By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986)
3-oz pkg. cream cheese
2 tsp grated orange peel
1 TB chopped walnuts
¼ cup flaked coconut
Beat cream cheese with mixer on medium speed, using small mixing bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes or until cheese is creamy and smooth. Beat in peel and nuts. Use ½ teaspoon to measure and shape each spoonful into a ball. Roll balls in coconut. Chill in covered container. Makes 20 tiny candies.
[NOTE: Recipe may be doubled and you can use a teaspoon (instead of ½ tsp) to measure out mixture to shape into balls. You can also spread coconut on ungreased jelly roll pan and toast it about 6” from broiler heat, about 2 minutes – or until golden brown.]
Summertime is the best time for picnics, road trips, and going camping! A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I have a camping checklist, part of which I use for my picnic “basket”. Nowadays, my camping checklist is quite extensive. It’s grown and shrunk and re-grown over the years. I find that the older I get, the more conveniences I like to bring.
Worth repeating: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!” My husband and I have not yet advanced to a camper or motor home. I call our style of camping “Comfort-Camping-Without-A-Camper”. Motorhome or camper style “camping” is often referred to as “glamping”, particularly by those who camp in tents.
There was a 5-year span when we had a van, in which we slept, while using our dome tent as a “shed” for our “stuff”, instead. Now, we have a mid-size sedan, in which we pack everything we need and want – including a large, octagon tent AND 10’ x 10’ gazebo. Organization is key!
When I was young, our family always stayed in motels when on vacations. We never camped. “Roughing it” was when the power went out for a week (at home, in Algonac), during a winter/spring ice storm. We had to use candles for light and the fireplace for heat and a “stove”.
Mom and Dad started “camping” AFTER becoming empty-nesters. They invested in a motorhome and joined the Good Sam [RV] Club. They first learned about “RV-ing” and Good Sam from Mom’s older sister, Hazel, and her husband, Chris, who were members of Good Sam’s California chapter. Mom and Dad joined the Michigan AND Ohio chapters.
While on the road, Mom and Dad usually ate in local restaurants. Mom never stopped looking for different dishes to try and imitate when she returned home. Their camping friends often kidded Mom, about being the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM and never using the oven in their motorhome. She did do some microwave cooking, on occasion.
I learned about camping (in a tent) from some friends decades ago when my children were very young. It was an inexpensive way to vacation with kids. Through experience, came more knowledge. I often learned cool camping hacks from other campers whenever we went camping with a group. Camping with friends is so fun!
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!
Joining the Good Sam [RV] Club was among Mom and Dad’s most favorite experiences. It was a huge source of wonderful friendships and memories for them. Mom kept many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from their many trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters of Good Sam.
Mom often wrote about those trips in her summer newsletter issues – from the new restaurant dishes they tried as they traveled (of which Mom imitated when they went home) to all of the great people they met everywhere they went.
Mom and Dad especially looked forward to Good Sam’s big “Samboree” events! Mom would sometimes give lectures at these events, regarding her copycat and short-cut cookery concepts, such as those published in her Mostly 4-Ingredients cookbook (and the recipe I’m sharing today is from that book).
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.
During Michigan’s unofficial summertime [Memorial Day through Labor Day], tourism is on the rise. There’s so much to do in Michigan’sgreat outdoors! May through October is the best time for Michigan camping getaways. There are 1,190 licensed campgrounds in the state.
[Pictured below is my extensive camping check list, all of which fits in our Pontiac sedan (as pictured above). I am not paid to advertise for any companies but I am brand specific on a few things because, from my personal experience, they work the best – Dawn dish soap, SOS (soap filled steel pads), and Kingsford Matchlite charcoal.]
If you’re planning to go swimming or doing any water sports or activities along the shoreline surrounding most of the state, the warmest lake water temperatures are generally found July through September, depending on where you go. As beautiful as the Memorial Day weekend was, it was too cold to swim in Lake Huron – I know – I was there.
I’ve mentioned at least a few times, in previous blog posts, that Michigan holds the record for the longest fresh water shoreline in the United States, coming in at 3,288 miles. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only second to Alaska, in total length of coastline.
Over the next couple of weeks, kids will be getting out of school for their big summer break. Many families are planning their vacation times, now. Summertime in Michigan is also a popular time in which to plan events like company picnics, graduation parties, class/family reunions, and outdoor weddings.
There’s always something special to see and do in Michigan! Summer’s also the best season for car shows and cruises; outdoor concerts and music festivals; art, 4-H and county fairs; plus, other carnivals. Speaking of which, I love the hit Canadian show, Carnival Eats, with Noah Cappe! The food is always the best part of any special event.
Activities and entertainment venues vary slightly, by region – but usually, throughout the summer, you can often find, somewhere nearby, a botanical garden, flea market, farmer’s market, petting zoo, classic car shows; as well as thespian renaissance, art, craft, and/or music festivals.
Pools, beaches and water parks are now open for the summer season. Even though the big lakes’ temperatures are still a bit cold for swimming, Michiganders can’t wait to dip their toes in, at least. Additionally, you’ll find seasonal amusement parks, small-town carnivals, and big county fairs all over the state and nearby.
Some of the outdoor, summer sports and other such activities that Michiganders enjoy include baseball, softball, soccer, track, golf, disc golf, putt-putt golf, tennis, volleyball, and horseshoes (the game). Then there’s the backyard games like cornhole, ladder toss, washer toss, and so on.
Many table-top games have been made into large lawn versions for people’s backyard enjoyment (or to take them to a park or when camping). Many in-land summer activities include picnicking, camping, hiking, biking, motor sport racing, motorcycling, motocross, dirt biking, “4-wheeling”, “mudding”, dune buggy riding, horseback riding, and more.
Popular water sports and other such activities include kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating, jet skiing, water skiing, parasailing, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing – even building sand castles on the beach. Sand sculpting can be quite amazing!
Here, again, are four basic tips for planning road trips that I’ve shared a couple of times, previously…
Always bring a hard copy roadmap, as there are places that may not have cell or wi-fi 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…
In honor of June, being National Candy Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Coconut Confections; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 6).
SHALLOW CUP MARSHMALLOW CANDIES – Mallow Cup Imitation
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 233). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
Just like my Recess Peanut Butter Cups, this candy is a simple, basic combination. The Boyer Candy Company (Altoona, PA) makes the commercial brand, “Mallow Cup” candy. They’re easy to find in some areas, but my European readers love the idea of being able to make this imitation.
8-ounce bar Hershey’s Milk Chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
7-ounce jar Kraft Marshmallow Cream
1 cup flaked coconut
24 miniature muffin paper liners
In top of double boiler over gently simmering water, melt chocolate with butter and ½ cup of the marshmallow cream. Stir until smooth. Put coconut on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 375°F oven until lightly browned. Stir coconut frequently to brown it evenly. Cool it and crush it fine with a rolling pin; then, stir into chocolate mixture.
Place rest of marshmallow cream, in a heat-proof bowl, in a pan of simmering water until it is of pouring consistency. Divide half of the chocolate mixture between 24 miniature muffin paper liners. Divide the marshmallow equally over that and let it set a bit. Then, divide remaining half of chocolate over the marshmallow layer. Chill until firm. Makes 2 dozen.
SHALLOW MARSHMALLOW SQUARES [Variation] – By Gloria Pitzer
Rather than fuss with the paper liners (above), make a quick job of it by altering the shape. Take half the chocolate mixture and spread it evenly over the bottom of a buttered, 9-inch square pan, pouring the warm marshmallow cream over that. As soon as the cream has “set” a bit, spread remaining half of chocolate over the top. Let it stand at room temperature about 1 hour to further set. Cut into 24 squares.
The month of June is still observing (for a few more days), National Candy Month, among other things. As such, I want to mention that Mom imitated a lot of different candy makers’ confections, as the Secret RecipesTM Detective. In fact, Mom’s first candy imitation (shared in her January 1977 cookbook, The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book) was for, as she called her version, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups”. It was among her “Original 200” recipes collection.
At first, the Hershey Company’s “people” were very upset about Mom, imitating their Reeses Peanut Butter Cup product and naming it too similar to their product’s name. However, unlike many other companies, they were willing to work with Mom; especially after she explained the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat). Mom also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s chocolate in her recipe.
Over the years, Mom imitated other candy too. In her July 1977 cookbook, Second Helping Of Secret Recipes, Mom covered a variety of confections by the Sanders Candy Company and some carnival treats like cotton candy. Mom’s following cookbook in 1978, Eating Out At Home, she had pages of candy imitations from Life Savers to licorice.
The following year, in her Top Secret Recipes Al’a Carte (September 1979) cookbook, Mom imitated another variety of sweet treats from Raisinettes to Milky Way. Every year there seemed to be a new variety of treats that Mom would develop so we could imitate our favorites at home. Below is a re-share of one of Mom’s versions for imitating Hershey’s famous Reeses Peanut Butter Cups at home!
Unlike the Hershey and Sanders companies, who were flattered by Mom’s imitations, there were some other food companies that were totally offended by a small-town homemaker, imitating their products in her own kitchen and naming her versions similarly to their products! Along with that, she was also sharing her recipes with the public, so they could also “eat out, at home!”
Many companies complained of copyright infringements and threatened her with lawsuits, but none of them actually took her to court. Mom never knew what any of their recipes actually contained, nor the processes they used. She just figured out, for herself, how to make the same kind of thing at home. One company, however, started an advertising campaign; using a 1970’s, stereotype housewife, the ad claimed that even she can’t make their product at home!
Stouffers’ and Orange Julius’ attorneys were among the worst of the top 10 complainers about Mom’s copycat cookery concept. Continuously, throughout the 1970s, the Orange Julius people threatened Mom with lawsuits regarding her version of their product. Mom called her imitation “Orange Judas”, as found (in 3 different versions) on page 6 of her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurants Recipes Book (Jan. 1977).
In fact, neither of the afore mentioned companies liked it when Mom and various media sources, like magazine and newspaper reviews and interviews, referred to her imitations as being anything like the original products, nor did they want her recipes’ names to even sound like their own products’ names. Yet, almost since they initially came out in the 1970s, generic brands had been doing basically the same thing.
Speaking of magazines, I just heard over the weekend that Richard Stolley passed away last week. He really made “People” magazine a household name, featuring “extraordinary people doing ordinary things and ordinary people doing extraordinary things”. After her first appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, I don’t know at to which group they considered Mom. Both – maybe!
After years of requests, following her first appearance on the Phil Donahue Show in July 1981 [NOTE: That was 40 years ago!], though afraid of the massive mail it would probably generate, Mom finally consented to an interview with “People” magazine in 1990.
Mom renamed her original “Orange Judas” recipe a number of times but still couldn’t appease that company! Regardless of their threats of lawsuits, Mom finally settled on the name of “Orange Brutus” for her copycat recipe. In a way, Mom turned a “lemon into lemonade”; because, as she promoted it, “Brutus was the one who ‘did in’ Julius!”
All of those companies, saying Mom infringed on their copyrights, just spurred her on all the more. She wanted to pursue her passion and the right to create her own homemade versions of famous foods from famous places, publish them, promote them and sell them!
Mom believed that, since all of those companies and their attorneys were so persistent in huffing and puffing and trying to blow her house down, she must have been on the right path! She also believed that she must have gotten pretty close with her imitations to have caused such a stir!
On the other hand, some food companies, such as White Castle and Sanders Chocolates, were honored by Mom’s efforts at flattery, by imitating their products. In fact, the General Foods corporation, like Hershey, happened to be a slight mixture of both.
At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe title, “Shape & Bake”; because it too closely resembled their trademark name, “Shake & Bake”, as to cause confusion between the products. Then they inferred that a lawsuit would follow if she didn’t cooperate.
Mom worked with General Foods, as she did with Hershey; changing the title of her coating mix to “Shook & Cook”, with which the company was pleased. Mom had sent General Foods a copy of an editorial page from her newest cookbook (at that time), The Joy of NOT Cooking…Anymore than You have To (1983).
In the editorial, Simple Reproductions, Mom wrote about her recipe imitations and their effect on certain “big” companies, comparing her opposite encounters with General Foods’ attorneys and Stouffers’ attorneys. General Foods was pleased with Mom’s editorial compliments on their helpful approach and even offered Mom complete cooperation at any time with any of their products that she used as ingredients in her recipes.
As Mom said in her editorial, “now that’s a BIG company – big in spirit and in customer relations. I purchase all of their products as often as I possibly can to show my approval of their efforts not to alienate a customer.” Unlike Stouffer’s hammer approach, General Foods took a scalpel approach – they didn’t have a problem with Mom’s imitation of their product, they just wanted a different title for it to protect their trademarks and copyrights.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 215)
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]
COOKIES AND CANDIES (section intro.)
COOKIES AND CANDIES really bring out the little child within us all. There is something almost rewarding about simple confections that the food industry has also been able to capitalize on the products of this division with great marketing success.
The first bakery marketing efforts in the American frontier days included delicacies of French origin, Danish breads and cakes, Austrian strudel and pies of truly colonial persuasion. The candies, which were originally for special religious observances, have been taken into the fold of a prospering industry and have continued, despite repercussions of the critics, skepticism of sugar and artificial sweeteners, to please the public.
The names of the brands that we remember from our pasts and will recall of our present experiences with confections include Hostess Twinkies, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Mallow Cups, Cracker Jack, Niagara Falls and Mackinac Island fudges, Sanders Candy Company, O Henry bars, Baby Ruth, Mr. Goodbar, Life Savers, Tootsie Rolls, Goobers Chocolate Covered Peanuts, Archway, Pepperidge Farm, Oreo and Girl Scout cookies, Stuckey’s Pecan Brownies, Keebler Double Chip cookies, Chipperoos, Fig Newtons, and so many more.
When I compiled my favorite cookie and candy recipes for this section, I was really torn between what to keep and what to leave out. I wanted to share with you every single wonderful memory of a pleasing product, you could hopefully imitate in your own kitchen, as a compliment to the original. The array of recipes with which I’ve been working [since the early 60s], was so good that I had a difficult time deciding which would be the best ones to offer you here.
In cookie-baking, the spirit of “reward” is still there, as it was when we were youngsters, and remains a tradition – we will always find a place and a reason for having a cookie jar in the kitchen. The candy making recipes are, likewise, pleasing imitations of those products I have most enjoyed and those my readers have requested over the years. You will probably want to enjoy trying every one of these recipes – especially at holiday times and when ordinary days should feel like a holiday, too!
As I wrote about in Imitation, one of my early blogs, Merriam-Webster.com says the word means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…”; while Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” However, as I pointed out, in the beginning, not everyone takes it as such; because there’s a fine-line between imitation and plagiarism.
Mom often referred to herself as “the Rich Little of recipes”. Rich Little was a famous, stand-up comedian and an extremely impressive imitator of celebrity voices. Similarly, Mom was a comedic writer and cartoonist, as well as an imitator of “famous foods from famous places”!
Ever since Mom started her dining-room-table-family-run enterprise in 1973, so many people have imitated her copycat cookery concept. However, not all who’ve followed in her footsteps have given Mom the credit that’s due to her for being the ORIGINAL Secret RecipesTM Detective, sleuthing out and uncovering the supposed secrets of the food industry! Kudos to those who have given Mom the proper credit, though!