Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Autumn Comforts

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

#TheRecipeDetective

#AutumnalEquinox

Labor Day is widely considered to be the end of summer and, thus, the start of fall. Yet, the actual onset of the northern hemisphere’s fall doesn’t start until the evening of this coming Thursday. Meanwhile, summer’s warmth has been trying to remain ever-present around here.

However, September’s days have been getting noticeably shorter and the nights longer. Likewise, the temperatures are getting cooler, too, particularly in the evenings. By the way, Sunday is also the start of National Fall Foliage Week!

The official observance of the northern hemisphere’s Autumnal Equinox changes slightly but is usually around September 22nd. Twice a year, there’s an equinox – marking the beginnings of spring and fall – when the day has equal hours of dark and light.

#FallFoliageWeek

The first half of fall has always been my favorite time of year, especially because, as the trees’ start transitioning for their winter hibernation, the leaves become more colorful each day! I’ve even seen a few trees changing colors in July and August, too. Unfortunately, once the color show really takes off in Michigan, it doesn’t last long.

Fall was also Mom’s favorite time of year. Not only because us kids went back to school but also because the cool, autumn days made it more inviting to turn on the stove and make some soup or do some baking. The fall season usually highlights flavors and scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and cloves in almost everything.

Moreover, autumn entices us to break out our cozy, warm Cardigans and make some belly-pleasing comfort foods. By the way, December 5th is the “official” observance of National Comfort Food Day! However, there’s something about the onset of autumn that makes many, like me, yearn for our favorite comfort foods.

Do you have a favorite comfort food? I love potatoes – any style. I surveyed a few dozen friends a couple of years ago, asking what their favorites were. Here are the top six most popular answers I received:

    1. pizza
    2. potatoes (any style)
    3. chili
    4. macaroni and cheese
    5. fried chicken
    6. chocolate brownies

Junk foods and fast foods are also considered “comfort foods”. Science has frequently shown that emotions and food are significantly linked together. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” often make you feel better, providing nostalgic or sentimental value, with very little nutrition, if any at all.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…

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

SIMPLE COMFORTS

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 [glass] door-wall 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 observe 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.

I’ve spent my entire life being a writer. It’s not what I do, but what I am. I love every minute of it, and by writing about what I have come to know best – cooking – it occurs to me that having a desk in my kitchen was awfully appropriate. Mind you, not all that crazy about cooking, by default rather than decision, I have learned more about it than any other skill I’ve attempted. (p. 15)

IF I WERE AN ARTIST…

IF I WERE AN ARTIST… I would cover my walls with pictures that would recapture the beauty of all the lovely places I’ve been to and would miss once I had left them. I would recapture a restful sunset over the wooded hills of northern Michigan sloping toward the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, or I would relive the blazing colors of autumn that shroud the clusters of trees along the uninhabited backgrounds of the countryside surrounding Grand Traverse Bay.

But, alas, I cannot put such places into paintings, so I’ll have to paint them with words in order to revisit them in my memory whenever the thoughts of which John Ruskin must have written – those secret places of the happy mind, ‘nests of pleasant thoughts’…‘houses built without hands for our souls to live in’.

Perhaps the food for thought, of finding these restful places in our memories, is just the elixir we often need; one more sufficiently nourished with sustenance to keep us physically fit, while we let our famished affections go hungry! (p. 22)

MOOD-COOKING

WHEN CARING COOKS ARE in thoughtful moods, they look for recipes that promise to produce absolutely dependable results, something different, something really good! Mood-cooking is great therapy! It’s the positive approach to getting your thoughts off of whatever ails you and involve yourself was something interesting and challenging.

I’m a mood-cook by nature, having found that house-bound homemakers with small wall-to-wall children left me with little else to use as a diversion from diapers, dishes, daily monotony’s of my chosen station in life. I could really enjoy cooking in those early days of raising our five children. So no doubt there are others, now, who find themselves in the same predicament.

Some of the mood-memories that now comfort me as my nest is empty of the youngsters, were simply observations and sensations that most of us take for granted. Simply enjoying various sounds would create a comfortable mood for me, and these sounds usually originated in the kitchen. (p. 158)

THE SOUNDS OF SIMPLICITY

Bacon crackling and a hot skillet… The crisp, first bite of a firm, juicy, red apple… The tinkling of a wind chime hanging in front of an open window on a breezy warm day… The steady, muffled static of a summer rain on the roof, like 1000 tiny mice scampering across a sea of tissue paper…

The snapping of a log burning in the fireplace on a cool evening… The soft delight in a child’s amused giggle… An old man humming a tune as he weeds his garden… The baritone foghorn of a freighter slipping through the mist-covered river… The low wooing whistle of a train interrupting the night…

The lake lapping against the beach as it pulls back into itself and returns again to caress the sand… The gargling whistle of wrens in the slanted morning sunshine of a new spring day… These are the sounds of simplicity that set a satisfying mood and give me a sense of contentment.

I cannot believe that every single bite of food we eat has to be good for us, that every book we read must enlighten and inform us, [that] every movie we see must make a social statement or that every relationship we experience must be ‘ideal’. (p. 158)

LAST THOUGHTS…

Halloween is just around the corner. Don’t blink because, after that, it’s only 24 more days until Thanksgiving (my birthday falls in there, as well)! Less than four weeks later, is the start of Hanukkah (Dec. 18-26, 2022), soon followed by the Winter Solstice and Yule celebrations. Those are quickly followed by the Christmas and Kwanzaa celebrations, too.

Not only that but also within the week, following those events, the new year’s celebration begins. Blink your eyes again and suddenly the Super Bowl festivities will be upon us, followed by Valentine’s Day, less than two weeks later. Afterward is St. Patrick’s Day, which is closely followed by the spring equinox and so on!

For many, like me, the countdown to “the holidays” begins with the onset of the Autumnal Equinox. That’s when I like to start working on my long, fall cleaning list – before the holidays start rolling in, one after another.

 

My fall cleaning is usually finished before the colorful autumn leaves disappear, like the summer’s warm temperatures; and before our windows get closed up and covered in plastic, for the cold, wintery months, which seem to last almost half the year (November to April) around here.

Do you have a “Fall Cleaning List”? If not, HouseholdManagement101.com offers a great, free printable that covers all the basics – you can find it at https://www.household-management-101.com/fall-cleaning.html!

Nonetheless, all of those many fall/winter holidays that are still to come, will seemingly be here and gone before you know it. So start preparing now. Make a checklist, so you won’t forget or miss anything later. What can I say? I love lists! Even Santa makes lists (and checks them twice) to stay organized during the hustle-and-bustle of the holidays.

Furthermore, you’ll also be better able to enjoy all the holidays and gatherings, yourself. In the end, who wants to feel stressed out and/or left out, during the holidays, while trying to “get it all done” at the last minute?

IN CLOSING…

In honor of September, being National Better Breakfast Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “English Muffins, Like Farmcrest’s”; as seen in one of her self-published cookbooks, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997). I’ve also included her secret recipe for an “English Breakfast”, as seen in another of her self-published cookbooks, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986).

#BetterBreakfastMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

September’s observances include: National Little League Month, National Americana Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, National Self-Improvement Month, and National Whole Grains Month!

This week is the 4-year anniversary of Memories of My Mom. Also happening, as it’s the third week in September, is… National Farm Animals Awareness Week and National Indoor Plant Week!

Today is also… National Butterscotch Pudding Day!

Tomorrow is… National Fried Rice Day, National Pepperoni Pizza Day, National Punch Day, and National String Cheese Day!

Wednesday, September 21st is… National Chai Day, National Pecan Cookie Day, and National New York Day!

Thursday, September 22nd is… National White Chocolate Day, National Dear Diary Day, National Ice Cream Cone Day, and National American Business Women’s Day!

#AmericanBusinessWomensDay

Friday, September 23rd is… National Great American Pot Pie Day and National Snack Stick Day!

September 24th is… National Cherries Jubilee Day and National Punctuation Day! Plus, as the last Saturday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Family Health and Fitness Day USA!

September 25th is… National Quesadilla Day, National Daughter’s Day, National Lobster Day, National Research Administrator Day, and National Cooking Day! Plus, as the last Sunday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Gold Star Mother’s Day.

#GoldStarMothersDay

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…38 down and 14 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Working Parents

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!

#TheRecipeDetective

#WorkingParentsDay

Friday will be, among other things, National Working Parents Day! According to Wikipedia, these days, even stay-at-home parents and homemakers count as “working” parents. Whether we work for pay or for perks, working parents have to juggle a lot of responsibilities.

According to Porcshe Moran, in her enlightening article, “How Much Is A Stay-At-Home Parent Worth?”, a homemaker [aka: stay-at-home-parent] would earn an annual salary of about $178,201, based on the 2019 data she obtained from Salary.com, if she or he were paid money for every job/task performed.

The picture below shows the data I obtained a couple of years ago, through Salary.com and Indeed.com; regarding the average salaries paid, in Michigan, for various homemaker skills. Additionally, of course, homemakers contribute a lot more to their homes and families, of which no amount of money can compensate.

The work an average homemaker performs, and the value of their time is often taken for granted by their families. However, the services they provide could earn a substantial salary in the open market – chef, maid/housekeeper, laundress, nanny, teacher, chauffeur, personal shopper, secretary, counselor, nurse, groundskeeper and gardener.

I think that Porcshe Moran’s estimated salary would be considerably higher for 2022. Furthermore, I don’t know if that amount was based on a 40-hour workweek or the actual 112 hours (including overtime pay) that a stay-at-home parent puts in each week (at 16 hours/day, seven days a week).

As prices continue to rise much faster than incomes, there’s another renewed movement to make a lot of things at home, from scratch. We can usually save money, making things ourselves – as long as we don’t add the value of our time into the equation!

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 36)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS

IT WAS THE WORST possible time to launch a new business. The unemployment rate was terribly high. There was a newsprint paper shortage. There was a gasoline shortage. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least try to have my own publication, however.

My confrontation with the editor at the Times Herald over the cheesecake recipe [like Sarah Lee’s], was probably the best thing that ever happened to me – us, as a family, in fact. I was forced to finally do something that, until then, I had only talked about doing because the advice I had listened to was bent on having somebody else handle my work.

Of course, I could not tell Paul what I was going to do – that I was going to publish a newsletter and I was going to try and sell subscriptions to it all without the help of the [publishing and syndicating] agencies to which I had previously been turning.

I was determined to make this idea work because I knew it was a good idea! It was a service that was needed and one that I could provide without ever having to leave the children again. With the help of the Almighty, I had every confidence that turning out a recipe newsletter was going to be something that would bless everyone concerned: me, the readers, the products mentioned, the reviews of restaurants – every idea was a blessing!

For most American families, in the 1970s, it took both parents working to make ends meet. Mom and Dad often struggled with that, themselves, to provide for our family of seven (plus, a dog and cat, as well). As Mom used to describe it, when I was young – they’d just start earning enough between the two of them, to make ends meet and then the ends would move further apart.

Somehow, they always found a way to get through those trying times. It helped that Mom was very crafty at making whatever she couldn’t afford to buy – from clothes and accessories to toys to personal care products like soap to grocery food items and pet foods/treats.

When we couldn’t afford luxuries like eating out, Mom figured out how to imitate fast food and restaurant dishes at home. As the old proverb says: “Necessity is the mother of invention!” Mom’s “invention” of copycat cookery came at a perfect time for many Americans, who were likewise struggling.

With the onset of the Women’s Lib Movement, the value of one’s time changed dramatically. Both parents in a household were working, not just because two incomes were needed but also because of the self-gratification one received when working outside the home.

Self-sufficiency and homesteading became a dying skill among many of the newer generations, after the Baby Boomers; as they opted to spend their time differently in exchange for more self-gratifying conveniences. However, especially since 2020, the art of homesteading has been seeing another revival.

MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 38)

HOW SECRET RECIPESTM BEGAN – ALL THE LITTLE STEPS (Cont’d)

I ENLISTED THE HELP of the children. I was taking in ironing at the time, at about $5 a basket, and sometimes I would earn as much is $50 a week. The money was supposed to supplement Paul’s paycheck, which – as soon as we found could make ends meet, discovered somebody had moved the ends.

So I took what money I could from the ironing earnings and kept the paper, ink and other supplies in stock in order to produce what was necessary to complete the newsletter. I cut the stencils on my typewriter, added the drawings and fashioned a literary ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’, as my dad would’ve said.

The utility room, which was in the back of the house and looked out over the yard and the long driveway to the road was a perfect position to be in when it was time for Paul to arrive home from work at the end of the day. I would post the kids at the window to watch for Daddy so that I would be able to get everything put away and out of sight.

I could not tell him what I was doing until I could assure him that it was paying for itself and that I was not going to lose money. For nine months, I mimeographed, assembled and mailed out about 100 copies a month of my newsletter, the names of the subscribers having come from letters I kept from readers of my columns and from names and addresses given in other magazines where folks were looking for recipes.

I mimeographed my own business cards and, as I have already told you, had no qualms at all about cutting them out and inserting them into [other] cookbooks in bookstores or department stores; leaving them in phone booths, in ladies’ restrooms in restaurants or wherever I might find a likely audience. You must take every opportunity when you start out. Some ideas work. Some don’t.

We tread a rather steep path when we attempt to wish on everyone what seems a solution to our own problems. It actually takes courage to think for oneself in a world which appears to have more than its share of profits of despair. I wasn’t listening to any of them. I had my listening thoughts tuned into Angel messages that were leading me in a happier direction. I was never willing to give up. I’m still not!

LAST THOUGHTS…

More and more families are going back to being as self-sufficient as possible – including home schooling, which has seen a corresponding rise in the last two years. For decades, people chose to spend their time on other things than cooking from scratch, growing their own vegetables, raising chickens, and the like.

At some point, our time became a more valuable commodity than money, itself. We opened the door to conveniences, to save us time, even though it cost more. Now that we’re teetering on another “Great Recession”, things have flipped back to the value of the dollar, being greater.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of September, being National Better Breakfast Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Baked Egg Casserole, Like Mrs. Milliken’s”; as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 7).

#BetterBreakfastMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

September’s observances include: National Little League Month, National Americana Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, National Self-Improvement Month, and National Whole Grains Month!

Additionally, as the start of the second week in September it’s… National Biscuit and Gravy Week and National Arts In Education Week!

Today is also… National Chocolate Milkshake Day and National Day of Encouragement!

Tomorrow is… National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day and National Peanut Day! Plus, as the second Tuesday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Ants on a Log Day!

Wednesday, September 14th is… National Cream Filled Donut Day, National Eat a Hoagie Day, National Live Creative Day , and National Virginia Day!

September 15th is… National Cheese Toast Day, National Linguine Day, National Double Cheeseburger Day, National Creme de Menthe Day, National Online Learning Day, and National Greenpeace Day! Plus, as the third Thursday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Pawpaw Day! Additionally, this is the start of National Hispanic Heritage Month (which is always September 15th to October 15th)!

Friday, September 16th is… National Play-Doh Day, National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day, National Guacamole Day, and National Step-Family Day!

September 17th is… National Professional House Cleaners Day, National Apple Dumpling Day, Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, and National Monte Cristo Day! Saturday, the 17th, is also the 4th anniversary of Mondays & Memories Of My Mom, which began with A Legacy Of Love (in 2018). Plus, as the third Saturday in September (for 2022), it’s… National Dance Day, National Boys’ and Girls’ Club Day for Kids, National Responsible Dog Ownership Day, and National Clean Up Day!

September 18th is… National Air Force Birthday and National Cheeseburger Day! Plus, as the third Sunday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Wife Appreciation Day! Additionally, as the start of the third week in September it’s also… National Farm Animals Awareness Week and National Indoor Plant Week!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…37 down and 15 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Labor Day, Americana-Style

Thank God It’s Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday and happy Labor Day 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!

#TheRecipeDetective

#LaborDay

Today is, among other things, National Labor Day – an Americana celebration of the contributions and achievements of American workers to our country’s economic strength, prosperity, and well-being. Labor Day also celebrates the improvements of working conditions and fair compensation that were gained through the efforts of the American labor movement.

The labor force is comprised of people who are either working or actively looking for work, including self-employed entrepreneurs; those who’ve been leaving their jobs, with which they weren’t happy, due to low pay/benefits, physical strains, mental health concerns, and much more – going out to start their own businesses, living the Americana dream.

According to The Great Resignation: Everything You Need To Know (Jun 29, 2022) at TechTarget.com, the “Great Resignation” started when “employees across multiple sectors came to the realization that they weren’t happy with their jobs during the pandemic. People weren’t satisfied with their work environment, the industry they were in or their work-life balance and left their jobs.” Leaving a job to open one’s own business isn’t really a new crusade.

A significant growth in entrepreneurships also began early in the new millennium, after banks began losing money, the housing market collapsed, and major auto makers declared bankruptcy. The domino effect was felt throughout districts, nation-wide, as businesses were forced to close their doors due to the “Great Recession”, beginning in 2007.

Another similar event occurred more than 30 years prior, when Mom (and Dad) faced the same uncertainty in the 1970s recession, when Mom left her job at the newspaper, in 1973, to start her own business; which evolved over the years, eventually becoming known as Secret RecipesTM, with her Recipe DetectiveTM brand recognized world-wide.

By 1976, Dad needed to take an early retirement from his job at the sign company to help Mom full-time, with the family business. Today, more than 160 countries observe their own Labor Days, celebrating the accomplishments of their own labor movements and the continued evolution of improving working conditions for everyone, everywhere.

#PureMichigan

Many people like to celebrate this Americana holiday with parades honoring the labor force, community picnics, backyard barbeques, sports events, and the like. The annual Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day is going on, as well!

Moreover, a lot of families also like to take advantage of summer’s last, long weekend, by going on one more family vacation before the kids go back to school.

As I’ve mentioned many times, Mom liked to celebrate AFTER Labor Day, when my siblings and I went back to school, and she found reprieve in her own workload (and well-being). She always said, jokingly of course, THAT was when her vacation began.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

School Begins and so Does Mother’s Vacation

By Gloria Pitzer (Algonac, MI; Aug. 1971)

NEVER MIND WHAT THE calendar says about the longest day of summer. It doesn’t really fall in June. It falls somewhere during the last week of August, as mothers everywhere breathlessly await the beginning of another school year!

When listening to a child lick a postage stamp in the next room begins to give me a headache and the cat seems to be stomping his paws and even my Mixmaster and my vacuum cleaner sound like mini bikes, I know it’s time for school to start.

This is what happens when you live with children who believe that the same door they left open all winter should be slammed all summer. And all I have to show for 10 weeks of summer, is a tape recording of 400 hours of the kids next door, gunning their motorcycles under my kitchen windows; which I felt would make a lovely remembrance for their mother who has been out, working in a pleasant, air-conditioned office.

Someday, she may want to know what she missed while her boys were growing up. I can tell her what she missed – migraines, excessive nervous acidity and hives, that’s what!

The first 8 weeks of summer rushed past us so quickly – it was like catching quicksilver in greased gloves. Suddenly, there was our 15-year old [son], telling us he needed back-to-school clothes; but he’d like some new blue jeans that didn’t look like new blue jeans.

Honestly, I don’t know where you can buy new blue jeans with broken zippers, frayed hems, worn seats and patched knees. He [also] said he had wished he had bought his school shoes last month, so he could have had plenty of time to scuff up the toes and run the heels over before school started; then, nobody would accuse him of wearing Sunday school clothes.

It is during the [unofficial] last week of summer that my Avon lady sends me a CARE package and my mother apologizes for not having had the children visit her more often before they had to go back to school.

I receive fliers from the drug store advertising Christmas wrappings and ribbons, and you can’t find a 99-cent Styrofoam cooler anywhere in town for the Labor Day picnic you wish you didn’t have to attend, because any picnic with 5 children is no PICNIC!

It is during the [unofficial] last week of summer that I’m ready to vote ‘yes’ in a school bond issue and school supplies that were on sale in July are being replaced on dime store counters by Halloween candy and costumes.

It is during the [unofficial] last week of summer that a neighbor stops by to see if he ever returned the lawn mower he borrowed from us and is disappointed when he learns he didn’t because he wanted to borrow it again!

Actually, the longest day of summer can make one weak – especially if she’s a mother!

LAST THOUGHTS…

#NationalAmericanaMonth

In case you haven’t heard, September is also, among other things, National Americana Month. Americana is considered the patriotic nostalgia, usually associated with the U.S.’s culture and history – especially from the Native Americans, the colonial era, and the mid-20th century. Given our melting-pot foundation, Americana could include just about anything.

Traditional Americana is mainly represented by food, art, music, literature, and the like – anything that is stereotypical American, such as red, white, and blue. Examples are likened to Norman Rockwell’s art work, which appeared on over 300 covers of the weekly edition of The Saturday Evening Post, for many years.

Rockwell depicted the simple, small-town, middle-class lifestyle of Americans as humble, God-fearing people enjoying a strong and prosperous family life – with Americana-styled elements like Coca-Cola memorabilia, blue-collar workers, white-picket fences, denim jeans, baseball, and apple pie.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of next Sunday, being National Hot Cross Bun Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Awrey’s Hot Cross Buns”; as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 8).

#HotCrossBunDay

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

September’s observances include: National Better Breakfast Month, National Little League Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, National Self-Improvement Month, and National Whole Grains Month!

As the first FULL week in September, it’s also… National Waffle Week! Therefore, here’s a re-share of Mom’s copycat recipe for “Waffle Hows Waffles”, as seen in one of her early, self-published cookbook, The Second Helping of Secret Recipes – Fast Foods and Other Favorites (National Homemaker’s Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 37).

#NationalWaffleWeek

Today is also… National Cheese Pizza Day and National Be Late For Something Day!

Tomorrow is… National Coffee Ice Cream Day and NATIONAL READ A BOOK DAY!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Wednesday, September 7th is… National Beer Lover’s Day, National Neither Snow Nor Rain Day, National Grandma Moses Day, National Acorn Squash Day, National Salami Day, and National New Hampshire Day!

September 8th is… National Ampersand Day! Plus, as the second Thursday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National School Picture Day! Unofficially, Thursday is also the start of the NFL’s regular football season. Happy football season, Dad!

Friday, September 9th is… National Wiener Schnitzel Day! 

Saturday, September 10th is… National Swap Ideas Day and National TV Dinner Day!

September 11th is… National Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance! Plus, as the Sunday after Labor Day, it’s also… National Grandparent’s Day! Additionally, as the start of the second week in September it’s… National Biscuit and Gravy Week and National Arts In Education Week!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…36 down and 16 to go!

CHOCOLATE-COVERED GRAHAM CRACKERS

CHOCOLATE-COVERED GRAHAM CRACKERS

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 228). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

INGREDIENTS:

The Crackers:

1 cup self-rising flour

2 cups Graham or wheat flour

1 cup each: margarine and packed, brown sugar

½ cup honey

1 teaspoon vanilla

½ teaspoon vinegar

About ¼ cup milk, or as needed

INSTRUCTIONS:

Combine flours and set aside. Cream margarine, adding sugar a little at a time and beating until light and fluffy. Beat in honey, vanilla and vinegar – work in flour, alternately with enough of the milk that you have a smooth dough that can be shaped into a ball like piecrust.

Chill 1 hour. Roll out on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 2.5 x 2.5” squares and place close together on lightly greased baking sheets. Prick tops of each with tines of a fork in several places.

Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove at once to cool on waxed-paper-covered-surface. Flatten each cracker just slightly with back-side of a pancake turner while still warm. Makes about 1 dozen crackers. Prepare the chocolate coating (below.)

CHOCOLATE COATING FOR GRAHAM CRACKERS

INGREDIENTS:

The Coating:

6 tablespoons melted paraffin

12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 ounce solid, unsweetened, baking chocolate

1 teaspoon vanilla

dash of salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

Keep mixture hot, stirring occasionally to make it smooth, while you pierce the graham crackers with the tip of a sharp knife and dip each to coat them in the hot chocolate mixture. Let excess chocolate drip back into pan.

Place on waxed paper to “set” the chocolate. Paper can be peeled away without taking any of the coating with it, once graham crackers have cooled. If you lift the crackers from the paper, instead of the paper from the crackers, some of the coating may stick to the paper. Makes enough coating for 1 dozen squares of graham crackers. Store at room temperature in covered container.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fame And Fried Chicken

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Unforgettable Family Fun

Thank God It’s Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday! 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!

#TheRecipeDetective

#FamilyFunMonth

We’re in the final stretch of August’s National Family Fun Month observance (for 2022) and quickly approaching Labor Day weekend – the unofficial end of summer. Kids are starting to return to school – some this week and some next week. From some of Mom’s syndicated columns, about spending the summers with us kids at home and underfoot, you’d think it was totally unbearable. In fact, she and Dad made our summers unforgettably FUN!

We lived on the beautiful banks of the St. Clair River. We had a dock from which we fished and swam, as well as a small, family-sized, Chris-Craft boat, in which we’d cruise up and down the river throughout the summer months. By the way, Chris-Craft started their boat-making empire in Algonac in the late 19th century.

I remember Mom taking us kids to the Algonac Lion’s Club Field, in town, where we enjoyed youth activities and crafts. Afterwards, we’d go next door to the community pool, with money we got for swimming, plus a little extra for a drink and snack at the concession stand. I always thought those were FUN days – at least they were for me.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Dad was involved with the Pearl Beach Lion’s Club, near our house. The Lions aren’t a fraternal or political group like many other “clubs”. Nor were they a “social” organization but they did host a lot of family and community events and activities throughout the year, every year – and still do.

According to Dad, the Lion’s Club is simply an organization of people who care about their neighborhoods and get together to do things they can’t do alone. They’re always willing and able to give their time, energy, and resources in service to their community and others. Back when Dad was a member, only men were allowed to join. Since 1987, women have been allowed to join, too.

Below is a picture of me, my siblings, and 2 neighbor-boys, standing in front of the Algonac Lions Club trolley that was in all of our local parades. I think this was from Labor Day weekend, 1970, and we got to ride on the trolley, with Dad, during the parade.

#PureMichigan

We had many family fun summer vacations, as I was growing up. My personal favorites were the trips we took “up north”.  We went all over “the-tip-of-the-mitt” and into the U.P. I remember looking for Petoskey stones on the beaches along Lake Michigan, climbing among the rocks at Tahquamenon Falls, and seeing the ships go through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie.

Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island were the best places of all. It offers an amazing experience that takes you on a journey through time, to Michigan’s earliest known history of settlers, with two big forts to tour, as well other terrific sights – there’s no way to pack it all into one day.

In fact, just last month, Michigan’s Mackinac Island [Was] Named ‘Best Island In The Continental US (ClickOnDetroit.com; 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!

Mom has duplicated many treats and dishes from the local restaurants and shops there, as well as from the luxurious Grand Hotel’s dining room. I’m only half-way through creating a “Master Index” list of all Mom’s copycat recipes from all of her books. As of right now, there are over a dozen recipes listed from this area. I want to eventually add all of her newsletters to the “Master Index”, too, but I’m missing a lot of them.

Going to Cedar Point, in Sandusky (Ohio), was another highlight of our summers, with a ton of unforgettable family fun; going on all the rides and eating ridiculous amounts of junk food. Sometimes we’d also spend the night at The Breakers hotel, next door, on the beach.

Mom often duplicated some of our favorite carnival treats at home to bring back those memories. So far, six are listed in the “Master Index” that I mentioned above. Maybe that’s why I fell in love with the television show, “Carnival Eats”, hosted by Noah Cappe, when it came out in 2014.

Mom really enjoyed watching it with me, too. We both thought it was a really fun and innovative way to do food reviews of those sinful culinary noshes, in which we allow ourselves to indulge, at least once in a great while.

We also went often to Toronto and Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada. Every year we went, it seemed like both beautiful towns kept growing bigger and bigger with more exciting things to see and do; plus, even more great places to enjoy a snack or meal.

Mom always found new treats from the fudge shops and bakeries, plus dishes from the local delis and restaurants, to imitate when we went home. So far, there are almost a dozen listed in the “Master Index”, from these two areas but I know she has more from these towns, as well.

A couple of times, we drove to West Virginia for a family reunion and to visit our relatives from Dad’s side of the family. Both of his parents were from neighboring counties in West Virginia. Mom’s story (below), Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort), is a spoof of one of those road trips and what it was like to travel that long with five children in tow.

Eons before cell phones, tablets, and other such data/electronic devices, Mom kept us all entertained on road trips the old fashioned way – with travel games like “20 Questions” and “I Spy”; plus, various versions of “Trivia”, “Story Chain”, “The Name Game”, and “The License Plate Game”.

An online survey of Americans, conducted in 2016, by the National Recreation And Park Association, found that the three most typically preferred summer fun activities (among all the different age groups) were walking/hiking, going to the beach, and having a picnic/barbeque. That sounds about right, still today!

Michigan has 3,288 miles of beautiful, fresh water coastline, surrounding most of the state. That’s a lot of beaches – and there are even more beaches along the state’s many in-land lakes and rivers, as well. It’s no wonder that going to the beach, swimming, and other water-related activities are the preferred fun activities, on hot summer days, among most (if not all) Michiganders.

LAST THOUGHTS…

Like I wrote in beginning, it’s the last days of August’s National Family Fun Month celebration. While we’re quickly approaching Labor Day weekend, families everywhere are trying to squeeze in one last “summer blast” before the kids settle back into their usual school routines.

How do you celebrate the end of summer – a weekend vacation, a day at the beach, or a barbeque in the backyard? Mom liked to celebrate right at home, whenever my siblings and I went back to school, saying that’s when her vacation began.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Chop Suey Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for “Chop Suey Buns, Like Ann Page’s” and her “Mackinac-Style Fruit Bars” variation (with a repeat of her “Thin Vanilla Icing”, for either or both); as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 182). I also shared these recipes in April 2021, with Kathy Keene on WHBY’s “Good-Neighbor” show.

#ChopSueyDay

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

August’s observances include: National Dog Month, Happiness Happens Month, International Peace Month, National Brownies at Brunch Month, National Catfish Month, National Goat Cheese Month, National Golf Month, National Panini Month, National Sandwich Month, and Romance Awareness Month!

Today is also… National Lemon Juice Day!

Tomorrow is… National Toasted Marshmallow Day and National Beach Day!

Wednesday, August 31st is… National South Carolina Day and National Trail Mix Day!

Thursday kicks off September, which observes (among other things)… National Better Breakfast Month, National Little League Month, National Americana Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Honey Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, National Self-Improvement Month, and National Whole Grains Month!

Thursday, September 1st is also… National Chicken Boy’s Day and National No Rhyme (Nor Reason) Day!

September 2nd is… National Blueberry Popsicle Day! Plus, as the first Friday in September (for 2022) it’s also… National Lazy Mom’s Day, National Food Bank Day, National College Colors Day, and National Chianti Day!

September 3rd is… National Welsh Rarebit Day and U.S. Bowling League Day! Plus, as the first Saturday in September (for 2022), it’s also… National Tailgating Day! Additionally, the first Saturday of EVERY MONTH is also… National Play Outside Day! Plus, according to AwarenessDays.com, the first Saturday in September is… International Bacon Day!

Sunday, September 4th is… unofficially Labor Day Eve (2022), as well as National Spice Blend Day, National Wildlife Day, National Newspaper Carrier Day, and National Macadamia Nut Day! Plus, as the start of the first FULL week in September (2022), it’s also… National Waffle Week!

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…35 down and 17 to go!

CHICKEN IN THE GRUFF

CHICKEN IN THE GRUFF

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 100). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

INGREDIENTS:

3-lb chicken, cut-up fryer pieces (rinsed and drained)

Flour (enough to coat each piece)

Equal amounts of oil and Crisco (sufficient to fill large skillet 1-inch deep)

Season salt (to taste)

[3 to 4 cups] Chicken broth (homemade or canned, sufficient to baste each piece about 5 to 6 times)

INSTRUCTIONS:

Run the cut-up fryer pieces of 3 pounds of chicken under cold water. Drain off excess water. Coat each piece in flour. Heat enough oil and Crisco in equal parts that, when melted, it fills a large heavy skillet to about 1-inch deep.

Brown the floured pieces a few at a time, with the skin-side down first, for about 4 or 5 minutes or until golden brown, sprinkling liberally with season salt. Brown both sides of the chicken pieces and arrange them in a shallow roasting pan with the skin-side up, in a single layer. Do not heap the pieces in the pan.

Drizzle each piece with about 2 tablespoons chicken broth – homemade or canned. Bake uncovered at 375°F for about 30 minutes, basting the pieces every 5 minutes with a spoonful of drippings. Do not turn the pieces while baking them. When the meat of the chicken appears fork-tender and the coating is golden and crispy, it’s ready to serve to 4-6 people.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Fame And Fried Chicken

SHALLOW CUP MARSHMALLOW CANDIES – Mallow Cup Imitation

SHALLOW CUP MARSHMALLOW CANDIES – Mallow Cup Imitation

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 233). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

Just like my Recess Peanut Butter Cups, this candy is a simple, basic combination. The Boyer Candy Company (Altoona, PA) makes the commercial brand, “Mallow Cup” candy. They’re easy to find in some areas, but my European readers love the idea of being able to make this imitation.

INGREDIENTS:

8-ounce bar Hershey’s Milk Chocolate

4 tablespoons butter

7-ounce jar Kraft Marshmallow Cream

1 cup flaked coconut

24 miniature muffin paper liners

INSTRUCTIONS:

In top of double boiler over gently simmering water, melt chocolate with butter and ½ cup of the marshmallow cream. Stir until smooth. Put coconut on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 375°F oven until lightly browned. Stir coconut frequently to brown it evenly. Cool it and crush it fine with a rolling pin; then, stir into chocolate mixture.

Place rest of marshmallow cream, in a heat-proof bowl, in a pan of simmering water until it is of pouring consistency. Divide half of the chocolate mixture between 24 miniature muffin paper liners. Divide the marshmallow equally over that and let it set a bit. Then, divide remaining half of chocolate over the marshmallow layer. Chill until firm. Makes 2 dozen.

SHALLOW MARSHMALLOW SQUARES [Variation] – By Gloria Pitzer

Rather than fuss with the paper liners (above), make a quick job of it by altering the shape. Take half the chocolate mixture and spread it evenly over the bottom of a buttered, 9-inch square pan, pouring the warm marshmallow cream over that. As soon as the cream has “set” a bit, spread remaining half of chocolate over the top. Let it stand at room temperature about 1 hour to further set. Cut into 24 squares.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – You Can’t Please Everyone

ARIZONA BANANA-ORANGE-NUT SALAD

ARIZONA BANANA-ORANGE-NUT SALAD

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s The American Cookery Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1976, p. 3).

INGREDIENTS:

1/3 cup oil

2 TB red wine vinegar

½ tsp dry mustard

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

3 to 4 medium oranges, peeled and sliced [or sectioned]

2 bananas, peeled and sliced

3 to 4 cups coarsely torn, tender greens

1/3 cup pecan or walnut halves

INSTRUCTIONS:

In salad bowl, stir [together] oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper to mix well. Fold in oranges and bananas; [then] toss lightly. Just before serving, add greens and toss [again]. Sprinkle with nuts. Makes 4 servings.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Summer Memories

NIAGARA FALLS FUDGE – Like Maple Leaf Village’s

NIAGARA FALLS FUDGELike Maple Leaf Village’s

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 231). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

AT MAPLE LEAF VILLAGE, in Niagara Falls, Ontario, the making of fudge before your very eyes has been an art in the form of entertainment for thousands, upon thousands, of tourists each year. The Swiss Fudge people will tell you the recipe is secret.

I don’t mind! I respect the right to that privilege, but at home we can try to come close to their smooth texture this way… Simply by improving upon my frosting recipe, used for imitating the famous Sanders product. Trust me!

INGREDIENTS:

4 ounces unsweetened solid baking chocolate (4 squares)

½ cup milk

¼ pound butter or margarine (1 stick)

2/3 cup light corn syrup

2 cups granulated sugar

3 ½ cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put the chocolate, milk, butter, corn syrup and granulated sugar into a medium-sized saucepan on medium to high heat, stirring constantly until melted and smooth – while bringing it to a brisk boil for 4 to 6 minutes.

While continuing to stir, scrape down the sides of the pan, also. Remove from heat. With portable electric mixer on medium speed, mix in powdered sugar, a little at a time; then, add the vanilla and blend for 6 minutes.

Pour into a well-buttered, 9-inch, loaf pan that is also lined with a strip of greased waxed-paper, placed in the pan so that you have a 2-inch overlap at each end. Chill the fudge several hours or until firm. Use the overlapping waxed-paper ends to remove the fudge loaf from the pan. Slice it as you would a loaf of bread.

NOTE: At the time of this [original] writing [1982], one slice would cost you a $1.89 [Canadian funds.] Each slice is about ½ pound.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Smile Power

FLOWERED JOHN’S SONS’ CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

FLOWERED JOHN’S SONS’ CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM

By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 254). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

INGREDIENTS:

13-ounce can Pet evaporated milk

6 ounces (¾ cup) Hershey’s chocolate syrup

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla

4 ounces heavy cream, whipped stiff

INSTRUCTIONS:

Put the beaters of your portable electric mixer in the freezer. Empty the can of evaporated milk into a 2 ½-quart, aluminum, mixing bowl; placing it, uncovered, in the freezer until small ice crystals begin to form on the surface of the milk at the sides of the bowl.

Remove the milk and put the beaters into the mixer, beating the milk on low speed and increasing it to high as it thickens and soft peaks form. This process will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Don’t begrudge a minute of the beating time! The more air you can incorporate into the milk, the lighter the ice cream will be.

Turn the mixer to lowest speed when the peaks are respectably firm and fold in the syrup, sugar, vanilla and the stiffly beaten whipping cream. Return it to the freezer – covering it this time with plastic wrap or heavy foil. Freeze until firm.

Break it up with a fork and beat it again until creamy. Next, pack it into a freezer container with a tight-fitting lid and re-freeze it until firm enough to “scoop”. Makes a little over 1 quart for about 4 to 6 servings.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Original