THE SECRET IS SIMPLE. You brown and crumble the beef and then put half of it into your blender with only enough liquid to cover the blades. Blend it until it is the consistency of cement mortar. Jack McCarthy of Detroit’s Channel 7 (WXYZ-TV) confessed to me, once, was the real secret to good, authentic, Greek style coney sauce.
He had come to our house on Christmas Eve years ago to do a film about us. Apparently, Jack was a gourmet cook and loved good food! When he traveled, he would take a lot of kidding, about carrying with him, what most people would think is a tennis racket, when it was actually a crepe pan in a tennis racket cover.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of ingredients! It is one of those everything-in-one-kettle type of recipes that can’t go wrong.!
2½ to 3-lbs ground sirloin
2-tsp ground cumin
Few grains cayenne [pepper]
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp crushed oregano leaves
3-TB beef bouillon powder
6-oz can tomato paste
3 cups hot, black, strong tea
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 TB chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic salt
3-TB packed brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
6-oz V-8 Juice
½ tsp Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
In lightly greased Dutch oven, on top of stove, over medium-high heat, brown the sirloin until all pink color disappears, crumbling it with a fork until it looks like rice. Add to it all but the hot, black tea. Put the tea in your blender with half of the sirloin mixture and blend briefly, until smooth, returning it to the rest of the mixture in the kettle…
Allow to cook at a low simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often. Then turn heat to lowest possible point and cover kettle with lid, letting it heat gently about an hour before serving. To serve – spoon mixture into split hamburger buns or over grilled hot dogs in buns…
GREAT CHILI CON CARNE
Add to meat mixture [above] 3-lb can chili beans, in chili gravy, and heat gently to serve… in bowls. Serves 8 and it freezes beautifully, in smaller portions, to use in a few months.
1-qt ice cream, any flavor, in 2” balls, hard frozen
2 cups finely rolled pound cake crumbs or cookie crumbs
2 eggs, well beaten and combined with 4 TB milk
(in small bowl for coating ice cream balls)
1 pint/8-oz oil for frying
…Using [only a] few [balls] at a time, from the freezer, roll balls in crumbs and then in egg [mixture], back quickly in crumbs and into freezer one more time. Heat oil to 320°F and deep fry coated balls a few at a time from the freezer in hot oil only a few seconds, until slightly golden. Return to freezer again to serve either at once or icy cold later on with hot fudge sauce over them.
BEST FAST HOT FUDGE SAUCE
Melt [together] 5-oz Pet Milk, 5-oz white Karo, and 14-oz box Milk Duds until smooth and hot; without letting it boil, cooking and stirring often – about 20 minutes, just below the boil.
Combine all but last two ingredients. Prepare pie crust and roll out 1/8-inch thick. Cut into 5×5-inch squares. Place each in greased muffin well. Put 2 to 3 tablespoons pineapple mixture in center of each and dot with a bit of the butter. Draw 4 corners of each square up and pinch to seal.
For bars: Roll half of dough out to fit buttered, oblong, 13-inch pan. Spread on filling. Top with rest of dough, rolled out to fit snuggly over it. Wipe top of dough in a little additional butter and sprinkle with a bit of additional sugar.
Bake at 425°F for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 16 muffin tarts or 24 bars. Dust, either, while warm with powdered sugar. Add chopped walnuts to garnish top if you wish. Keep refrigerated to use in a week.
Mickey, from Dayton, passed this delightful recipe to me at the potluck supper our Good Sam chapter had in Ohio. It was the first dish on the table to turn up empty. Best endorsement I know!
1-lb can pineapple chunks, in their own juice
The pineapple juice (above), plus enough water to make 1 cup
1 small box instant vanilla pudding powder
10-oz can mandarin orange sections, drained
1½ to 2 cups seedless, green grapes; sliced in halves
½ cup thin sliced almonds
½ cup flaked coconut
2 cups miniature marshmallows
Drain pineapple and RESERVE the juice, adding to it enough water to make 1 cup. Combine this with the pudding powder and, in a medium size bowl, combine [pudding mixture] with the pineapple, mandarin orange sections, & grape halves. Add almonds, coconut, and marshmallows. Combine well. Cover tightly and refrigerate, serving within a few days. Serves several safely.
One of the best recipes for making this unusual side dish was originally from Northwood Inn (in the old Royal Oak area, where I grew up.) Years later, it was one of the fast food menu selections, and often found at carnivals and amusement parks – I once had them at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
3-ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 ½ pints corn oil
1 recipe of my Archer Teacher Fish Batter (see picture below), prepared and ready to use
Plain, all-purpose flour (enough to coat balls)
The way I have prepared these is to mix the shredded cheese with softened cream cheese, working it all together well in my hands, like I would a meatloaf mixture. Then I shape them into balls about the size of a whole walnut shell – and freeze them a day or two, until they are very, very solid.
I don’t let them thaw at all when preparing them – which keeps the cheese from running all over the place. I heat the corn oil to 425°F in a deep 2 ½-quart heavy saucepan. Have a French-frying basket handy and 1 recipe of my Archer Teacher Fish Batter, prepared and ready to use.
Then coat the frozen cheese balls in plain all-purpose flour, dropping each into the batter until they are evenly coated and then lowering them in a single layer – without crowding them – in the French-frying basket, into the hot oil.
Let them fry a few minutes only. They brown quite quickly. When golden brown and puffy, I lift them out to drain on paper towels and serve them while they’re hot. This mixture would likely serve 4 to 6.
At “Two Guys from Italy” (Palos Verdes, CA), there was a baked lasagna on the menu that was as good as any I have tried in my many visits to Italian specialty restaurants. It was like the Roma Cafe version, which I attempted to duplicate [around 1975.] There is nothing worse than a passive pasta sauce, and this pasta does well with a pleasing presentation of crisscrossed strips of Mozzarella, barely melted across the top of the finished dish.
10 large lasagna noodles, cooked & drained (buttered and kept warm in a covered dish)
8 ounces Mozzarella cheese, in slices; plus, 4-5 extra slices cut into strips for garnishing
½ cup grated Parmesan
12-ounce tub cottage cheese
2 eggs, beaten
8-ounce can of mushrooms, drained
Butter a 9 x 12 x 2” baking dish. Cut each of the cooked noodles into 3 equal pieces and set aside. Assemble the ingredients in the dish in this order: 1/3 cup sauce, 1/3 of the cut-up noodles, 1/3 of the first 8-oz of Mozzarella slices and 1/3 of the Parmesan. Let it stand a few minutes.
Next, put the cottage cheese and eggs through your blender until smooth. [This makes a super (quick) substitute for the absent RICOTTA ingredient.] Divide this mixture in half, spreading half of it over the Parmesan layer in the baking dish.
Repeat the layers as listed above, topping it [again] with the remaining [Ricotta Substitute]. Repeat the layers of ingredients above once more, topping it with the drained mushrooms. Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for 35-40 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly and the sauce appears to be piping hot.
Crisscross the remaining strips of Mozzarella over the top of the dish in an artistic fashion and return the dish to the oven only long enough to slightly melt the cheese strips. Let it stand about 10 minutes before cutting into squares to serve. This keeps it from getting too “runny” when you serve it up! Serves 6-8 adequately!
As listed, put all ingredients except the dry, minced onions into a blender, agitating with an on/off high speed for 2 minutes or until well-powdered, but still having a slight trace of celery leaves in it. Add the minced onions and blend for a few seconds, to break them up, but not powder them. Empty the mixture into a container with a tight-fitting lid and store at room temperature to use within 3 months.
FOR MEATLESS SAUCE: combine a 6-ounce can of tomato paste with 2 paste cans full of water, 2 tablespoons Herb & Spice Mix (above) and 2 tablespoons margarine in a 1 ½-quart sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until piping hot. Makes a little more than 2 cups of sauce to serve 4.
*FOR MEAT SAUCE: brown 1 ½ to 2-lbs ground beef in 2-TB oil in a medium skillet until the pink color disappears, crumbling it with the back of a fork. While the meat is browning, put into a blender a 14-oz can stewed-tomatoes, an 8-oz can tomato sauce and 2-TB Herb & Spice Mix (above.) Blend on high-speed until smooth. Pour into the skillet with the meat and stir over medium heat until piping hot. Makes a little more than 2 ½ cups of sauce to serve 4 to 6.
Tomorrow is, among other things. National Happiness Happens Day. Accompanied by the month long celebration, that makes it a dually special day! But we should make happiness happen every day and every month. As Elbert Hubbard said: “Happiness is a habit – cultivate it!” He also famously said to “make lemonade” from life’s lemons.
Mom used to tell me that true happiness came from within us. It’s not found in what I think I want or in the stuff I attain; but, rather, deep inside me. It’s not about the things you have in life but, rather, what you learn from life, that counts. As we’ve all heard, it’s the journey, not the arrival, that matters most.
Surprisingly, there are still many of those who believe their happiness is in direct proportion to their level of success and financial worth. I guess happiness means different things to different people. Where do you find happiness?
By the way the first week in August is also Simplify Your Life Week. So if happiness happens for you, in living a simple life then this is really the week for you! I, too, find happiness in the simple things – like the colors of a rainbow, the happy-go-lucky smile and laughter of my grandson; plus, the nuzzles and purrs from my cats (and my husband).
I also find happiness in the sun sparkling on the brilliant blue waters of The Great Lakes surrounding Michigan. It’s in the music of the birds, singing in my backyard. It’s also in the aromas of fresh brewed coffee and bacon, baking in the oven; as well as that of a pot roast, slow-cooking all day.
Mom found a unique way to make happiness happen for others through her cartoons, food-for-thought articles, and famous copycat recipes. She had a contagious happiness about her that appealed to her readers, as well as to the newspapers, magazines, radio and TV talk-shows that continually requested interviews with her for over four decades!
Audiences were always very receptive to Mom’s “happiness virus”. According to a study, conducted more than a decade ago, which still rings true today, happiness is contagious! The study indicated that when one person is happy, the effect can spread up to three degrees in a social network, reaching family and friends, as well as their family and friends.
Think about it… People, whom you’ll probably never know, are going to be happier tomorrow because you made someone else happy today. In turn, the same can happen to each of those people… so you can see how quickly the “happiness virus” can spread.
Did you know – happiness is healthy for us too? Whether you are making happiness happen for others or you’re on the receiving end, happiness is well-known to increase energy and self-esteem; which, in turn, is also good for our hearts and, thereby, is likely to help us live longer.
Mom was an innovator in the early 1970s, creating an incredible new trend in the food industry with her copycat recipes that covered everything from fast food favorites to “taboo” junk foods, from pantry and grocery products to famous restaurant dishes, and more!
They not only brought our family happiness, but also millions of strangers and their families and friends, most of whom we never met. They, too, found happiness in making, eating, and sharing Mom’s copycat versions of their favorite noshing pleasures. I love reading the emails I get from those who find happiness in reading …Memories Of My Mom.
Like Mom’s recipes, which never failed to spread happiness, I found her many humorous stories and cartoons to be just as contagiously happy. Mom had quite a talent for spinning a yarn. Her stories and cartoons always bring a smile to my face and a laugh to my lips.
Happiness is a state of thought. It begins with gratitude for all we’ve already received and achieved – not with what we ‘own’ or the ‘things’… – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter, Issue #218 (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov. 2000, p. 5)
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, pp. 1 & 4)
GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE
ONE THING AMONG MANY that I have learned from Good Sam, our national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.
Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose.
You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed. Try a little enthusiasm! …Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness.
These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated.
The trouble with trying to be happy all the time is that most people look for one particular condition or experience or possession, from which they hope to derive complete contentment, forgetting that happiness is a moment – not a forever!
‘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 [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; January 2018, p. 304).]
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…
This is not a Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, pp. 7-8)
THE HAPPIEST LITTLE ESCAPES in our lives can be, to us, what the spout is to a tea kettle that is up to its neck in hot water! It can give us an outlet for letting off steam – in a nice way! Everyone, who has their own little escape from the harsh realities of everyday life, seems to fare better than those who have absolutely nothing to which to escape.
I escape to a good book that will make me smile – or better yet, laugh right out loud, like George Burns has written. I escape to crocheting and good music, to long walks and long drives in our motor home, with my husband.
There are so many lovely little escapes that each of us can choose that it’s a wonder more of us who seem to suffer from unreasonable burdens and false responsibilities, don’t seek out their retreats more often. It helps! (p. 7)
I WASN’T KIDDING WHEN I said I envied happy people more than I did wealthy or famous people. From what I’ve read and what the rich and famous have said in filmed interviews, not too many of them are really happy with their wealth and their fame.
John Luther said that ‘happiness is not a matter of good fortune or worldly possessions. It’s a mental attitude. It comes from appreciating what we have, instead of being miserable about what we don’t have. It’s so simple – yet so hard for the human mind to comprehend.’ I agree! (p. 8)
Through Mom’s stories and recipes and my remembrances of her, I want to re-inspire happiness in the kitchen, in the home, in the family, throughout the neighborhood and community, as well as around the world – just as Mom once did. Make happiness happen, not just tomorrow but also all month. In fact, make it a goal to do it all year long!
‘GOOD CHEER IS something much more than faith in the future, it is gratitude for the past and joy in the present!’ – Gloria Pitzer
In honor of August, being National Sandwich Month, here is Mom’s secret recipe for a Batter-Coated Cheese Sandwich; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 114). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
Friday is the 15-year anniversary of when my brother, Mike, first designed and launched TheRecipeDetective.com’s original website for our parents’ Secret RecipesTM business. At that time, Mom was only semi-retired; doing lectures and radio show interviews, promoting her shortcut version of her copycat cookery concept.
The website was a new way to advertise and sell their Secret RecipesTM offerings. They knew nothing about the internet but needed a way to keep in touch with a new digital audience, regarding Mom’s latest developments. For a decade, Mike managed the website, from where he lived, on the west coast; including their online orders and emails.
I remember when Mom and Dad got their first (and only) computer. They tried learning to operate it, with lessons from one of their grandchildren; but after weeks and weeks of trying, they still couldn’t open their emails. Frustrated by the “new technology”, they just gave the computer to their grandchild and relied on Mike to operate the website for them.
Decades ago, Mom’s syndicated columns, although in hard copy publications, were much like the blogs we see today. In both, writers express their own opinions, while circulating information (and maybe entertaining the readers), on a regular basis.
Back then, Mom’s columns were typed and printed in hard copy form, through newspapers and magazines. Nowadays, such columns are electronically posted on the internet. Like Mom’s “food for thought” columns, I too like to write about various subjects in my blog posts, of which I hope others will also find interesting.
After 27 years, Mom and Dad retired their Secret RecipesTM newsletter with the December 2000 issue. They also let all of their self-published cookbooks go out of print, except for a 2002 re-print of Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986).
Additionally, Mom created an 8-page folder of soup and comfort food recipes (that she later reduced to 4 pages, when postage costs went up) and seven brand-specific 2-page bulletins of recipes, all of which were sold on the original website that Mike created – along with free sample recipes and information about the companies whose products she imitated.
In 2014, after more than 40 years in business, Mom had to fully retire, due to health issues, but Mike kept the website going. Orders for her 4-Ingredient Recipes book and the various recipe folders still trickled in, even though Mom was no longer doing anymore radio show interviews.
After Dad passed away, later that year, I helped Mom rewrite her favorite self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1982) for the new digital age, using my copy of her May 1983, 3rd edition.
It took me a couple of years and I truly learned why Mom felt like each of her works were like her children. After she passed away, in 2018, I started this blog about her legacy, of being the Recipe DetectiveTM. Rather than start a new website for the blog posts, I asked Mike if I could put them on his website for Secret RecipesTM.
Instead, he offered me the whole website to operate on my own. I am not very tech-savvy so Mike helped me re-set it up with Go-Daddy and WordPress. It’s been almost five years, since then, and it’s still a work-in-progress; but it’s a slow learning process for me.
FROM THE MIMEOGRAPH machine that I hand cranked and inked, with every 200 copies, came the first pages of our newsletter and the first 200 recipes of favorite dishes from famous places.
Actually, I added only a few recipe cards at the time to each of the early issues of the newsletter and these grew from 25 to 50 to 100, finally being concluded with 200 selections as of our February 1977 issue.
Those we offered through the newsletter and on 4 x 6 cards have never been published in one complete edition, so we now  offer this collection to celebrate over 20 years of our continuous publication of our Secret RecipesTM.
In most of these 200 recipes I’ve not had to alter the ingredients nor the technique but in some that had no regard for what is considered wholesome, I’ve made a few changes and improvements.
It never occurred to me that the dishes we were trying to imitate would not be of interest to a deserving family of readers, who simply wanted to enjoy dining in as if they were dining out.
From that day, in August 1976, when this recipe enterprise became this family’s only source of income, it was a welcomed challenge to be able to work at it, not as a job, but always is a joy. People often question my ability to continue at it with untarnished enthusiasm and never having had to deal with what is called ‘writers block’.
I can’t imagine a day when I am not writing and enjoying every moment of it. The 200 original secret recipes were only the beginning of what I felt would eventually become a well-described collection of worthy recipes. And it happened exactly that way.
Even though Mom didn’t understand the internet, she was delighted about reaching a new generation of people with her recipes and stories! The accessibility of internet for the masses has majorly evolved the methods for creating or building a brand and running a business.
In fact, the branding concept, itself, isn’t new but the process for building it up has changed immensely throughout time. Most businesses begin by getting people to know who they are, where to find them, and what they offer. Regardless of prices, more often than not, great customer service significantly effects loyalty and brand recognition.
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. 54)
HOW TO SELL IT
YOU CAN WRITE THE BOOK. Get it published. Stack the books from floor to ceiling in your garage (or wherever). What do you do with them, then, once you have sold a few copies to the neighbors, your bowling league friends and some patronizing relatives who complement you with half-hearted assurances that you shouldn’t give up no matter what…
You plug along, in spite of the lack of interest from those you care the most about, those to whom you turn for a little pat on the back and moral support but find lukewarm receptivity to your project. You have to then know how and where and to whom you will sell your cookbook or newsletter, or you must find somebody who can do it for you better than you can do it for yourself.
So far, in these nearly 20 years that I have been sleuthing out the secrets of the food industry, I have not been able to find such a person. I have found, however, instead, a very wonderful outlet for acquainting the public with what we are doing and this, in itself, was never deliberately planned.
It was something that just happened – and like a beautiful idea usually does, it unfolded, step-by-step into one of the most extraordinary experiences [for which] I could have wished.
In the past few years, especially due to the pandemic restrictions’ effect (increasing internet usage), people are utilizing “the web” for just about everything from entertainment to shopping to working/schooling to creating their own online businesses.
It’s an endless source of advice and tips for how to do just about anything. Plus, with new social media platforms popping up, more and more people are learning to turn their hobbies into incomes, brand themselves, and launch their own home-based internet-operated businesses.
I have a lot of plans for this website. However, my limited time and skills slow the development process. Nevertheless, I have a vision and am determined. I just hope I’m making my parents proud of what I’m doing with Mom’s legacy of love, as this has become my own labor of love.
Tomorrow’s National Respect for Parents Day! It’s another one of those things that should be done (and celebrated) EVERY day. My parents raised five of us, protected us, sacrificed for us, and taught us so much. And it wasn’t just until we became adults – they did so until they died, as their parents did for them.
“Honor your father and your mother”, says Matthew 15:4 in The Bible. You don’t have to be religious to understand that simple, basic act is the right thing to do and the right thing to teach EVERY future generation. VarietyFun.com’s blog for Respect Your Parents Day is a great read that offers eight wonderful tips for showing your parents respect. Check it out!
Respect and honor are similar, as both indicate admiration and give value or importance to someone/something; but they’re not quite the same. Respect is a thoughtfulness and due regard for others. It’s like “The Golden Rule”.
When we respect others, we’ll likewise be respected, in return. Respect promotes cooperation, from which positive relationships grow, creating a sense of belonging. One of the greatest forms of respect is in really listening to others.
Honor is more than respect – stronger – giving special recognition and praise. Everyone who is honored, is also respected; but not everyone who is respected, is also honored.
Since TODAY is National Avocado Day, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for “Guacamole”; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 65). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].