Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Kindness Begets Kindness

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



Today begins World Kindness Week, and this Friday is World Kindness Day, which is celebrated on November 13th every year. In fact, it was November 13, 1998 when the “World Kindness Movement” (involving over 28 nations) launched the first World Kindness Day. That event later evolved into a week-long celebration that came to be known as World Kindness Week, which starts on Monday of the week in which World Kindness Day is celebrated.

Kindness helps others feel valued. Showing even the smallest amount of kindness can go a long way. Like Aesop said: “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”

Many believe that kindness has the potential to change the whole world. Its contagiousness often sets off a pay-it-forward ripple effect. Subsequently, I want to promote spreading kindness, especially this week.

BE A RIPPLE – from shore to shore!

Being kind can change lives – not only the lives of the receivers, but also those of the givers. Kindness is commonly known to have physical (and mental) health benefits for, both, givers and receivers. It is truly an essential part of society, bridging the divides of race, religion, gender, and other such things – even politics. This is an excellent week to celebrate kindness! With all of the political upheaval going on in our country, we need this more than ever.

Many psychiatrists concur that some healthy benefits of kindness include empowering our own personal energy and self-esteem. It makes us happier and that is good for our hearts, thereby, helping us to also live longer. Science has proven that there are many health benefits to being kind. You can read more about them at

I want to pass this on once again, to do for this week’s celebration of World Kindness Week – it’s from an article on called “Why Being Kind Makes You Healthier”, by Chrystle Fiedler (July 24, 2019). Chrystle writes:

‘Try the seven-day kindness challenge. That means, do at least one act of kindness every day for seven days. Ground rules: Do something different each day; push yourself out of your comfort zone at least once and be sure one of your acts of kindness is anonymous — no one should ever find out who did it.’


As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 30)


Have you ever had your day suddenly turn sunshiny because of a cheerful word? Have you ever wondered if this could be the same world because someone had been unexpectedly kind to you. You can make today [that way] for somebody! It’s only a question of a little imagination, a little time and trouble. Think now, ‘What can I do today, to make someone happy?’

IS A SINGLE HEART REJOICING over what you did or said?

Does the one whose hopes were fading, now with courage, look ahead?

Do you waste the day or lose it? Was it well or sorely spent?

Did you leave a trail of kindness or a scar of discontent?

As you close your eyes in slumber, do you think that God will say,

‘You have earned one more tomorrow, by the work you did today.’?

‘Happy is the person who has a good supply of the milk of human kindness and knows how to keep it from souring.’– Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 17)

Gloria Pitzer, 2013


In fact, we receive many other types of rewards from simply being kind to others. One non-profit organization that I mentioned in a February blog post,, promotes making acts of kindness “the norm” in life and in society. The website offers a lot of inspiring ideas and stories about various acts of kindness.

I can’t say it enough – being kind and compassionate should happen every day! After all, we’ve been taught to be good and kind since we were toddlers, starting school, or even younger. It’s a shame that the simple act of being kind to someone is forgotten by so many after they leave Kindergarten. If a young child can understand the simple importance kindness has in society, shouldn’t we all?

According to Wikipedia’s interpretation of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulghum, “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children, i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living a balanced life of work, play, and learning.”

The “Golden Rule” is a basic, moral principle for society that encourages all of us to treat others with kindness, as that’s how we would want to be treated, as well! It’s a simple, reasonable code, by which we should all live, daily.

Like I mentioned above, a culture of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on society and, thus, doing something kind inspires others to pay it forward, also. And, at, there is “440 Kindness Quotes That Will Make You A Better Person” – which is more than enough ideas from which to follow at least one a day for more than a year!

In so many ways, Mom and Dad, both, set good examples for me to follow. I am so grateful that my family heritage, on both sides, were good and kind people. I’m proud to do the same, setting a good example for my children to follow (as well as for people that know me) and that they will continue it, as well; making kindness a “daily norm”.

Like a child’s laugh or a heart-felt smile, acts of kindness can be contagious. However, unlike Covid-19, that’s a good thing. Plant the seeds, every day, and watch kindness grow wild!


As seen in…

The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 52)


[aka: Kindness Begets Kindness]

One of the reasons that I always liked President Ford, was that he seemed more like the rest of us – but with strong convictions on doing the right thing when he had to…

But his first televised press conference, after his inauguration, was the incident that led to my receiving a letter from President Ford and, later on, the recipe from the Pentagon.

When the President opened his press conference on television, he explained there had been a mix-up!. Betty Ford had scheduled her first press conference for the same day – and, naturally, one of them had to postpone theirs.  

So, the president explained that like any married couple, he and his wife sat down to discuss it logically, intelligently and sensibly, as to which one of them would postpone their conference. Betty’s conference, it was decided, would be held the following week; and, in the meantime, the President explained, he would be making his own breakfast, his own lunch, and his own dinner!.  

I fell off my chair, laughing, when he made that announcement; thinking how human, how normal, how great! But my fellow journalists, in their usual humorless vein, didn’t even chuckle. They thwarted questions at him and the joke went unappreciated by probably everyone but me!

So I sent President Ford the copy of the cookbook I had then published [September 1974] with a note of sympathy that, if he were going to be doing his own cooking, perhaps he could use some help. And this was the letter I received from him:


Washington, D.C.

September 12, 1974


Dear Mrs. Pitzer:

I was pleased to receive an inscribed copy of your cookbook together with your kind note. It is indeed heartening to have the good wishes of so many Michigan friends and the support of fine people like you is a source of strength and encouragement to me.

With warm regards,



In the meantime, I had a lovely note from Betty Ford, saying how much she had enjoyed the copies of my newsletter that she had been loaned by one of the congressmen’s wives. I gave her a complimentary subscription until she and President Ford left the White House and asked, in return, if I could impose on her to impose on her husband to use his influence in the Pentagon to acquire a copy of the Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast recipe that was served at Langley AFB, in Virginia, in about 1951.

It was the only thing my husband, Paul, would eat in their mess hall! Within a week or so I received the recipe and a kind note from Betty Ford, wishing me luck in breaking it down from 380 servings to a reasonable portion! It was a challenge! But I did it and Paul still enjoys it!

The giving of the best of ourselves should be done without expectations of reciprocations of gratitude! It is through acts of kindness and giving from our hearts that we actually receive our own true gift – one that can’t be bought or even price-valued – the gift of LOVE!


In honor of our national election day last week and Veterans’ Day tomorrow, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for…

Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast, like Langley AFB (VA)

As seen in… The Joy Of NOT Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 53)

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

Food For Thought…


Today is also National Scrapple Day. According to, scrapple is “the first pork food invented in America. For those not familiar with scrapple, it is traditionally a mush of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal, wheat flour, and spices, such as sage, thyme, savory and black pepper. The mush is then formed into a semi-solid loaf, sliced and pan-fried.” Scrapple is also known by the Pennsylvania Dutch name pon haus… Local settlers adapted the dish to make use of locally available ingredients.


If you missed my last session with Kathy Keene, you can listen to the recording of it at!


…45 down, 7 to go!

(Christmas and the year’s end are coming fast!)

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Family Stories

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

I LOVE November for many reasons! First of all – just as Memorial Day is the unofficial start of the summer season, likewise – November is the unofficial start of “the holiday season”, which is most certainly a season of entertaining! Even if we have to keep it small for the continued Covid-19 threats and restrictions.

Growing up, as one of “The Recipe Detective’s” children, I learned a lot from Mom about entertaining, for which I am eternally grateful. Most of our family’s “entertaining” occasions were during the fall and winter holiday seasons – when, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of her hat, Mom could whip up hors d’oeuvres and drinks, as if out of thin air, and on a moment’s notice for unexpected guests that popped in to say hello and visit for a bit.

Whether Mom (and Dad) were entertaining for a few unexpected friends or a scheduled, big family (and friends) event, Mom had a whole “Rolodex” of entertaining ideas in her head from which to draw. That was how Mom grew up, as her mom was the same – and that’s how I was brought up, as well. I’m so grateful for my family!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer


All November long, there is a national celebration of Family Stories Month! I have a sign, hanging proudly, near my dining room table that reads: “There’s a room in every home where the smallest events and biggest occasions become the stories of our lives.”

The table is the same one I grew up with in the 1960s and 1970s. It always seemed to be my family’s favorite spot in which to gather and eat and talk and laugh – about all the many events of our lives; making plans for our tomorrows and creating what became, at least for me, great family stories.

Dinner at the Pitzer’s

In our household, every event, even the smallest, involved food! Imagine how great it was when there were planned events and parties such as for Halloween or a birthday, or even Thanksgiving dinner with a dozen relatives and guests on top of our own large brood. I loved to help Mom in the kitchen!

Lists were made and checked and revised and checked again! It was a circus of juggling time and magic acts all rolled into one! All 5 of us kids had to pitch-in and help on big events, especially us girls…sexist or not, that’s just the way it was back then.

Along with, and related to, Family Stories Month, November is also National Life Writing Month!

According to ‘The goal of National Life Writing Month is to encourage people to write about themselves and their life as they have experienced it thus far (it’s sometimes known as Memoir Writing Month.) Now is the time for you to dedicate yourself to writing personal and family stories, memories, traditions, significant events, and anything else you feel is worth adding to your life story.’


That’s basically what I’ve been doing, here, EVERY MONDAY for the past couple of years! However, Mom was practically a life-long-writer-of-life, journaling on the significant events, surrounding her and her family on a DAILY basis. In fact, Mom had been journaling about her life and that of her family since she was about 10 years old until shortly before she passed away – over 70 years – greatly influenced and inspired by the Bronte sisters, whose family story she saw in the 1946 film, “Devotion”.

Devotion” as well as many other events and people influenced Mom as a pioneer and a trailblazer in her field. Mom was a writer, satirist, cartoonist, publisher, marketer, and more – still proud to be a homemaker and yet have a “paying” career (from home) too, where she could cleverly combine the two! Regardless of the WLM (Women’s Liberation Movement), Mom set to work, focusing her topics of writing toward the fence-sitting, semi-liberated homemakers like herself.

Mom wrote, published and marketed her own newsletter (as well as her MANY dozens of cookbooks) for more than a quarter of a century – January 1974 through December 2000.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 23)


At the time the assignment was handed to me by the newspaper editor for whom I then worked; I knew more about cooking than anyone else on the staff. I was also the only ‘married lady’ on the staff, which in those days of homemaking, housewives and the Donna Reed show, automatically qualified me to handle the food page at the newspaper (when I had been a feature writer and columnist for a long time.)

I accepted the challenge wholeheartedly because I did want to write for the paper. If they had told me to do the obituaries, I would’ve given even that assignment my best effort. The food page was a challenge for me, in view of the fact that there was no test kitchen at the newspaper. I would be testing the recipes in my own kitchen at home. There was a small compensation in my paycheck at the end of the week for the groceries I used, but not enough to fully reimburse me. I accepted what they gave me gratefully, however…

Of course, I look back now in amazement at what I was able to do for a whole week with a 3-pound package of hamburger. How it began as spaghetti sauce, then sloppy Joe mixture and, with the addition of red kidney beans and some other seasonings, chili concurrently… It was fun, too, now that I recall those early days.


But some of the thoughts of which I wished to write were never properly developed on paper and published because there just wasn’t enough time. Later, when I could have made the time, there wasn’t a market for [it]; so, here I am [Dec. 1989], 17 years after the first recipe collection [Jan. 1973] was an outstanding success, still looking for the time and opportunity to write the book I have always wanted to write.

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 42 & 44)


THE NEWSLETTER BEGAN with the mimeograph in our utility room where I cut the stencils, Inc. the drum by hand, applied the stencils and ran the copies off, a few hundred at a time, allowing them to ear-dry on the dining room table in the next room.

The dining room table was a door to which Paul had affixed for table legs. It was seldom clear of our work. I never gave any thought, then either, to the number of hours that we put into producing the newsletter. We simply worked until the work was finished, or we found a good ‘breaking-off’ point. (p. 42)

BELIEVE ME, it is not easy putting out your own newsletter, and it is foolish for anyone to believe that there is a blueprint or floor plan to follow that will promise instant success… (p. 44)


Moreover, November is also celebrating National Inspirational Role Models Month! Outside of her family, Mom was greatly influenced, throughout her life, by many talented women – comedians and writers like Carol Burnette, Mary Tyler Moore, and Lucille Ball top the list. Other talented ladies to whom Mom looked up include Erma Bombeck, Carol Duvall, Betsy Masterton, Peg Bracken, and Irma Rombauer; just to name a handful.

As mentioned above, Mom had a lot of great influences among her peers, but they weren’t the only role models to whom she looked up and respected. I mention this here because a lot of people, like Mom (and myself), have role models that are from their own immediate families and ancestors too!

Mom & Dad with each of their moms – December 1985

Mom’s first two (and biggest) influences in homemaking were, of course, her own mom; as well as my dad’s mom – since, when they were first married, Mom and Dad lived with Dad’s parents for a short while. Below is a picture of the “inspiration” story that Mom wrote many decades ago and re-printed in one of the last issues of her newsletter.

When it came to entertaining, food was usually the “guest star” in our house. Whether it was an hors d’oeuvre or a main entree, Mom never just served from the pot or “threw” it on a dish. She cared about how it was presented because she cared about everyone with whom she shared her table.

Additionally, Mom never made “just enough”, because in our household, you never knew when unexpected guests would pop in or the dish would be such a hit that we’d all want second helpings! If Mom over-planned and there were left-overs, she was also a sorceress at re-inventing left-overs into a whole new meal.

I’ve always tried to do the same as a mom & wife, myself. Like Mom, it makes me feel good to make others feel good – especially through food. It’s a universal icebreaker and relationship-builder. That’s what Mom taught me since I was young and afraid that I wouldn’t make any friends at school. She gave me extra cookies in my lunch to share with the other kids and assured me that and my smile was all I needed. It worked!


Again, that’s still not all that November is celebrating. In relation to the others I’ve mentioned so far, it is also National Gratitude Month! For me, Mom is “that source” from which I derive most of my own inspiration. And I am grateful for all that she’s given me, all that she’s taught me and all that she continues to teach me throughout her everlasting writings. They truly are “the stories of our lives”!


As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 113)


COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS, was always my mother’s advice to me when I would try to bend a sympathetic ear, imploring her to comfort me and keep me company in my occasional misery. And, of course, misery does love company!

But counting my blessings was the last thing in the world I felt up to doing when the world seemed to be so hopelessly bleak, and whatever problem I had at the time, seem so devastating to me. Now here I am telling my own children the same thing. Only I tell my own children to count their opportunities, for an opportunity is just a blessing in disguise!

I wish I had known this years ago. What frustrating disappointments I could have avoided, or at the upmost, handled better. I would’ve used the enthusiasm and the optimism that I acquired during the last two years or so to work off those petty resentments that separate us from folks whom we could really care about, if we only get to know them better, and perhaps understand why we’re in conflict.

The Pitzer Kids – Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Naturally, if we judge everything by what we see on television, we’d know that’s impossible – that people in conflict can’t resolve their differences, or so the reports indicate in those real-life fantasies that exaggerate greed, envy and contempt as if the motivation for these traits were purely justified. I don’t think they ever are!

Preparing your assortment of thoughts and feelings in a compatible mixture, in order to produce successful relationships, is really no different than preparing an assortment of compatible ingredients in a recipe for a dish that promises to be a stunning success on the dinner table.

Whether it’s a recipe for preparing a very good dish, or a very good relationship, the basics are still the same – compatible ingredients, attention to detail, thinking about what you are doing, and making logical adjustments as you go!


In honor of today, November 2nd, being National Deviled Egg Day and National Ohio Day, here are TWO of Mom’s “secret recipes” – one for Deviled Eggs, as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 68); and another for her version of Ohio Buckeyes, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Reprinted – June 2002, p. 72).

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


…44 down, 8 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan’s Mosaic Melting Pot

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

I’m so thankful that each of my parents’ parents migrated to this beautiful state that we’ve all called home for five generations, now. Similar to the rest of the North American continent, Michigan is a multicultural “melting pot”; accentuating the sum of its various heritages into one whole society of Michiganders.

However, nowadays, Michigan is considered to be more of a “mosaic” society; where different cultures live together, in harmony, as a community; respecting and celebrating each other’s customs, while retaining pride in their own heritages’ identities. Our individual heritages hold distinct, traditional senses of family and belonging. They identify with our history, values, customs, and culture; as they’re handed down from one generation to the next.

Many families usually describe their cultural heritage by the ethnic and social background from which they came. It indicates a “shared bond” of belonging to a community. Mom always described our family’s cultural heritage as we had a ‘Heinz 57’ ancestry, because we were a multicultural family.

Having a sense of community unites us all, because being part of a community makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger and greater than ourselves. Being part of a community gives us opportunities to connect with other people and it makes us feel safer and more secure. It’s important for everyone to have a sense of belonging to a community.

There’s a great [PDF] read about multiculturalism, comparing the old “melting pot” theory to the new “mosaic” concept at

Photo by Gloria Pitzer – Algonac, MI (May 1967)


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 56)


At the time all of this was taking place, we were living on Pointe Tremble Road in Clay Township, better known as Algonac, although we were not actually within the city limits. The Township was one of those areas that people didn’t really have any community pride in it that time. Down the road from us, however, was a six-square-block area called Pearl Beach. This part of the North Channel area, on the outskirts of Algonac, had played a historical part in the colorful development of that part of Clay Township and of Michigan.

In the 1920s, rumrunners and bootleggers ran their booze by small boats from the shores of Pearl Beach to Harsens Island and then across to Canada. Down the road was the Chris-Craft plant where, during World War II, the PT boats were built. Chris Smith, who had founded the company, was quite a prominent member of the community.

The best part about Pearl Beach, however, is that it wasn’t a ‘legitimate city’. It was just an ‘area’, but Paul always promoted it as being the best place in the world to live, because it had no city politicians to contend with, no shopping center, no school system of its own and didn’t even have a police or fire department because they had never really needed one. Clay Township provided services of that nature to Pearl Beach.

One thing it DID have, though, that proved to be to our liking and benefit professionally… It did have a post office! The postmaster [at that time], Newt Aspenliter, even lived right next door to the post office. So, in keeping with the uniqueness of what I wanted to offer, I thought that coming from Pearl Beach would have more appeal to the public than anywhere else would.

1969 – Cheryl (Loli), Mom, me & Debi – Algonac, MI


Among other things, the month of October observes celebrations for three of the largest heritages in America’s (and Michigan’s) “melting pot” – that of the Italian, German, & Polish cultures. According to Michigan’s Diverse Ethnic Heritage this state is also home to large communities of all three of these heritages, plus many others! The auto industry in Michigan attracted a variety of immigrants, coming to live the “American dream”.

‘The American dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and hard work, rather than by chance.’

According to the 1990 U.S. Census and, Detroit was home to the 7th largest population of Italian-Americans in the United States. As I mentioned earlier this month, Italian-American cuisine was always one of Mom’s favorite food areas to investigate – places like Olive Garden and Pizza Hut (for example) gave her many dishes from which to taste, test, and imitate.

Earlier this month, I also wrote about Michigan’s city of Frankenmuth, having the largest German-Heritage community in the state. It was always a favorite road trip of Mom and Dad’s, as well as for me and my husband, still.



Among other things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) is that it’s National Polish-American Heritage Month! This is another fabulous source of some really great food like bagels, paczki (filled donuts that have their own special day), rosol (chicken broth), golabki (stuffed cabbage rolls), pierogi (dumplings), bigos (hunter’s stew), potatoes and kielbasa (Polish sausage).

FYI: the Polish word ‘pierogi’ is already in plural form (for ‘pierog’).

Did you know that President Regan passed Resolution 577 in 1984, formally naming August as National Polish-American Heritage Month? A couple of years later, the commemorative month was changed to October so schools could participate in the celebratory events during the school year. October was also significant in the change, as it was the same month in which the first Polish settlers came to Jamestown, VA (in 1608).

According to, Polish-Americans are the second-largest Central European immigrant group in the U.S., following the Germans. Additionally, per the 2000 U.S. Census, Michigan was then home to the third largest Polish population in the States. New York was first and Illinois was the second largest.

However, per capita, Michigan actually had the largest Polish population; while its neighboring state, Wisconsin, had the second largest Polish population, per capita. The majority of Michigan’s Polish-American community is concentrated in Metro-Detroit’s tri-county area – namely Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. The city of Troy (in Oakland County) became the epicenter of the Polish population, in Michigan, after their migration from the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck.

The Polish community is the second largest ethnic group in Michigan and have been a significant part of the history of Detroit and the state of Michigan. The Detroit area’s large Polish community was, for many years, concentrated in Poletown and Hamtramck, two suburbs of Detroit. These Polish communities became vital centers of immigrant social life, with small businesses and professional organizations.

Hamtramck was originally settled by German farmers. It became a predominantly Polish industrial town in 1914, when the Dodge Brothers automotive plant first opened. The Dodge plant offered significant employment opportunities for the surrounding community. By the 1970s, Hamtramck had grown to a 90% Polish-American population. The following recipe is from Mom’s “Original 200” collection – an imitation of Pineapple Bars like she used to get at one of the great Hamtramck bakeries.


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


Paczki Day (pronounced ‘poonch-kee’) – also known as Fat Tuesday – is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. [By the way, like pierogi, paczki is already in its plural form.] The traditional reason for making paczki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by the household’s Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.

The Polish bakeries in Detroit’s tri-county area (and further, yet) are swarmed every year, as Michiganders seek out their annual dose of the high-calorie-and-fat paczki (donuts) in commemoration of this day, whether they’re Polish or not – or celebrate Lent or not.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61)


Toss a stone into the midst of a still, glassy pond. See the ripples begin to spiral around until the entire surface of the pond is but a series of rings, reaching toward every inch of the edge – without beginning, without end. Constructive behavior works the same way.

It touches individuals with inspired options, which in turn touches the community and even the world. Every little bit of good counts. It breaks down barriers. Like the rippling effect of the pond, one good intention carried out can increase in dimension to eventually encompass the broadest surface.

Whenever our best intentions are carried out for the good of all concerned, only good can result. How could good possibly produce something bad? It’s often just the still small voice of wisdom that turns us in the right direction. When it does, how silly it is of us to give credit to coincidence or chance. The purpose of something good is, of course, to bless, to enrich and to comfort and why, then, does even knowing this makes so many folks feel uncomfortable?

Having more doesn’t necessarily make us better-off, and most people limit their definition of good to an increase in more THINGS. Sometimes the good is not material, nor the least bit tangible, but instead is a feeling – a comforting and reassuring confidence – that, yes, everything can be all right, after all!


Today is National Pumpkin Day – in honor of that, here are two more of Mom’s “secret” recipes for Pumpkin Bread and Vanilla Glaze! As seen in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition; p. 158).


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

Today is my regular monthly visit with Kathy Keene on her “Good Neighbor” show at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and a few of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at so you can listen to it at your leisure!



…43 down, 9 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Significance Of The Pretzel

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


Still happening during this month of October is National Pretzel Month… Not to be confused with April’s National SOFT Pretzel Month, as October encompasses ALL pretzel styles and types.

Pretzels come in a multitude of ways – soft, hard, knotted, twisted, and straight, just to name some of the most common styles. For best flavor, soft pretzels should be eaten shortly after they’re made, while hard-baked pretzels have a long shelf-life.

Additionally, pretzel dough, itself, has captured the imagination of bakers, over the centuries; as it can be found in many different flavors, shapes and other forms – like bread, rolls and buns. Pretzels have had a long history and large influence on the American food industry. Supposedly, the pretzel is the oldest known snack food in America.

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 264)

DRINKS AND SNACKS have given an unlikely edge to a suffering food industry that was never anticipated as being possibly successful. Potato chips, pretzels, dips and appetizers have been more than well-received by a public that the industry was once certain had tried everything they could have been offered and will probably not buy another new idea! How wrong!

Whenever a new snack item or beverage has been introduced to the public, it has been received with enthusiasm, until proven unworthy of patronage, because we have become an on-the-run generation of picky eaters.

Some just don’t want to get involved any longer with a big meal experience. Some don’t want to take the time to make the foods and then, serve them and, finally, clean up afterward. We look for snacks and beverages to serve our guests and to enjoy individually in our most private and leisurely moments.

FROM THE OFFERINGS OF THE FOOD INDUSTRY have come some relatively good ideas, such as the baked potato chip product. Pretzels have gone from the 200-year-old tradition of hard and dry-baked to a soft, bread-like product, liberally sprinkled in salt and topped with prepared mustard and, as a fast food enterprise, has been one of the leading money-makers in the industry.

Historically, food has usually been a comfort source for most people, especially in a common response to stress and anxiety. Science has shown, time and again, that emotions and food are linked together. It’s widely believed that, in times of stress, “comfort foods” will often make you feel better, at least temporarily.

Pretzels are considered to be “comfort foods”, as these types of foods provide a nostalgic or sentimental value but have very little nutritional value, if any at all.

According to an article at, pretzels “had inherent religious associations [regarding the legend that it was first invented by Italian Monks in 610 A.D.], but they also came to be associated with Lent because they didn’t use eggs or dairy products, which were traditionally prohibited during the period of fasting and restriction.”


When German immigrants began settling in Pennsylvania, around 1710, they brought their pretzels and recipes with them. German home-bakers who lacked eggs or lard could still bake this relatively filling, concentrated “bread” with only three easy ingredients – flour, water, and salt.

According to an article I read at, on the pretzel’s history, here, in America: “In 1861, Julius Sturgis founded the first commercial pretzel bakery in the town of Lititz in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.” Continuing on, the article also said: “Sturgis also claimed credit for developing the first hard pretzels – or at least, for being the first to intentionally bake hard pretzels (rather than leave the soft ones in the oven too long by accident).”

There is another great article, also explaining some of the history and significance of the pretzel, by Carole Christman Koch at She claims, in her article, that “Pennsylvania is the center of pretzel production in the U.S., making 80 percent of the nation’s supply.”

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Michigan has a quite large population of German-Americans in Frankenmuth, where the German heritage emanates from all of the breweries, restaurants, bakeries, fudge/candy shops, cheese houses, and even the little souvenir stores. Frankenmuth’s Bavarian style pretzels are a classic Octoberfest snack, which are baked fresh, daily!

Mom was always a big fan of pretzels (in any form or fashion), as well as recipes with only a few ingredients! She was a firm believer that “three, four and five ingredient recipes that are totally reliable, are sufficient to satisfy even the most reluctant cook” – as she wrote in many of her editorials on “short-cut cookery”.

Additionally, Mom wrote that the short recipes, with which she enjoyed working, while quite basic, had endless options “for expanding each into fancier dishes or…different flavorings than [for which] the original [recipe] calls.” Below is Mom’s own 4-ingredient recipe for Soft Pretzels, as seen in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 274).


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


As seen in, the introduction of…

Gloria Pitzer’s Reliable Recipes For Reluctant Cooks (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1983, p. 2-3)


DEAR FRIEND, the cook who meets every culinary challenge with confidence is one to be admired. They set an example to follow – impossible as that may be! For those of us who react to most recipes with reluctance, however, cooking [and baking] is an experience we muddle through, without mastering any of the myriad facets of fancy fare!

We want reliable recipes – rather than cookbook complications! We want successful results, without ridiculous rules! We want simple procedures, without pitfalls, when we put our prescriptions into practice!…

The problem with most recipes is the awesome number of ingredients required. You [may] wonder, looking at a bowl of batter, ‘Did [I] put in four cups of flour – or did the phone ring just then and it was only three?’ Did you remember the salt and, if you didn’t, was it that important that you left it out – because somebody interrupted you at that point and your last memory of adding an ingredient was erased by the interruption!

Of course, the confident cook never worries about things like that. They forge ahead brilliantly, creating cuisine that would make you and I faint at the mere thought of trying it. And even when you and I DO finally achieve a success, we’re not sure it’s supposed to turn out that way – that easily – because our record of near-misses, far out-weigh our scores of success!

THE RELUCTANT COOK isn’t looking for absolute perfection! We want only to create the illusion that we can cope with culinary accomplishments, riding the surfboard of certainty over the sea of success!


No matter how wonderful a recipe is rated to be, no two people are going to have identical results with the same formula. This is enough to throw any reluctant cook into a tither – anticipating failure before you even pick up a spatula or get out the mixing bowls!

However, this fact should not come as a surprise to the experienced cook. Even experience in the kitchen has not been enough to relieve you of ALL reluctance! …No two dishes ever come out exactly alike… This is the option each cook has to take with every recipe. You always put a little more into the making of a dish than the recipe requires.


As seen in…

The Joy Of Not Cooking Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 109)


SOME COOKS WHO FIND JOY IN N-O-T COOKING – Anymore Than You Have To, don’t mind at all baking their own bread, biscuits, rolls, muffins and cakes. It’s a strange thing that baking is a kind of therapy for the same cooks who don’t like to pamper a roux, stir a sauce nor baste a roast.

Bread-baking gives one a sense of real accomplishment in the kitchen, especially when you can’t do other things well in the realm of creative cuisine. It’s hard to muff a muffin batter when you don’t even have to get out your electric mixer to put it together.

It’s gratifying to dig your knuckles into a pillow of yeast dough and work off your frustrations by kneading the dough into elasticity, suitable for yielding one heck-of-a good loaf of bread.

Among other food-related things that the month of October is also celebrating (and I haven’t already mentioned, yet, this month) are the following 10 “foodie” occasions, from one of my favorite sources –

National Caramel Month, National Cookie Month, National Popcorn Poppin’ Month, National Seafood Month, Pear and Pineapple Month, Rhubarb Month, Spinach Lovers Month, National Pork Month, National Sausage Month – as well as National Polish-American Heritage Month (another fabulous source of some really great “comfort foods” that I’ll write about next week)!



‘I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war’s fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy and ever-increasing enjoyment.’– M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf (1942).



In honor of tomorrow, being National Brandied Fruit Day, here is Mom’s “secret” recipe for Brandied Fruit… As seen in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes Al’ A Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 9).

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


Since Wednesday is National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day, here is a special repeat of Mom’s Sugar-Free Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie! Enjoy!

Next Monday, will be my regular monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show; with host, Kathy Keene, at WHBY in Wisconsin! We’ll be sharing our memories of Mom as the Recipe DetectiveTM and one or two of her recipes as well. Tune in at 11:08 AM (Central)/12:08 PM (Eastern). In case you miss it, there will also be a link on WHBY’s website at so you can listen to it at your leisure!



…42 down, 10 to go!

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


As seen in…

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


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

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

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

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

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

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

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

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

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

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

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

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

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

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

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

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

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer


As seen in…

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


…41 down, 11 to go!

Happy #NationalCookbookMonth !

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Comfort In Food

Happy Monday and happy October! Additionally, #TGIM – because I always look forward to Mondays as they are my #52Chances a year,  in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!


While spring has sprung on the other side of the world, from us; here, in North America, October is welcoming fall in like no other month! Fall is probably my favorite time of year. The crisp cool nights and slightly-warm, sunny days are another reason to love these autumn months, along with the entertaining celebrations of the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays (my birthday falls in there, as well – lol!)

The trees are ablaze like the top of a rainbow, with various shades of yellow, orange and red. To represent the bottom of the rainbow, splashes of evergreen make these colors pop even more! And, if you’re near any one of Michigan’s gorgeous shorelines (especially when the sun is shining), there is a beautiful, azure blue that never ceases to amaze me. Even purple is represented and speckled throughout, by the many fall flowers that are in bloom! The beautiful color-changes of the Pure Michigan landscape is unbeaten in my book!

Michigan’s Lake Huron-Thumb Area Shoreline, along the M-25 state highway. Photo taken by Laura Emerich, October 2013.

There is something about autumn that makes many people yearn even more for their favorite high-calorie, high-carb, comfort foods. I surveyed some friends over the last few weeks, asking what their favorite comfort foods were; and here are the top 6 answers I received: (1) pizza, (2) potatoes, (3) chili, (4) macaroni and cheese, (5) fried chicken, and (6) chocolate brownies.

By the way, this week, the first week of October, celebrates National Chili Week, among other things. Thus I’d like to re-share, here, with you, Mom’s famous imitation for chili like the famous fast food chain, Wendy’s.



In fact, it is also National Do Something Nice Day! Therefore, I’ll re-share some more of Mom’s related, comfort food recipes throughout this blog post for the other 5 comfort foods listed above.

Comfort foods seem to have a nostalgic, sentimental value that soothes the soul, giving us comfort and peace in times of uncertainty, stress and anxiety. Different people have different go-to favorites. Mine is probably potatoes – baked, mashed, fried, boiled – any style! What is yours?

These cheesy potatoes (pictured below) were another family favorite of ours. It’s an imitation of one of Bill Knapp’s offerings from the 1970s – another one of Mom’s “Original 200” recipes collection.


These cooler days make it more inviting to turn on the oven and do some baking! Whether it’s homemade bread, cookies, pies, brownies, or something else; fresh baked goods are starting to fill our homes with pleasant aromas. The fall season adds scents of cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin and cloves to almost everything. Moreover, the fall month of October incites us to break out our cozy, warm sweaters, while making some belly-and-soul-satisfying, comfort foods.




December 5th will actually be the “official” celebration for National Comfort Food Day! Thus, you may be thinking: “But that’s two months away!” However, fall has arrived NOW and, as the days are getting shorter and colder – who isn’t already having warm thoughts about their favorite comfort foods? We don’t have to wait until December!

I’ve made Mom’s imitation for dime-store-style mac-and-cheese, like Woolworth once served, several times since fall began.  I recently shared this recipe for another really big, family favorite, comfort food in our household!

There’s a great article and slide show I’d like to recommend you see, called “America’s Best Comfort Foods”, by Emma Sloley (Nov. 28, 2016), at But I must warn you that it’s practically impossible to read/watch it without getting hungry!



The whole month of October is also celebrating National German-American Heritage Month, among other things. In fact, tomorrow, specifically, (October 6th) is National German-American Day. A lot of great comfort foods come from our German-American ancestors! That’s probably why Frankenmuth, MI is a favorite road trip of mine and my husband, as it was for Mom and Dad, too.


Frankenmuth, Michigan is a city that has been world-famous, for many decades, for their family-style, sit-down, fried chicken dinners with all the side-fixings! Talk about comfort foods – they serve them all and then some! Since fried chicken was mentioned among the top favorite comfort foods (above), here is a re-share of Mom’s imitation for Frankenmuth’s homestyle, fried chicken “like Grandma used to make!”

This wonderful little town is not too far from us for a day trip. It’s located near Saginaw, MI; from where one of Mom’s favorite, regular radio shows still airs – “Listen to the Mrs.”, co-hosted by Art Lewis and Ann Williams on WSGW-Radio. Tourists flock to this little German-heritage town from all around the world and will stand in line for hours to get the world-famous chicken dinners offered at either one of the two largest establishments in town – the Bavarian Inn and Zender’s.

The town’s German heritage exudes from its many restaurants, bakeries, fudge shops, hotels, breweries and other quaint little stores 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!

Over the 40 years that Mom investigated different restaurant dishes as “The Recipe DetectiveTM”, she came up with about a dozen great imitations from the Frankenmuth establishments; including some of the famous restaurant dishes available at the two major restaurants mentioned above, as well as some bakery and confection offerings, from the local bakeries and fudge shops.

October is also National Italian-American Heritage Month – another source for great comfort foods like pizza and pasta. Likewise, it is also National Pasta Month & National Pizza Month! Below is Mom’s imitation of for pizza like Little Caesar, served decades ago, in the Detroit area – as this was also among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes.


‘Food is more than a physical substance. It has an intangible quality that nourishes our spirits. A good dish, lovingly prepared, at some point in the process of tasting and blending, becomes more than the sum of its ingredients.’ – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out at Home Cookbook (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 1)


This year, more than ever, most of us are dealing with an overload of stress and anxiety. Food tends to be one of the few things that comfort us in trying times. That’s probably why the kitchen is, more often than not, considered one the favorite rooms in the house – the heart of the home, even.

Photograph by Susan L. Tusa, for People Weekly (05/07/1990)


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 66)


FAMILY RESTAURANTS and homestyle meals are returning to popularity. During the war-protesting days of Vietnam, the right to ‘be different’, the right to protest, to be individual made anything even slightly related to ‘family’ and ‘home’ forbidden or corny. People became impersonal to each other…

Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. The family and home have been reinstated…even in our restaurant industry. Today it is changing back to the personal, the warm, the family. The restaurant industry, in its urgent bid for the public’s loyal attention, is trying to make their dining experiences like your home away from home. Hospitality is becoming their badge of honor!

The kitchen… is the best place to be when we’re home! You’ll notice that current home designers are getting away from the formal dining room area… Homes are becoming more functional in design, as well. In our continuing efforts to economize, to restrict energy sources and to bring the family back to the warm, bright, openness of a country kitchen, we have rediscovered the personal advantages of the best room in the house…

The classic country kitchen is coming back, where there is one large working space close to the appliance area and also open to the informal, large, eating area… It was a warm and workable kitchen that reflected a family as a unit… Every inch of it said: ‘Welcome!’ If you were a stranger when you entered, you were a friend before you left.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, p. 67)


THE KITCHEN IS THE HEART of our home! It is inelegant to the last detail. But no workable, useable kitchen, one that truly produces the hearty fare to feed the famished affections of a family, should be more than that. Ours is ample.

Only the fantasy fabrications of glossy paged magazines have kitchens that gleam, where cupboards shine, sinks are spotless, refrigerators are free of family condiments, accumulations, papers, notes and such. I personally enjoy my kitchen in our St. Clair home…

And you know what? It was designed by a woman. The builder’s wife designed this home for a big family! I never met her. She died of cancer about the time we bought the house, but I think of her fondly, often, as I enjoy what she planned [seemingly] for us, without ever having met us.

…I realize that I will probably offend the liberationists who work so hard to get the woman OUT of the kitchen, I must applaud those of us who still, by our own choice and out of love, wish to enjoy their homes, families and especially their kitchens!

As sexist as this may sound – for me, my mom, both of my grandmas and most of my aunts; cooking (whether it was for our families or friends or both) is something we enjoy doing for others. It’s one of the best ways we can say, without any words, “I love you” or “welcome” to those with whom we share our tables.



As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 40)


We cannot lose sight of our need to care about each other, to strengthen our values and live by that yardstick. Then wringing our hands with worry when the world seems to be in a state of chaos won’t send us running for synthetic comforts, escapes and restitutions that spell out getting even, rather than going forward. And it was the going forward that I worked on so much in those early days, none of which had to do with ‘getting the money’ or having the fame, the glitter and tinsel that goes with recognition.

All I could strive for then, and still do now, is the consistency of purpose, the honesty in presentation and freshness of the ideas – whether in the form of a recipe to imitate a famous food, or as an uplifting article on how to better understand your real selfhood and your relationship to others.


October is also National Cookbook Month!



In honor of today, also being National Apple Betty Day and this being National Apple Month, here is Mom’s recipe for imitating an Apple Betty dessert like Stouffer’s Restaurant used to offer many decades ago.

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979, p. 1)

As Mom always liked to say, “Happy sleuthing in the kitchen!” Furthermore, may the table you set, always pale in comparison to the example you set!

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


This week, the first week of October, is also known as National Newspaper Week! I mention that, in relation to food, because newspapers were the cornerstone on which Mom first began to build what eventually became her Secret RecipesTM legacy.


…40 down, 12 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Good Neighboring

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

This past Thursday was the 2-year anniversary of my launching this blog, which I created to honor my mom’s legacy as the ORIGINAL Recipe DetectiveTM, food industry investigator of Secret RecipesTM. The title, which Mom eventually trademarked, was bestowed on her in the mid-1970s by her Detroit area radio listeners, as she was frequently on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” show, answering recipe quandaries on how to make just about anything. Mom delighted in that honor, of being the Recipe DetectiveTM, for over 40 years, until she passed away in January 2018.


Today is, among other things, National Good Neighbor Day! The celebration was created in the early 1970s by Becky Mattson (Lakeside, Montana). In 1978, Jimmy Carter, then President, issued Proclamation 4601, creating the official national celebration of Good Neighbor Day. It was annually celebrated on the 4th Sunday in September until 2003, when the annual date was changed specifically to September 28th.

There’s an art to good neighboring but, just like anything else in life, it takes time to master the ability. I wish every ones’ neighborhoods were like that of Mr. Rogers. Fantasy or not, the real-world application was always based on caring for and helping one another – plain and simple!

Good neighboring, however, has taken on a new meaning this year, especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic and temporary restraints. Thus, necessity has, once again, become the mother of invention as we find new, safe ways to interact with our neighbors and our communities – because, as human beings, we all NEED some kind of interaction with others!

Have you noticed that neighboring and neighborhoods have changed over the years? In the past, people used to bring their new neighbors casseroles or baked goods, just to introduce themselves and say: “Hi and welcome to the neighborhood!”

Sometimes they would offer to help on the “move-in” or some other project. Sometimes they would stop by for a cup of coffee and to chat about the neighborhood. Neighbors  used to borrow/share things (and not just a cup of sugar), like tools and garden equipment, so everyone didn’t have to go out and buy expensive items that they didn’t often use.

When we work at being the best neighbor we can be, then our neighbors are more likely to give back in return, as will their neighbors and their neighbors’ neighbors too. Think about it – there could be an epidemic of good neighboring! Wouldn’t that be a better pandemic to spread throughout the world?

It all begins with the golden rule: “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” We’ve been learning about this since our preschool and kindergarten years. Why does it seem like a lot of us tend to forget about it once we age into the double digits?

It is one of the easiest and best characteristics in good neighboring. Thus, we should all remember it and practice it daily; treating others with respect and kindness, because the way we treat our neighbors will affect how they treat us, as well as their other neighbors (and so on).

Pitzer’s St. Clair House, 1978

I remember when my family and I first moved to St. Clair from Algonac – one of our new neighbors came over with food for our dinner that evening so Mom didn’t have to worry about doing that amidst all the unpacking. That made such a wonderful, lasting impression on us. Additionally, since I was 12 (almost 13, at the time), they also asked if I would be interested in babysitting for them once in a while. That was my first “paying” job outside of the “family business”.

One way anyone can be a good neighbor is to simply take pride in their neighborhood… Keep it clean and tidy and pleasant looking. We don’t have to become best friends with everyone in our neighborhood, however, introducing ourselves and learning our neighbors’ names is simply good neighboring and it’s not that hard to do nor does it need to take up a lot of time.

It doesn’t have to be a full-time project (unless you want it to be), but we all need to get more involved in our neighborhoods and communities. Knowing who represents us by going to and participating in our neighborhood association/city meetings once in a while is important. Even attending local events whenever we’re able, to support your community, is good neighboring traits.

Good neighboring is another one of those things that should be practiced and celebrated on a daily basis, rather than annually – and not just in one’s neighborhood but also in one’s community and beyond…

We should all say hello to the people we see, even if it is just in passing. It is so easy to do and can create a ripple effect in someone’s day. Just saying hello is also a way to connect with others without having to create a deep bond because, even if you prefer some distance from your neighbors, it doesn’t really obligate you to anybody.

There are some great benefits of good neighboring, such as in neighborhood security and the willingness of others looking out for you just because you’re a neighbor. So, when you have a big party that isn’t tied to a personal celebration (like a birthday or anniversary), put out the good neighboring welcome mat and invite your neighbors!

Hi Neighbor!” is the name of my blog post at that is a BIG “thank you” note to Mom’s radio, newspaper and TV contacts that helped her to grow her Secret RecipesTM business. I also created a “Media Friends” tab on the website, based on that blog post.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 9)


One of the nicest things about being a writer is that you can work at home. Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, as soon as my kids were out the door to the school bus, I set up my $39.95 Smith Corona portable typewriter at the kitchen table, where I was one step away from the stove, refrigerator and recipes I was curious to test and write about.

The view from the kitchen table included the front yard and the North Channel of the St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway to everyone else) – the riverside was [called] the front yard and the roadside was the back yard. The old house had its faults, I’ll grant you, but nobody could refuse a view like we had, living on the banks of that river!

There was always something going on outside, sufficient to inspire a feeling of well-being, which every writer must have to do their job well. In keeping with “write about what you know best”, I could put every economical recipe I used to feed my family of seven to good use, sharing the Secrets with others.

One of my addictions in those days was a daily recipe radio show called Ask Your Neighbor, hosted by Bob Allison over the WWJ-Detroit radio airwaves. He always opened his two-hour show by saying, “if you have a household problem you cannot solve, then call… (and he’d give a phone number) …and ask your neighbor!” I called him frequently with answers to his other listeners’ recipe questions, until I became “a regular” on the show.

With Bob’s generous help in mentioning my monthly newsletter, my subscriptions began to climb to 300, and 400. I was finally showing a profit! That gave my husband, Paul, some relief from his skepticism that I would eventually outgrow my obsession with writing.

In one of my April blog posts, “Tell A Story Day”, I wrote about how thrilled I was to hear from a lady who used to have my mom on her radio show once a month for almost 13 years, from June 1992 through December 2005.

Her name is Kathy Keene and she hosts “The Good Neighbor Show” on WHBY, in Appleton, WI. The show still airs from 11am to 1pm (Central Time), Monday through Friday. In fact, like Mom, I’ve been on Kathy’s “Good Neighbor” show, monthly; usually on the last Monday of each month, at about 11:08am (Central Time), since April. We’ve been sharing stories about Mom and one or two of her recipes.

Kathy can’t be on-air today, so we are going to talk about Mom this Wednesday, instead (same time). You can listen to it, live or later, from your computer or phone at: I never tire of telling Mom’s story!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Similarly to National Good Neighbor Day, Wednesday (Sept. 30th) is National Love People Day. And recommends that, in honor of it, we should all make a special point to “…offer kindness and care to the people in your community.”


While love doesn’t really make the world go around (since that is actually a gravitational thing), it does make the ride more enjoyable! According to, National Love People Day was started by Life Line Church (Chicago) a few of years ago.

So, it’s a fairly new “National Day” celebration that even has its own website, promoting “loving your neighbor”! says, among other things, that it is a day “to lift others up”. Of course, we should lift others up EVERYDAY – but let us all make a special point of it on Wednesday!

Mom always tried “to lift others up” in everything she wrote – starting with her multiple columns that were syndicated to multiple magazines and newspapers across the country to her hundreds of self-published newsletter issues (January 1974 through December 2000) and 40+ cookbooks (from her first one in 1973 to her last one, just before she passed away, in January 2018).

Mom loved to combine recipes (or food-for-the-table) with household hints, food-for-thought and food-for-the-soul – that’s what made her books stand out from all the rest; that and her being the first to start the copycat recipes movement in the food industry…particularly in the fast food and junk food categories, which were considered “taboo” foods by the critics.

Nonetheless, people wanted to know how to make these things at home and there were no other sources for this before Mom started her investigating, as the Recipe DetectiveTM. Given enough time, there wasn’t very many things that Mom couldn’t figure out how to imitate and she lovingly shared her secrets with her “neighbors” all around the world.



As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)


IF I COULD have my way, the whole world would be friends; but then, it is an unrealistic hope, considering the course of human events and behaviors. We can’t even find friends within the same family, most of the time!

…I have met some of the nicest people, in the world, [and] some of the most generous people who want to share their good ideas with me as much as I want to share mine with them. Of these good people, I will speak often and lovingly.

Having come from a somewhat lonely childhood and years of struggling to overcome the emptiness of indifference from relatives to whom I had spent, what seemed like an eternity, trying to reach out… I, now, continue to emphasize, in my own publications [and] throughout my books, the importance of caring – of REALLY caring about each other.

In tribute to Good Neighboring, here is one of Mom’s copycat recipes for a wonderful “comfort food” (of which I will discuss more in next week’s blog post) that you can share with your neighbors!

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 58)

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

Next Monday, October 5th, is National Do Something Nice Day!


…39 down,  13 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Retailers And Restaurants Unite

Happy Monday everyone and, once again, #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been identifying some of the oldest, American fast-food/restaurant-chain franchises, whose famous menu choices were among the building blocks upon which Mom created her legacy as the Recipe DetectiveTM. She investigated, tested and imitated their famous dishes at home, in her own kitchen, and shared her developments in her self-published newsletters and cookbooks – as well as through radio and TV talk-shows – for over 40 years (1974-2014).


As I mentioned last week, September is National Americana Month! It’s a great opportunity to reminisce about the “Norman Rockwell basics” of life in America. We often idealize and idolize those simple things that have uniquely woven us together as Americans!

When I think of the nostalgic icons that represent Americana to me, in terms of food-related, I think of the famous fast-food chains across our country, as well as the traditional state fairs, carnivals, and carhop drive-ins. Even department store restaurants and dime store cafeterias make the reminiscing list for me!

1974 heading of Mom’s first newsletter.

Department store eateries are just another niche in the vast food industry from which Mom found inspiration in imitating “famous foods from famous places”. says: “The three biggest department stores in the mid-1960s, both in sales volume and physical size, were Macy’s, Hudson’s, and Marshall Field, in that order.” Their mentioning of Hudson’s (a former Detroit area icon), really brought me a lot of pleasant childhood memories.

In fact, there was a report on the iconic J.L. Hudson’s site, in Detroit, not too long ago, in our local news; as it is being re-developed. The Detroit Hudson’s store was once the tallest department store in the world! It was such a sad day, when they closed their doors in 1983; and even sadder, when the iconic, historical building was imploded in 1998.

There is a lot of great information about the new project and the history of Hudson’s at Mom imitated at least 28 menu offerings from the Hudson’s dining room – as Hudson’s was one of her favorite places to shop and dine! She used to joke that she wanted her ashes spread around Hudson’s purse department, after she was gone.

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection


As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 16)


During the financial panic of 1873, Joseph L. Hudson was a young man, working with his father in a men’s clothing store in Michigan. Times were hard. Customers could hardly pay their bills. After Joseph’s father died, partly from worrying, young Joseph struggled with the business for about three years and eventually went into bankruptcy, in spite of all he tried to do to bring the business up.

He paid his creditors [60 cents] on the dollar and, with great determination, began over again! Through remarkable enterprise and ingenuity, in 12 years, he owned a store in Detroit. Even more remarkable, he located all the creditors whose claims had been embraced by the bankruptcy proceedings and paid them in full – even though they did not ask it of him.

This so astounded the business world in 1888 – that Hudson’s reputation was of an honest man, caring for his customers as much is his creditors. Thus, word spread, and the store became one of Detroit’s most important, not only in the state, but eventually in the entire country.

[Hudson] established major shopping centers in Metropolitan Detroit, beginning in 1953 with the magnificent Northland Center, the first of its kind in the country. At the time of this writing [1997], Hudson’s has merged with Dayton and with Marshall Fields and no longer offers the personal hometown touch that it used to have.

Their original building on Woodward and Farmer Street, in downtown Detroit, once controlled the shopper’s mecca; with Kern’s and Crowley’s, as well, in that area. We have seen the passing of a great institution, but I am so glad I did not lose the precious recipes [for which] the Hudson’s dining room and bakery were known…

Recently, I read an article by Katherine Martinelli (July 20, 2018), at, about stores with amazing restaurants. I was flooded with memories of going to the malls and big department stores, like Hudson’s, as a young girl, in the 1970s.

I remember when Mom would take me and my sisters to the malls and department stores like Sears, J.C. Penny’s and J.L. Hudson’s. It was an all-day shopping event combined with Mom’s work, as each of us girls would get a handful of her business cards to stick in the pockets of various clothes and purse displays while we shopped. It was an innovative way she had developed, to advertise to her “target audience”, based on inspiration from a Detroit car salesman. It was so fun!

After a few hours of shopping and marketing, we’d all take a break to have lunch in one of the department stores’ dining rooms, where Mom found a lot of great dishes to mimic at home. My sisters and I had a 5-star rating system of our own for the restaurants we went to with Mom on any of her investigative reviews – it was, actually, largely based on how clean they were, especially in their restrooms!

Alex Witchell wrote an article Feb. 25, 2019 about the best department store restaurants, which was posted on the website. In it, she reminisced about those by-gone days of shopping and lunching with her own mom and sisters. I related to a lot of it.


As seen in…

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


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

It was unprofessional and risky, but I thought anything was worth a try and what I could do ‘quietly’ until I could prove it was either a mistake or a benefit, would have to be my little secret. Well, actually, the kids were a part of that secret too. I had heard an interview on TV or radio with ‘the world’s most successful salesman’, who was a Chevrolet salesman in Detroit and who believed heartily in business cards, placing them everywhere and anywhere that it was allowed.

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

‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ – Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

Due to the ever changing shopping and eating habits of Americans, we’ve seen the rise and fall of many retail establishments. In this new era of Amazon and online shopping, department stores and malls are now becoming more like the relics of bygone days.

The idea of eating where you shop can be tracked back to 18th century Europe. Many argue about who started the idea of “eating where you shop” in America. Macy’s claims to have opened the first restaurant within a department store in May 1878 (originally Marshall Field’s Walnut Room).

Others say that in-store restaurants were already established (in America) earlier, in the 1870s, when Wanamaker’s, in New York and Philadelphia, were offering consumers the first in-store eateries, in which shoppers could pause in the middle of their bargain-hunting excursions to rest and have some sustenance (before continuing on).

The idea was based on the theory that the longer consumers remained in a store, the more they were likely to look at more things and, thus, buy more things. It was a groundbreaking marketing tactic to attract and keep shoppers!

‘You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door, if you’re in the back yard looking for four-leaf clovers.’ – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)]

In a 2015 essay by Angela Serratore, “In Praise of the Department Store Restaurant”, at, she wrote: “Department store restaurants allowed middle-class women in the throes of consumer ecstasy to pause and refresh themselves in a manner that was, above all, civilized… The food was fancy but not overly so – consommé, tongue sandwiches, and delicate fruit salads all appear on a 1901 Macy’s menu – and nothing served would render a woman incapable of continuing to shop after she’d finished.”

Famous department stores with restaurants, cafés and tea rooms – as they were often called – which come to mind, past and present, include Marshall Field’s, JL Hudson’s, JC Penny’s, Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany’s, Bloomingdale’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, Nordstrom’s, and Lord & Taylor’s.

Even the, later, general merchandise, “big box” stores like Walmart, Target, Kmart, Kresge’s, Sears, and Woolworth’s joined the band wagon with their own lunch counters and cafeterias – or they rented space within their stores to “established brands” like Starbuck’s and Subway. From most of these places, Mom imitated at least one of their famous dishes, but usually more.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her self-published cookbook… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 2)

We’ve seen Mom-and-Pop shops struggle to compete against department and “big box” stores, which competed with the all-inclusive mall settings, which are now struggling to compete against virtual stores, online. Small and large retailers, alike, have been disappearing due to the rise in online shopping over the years, but it especially exploded this year due to the brick-and-mortar store closings for the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Those establishments that were not already involved with the growth of the internet and hadn’t yet closed their doors, were teetering on bankruptcy due to the rise in online shopping over in-store shopping, especially among the newer generations. To make matters worse, those retailers who were hanging on by a thread, trying to come up with new marketing gimmicks to bring consumers back to their brick-and-mortar stores, were more-or-less “done-in” by the pandemic’s restrictions.

Additionally, according to a blog at, about 38 companies that were already on shaky ground have filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, this year, due to the various impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic. Among those listed were iconic department stores like Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor’s, J. C. Penny’s, and Sears-Kmart.

In memory of Hudson’s iconic footprint, here is Mom’s imitation of the famous Hudson’s Maurice Salad & Dressing…

As seen in her self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 16)

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


Next Monday, September 28th, is National Good Neighbor Day!

Additionally, I will be on the Good Neighbor show, next Monday (at about 11:08am Central Time); which is hosted by Kathy Keene, on WHBY!

You can listen, live or later, through the station’s website at


…38 down, 14 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Where Did All The Good Noshes Go? – Part III

Once again, happy Monday to all and #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!


September is National Americana Month – a time to reflect on and reminisce about the “Norman Rockwell basics” of life in America; those simple things that have uniquely woven us together as Americans! When I think of Americana, in terms of food-related, I think of the nostalgic icons of fast-food chains, state fairs, carnivals, and drive-ins. Even department store restaurants and cafeterias make the reminiscing list for me (and I’ll be writing more about them next week)!

Fast-food is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you like hot dogs, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, milkshakes, French fries, onion rings, tacos, burritos, pizza, fried chicken, and deep-fried fish – even breakfast foods – they are all among the most popular “fast-food” menu offerings, as well as the most popular consumer choices around America. The fast-food industry has been evolving for over 100 years – the prime of which is considered to have been during the 1960s and 1970s; as so many franchises launched across the country, it was like a “baby boom” in the food industry. Soon after, American fast-food franchising grew globally, as well.

The more critics argued about how bad fast food and junk food was for our health and well-being, the more people wanted to covet it. Mom always contended that “fast food” was food that was prepared quickly and that was done at fine restaurants such as Devon Gables’ Tea Room, as well as fast-food chains like McDonald’s. Mom would also maintain that “junk food” was merely food that was poorly prepared.

Additionally, as Mom said in her last cookbook, “…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 [and presented] makes the difference!” – [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6).]


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 70 & 71)


It’s a mistake to think of the fast food industry as being confined to hamburgers and fries and buckets of chicken or fish. It is really a more versatile banquet of menu selections than the critics give us time to consider. The public is fickle and very easily swayed by the aggressive opinions of self-styled experts who preach the evils of fast food with all the charisma of a revival tent evangelism; and we, the believing public, will go in whatever direction the wind blows the strongest!

Nobody dreamed that the step-child of the food industry would ever have endured this long – for, to everybody’s surprise, fast food has, indeed, become the ‘Liza Doolittle’ of the restaurant industry. The humble streetcar diner of the 1950s and 1960s has blossomed into the Cinderella of the commercial dining division of the food industry. It has soared in sales while all other major enterprises have suffered set-backs in the shadow of the recent economic gloom! [NOTE: That was originally written in 1982, showing that history surely does repeat itself.]

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

The reason the fast food industry has become a virtual smorgasbord of appealing menu selections is that it is affordable! People who work hard for their money and have little of it left after essentials have been paid for, look for leisure and escape hatches by which they can derive a little pleasure for the money they have left to spend on such luxuries.

Fast food chains cater to crowds with very little fuss, but surroundings that reflect informality. The costs of eating out, however, have increased along with everything else. Now it’s becoming less and less appealing to spend the same money on one fast food meal that would also buy a bag of groceries that could make several meals at home!

So, we can have our cake and eat it too! We can dine in as if we’re eating out – whether we choose to be catered to by wine stewards and parking valets or whether we wish to impersonate the plastic palaces of the fast food kingdom – eating out at home can be a pleasant experience.


FAST FOODS HAVE ARRIVED IN OUR CULTURE at a point in our growth as a society, when ‘time’ is of the essence… held cheaply, spent foolishly, and made to be one of the most aggressive influences in our lives.

The calendar and the clock have given a sense of order to civilization. Our lives are, both, governed by and regulated by the limitations of these two man-made inventions. In a world created and perpetuated by an infinite Spirit, man has adjusted to the divisions of time. The records of one’s birth and death are accounted for by date and moment; and all the time in between is categorized by years, months, weeks, days, hours, moments—even seconds. We are hardly conscious of the limitations to which we submit ourselves by confining our lives to the measurements of calendar and clock divisions.

Without even realizing it, we are constantly meeting deadlines in our lives. We catch a bus, a train, a plane in accordance with the hour and minute scheduled. We compete in and watch sports that honor seconds by which winning and losing, and records are determined.

It is, with some frustration, that man attempts to occasionally free himself of the obligation to live within the framework of the deadline. Our work is subject to how much we can accomplish within a repeating allotment of time. Our leisure is limited by the number of hours and minutes that remain.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Even the successful results of the foods we prepare is completely dependent on the timing we employ. From this, we have derived ‘instant coffee’, ‘the 3-minute egg’, ‘day-old bread’, ‘Minute Rice’, ‘Hour-by-Hour’ deodorant soap, ‘the 5-minute phone call’, ‘the 12 Days of Christmas’, and on and on. We can have a ‘good time’, a ‘great time’, a ‘bad time’. About the only thing not governed by, nor subject to, time is love.

So, ‘Fast Foods’ arrived when it could be most appreciated and most recognized. ‘Fast’ indicates – or, at least, implies – that there will be time left over one would not ordinarily have with food that was NOT ‘fast’. Most food preparations require a lot of time.

But ‘Fast Food’ was capitalized on by the promotional people as being something the on-the-go generation could enjoy and would buy, because they had better things to do than sit around restaurants waiting to be waited on; when, instead, they could run in and out with a meal and be on their way to the fun things in life – or on the way to the more time-consuming things in their life, such as work or business of one kind or another.

With the extensive research into the effects of stress, pressure put upon many people from having too little ‘time’ to be relaxed, to enjoy leisure, freedom from worries, there has been a turn-around in the fast food promotional field. Now they are gradually – without you hardly even being aware of it – changing to a ‘family’ restaurant theme. They want to bring back the old-fashioned, close-knit, solid family unit. Back and forth, like the pendulum of a clock, the gimmicks are given a new face and flavor. The public will eventually become conditioned to the new theme and ‘fast food’ will take on a cosmetic change that we will hardly even notice.

Continuing on with my depiction of 30 of the oldest fast food chains and restaurant franchises in America, which I started a couple of weeks ago; the following 11 chains emerged between 1953 and 1969, many from whom Mom imitated several of their popular menu offerings.

I’ve  shared some of those recipes in previous blog posts so I’m re-sharing them, here, again. A few of the other recipes pictured below came from Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, which is a rewrite I helped her do of her favorite self-published cookbook from 1982, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook. A total of 12 of Mom’s related copycat recipes are pictured below. Enjoy!

[NOTE: For a little piece of Americana, hard copies of Mom’s last cookbook are available, for sale, at $20.99 each through the publisher, Balboa Press, at; eBooks are also available for $3.99 at]



Italian-American cuisine was one of many of Mom’s favorite food areas to investigate. She “covered” many “hits” from the older, popular chains such as Pizza Hut and Little Caesar’s; as well as newer chains, like Olive Garden, for an example.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 72)


ITALIAN CUISINE has been a part of our American restaurant industry since the early days of its discovery – if you recall – by an Italian, Columbus! If Christopher Columbus had never tasted pizza or spaghetti with meatballs, then he surely didn’t know what he was missing! But the influence of good Italian cooking in our American ‘Melting-Pot’ cuisine has had a long life of appealing dishes that have influenced, still, other food creations.

The pizza, as we know it in this country, was the creation of an Italian baker in New York’s East side during the late 1800’s. Dock-workers and sailors frequented the bakery for their lunch food, requesting a slice of cheese with their bread and glass of ‘Vino’. The enterprising baker dreamed up what was probably the very first delicatessen in the restaurant industry.

WHEN THE CUSTOMERS REQUESTED bread and cheese, he also added some spicy tomato sauce to it, like an open-face sandwich; and, as the popularity of the dish grew, he topped it off with sausage and other condiments until someone asked him what he called his dish. He thought a moment and replied, ‘Pizza!’

It came from the same word as the musical term, pizzicato, to pinch or pluck a stringed instrument, such as a violin or guitar. Thus, pizza may have been so-named from the fact that the dough, being rounded at first, is pinched and plucked outward until circular and flat.

For whatever reasons, the Italian baker went without recognition for his creation until we were informed by a woman, in her 80’s, that her father and his before him worked the docks in New York where the legend of the beginning of the pizza was a well-known story, handed down from generation to generation, that the dish was, indeed, created in this country and preserved with Italian traditions for all of us to enjoy.

The pasta dishes of our American restaurant cuisine have been expanded to include some very interesting creations, employing imagination when combining compatible ingredients. Although there are probably as many recipes for good sauces as there are cooks to prepare them and restaurants to serve them, I chose only a few for this book that would offer a good, basic dish.


In Mom’s 1998 reprint of her self-published cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes (aka: “Book 6”, in a series), she published her delicious imitation of TGI Friday’s Crazy Layer Cake; which I will share with you at a later date.

When it came to deep-fried, battered fish, Arthur Treacher’s establishments did it best and they were always our family’s favorite! Mom’s version, called Archer Teacher’s Fish & Chips, was among her “Original 200” collection.

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


Mark your calendar! September 28th, 2020 will be National Good Neighbor Day!



…37 down, 15 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Where Did All The Good Noshes Go? – Part II

I hope everyone had a happy Monday, yesterday; enjoying a safe and memory-making Labor Day weekend. This is a belated #TGIM! I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year, in which I can share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

Over 125 years ago, Labor Day became an official, national holiday. It is celebrated yearly, on the first Monday in September. Just as Memorial Day has become the unofficial start to summer, Labor Day has, likewise, become the unofficial end to summer.

While there doesn’t seem to be many traditional customs for observing it, there are various kinds of individual community celebrations, including picnics, parades, outdoor concerts, festivals, fireworks and even shopping events; as retailers always offer huge Labor Day weekend deals and discounts to move out the rest of their summer stock. Moreover, many families like to take advantage of the extra-long weekend to go on one, last, summer vacation before the kids go back to school.

However, this is 2020 and what’s “normal” has been put on hold (temporarily – we hope)! This year, family camping has become even more popular than ever, as families can travel safely (for the most part) with their own food, shelter, and personal belongings. There’s a funny statement that I’ve seen on social media, from time-to-time, in a few different forms that basically says, “only Americans will spend thousands of dollars a year on STUFF just to live like hobos.”

Gloria Pitzer, Recipe Detective


Coming up, on Wednesday, September 9th, is the national celebration of “I Love Food Day”. What a fabulous thing to celebrate! As I wrote about in many previous blog posts, Mom was a pioneer and trailblazer in the food industry – creating a new niche in the fast food and franchise restaurants’ field! In the early 1970s, Mom took on an “interesting challenge” to infiltrate and investigate the alleged secrets of the retail food industry.

In the mid-1970s, Mom was nicknamed the “Recipe Detective” by the radio listeners of Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” call-in program, because she could decipher what combinations of ingredients and techniques could be used at home to imitate many favorite restaurant dishes and fast food items; as well as packaged “junk foods” and other supermarket products, for which people were searching to replicate.

Mom developed hundreds (and eventually THOUSANDS) of recipes; imitating “famous foods from famous places” right at home and for less cost than going out! During the 1970s, Mom trademarked the nickname, as it became her signature format.

Fast food and junk food products were the most requested recipes for which Mom was asked to decode and devise a copycat version. Those types of recipes weren’t found in cookbooks or any other source being published at that time. People were clamoring to find out how to make their favorites at home. After all, fast foods epitomized the very restaurants where most American families, like ourselves, were apt to patron if they wanted an affordable meal!

As a wife and mother of five, herself, in a struggling economy, Mom personally saw a necessity for the family unit to be able to afford dining out. That’s how and why she came up with the concept of “eating out at home”; though, she didn’t mean “grilling in the backyard”!

Mom had always seemed to possess a special talent for determining the origins of flavors in dishes – even in many supermarket products. Some of her recipes used unlikely ingredient combinations that were unheard of at that time, to achieve a certain flavor, color and/or texture. She also had a special talent for promoting herself and her unique creations. Right from the start, “radio” and Mom formed a seemingly natural friendship/partnership. She knew who her target audience was and where to find them!

First 5 books of the Secret Recipes Collection

‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ – Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

The public loved the “new idea” of making the taboo fast food and junk food products, which critics claimed were so bad for us, right at home, where the cook controls the ingredients that went into it – taking the junk out of junk food. Mom proved that it could be done easily at home and at less of a cost, as times were tough, and money was tight – especially for the average American family.

People know what they like, and Mom found a way to help them “have their cake and eat it too!” Mom claimed to be able to take the junk out of junk food by making it at home, where you can control the ingredients. It was a break through that had many companies up in arms – that someone could possibly duplicate their product at home and then share it with the public! However, Mom never knew what the companies’ actual “secret recipes” were for their scrumptious products, as she wrote about in the following passages.


As seen in…

Eating Out at Home (Nat’l Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 2-3)

You don’t have to know exactly how the original dish was prepared by the commercial food chains. All you need is a basic recipe to which you will add that ‘special seasoning’ or that ‘secret method of preparation’ that sets one famous secret recipe apart from those similar to it…

When I work to duplicate a recipe so that the finished product is as good as (if not better than) a famous restaurant dish, I begin by asking myself a series of questions: I want to know what color the finished dish has…[and] was it achieved by baking, frying or refrigeration?…What specific flavors can I identify?… and about how much of each may have been used…

Similar tests are used in chemistry…[to]…break down the components of an unknown substance and try to rebuild it. So the cook must work like a chemist (and not like a gourmet; who, most of the time, never uses a recipe – but, rather, creates one.)

The most remarkable part of the duplication of famous recipes is that you can accept the challenge to ‘try’ to match their [dish or product]. Sometimes, you will be successful. Sometimes you will fail in the attempt. But, at least, it can be done [‘practice makes perfect’], and it certainly takes the monotony out of mealtime when, for reasons of financial inadequacy, we can’t always eat out…even if we could afford to eat at all or most of our meals away from home, wouldn’t that become monotonous in time?

STOP CHEATING YOURSELF of the pleasure of good food. Eat what you enjoy, but DON’T OVER eat…This is what really causes the problems of obesity and bad health – rather than believing the propaganda of the experts that ‘fast food’ is ‘junk food’…It is not! Poorly prepared food, whether it is from a fast-service restaurant or a [$20-plate in a] gourmet dining room, is ‘junk’, no matter how you look at it…if it is not properly prepared.

TO DEBUNK THE JUNK…don’t think of Hostess Twinkies as junk dessert but, rather, the very same cake ingredients prepared in the Waldorf Astoria kitchens as the basis for their “Flaming Cherries Supreme”. All we did [to imitate the product] was shape the cake differently, adding a little body to the filling and putting it INSIDE the cake, rather than on top as the Waldorf did!

Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery.Charles Caleb Colton

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

Mom has always tried to encourage the inner cook in all of us, through her love of food. Even if you didn’t think you could cook at all, Mom could make you feel like a gourmet, making your own creations and bringing joy back into eating at home. Her recipes are always fun and easy to follow. She also made them simple to “customize”, to suit your own diet needs.

‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’ ― Theodore Roosevelt

Mom’s original concepts of “eating out at home” and “taking the junk out of junk food” has brought so much joy to so many people who couldn’t afford such “luxuries” as eating out or buying certain grocery items. Mom gained a lot of followers in the copycat movement (also some plagiarists), having started this concept in the early 1970s.

Still shot from mom’s Phil Donahue appearance 4-16-93

Last week, I started a list of 30 of the oldest fast food franchises and family restaurant chains that have developed since the early 1900s. Most of those in the list are among the “famous places” where Mom investigated and imitated “famous foods”. The first one, pictured below, should have been included among last week’s list.

Continuing on, here are some more chains that developed between 1940 and 1954…

Mom imitated many different donuts from many different chains. As for Dunkin’, Mom imitated their potato doughnut, printing it in her cookbook, Eating Out At Home (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1978, p. 36). In the late 1930s, Vernon Rudolph started selling a potato doughnut, under the name Krispy Kreme.

That I know of… Mom made an imitation of their Ranchero Sandwich, which appeared in her cookbook, Top Secret Recipes Al A Carte, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 1979, p.41). She also imitated their hamburgers, which was printed in her cookbook, My Personal Favorites (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; 2000, p. 25)

Mom made dozens of imitations of the KFC menu offerings, changing the titles of her products’ recipes from “KFC” to “Big Bucket In The Sky!” Many were among her “Original 200” collection. She also wrote about the “Colonel” and his original franchise concept in most of her books.

Denny’s is another full-service, family restaurant that Mom enjoyed frequenting to taste and develop her own versions of their dishes, such as their chicken-fried steaks and English Breakfast. Mom also imitated their famous Honey-Mustard and Marinara sauces.

Burger King’s ORIGINAL, “real” onion rings are not the same as the “minced” ones they serve now. Mom imitated many other of their “original” offerings, such as their onion rings, steak sandwiches and chocolate milkshakes.

The more I looked back on the different “famous places” for noshing during my childhood, the more I found that triggered those melancholy memories. Thus, the list goes on! Therefor, next week, I’ll share some more family-friendly franchises that have launched since 1955.

In honor of Big Boy’s recent 84th birthday/anniversary, here is another one of Mom’s copycat recipe for their famous Big Boy Hamburger sauce…

As seen in Mom’s self-published cookbook…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; June 1997, p. 7)

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

September 28th, 2020 will be National #GoodNeighborDay



…36 down, 16 to go!