By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… The American Cookery Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Algonac, MI; July 1976, p. 37)
1 lb. boneless lean pork, cut in ¾-inch cubes
2 TB shortening
1 cup water
4-6 tsp chili powder
½ tsp salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 medium potatoes, pared and cut in 1-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
In large saucepan, brown half the meat at a time in hot shortening. Drain off excess fat; return all meat to pan. Add water, chili powder, salt, and garlic. Cover and simmer 35 minutes. Add potatoes. Cover and simmer 20 to 25 minutes more or until meat and potatoes are tender. Makes 4 servings.
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in The Second Helping of Secret Recipes (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1977, p. 30)
½-lb almond paste
2 or 3 egg whites
¼ tsp salt
1 cup fine granulated sugar
½ cup Powdered sugar
Knead almond paste with hands until soft then break into small pieces. Put egg whites with salt in bowl of [countertop] electric mixer. Add sugar and almond paste (a little at a time), mixing until all is added, and mixture is smooth and thick. Beat in powdered sugar, up to ½ cup if necessary, to make batter thick enough to hold its shape.
Cover baking sheets with 2 layers of heavy brown paper. Drop batter onto paper by teaspoonfuls, into mounds about 2 inches apart. Bake at 300°F until lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from oven. Slide paper off baking sheet onto a damp dish towel folded to same size as baking sheet. Let stand until macaroons are cool or can be removed from paper with small metal spatula. Cool on wire racks. Store in tightly covered container. Makes 3 to 4 dozen.
The year is almost half-way through and the dawn of summer (aka: Memorial Day, which is considered the un-official start of summer) is only a week away! Memorial Day was originally established as a day of remembrance, set aside to honor our veterans who died, serving in the U.S. military.
Our hearts go out to their surviving families, as those veterans gave their lives, protecting our country and our freedoms. Therefore, while we enjoy celebrating our freedoms this coming weekend, keep in mind at what cost we have them, in the first place! Likewise, let us also commemorate those veterans for the ultimate sacrifice they all made for us.
Traditionally, many towns honor their local veterans with floral wreaths and small American flags on their graves, as well as with community parades and special memorial services. Afterward, many of us will celebrate the extended weekend with pot-lucks or family picnics or backyard barbecues [as it is National Barbecue Month, too]!
For some reason, Americans always like to find ways to “celebrate”, even the most somber of days, with optimism, happiness, and hope – and, of course, food! As I mentioned a few weeks ago, this is one of those holidays that didn’t make Wikipedia’s top 10 celebrated Public Holidays in the United States. But it’s still noteworthy as being celebrated with a lot of food!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…
WE ALL EXPECT life to be good to us – most of the time. That isn’t too much to ask, now, is it? But when things don’t work out the way we had planned or [as we had] hoped… the tendency is there to feel [that] life gave us lemons. The best experiences often come out of the biggest disappointments. So, when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade – turning a ‘let-down’ into a ‘set-up’…
Norman Vincent Peale once said that God never closes a door that he hasn’t opened a window. But the opportunities that are available to us aren’t always the most obvious when we’re in the throes of self-pity or weary from overwork… You certainly won’t hear opportunity knocking at the front door if you’re in the backyard, looking for four-leaf clovers.
To seize every opportunity to express your very best effort is the kind of motivation with which I grew up and have passed on to our five, now-adult, children. When they all lined up for this Memorial Day snapshot [in 1969 (below)], before we left to march in the big parade in beautiful, downtown Algonac; little did we know how beautifully our [lives] would turn out. How little did we know what big challenges would tempt us to give up [and] to succumb to defeat.
Additionally, this coming Friday will also be National Road Trip Day and National Cooler Day! It’s one of those times, with the extended weekend, when hundreds of thousands of people (me and my husband included) will hit the road for a long weekend getaway – or maybe just a one day journey with a picnic somewhere.
After my parents became empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they often chose to go on a road trip somewhere. It didn’t matter if it was a planned route or the “other scenic route” (that’s what Dad called it when he got lost). They were together and away from “it all”, just enjoying each other and the beautiful Michigan scenery!
Sometimes, however, work would always manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, as Mom usually managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home. My husband and I can relate to the road trip getaway. We love taking road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes area, is a wonderful place to explore and unwind from a hectic work week.
Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Samfriends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, p. 1)
GOOD SAM, GOOD EXAMPLE
One thing among many that I have learned from Good Sam, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.
Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose. You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed.
Try a little enthusiasm! …Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated. (p. 1)
The trouble with trying to be happy all the time is that most people look for one particular condition or experience or possession, from which they hope to derive complete contentment, forgetting that happiness is a moment – not a forever! (p. 4)
‘MANY PEOPLE FEEL THAT life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable, and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.’ – Gloria Pitzer, The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979)
Here are four basic tips for planning road trips that I shared last year…
Always bring a real roadmap, as there are places that actually don’t have any cell service for miles.
Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour or two to other map dots along the way!
Stop frequently and take breaks – “smell the roses”, photograph the memories, and talk to the locals.
Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…
I hope you enjoy your extended weekend and 2022’s dawn of summer!
In honor of May, also being National Salad Month, here is Mom’s secret recipe for Seven Layer Salad – from her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 37), a revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).
This was always a popular dish that Mom to took to many summer pot lucks. I also shared this recipe with Kathy Keene’s “Good Neighbor” audience, on WHBY (in Appleton, WI), around this time last year.
Happy Monday, everyone! Today is, among other things, Memorial Day. A special day of solace, remembering and honoring all those who’ve died, serving in any one of our country’s Armed Forces to protect all of our freedoms.
Today is also National Smile Day – so let’s turn a frown upside-down! I do still look forward to Mondays. They always make me smile, as they continue to be my 52 Chances per year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
‘Smile and the world smiles with you!’ – Stanley Gordon West
I’ve mentioned many times in my blog posts that Mom’s Food-for-Thought editorials were written with a great love and passion for entertaining, helping and informing her readers. Likewise, her cartoons were drawn with a subtle, satirical humor, also meant to amuse her readers and bring a little smile to their day.
Similarly, as Mom did in her own patch-work-quilt-style writings, I try to bring “my readers” a hodge-podge of happy recollections of, both, Mom and the nostalgia of days gone by. Add in a few smiles and, maybe, a giggle or two. I also enjoy sharing little bits of knowledge on hot topics and current events; with a recipe or two from Mom’s vast collection (and, on rare occasions, my own) thrown into the mix. It’s like the whipped cream and cherry on top of a banana split!
Mom had always accredited Fred Sanders of the Sanders Candy Company with the invention of the banana split. She enjoyed their confections and ice cream treats often as a young girl, growing up in the Detroit suburbs. As for the official inventor of the banana split – some claim it originated in Wilmington, OH; while others say it began in Latrobe, PA.
Sanders Chocolates was re-founded in 1875, by Fred Sanders Schmidt in Detroit, MI; following the destruction of his original location, during “The Great Fire” in Chicago in 1871. By 1962, when Fred’s grandson took over, the company had grown to 111 ‘Sanders Chocolate & Ice Cream Shops’ in the Great Lakes area; where they sold their own delectable candy, baked goods, light lunches, ice cream sodas, and sundaes with various toppings. They’re very famous for their Bumpy Cake, Hot Fudge and Cream Puffs.
MEMORIAL DAY 1990 MEMORIES…
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 94)
EVERY DAY, IN OUR OFFICE
Every day, in our office and our home, because it’s hard to separate the two, is the fact that things here are quite unpredictable! The layout of the newsletter is done – as I described it before – like a patchwork quilt, [as] are the books, at best, for there is not enough ‘quiet’ time in which to carry out a major project.
Mostly, it is a day filled with pleasant interruptions – such as the grandchildren dropping by to see us for a few minutes – or a radio station calling and asking me to fill in at the last minute! There are visits from the rest of the family, a phone call from my mother once in a while, when she needs somebody to talk to… and I am always a ready listener.
There are the discussions over how to handle a particular problem with a shipping order, or how a dish should be coming out that doesn’t! Countless things occur in this office (and/or home) that contribute to the overall picture.
This is what I tried to describe… to Julie Greenwalt of People magazine,when she called and asked me to think about those typical things that happen, here, which could be photographed to accompany the story she was writing about us. It will be interesting to see how it comes out, as this book [cited above] will be ‘going to press’ before People does with their story [which came out in their May 7, 1990 issue].
I love the attitude of George Burns, who was always an inspiration to everyone, of every age! Doing what we like best, whether we succeed or not, is what keeps us going and keeps us happy. I cannot imagine doing something badly that I enjoy doing. So, of course, we do our best at something we enjoy, because that is part of the satisfaction of doing it – seeing the good that results from our efforts.
[Paul and I,] both, take time during the week to enjoy something completely unrelated to our work and even our family. I bowl on a wonderful women’s league every Wednesday morning and Paul bowls with the men’s league on Friday nights.
For the past four or five years, I’ve driven to Algonac, about 40 miles round-trip, to participate in one of the nicest groups I’ve had the privilege of belonging to; and while I have yet to have that 200-game, whether I bowl badly or splendidly, I drive home all smiles, happy that I went! Paul, on the other hand, bowls just down the street from us here in town. He bowled so much when we were dating, I tell people we were married by an ordained pin setter!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43)
YOU’VE MADE A FRIEND
A SMILE IS the universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!
People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.
A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!
I remember Mom often telling me stories about how, when I was just a couple of years old, no matter where she took me – on a ride in the car or shopping in a store, to name a couple – I always waved at people, strangers or not, smiling and saying “Hi!” I still do!
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 4)
To seize every opportunity to express your very best effort is the kind of motivation with which I grew up and have passed on to our five, now-adult, children. When they all lined up for this Memorial Day snapshot [in 1969 (below)], before we left to march in the big parade in beautiful, downtown Algonac; little did we know how beautifully our [lives] would turn out. How little did we know what big challenges would tempt us to give up, to succumb to defeat.
Shout out, again, to MarcAndAngel.com, for their timeless, uplifting article, ‘7 Ways To Stay Strong When Everything Goes Wrong’, which still applies to the current, difficult days we face. I found the following excerpt from it especially inspiring!
As the old adage says, “laughter is the best medicine.” Mom always added to that, “you can’t smile on the outside, without feeling good on the inside.”
STILL, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 92)
GOING IT ALONE
ONE OF THE BLESSINGS of being your own boss is that you can enjoy the freedom of discussing…subjects in your own publication, where you wouldn’t dear if someone else were publishing it, and you were subject to total agreement between you and them over all material published.
PEOPLE EXPECT US TO BE BETTER!
Whenever somebody has mentioned to me that they are surprised that the newsletter or the recipe books include non-recipe material, I usually replied, ‘I’m surprised that you’re surprised!’ Food for the table and food for thought should, and often do, go hand-in-hand. In our publications there will always be room for the kind of material that is humorous and uplifting – as the case may be.
I respond easily to the unusual, if it has a beneficial influence on others and find it a joy to share such information. The response is always encouraging. I am still hearing good comments on the little book we sent out in the fall of 1988, entitled ‘Good Thoughts And Things To Smile About’, which we did not sell, but GAVE to those people we felt we should express appreciation for their kindness and attention either to our work or to our family.
The little acts of overcoming the annoyance, impatience, indifference, apathy, that sometimes seem to be so much a part of our day – can make an enormous difference in the quality of our lives. This may not always seem easy, but each false tendency can be detected and rejected because it is wholly without foundation. Genuine love, caring, alertness and patience replace annoyance, indifference, apathy and impatience.
Happy Monday to all! I hope it’s a memorable one for you! Personally, I always look forward to Mondays because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!
This is the last full week of May, with Memorial Day next Monday, and then on to June we go! Many families are planning vacations or backyard barbeques for celebrating this coming weekend, as it is considered to be the unofficial start to summer! So break out your barbeque grill, if you haven’t already, and prepare to fire it up!
Outdoor activities are on the rise again, especially as the weather is getting more summer-like and the days are getting longer. If you can, take a road trip on Friday – either for the day or for the whole, four-day weekend! Pack a cooler with some strawberry pie, barbequed chicken, hamburgers, deviled eggs, and salads for a roadside park picnic. That’ll cover most of the celebrations mentioned above.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in… No Laugh’n Matter by Gloria Pitzer
[Printed in “The Times Herald” (Port Huron, MI; July 2, 1973; p. 8A)]
NEED A VACATION? WAIT ‘TIL RETURN!
[aka: Vacation Returns (OR The Last Resort)]
It is only upon returning from a vacation that we realized just how much we could use one! Ours was nothing to write home about, so all of you out there, who were looking for a postcard from us, now know why you didn’t get one.
If – when I [was] at home, among conveniences, and circumstances used to force me to once write those ‘please-excuse-my-child’ notes in lipstick on the back of a Citizen’s Federal Savings [bank] slip and take telephone messages down in the dust on the end tables – you just know that any postcard I’d be apt to send from our vacation would probably be written in campfire charcoal on the back of a Handi-Wipe!
I still hate to refer to it in the strictest sense as a ‘vacation’. I mean, a cross country trip by station wagon with our five kids would be anything BUT a vacation! And somehow, I recall that the cross country trip got even more cross as we crossed the country, when we were traveling with the kids – especially on the way back [home].
We spent more time deciding which child got to sit next to the window than we ever did reading the road maps – and that was just in the driveway before we even left home! Upon reading those maps, however, we would be forced to make the crucial decision – deciding which fork in the road to take. Usually, [we chose] the wrong fork in the road – but then, we had never been lost that way before.
Once in a while, and even to this day, when Paul and I travel alone, without the children to distract us, we’ll find we’re lost on some turnpike off-ramp and, when out of state we’ll hope to see another vehicle with a Michigan license plate and start to follow them because we’re convinced that they know where they’re going and will probably, at least, get us back to the state line. But, in our case, [we] could use a bumper sticker for the car that reads: ‘Don’t follow me. I’m lost too!’
When the children were vacationing with us, in the old days, it seemed that ‘who-sits-next-to-the-windows’ is an on-going debate. The argument got so sticky at one point that I simply buried my face in a AAA tour book and pretended not to hear them until, from the midst of the back seat crowd, came a tortured voice, which pleaded in anguish, ‘But I HAVE to sit by the window!’
‘Nonsense!’ I said, without looking up. ‘Give me one good reason WHY you HAVE to sit by the window!’
‘Because’ said the voice with some agitation, ‘I’m driving! I’m Daddy!’
Even the cost of a simple vacation has been affected by the national inflation, I see today. You might say the cost of getting away, has gotten away; because, if you really wish to relive your vacation, the only way you can do it these days is to show your friends colored slides of all of your traveler’s checks!
We did learn a few things, though, about our trips [that] I’m perfectly willing to share with you. We now realize that the same vacation conveniences that would cost us $90 a day, while traveling, we could have had for free if we had stayed home.
Besides, nothing can deflate your ego, or undermine your significance as a person, like returning from a 3-week vacation; and, as you begin to carry the suitcases from the car into the house, have your neighbor greet you with: ‘Hi there! Going someplace?’
All we have to recall of our last vacation is the vivid memory of how the best restaurant to eat in was always just a block down the road from the one we stopped at and thought it would be the last one we’d come to before dark. But I will always remember how Daddy would lie on the beach about how he was missed at the office!
And…that hitchhiker we picked up, who, within 5 minutes, begged us to let him out of the car because he had been suddenly drenched with a Dairy Queen milkshake and 6 popsicle sticks were poked into his fringe-sleeved, suede jacket.
As I said, if you’re traveling with children, and you think you need the vacation you’re about to take, it’s nothing compared to the one you’ll be ready for when you get back!
I remember fighting with my siblings about who got to sit next to the back-seat-windows and thinking that it wasn’t fair for the boys to get the “premium seats” because they were older – they were always older! As the two youngest of the bunch, Cheryl and I often had to sit in the “way-back-seat” of the station wagon. Nowadays, it’s called “third row seating”; nonetheless, Cheryl and I always called it the “way-back-seat”.
Sure, we each got window seats by being “way-in-the-back”, but we were also facing the back! Thus, all we saw was what we already passed. Plus, facing backwards often gave me motion sickness. I also recall what Mom said (above) about getting lost a different way! Instead of asking Dad, “Are we there yet?”; we’d always ask him, “Are we lost yet – or is this a new scenic route?”
When my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they often chose to go on a day’s drive or weekend road trip somewhere. It didn’t matter if it was a planned route or “a new scenic route”, because they were together, away from it all, and enjoying the beautiful scenery. Sometimes, however, work would manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat. Mom always managed to find something really good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home.
My husband and I can relate to Mom’s story (above), as we’ve gone through it too with our three kids (and we’re grateful there weren’t five kids). Now that we are empty-nesters, we love taking spontaneous road trips like my parents did. Michigan, and the whole Great Lakes region, is a wonderful place to explore and unwind from a hectic work week!
Needless to say, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Samfriends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer
[As seen in… “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING”, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
DEAR FRIENDS – The best part of April  will be our bus trip to Branson, Missouri with ‘The Art Lewis Tour’. Art is the co-host of my every Tuesday radio visits on WSGW-Radio (Saginaw, MI)…Paul and I haven’t been to Branson in 8 years. The best part…we aren’t doing the driving…Art is! And we’ll be in the company of so many new friends! – Gloria Pitzer [From the front-page introduction of Mom’s Spring-1995 newsletter, Secret Recipes Quarterly.]
Mom and Dad seemed to make friends everywhere they went. Some trips were just for relaxation and fun. But other trips usually involved some Secret RecipesTM work too, as Mom really did enjoy what she did and it was easy to incorporate a lecture or a restaurant review and an imitation of a dish (or two); even an occasional, in-studio, radio show interview, instead of through the phone lines, as Mom usually did.
Since our camping experiences with the national RV organization, Good Sam, we have truly adopted their slogan… ‘In Good Sam there are no strangers – only friends you haven’t met yet!’ How very true. What would we have done had we not been blessed with meeting Irv and Helen Henze [or] Helen and Chuck Mogg? How much we miss Chuck since he passed away. Friends are those people who know everything there is to know about you, but like you anyhow! – Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… “MORE THAN FRIENDS”, from My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 100)]
TO THE GOOD SAM RV CLUB (MI & OH Branches):‘Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country, relative to their recipe interests and food needs… Since our camping experiences with… Good Sam, [Paul and I] have truly adopted their slogan, ‘In Good Sam, there are no strangers – only friends we haven’t met yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer (1989)
TODAY IS ALSO going to be my last regular monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, since next Monday is Memorial Day (and Kathy is retiring soon). The show airs on weekdays, 11am to 1pm, Central Time; and I’m usually on during the first half hour. If you’re not in the Appleton, WI radio area, you can also listen to the broadcast, live or later, through WHBY’s website!
In honor of today, being National Wyoming Day, here is Mom’s “secret recipe” for Wyoming Lamb Kabobs; as seen in… The American Cookery Cookbook (Happy Newspaper Features, Pearl Beach, MI; July 1976, p. 40)
P.S. FOOD-FOR-THOUGHT UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN, NEXT MONDAY…
I can’t find it in me, today, to say, “Happy Monday!” as I usually do in my blog openings. Today is Memorial Day – a solace day, not a happy one. I do hope that families are getting to spend the extra long holiday weekend together though! But, before I get into my blog subject, I want to address the very special meaning of today, as it tends to get lost among the “almost summer” celebrations and activities…
The Real Meaning of Today, Memorial Day
Memorial Day (aka: Decoration Day) was established as a U.S. federal holiday in May of 1971, to remember and honor all those who’ve died, serving in our Armed Forces. However, it unofficially originated, in the spring following the end of the Civil War. That’s when people began noticeably honoring the war’s fallen soldiers by decorating their graves; usually with fresh, spring flowers. There’s a lot of great information (brain food) to be found about Memorial Day at History.com!
Another website that inspired me with Memorial Day food for thought is Thanksgiving.com, where I found some great ideas and traditions to incorporate into our current commercialized celebrations that Memorial Day has come to encompass; as many Americans, myself included, have regarded this day to be the unofficial start of the summer vacation season.
Commercialism has disguised the holiday! Nowadays, parades and picnics are abound! Nonetheless, pre-summer vacations, backyard barbecues and other outdoor gatherings are among the “new” customary activities that families usually enjoy this holiday weekend. As such, the real reason we observe this holiday and the old traditions that were once practiced in honor of it have become lost.
This holiday weekend generates a burst of patriotic colors, as everything gets decorated in red, white and blue, from sea to shining sea, now through Independence Day! However, that’s not why Memorial Day is also known as “Decoration Day”.
We may celebrate our freedoms but let us never forget by what cost! So, I want to share 7 thoughts on old traditions I learned from Thanksgiving.com, to impart to the new generations…and to always remember! Any one of these things or all of these things – there’s something that each of us could/should put into practice for why we really observe Memorial Day in the first place:
Now, onto The Cookbooks I Collected were Collecting Dust!
I’ve written many times about my mom’s inherited love affair with writing and the unexpected journey on which it took her, starting in high school – from working for “small town”, local newspapers (doing almost every conceivable job) to syndicating her own “hot topic-style” columns and cartoon panels to writing and publishing her own newsletters and cookbooks – when her original, girlhood dream was to write “the great American novel”. But, every success Mom had in writing usually had something to do with food and home, rather than dramatic sagas and love stories.
As a swimmer, growing up in our beautiful “Great Lakes” state of Michigan, Mom knew she couldn’t successfully swim against the current; so, she learned to swim with it. Likewise, rather than fight against Fate’s “meant-to-be” moments, Mom put her faith in “Fate” and went where “It” led. As a result, came the birth of the famous Recipe DetectiveTM and, almost simultaneously, all of her children – the recipes, newsletters and cookbooks!
Similarly, the “meant-to-be” powers of Fate have taken me (and my own inherited love for writing) on this unexpected and incredible journey of “blogging” to honor Mom’s legacy. As I mentioned in my very first blog, I had pondered many times in the previous few years, “to blog, or not to blog”; wondering if I could make a living from home at it, as my mom did with her Secret RecipesTM business.
Creative writing has always made me feel so much closer to Mom, as she was always my biggest fan and encouraged it in me for most of my life. Call me a nerd, but English was one of my favorite subjects in school and I always LOVED the essay assignments best! I used to write poetry when I was younger. I included one, dedicated to my mom, in one of my blogs from a few weeks ago. I have enough poems to fill two or three nice size books. But, I’ve never done anything with them – as far as publishing or marketing them. Mom tried to inspire me, but I just didn’t have the self-confidence to promote myself or my talents like her.
In as much as I love to write, I hadn’t done much creative writing for a couple decades. Therefore, when I started helping Mom rewrite her favorite cookbook a few years ago (so it could be republished by Balboa Press for a new digital generation), it rekindled that flame in me. Now, this blogging venture has kind of fallen into my lap and steered me in this direction… However, I’m not making a living at it… Not yet!
Those who aren’t familiar with any of Mom’s cookbooks would probably be wondering, here – how is a cookbook creative writing? That’s because Mom’s cookbooks were not your ordinary counter-top collection of recipes. My mom’s hunger for more than just the ordinary recipe collections that were being offered to people, led to her own personal, but seldom used, collection of “humdrum” cookbooks collecting dust…they just weren’t inspiring her enough.
So, Mom decided to write her own cookbooks…and, when the publishers rejected her creations because they weren’t the picturesque, routine and monotonous cookbooks they thought the public wanted; Mom was only more determined to publish it, herself! After all, she was part of the public too! Plus, she thought, if she wanted more and her recipe column readers wanted more and her increasing, radio fan base wanted more; then maybe she should just create it and publish it herself!
Hence, in each cookbook, between the hundreds of recipes that Mom developed to imitate fast foods, junk foods, restaurant dishes and grocery products; she also tucked in bits of wisdom, inspiration, humor, helpful household hints, kitchen tips and tricks, food-for-thought editorials and even some entertaining and interesting background/historic information on some of the companies/people whose products and dishes she imitated. Thereby, Mom’s cookbooks stood out from all the rest (offered at that time) – no others were like them (unless they copied her; and some did) – because they were just as much coffee table or bedside table reads as they were assemblages of recipes.
My inspiration for this week’s blog (titled after one of Mom’s old syndicated columns) came from an email solicitation I recently received, to pay this company to market Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018), which is mine now.
Basically, the email tried to point out that writing and publishing are only minor steps in the whole “book process” compared to marketing; which, it proclaimed, is an author’s biggest challenge because it involves so much more personal time and effort. Thereby, I suppose, justifying how much it will cost me to pay them, the professionals, to do it for me; thus, saving me from the challenge and all of the time and effort that it costs!
Granted – paying them would save me from all that stuff! But, when you don’t have a lot of money to spend on that kind of stuff, like me; sometimes, you just have to suck-it-up and learn how to do it yourself. Nowadays, you can find YouTube videos on how to do just about anything! Mom didn’t have YouTube to guide her… So, she succeeded on her past experiences in the newspaper business and her own basic instincts.
While marketing may be a challenge for me, I don’t think it was for Mom. I think she really enjoyed the promotional schedules of radio talk shows after each of her cookbooks (and newsletter issues) “premiered”. To Mom, her radio “visits” across the country, even internationally, probably felt more like having an “after party”, over and over again! Like any proud mom, she loved to talk about her babies (the recipes, newsletters and cookbooks)!
Mom briefly ventured into television talk shows for some of her cookbook promotions – as I’ve mentioned in previous blogs – most renowned were the 2 times she was on the Phil Donahue Show (in 1981 and 1993). However, Mom always felt more at home on the radio. I guess that’s because she usually was at home, doing most of her radio roundtables by phone. Although, when my parents used to travel (especially with their “Good Sam” friends), Mom would sometimes find a way to fit in a “live, in studio” radio visit whenever she could.
Mom was a natural at marketing herself, her talents and her products. I may have inherited her loves for writing, art and creativity in general; but I think I’m lacking in her many marketing talents! I get anxiety just from the idea of interviews!
I think I’m more fluent at writing than speaking, because I have more time to think about what I want to say and how I want to say it. Then, factor in that I’m OCD – so that, alone, at least doubles the time it takes me to write (and rewrite and rewrite again) my thoughts and ideas, trying to put them in a “CDO order” – as my kids and husband would always tease me about being OCD, because I like things in alphabetical (and numerical) order. One of my “dream jobs” as an adolescent was to be a Librarian – call me a nerd, but I’ve always thought the Dewey Decimal System is fascinating!
I know, from my own personal experience, that writing can be a long and, sometimes, personally draining process; as much so as marketing! In addition, I grew up with Mom’s authored and self-published creations and accomplishments. Each one became like one of her own children through the whole birthing process!
Similar to the development of life, creating and producing something can be a stressful AND beautiful AND rewarding time – all rolled into one! I felt that more than ever, when I collaborated with Mom to rewrite her favorite cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983), which consumed a couple years of my own life; let alone, the couple of years it took Mom to write the original version. Now that Mom’s last cookbook’s royalties are mine, I need to learn how to promote it, myself, (since I’m not rich enough to pay someone else to do it, as in the solicitation I received in my email). Either that or let it gather dust!