By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 31).
2 cups hot water or potato water
3 TB salad oil
1½ TB sugar
Pinch of saffron, if desired
2 yeast, cake or dry [pkg.]
7-8 cups flour
1½ tsp salt
3 eggs, beaten
1 egg yolk
1 TB water
Combine hot water, salad oil, and sugar; plus, a pinch of saffron, if desired. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast to dissolve. Sift flour with salt and put half into large bowl. Add yeast mixture. [Mix well.] Slowly add more flour until dough leaves sides of bowl.
Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Add eggs and knead for 10 minutes. Put in greased bowl and turn to coat surfaces. Let rise until doubled [in size]. Knead 5 minutes. Divide into 3 sections and pat each into a long strip. Braid strips [together].
Tuck ends under and put on greased cookie sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled [in size]. Brush with egg yolk and water [mixed together] and sprinkle with [poppy] seeds. Bake at 375°F until brown and crusty. Makes 1 loaf.
When my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they’d often go on a road trip somewhere – for the day or the weekend. It didn’t matter if it was a planned trip or a “new scenic route” (when Dad got lost), because they were together, exploring, and enjoying Michigan’s beautiful scenery.
Did you know that Michigan has 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes? It’s the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only in second place, to Alaska, in total length of coastline.
Sometimes, however, “work” would manage to creep back in, because whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, Mom always managed to find someone’s [restaurant] “house special” that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got home.
Whenever possible, my husband and I LOVE to go on road trips to different areas in our scenic state of Michigan, just like my parents used to do. We really enjoy exploring the sparkling, blue water shorelines of the Great Lakes, surrounding most of our state; as well as the in-land lakes, small towns, rivers, forests, farmlands, and parks.
Additionally, Sunday is celebrating National Beef Burger Day and National Hamburger Day, all of which adds up to more great reasons for a road trip and picnic (or a backyard barbecue) this weekend to celebrate the unofficial start of summer!
What are your favorite go-to picnic or backyard barbecue foods? Among classic picnic treats, the finger foods that travel well and won’t spoil on a warm day include sandwiches/wraps, fried chicken, fresh vegetables and fruit. Remember – if anything has mayo in it, keep it chilled!
Aside from the “main dish”, popular picnic foods include appetizers like deviled eggs, pigs-in-a-blanket, and stuffed mushrooms; sides like mac-n-cheese or baked beans; coleslaw and salads like pasta, potato, veggie, and fruit; desserts like pies, brownies, bars, and cookies; plus, snacks like string cheese, meat sticks, chips, pretzels, and trail mix.
Just as in any celebration, throughout the year, a very important part of picnic activities, besides socializing, getting fresh air, and making memories, is eating the food! Therefore, I’m including, here, a list (based on a Google search consensus) for 10 popular food choices to take on a picnic.
10 Popular Picnic Food Picks:
Things to do on a picnic outing (besides eating) include playing music, singing/dancing, walking, playing table/yard games, bird watching, people watching, sun bathing; plus, if you’re at a beach, you can add in searching for skipping stones or sea shells, swimming, fishing, and building sand castles.
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)]
You don’t need to go on an expensive, fancy vacation or plan an extravagant party to reconnect with family and friends over the Memorial Day weekend. A simple picnic is a fun and relaxing way to gather and make memories. But if you want to have MORE than a “simple” picnic…
Have you ever heard of a mystery picnic? I recently discovered this fun twist on our iconic, seasonal tradition at CuriousCampers.com, out of Australia. I can’t wait to create and host my own scavenger hunt style picnic for a special summer gathering with friends and family!
According to the website, “mystery picnics” combine travel, food, and fun; while solving a series of clues that take you to various places, where you collect things to add to the “picnic basket” at the final destination. It’s a fun idea to explore the area, as you collect “picnic basket items”, and then gather with the other guests to share your collection and adventures.
The difference between a treasure hunt and scavenger hunt is slight. A treasure hunt has only one thing for which to hunt (aka: the treasure) – the first one to find it wins. Once “the treasure” is found the hunt is done for everyone. A scavenger hunt offers each guest a list or variety of things to find/collect.
Both hunts use riddles and clues to send participants from one place to another. Usually, participants can work in pairs or in teams or individually. A scavenger hunt is typically played in an extensive outdoor area but it can also be scaled down to play at home, like a treasure hunt.
The host typically creates a “trail”, so that the answer to one clue reveals the next one. You can either write them on pieces of paper hidden at the chosen locations or put them in an “online” forum (like an “event” or “group” page on Facebook) that gives clues to the answers, as well.
The first riddle should be included in the initial invitation. Guests have to figure it out before they start, so they know where to go first and collect something for the picnic, along with a clue to the next destination. Repeat as often as necessary, before getting to the final destination – the “mystery picnic” spot.
A checklist comes in handy, when packing for anything. I use part of my camping checklist for my picnic “basket”, which is actually a plastic tote. It’s always on the ready so I can easily throw it in the trunk of our car, along with a food bag and cooler, whenever my husband and I want to go on a spontaneous, all-day Road Trip.
It may seem like a lot of stuff but it actually packs up fairly small and compact. As a Mom of three, I learned from my own mom, over the years, (as she used to have to pack for a family of seven) how to pack 10 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag. I found organization is key. As the old adage says: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”
I also gave this recipe out a couple of years ago, on Kathy Keene’s ‘Good Neighbor’ radio show, on WHBY (Appleton, WI). Kathy has since retired. The show was discontinued and, unfortunately, my link to the recorded audio doesn’t work anymore.
Friday is celebrating, among other things, National Cartoonists Day! Within Mom’s many talents – as a writer, food reviewer, recipe developer, newsletter and book publisher, marketer, and so on – she was also a cartoonist.
In the 1960s and 1970s, before Mom started her copycat recipe business, she drew a series of cartoon panels, which she entitled Full House – As Kept By Gloria Pitzer. They were first published in a couple of local Michigan newspapers, The Roseville Community Enterprise (Roseville, MI) and The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI).
Along with the cartoon panels, Mom also designed her own journalistic columns, mailing out samples to over 300 newspapers. Within a year, she was writing two different columns (“No Laughing Matter” and “Minding the Hearth”), regularly, for 60 papers. Other columns she wrote were titled Pitzer’s Patter, Cookbook Corner, and Food For Thought.
According to UrbanDictionary.com, Food-For-Thought is “Learning new information that you never thought was important to think about. It enables you to have a greater intelligence in every aspect of life while feeding your mind.” Similarly, at Merriam-Webster.com, Food-for-Thought is “something that should be thought about or considered carefully.”
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. 75)
THE CARTOONS (aka: Family Talents)
I DIDN’T ‘DRAW’. I doodled. The rest of my family could draw. My uncle, Earl Klein, is a celebrated artist in Southern California, who has spent most of his professional life with Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera and other wonderful studios.
His own company, Animation Inc., produced the milk commercials for TV that included, ‘Daddy, there’s a cow in the bedroom!’ Another of Uncle Earl’s commercials was the Faygo commercial, ‘Which way did he go… Which way did he go… He went for FAYGO!’
He even did the Cocoa Wheats commercial with the cuckoo clock. One of my mother’s other brothers, Herb Klein, was also an artist and had his own advertising agency in Detroit for many years.
My [two] younger sisters are both accomplished artists. Paul and I are glad to see even our children are blessed with this artistic gift, as our son, Michael, has gone through the Pasadena Arts Center to become [an] art director for many fine advertising agencies over the years…
Our daughter, Laura… Is just as talented as her brother, but she has had not a smidgen of special training. Her illustrations are currently [at] the ‘Center for Creative Arts’ here in St. Clair and also at the ‘Mortonville Shoppe’ across from the old Morton Salt Company plant in Marysville.
My doodles can hardly fall into a class with either of our children, but they are fun to do and also pleased the family over the years.
Mom didn’t just doodle – she was an illustrator and cartoonist. Like the chicken-and-egg analogy – I’m not sure which came first, as some of my copies of Mom’s cartoons and columns are not dated but they match in subject matter.
Either way, they were both usually inspired by things that happened in/to our family, which Mom thought would be of interest to other working homemakers like herself. “Write what you know” is a commonly known quote from Mark Twain.
Mom’s columns, although in hard copy publications, were much like the web pages or website blogs we have today. In both, the writers express their own opinions, while circulating information (and maybe entertaining the readers), on a regular basis.
Except, obviously back then, they were only typed and printed in hard-copy, through newspapers and magazines. Nowadays, instead, they are electronically posted on the internet. In my own blog posts, I also like to write about various subject matters, just as Mom did, those of which I hope will be of interest to people like us..
There was never a dull moment in our household. As a young, working wife and mother of five kids, Mom found her hectic, yet laughable, family life to be the best subject about which to comedically write AND draw. She was so creative and funny – she could see humor in almost anything.
My mom had a way of taking our family’s everyday life events and turning them into some great “fishing stories”. Speaking of which, that reminds me of a cartoon Mom drew (below) in 1971, based on my love for fishing and my brothers’ irritation of it.
Some of my favorite early childhood memories are of fishing with my dad and two brothers. My brothers didn’t very much care for me tagging along, but Dad was happy with my enthusiastic interest in fishing… especially, I think, because I liked to find the worms with which for him to bait our hooks.
We were living in the Algonac-Pearl Beach area (of Michigan), on the beautiful St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway), across from the North Channel (west of Harsens Island) that flows into Lake St. Clair. We fished off the end of our dock often, for whatever was in season – bass, perch, walleye, whitefish, trout, etc.
One day, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, [I was] fishing with my dad and brother, Mike. My line caught something that I just couldn’t pull in by myself. Dad came over to help me. I was very excited that I had caught something, and it was apparently BIG because I couldn’t reel it in by myself!
After a couple minutes of struggling, even with Dad’s help, we finally got it pulled up to the surface of the water, only to find it was an old shoe filled with mud! Dad helped me to [bait and] cast my line out again and I patiently waited for a real bite.
Then, I got a rather strong pull on my line and Dad had to help me reel it in again – this time it was an old coffee can filled with mud! My brother, Mike, got the biggest kick out of that and roared with laughter! [I was determined to not let him discourage me.]
Dad set me back up with a new worm on my hook, to try again on the other side of the dock, hoping I wouldn’t catch another shoe or can of mud. Within MINUTES I had hooked something big and heavy again! Mike teased me that it was another can of mud.
But, as Dad helped me, again, to get the object to the surface, we both saw that it was a HUGE catfish! [It] broke my line as soon as we got it up on the edge of the dock. It flopped back into the water and swam away quickly. So, I do have a [fishing] story about ‘the one that got away’ – but it was real!
Mom was artistically gifted, not just as a cartoonist and writer, but also as a publisher, marketer, illustrator, crafter, homemaker, cook… and the list goes on. She combined all of it together, with a clever and satirical wit. All of these ingredients were uniquely blended to form Mom’s own special recipe for success – as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM!
Speaking of which, it was during the course of publishing her cartoons and “food-for-thought” columns that Mom discovered a unique, undiscovered niche in the food and recipes industries for which her readers craved – she called it “copycat cookery”. At that time, there was nothing else like it!
Even though the newspapers’ editors and their food industry advertisers didn’t like it and tried to stop her, Mom felt all the more compelled to follow her own path. She faithfully trusted in the direction to which she believed Fate was leading her.
In honor of TODAY, being the start of May and National Egg Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Bagel Factory [Style] Challah (aka: Egg Bread); as seen in one of her first self-published cookbooks… The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 31).
2 oranges (freshly grate the rind and then slice for garnishing)
Separate eggs, yolks from whites, into two large mixing bowls. Add the sugar to the yolks, blending for 10 minutes [with electric hand/countertop mixer]. Beat the whites until peaks form when electric mixer is removed.
To the egg whites, fold in the pecans. To the yolk mixture, blend in bread crumbs [then] rum extract. [Then] fold in the whites mixture.
Spread evenly in a 17x11x2-inch pan. Bake at 350°F, 30-35 minutes or until “tester” inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. While still warm, spread with frosting and, on top of that, sprinkle the walnuts and orange rind. Garnish with orange slices. Refrigerate. Cut to serve 50. Leftovers freeze well!
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…
It’s still National Inventor’s Month! So, this week, I want to tell you more about Mom being the ORIGINAL Secret RecipesTM Detective, INVENTOR of the copycat cookery concept for imitating junk foods, convenience foods, fast foods, and other restaurant dishes at home!
Last week, I wrote about Mom’s first 20+ years (1973-1993) as the Secret RecipesTM Detective – from the inception of her copycat cookery business and the 1973 release of her first self-published cookbook, to her SECOND appearance on the “Phil Donahue Show”, in 1993.
This week, as I did in my blog post from the week before last, I want to write more about Mom’s last 20+ years (1994-2014) as the Secret RecipesTM Detective…
THE LAST 20 YEARS
AFTER DONAHUE – THE SECOND TIME…
Mom wrote the quote above about her first appearance on Phil’s show in 1981, as it was written before she ever agreed to do it all over again, in 1993! Mom and Dad thought that if the show left out their contact information the second time around, it wouldn’t be as overwhelming as the first time. However, people found a way to find them! That show even shattered the record for most requested transcripts ever!
As I’ve mentioned the past couple weeks, following the second Donahue appearance, in 1993, Mom and Dad were persuaded to take a new route, in marketing their books, by doing an infomercial with Guthie-Renker Corporation. It was produced and directed by Positive Response Television and Mom was sent her own VHS copies, but in the end the project was “canned” and never aired.
The infomercial’s presentation was to appear as a talk show called “Ask Mike”, looking very similar to Mom’s last appearance on the Phil Donahue Show, including cooking demonstrations of some of her popular imitations. The “commercial breaks” were to promote several of Mom’s books, of which the production team totally changed the looks.
Furthermore, “Mike” acted like a dramatic caricature of Phil, always saying “Yep! That’s the flavor!” whenever he sampled Mom’s imitations. In fact, Mom titled her 1988 book, Yup! That’s The Flavor!, because that was Phil’s repeated reaction to all of her imitations on his show!
Additionally, Wally Amos (whom Mom met during her 1988 appearance on ABC’s Home show) cameoed as a street interviewer, offering “blind”, taste-test challenges to “random people on the street” with samples of Mom’s imitations versus the originals!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Eating Out at Home (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; September 1978, p. 2)
ON DUPLICATING FAMOUS RECIPES…
YOU DON’T HAVE TO know exactly how the original dish was prepared by the commercial food chains. All you need is a basic recipe to which you will add that ‘special seasoning’ or that ‘secret method of preparation’ that sets one famous secret recipe apart from those similar to it…
When I work to duplicate a recipe so that the finished product is as good as (if not better than) a famous restaurant dish, I begin by asking myself a series of questions: I want to know what color the finished dish has…[and] was it achieved by baking, frying or refrigeration?…What specific flavors can I identify?… and about how much of each may have been used…
Similar tests are used in chemistry…[to]…break down the components of an unknown substance and try to rebuild it. So the cook must work like a chemist (and not like a gourmet; who, most of the time, never uses a recipe – but, rather, creates one.) The most remarkable part of the duplication of famous recipes is that you can accept the challenge to ‘try’ to match their [dish or product].
Sometimes, you will be successful. Sometimes you will fail in the attempt. But, at least, it can be done [as practice makes perfect], and it certainly takes the monotony out of mealtime when, for reasons of financial inadequacy, we cannot always eat out…even if we could afford to eat all or most of our meals away from home, wouldn’t that become monotonous in time?
Mom found out later, when she and Dad didn’t have five kids in tow (plus, being able to afford it better, from the success of their Secret RecipesTM business) that eating out all the time really did not get as monotonous as she thought it might! For MANY decades, she and Dad enjoyed eating breakfast out almost every day!
Mom and Dad had their favorite spots, but they also enjoyed exploring new places, too. They always made friends with the staff and other patrons everywhere they went! Breakfast can be the most important meal of the day in more ways than one!
Not wanting to ever be on television again, Mom went back to her roots – being a regular guest on many of her beloved, radio talk shows, all around the country, and coaching people on how to be copycat cooks with her new short-cut methods! In 1994, she wrote and published a “Best of…” cookbook, covering her favorite, copycat cookery highlights from the first 20 years of her newsletter!
During the next two years, Mom and Dad resurrected three of her popular, out-of-print cookbooks: Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes, The Best of The Better Cookery Cookbook, and The Copycat Cookbook; basically changing each from a 5½ x 8½-inch format to an 8½ x 11-inch format.
In 1997, Mom released four more new books. One focused on low fat and sugar recipes, plus breads, and was so named. Two others featured more short-cut recipes for on-the-go cooks like herself, which she called Restaurant Recipe Secrets and Secret Knock-Off Recipes.
The fourth publication was The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes, a collection of Mom’s first 200+ recipes that she sold in the early and mid-1970s, printed on index cards ready for filing. And because that wasn’t quite enough for the year, Mom also put together a simple, 4-page folder with a small collection of recipes for “Chicken Soup And Other Comfort Foods”.
In 1998, Mom revised and reprinted a few more of her cookbooks – Yup! That’s The Flavor! (1988), re-naming it as Secret That’s The Flavor Recipes; as well as Secret Fast Food Recipes (1985) and Secret Make Alike Recipes (1991), changing both of the latter from 5½ x 8½-inch formats to 8½ x 11-inch formats.
From 1998 through 2004, Mom also put together seven, two-page recipe bulletins, focusing on different restaurants or subjects, covering imitations for Old Country Buffet, Boston Market, Bob Evans, Mrs. Field’s Cookies, Fred Sanders Company, Bill Knapp, and J.L. Hudson.
Over the next three years after that, Mom wrote three more new copycat cookbooks that she and Dad published. The Great Imitator’s Cookbook came out in 1999, followed by Mom’s “go-to” collection, My Personal Favorites, in 2000; as she was preparing to permanently retire her newsletter in December of that year. Plus, in 2001, she wrote Gloriously Simple! Recipes, another collection for her ever popular short-cut cooking concept.
AGAIN, MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Eating Out at Home Cookbook (Nat’l Home News, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1978, p. 1)
A whole approach to life, can be expressed in… cooking… an art we all can learn. As with the other arts, practicing it competently requires care, patience and the skill that comes with experience. But, above all else, to be a good cook, you must WANT to [cook].
At one time or another, most of us have had the experience of cooking when we really didn’t feel like doing it, Then, even our tried-and-true recipes are apt to be disappointing [and] lifeless. Something just isn’t there.
What’s missing is the spirit of the cook. For food is more than a physical substance. It has an intangible quality that nourishes our spirits. A good dish, lovingly prepared, at some point in the process of tasting and blending, becomes more than the sum of its ingredients. Its flavor [and] its uniqueness are created by the cook.
YOU WILL FIND PLEASURE AND EXCITEMENT IN COOKING, IF YOU PUT THEM INTO IT.
There’s no limit to the satisfaction you can gain. Taste as you go. Experiment a little with seasonings. Try new foods and new combinations [of food]. The results will have ‘you’ in them. You will face the job with a feeling of freedom, with a feeling of creativeness; and both, you and your family, will be constantly increasing the enjoyment of living.
When you cook this way, with warmth and active pleasure, your meals will be more than just food. Your zest and your spirit will be in them – and some of the radiance of Life, itself.
Mom always made my experiences with food (and in learning to cook) exciting and gratifying! I rarely ever cook the same dish exactly the same way, twice. I love to experiment with different seasoning combinations; and have yet to hear a complaint from my family that something hasn’t tasted good. I’m so proud to have learned from the best! I love you, Mom!
In 2002, as short-cut cooking continued to be the popular thing for busy homemakers, Mom and Dad decided to reprint her 1986 hit, Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes. That was the last book that they published themselves. They continued to promote that cookbook and Mom’s seven bulletins into 2014, until they both started having some significant health issues and Dad suddenly passed away that fall.
Life is short and fragile. All it takes is a simple moment to change everything you take for granted. So focus on the simple things that surround you and be grateful for each moment you have to leave an imprint on someone or enjoy the one left for you!