2 pkgs. dry (dissolved in ½ cup warm water, with 2 tsp sugar)
4 cups flour*
¼ cup each (all chopped): candied red cherries, golden raisins, candied citrus peel, and walnuts
¼ tsp cardamom
½ tsp vanilla
Melted butter for basting
Combine milk, butter, sugar, and salt. Cool to lukewarm. Add water and warm yeast mixture. Stir and let stand for 5 minutes, or until bubbly. Add this mixture to one cup of the flour*.
Beat in eggs and chopped fruits and nuts, as listed. Add rest of ingredients, working in only enough more flour* to make dough elastic. Knead in bowl 5 minutes. Let rise until doubled in size.
Grease two 9-inch loaf pans. Split dough between these, shaping into loaves and letting them rise, again, until doubled in size.
Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes or until golden brown and, when you tap the crust, it makes a hollow sound. At once, wipe top of loaves with melted butter. Dump loaves out of pans onto towels to cool on their sides.
Also published, as seen below, in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 95). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
7 ½ ounce jar baby food (Junior) apples and apricot strained dessert
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Put it all in a pan, stirring lightly just to blend. Cover and cook on low heat until time to serve, but don’t let it dry out. Additional liquid may be added if too much evaporates while it’s kept “on-hold” – no longer than 1 hour… OR put it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water if you must hold it longer.
[OR instead of cooking on low heat,] grease a 2-quart casserole and bake the dressing, covered, at 350°F for about 40 minutes or until piping hot. Freezes well up to 3 months. Serves 4 to 6.
Also published, as seen below, in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 95). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
Fill your blender half-full of cold water. Add enough whole, raw cranberries that it displaces the water to within an inch of the top of the container and cap it securely. Use an on/off agitation, on high speed, for half a minute – or until you can see that the cranberries are evenly and coarsely chopped, but not mushy.
Dump it into a colander to let the water drain. Repeat the blender process with an UNPEELED seedless orange, cut in pieces no larger than a marshmallow, until the size of confetti. Measure out the cranberries and then dump the orange pieces into the colander to drain.
Repeat until you have half as much oranges, as cranberries. Mix together, lightly, in a large bowl. Measure enough sugar that you have half as much sugar as you have cranberry/orange mixture.
Combine the sugar with the fruit mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 2-3 hours, stirring it occasionally. When juice has formed in the mixture, taste it for tartness. Adjust the sugar to taste – if it is too sweet, add another chopped orange, or part of an orange, until the flavor tastes right to you.
It’s not easy to give specific measurements because not all oranges have the same flavor and sweetness. Since the orange peel is included in this recipe, the sugar amount may vary.
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 274). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
THE SIMPLE RECIPES that I’ve told you I personally prefer, are not always the fastest – but how can you argue with the virtues of a 4-ingredient combination that is far superior to what you find in the frozen food selections of your supermarket – or to a product sold exclusively in shopping malls, where it is the only item on their menu.
I speak of the SOFT PRETZEL! And I will not get into one of those tacky and senseless debates on the virtues or penalties of a simple food like the ‘soft pretzel’, when it’s great-grandfather, French bread, is hardly on the APB of food critics anywhere!
Argue, if you wish, about this as a ‘junk food’, but as for myself, I have better options with which to spend my energies. Let me share with you this simple combination of ingredients I developed for this super-snack idea.
1 envelope dry yeast mix
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 ¼ to 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Place yeast, water and sugar in a 1 ½-quart mixing bowl. Give it a stir just to combine it all and set your timer to let it stand in a warm place for 10 minutes. This will allow it to triple in bulk! If it doesn’t – the yeast is bad, or the water was too hot. Throw it out and start all over again.
With electric beaters on low speed, work in about half of the flour to a smooth dough. Remove beaters [and, by hand,] work in enough of the remaining flour so that you have a smooth, elastic-type dough that is no longer sticky to the touch.
Keep a little extra flour handy in which to dip your knuckles (as in my White Bread recipe directions – see Index) and knead dough for 5 minutes. Do this right in the bowl.
Take another bowl the same size and spray it with Pam or wipe it lightly with oil. Place dough in this bowl, turning it over once so that the top is now greased. Spray the inside of a plastic bag with Pam or wipe lightly with oil. Place the bag over the bowl, allowing half of the bag to remain above the top of the bowl, giving the dough room to rise to 3 times its original size in bulk.
This takes about 45 minutes – set your timer! It might take a bit longer, depending on the humidity and warmth in the room. If the dough touches the bag at all in rising, it shouldn’t stick to it because you have greased it properly.
When dough is about 2 inches above the rim of the bowl, flour your fingers and punch the dough down, kneading it a minute or two. Break apart into 15 pieces and roll them into 12-inch long “ropes”.
Shape into the popular soft pretzel form by twisting the 2 ends together twice and bringing them down to the center of the “rope”. Pinch it together, in kind of a heart shape. Arrange on greased cookie sheet and place in freezer, uncovered, for 1 hour. You don’t want them to rise any more than they have.
Meanwhile, put 4 cups of water in an accommodating skillet with 4 tablespoons baking soda. Bring this to a brisk boil and keep it boiling gently as you lift the pretzels, one at a time, with a pancake turner, slipping it into the water for half a minute.
Remove with pancake turner and drain on paper towel. Place 2 inches apart on the greased cookie sheet. Dust in coarse ground salt, or sea salt.
Bake in a preheated, 450°F oven for 14 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet at once. Enjoy them while they’re hot! Makes 15 pretzels.
As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 94)… [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]*
The German community of Frankenmuth, Michigan, which for decades has celebrated the art of fried chicken (served family-style) has had thousands of customers lined up every weekend and holiday, waiting to be seated in one of their 2 large restaurants. Their fried chicken is like ‘Grandma used to make’ – richly flavored, moist inside and never greasy. The family-style dinner provides the table with large bowls of homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, moist and spicy dressing (called “stuffing” in other parts of the country), a fresh-from-scratch cranberry-orange relish, hot breads and beverages.
The fried chicken method:
Begin by setting your electric skillet at 400°F and melting ¼ pound margarine and ½ cup corn oil in it. Blend only until the margarine bubbles, without letting it change color. Don’t let it brown, please!
Run the pieces of a cut-up chicken fryer under cold water. Shake off the excess water but don’t let it get too dry. Dredge each piece evenly in flour, turning it over and over about 3 or 4 times to let the moisture of the chicken absorb the flour as you turn it and form a coating.
Place the floured pieces skin-side down in the oil/margarine mixture and, as it brown’s, sprinkle each piece with the following: 1/8 teaspoon onion salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon paprika and a dash of sage.
When the skin-side of each piece is golden brown, turn and let the bone-side that you just seasoned, brown as well. Dust the browned side with the same 4 ingredients given above. Also sprinkle each piece, skin-side up and nicely browned, with 1 tablespoon flour per piece and then about 2 teaspoons of the drippings in which the chicken is being fried.
Rinse a baking pan in hot water and shake it off, but don’t dry it. Transfer chicken pieces to the moist pan, skin-side up, in a single layer. Put it in a 400°F oven to bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes – for a moister coating cover the pan with foil as the chicken is baking. Serves 4.
Saturday, Nov. 21st, was the celebration of World Television Day! Did you know that people have been watching television for almost a century?! Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, most people have been sort of forced into seclusion and television has become a whole new kind of lifeline for them!
Many people use television for more than just entertainment, especially these days. Watching television is a popular way to get your local and world news, as well as unwinding from a long workday or temporarily escaping a stressful life! People of ALL ages also use television as a learning tool, from pre-school age through adulthood.
Today, I want to share with you some more memories of Mom’s experiences regarding television! The following is sort of a timeline of television appearances Mom had as the Recipe DetectiveTM, which I’ve gathered from excerpts of Mom’s writings.
Nov. 14, 1974 – Mom’s very first television appearance was on “AM Detroit”, with host, Dennis Wholley; at WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 in Detroit, MI.
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, pp. 38-39)
THE HAPPY COOKER
All I was doing was breaking even when Dennis Wholley, at channel 7 in Detroit, received a copy of my September newsletter of that first year of publishing. He called, though, and asked me in the family to appear on one of his broadcasts of ‘A.M. Detroit’, which we did – and which also opened up a brand-new door to opportunities I did not dream of encountering so quickly.
Of course, then, I did have to tell Paul all about the newsletter, what I had been doing and why I could not confide in him, knowing how skeptical he would have been about it. He practically agreed with me that, yes, he would’ve doubted that it would have had a future for us. Today, however, he’s willing to see it quite differently.
December 31, 1974 – On New Year’s Eve day, just across the river from Detroit, Mom appeared with Bob Hines on his television show on CKLW-TV, Channel 9 in Windsor, Ontario (Canada).
When I sent Dennis Wholley a copy of the newsletter, I also sent a copy to Bob Hynes, who then was host for the afternoon movie with CKLW-TV, channel 9, across the river [from Detroit] in Windsor, Ontario. There was no response immediately from CKLW, but the day after I appeared on Dennis Wholley’s program, Bob Hynes called and asked if we could visit his show on New Year’s Eve day [December 31] (1974) and bring the entire family too.
The movie that day, I remember, was ‘Tammy and the Bachelor’ with Debbie Reynolds. His guests for the intermission was Lynn Redgrave, who was there to plug her new movie, ‘The Happy Hooker’. When I introduced myself to Miss Redgrave in the studio that day, I said, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Redgrave. I understand you are the happy hooker. I’m the happy cooker!’
…It was a thrilling experience. Then several weeks later, with the appearance on Bob Hynes show… The appearances on both of these shows brought us so many subscriptions to the newsletter and as the response increased, so did the amount of time that Paul gave me to processing the orders. He could see that I could not do it alone. Every evening, every weekend and even his two-week vacation from his job at the sign company, were given to working on the recipe orders with me.
Dec. 24, 1976 – Christmas Eve, the following year, Mom agreed to an at-home interview with Jack McCarthy of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).
‘Jack McCarthy’s TV interview with us on Christmas Eve , however, for channel 7 in Detroit, was one of the highlights of our experiences.’– Gloria Pitzer, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 68)
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 298-299)
THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW
It was 1977, and we were considering a move from Pearl Beach [MI] to St. Clair [MI], since our 80-year-old house was already packed, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, with recipe books and newsletter inventory. Just about the time we planned our move, the Phil Donahue Show called and invited us to… appear on their program…
I had to decline. We already had more work than we could handle, and I had found that television appearances were merely food demonstrations that I did not enjoy experiencing. I enjoyed my radio work more, and the number of stations on which I had become a regular participant had grown to include over 100, across the country and in Canada.
We were settling down in our new house, in St. Clair, with our office in the basement. [However,] we outgrew that arrangement in a short time and rented a larger office uptown. But the books became more successful than we anticipated, and the newsletter circulation was growing to over 10,000. Soon, I found that we had to put the [office] back into our home.
I couldn’t depend on being in a writing mood between our regular ‘office’… hours of 8 AM to 5 PM. Some of the radio shows that I took part in were on-the-air at midnight, especially my favorite visits with KMOX in St. Louis and WGY in Schenectady.
With my files and reference materials at the office and me, at home, on the telephone with the radio shows, the arrangement was not satisfactory. So, Paul and our 2 sons remodeled our two-car garage, [which was] attached to the kitchen, and we moved the operation back there; where, for the next 4 years, the business ran quite smoothly.
We were receiving about 1,000 letters a day from the radio shows that I took part in and the newspaper stories that I was more-or-less an acting consultant on subjects related to ‘fast food’. In the spring of 1981, our old friend, Carol Haddix, ran a story about our new book of ‘Homemade Groceries’ in the Chicago Tribune, where she had just been assigned the food department.
Winter, 1980-1981 – Mom did another at-home interview – this time, with PM Magazine’s Detroit area TV crew. Mom also appeared on WDIV-TV’s “Noon News” show, on Channel 4 in Detroit, MI
July 7, 1981 – Mom’s first appearance on a nationally syndicated show was on “The Phil Donahue Show”. Mom thought it would also be her last (see also: 1993 – below).
PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF!
The Donahue Show people called once more and requested our appearance. We had just done a PM Magazine show with Detroit and had declined an invitation to appear in New York on Good Morning America, as well as declining an opportunity to have People Magazine interview us…
I still wonder why in the world I said I would do the Donahue show! On July 6 , Paul and I flew to Chicago, staying at the Hyatt O’Hare, and did the Donahue show, live – for an entire hour – on July 7th, flying back that same afternoon. The next day, 15,000 letters waited for us at the St. Clair post office.
And every day, for 4 months, we picked up THOUSANDS of letters – having received, by Christmas, well over 1 million letters, requesting information on how to acquire our books, which were still available only by mail from our address. We were bogged down with an unexpected response. It was an experience of mixed blessings!
If you’ve ever seen one million letters, you know how we felt when we tried to handle the overwhelming response! It was exhausting! Our home, which was both our office and our sanctuary, became like a factory, with people helping us to process the mail; eventually having to return thousands of orders to customers with our deepest regrets that we could not, in all fairness to them, delay their order. The onslaught of mail had forced us to do this.
We were all working from 7 AM until 1 or 2 AM, the next morning, just to open and read the mail. Our phone bill had been buried in some of that mail and in a month’s time, being something like 23 to 24 days behind in opening the mail, our phone was shut off for non-payment of our bill.
As soon as we realized what the mail was doing to us, we tried to get Donahue’s people to stop the continued scheduled showings of our appearance. But that show remained on their repeat schedule for almost a year, playing in the Panama Canal zone, Greenland, Iceland, Australia and on hundreds of small-town stations.
Most of the letters requested a sheet of ‘free’ recipes that were included with the order blank [in exchange] for a self-addressed stamped envelope… The offer would have been good for us, if it had only been shown that one time – the day on which we appeared on the show – but for nearly a year afterward, the requests still came, as did the complaints and the threats to report us to postal authorities for not having sent those ‘free’ recipes, tore us apart emotionally and physically!
Some people did not include their self-addressed-stamped envelope. Some envelopes were addressed to themselves, such as Joe Smith, but in care of OUR address instead of THEIR address. It was a confusing mess! Some people wrote threatening letters that they hadn’t received their orders and were turning us over to the postmaster general as frauds!
I laid my head on my desk many a time, in tears of anguish and fatigue. The family was falling apart. We couldn’t print our books fast enough, to fill all the orders! Then the post office, in delivering the thousands of books that we DID mail out, lost some, destroyed some, and delayed and even miss-directed other orders.
For most of the year, following that 1981 appearance, our family faced the most chaotic time in the 40-year history of Dad and Mom’s family-operated, dining room table, cottage-style operation. We were definitely not set up for that massive response! Secret RecipesTM was really just a FAMILY AFFAIR!
Other than a full-time Administrative Assistant, who was also a family friend, it was just my parents that took care of the day-to-day operations of their publishing and mail-order business. Every now and then, they’d need me and my siblings for a little extra help. That is, until the summer of 1981! Then my parents needed to bring in a lot of extra help! Even some of my high school friends were asked to temporarily help out with the extra mail that was coming in, as well as going out.
We sent out hundreds of thousands of Mom’s “free recipes and product-ordering information” sheets, in exchange for the self-addressed stamped envelopes that people sent in, per the offer that aired on that Donahue episode. We were also sending out thousands of more newsletter issues than before, because of the extra subscription orders that came back from those “free sheet” mailings.
However, as hectic as it was, in the end, it opened a lot of doors for “The Recipe DetectiveTM” that might never have otherwise happened. It brought Mom’s unique style of “copycat cookery” to the attention of MILLIONS of eyes around the world, as that 1981 episode re-ran for about six months or so after its original air-date, on July 7th!
Feb. 1988 – This was Mom’s first appearance on ABC’s “Home” show (Los Angeles, CA) with host, Rob Weller. It was set up by Mom’s long-time friend, Carol Duvall. The show surprised Mom with meeting Wally Amos in person!
May 1990 – Mom did another at-home-interview – this time with CNN News on Memorial Day, plus they came back the next day to tape even more.
Oct. 1990 – This was Mom’s first appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).
Mar. 19, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on ABC’s Home show (Los Angeles, CA), with Carol Duvall. For Mom, it did not seem to go as well as the first appearance.
May 8, 1991 – This was Mom’s second appearance on the Kelly & Company show with, hosts, John Kelly and Marilyn Turner of WXYZ-TV, Channel 7 (Detroit, MI).
Surprisingly, in 1993, when the “Donahue” people called again, Mom agreed to return for another episode but only under the condition that the show not give out any contact information for Secret RecipesTM or our family. That stipulation inadvertently resulted in a record-breaking event for the Donahue Show, as its most requested transcript of all time, SHATTERING its previous record!
The Donahue Show sent Mom a congratulatory letter and plaque to commemorate the historic event. It’s unfortunate that the show ended it’s 29-year stretch (1967-1996) a few years later. There are recordings of that 1993, hour-long episode on YouTube, in a series of 5 “grainy” segments. I just wish I knew where I could find a recording or transcript from Mom’s 1981 appearance. If anyone reading this knows, PLEASE, email me at: [email protected]!
1993 – “Ask Mike” was an infomercial developed by Guthie-Renker Corp. (also, produced & directed by Positive Response Television) for Secret RecipesTM and the Recipe DetectiveTM, including food demonstrations and guest appearances by Wally Amos, as “the-man-in-the-street”, conducting blind taste test with random people. Our family received copies of the infomercial when it was finished but it never aired on television; and Mom decided to never do television shows, again, after that experience.
‘I had found that television appearances were merely food demonstrations that I did not enjoy experiencing. I enjoyed my radio work more, and the number of stations on which I had become a regular participant had grown to include over 100 across the country and in Canada.’ – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 298)]
ONE LAST THOUGHT
Mom believed that life’s best experiences often came out life’s biggest disappointments by, simply, turning “a let-down into a set-up” for something else – something better – something out there, through the opened window. She also believed that every new day was a turning point and that each experience (good and bad, alike) eventually contributed in some way to our growth and happiness. For that Mom was always grateful.
‘…The opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity, or weary from over-work… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you are in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.’– Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)].
Happy Monday, happy July, and happy National Fried Chicken Day! As always, #TGIM – I continually look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances each year, in which I have to share my memories of Mom!
I can’t believe it’s July already! I hope everyone enjoyed the nice, long Independence Day weekend in some way, safely. A lot of people around us, were having their own backyard celebrations all weekend.
As I mentioned above, today is National Fried Chicken Day – which makes it a finger licking good day in my book – and tomorrow will actually be the 39th anniversary of when Mom FIRST appeared on the Phil Donahue Show (July 7, 1981); demonstrating, among other things, how she imitatedfried chicken like the Colonel’s right at home!
As I’ve written about previously, that show was definitely a milestone event, to say the least – for our family as well as our community! Because of Mom’s appearance, our small post office in St. Clair was swamped with about a million letters, throughout that summer and fall. The requests and orders generated from that show, as it aired and re-aired around the world for about a year, just kept pouring in! It was truly an overwhelming response that none of us ever expected.
Mom has written many stories about her experiences, on TV and radio shows, related to her KFC-style chicken imitation, which she called “Big Bucket In The Sky! Chicken”. Below is just one of those stories, from her book, My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop, and a copy of that recipe.
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, pp. 71-72)
HISTORY BOOKS have said little of the one person who really put the state of Kentucky on the map, namely the gentleman whom will always be associated with ‘finger-lickin’-good’ fried chicken, Harland Sanders. He was born in Henryville, Indiana in 1890, and died in late 1980.
Harland was one of the food industry’s most successful men. In 1956, Harland Sanders was an out-of-work 66-year-old [man]. When he died, he left a multi-million-dollar food empire. One survey said that, next to Santa Claus, he was the world’s most recognized personality.
When he founded KFC, he had taken his Social Security check, a pressure-Fryer, a can of spices and herbs and set out across the country to show a few restaurant owners how to fry chicken the ‘right’ way! If they liked it, he promised to supply them with the secret coding.
He was a born salesman! And successfully so, considering the number of jobs he held in a lifetime. Once, over WFAA-Radio, in Dallas, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Colonel and it was that conversation, set up by the host of the show I worked with every Thursday, that gave me the clue on how to season flower at home so that it would taste like the Colonel’s coating on his Kentucky fried chicken.
He had just sold that business to the Heublein liquor and food conglomerate, for around $2 million and it was (quote) ‘the dumbest thing I ever did do!’ He complained that the gravy tasted like ‘wallpaper paste’ and the chicken was ‘dry as cardboard’ and that his recipe and technique had been so terribly altered that he was sick about it.
But he was also being taken to court by the company to which he sold KFC. To prove his point, he told me, in court, he prepared his chicken the right way and passed it out to the jury, the judge and the court along with the bucket of chicken purchased down the street from a KFC unit. The court ruled in his favor.
He told me he had read about our recipes in the Corbin, Kentucky newspaper and that he was flattered with my version of his product, but that I didn’t have to go to all of the trouble of imitating 11 herbs and spices.
He said he wanted to see just what kind of a detective I REALLY was, so he told me to go to the supermarket and find one product in a (quote) ‘package’ that would do the same job as those 11 herbs and spices. And I was to report back to him on the radio show the following Thursday. We tested a dozen or more products during the next six days. And finally I found Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix! It was wonderful!
‘You really are a detective after all,’ Colonel Sanders told me on the air that next week, by telephone from his home in Kentucky. I was on the phone from our home in St. Clair. So it was, indeed, the Colonel himself who put me on the right track with this recipe, and with thousands of people listening in the Dallas area. I am so grateful for this wonderful experience. My cup runneth over!
It was also in the conversation with the Colonel that I was urged not to sell my business as long, he told me, as I had the energy and the aptitude to run it myself. At the conclusion of the lawsuit, I was pleased to see that the company was moved to improve the product and give it back its original goodness. Harland remained as a public relations representative for them until the time he passed away.
Most interesting about his background was that he was eight years old when he was turning out entire menus of American delicacies for his widowed mother, while he took care of the house and did the cooking so that she could work.
He said he went on to become a streetcar conductor, a farmhand, (to Cuba as) a soldier, a railroad fireman, section hand, insurance agent, a steamboat promoter, gaslight manufacturer, tire salesman and, finally, as a service station operator in Corbin, Kentucky.
When they could, Harland and his wife, Claudia, enjoy dining at the Elmwood Inn, in Berryville (KY), where as you might expect, his favorite dish was chicken! Given the honorary title of ‘Colonel’ by the state of Kentucky, for his contributions to its cuisine, he remains one of the most respected and recognized figures in the food industry.
I also tell you in detail, in that book, about our visit to The Donahue Show when I was asked to prepare the famous chicken on camera for millions of viewers and, instead of a deep fryer, the staff provided me, by mistake, with a toaster oven.
The recipe had to be revamped right then and there on camera. It worked out so well that we have, since that experience, included the ‘oven-fried’ version on our sheet of sample recipes, which we have probably sent without charge, just for a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to over a few million people!
Here is a copy of that “Big Bucket In The Sky! Chicken”recipe, as I’ve given out in a previous blog post and, also, posted under the “Recipes” tab, on this website:
July happens to be National Picnic Month, among other things. When I pack up a summer picnic for me and my husband, I like to use the same classics that Mom used to always make. I can’t eat them now, but I always loved her homemade fudge brownies, chocolate chip cookies, coleslaw, potato salad and, of course, fried chicken (which is always great, hot or cold)! My husband still enjoys them, on my behalf, while I now make low-carb dishes for myself. Our favorite picnic standards are very similar to those listed on HowStuffWorks.com, in Sara Elliott’s informative article, Top 10 Picnic Foods.
At our house ‘eating out’ meant roasting hot dogs in the front yard. But then, we didn’t know of many restaurants where 5 children, who hated green vegetables and spilled catsup on the tablecloths, were welcomed. I had to learn to cook by default…the way I saw it, as long as my husband could get marvelous fried chicken at home, why should he take me to Colonel Sanders’? – Gloria Pitzer [“No Laughing Matter”, This Cook is Rated X (or) Yes, Gloria! There Really is a Colonel Sanders (no date available – circa 1970s)]
Frankenmuth, Michigan is a city that has been world-famous, for many decades, for their family-style, sit-down, fried chicken dinners. This wonderful little town is not too far from us, near Saginaw, MI – from where one of Mom’s favorite radio shows still airs, “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio. Not now because of the pandemic, but normally tourists flock to this little German-style town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get their world-famous chicken dinners at one of the two largest establishments in town.
The two major restaurants in Frankenmuth that serve the famous family-style chicken dinners are Zehnders and the BavarianInn. The town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, hotels, breweries and quaint little shops that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland (which is all Christmas, all year) to the Frankenmuth Brewery!
Mom and Dad loved to take road trips to Frankenmuth, as do my husband and me. Although we can’t right now because of Covid-19 restrictions – we’re looking forward to a great day trip there in the future. I miss all the German culture experience that this small tourist town has to offer! Over the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes as “The Recipe DetectiveTM”, she came up with many imitations from Frankenmuth of some of the famous dishes available at the two major restaurants mentioned above; plus, some bread and confection imitations from the local bakeries and fudge shops, as well.
Happy Monday! And happy Autumn too! The days are getting shorter and colder, while the leaves of the trees are getting more colorful each day! Unfortunately, the painter’s palette of nature doesn’t last for long and, soon, all the colors will be gone, blowing in the wind!
At the end of my last blog entry, I mentioned that, among NationalDayCalendar.com’s month-long celebrations listed for October, it’s “Eat Better, Eat Together Month”! A lot of people say that eating together as a family creates stronger family bonds. In his article, “The Family Meal”, Dr. Christopher Peterson brings up a good point when he says, “What I gain from my meals with others goes way beyond convenience. These meals with others are filling but moreover fulfilling. They make me feel part of a larger group.” [Posted March 20, 2012; PsychologyToday.com]
Personally, between me and my siblings, I’ve found the opposite to be true. We ate dinner together every night, while we lived with our parents. Yet, we hardly talk to each other anymore, since Mom and Dad are both gone now; and some of us don’t get along at all. On the other hand, my own children are closer than my siblings and I; but, they only had family-sit-down-together-meals for about half of their childhoods. Then we were always on the run, doing sports activities; or I was working an afternoon shift somewhere.
However, my kids and I did spend a great quantity of quality time together – just not very often around the dinner table (except for holidays and birthdays). Aside from the eating-together thing, whether you’re cooking for just yourself or for two people or for a whole brood – if you’re the one who plans the menu, then you’re the one who makes the healthy/unhealthy food choices for everyone you’re feeding. 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?
As I said, when I was growing up, Mom always prepared a sit-down, family-style dinner with all the food in serving dishes in the middle of the table. We all sat together, as a family (like in the picture of us, above). We talked about our days, as we each took a serving from a dish in front of us; passing that dish to the next person while grabbing another dish from the person on the other side of us. However, we would also elbow each other or kick one another under the table, as siblings would do, whenever Mom and Dad weren’t looking our way. For the most part, I think we only got along for Mom and Dad’s sake anyway.
In addition, Mom CHOSE to make well-rounded meals that covered all the food basics, including dessert! That’s what she was taught by her mom and that’s what she taught me to do as well. But, there was no Brady Bunch or Walton’s Mountain type of bonding at our table! 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 order whatever you like… You ate what was made and when it was served or went hungry until the next meal.
Of course, with the Recipe DetectiveTM as our mom, we happened to taste-test a lot of fast food and junk food imitations over the years – some things may have seemed like bad/unhealthy choices in food to an outsider – such as fried chicken (like KFC’s). However, Mom’s imitation of the famous fast food dish was baked instead of deep-fried, which is healthier.
As I wrote about in a couple of my other blog entries, “Eating Out at Home” (4/8/19) and “Food for Thought” (5/20/19), Mom knew how to take the “junk out of junk food” and did so in her famous imitations. It’s very true that what you put into cooking is what you get out of it – literally and figuratively! Everything in moderation is a great rule by which to live; but, it’s sometimes easier said than done!
A city that has, for decades, been world-famous for their sit-down, family-style meals is Frankenmuth, Michigan – not too far from us, near Saginaw, MI (from where one of Mom’s favorite radio shows airs, “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio.) Tourists flock to this little town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get the world-famous chicken dinners at one of the two largest establishments in town.
Zehnders and the Bavarian Inn operate the two major restaurants in Frankenmuth that serve the famous family-style chicken dinners, with all the food in serving dishes in the middle of the table, from which the family will serve themselves and which the servers will refill for you as needed. Just a hint – reservations will get you in quickly, rather than waiting in line. The town’s German heritage exudes from its restaurants, hotels, breweries and quaint little shops that line the mile-plus length of the main street through town – from Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland (all Christmas, all year) to the Frankenmuth Brewery!
Mom and Dad always loved to take road trips to Frankenmuth, as do me and my husband. It’s a great day trip to experience all the German culture that this small tourist town has to offer! Over the years, Mom came up with many imitations of some the famous dishes from the two major restaurants mentioned above; plus, some bread and confection imitations from the local bakeries and fudge shops.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
The German community of Frankenmuth, Michigan, which for decades has celebrated the art of fried chicken, served family-style; has had thousands of customers lined up every weekend and holiday, waiting to be seated in one of their 2 largest restaurants [Zehnders and the Bavarian Inn]. Their fried chicken is like ‘Grandma used to make’ – richly flavored, moist inside and never greasy. The family-style dinner provides the table with large bowls of homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, moist and spicy dressing (called ‘stuffing’ in other parts of the country), a fresh-from-scratch cranberry-orange relish, hot breads and beverages. [By Gloria Pitzer, as seen on page 94 of Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018).]
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
A MEAL BY ANY OTHER NAME
FAST FOOD RECIPES were not published in the best-sellers – and these were the restaurants where families were apt to frequent if they wanted a meal that was affordable! Paul and I could take all 5 of the children to Capri’s, an Italian restaurant down the road from us in Pearl Beach, and we could feed the whole family for less than $10, providing we ordered the large pizza with only pepperoni and cheese on it and one soft drink for each of us. It was not for substance that we ate out. It was for entertainment.
We could take the kids to McDonald’s and it did the same thing for us that going to the movies did for our parents. It was an affordable pleasure. It was a diversion from meatloaf and pot roast and peas and carrots. It was a treat. We looked forward to it. We felt good about the experience and even better after it was over. It carried us through a long week of paying the utilities, insurance, house payments and car payments and grocery expenses.
When we had to have our 10-year-old station wagon repaired, we had to skip eating out that week. If one of us had to see the dentist, it might be 2 or 3 weeks before we could afford to eat out again. We made do with what we had. We could make the most of what we had. In the 50s and 60s and early 70s, this is the way parents raised their families, budgeted their earnings and allowed for their pleasures.
Things changed, as well they should. Women went out to work. If they weren’t working to supplement the family income, they went to work for their own satisfaction. Whatever the reasons, families changed. Eating at home became less and less appealing – and less and less convenient. Homes were built with smaller kitchens and bigger bathrooms. Microwave ovens were more affordable – and defrost and heat became more popular. [By Gloria Pitzer, as seen on page 295 of Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018).]
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! The other day, 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 next week, 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…
In honor of all that sweetness, here are a couple of Mom’s free dessert recipes that I’ve posted before AND a new one for her sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe, which she gave away in her Jan.-Feb. 1988 promotions!
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…
As always, happy Monday to everybody! Today is also National Penuche Fudge Day – so, happy Penuche Fudge Day and, if you can, enjoy a luscious piece somewhere; then, hashtag it on social media!
According to Merriam-Webster.com, penucheis a fudge usually made of brown sugar, butter, cream or milk, and nuts. There’s also a great sounding recipe for a traditional penuche on a 2014 blog entry from Jennifer Buggica, “The Foodie Patootie”, at https://thefoodiepatootie.com/national-penuche-fudge-day/. I wish I could eat it – but, unfortunately it’s too sweet for my hypoglycemic system. I’ll have to work on a sugar-free, low-carb version, even if it won’t be a traditional penuche.
In the summer of 1976, Mom self-published a little cookbook, called The American Cookery Cookbook, of which the Henry Ford Museum bought some copies to put in its bi-centennial collection. That was the only cookbook, of Mom’s, in which I could find a copy of a traditional-style penuche recipe. Mom called her recipe ‘San Diego Penuche’.
However, Mom’s 1997 recipe for fudge like Disney World’s (see that recipe near the end of this blog) is very similar to a traditional penuche. About a month ago, I had shared with you a different recipe version, from Mom, for fudge like Disney World’s.
I can’t have fudge anymore because of my low-carb lifestyle AND hypoglycemia. I miss my carbs so much! Some sugar-free and low-carb versions of anything may still taste okay, but they’re just not the same, nor really as good! However, I can still reminisce about the real tastes as I watch the fudge-makers perform their magic shows through the big picture windows of all the little fudge shops in all the tourist areas I visit!
It’s still fun to watch them, live, transforming their thick, molten liquid creations – like the river flowing through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory – by pouring the confections out of big vats and onto large, cold, marble slabs. Then, the fudge-makers fold the gooey mixture over and over again, cooling it and thickening it through the process, until they’ve formed long loaves of thick, sweet goodness to be sliced like bread. It doesn’t cost me any carbs to stand there and smell the sweet, sugary aromas – and reminisce about the flavors I remember from my childhood!
I have so many wonderful, childhood memories of family, summertime trips to popular tourist spots like Cedar Point (Sandusky, OH), Disneyland (Los Angeles, CA), Toronto and Niagara Falls (both, in Ontario, Canada). In addition, are our own beautiful “up north” Michigan destinations like Mackinaw City, Mackinac Island and Tahquamenon Falls. Everywhere we visited, there was usually a fudge shop at which to stop and see a fudge-making performance, as well as to buy some of their tasty treats.
Going through Mom’s old photo albums brings up so many more memories of our family, summertime vacations. Mom, almost always, was the one to photograph all those special moments; although, Dad would take a picture every now and then, so Mom could be in some shots as well. Back then, there weren’t “selfies” or digital cameras with the capabilities of capturing thousands of pictures!
Years ago, every shot needed to count because your roll of film was limited to a certain number of photos, and you didn’t know if any of them would come out right until you had the filmprinted – there was no instant viewing and deleting, like we can do now. Photo technology has come such a long, long way over the last 50 years.
I remember when Polaroid cameras and disposable cameras were the new, cutting-edge technology! Now your cell phone is an all-in-one-personal-assistant with a built-in camera to capture every “Kodak moment” as it happens! AND, not only that, but, now, you can also skip the whole printing process and still share your photos through the internet via emails and social media sites or, more privately, through text messages!
I would have to say, the Mackinac Island fudge shops are probably my favorite ones of all! And the summer vacations we spent on Mackinac Island were always the most memorable! Except for the smell of horse dung, baking in the summer heat, the island is actually full of many heavenly scents from the sugary confections being made in the fudge and candy shops to the wonderful aromas seeping from the island’s restaurants and bakeries to the heavenly scents surrounding all the beautiful gardens that are everywhere. Mackinac is a very nostalgic place – no cars are allowed on the island, so getting around it is usually done by foot, bicycle or horse in some manner.
Whether we stayed in Mackinaw City and visited the island all day or we stayed at the Grand Hotel, right on the island; it was always a magical trip back in time… especially the summer when the movie, Somewhere in Time, was being filmed there! What a special treat for all of us to experience! [NOTE: long before that, another movie was also filmed at the Grand Hotel. In 1947, Ethel Merman swam in the kidney-shaped pool of the Grand Hotel during the filming of This Time for Keeps. Thus, the pool was named after her.]
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
SOMEWHERE IN TIME – MACKINAC ISLAND [MI]
Our reservations were made in February, that year, to spend the Fourth of July week at The Grand Hotel on historic Mackinac Island in Northern Michigan. We had heard, when we arrived, that Universal Pictures was filming a movie with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and that our 2-day stay at the hotel might be disrupted from the usual routine we were used to when we stayed there. The place was booked, and we were lucky to have those 2 days because other customers had canceled. The scene when we arrived was one of spectators and glamorous Hollywood activity in the lobby and on the grounds.
Paul was just teeing off at the green next to the golf pro shop, the next morning, when we heard a sympathetic moan from the beautiful leading man, himself, as he locked up his bike and headed across the street to the filming activity. I know I should have run after Christopher Reeve for his autograph, but I was in shock!
Later, in the hotel lobby, we watched the scene when Christopher Reeve checks into The Grand and, later, when he and Jane Seymour take a buggy ride away from the entrance of the hotel with Christopher Plummer looking on. Take the time to enjoy seeing the movie they were filming – we’ve seen it 4 times and can’t wait to see it again! It’s for everyone who has ever been in love – or who has ever visited lovely Mackinac Island, as we do every summer.
In one scene of the movie you’ll notice, on the main street of the village, a sign over a shop that reads ‘Murdick’s Fudge’, a recipe which I have coveted for years. Finally, after dozens of tests, I came up with the secret for purporting this product at home… It whips up in 5 minutes and, a week later, it’s still smooth and creamy. – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235)]
After Mom and Dad became empty-nesters, they bought a camper and traveled even more – being that it was much more affordable with only the two of them! Joining the Good Sam club was always one of their most favorite experiences. Mom had many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from all of their trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters. Mom also wrote about her and Dad’s trips in most of her summer newsletter issues, especially about all the great new friendships they made everywhere they went. They always looked forward to the Good Sam “Jamborees”!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING
Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer [from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
MY “DIET” UPDATE:
On the first day of spring, I started a low-carb lifestyle (like the Atkins Diet). Thus far, it has been 124 days of no bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, most fruits – you know, all the good stuff… and, boy, do I ever miss the good stuff! It feels just like when I quit smoking cigarettes over 13 years ago. Absence does make the heart grow fonder – at least for a while! I must admit, I’m a carbohydrate addict!
In fact, I never realized how much I ate (and how little my husband ate) until I started this low-carb lifestyle/diet. I HATE waste and throwing out food! But, after I started my new lifestyle, I realized that I was the only one who had been eating up the left-overs, so food wouldn’t go to waste. It’s been difficult, learning to cook two, small, single meals at a time. I’ve been so used to cooking large portions for so long.
After starting this new lifestyle out at a daily carbohydrate limit of 20 grams, for a few weeks, I raised my carb-limit up to 25 grams a day and have kept it there so far. It seems to work for me. But, whenever I don’t keep track of my carb-intake, I go over my limit. I can feel its effects the next day, and it doesn’t feel good (such as an upset stomach and the shakes from a drop in my blood sugar level); plus, I re-gain a pound or two.
I mentioned in my last “Diet Update” that I had recently started using almond flour to make some Keto recipes. I still LOVE the 90-Second Microwave English Muffin! I like to turn my “slices” into a Monte Cristo sandwich for breakfast. It’s a little piece of heaven for about 9-grams of carbs!
I’ve also been experimenting with some of my favorite cookies and dessert recipes, using sugar-free and low-carb ingredient substitutions. I have developed a no-bake cookie concoction that can be panned up and cubed like fudge. I also like to use a no-flour, 3-ingredient, peanut butter cookie recipe that’s been around for years, substituting my own low-carb ingredients!
As of today, I’ve lost about 37 pounds! However, my “exercise regimen” is STILL not steady, to say the least! Nevertheless, I need to change that because I continue to not spend near enough time weeding my gardens or going for brisk walks. Thus, I won’t stop trying to make those things part of my already irregular, daily routine. My goal is to lose another 8-13 pounds, but I don’t have a deadline set. I’ll get there when I get there, but I WILL get there!
Last month, I shared a version of Mom’s Disney World-Style Fudge from one of her free recipe and information sheets… Below is a different version of that recipe, as seen in Mom’s cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 9) – and its ingredients are more similar to those of a traditional penuche. Again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
1990 – Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes of Famous Favorites was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this cookbook has a 120-page, 5.5” x 8.5” format filled with over 400 recipes from the original “Books 1-5” series, established in 1976-1982. However, this collection was not reprinted in any of the other books Gloria has written since that 5-book series. Included in this collection, you’ll find everything from “After Dinner Mints” to “Zucchini Bread”. Famous make-alike versions of “Arby’s-Style Cheesecake”, “Buddy’s-Style Pizza”, “Frankenmuth Gingerbread”, “Paul Newman-Style Dressing”, “Stuckey’s-Style Pecan Brownies” and even a recipe from the White House; given to Gloria from Betty Ford, herself!
Sub-Titles: The Best of the Best; Books 1 through 5 Revisited
Years: November 1990 & April 1991
Recipes: 445 listed
Size: 5.5″ x 8.5″
Price: originally $7, then $7.50 in 1993 (until it sold out within a year)