Aunt Jenny’s Pumpkin Pie


By Gloria Pitzer, Homemaker’s Newsletter (April 1976)

[Also seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 5).]


2 cans (1-lb each) pumpkin

13-oz can Pet Milk

4 large eggs, beaten

1-lb light brown sugar

¼ cup dark corn syrup

1 cup butter, melted

½ tsp salt

4 TB flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ginger

½ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cloves


As listed, combine filling ingredients, beating 200 strokes by hand or 4 minutes with mixer on medium speed. Divide equally between 3 unbaked pie shells (see pie crust recipe below).


3½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup Spry (or Crisco)

4 TB butter [chilled & broken into pieces]

3 TB sugar

1 tsp salt

½ cup ice water or ice cream


Blend ingredients into a smooth dough. Chill. Split dough into three equal parts. Roll each one out to fit a 9-inch pie plate/pan. (Unbaked pies can be frozen to thaw and bake at another time.)

Bake pies at 425°F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 360°F (just above a moderate oven temperature) for 45 minutes or longer – until center tests “done”. Cool 30 minutes before cutting to serve 8 (per pie).

Makes 3 pies.

See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Eating Better, Farm To Table

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Cyber Shopping

Happy Cyber Monday! Personally, I always look forward to every Monday because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!



Today is, among other things, Cyber Monday, which is always the Monday after Thanksgiving. “Cyber Monday” was officially named so by the NRF (National Retail Federation) in 2005, when consumers had noticeably increased shopping online; particularly at work, after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Ironically, the virtual shopping tradition was initially conceived by retailers to encourage people to shop online for what they wanted when they couldn’t find it at their local brick-and-mortar stores or couldn’t even get to the actual stores at all, due to other responsibilities, such as work.

Since early in the new millennium, the increase in online shopping has been causing a falling Dominos effect on many stores and malls across America. Consequently, store and mall owners have been forced to close their brick-and-mortar doors permanently – and at alarming rates.

The large department store chains that “anchored” the malls, like Sears, JC Penny’s, and Macy’s, started depleting first. With the advancements made in the world-wide web, the way of shopping and peoples’ needs and wants had, once again, evolved – a new generation of “convenience” cyber shopping was embraced, especially among teens and young adults.

According to, “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.” It’s no wonder they were commonly used for mall anchors nationwide.

Austrian architect, Victor Gruen, designed the first fully enclosed, American mall. The Southdale Center, in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota, opened in 1956. Most of the smaller storefronts faced inward, while large “anchor” stores (i.e. JC Penny’s, Macy’s, Sears and others) were placed at each end, attracting shoppers and creating foot traffic to the smaller stores in between.

Inside the mall, Gruen created a European-style central court area with an aviary, sculptures, and an open-air-style café. The mall was an island, surrounded by a sea of parking places designed to accommodate the masses. It was also designed to provide local employment and economic growth to the area.

By 1960, there were 4,500 malls nationwide. They were built to house dozens (even hundreds) of retail stores and restaurants in one conglomeration. They were envisioned for the middle-class consumers’ socializing and shopping conveniences. Even in ancient Greece, societies tended to congregate in central marketplaces.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 43)


To make the mimeograph pay for itself, I even printed up my own business cards on it, using dime-store construction paper and then cutting the cards apart with scissors until I had neat little stacks of about 50 and a total of 200 or 300 cards. These I distributed at the mall whenever and wherever we might be in one. Paul did not know I was doing this, at first, either, or he would’ve disapproved.

It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too.

I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.

From his story, I found it was easy to drop my card into the pocket of a bathrobe in the ladies’ wear [areas] in the department stores and in the purses and tote bags, on public phone booth stands, [in] restaurant restrooms, even in cookbooks in the bookstores. From these, you’d be surprised, we DID hear from people who wanted to know about my recipes, which was the first experience I had with public response.

By the 1980s, American malls were thriving, out-shining “Main Street”, and taking over pop culture. But, like other rising sensations, this one wasn’t going to last either. Between the rise of online shopping and the setback of the recession in 2008, there was a significant drop in sales and foot traffic at big-brand retailers and malls, alike.

Around 2010, consumers began turning in larger numbers to Amazon and other online retailers. The steep, nationwide drop in sales for brick-and-mortar stores has been accelerating in recent years, but the pandemic put their decline into overdrive.

The entire district has been devastated as consumers have lost the habit of shopping and browsing in person, while the Covid-19 pandemic and related shut-downs have just about hammered the last nails in the shopping mall’s coffin. Except that people are itching to get out again, making it appear that malls are being resurrected. But stores are still struggling, and malls are not as full as they used to be.

According to The Week’s staff article, The ‘Retail Apocalypse’ (Aug. 7, 2021), “Roughly 40 percent of the nation’s department stores have closed since 2016, including every Lord & Taylor store and nearly all Sears and Kmart stores. Neiman Marcus and J.C. Penney have filed for bankruptcy; Macy’s has shuttered dozens of stores and will close 125 more by 2023.”

Because of the internet, the way people socialize has also evolved, just like their shopping customs. For many decades, malls were more than just shopping and dining hubs. They were the new public squares and market places for social gatherings of average, middle-class Americans.

I think malls are memory-makers! I remember when Lakeside Mall opened in 1976 in Sterling Heights (MI). Mom took me and my sisters there on the weekends to shop and eat, as well as help her advertise her newsletter and cookbooks – a story I’ve mentioned in some of my other blog posts.

It was so exciting to ride up and down in the glass elevator that overlooked the beautiful, 3-sided, waterfall fountain. I loved getting to toss a coin into the fountain and making a wish. I remember getting my ears pierced, there, for my 12th birthday, too!

I also remember taking my own children to the “new” Birchwood Mall, in Fort Gratiot Twp. (MI) in the 1990s, for entertainment. We had play-dates and lunched near the carousel. Sometimes we went to the movies or did some shopping. We usually got our annual family pictures taken at one of its anchor stores, like Sears or JC Penny’s, to include in our Christmas cards for family members and close friends.


As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43)


A SMILE IS the universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!

People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.

A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!


These days, everything – even socializing – is being done online more than in person, just like shopping. Unfortunately, for the brick-and-mortar retailers, the ease and expediency of online shopping caught on quicker than anyone anticipated, increasing its popularity considerably over that of hands-on, in-person shopping.

Josh Sanburn wrote in his article, Why the Death of Malls Is About More Than Shopping (July 20, 2017), “Malls were designed for leisure, abundance, ambling. You parked and planned to spend some time. Today, much of that time has been given over to busier lives and second jobs and apps that let you swipe right instead of haunt the food court.”

‘Malls were built for patterns of social interaction that increasingly don’t exist.’ – Leonard Schlesinger, Business Professor at Harvard University

Since department store and mall eateries are just another niche in the vast food industry from which Mom found inspiration in imitating “famous foods from famous places” and since this is still Spinach and Squash Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for imitating Hudson’s Spinach Pie; as seen in her cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret RecipesTM Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 17).



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


Some November month-long observances still going on include… Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Diabetic Eye Disease Month, Epilepsy Awareness Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Historic Bridge Awareness Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Family Stories Month, National Life Writing Month, National Gratitude Month, Inspirational Role Models Month, and National Novel Writing MonthNational Native American Heritage Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Yesterday was the start of Chanukah – which lasts for eight days and changes annually (November 28th for  2021)!

Today is also… Electronic Greetings Day!

Tomorrow is… National Personal Space Day, National Mason Jar Day, National Mousse Day, National Mississippi Day, and National Day of Giving (which is always the Tuesday after Thanksgiving)!

Wednesday begins the month of December! Some December month-long observances include… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

Additionally, the first week of December celebrates National Cookie Cutter Week!

December 1st is also… National Eat a Red Apple Day, Day With(out) Art Day, Rosa Parks Day, and National Package Protection Day (which is always the Wednesday after Thanksgiving)! Plus, it’s the first day of Operation Santa Paws (which always runs the 1st through the 24th)! In honor of Wednesday, also being National Pie Day, here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation of Aunt Jenny’s Pumpkin Pie, from her “Original 200” recipes collection.


Thursday is… National Fritters Day, National Mutt Day, and Special Education Day!

December 3rd is… National Roof Over Your Head Day! Plus, as the first Friday in December, it’s also… Faux Fur Friday and National Bartender Day!

December 4th is… National Dice Day, National Sock Day, and National Rhubarb Vodka Day (which is always the first Saturday in December)! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month, it’s also… National Play Outside Day! Plus, in honor of Saturday, also being National Cookie Day, here’s a re-share of Mom’s imitation of Wally Amos’ famous cookies; which appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheets that she used to give out in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope.


Sunday is… National Sacher Torte Day! Plus, as the beginning of the first week of the month, it’s also the start of… National Cookie Cutter Week!


…48 down and 4 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Eating Better, Farm To Table

Happy Monday to all! Additionally, happy National Farmers Day! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you! #TGIM!


The “farm-to-table” process means that fresh, locally sourced food is sold to local consumers and restaurants. Fruits and vegetables begin to lose their nutrients within 24 hours of being picked, so fresher produce is more nutritious and local is the freshest. For some really great suggestions on how to support your area’s local farmers, be sure to read 7 Ways to Support Local Farmers at


Along with National Farmers Day in the foodie world, October is also, among other things, Eat Better Eat Together Month! The consensus is that eating together, as a family, creates stronger bonds. Additionally, eating together supposedly helps to create more balanced and healthy food choices, as well.

Aside from the eating-together thing, I think that the one who plans the menu, as well as buying and preparing the food, is the one responsible for the healthy/unhealthy food choices at mealtime – whether it’s for one or two or a whole clan. It’s a great idea to celebrate eating right and having solid, old-fashioned, close-knit, family meals. But is there really any merit that eating together creates better eating habits and tighter family bonds?

Personally, I’ve found the opposite to be true! When my siblings and I were growing up, at home, we always ate dinner together, as a family; just like in the picture, below. Now, since Mom and Dad are both gone, we rarely ever talk to each other, let alone see each other.

On the other hand, my own children are closer than me and my siblings; but, other than holidays and birthdays, they only had family-sit-down-together-meals for about the first half of their childhoods. If I wasn’t working an afternoon shift somewhere, we were usually on the go, doing soccer or social activities.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s – Algonac, MI (1973)

When I was growing up, family-style meals weren’t just a few times a year, like on holidays and birthdays. Mom tried to make every meal a special occasion! Like typical families, we’d fill our plates and talk about our days, while we passed the serving dishes around.

We weren’t the Walton’s family or the Brady Bunch, by any means! ! We ate together because that’s when the meal was served. It wasn’t a restaurant that you could drop in on at any time and place an order for whatever you like… You ate what was made and when it was served or went hungry until the next meal.

But I can’t remember any of us willing to miss one of Mom’s meals. She would jokingly say otherwise, in her editorials; but even before Mom became famous as the Secret RecipesTM DetectiveTM, she was always a great cook! In addition, Mom CHOSE to make well-rounded meals that covered all the basic food groups, including dessert! That’s how she grew up and what she was taught by her mom.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.6)


As often as we put things off, in life, it’s a shame that we don’t care more about the ‘now’, the ‘todays’, the here-I-am and here-you-are, and what can we do for each other to make things as good as possible for [both of] us! I know! There are people who can’t be bothered with such nonsense. They have jobs to work and bills to pay, things to worry about and goals to achieve.

‘If you’re going to talk about cooking and foods… what are you going off on tangents for, talking about people and their feelings?’

This is a question I’ve been asked over and over by inquiring reporters, wanting to know why we’re successful at what we do, why people go to such trouble to locate us and order our books! I think they answer their own question. Don’t you?

After all, cooking is not for robots! The way we present our food to those who share our table with us takes into account more than plopping the pot roast onto a platter and announcing, ‘Supper’s ready!’ Is that where it ends? When a meal is presented, there are many considerations for the cook.

Besides the balance, nutritionally, there’s the effort to please those who will hopefully enjoy the food. And trying to please those you’re feeding is a direct appeal, a definite effort, to consider someone’s feelings, the feelings of enjoyment and consequently of approval – approval of the food and… the one who prepared it.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

Every day, the homemaker, with a family to feed, meets the challenge of proving they can be proficient, both, in the selections of foods, [as well as] the preparation and presentation of it and the management and the management of the cost.

Cooking is more than turning on the stove and opening the refrigerator. It’s pleasing people! It’s caring about what they might like to eat. It’s doing your best to prepare and present the dishes so that mealtime is not just a daily routine – but an occasion.

The cookbook industry has offended us… as if the recipes were designed for mindless bodies – not for folks with feelings! Food fanatics continue to advise us on how to feed the body while we let the famished affections go hungry.

The critics’ smoking guns right now are aimed at curing physical maladies with food administered medicinally. Food, as medication, is used as both a preservative and a cure. But what heals the broken spirit – the sensitive, the distressed, the lonely, the shy and withdrawn?

It takes more than adequate fiber intake; minimum daily nutritional needs being filled to cure the body of ills created by stress and anguish. It takes loving, caring and being loved and cared about in return!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

There was a time, not very long ago, when the average family’s busy lifestyle usually made it difficult to eat a meal together, let alone a healthy one. The so-called experts advised challenged families that, to strengthen the family unit, they should make it a goal to eat at least one meal a day, together, as a group.

Then the Covid-19 pandemic struck! Suddenly, families were, more or less, confined together 24/7 – for all the meals and everything else in between too! Home suddenly became a hub for the office, school, gym, salon, cinema, eatery and so much more!

Peace of mind comes from being able to successfully deal with stress, which is more important than being able to escape from it – whether that escape is through food or some other source of comfort!

‘The divine principle of good cooking is not a secret! It is taking pleasure in the activity; in the information previously retained and called upon through the facilities of memory. The spirit of good cooking is individualistic. It is not shrouded in mystery – but in love, for what you are doing and for whom you are doing it!’ – Gloria Pitzer [as seen on the front page of the 128th issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Sep-Oct 1987)].

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p.10)


Having a good attitude toward cooking, is the most positive way to approach the experience. Some folks really LOVE to cook, and they consequently do it well. But many of them can only turn out a handful of dishes perfectly and, therefore, limit their cooking practices, as well as their opportunities to eat foods that are unfamiliar to them.

Cooking is one of those skills that improve with practice, as does anything we undertake. But most of us are so conditioned to living in a world of instants that if a dish requires more of us than to add water – or to defrost and heat – we’re at a total loss in the kitchen!

Our life styles are changing more and more each day. We’re living in the age of fast food, instant coffee, Minute Rice, … one-step floor cleaners, quick breads, split-second decisions, rapid transit travel and planes that go 700-MPH – so why shouldn’t cooking be hurried along as well?

When you don’t really like to cook, it’s hard to imagine that it does have a positive side to the experience. Gourmets live to cook, while the rest of us cook to live – and just as often, would prefer it if we didn’t have to cook at all. This attitude toward getting the whole thing over with as soon as we can, is a reflection of the pride we fail to take in our accomplished dishes. When you thrive on compliments for your culinary skills it’s different.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (5-7-1990)

When you do not have a positive interest in good cooking practices, you, likewise, don’t expect your creations to warrant compliments. The best thing for you to do is start ‘small’ – working with only a few ingredients at a time, until you get the feeling of how certain foods go well together, what flavorings compliment them, the best way to present the food when you serve it, so that it looks even better than it will taste.

Long, complicated recipes that require numerous ingredients and pampering are not always as good as those dishes that require only a few ingredients and a short time to prepare. We have made the mistake of believing that ‘fast’ food is totally without merit, therefore cannot be wholesome, nutritious, nor worth the time and cost, but ‘fast’ can be good if it is properly prepared.

If true happiness is acquired through persistence and patience, it would be like the fable of the elderly Chinese profit who asked for a needle when none could be found. However, somebody offered him a crowbar and a file. He was pleased and assured his friends that it was only a matter of time before he could produce the needle he wanted. – Gloria Pitzer [Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, January 2018; p. 304) 


Don’t forget that October is also National Cookbook Month!

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


Along with October being national Eat Better, Eat Together Month, it’s also Tackling Hunger Month.  In connection with those two month-long celebrations, the 2nd week of October is observed as National Food Bank Week.  Thus, I want to make a local shout out, here, to one of the Detroit area’s food banks, Gleaners!


I hear about this group all the time on our local news. They do such great things in so many communities! I heard about their wonderful program, Cooking Matters,  which is “a groundbreaking nutrition-education program that connects low-income individuals and families with food by teaching them how to prepare healthy, tasty meals on a limited budget.” By the way, National Food Day is coming up on the 24th!


Part of what started Mom’s career as the Recipe DetectiveTM for Secret RecipesTM, was her keen ideas on how to make our family’s food budget stretch during the 1970s’ food crisis Mom started sharing some of her discoveries in the columns she syndicated. It had a snowball effect when she started imitating famous food products and dishes, at home – in her own kitchen, with what she had on hand in her pantry – because our family of seven couldn’t always afford those kind of eating-out treats…that’s how Mom developed her “Copycat Cookery” and “Eating Out at Home” concepts! More on those next week…


…41 down, 11 to go!

Happy #NationalCookbookMonth !