January celebrates, among other things, National Hobby Month and National Mentoring Month! A very popular New Year’s resolution is to start a new hobby. In fact, that was listed as #4 by a report from KrisTV.com/news, called the Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions… (Dec. 30, 2021) – for 2022. It all starts somewhere!
Mom’s original writing ambitions began when she was a young girl, influenced by a movie about the Bronte sisters. Like others, Mom wanted to write a great American novel. “The best laid plans…” comes to mind. Nonetheless, Mom believed that Devine Intervention detoured her to write about other things, while never steering her away from writing, itself.
Every success Mom had in writing, as a girl and young adult, was usually centered around cooking and homemaking – from the many essay contests that she entered and won to her multiple careers in the newspaper field, writing and syndicating her own columns and cartoon panels; followed by writing and publishing her own newsletter, cookbooks and food-for-thought books.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6)
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]
IT ALL STARTED WITH…
I DO, WITH RECIPES, what rich little does with voices! Imitating the ‘Secret Recipes’ of the food industry has been an exciting experience for me. The critics felt that ‘fast foods’ and restaurant dishes were not worth the effort to duplicate at home, when you can just as easily buy the products already prepared!
The critics who contend that ‘fast foods’ are ‘junk foods’ and not good for us, have probably never prepared these foods themselves. Certainly, they have no access to the closely guarded recipes from the food companies that created these dishes, as there are only a few people in each operation that are permitted the privilege of such information! So, 99% of the critics’ speculations are based on their own opinions.
To know what these dishes contained, they’d have to be better chemists than I, as I have tested over 20,000 recipes with only the finished product as my guide to determine what each contained. ‘Fast foods’ are not ‘junk foods’ unless they’re not properly prepared. Any food that is poorly prepared (and just as badly presented) is junk!
Unfortunately, ‘fast food’ has carried a reputation, by default, of containing ingredients that are ‘harmful’ to us. Yet, they contain the same ingredients as those foods served in the ‘finer’ restaurants with wine stewards, linen tablecloths, candlelight, coat-check attendants, and parking valets; which separate the plastic palaces of ‘fast food’ from the expensive dining establishments.
One ‘eats’ at McDonald’s, but ‘dines’ at The Four Seasons. Steak and potato or hamburger and French fries – the ingredients are practically the same. How they are prepared makes the difference!
In the early 1970s, I was trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, homemaking and a newspaper column syndicated through Columbia Features, when it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a single cookbook on the market that could help me take the monotony out of mealtime. There was not a single recipe in the newspaper’s food section that did not smack of down-home dullness!
‘Okay,’ they said at the newspaper I worked for, ‘YOU write the column on foods and recipes that YOU think would really excite the readers and make them happy!’ I did, but that didn’t make the Editors happy, because it made their [food industry] advertisers miserable.
When I was told that I’d have to go back to monotonous meatloaf and uninteresting side-dishes that made mealtime a ritual rather than a celebration or pick up my check, I told them to ‘MAIL it to me!’ I went home to start my own paper!
It was probably a dumb thing to do, amid an economic recession with the highest rate of unemployment I had ever experienced, but it was worth the risk. I was a dedicated writer that new someone had to give homemakers something more than what they were being given in the colored glossy magazines, where a bowl of library paste could even be photographed to look appetizing!
…THEY LAUGHED! THEY DOUBTED! They even tried to take me to court when some famous food companies insisted that I stop giving away their secrets. They couldn’t believe me when I said that I did NOT know, nor did I want to know, what they put in their so-called secret recipes.
I did know that there are very few recipes that can’t be duplicated or imitated at home. And we could do them for much less than purchasing the original product. I proved…it can be and should be done!
FAMOUS FOODS FROM FAMOUS PLACES have intrigued good cooks for a long time… There is speculation among the critics as to the virtues of re-creating, at home, the foods that you can buy ‘eating out’, such as the fast food fares of the popular franchise restaurants. To each, his own! Who would want to imitate ‘fast food’ at home?
I found that over a million people who saw me demonstrate replicating some famous fast food products [the FIRST time I was] on The Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981) DID – and their letters poured in at a rate of over 15,000 a day for months on end!
And while I have investigated the recipes, dishes, and cooking techniques of ‘fine’ dining rooms around the world, I received more requests from people who wanted to know how to make things like McDonald’s Special Sauce or General Foods Shake-N-Bake coating mix or White Castle’s hamburgers than I received for those things like Club 21’s Coq Au Vin.
I think I inherited Mom’s love for writing (among other things) and, while I was growing up, she continuously mentored me in creative writing. Now writing has become one of my favorite hobbies, as well as a legacy of love, as I carry on her torch, telling her story in these blog posts. It all starts somewhere.
Mom was such a huge influence on who I grew to be that I feel compelled to keep her torch lit and shining bright! Her love of writing and cooking and inspiring others in the same was, to me, one of the biggest parts of her legacy. It wasn’t something she did just for our family, but for all families.
Mom always hated when “the press” referred to her as a small town housewife who turned a hobby into an occupation. Writing was never Mom’s hobby. She used to say that being a writer isn’t what she did; but, rather, who she was! She also loved to mentor others in writing, as well.
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. 22)
I LIVE TO WRITE
JOURNALISM IS A PECULIAR profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since graduating high school in 1954]. I’ve worked among writers who wrote to live, while the rest of us lived to write. We had to communicate, to reach out to someone with ideas…thoughts…reasonings and remembering.
While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire, not if they’re truly writers. Editors may retire and reporters may retire…at some given point. But, old writers never die, they just run out of words.
I never thought I’d see the day that Mom would run out of words. I’m sure she didn’t either! But her words live on forever in print! I’ve heard from many people, since starting these blog posts in September 2018, who’ve told me that they still have their copies of Mom’s publishings and how special they are to them.
I pour through my copies of Mom’s books and newsletters all the time, as they inspire me in, both, cooking and writing! Mom was certainly my mentor in those areas. Please contact me at [email protected] or on Facebook @TheRecipeDetective with your memories of my mom! I’d love to hear from you, too!
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 75)
ASPIRE TO INSPIRE
WE EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE to inspire…The care and concern that an author has for their readers is part of the pleasure of presenting interesting ideas in either an entertaining way or in an informative way. I try to balance my own presentations between the two.
When I am broadcasting over the numerous radio stations around the country, sometimes around the world, I try to lift the listener to a new height of interest and enthusiasm, and I leave the serious side of nutrition to the experts, who have the medical background to support their claims.
My hope is to present my recipes in such a way that cooking is a joy and never a job! I try to present these recipes with the same concern as I do giving a gift to a special friend. Each of our 5 children, who have grown up helping Paul and me with these recipes, have gone out into the world with this legacy of love and enthusiasm. We can only hope that they use what we have given them.
In addition to the national celebrations or observances I’ve already mentioned, as the second Monday in January (2023), today is also… National Clean Off Your Desk Day! I wanted to mention, this is NOT a day Mom would’ve celebrated or observed but I do!
By the way, getting organized was the #3 contender, according to that report I mentioned earlier, from KrisTV.com/news, called the Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions… (Dec. 30, 2021).
I’m one of those weird people who like to clean and, especially, to organize! I don’t know why – it’s some OCD thing I have – but organizing is one of my favorite hobbies. I tried to surprise Mom once, when I was a teenager, by cleaning and organizing her office space. However, when it came to her desk, she preferred her own “organized mess”.
In honor of January, being National Oatmeal Month, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Aunt Jenny’s Date Oat Bars”; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 4).
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
The second week of January celebrates… National Mocktail Week, National Folic Acid Awareness Week, Universal Letter Writing Week and National Pizza Week, which always start on the second Sunday of January.
Today is also… National Apricot Day!
Tomorrow is… National Bittersweet Chocolate Day, National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, National Oysters Rockefeller Day, and National Save The Eagles Day! Plus, as the second Tuesday in January (2023), it’s also… Shop for Travel Day!
Sunday, January 15th is… National Bagel Day, National Hat Day, and National Strawberry Ice Cream Day! Plus, as the start of the third week of January, it’s also… World Kiwanis Week, Hunt for Happiness Week, National Healthy Weight Week, and National Fresh Squeezed Juice Week!
…2 down and 50 to go!