1982 – Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook – was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this cookbook, having a 6” x 9” format with 400 pages, is a unique assembly of nearly 1,000 make-at-home, make-alike recipes of Gloria’s famous fast foods, restaurant dishes and grocery products collection. In addition, Gloria includes various historical information, illustrations and photographs along with her usual wit, food-for-thought and humorous stories.
This book was actually inspired from a much needed vacation that Gloria and Paul took from their business in 1979, after completing and publishing Book 5, taking their 2 minor daughters, Laura and Cheryl, with them. They stayed at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island where they just so happened to be filming “Somewhere in Time” with Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer. The Pitzers were lucky enough to meet the three movie stars at breakfast one morning; and, while Gloria was smitten with Christopher Plummer, in the back of her mind she was already taking notes for what would become a special section of this cookbook – about the elegant dishes served at the Grand Hotel.
However, in 2015-2017, it was re-written by Gloria and her daughter, Laura Emerich, to bring it to a new generation. In January 2018, a few days before Gloria passed away, it was re-published under the name, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective, which is available, for sale, at $20.99 each through the publisher, Balboa Press, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252
Sub-Title: “The Best of The Recipe Detective” and “Famous Foods from Famous Places”
5 out of 5 stars – Better Cookery Cookbook – Bonnie Case – December 25, 2012 – “Bought this book 25 years ago, loved it so much when I spotted it on Amazon I bought one for my daughter and daughter in law. Favorite is Bob Evans Gravy. Now have another new daughter in law – would order again.”
1979 – Gloria Pitzer Presents Top Secret Recipes Al’a Carte cookbook was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI). Some of the art work in this book was also done by 2 of Gloria’s 5 children, Mike Pitzer & Debbie Pitzer (now, Hamilton). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this cookbook, sometimes referred to as “Book 4” or the “Orange Book”, had a 52-page, 8.5″ x 11″ format and sold for $5 per copy. The recipes in this book were uniquely laid out like an encyclopedia, in alphabetical order; so, there was no index included in the 1st printing. However, one was added in later printings with over 370 index listings. Over the many years and various printings, the cover was changed slightly, but the title always remained the same, along with the original masthead, “Cookbook”.
1978 – Gloria Pitzer Presents: Eating Out at Home a cookbook written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this cookbook, sometimes referred to as “Book 3” or the “Yellow Book”, had a 52-page, 8.5″ x 11″ format filled with her famous make-at-home recipes for imitating fast foods, restaurant dishes and grocery products. In addition, Gloria includes background information along with her usual witty & humorous stories, food-for-thought and over 240 index listings. It sold for $5 per copy. Over the years of various printings, the cover changed slightly, but the title remained the same. The masthead originally read “Secret Recipe Report”, but it changed to “Cookbook Secrets” in later printings, The sub-title, “A Recipe Portfolio”, was also added in the later printings.
1977 – The Second Helping of Secret Recipes was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (National Homemakers Newsletter, St. Clair, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this cookbook is sometimes referred to as “Book 2”, “2nd Helpings” or “The Green Book”. Over the many years and various printings, the cover changed slightly, as did the size and price of the book. The size changed from the original 80-page, 5.5″ x 8.5″ format with 178 recipes listed to a 52-page, 8.5″ x 11″ format with 209 recipes listed. The original title remained the same, but the sub-titles also changed over the years (as seen in the various cover photos shown above and below); while the masthead of “Secret Recipe Report” was added in 1978 and, later, changed to “Cookbook”. Starting in 1978, Gloria’s son, Michael Pitzer, illustrated many of the later printings of this book.
Sub-Titles: “Book 2”, “Of Fast Foods & Other Favorites, Imitated by Gloria Pitzer”, “The Junk Food Junkie Rides the Range Again”, “The Fast Food Cookbook, Taking the Junk Out of Junk Food”
Years: July 1977 – August 1981+
Recipes: 178 listed originally; 209 listed in the larger size
Pages: 80 originally; 52 in the larger format
Size: 5.5″ x 8.5″ originally; 8.5″ x 11″ shortly after the 1st printing
Price: Originally $3.00 for the small format; the larger format sold for $5 each
(The picture above is from an ad. I can’t find any available pictures of the original cover from the 1st printings in 1976-1977, using the 5.5” x 8.5” format – they may have originally sold for $3 per copy, as “Book 2” did in 1977.)
1976 – The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book was written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI). NO LONGER IN PRINT – this cookbook, sometimes referred to as “Book 1” or the “Blue Book”, was actually a revised edition of her original cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook (1973). Although this version wasn’t Gloria’s first cookbook, it was her first true “commercial success”.
Note: So far, I have yet to find any copies of the original, August 1976, small format of this book. I would love to know if anyone still has one – it would be over 42 years old now! Please write to us at: [email protected]
Over the many years of various printings, the cover design, title and subtitle changed slightly, as did the size and price of the book. The size changed from the original 80-page, 5.5″ x 8.5″ format to a 42-page, 8.5″ x 11″ format in 1977. The masthead, “Secret Recipe Report” was added in 1979 and changed to, simply, “Cookbook” in 1981. These changes can be seen on the various cover photos shown below.
In 1982, Michael Pitzer (Gloria’s son, who illustrated many of the printings of this book) was working at Wells Rich Greene in Los Angeles on the Jack-in-the-Box® advertising account. During one of their creative presentations, then President of JIB, Barry Krantz asked if he could get a complete set of Gloria’s cookbooks for their “test kitchen”. Now, we wouldn’t want to jump to any conclusions, but shortly thereafter Jack-in-the-Box was not only back in the burger business, but they also began introducing fresh-baked cookies and wonderful chicken sandwiches. Coincidence? Maybe…
Sub-Titles: “Book 1”, “Fast Foods and Other Favorites”, “The Junk Food Junkie Rides the Range Again” and “The Original Junk Food Book”
Years: Aug 1976 – Aug 1981+
Recipes: unknown for original, smaller format; 290 listed in the larger size format
Pages: originally 80; larger format had 52
Size: originally 5.5″ x 8.5″; later format was 8.5″ x 11″
Price: original (possibly) $3 per copy; later printings were $5 per copy
1974 – Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter – written, illustrated and published by Gloria Pitzer (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI) – started as “a monthly compendium of fact and fancies”, as Gloria referred to it, adding that it was “the almost-magazine…not quite a newspaper…that can build into a book.” NO LONGER IN PRINT – this was, originally, a small, 3-ring binder-style publication, printed in a 5.5” x 8.5” format with 12 back-to-back pages packed full of “food for the table and food for thought”, household tips, humorous quips and cartoons; plus, a “Readers Swap Shop”. The newsletter originally sold for $0.50 per issue, as well as $2.75 for a 6-month subscription or $5 for a 1-year subscription.
Over the decades, the newsletter evolved with the changing times – the name slightly changed a few times, as well as the size and number of issues printed in a year; plus, of course, the cost grew with inflation too. By 1976, it was being published monthly in an 8.5” x 11”, 10-page format and sold for $0.50 per copy or $6 for a 1-year subscription. By 1978 the name slightly changed to Gloria Pitzer’s National Home News Magazine, though the format remained the same; and it sold for $7 per 1-year subscription.
In 1980, Gloria Pitzer revised the newsletter again, getting right to the heart of cooking – reducing the number of ingredients to comply with your time and, most of all, your budget. While the format size remained the same, the name was changed to “Gloria Pitzer’s Monthly Cookbook of Secret Recipes”. Each copy contained about 100 recipes and sold for $1 per issue, or you could subscribe for a full year.
Starting with the Summer issue of 1984 (Jul-Aug-Sep), the newsletter was published quarterly under the name Gloria Pitzer’s Cook’s Quarterly, still in an 8.5” x 11” format with up to 20 pages full of “Food for Thought” & “Thoughts on Food”; plus, household hints, short cut cooking tips and recipes for imitating favorite restaurant dishes and grocery products at home. It sold for $10 per 1-year (4 issues) subscription or $2.50 for a single issue.
By 1986, the newsletter was being published every 2 months under the name Secret Recipes Newsletter. Still in the 8.5” x 11” format, the 12-page publication boasted at least 50 recipes per issue along with humorous stories, “Food for Thought” and news on nutrition, restaurants and product reviews. It continued to sell for $10 for a 1-year subscription of 6 issues (or $2 per single copy) until 1989, when the price was raised to $12.50 for a 1-year subscription (or $2.50 per single copy). Then, in 1991, the price went down to $12 per year and $2.50 for single copies. The bi-monthly newsletter was temporarily retired after the March-April 1994 issue.
However, in 1995, the publication was back by popular demand under the name Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Quarterly for $16 per year (4 issues) with 20 pages per issue; each issue featured at least 75 recipes for imitating famous restaurant dishes and grocery products at home; plus, more “Food for Thought”, household hints and cooking tips. But, by 1997, the publication went back to the bi-monthly, 12-page format under the old name, Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter and sold for $16 per 1-year subscription (6 issues) or $2.75 per single copy.
In January 1998, the newsletter went back to being a monthly publication with the name shortened to Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes. The 8.5” x 11”, 8-page format was still full of “Food for Thought”, household hints and tips, famous restaurant recipes and grocery products you can make at home. During its last year of publication, it sold for $18 per 1-year subscription or $2 per single copy. It was permanently retired, after 27 years, with the December 2000 issue.
“Every issue is like getting together for coffee with friends!” SM– Gloria Pitzer
We’d love to hear from anyone who still has old copies of her original newsletters! Please write to us at: [email protected]
1972-1976 – The development of the “Original 200” – a recipe card collection by Gloria Pitzer
1972-1976 – “Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes” began with a unique collection of about 200 recipes (each printed on 4”x6” index cards, ready for filing), which Gloria developed and tested in her own kitchen – recipes for making famous fast-food dishes and favorite supermarket products right at home; with the intention to save households money on their “entertaining” & “grocery” costs. This photo (above) is a copy of one of her own ads [as seen on the back of her bi-centennial cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s The American Cookery Cookbook (July1976)], for how to buy these recipe cards at $0.25 each or 5 for $1. These are NO LONGER IN PRINT!
We’d love to hear from anyone who still has her original, individual recipe cards! Please write to us at: [email protected]
If you’re new to here, welcome! I’m Laura Emerich – one of 5 who called Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”, “Mom”. I started this blog series in September (2018) to carry on Mom’s legacy of her Secret Recipes “empire”, as it was very special to me too; especially over the last few years of her life while I collaborated with her in re-writing her favorite cookbook, to be re-published by Balboa Press, and inspire a new generation!
This week, I want to start a special series on Mondays & Memories of Mom, sharing with you some of Mom’s own memories of how she came to be “The Recipe Detective”, her trademarked name. This series is based on excerpts from Mom’s story, in her own words, as seen on pages 292-297 in her last cookbook, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” , published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing):
BEHIND THE SCENES – “Private Investigator of Secret Recipes” or “The Recipe Detective” are the names that my friends in radio and newspapers have given to me, and I enjoy living up to that assignment! I enjoy working with these recipe secrets, but most of all, I enjoy writing about them. I’ve been writing all my life… Going way-back to when I was in grade school. I was always writing a book, or a poem or a short story. It was a way of life from my earliest memories – a way over which I seem to have no personal control! I had to write… Preferably about what I knew best at the time. Little did I know that what I would come to know best would be cooking! The one year that I spent at Michigan State (when it was still a college, mind you – you figure that out!) … Was one year in which I learned 2 important things – I could not pass my Creative Writing course and I was “kicked out” of Home Economics! My Creative Writing instructor told me that I typed a neat looking paper and probably should be a secretary, for I would never make it as a writer. My Home Economics instructor advised me to spend the rest of my life having my meals delivered, for I was always finding fault with the way so many cookbooks were written.
I took a position with the J. Walter Thompson Advertising company in Detroit, working as a secretary to the copywriters. I met my husband, Paul, there when he returned from a 4-year tour of service with the Air Force. We started dating and one year later we were married. That was 1956. Bill was born over a year later, and then Mike came 20 months after that, and Debbie came along 20 months after that. I lost 3 babies in the next 3 years, but Laura was born in 1964 and Cheryl came 20 months after that. During those years, Paul was working for a sign company in Mt. Clemens, Michigan – where, in the 20 years he spent with them, he did everything from drafting to purchasing agent to account rep! I kept up with my writing, always working for one of the suburban papers and constantly free-lancing to magazines. When Redbook sent me $500 for my “Young Mother’s Story” submission in February 1963, called “We’ll Never Live with In-Laws Again”, I put part of the money into a typewriter, as I had always had to borrow one before that. I wanted a typewriter more than Reagan wanted to be president! I put a lot of miles on that $39.95 machine – I designed a column for weekly newspapers and mailed out samples to over 300 newspapers. Within a year, I had acquired 60 regular papers for my “No Laughing Matter” column and another column I called “Minding the Hearth”. Columbia Features in New York offered me a contract, and, for a year, I allowed them to syndicate the column in competition with a new humorist, Erma Bombeck! (Right church, wrong pew for me!) When a big city paper carried Erma’s column, Columbia placed mine in their competing paper. I split with Columbia on a 60/40 basis (I took 40) and finally, by mutual-agreement, we broke the contract. I was on my own.
HOW SECRET RECIPES BEGAN – When Columbia Features and I parted company, they had acquired only 2 additional papers from me and lost several more. Within 6 months, I had regained all my original papers and was syndicating the column from our dining room table, where we then lived in what my friend, Bob Allison, called “beautiful downtown Pearl Beach” – a town so small that I told people City Hall was over a Dairy Queen, our McDonald’s had only one arch and, if we had a Howard Johnson’s, it would’ve had only 3 flavors! We had a 9-year old station wagon at that time. It burned oil and barely got Paul to work and back without something breaking down! I rode a bike to and from the Pearl Beach post office every day where I mailed out my columns and, then, looked for responses to ads I had placed in the Tower Press and Grit magazines for recipes on 4×6” cards that enabled you to imitate famous dishes at home.
[That might have been around 1973.]
I remember (around 1974-1976) when Mom would take my sisters and I to Sears, JC Penny’s and JL Hudson’s at the Macomb Mall near Detroit and, later (1976), to Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights (MI), where we would all get a handful of Mom’s business cards to stick in the pockets of various clothes and purse displays for shoppers to find, and then we’d have lunch in the Hudson’s dining room, where Mom found a lot of great dishes to mimic at home. We had a 5-star rating system of our own when we were with Mom on any of her restaurant reviews – it was, actually, largely based on how clean they kept their restrooms! But, back to Mom’s story…
BOB ALLISON’s “ASK YOUR NEIGHBOR” – I was a regular participant on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” radio show that aired 5 days a week for 2 hours in the morning. I used Bob’s program for asking for food information that I needed for my weekly columns. Bob’s audience was very helpful in supplying me with answers. To reciprocate, I would reply to some of the requests made by his audience when they called into Bob’s show. It was a unique format in that one could not simply call in a recipe or information simply because they wanted to share it with others. The information or the recipe had to, first, be requested by a previous caller. Many of my first “Secret Recipes” were developed because of requests made specifically by Bob’s callers for such dishes as The Colonel’s secret spices, Arthur Treacher’s fish batter, Sander’s hot fudge, Win Schuler’s bar cheese and so on.
As I re-type her words, another fun memory comes to me, regarding Mom’s radio visits on “Ask Your Neighbor” – because of the show’s format, Mom couldn’t just phone in to the show and “announce” make-alike recipes she had developed. There were only 2 types of callers allowed – (1) those requesting certain recipes or tips and (2) those who have the answer to one or more of those requests. When she developed a make-alike recipe that nobody requested, but she was anxious to share it, she would have a friend or one of us kids call the show “as a listener” to make a request for it; then, she could call in with her answer! That was so much fun! Once again, back to Mom’s story…
[NOTE: “Ask Your Neighbor” is still heard weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 9AM to 11AM EST on WNZK 690AM, Detroit. A live stream can also be found on the show’s website at http://www.askyourneighbor.com/index.htm]
At the suggestion of one of Bob’s callers that I should put all my column recipes into a book, I wrote my 1st edition called “The Better Cooker’s Cookbook”. In less than a month, I had sold 1000 copies. I wasn’t satisfied with the book, so I didn’t reprint it – but, decided that it might work out better if I could do those recipes monthly…I put together my 1st issue of what came to be my “Secret Recipe Report”, a newsletter that, for 106 consecutive monthly issues, brought me in contact with the many so-called secrets of the commercial food and restaurant industry.
I probably wouldn’t have done the monthly, except for a falling-out I had with the editor of a small-town paper for which I was writing a food column. I had published some of my 1st attempts at duplicating famous dishes in that column and the response was beautiful, until I offended one of the papers biggest advertisers with a rendition of their cheesecake… “The kind that nobody doesn’t like.” The editor told me I would have to go back to standard recipes like macaroni and cheese, meatloaf or chocolate cake – or I could pick up my check. I told him to MAIL it to me. That’s when I decided it was time to launch my own paper. That afternoon, I put out my charter issue, sending samples of it to those whose names and addresses I had on file from having written to me at the paper. That was the beginning of “Secret Recipes”!
I’ve recently started putting together a “Time Line”, of sorts, regarding all the different publications that Mom has written, illustrated and self-published over the past 4½ decades (1973-2018). There’s a few books that I don’t have, myself, so, I have to search the Amazon and Ebay websites for some of her old, out-of-print books. Soon, you’ll see updates to this website regarding the 2 “Cookbooks” tabs. I’m also still working on uploading more recipes to the “Recipes” tab as well. Also, stay tuned, next week, for part 2 of this series about Mom’s own story.
In the mean time, as I do each week, I will end this blog with one of Mom’s make-alike recipes that appeared on one of her “Free Recipes/Information” sheets. In keeping with the Super Bowl theme, whether you’re hosting a party or taking a dish-to-pass for someone else’s party, this is a picture of her easy and awesome, make-alike version of 5-Alarm-Style Taco Sauce (1985) to go with your favorite tortilla chips – asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.
Another version of this recipe can also be found on page 69 of Mom’s last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)]; again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it; but, here it is for you – again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
FIVE-ALARM TACO SAUCE – Prepare 1 recipe of Gloria’s “Big Match Special Sauce” [see blog from 11/19/18] and add to it: 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon chili powder and ¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or to taste). Sufficient to top-off a dozen tacos [or for dipping!]
Allow me to introduce myself to any new visitors here – I am Laura (Pitzer) Emerich, and this is my blog, Mondays & Memories of My Mom, a tribute to the legacy of a woman who helped to make me who I am, as well as a mentor and “trail-blazer” for so many others. To me, she’s “Mom”; but, to the world, she’s Gloria Pitzer, the ORIGINAL Secret Recipe Detective. In the early ‘70s, Mom started developing (writing and testing) her own recipes that mimicked popular dishes in the restaurant, grocery and fast food industries.
Illustration by Gloria Pitzer
She marketed her talents – as I wrote in my first blog, A Legacy of Love– “through newspapers, magazines, local television talk shows…but, especially through radio talk shows. For nearly 40 years she was a regular on a few local radio talk shows such as ‘Ask Your Neighbor’, hosted by Bob Allison on WWJ-Radio, which still airs out of the Detroit area today and ‘Listen to the Mrs.’, which is still hosted by Art Lewis on WSGW-Radio in Saginaw, MI. Mom said Warren Pierce of ‘The Warren Pierce Show’ put her ‘in touch with some of the most responsive and enthusiastic listening audiences.’ That show also still airs out of the Detroit area on WJR-Radio. Mom did radio shows all over the country – mostly by phone, from the comfort of home.”
She passed away almost a year ago, 2 weeks after her 82nd birthday, leaving behind a beautiful legacy of faith, love, generosity, sarcastic humor and a wide range of artistic talents. I feel so lucky to have all these memories of her and how she contributed to making me the woman I am today. So, I want to share those wonderful recollections with the world, which is so easy now through the internet and social media; and try to carry on her legacy in my own way. Mom was such a huge influence in my life. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows – you have to have storms to get those rainbows and appreciate the sunshine even more! So, it’s all good!
Photo by Paul Jaekel, Jan. 2016
During the last few years of Mom’s life, I got to know her in a new way – one that I missed out on in my self-centered teen years. I was helping Mom to rewrite her favorite cookbook, from 1983, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, to be published by Balboa Press. Mom never wanted to let any of her cookbooks be published by a company that wanted to change her creations. But, times changed and so did situations, as well as attitudes. The publisher we chose for the project didn’t want to change very much of anything except the title (because it too closely resembled The Betty Crocker Cookbook title, which it was supposed to in the first place) and a few illustrations (because they had the likeness of “The Colonel” on them.) I also had to change the layout slightly; not because of the publisher, but because of the digital revolution and the printed format we chose for the final product. Mom and I also had to choose some parts to be totally omitted due to their lack of current relatability or something else. Years ago, Mom would’ve said, “Never! Not any of it!” But, she learned over the years that it’s better to go with the flow than swim against the tide. I’ve always loved to write, myself; something Mom always nurtured in me. Re-reading Mom’s creative “Food for Thought” articles and discussing them with her, brought us closer in a whole new way. Mom’s favorite thing in life was to write. She also loved to mentor those who shared the love! She always said, “I make a living with my writing – but, it’s my writing that makes living worthwhile!”
“When you’re wishing for a happier, fuller life, a life with real meaning, there’s a need to remain steadfastly receptive to intuitions & inspirations that whisper to the listening thought of hope & courage.” – Gloria Pitzer [as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 183, Nov-Dec 1997; pg. 10]
Now, it’s New Year’s Eve! This is the time that most of us spend recalling, reasoning, recollecting, reflecting, reminiscing, remembering, ruminating and resolving to do and be better than we’ve ever been, even more than we are right now – resolutions are made that call for improvement and change in ourselves! Making a New Year’s resolution is a common tradition, whereas people resolve to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or to, otherwise, improve their life.
The New Year’s Eve anthem (a musical composition of celebration), Auld Lang Syneis an old Scots poem penned by Robert Burns in 1788; but made known more famously by Guy Lombardo’s version, which he and His Royal Canadians band sung every New Year’s Eve for about 38 years (1939-1977). The title literally translates into basic English as “old long since,” which basically equals “days gone by” or can be even more loosely interpreted as “for the sake of old times.” Any way you cut it, it’s traditionally sung on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight to say goodbye to the old year and celebrate the new one. However, it is also heard at funerals, graduations, and other special occasions as a farewell or ending to that event.
“Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And auld lang syne! For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne. We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, For auld lang syne.” – Robert Burns (1759 – 1796)
The most commonly sung [or should I say “mis-sung” – in our own special drunken interpretations?] parts of Auld Lang Syne are the 1st verse and chorus, which begs the question, “Should we leave it behind us and forget about it?” I ask myself, how am I to learn from my mistakes if I forget them? Mom once said, “You never realize what a good memory you have until you try to forget something.” [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 146, Sep-Oct 1990; pg. 7] However, this is another, earlier viewpoint from Mom on the subject of forgetting, as she wrote in a small “Food for Thought” piece in one of her newsletters:
“Some things, perhaps, are better left unsaid and forgotten – or, like the woman in The Bible, who looked back when she was warned not to, we just might become pillars of emotional salt; hardening our feelings and losing our sense of compassion, rather than become someone with perspective, with our eyes on where we’re going, rather than where we’ve already been.
Being able to get a handle on life by not letting it get the best of us, when the lemons outweigh the levity in our relationships, is a recipe worth having. Resolving the problems with recipes in the kitchen is something we’re all willing to accept, because cooking is an individual and very personal experience – a creative challenge for some, a positive involvement for others. Yet we accept the risk of failing at what we attempt with foods, more readily than we will with our relationships with other people. It’s a puzzle to me that we are willing to endure such a paradox that we’ll put more effort into the table we set than into the examples we set…” [As seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter, Issue 130, Jan-Feb 1988; pg. 8]
In closing, as with my pervious blogs, I’d like to share with you one of Mom’s make-alike recipes that appeared on her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet, which she used to give out in exchange for a self-addressed, stamped envelope; asking only for proper credit if you care to share it. This is a photo copy of her 2000 imitation of a sugar-free, Strawberry Fluff-Style dessert like the one served at Old Country Buffet. It’s a great dessert to take to parties as a dish-to-pass, allowing yourself and others, whose New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, to indulge and not feel guilty!
Note: this particular sugar-free recipe was not included in Mom’s last cookbook, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing). However, many other wonderful sugar-free recipes and humorous stories can be found in the “Dieting” Dishes chapter or section of this book on pages 283-291.
Finally, dear strangers and friends, on this celebratory occasion of ringing in the new year, I wish for you all to cherish your memories – good and bad – as they are all a part of who you are and will help you in becoming who you want to be in 2019! As Mom would always say, “Happy sleuthing in the kitchen!”… But, may the table you set, pale in comparison to the example you set! Happy New Year to you all!
If you’re new to this site and this blog, let me introduce myself. My name is Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started this blog to honor my mom’s legacy as the ORIGINAL Secret Recipes Detective – Gloria Pitzer. Since the early ‘70s, Mom was “busting” the secret recipes of the fast food industry, as well as some “fine” restaurants and grocery products too! As I mentioned in my last blog, “Imitation”, Mom never really knew their exact recipes, but she could imitate them very well!!!
I’ve been writing these weekly blogs, about the many wonderful memories I have of Mom as I was growing up, since this past September. Shortly after starting these blogs, I decided to include one of Mom’s recipes with each one. For the 35-plus years that Mom “worked her business”, she offered (in exchange for a SASE) a sheet of free recipes, along with information on how to order her currently (at that time) available self-published cookbooks, as well as how to subscribe to her newsletters; which were published monthly in the beginning, then bi-monthly and quarterly and back to monthly until she permanently retired it.
Five weeks ago, I shared another blog, “Time to Make the Cookies”, regarding cookies as they related to some of my memories of Mom, and including her make-alike version of one the Famous Amos cookies (with an alternative option.) Rather than repeating those memories, here, with these Mrs. Fields make-alike cookie recipes (below) that Mom also gave out for free (merely asking for proper credit when shared), I thought I’d write about making a new memory.
While surfing the internet around Thanksgiving time, I came across a Martha Stewart link, “8 Steps to Hosting a Cookie Swap”. I hadn’t participated in a cookie swap/exchange since my first two kids were toddlers (in the late “80s!) Anticipating the coming of “the final push” to get all my Christmas cookies made in time for holiday visitors and last minute gift-giving, I planned my first (hopefully annual) Christmas cookie exchange party with some of my girlfriends, who also hadn’t participated in any such event in a long time, if at all. While Martha’s ‘8 Steps’ was a great source of inspiration, I added some of my own ideas too!
I started (as in Martha’s ‘Step 1’) by inviting people. I created a private “event” through my personal Facebook page and invited about 18 girlfriends that were nearby and whom I knew (or thought) liked to bake and socialize (not to discriminate against my male friends who also enjoy baking, but the perk was for female bonding time.) Although, one friend’s “significant other” popped in to share some male bonding with my husband while all of us ladies “cackled” amongst ourselves; which was perfectly fine. Martha Stewart’s link suggested inviting up to 8 friends; but, having hosted other types of parties over the years, I knew that only one-third to half of invitees actually come. So, I invited 18 friends and about 8 people RSVP’d that they could come. Hindsight being foresight, next year, I will probably, also, “snail-mail” personal invitations because not everyone (in my generation) knows about Facebook created events; plus, it’s something tangible that they can hang on their refrigerator or calendar as a reminder.
On the event page, I asked everyone to post what cookies they were thinking about bringing (as in Martha’s ‘Step 2’), so we didn’t end up with 5 people bringing the same type. I suggested everyone bring 8 dozen cookies – no matter how many people actually come, I posted, if you bring 8 dozen of the same type, you’d be taking home 8 dozen of a variety. The more that come, the more of a variety there will be. I also asked that they post their recipe there, on the event page, (or email or text me a copy) so I could print out the necessary copies for everyone attending (instead of them making their own copies, not knowing how many copies to actually make.) However, only a few shared their recipes on the event page or texted me a picture of it in time for me to copy them for everyone.
Instead of making display cards or having everyone make multiple copies of their recipes on cards (as in Martha’s ‘Step 3’) for the cookie table, I bought little “brag books” from my local Dollar Tree store. I found and printed out a cute little cookie jar graphic to put in the cover’s picture window on each book. Then I printed out copies of the recipes that I had received before and at the party, inserting them into the pages of each book – for everyone to each take home from the party as a memento and, in which to continue collecting other cookie recipes.
On my party prep checklist, I forgot to list ‘creating a packaging station’ (as described in Martha’s Steps 4 through 7) for wrapping up all the dozens of cookies that everyone was going to take home. I was going to buy things at the dollar store for this; but I didn’t write it down and, then, was distracted by the crowd at the store, and just wanted to hurry and get out of there with my “brag books” and “door prize” picks. Fortunately, some of my friends must have anticipated this – one brought special Christmas trays on which everyone could to take home their cookies and some others pre-wrapped their dozens of cookies in decorative bags and tins for easy grabbing!
Not listed in Martha Stewarts ‘8 Steps’, but which occurred to me, is to serve snacks. Whenever I host anything (in-bred from my mom), I, at least, serve something to munch on – it’s always an ice-breaker! So, I decided to prepare a bunch of simple finger-food snacks for everyone to enjoy besides the cookie samples. Having hypoglycemia, myself, I knew I couldn’t snack on all that sugar and wanted to offer my friends the same option. One friend, who couldn’t make cookies in time for the party, but didn’t want to miss out on the “girl time”, brought a wonderful spinach dip and crackers for the “snack table” instead. All were welcomed, cookies in tow or not! Afterwards, I found that Martha Stewart did have a follow up to the ‘8 Steps’ regarding finger-foods to serve at your cookie swap – https://www.marthastewart.com/274426/holiday-cookie-swap-finger-foods
As everyone started showing up, I got wrapped up in setting up the snack table, making introductions between those who didn’t know each other and, of course, in the socializing. Thus, I forgot all about putting out the coffee, tea and punch that I had planned (Step 8); but I did have bottled water for everyone (thanks to my wonderful husband – who always has my back – as he brought in a cooler full of the iced-down bottles for all of us!)
Also, not listed in the “8 Steps”, I decided to offer a few “door prizes”. Martha did make mention of voting on a favorite cookie during the test-tasting, but I was debating between having a few cute, little shower-type games for us to play or just drawing a few names from a hat (or something like that.) In the end, because the socializing was going so well and I didn’t want it to stop, I just had my husband draw 3 names out of a bowl containing all the names of the ladies who showed up; and each of those 3 ladies went home with an extra little gift bag from me.
Unfortunately, it didn’t dawn on me until after my first friend left and others were getting ready to do the same that I should have been taking pictures of everyone and their wonderful baked goods! I did get my husband to take one picture of all of us before anyone else left, which I could immediately send to everyone through my Messenger App. Note-to-self: next time, delegate (in advance) someone to be “the photographer”, which wasn’t in the 8 Steps either! Anyway, I hope I created some special new memories for my friends. I know I will cherish the memories of that day, myself, flaws and all! In fact, I am really looking forward to doing it all again next year!
Photo by Laura Emerich, Dec. 14, 2018
In the mean time, this is a picture of the cookie recipe I chose to make for my friends – my mom’s make-alike version of Mrs. Fields Soft Sugar Cookies – as printed on her later “Free Recipes/Information” sheets (2000) under the name “Mrs. Meadows”, along with her make-alike version of Mrs. F’s Crisp Buttery Cookies, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
*Special note: I used a 1/8-cup scoop to ball up my cookies and I had about 50 cookies. This recipe says it yields 2 dozen…it should be 4 dozen.
In addition, this is a picture of Mom’s 1985 version of Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies from her older “Free Recipes/Information” sheets, again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it:
Note: Unlike the previously shared “free” recipes in my blogs, the Mrs. Fields make-alike cookies I’ve included in this blog also appeared in some of Mom’s other previously self-published cookbooks and newsletters; but, they didn’t make it into her last cookbook [“Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective”, published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing).]