2 unbaked 9-inch pie shells (see Index for my Crisco Crust or Butter Crust recipes)
Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine all filling ingredients. Set aside while you partially bake the prepared crusts for only 10 minutes. You can even do this while the oven is preheating, since you want to bake them only “partially”, which prevents the crusts from being soggy after you’ve baked the pies with the filling in them.
You don’t even have to let the crusts cool before dividing the filling mixture equally between them. Return the pies to bake at 425°F for only 8 minutes – set your timer! Reduce the temperature, at that time, to 350°F and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of each comes out clean.
Remove pies to cool on wire racks. Keep pies refrigerated when not being served. Makes two 9-inch pies. Serves 12 to 16 nicely.
This Friday is Christmas Eve and Saturday is Christmas! Plus, the following weekend is the start of the new year – 2022! I don’t know where the time went but it sure flew by quickly! I feel like this is a last minute Christmas kind of year. I’m just getting our holiday cards out in the mail today. Usually, I have them written out and in the mail by Cyber Monday.
I did decorate our house – early – but I still haven’t made my annual holiday cookies and fudge, yet. I didn’t even START my Christmas shopping until a week ago. I still have a little more to get before I can wrap up that “to do” checkbox! I’ll also have to hurry this week to get my cookies and fudge made – or buy them or skip it, altogether.
Have you done all your cookie baking and treat making? Have you stuffed the stockings and wrapped the gifts and decked the halls? Or do you do it all at the last minute? According to an article by People’s staff, from this time last year, a survey was conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Punchbowl, questioning 2,000 Americans about their gift-giving and holiday celebration habits. Some of the survey results showed that…
…51% admitted to last-minute-holiday-shopping.
…33% admitted to losing track of time (as to why they shopped late).
…50% admitted to buying gifts on Christmas Eve.
…39% admitted to buying gifts on Christmas Day.
…37% admitted to leaving a party to buy a gift because they forgot to bring one.
…60% admitted to struggling to find “the perfect gift”.
…46% admitted to being bad gift-givers.
…60% admitted to being overwhelmed by the number of gifts they need to buy.
…59% admitted that holiday shopping felt more like a chore.
…58% admitted that sending holiday cards felt like a chore, as well.
…60% admitted to only sending holiday cards to those from whom they receive holiday cards.
…68% admitted to embracing and promoting gift-card-giving.
Additionally, according to the poll and People’s staff’s article, the top three places at which to get last-minute gifts (and I agree with all of these, as well) are, first and foremost, our local grocery stores (at 41%). Second place went to drug stores (at 33%), and third place went to liquor stores (at 30%).
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer as seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Issue 147, Nov-Dec 1990; pp. 1 & 8)
THE EASIEST COP-OUT for those who put a price tag on the pleasures of the holiday & insist that the success of the celebration depends on the amount of money spent on the preparations and gifts. If I give our children only one gift, it will be that I gave some practical sense of what is truly important at this time of year – not the gift, but the gathering of family and friends…
Not the food, but the feeling of just being home… Never letting what we want be more important than what we need… Not complaining about trivials… And always appreciating what we’ve already received before we can expect to receive more.
THE CHRISTMAS FEELING is basically a simple hope for peace and good will, no matter what other trappings we’ve attached to the occasion through the years since that single star lit up the sky over Bethlehem. No matter what other customs and traditions mankind has attached to Christmas or the celebration of it, the humble wish for ‘peace on Earth, good will towards men’ remains strong among those who thrive on hope and cherish what is good, refusing to be deprived of such expectations!
I also agree with (and want to share) the top 10 choices for stocking stuffers, last minute or otherwise, according to Gifts Likely To Be Put In Family’s Christmas Stocking In The U.S. In 2021, published by D. Tighe (Nov 15, 2021). I’ve stuffed many stockings, over the past 35 years, with all of these items! Tighe’s wonderful article gives more than ten choices – thus, I recommend checking it out for yourself – but I’ll share the top 10 picks, which are as follows.
Note pads, pens, and pencils at 35%
Crayons and coloring books tied with jewelry or wearable accessories at 37%
Arts, crafts, and creative stuff (that’s not coloring) at 38%
Cash at 42%
Toothbrushes and oral care products at 49%
Packaged snacks at 50%
Gift cards at 54%
Lip balm at 59%
Small toys at 63%
Candy, chocolate, and/or gum at 83%
I remember one Christmas, when my kids were young, and our household income was so tight that we couldn’t afford to buy each other any gifts. Instead, we gave of ourselves, by making each other “coupon books” for our gifts – offering our time and services for doing someone’s chores or some other special favor – which could be redeemed at some future date throughout the new year.
Another year, for one of our Pitzer family Christmas Eve gift-exchanges, we all agreed (me, my siblings, and our parents) to make each other gifts, because we were all struggling to make ends meet in our own families. I’ve always thought that the homemade gifts were the best ones!
EVEN MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book
(Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1983, pp. 4-5)
BREAKING THROUGH THE BARRIERS of tradition, we find a spirited acceptance of new family values. Occasions have replaced celebrations. Getting together has been replaced by BEING together! Good food, comfortable conversation [and] warm hospitality have become more important to the family circle than reverence without reason, tolerance without tact, relatives without relationships!
The lovely part about Christmas for us, was always being together – with our friends, our good and dear neighbors and our relatives; in a series of activities that began with Thanksgiving and tapered off around the new year. It was hectic, but it was also many happy reunions, mixed well with spontaneous visitations that, had they been a part of the ordinary activities of the rest of the year, would not mean so much now!
The food was simple, but ample. The food, I feel, should never be more important than the guests for whom it is prepared…All of these preparations are a part of Christmas – but not the important part. The tokens only represent the real meaning – that of loving, of letting go of old grudges, of forgetting past hurts, of looking for something good (even though you don’t see it – until you do!)
LOVE, most philosophers conclude, is the highest level of thought. It is the logic of the heart. And no other season of the calendar year seems to reflect more of this feeling, this consolation to our woes, than the season of Christmas!
We reach out to others – and want them, in turn, to respond to us. Some of us do it with gifts that we buy or make and some of us do it with social gestures of food and hospitality. While all of these traditions are renewed at this particular time of the year, the critics complain and the cynics look for reasons to begrudge us the pleasure of loving the season, renewing the fellowship of it – with family, friends and neighbors.
But that’s not unusual and we shouldn’t be surprised by the criticisms that try to take some of the joy out of the holiday traditions we follow – or create for ourselves. There are always critics, unfortunately, for those occasions in our lives when we wish to be glad about something…
So, on with the celebration – whether we choose to keep it quietly in our own personal fashion of religious customs, or whether we choose to make it festive and pronounced with the traditions of gifts and food. The point is, we are celebrating the season of hope… It’s a time for loving – for expressing it [and] for offering it to others! How can something like that not be good!
Our own traditions have not been very elaborate in our family, during the Christmas season; but, the things we have always done to make the holiday more enjoyable, brought us pleasure. So, we have continued with them. Whether you choose to follow traditions or to create some of your own, the underlying meaning is still there to express joy and LOVE – that incredible, curious logic of the heart!
‘The celebration of the moments worth remembering continues to have its place.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Quarterly (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Winter 1994/95).
Almost 30 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about her and my dad’s plans for a Christmas present to me and my four siblings, of a cassette recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their most dearly remembered and cherished moments over the decades.
They intended to discuss the memories they had of their grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know. There was also to be other stories about our current family and past generations that we could pass on to our own future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. I know it would’ve been priceless to me, at least, and to my own children, as well as to my grandson.
If only hindsight was foresight! I wish now, that I had written down more of Mom’s stories about our family’s history; or, better yet, that I had recorded those conversations during her last few years. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. I need to put together something like that for my own children, before it’s too late!
In honor of Saturday, being National Pumpkin Pie Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade From-Scratch Pumpkin Pie Filling; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 245). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
1983 – Gloria Pitzer’s Christmas Card Cook Book was a limited edition that was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this little recipe booklet had a 22-page, 5.5″ x 8.5″ format filled with interesting customs and history tidbits about the Hanukkah and Christmas holidays, humorous readings and 36 recipes. Perfect for gift-giving and stocking stuffers, these booklets sold for $2 per copy.
Sub-Titles: “Food for Thought and Thoughts on Food”
1975 – Gloria Pitzer’s Snow Thyself was a sort of “self-help” book written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this book was sub-titled “The 1975 Happiness Handbook” and had an 8.5” x 11” format with 16 pages full of feel-good stories, quotes and meditation. No information could be found regarding the price for which it sold.
1974 – Gloria Pitzer’s The Better Cooker’s Christmas Cookbook Collection was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI), having a 5.5” x 8.5” format of 128 pages with over 150 index listings. NO LONGER IN PRINT – Gloria described this book as a small, “unsophisticated” collection of perfectly reliable recipes, interesting customs, Hanukkah foods and some history about this December holiday; as well as humorous readings tucked in here and there to prove that cookbooks needn’t make dull reading. The 3-ring binder-style books were printed on salvaged paper and sold for $2 each.
Hi, again, everyone! First of all, happy Chanukah/Hanukkah to all of those celebrating this wonderful 8-day, traditional Jewish “festival of lights”! Whether you say “Shalom” or “Noel” – both words mean “Peace”. It is the season of love, hope and understanding! We are all different, yet so alike, and that’s okay. Cheerish it! Embrace it! Own it! Celebrate it! “Let there be peace on Earth…” and let it begin with each and every one of us!
“Every year at this time, we put our very best wishes together with some warm & worthy thoughts, and send them off to you, wrapped in sincere affection and the dearest hopes that this coming year gives you all you expect and derive from it.” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes [TM] Quarterly, Winter 94/95.
As I make out this year’s Christmas cards from my husband and I to all of our friends and family, I can’t help but reminisce over the past year. Last Christmas was a rough one, as Mom’s health seemed to deteriorate in December. I didn’t do the yearly card tradition for my husband and I; as, instead, I helped Mom to write and send out her own Christmas cards – not knowing it was for the last time. It was such a rollercoaster ride that month and the next, as she seemed to get better and worse and better again (which, I understand, is usually what happens at “the end”) until she passed away peacefully on January 21st, of this year, lovingly surrounded by family and care-givers and friends.
One “hidden blessing” in Dementia is the ability to recall old memories with clarity, like they happened recently. Mom often reminisced with me and my kids and grandson on our visits with her, about stories of some of our relatives, whom were long gone, from her chilhood memories. She couldn’t understand how she could remember such things, like they happened yesterday, but couldn’t remember who she actually saw or spoke to that previous day. It was also very hard for her to look in the mirror, as she didn’t really recognize the face staring back at her because her mind was often in the past, including how she looked then and not currently. As discussed in Scrapbook Photo Albums are Therapeutic for Alzheimer’s Patientsby Mark B. Mizen, Ph.D., Director of Technology at Creative Memories; Saint Cloud, MN, photographs and scrapbooks and journals are such important “tools” for those who suffer from Dimentia and Alzheimer, as well as for their families, friends and care-takers.
If only hindsight was forsight! I wish now, that I had written more of her stories down or, better yet, recorded the conversations. We always tend to think there’s time for that later…but then, in the blink of an eye, that time is gone. Over 26 years ago, Mom wrote in one of her newsletters about her and my dad’s plans for a Christmas present to me and my siblings, of a cassette recording of the two of them talking about their life together and their most dearly remembered and cherished moments; plus, memories of their grandparents, whom we (my siblings and I) never got the chance to know; as well as other stories about the family that we could pass on to future generations. I so wish they had followed through with that gift. It would’ve been priceless to me and my own children, as well as to my grandson.
I’ve always loved Mom’s artistic way with words. Her love for writing and journaling helped her, somewhat, to deal with the Dimentia from which she suffered after a double stroke and “grand mal seizure” in 2015. The writing was as much a form of therapy for her as it was just a natural reflex. Mom penned her feelings and memories in journals for most of her life. My younger sister has all the journals that still exist. Some were lost or destroyed over the years. But, Mom also recorded some of her feelings and memories in every one of her publications too. I really do enjoy re-reading all of her “Food for Thought” memories that are in her old books and newsletters of which I still have copies. A lot of what she wrote about was regarding finding the blessings in any given moment – good and bad, alike – for that was how she was raised. Being grateful everyday for what she confronted and overcame was a big part of Mom’s journaling.
In later years, Mom was largely influenced in this effect by Maya Angelou, who told of her experience with “the yellow pad” in an interview with David Holstrom of “The Christian Science Monitor” (1993) – Maya said she went to her voice teacher in mental turmoil over having to leave her child in Europe when she returned to the States. Frightened for her sanity, she told her teacher that she thought she was going mad. He gave her a yellow pad and told her to write down her blessings. She said she didn’t even want to hear that, but he insisted that she start with the fact that she could hear him, that she could see the page, that she could hold the pen. “Before I reached the end of the page,” she [Maya] said, “I was transformed. So, everything I have written, every book, every stage play, every screenplay, was written on a yellow pad. As soon as I pick it up, I am reminded of my blessings.”
“The celebration of the moments worth remembering continues to have its place. ” – Gloria Pitzer, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes [TM] Quarterly, Wnter 94/95.
As with my prervious blogs, I’d like to end by sharing one of Mom’s recipes with you that appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. This picture contains a copy of Mom’s 1985 make-alike version of California’s famous See’s Candy fudge (an easy, favorite treat she liked to make at Christmas time):
This recipe, unlike most of the others I’ve shared here, does not appear in her last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of Mom’s famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], an 8.25×11-inch, “Perfect Bound Softcover”, 322-page cookbook (also available as an eBook) published in January 2018 and available for purchase (ISBN: 9781504391214.) However, you will find, in this book, Mom’s make-alike recipes for Niagara Falls Fudge as offered at the Maple Leaf Village in Niagara Falls, Ontario (Canada); as well as her “Somewhere In Time Chocolate Fudge”, like “Murdick’s Fudge”, Mackinaw Island, MI referenced in a scene in the movie, after which she named her version.