the family to become more harmonious. We never really talked about specific changes in attitude or behavior…

Most folks don’t like to be ‘preached’ to. To be ‘ministered’ to is different, however. When we are ‘ministered’ to, we are cared for, looked after and handled with quiet compassion – but never with pity. We can inspire someone to change but we dare not insist upon it!

When we see those we care about, somehow in conflict, and we know we can’t interfere; we can, instead, give out strong, moral support in silent prayer. Sometimes we focus so much on what is WRONG, that we failed to see how to correct it. We worry too much on WHO is right, rather than on WHAT is right!

In overcoming just the ordinary aggravations of being in business for ourselves, we also had to iron out the little conflicts over who would handle certain aspects of the work and how it would be handled. We were constantly having to compromise. That was the toughest step! Paul’s mother surely would have been proud of us and what we had accomplished together, if she had been able to witness any of this.

It is not easy to carry out the details of a demanding schedule and keep harmony at a priority, making every effort to keep the atmosphere healthy and still harmonious. To me, this was of utmost importance. Sometimes being in complete agreement was impossible, but the error to be corrected was always in separating the act from the person.

That, alone, made forgiving so much easier and without that forgiving we could never have worked together all these years – seven days a week… 52 weeks a year. To be able to overlook the things that are not important has made the compatibility easier to experience, too.

Being picky about something, we have said to each other, could only lead to increased discontent and sometimes snowball right into a major confrontation of shouting and fist-clenching. Thank goodness, neither of us ever let it get to that stage, since we both wanted to have the best possible relationship. We work at it!

Another great read, about marriage and compatibility, is What Makes a Marriage Last, by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue (HarperOne; May 5, 2020), in which they interview several of their friends, who are couples, about what factors made their marriages last. Here’s another one of Mom’s own stories, about marital bliss…

All marriages are happy… Love songs and laughter – What causes all the trouble is the living together AFTER! – Gloria Pitzer

Additionally, as explains in their article, ‘The Surprising Benefits To Being Married’: “Marriage has so many awesome perks.” In fact, they list 11 major advantages that cover most everything, for married couples, from better finances to more happiness to improved health. I’ve also heard of a lot of these benefits from multiple news sources. Thus, I suppose, they must have some merit.



It won’t be long now, when Michigan’s daytime temperatures hover steadily in the slightly “warm” 40s, while the nights remain in the freezing zone. That’s when Michigan’s Maple Syrup Season begins – usually in March, sometimes as early as late-February and as late as early-April, depending on the weather and location in the state.

Michigan Maple Weekend is celebrated over three different weekends – in different regions of the state. For more about the maple syrup season in Michigan, also check out Baihley Gentry’s great article (March 23, 2015) at, called It’s Maple Syrup Month in Michigan.

There’s so much to love about Michigan!


In honor of TODAY, being National Cheddar Day, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for “Company Cheese Ball”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 282). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].



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


February celebrates, among other things… National Fasting February, An Affair to Remember Month, Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Creative Romance Month, National Great American Pies Month, National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, and National Snack Food Month!

The second week of February (12th-18th for 2023) observes… National Kraut and Frankfurter Week, Freelance Writers Appreciation Week, National Secondhand Wardrobe Week, Great American Pizza Bake, National Jell-O Week, and National Take Your Family to School Week.

Today is also… National Tortellini Day! Plus, as the second Monday in February (2023), it’s also… National Clean Out Your Computer Day! Additionally, for 2023, it’s also… National Football Hangover Day (which is always the day after “The Big Game”).

Tomorrow is also… National Cream-Filled Chocolates Day and National Ferris Wheel Day!

Wednesday, February 15th is… National Gumdrop Day and National Wisconsin Day!

Thursday, February 16th is… National Almond Day and National Do A Grouch a Favor Day!

February 17th is… National Random Acts of Kindness Day (it’s also National Random Acts of Kindness Week) and National Cabbage Day! Plus, as the third Friday in February (for 2023), it’s also… National Caregivers Day and National No One Eats Alone Day!

Saturday, February 18th is… National Battery Day, National Crab Stuffed Flounder Day, and National Drink Wine Day!

Sunday, February 19th is… National Chocolate Mint Day! Plus, as the third week in February (for 2023), it’s also the start of Brotherhood/Sisterhood Week.


…7 down and 45 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Pure Michigan Love

Happy February! Plus, Thank God Its Monday and a very #HappyMonday to everyone! As always, I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!


With Valentine’s Day right in the heart of February, this month is generally known as the month of love. But it’s not all about romance for lovers and sweethearts. It’s also about self-love, as well as loving others, nurturing relationships with family and friends.

Obviously, love is something that should be practiced, shared, and celebrated every day, all year long, whether it’s for someone special, or even a place or thing. That being said, let me tell you about my love for my home state (and my parents’ home state) of Michigan.


January 18th, National Michigan Day, was only a few weeks ago. That week, I wrote about Hunting For Happiness. I often write about the happiness I find in the beauty of Michigan. So this may be a little late for the official National Michigan Day celebration, however, as I wrote last week: “Any day can be celebrated on any day…”!

There are a lot of things that make Michigan special – from its unique history (like being the home of “Motown” and the automobile industry) to its famous foods and restaurants (many of which Mom imitated, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM) to its melting-pot of people and traditions to its location and beautiful terrain (nestled within 4 of the 5 Great Lakes).

Notably, Michigan holds the record for the longest fresh water shoreline in the United States, coming in at 3,288 miles. Michigan is also one of only 12 states, through which the northern hemisphere’s 45th parallel runs. The significance of this parallel is that it’ marks the half-way point between the equator and the north pole.

Here, in Michigan, there are many Americana-style, roadside attractions – aka: selfie opportunities – along the various roads that sort of (within a few miles) follow the 45th parallel, between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It’s about 135 miles across, as the crow flies; but a little longer on land, as it’s not a straight shot, due to the terrain.

Over 50 years ago, a team from Michigan State University created what came to be known as the “Polar-Equator Trail”, to follow the 45th parallel as closely as possible across the “Tip of the Mitt”. Somewhere, there exists a guide/brochure that marks the trail as it was way back then. Sadly, it doesn’t exist, as such, any more.

Years ago, inspired by’s article, A Fine and Pointless Trail (April 8, 2010), my husband and I (as we, both, love to wander around our home state) drove part of the supposed “Polar-Equator Trail”. We started near Alpena and wandered west. It was a beautiful drive through farm country and state forest area.

Along the way, in Atlanta (aka: Elk Capital of Michigan), the town’s main intersection is actually right on the 45th parallel. Near Torch Lake, north of Kewadin, on Old US-31, is a beautiful and unique structure, called a “cairn”, which is basically a monument.

This one, built in 1938, is dedicated to Hugh J Gray (aka: “The Dean of Michigan Tourist Activity”). However, it represents all of Michigan, as it’s built of rocks from every county in the state. I found a couple of other really great articles about driving along the 45th Parallel, through Michigan.

The first one, I recommend reading, is at; called In Michigan, Drive a Crooked Line to Follow the 45th Parallel (By: Pioneer Press, Published: June 27, 2009; Updated: November 13, 2015). The other is at, about the origin of the Polar-Equator Trail.

Michigan is known by many nicknames, such as the “Great Lakes State” (because wherever you are in the state, you’re within about 85 miles of a Great Lake), the “Wolverine State” (which is the state animal but it’s now extinct, here), and the “Mitten State” (because of the distinct shape of the state’s lower peninsula) – which is why Michiganders commonly use their right hands, as a map of the lower peninsula.

Michigan’s Latin motto, “si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circum spice”, means “if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”. It’s unique shape and pure, natural beauty (from shore to shining shore) is probably for what Michigan is best known.

Furthermore, Michiganders have their own unique words and terms. For example, we say “pop” instead of “soda”. Also, residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (aka: the U.P.) are called “Yoopers” by residents of its Lower Peninsula, who are called “Trolls” by the U.P. residents because, in a matter of speaking, they live “under the bridge”; referring to south of the Mackinac Bridge (aka: the “Mighty Mac”).

Another great article, I recommend reading, is about how Michiganders talk – called Things Only Michiganders Say, by Hannah Ball (Tri-County Times, Fenton, MI; Updated: July 3, 2018). Some of what she lists, I’m guilty of saying often; and a few, I never realized, were uniquely Michigan slang.

Michigan is the birthplace of many iconic brands, including (but not limited to) Kellogg’s, Ford Motor Company, Carhartt, Whirlpool, Gerber Baby Food, Vlasic Pickles, Koegel Meat Company, Sanders Candy, Jiffy Mix, Tom’s Mom’s Cookies, Better Made Snack Foods, Vernor’s and Faygo Beverages.

15 Famous Michigan Foods That Are Truly Delicious, by the staff at (Sept. 25, 2020), really nailed a great list of some of my own family’s favorites, many of which Mom imitated, as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM. She loved to imitate famous foods from famous Michigan places, as well as nation-wide favorites. Many are on this “list”.

One of Mom’s favorites, mentioned in their “list”, is Mackinac Island Fudge; which is also Michigan’s unofficial state dessert, according to a 2014 article at Additionally cited was [Detroit’s] famous Coney Island Hot Dog, the sauce of which Mom also imitated and is likewise listed in another great article, at, called Signature Cheap Eats From Every State, by Scott Nyerges (Aug. 23, 2022).

Things To Do In Upper Peninsula, from, offers over 800 suggestions. They also suggest over 60 Best Upper Peninsula Hidden Gem Attractions to visit. 16 Places In Michigan You Must See, by Serena Maria Daniels (March 9, 2021) at also includes Mackinac Island.

In fact, just last summer, Michigan’s Mackinac Island [Was] Named ‘Best Island In The Continental US (; 07/13/2022). Michiganders have always known that Mackinac is quite a treasure, nestled in the north end of Lake Huron. Now the whole country is in on our secret!


In honor of February, being National Snack Food Month


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 264)… [a revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]


…SNACKS HAVE GIVEN an unlikely edge to a suffering food industry that was never anticipated as being possibly successful. Potato chips, pretzels, dips and appetizers have been more than well-received by a public that the industry was once certain had tried everything they could have been offered and will probably not buy another new idea! How wrong!

Whenever a new snack item or beverage has been introduced to the public, it has been received with enthusiasm, until proven unworthy of patronage, because we have become an on-the-run generation of picky eaters. Some just don’t want to get involved any longer with a big meal experience.

Some don’t want to take the time to make the foods and then serve them and, finally, clean up afterward. We look for snacks and beverages to serve our guests and to enjoy individually in our most private and leisurely moments.

From the offerings of the food industry have come some relatively good ideas, such as the baked potato chip product. Pretzels have gone from the 200-year-old tradition of hard and dry-baked to a soft, bread-like product, liberally sprinkled in salt and topped with prepared mustard and, as a fast food enterprise, has been one of the leading money-makers in the industry.


Also, in honor of February, being National Snack Food Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Cheese Crackers; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 281). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].



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


February celebrates, among other things… National Fasting February, An Affair to Remember Month, Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Creative Romance Month, National Great American Pies Month, National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, and National Weddings Month!

The second week of January celebrates, among other things… Burn Awareness Week (which is the 5th-11th, for 2023).

Today is also… National Frozen Yogurt Day and National Chopsticks Day! Plus, as the start of the first full WORK WEEK of February (6th-10th for 2023), today also kicks off Pride in Food Service Week.

Tomorrow is… National Fettuccine Alfredo Day and National Send a Card to a Friend Day! Plus, today begins National Marriage Week, which is always February 7th-14th.

Wednesday, February 8th is… National Boy Scouts Day [plus, it’s National Boy Scout Anniversary Week (always February 5th-11th)], National Kite Flying Day, and National Iowa Day!

February 9th is… National Cut the Cord Day, National Bagel and Lox Day, and National Pizza Day!

Friday, February 10th is… National Cream Cheese Brownie Day and National Umbrella Day!

February 11th is… National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, National Inventors’ Day, National Make a Friend Day, and National Peppermint Patty Day! Plus, as the second Saturday in February (2023), it’s also… Global Movie Day!

Sunday, February 12th is… National Plum Pudding Day! Plus, for 2023, it’s also… National Pork Rind Day, which is always the same day as Super Bowl Sunday (now the second Sunday in February)!


…6 down and 46 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – When You’re Doing What You Love

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!


In what seems like the blink of an eye, January is already almost gone. However, it’s not gone yet! These last two days of January are still observing, among other things… National Soup Month, National Blood Donor Month, National Hobby Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Mentoring Month, National Oatmeal Month, and National Slow Cooking Month.

Just because the month is ending, don’t stop your hobby or donating blood or mentoring someone. Don’t stop enjoying soup, hot tea, or oatmeal. And definitely continue having and appreciating slow cooked meals throughout the year. Any day can be celebrated on any day – look at “Christmas in July”.


‘Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life’ – Mark Twain

As I wrote about recently, a lot of New Year’s resolutions include starting a new hobby. Another is turning a hobby into a livelihood! Similarly to Mark Twain, says about hobbies: “…if you’re really lucky, you can find what you love to do and turn it into your career. You know what they say: ‘If you make your hobby your job, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.’”

The authoring seed was planted in Mom’s soul decades before her Secret RecipesTM business really took off in the mid-1970s. Whenever Mom was asked “how did it all start”, she always found it hard to pinpoint that one single moment.

However, she was initially inspired to be a writer, after watching the 1946 Warner Brothers movie, “Devotion”, about the Bronte sisters. Mom said that was when she began to journal, seriously – on a daily basis – usually writing about her life and her faith.

Mom filled journal after journal, for well-over 70 years, with her thoughts and feelings and observations, from the time she was 10 years old until she physically couldn’t, shortly before she passed away in January 2018. Writing was so much more than “just a hobby” or a vocation, to Mom. It was a DEVOTION!

‘Succeeding against the odds…When I look back now, I realize that I was so busy trying to prove that others were wrong about me, I couldn’t see how events were already taking place that would sooner or later put me where I had always wanted to be – writing for a worthwhile living, while it made living worthwhile.’ – Gloria Pitzer My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 81)


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 25)


OVER THE YEARS, the reporters who came to interview us, somehow arrived at our doorstep anticipating a happy cross between the Walton’s and the Brady Bunch. I don’t know if they were disappointed or relieved to learn that we weren’t even close to either of the adorable, but fictional, families they expected.

There were times when the reporters asked to come out to our home, then, in Pearl Beach (near Algonac) and so small, I use to say, if we had a City Hall it would be located over a phone booth!

They would approach the story as if it were just another housewife with a happy little hobby who turned it into a profitable business. My writing was never a hobby… For lack of a better definition, the Internal Revenue Service calls our enterprise a ‘business’… [while] others call it our ‘work’. I, however, like the word ‘livelihood’ because it is a lively experience.

Mom always felt that writing was her “true calling”, claiming that she made a living with it, but it was her writing that made living worthwhile! I’ve found many articles online, regarding hobbies for making you happy, as well as making you money. Three great reads that I especially liked are:

Personally, I have a lot of hobbies that I love. I’ve even made a little money from some of them. However, I’m not a very good sales person and that is a very important element one needs, if they’re going to succeed at making money from their hobby.

You really need to be able to sell yourself, your brand, and your product/service – OR be able to pay someone else (which is usually a lot of money) to do it for you.


We can also look forward to Wednesday, as it begins the month of February; which celebrates, among other things… National Fasting February, National An Affair to Remember Month, National Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Creative Romance Month, and National Great American Pies Month.

Additionally, it will also be National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, National Snack Food Month, and National Weddings Month!

Moreover, February is also home to many food-oriented, official and non-official holidays like the NFL’s Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day, Fat Tuesday (aka: Mardi Gras), Ash Wednesday and Lent. I’d like to add that it’s also the anniversary month of Mom’s first appearance on ABC’s “Home” show, which aired in 1988 – shortly after the show first began.

Following the overwhelming fallout from her first Donahue Show appearance, in 1981 – when she received over a million letters in response – Mom insisted that she would never do another national television show. Nonetheless, when her friend and famous crafter, Carol Duvall, called, to ask her to give ABC’s “Home” show a try, Mom couldn’t say no.

Home” was a relatively new show, in which Carol, herself, had come to be involved. It turned out to be a really rewarding experience for Mom; especially when she was surprised by Wally Amos, being there, in person, to taste-test her imitation of his own famous, chocolate-chip cookies.

ABC’s “Home” show began as a half-hour program in mid-January 1988. Mom was, first, a guest in February 1988. Following a 60-minute trial run in September 1988, “Home” expanded permanently to an hour-long series in January 1989. Mom returned, to appear on another episode, for the entire hour, in March 1991.

After “Home” ended, in 1994, host, Rob Weller formed a production company with someone else and, together, they developed “The Carol Duvall Show”; which aired on HGTV from 1994 until 2005, after which it moved to the DIY Network and ran for another 4 years.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 68)


THE HOME SHOW… in February 1988, were wonderful to us [Paul and me]. They flew us to Los Angeles, and we appeared with Rob Weller and Sandy Hill in a [half] hour segment that re-created some of our recipes. They were very specific that I do our ‘Famous Nameless Cookies’ and I could not see the reason they absolutely insisted on that recipe.

I had trouble finding the right ingredients an hour before airtime, but we made compromises there and came up with an even BETTER version than before. What had happened, without my knowing it, was Wally Amos, himself [was there]. They flew him in from Hawaii to taste-test my version of HIS product.

What a delightful man! What a warm and generous soul. He brought me a tin of an assortment of his favorite cookies and, after tasting my version of his product, made me promise that I would never go into the cookie business! Meeting Wally Amos was one of those cherished memories that I will always look back on warmly.


In time for February’s National Bake for Family Fun Month, here’s a re-share of two versions of Mom’s secret recipes for re-creating these cookies at home. Years ago, Mom gave these away, on her free sample recipes and ordering information sheets, in exchange for an SASE – self-addressed, stamped envelope.


In 1993, after Mom’s second appearances on both, ABC’s “Home” show and “The Donahue Show”, Guthie-Renker Corp. created an hour-long infomercial, called “Ask Mike”, for Secret RecipesTM and the Recipe DetectiveTM (it was also produced & directed by Positive Response Television).

Similar to her appearances on “Home” and “Donahue”, the infomercial included food demonstrations, in a talk show setting, with “taste tests” and a guest-appearance by Wally Amos. Our family received copies of the production, when it was finished, but it never aired on television.

A lot of turmoil and drama surrounded the making of the infomercial. After that upsetting experience, Mom decided to never do television shows, again. For 40 years, she loved doing radio talk shows so much more and, other than some local TV talk shows, radio interviews was all she did until 2014, when she had to fully retire due to health issues.

‘I had found that television appearances were merely food demonstrations that I did not enjoy experiencing. I enjoyed my radio work more, and the number of stations on which I had become a regular participant had grown to include over 100 across the country and in Canada.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 298)]


Beginning yesterday, the last Sunday in January, and through next Sunday, is National Meat Week! Plus, in honor of January, still being National Sunday Supper Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Beef In Wine Sauce”; as seen in her early-1970s syndicated column, Cookbook Corner By Gloria Pitzer.



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


Today is also… National Croissant Day! Plus, as the last Monday of January (2023), it’s also… National Bubble Wrap Day!

Tomorrow is… National Backward Day, National Hot Chocolate Day, and National Inspire Your Heart With Art Day! Plus, as the last Tuesday in January (2023), it’s also… Plan for Vacation Day!

Wednesday begins the month of February. The first week of February observes, among other things… African Heritage and Health Week (which is always February 1st-7th) and US Snow Sculpting Week (which is a five-day celebration that starts on the first Wednesday in February (1st-5th for 2023).

Wednesday, February 1st is also… National Baked Alaska Day, National Freedom Day (Freedom From Slavery), National Get Up Day, and National Texas Day!

February 2nd is… National Heavenly Hash Day, National Tater Tot Day, and National Groundhog Day! Plus, as the first Thursday in February (2023), it’s also… National Optimist Day!

February 3rd is… National Carrot Cake Day and National Day the Music Died Day! Plus, as the first Friday in February (2023), it’s also… National Wear Red Day and National Bubble Gum Day!

February 4th is… National Homemade Soup Day and National Thank a Mail Carrier Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of February (2023), it’s also… National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and National Play Outside Day (which is the first Saturday of EVERY month)!

February 5th is… National Weatherperson’s Day and World Nutella Day! Plus, as the start of the 2nd week of February, it’s also… Burn Awareness Week and National Boy Scout Anniversary Week (which is always February 5th-11th).



…5 down and 47 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Pay A Compliment

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!



Tomorrow is, among other things, National Compliment Day! And guess what – paying a compliment doesn’t cost a thing! Other than a few seconds of your time, compliments are absolutely free – one of the few things, these days, untouched by inflation (unless you equate compliments with tips).

Compliments are simply special words of affirmation and positivity, showing acknowledgement and appreciation. In fact, compliments are so extraordinary, they also have a world-wide observance dedicated to them. World Compliment Day is coming up soon, as it’s observed yearly, on the first day of March.

Likewise, this is another one of those national observances that everyone should practice daily – with family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers – even with yourself, as well.

Words of praise spread happiness and increase confidence levels. Everyone needs confidence boosters! Sincere compliments can go a long way in spreading good will and happiness in someone’s life. In the end, we all appreciate being appreciated.


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)


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!

‘Life’s most precious gifts don’t come in packages. They come from the heart, wrapped in love.’ – Gloria Pitzer

Like happiness, compliments provide numerous health and emotional benefits to, both, the giver and the receiver. It’s a win-win! And did I mention it doesn’t cost anything? Happiness is well-known to be able 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.

Paying a compliment activates certain networks in our brains, positively improving feelings, attitudes, and mindsets; while reducing stress, anxiety, and tension. Giving and receiving compliments prompt the brain to reduce cortisol and produce more endorphins and serotonin, which simply makes you feel good. says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” similarly to Charles Colton’s theory that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Thus, Mom intended her copycat recipes to be compliments, paid to their originals.

Not all but many companies, whose products Mom had imitated, such as JL Hudson’s, Sanders’ Chocolatiers, and Wendy’s – just to name a few – were quite pleased by Mom’s imitations and took them as the compliments they were intended to be.

Others, like Wally Amos (the former “Famous” Amos), Harland Sanders (the original “Colonel” of KFC fame), Arthur Treacher (actor turned restaurateur), the people of White Castle, General Foods, Hershey’s, and McDonald’s own Paul Duncan, appreciated Mom’s flattery attempts to compliment them through her personal imitations of their products.

They’ve even complimented her on the delightful caricature names that she gave her own creations. Mom always said that those are the ones that made being the Secret Recipes Detective all worthwhile!


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. v)


THE WORLD, IT IS SAID, is divided into two kinds of cooks – those who thrive on the personal inner rewards, from being good at it, and those who regard it as an occupational hazard. [My] book [‘Mixed Blessings’] is for the cook who finds the experience one that must be endured with a minimum of effort and still achieve a maximum result!

If cooking means to you, a series of achievements from which you derive great personal satisfaction and continuous compliments, you may be excused from this explanation and forge at once ahead into the recipe portion of the book. The rest of you – please, pay attention! You’re about to find reassurance that cooking can be accomplished with confidence.

When you’re not an exceptional cook, you can muddle through the murky waters of an offshore success, hoping that one dish will come along to prompt a little praise and, with a little practice, more praise. But when cooking doesn’t come easily to you, the search for a successful recipe continues, cookbook after cookbook.

So you go into the experience each time, promising yourself that you will give it your all and make your mark as a masterpiece chef. It never works out as well in your kitchen, as the cookbooks promise it will if you follow their very involved recommendations.

You only want to coax an occasional compliment now and then from those who doubt your culinary capabilities – not win the Pillsbury Bake-Off! After all, one compliment in a climate of continuous catastrophes is often just the ticket to keep you going long enough to try another dish that may prompt more praise. We all love approval!

When you are not positive about your cooking skills, however, life in your kitchen may seem like mishap without merit. You have neither the time nor inclination to master your own fate, counteract your caution with confidence, nor pursue the practice of food preparation with purpose!

For those of us who cook without confidence, life in the kitchen can be a comedy of errors! It is for this kind of cook that I’ve written [‘Mixed Blessings’].


Unfortunately, in general, most people are more likely to criticize something or someone – and spread the word of it – than they are to pay a compliment and share it. It’s pretty sad that, in our world, good news (compliments) only travels so far, while bad news (criticism) travels so much farther (and faster). We, as a public, can change that, though.

Always pay compliments to others – not criticism. Create positive, complimentary reviews on social media. Make a habit of sharing others’ positive compliments, as well. Mom always preached to me and my siblings, while we were growing up, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” In which case, I suppose, silence really is golden.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 81)


WE ALWAYS EXPECT MORE of others than we want them to expect of us. We’re more often, in our heart of hearts, the victim rather than the cause. We need more than wanting to be needed. We criticize more than we compliment. We jump to conclusions when a particle of truth justifies our discontent was someone we have cared about because it is a bandage for our emotional wounds.

We avoid touching and hugging and pats on the back because we’re afraid of being accused that we’re gushy, or strange – or worse yet – that we might be rejected. We can’t take that risk.

Notice how some people become quite stiff when you reach out to hug them or touch them. They are almost plastic in their refusal to submit to your expression of warmth. And because we are afraid of how others will accept us, we build cocoons in which to reside emotionally rather than risk rejection or confront criticism.

What a shame! We’re missing so much! We entertain false pride at our table of regrets as if it were an honored guest. We could just as easily express genuine human kindness, but somehow the impersonal dignity of the ‘Divine’ righteousness seems a fair and probably acceptable cop-out for being personally exempt from the involvement with others.


In honor of Friday, being National Chocolate Cake Day, here are Mom’s copycat recipes for “Exotic Chocolate Cake”, “Exotic Chocolate Icing”, and “Buttercream Icing”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 195 & 197). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].




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


January observes, among other things… National Soup Month, National Blood Donor Month, National Hobby Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Mentoring Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Slow Cooking Month, and National Sunday Supper Month!

Since yesterday was the start of the fourth week of January, this is also… Tax Identity Theft Week!

Today also celebrates… National Handwriting Day and National Pie Day!

Tomorrow is… National Beer Can Appreciation Day and National Peanut Butter Day!

January 25th is… National Florida Day, National Irish Coffee Day, and National Opposite Day! Plus, as the fourth Wednesday in January (2023), it’s also… National Library Shelfie Day!

Thursday, January 26th is… National Green Juice Day, National Peanut Brittle Day, and National Spouses Day!

January 28th is… National Blueberry Pancake Day and National Have Fun At Work Day! Plus, as the last Saturday in January (2023), it’s also… National Seed Swap Day!

January 29th is… National Corn Chip Day and National Puzzle Day! Beginning the last Sunday in January and celebrated for eight days is… National Meat Week!


…4 down and 48 to go!