Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Those Hounding Dog Days

#TGIM – Thank God It’s Monday, again; and, as such, #HappyMonday to all! I personally look forward to every Monday because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

Here, in the northern hemisphere, we’re almost to the middle of summer and the unbearable, sweltering heat of “The Dog Days” continue to hound us, with practically no relief in sight! Many Michiganders are almost wishing the “Polar Vortex” would pay us another quick visit.

“The dog days” is a term we often hear, and many of us assume that it refers to how much dogs will lethargically lie around on these extremely hot, intolerable days. But did you know that “the dog” is actually an ancient celestial reference?

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

According to History.com’s “Why Are They Called ‘The Dog Days of Summer’?”, a great article by Christopher Klein (no date available), “… it’s a throwback to the time when ancient civilizations tracked the seasons by looking to the sky. The ancient Greeks noticed that summer’s most intense heat occurred during the approximate 40-day period in the summertime when Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, rose and set with the sun…”

During this time of the year, ancient Greeks believed that Sirius (aka: “the dog star”), which is also part of the Canis Major (aka: Greater Dog) constellation, gave off heat like the sun because it was so bright. They supposed, therefore, that it’s daytime appearance, along with the sun, contributed to the extreme heat and high temperatures.

By the way, when Sirius breaks its sync with the sun and returns to shining in the night sky, it’s considered to be a sign of the end of “the dog days”. FarmersAlmanac.com’s, “Why Are They Called ‘Dog Days Of Summer’?” (by Farmer’s Almanac Staff; updated July 11, 2022) claims that the exact dates of “the dog days” vary by latitude.

Currently, in the U.S., it’s around July 3rd through Aug. 11th; but the Almanac also reports that, in ten thousand years or so, Sirius’ coordination with the rising and setting sun “will fall back so late on the calendar that future civilizations in the northern hemisphere will experience ‘the dog days’ of winter.”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI)

(Published in the Port Huron Times Herald; Aug. 18, 1977)

SUMMER CAN BE FUN – BUT NOT FOR MOTHER!

INASMUCH AS THIS IS an election year, I wish the governor would include me in a kind of relief program to cover mothers of children who are on vacation for the summer. After two weeks of muddy blue jeans and wet towels, my Biz Bag turned in a letter of complaint and left for Yellowstone. And the refrigerator door has not closed since school did.

‘With Avon, you get personal service’, they tell me on TV. Well, since the kids have been home on vacation, my Avon lady asked me to pick up my order… in a locker at the bus terminal.

Of course, summer has not always made me feel like a wart on a hog at bay. In the days of my energy, I could spend a languid afternoon with the entire family at the beach and frolicking through the sand, could sally forth to the Good Humor truck, with brood in tow, while each one took 20 minutes to decide which flavor they would take.

I know you won’t believe this, but I could then bring myself to embrace a child with all of the tranquilized sweetness of Doris Day and plead: ‘Please, Michael, tell Mommy where you buried Daddy!’ I wouldn’t have minded so much except Daddy was carrying the money for the Good Humor man in his swim trunks pocket.

And it was completely unreasonable to expect the Good Humor man to accept one of the children as collateral – or ALL of them for that matter – until we could uncover Daddy. For these are the same children who follow you through the souvenir pavilion, commenting candidly: ‘Look, Mommy. That Lady has her wig on crooked.’ And ‘doesn’t that man have funny looking knees?’

At moments like these, I know I was never meant for motherhood. It can be very depressing. But gone are the days when I approached summer vacation with the children as if I had the unfailing cheer of Betty White and Ralph Edwards.

I wasn’t meant to spend my life serving Kool-Aid and Crispy Critters to swarms of children who embark on our porch like occupational troops in the Berlin Airlift.

I always found that, just as I was about to walk the gangplank of gloom, a cheerful neighbor (probably the mother of ONE) would enumerate for me all the blessings of having the children at home and prescribe how to enjoy them while they’re small – which is exactly like trying to tell me the only way to save money in Las Vegas is to step off the plane and walk directly into the propellers.

I mean, how can anyone live with children, who think all it takes to open a limeade stand is the garden hose and a sack of lime; who now slam the same door all summer they left open all winter; who, for the entire 87 days of summer [vacation] will ask questions like: ‘Why can’t we go see FRITZ THE CAT? It’s a cartoon – isn’t it?’ And ‘Why do you have that twitch in your neck, Mommy?’ Or ‘Can I put a band aid on this worm?’

If a summer relief program is out of the question for mothers like me, I personally feel that the least the governor could do is declare me ‘A Depressed Area!’

It’s hard to get much work done during the dog days. It’s the kind of sweltering heat that makes me want to sell my stove in my next yard sale! In fact, the Thumb Coast’s M-25/M-29 Yard Sale Trail is coming soon! This is the time of year when I usually break out my cookbooks for microwaving, grilling, or set-and-forget crock-pot ideas!

What can I say? It’s still JULY, which equals SUMMERTIME and is practically synonymous with GRILLING! Hence, we’re continuing to celebrate National Grilling Month and National Picnic Month – and probably will continue to do so throughout August, as well!

Just about everywhere I go, these days, the smells of backyard cookouts – with sizzling burgers, chicken, hot dogs (it’s also National Hot Dog Month) bratts, or steaks – seem to drift through all the neighborhoods around me. Thus, sharing grilling ideas and creations on social media with #NationalGrillingMonth is very much encouraged.

LAST THOUGHTS…

I like to mention the social media sharing because Mom always believed that great recipes need to be shared! Whether you grill with gas or propane or lighter fluid and charcoal… Whether you have a small, tabletop hibachi or a large, deck-sized apparatus… What’s your special outdoor noshing go-to?

Whenever you light up your grill, especially this month, know that you’re part of an ongoing celebration for National Grilling Month. On a side note, be aware that July is considered the driest and hottest month of the summer, too; therefore, be mindful of the dangers of fire and be prepared – take extra precautions!

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Hot Fudge Sundae Day – plus, it’s still National Ice Cream Month, too – here is Mom’s secret, 4-ingredient recipe for “Hot Fudge Sundae Topping” (with a variation for “Hot Butterscotch Topping”, as well); from her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 6).

#HotFudgeSundaeDay

#NationalIceCreamMonth

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

July’s other observances include: World Watercolor Month, National Baked Bean Month, National Culinary Arts Month, National Horseradish Month, Independent Retailer Month, National Blueberry Month, and National Peach Month!

Today is also… National Merry-Go-Round Day, National Threading the Needle Day, and National Wine and Cheese Day!

Tomorrow is… National Aunt and Uncle’s Day, National Bagelfest Day, National Coffee Milkshake Day, and National All or Nothing Day!

Wednesday, July 27th is… National Love is Kind Day, National Scotch Day, National Crème Brulé Day, and National New Jersey Day!

#LoveIsKindDay

July 28th is… National Milk Chocolate Day, Buffalo Soldiers Day, and National Waterpark Day! Plus, as the fourth Thursday in July (for 2022), it’s also… National Refreshment Day! Additionally, it’s also the last Thursday in July (for 2022), so it’s also… National Chili Dog Day!

Friday, July 29th is… National Lasagna Day, National Lipstick Day, and National Chicken Wing Day!

Saturday, July 30th is… National Father-in-Law Day and National Cheesecake Day! In honor of the latter, here’s two more new shares of Mom’s copycat recipes – “Hotel Astor’s Cheese-less Cheesecake” and “Hudson’s Chiffon Cheesecake” – both from her “Original 200” collection.

#NationalCheesecakeDay

Sunday, July 31st is… National Avocado Day, National Raspberry Cake Day , and National Mutt Day!

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

#TGIM

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…30 down and 22 to go!

Basket & Ribbons – Strawberry Ice Cream

BASKET & RIBBONS STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM

By Gloria Pitzer

As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 252). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

INGREDIENTS:

3 egg yolks

14-ounce can, sweetened, condensed milk – or use my homemade version [*see page 33 of this book]

1 teaspoon vanilla

10-ounce package frozen sliced strawberries, thawed

16 ounces heavy cream, whipped stiff

INSTRUCTIONS:

In large mixing bowl, beat yolks until smooth – about 3 minutes on high-speed. On lowest speed, add the milk and vanilla, just to thoroughly combine.

Drain and dice berries, stirring them into the milk mixture with a sturdy spoon. Carefully fold in whipped cream with a rubber scraper until it’s well distributed.

Pour into a 2-quart freezer container. Seal tightly. Freeze until firm enough to scoop. Makes about 1 ½ quarts.

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Also see…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Dog Days Of Summer

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Dog Days Of Summer

As always, happy Monday to everyone and #TGIM! I constantly await Mondays, with anticipation, for they are my #52Chances a year to share MEMORIES OF MY MOM with all of you!

Two weeks in and the dog days of summer (which refers to the hottest and most humid time of the year in the Northern Hemisphere – usually in July) have definitely been “hounding” us, so far, this month! It’s the kind of sweltering heat that makes me want to sell my stove in my next yard sale! Break out the cookbooks for microwaves, crock pots and grills!

Sometimes, like now, summertime is just too hot in which to cook anything in the oven. When our Michigan weather is hot and humid outside, the last thing any of us want to do is turn on the oven or even stand over a hot pot on the stove-top. Thus, taking the cooking outdoors is the natural solution. You can cook just about anything on the grill – far beyond the “meat family”. Just about everything tastes better when it is cooked on a sizzling hot grill and, with a little oil and foil, you can create some pretty awesome side dishes, as well!

Photo by Gloria Pitzer, 1964

#NationalPicnicMonth

On these types of days, when it is too hot to cook, I like to eat out… As in outside! Who doesn’t love backyard picnics with wonderful, char-grilled food on beautiful, sunny, summer days? Besides, July is, among other things, National Grilling Month!

The Great Lakes region, in which I live, is all about celebrating summer. We, Michiganders, really appreciate the summer months – especially after a long, Michigan winter! This year, our usual winter “hibernation” period was extended throughout the spring months, with the Covid-19 pandemic and “Stay Home” orders all across the nation.

The Pitzer children in July around 1970 (left-to-right): Laura, Michael, Cheryl, Bill and Debbie

#NationalGrillingMonth

Most everyone, like us, is so tired of being cooped up that all we need is ANY EXCUSE for a backyard cook-out! Therefore, happy National Grilling Month! Whether you use gas, propane or lighter fluid and charcoal… whether you have a small, tabletop hibachi or a large, deck-sized apparatus… JULY IS SUMMERTIME… and summertime is practically synonymous with grilling.

These days, the smells of charcoal and lighter fluid, along with sizzling burgers, chicken, hot dogs or steaks seem to drift through all of the neighborhoods around me. Whenever you light up your grill this month, know that you are part of an ongoing celebration for National Grilling Month. Thus, share any or all of your grilling ideas and creations on social media with #NationalGrillingMonth. However, take note that July is also considered the driest and hottest month of the summer. So, also, be careful and mindful of the dangers of fire!

1970, Pitzer Vacation at Mackinac Island, MI

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in her syndicated column, No Laughing Matter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI)

SUMMER CAN BE FUN – BUT NOT FOR MOTHER!

(Published in the Port Huron Times Herald; Aug. 18, 1977)

Inasmuch as this is an election year, I wish the governor would include me in a kind of relief program to cover mothers of children who are on vacation for the summer. After two weeks of muddy blue jeans and wet towels, my Biz Bag turned in a letter of complaint and left for Yellowstone. And the refrigerator door has not closed since school did.

‘With Avon, you get personal service’, they tell me on TV. Well, since the kids have been home on vacation, my Avon lady asked me to pick up my order…in a locker at the bus terminal.

Of course, summer has not always made me feel like a wart on a hog at bay. In the days of my energy, I could spend a languid afternoon with the entire family at the beach and frolicking through the sand, could sally forth to the Good Humor truck, with brood in tow, while each one took 20 minutes to decide which flavor they would take.

I know you won’t believe this, but I could then bring myself to embrace a child with all of the tranquilized sweetness of Doris Day and plead: ‘Please, Michael, tell Mommy where you buried Daddy!’ I wouldn’t have minded so much except Daddy was carrying the money for the Good Humor man in his swim trunks pocket.

And it was completely unreasonable to expect the Good Humor man to accept one of the children as collateral – or ALL of them for that matter – until we could uncover Daddy. For these are the same children who follow you through the souvenir pavilion, commenting candidly: ‘Look, Mommy. That Lady has her wig on crooked.’ And “doesn’t that man have funny looking knees?’

At moments like these, I know I was never meant for motherhood. It can be very depressing. But gone are the days when I approached summer vacation with the children as if I had the unfailing cheer of Betty White and Ralph Edwards.

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I wasn’t meant to spend my life serving Kool-Aid and Crispy Critters to swarms of children who embark on our porch like occupational troops in the Berlin Airlift.

I always found that, just as I was about to walk the gangplank of gloom, a cheerful neighbor (probably the mother of ONE) would enumerate for me all the blessings of having the children at home and prescribe how to enjoy them while they’re small – which is exactly like trying to tell me the only way to save money in Las Vegas is to step off the plane and walk directly into the propellers.

I mean, how can anyone live with children, who think all it takes to open a limeade stand is the garden hose and a sack of lime; who now slam the same door all summer they left open all winter; who, for the entire 87 days of summer [vacation] will ask questions like: ‘Why can’t we go see FRITZ THE CAT? It’s a cartoon – isn’t it?’ And ‘Why do you have that twitch in your neck, Mommy?’ Or ‘Can I put a band aid on this worm?’

If a summer relief program is out of the question for mothers like me, I personally feel that the least the governor could do is declare me ‘A Depressed Area!’

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

I have SO MANY, great, childhood memories of summer vacations with my family to places like Tahquamenon Falls, Mackinaw City and Mackinac Island (as pictured above), all in Michigan; as well as Cedar Point, in Ohio, and Niagara Falls, in Ontario, Canada just to name a few.

Every year, while my siblings and I were growing up in the Algonac/Pearl Beach (MI) area, there were always picnics and various backyard barbecues to have or to attend. Our parents created so many awesome memories, about which we can happily reminisce – well, speaking for myself, anyway.

Summertime also had another special meaning for our family, as Mom and Dad’s first born and last born children – my oldest brother, Bill, and my younger sister, Cheryl – ironically, share July 3rd as their birthdays (9 years apart)! The rest of us, Mom and Dad included, have wintertime birthdays (during November, January and March). The summertime memories that Mom and Dad created for us, as we were growing up, will last a life-time!

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. 103)

THE LOAVES AND FISHES

MY RELATIONSHIP with Hazel is among those blessings I always count twice! Even though we had different moms but the same dad, we were very close as sisters. In all of the many years that we’ve spent vacations together, even live together, we’ve never had one crossword between us. The worst part of our relationship has always been not being able to say goodbye when it’s time to part at the end of our yearly visits.

Hazel has always given me such enthusiastic support about my work, and such compassion for the events in our family, with our children. Even though there is an 18-year difference in our ages, you’d never know it by looking at us. In fact, you’d probably take HER for the younger one! She has incredible energy and we love to do the same things – even to having the same taste in furnishings and decorating our homes.

One example Hazel set for me to follow was her gracious ability to offer hospitality, to make the unexpected guests feel welcomed and sincerely wanted. Some people need a month’s notice before they can even have you stop for pie and coffee! Not Hazel!

Paul & Gloria Pitzer with Hazel & Chris Allen; Torrance, CA – May 1982

I have seen her carry off a steak dinner with all of the trimmings that started out for just the four of us (Hazel, Chris, Paul and me) and before the event was over, included six others, stopping by a few at a time, unexpectedly. In which case, we simply pulled up another chair to the table and set out another plate, while Chris put another steak from the freezer into the microwave to defrost and then onto the grill on the patio.

With each guest, who arrived unannounced, we added a little more lettuce and a few more tomatoes to the salad and [put] another potato into the microwave to bake. When we discovered there were only eight potatoes, however, and there would be 10 at the table, we improvised. We sliced each baked potato in half, lengthwise, and arrange them on an oven platter, cut side up, dusting each in a little grated Parmesan, a few parsley flakes [and] a little paprika.

Then, drizzling these in a bit of squeeze-bottle margarine, we popped the tray under the broiler for a minute just before sitting everybody down to eat. We opened three cans of assorted fruit and dump this into a pretty glass bowl, sprinkling some coconut over the top of it and by breaking each of the long ears of corn in half, we pulled off the best feast since ‘the loaves and fishes’ and with leftovers, yet. Nobody went away hungry that evening and we enjoyed so much being together. It was wonderful!

#NationalHotDogMonth

As seen in Mom’s syndicated column series titled “No Laughing Matter”, from the 1970s. The full article is called, This Cook is Rated X (or) Yes, Gloria! There Really is a Colonel Sanders (no publishing data available): “At our house ‘eating out’ meant roasting HOT DOGS in the front yard. But then, we didn’t know of many restaurants where 5 children, who hated green vegetables and spilled catsup on the tablecloths, were welcomed. I had to learn to cook by default…the way I saw it, as long as my husband could get marvelous fried chicken at home, why should he take me to Colonel Sanders’?”

#NationalCulinaryArtsMonth

SUMMERTIME COOKING… As seen on the cover page of Mom’s July-August 1988 newsletter: “Shaker cooks, whose culinary skills I admire, place ears of husked and ‘de-silked’ corn in a large pot of cold water, seasoned with the barest pinch of sugar (never salt because it toughens the tender fibers) until the water boils. At that point, they cover it and cook it for one minute more – or as long as it takes to recite ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. Then they drain and serve the ears as fast as they can, with lots of sweet butter, salt and pepper.”

IN CLOSING…

#NationalIceCreamMonth

#NationalBlueberryMonth

#NationalPeachMonth

#NationalIceCreamDay

In honor of the National Ice Cream Month celebrations going on for July – and Sunday is National Ice Cream Day too – here is Mom’s copycat recipe for homemade ice cream like Baskin Robbins, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 252). You can substitute just about any frozen fruit, such as BLUEBERRIES or PEACHES, for the strawberries that are listed in the following recipe. The possibilities are endless!

Above recipe developed by Gloria Pitzer

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

#CelebrateEveryDay

#WHBY

My next visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene, is in two weeks. Be sure to tune in – Monday, July 27th around 11am (CDST)/12noon (EDST) as we discuss chocolate chip cookies, like Bill’s Brother’s Mother’s or Tom’s Mom’s; which, Mom claimed, were even better than Mrs. Field’s!

https://www.whby.com/goodneighbor/

#ThankGodItsMonday

https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-thank-god-its-monday-day-first-monday-in-january/

…28 down, 24 to go!

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