1st LAYER: Melt butter in medium saucepan… [Meanwhile, combine the next 5 ingredients, as listed, in large mixing bowl. Add the melted butter to this] and mix well. Press warm mixture into bottom of a Pam-sprayed, 13-inch baking pan. Make…
2nd LAYER: Combine powdered sugar, hot milk, melted butter, salt, vanilla, and peanut [or pecan] brittle. Spread evenly over 1st layer. Prepare 3rd layer next.
3rd LAYER: In top of double boiler, over simmering water, melt the chocolate and butterscotch chips with the water, [last] 2 tablespoons of butter, baking chocolate, and paraffin. [Stir until smooth.] Pour this mixture over the 2nd layer and refrigerate 24 hours, before cutting into bars or squares.
Keep refrigerated to use in a week or so or freeze to use in a few months. Makes 3 dozen 1-inch pieces.
Yesterday, being the fourth Sunday in March (for 2023), began the week-long celebration of… National Cleaning Week – one of my favorite times of the year!
According to NationalDayCalendar.com, “besides a clean home, it’s a week that can produce improved moods, decreased stress levels, and increased creativity. It’s a week to put away winter essentials and tidy up our homes to usher in a fresh start with spring.”
I always look forward to this week! I admit to getting a little giddy about flipping the bedroom mattress, rotating the seasonal clothes, and moving the living room furniture around – just a few of the things I usually do during my spring cleaning ritual.
Every physical activity we do throughout our day can count as exercising. Gardening, walking, and – yes – even household chores. It all burns calories and, thereby, counts toward physical activity.
Last week, I wrote about burning calories while caring for a garden. This week, I want to discuss the calories you can burn, doing various household chores and activities.
According to HowStuffWorks.com’s article, 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (date unknown), an hour of various household activities or chores can burn a lot of calories. They wrote about grocery shopping:
“Pushing a cart up and down the supermarket aisles for an hour will burn 243 calories and you’ll get acquainted with all kinds of nutritious, healthful foods. Bag your own groceries, take them out to the car yourself, and return the cart to the corral, and you’ll burn even more.”
Surprisingly, just preparing dinner [with those nutritious, healthful foods you got at the supermarket] for one hour can burn 148 calories. Obviously, kneading bread dough or heavy mixing by hand will burn more calories than smaller tasks. I wonder if Rachael Ray knows that preparing one of her famous 30-minute meals can burn about 74 calories!
Additionally, in one hour, dusting burns 160 calories, mopping burns 306 calories, doing laundry and folding clothes burn 144 calories, ironing burns 153 calories, moving furniture burns 504 calories, while vacuuming and sweeping burn 168 calories.
There’s always something about cleaning, at least one particular task, that someone doesn’t like. They’ll procrastinate and avoid doing it as long as possible. According to StormMaster.com’s 10 Top Most Hated Household Chores, cleaning the bathroom (especially the toilet) tops their list.
But I really want to give an award nomination to ScaryMommy.com’s satirical article, 8 Household Chores I’ll Never Do – Because Who Has Time For This, by Elizabeth Broadbent (Originally Published: Oct. 23, 2016; Updated: June 10, 2021), which takes the subject out of the box. It’s more than just a list of “hated chores”. Check it out!
Other chores most commonly avoided by people include: dusting, mopping, cleaning the kitchen (especially the appliances), making the bed, and doing laundry. Dusting is my least liked chore, as it badly effects my allergies and I have A LOT of ‘tchotchkes’ [pronounced: choch-keys] to dust! But I love them all and am not ready to get rid of them yet.
Mom didn’t care for cleaning dishes, even when we had a dishwasher, making the bed; both of which my sisters and I did, for her, to earn our weekly allowance. We’re all different, in what we like and don’t like to do. To each, their own!
I like to clean and, especially, to organize! I think it’s an OCD thing (to me, that stands for Organize, Clean, & Display). Organizing is my favorite hobby. In fact, my kids and husband like to tease me, saying that I’m CDO, rather than OCD, because I like things in alphabetical (and numerical) order. That’s me – I own it!
In the office, Mom preferred, what she called, an “organized mess”. She kept a sign on her desk (as pictured above), which she picked up somewhere after I took it upon myself, one day, while she and Dad were gone for the day, to clean and organize her desk as a good deed. She wasn’t very happy about it, when she returned, but she was very forgiving.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
Excerpts by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over – And I Can’t Find My Mop, (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989)
WHILE SOME FOLKS claim to have been born under a sign related in some way to the stars and other heavenly bodies, I wish to establish, right here and now, the sign under which I must have been born.
It reads: ‘DO NOT TOUCH THE MESS ON THIS DESK OR YOU’LL GOOF UP MY SYSTEM.’
From this, you can imagine how astonished I was when, one day, it occurred to me that Heaven had certainly poured me out a blessing and my cup was running over. But I couldn’t find my mop! That has more or less (actually MORE) been the story of my life… my cup runneth over and over and over. (pp. 14-15)
It is with appreciation that, in spite of my lack of organization, Mary Ellen Pinkham, the famous household hints author, took an interest in our recipes… I really should get together with Mary Ellen and learn exactly how to become better organized but, somehow, time keeps getting away from me. (p. 119)
‘If the good Lord had intended for me to have a clean house, He would have given me a maid!’ – Gloria Pitzer
In my blog post, “Spring into Cleaning” (March 25, 2019) – and others – I mentioned that cleaning was not Mom’s favorite activity, even though she called herself the “Happy Homemaker”. I’m not saying Mom didn’t clean; but she clearly disliked it. And that’s okay.
Not everyone gets a joy out of cleaning any more than they have to. In fact, that would have made a great title for another one of Mom’s self-published books. She often published household hints, in her newsletter issues, to help make the average homemaker’s life a little easier.
The American Cleaning Institute claims that, on average, Americans spend approximately six hours per week cleaning their homes. The most dreaded cleaning tasks, by percentage, are cleaning the bathroom (at 52%), cleaning the kitchen (at 23%), dusting (at 21%), mopping (at 20%) and doing the laundry (at 17%).
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES
As seen in her column…
No Laugh’N Matter (The Times Herald, Port Huron, Michigan; Feb 14, 1974)
“EAT YOUR HEART OUT MR. CLEAN!”
Many of you have written, asking what shortcuts I recommend for getting through the hang ups of housework. I thought you’d never ask. And I’m happy to share with you some of the lesser known household hints that you are not apt to find in the elegant publications…
Now, my household hints are NOT necessarily recommended by GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, Dr. Seuss, my mother-in-law, the neighbors, Mr. Clean…but they do work! Unless, that is, you’re expecting miracles.
WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS: If, while they are in the refrigerator, leftovers become as hairy as hedgehogs at bay, don’t try to throw them out. Feed them dead flies and keep them as pets!
WHAT TO DO ABOUT COBWEBS: If you have cobwebs in your corners and can’t figure out why, because you don’t have a cob in the house; ignore them if you can’t reach them. If somebody calls them to your attention, exclaim with pride, ‘Oh! I can’t touch those. They’re my son’s science project!’
WHAT TO DO ABOUT JAR LIDS THAT REFUSE TO BUDGE: Tell a 4-year-old not to touch them!
IF YOU HAVE OVER-SIZED HIPS: Wear Jodhpurs. They’ll go out where you do!
IF YOU PUT ON WEIGHT EASILY: Let out your couch!
TROUBLE FALLING A SLEEP? If you can’t count sheep… try talking to the Shepherd!
CONCERNED ABOUT SHORTAGES? Help conserve water… bathe with someone you love! Help conserve paper… stamp out bumper stickers! Get an education… drive a school bus! Eat a beaver… save a tree!
TO CONSERVE ENERGY: Don’t hold post-mortems, brooding over your mistakes. The faster you make one, the less apt anybody is to notice it.
BEFORE GOING TO THE EXPENSE OF REDECORATING YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE: Move!
TO PREVENT SCRUB WATER FROM RUNNING DOWN YOUR ARMS WHILE WASHING WALLS: Hang from your feet!
CLEANER FLOORS: If you have tried the miracle product as advertised on TV and you still can’t get your floors to look as clean as those seen on the commercial, write to the manufacturer of that cleaner and have them send you that mop!
SHORT ON SILVERWARE AT MEALTIME? Delegate a search party of children to check out the sand box, toy chest and cold air returns. Chance are, you’ll find them!
TO REMOVE CHEWING GUM from a new, white bedspread, apply peanut butter by rubbing with vigorous motions. If it still doesn’t come out, get a new bedspread!
TO AVOID HAVING YOUR HUSBAND USE THE GUEST TOWELS to clean the carburetor…hang only cleaning rags on the bathroom towel racks!
If you live in a state like Michigan, where it snows at least half of the year, even in spring, you may be interested to know that an hour of shoveling snow burns 405 calories. Also, now that the weather is starting to improve, an hour spent on hand-washing the car will burn 306 calories.
And don’t forget that spending at least one hour of hard work, picking up garbage and debris, while CLEANING up the neighborhood, can also burn a whopping 450 calories AND improve your community! What a great idea and it’s beneficial for all!
Neiman Marcus, Sanger Harris and Skaggs-Albertson (Dallas, TX), once had a very exclusive recipe for a unique cookie – expensive, but worth it, if you could afford that kind of luxury. When one of my family of readers described the cookie to me and, also, sent a sample – I had the challenge of trying to duplicate them, but the mystery of why these had a hollow center was quite a stumbling block. After dozens and dozens of tests it finally occurred to me that baking soda would create a quick rise in the dough and perhaps this would work. And so, it did!
¼ pound butter
½ cup Crisco
2 ¼ cups powdered sugar (do not sift it)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups (SIFTED BEFORE MEASURED) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon baking soda
4 ounces well-chopped pecans
Cream butter and Crisco for 5 minutes on medium speed of electric mixer. It must be as light as a cloud. Don’t begrudge one second of those 5 minutes! Then, gradually beat in the powdered sugar a little at a time. Add the vanilla, salt and half of the flour; then, remove the beaters. Work in remaining flour, sifted twice with the cornstarch and the soda.
Work in the pecans. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake at 325°F, for exactly 18 minutes. Dip top of each warm cookie into additional powdered sugar, in a shallow dish. Let cookies cool completely before storing them in a covered container at room temperature. Makes about 3 ½ dozen!
When you look at all the marvelous candies that Sanders offers, be sure to look for their [chocolate] almond bark. If you are not in an area where Sanders products are available, you can try my “poor man’s” version; which, while I was living in California, and couldn’t find Sanders products, was sufficient to remind me of the days when I had a Sanders right around the corner – and loved it! [The following is an alternate, butter pecan version.]
12-ounce package Nestlé’s butterscotch morsels
14-ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chopped pecans
In top of double boiler over simmering water, melt the butterscotch and stir in the milk. When piping hot, smooth and completely melted, keep water in lower pan turned to lowest possible heat point and allow butterscotch mixture to cook that way for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, and scraping down sides of pan often.
Then remove from the heat and add pecans. Spread over bottom of greased jellyroll pan, 10 x 15.5 x 1”, to a very thin layer. Allow to harden at room temperature. Break into pieces and store in covered container away from warm places or humidity. Makes oodles!
By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 239). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
Big Boy restaurants have several good pies – this was always one of my favorites. Simple to prepare! Have a good, rich pie crust handy – I suggest my Butter Crust recipe!
2 partially baked, 9-inch, Butter Crust pie shells
¼ lb. (one stick) butter or margarine
1 lb. brown sugar
½ cup milk
1 TB vinegar
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups broken pecans
Have the Butter Crust pie shells in the oven, partially baking per the crust recipe. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in brown sugar, a little at a time, using an electric mixer on medium speed until very creamy. Add milk in small amounts until completely incorporated. Beat in eggs one at a time, then vinegar and vanilla. Beat about 3 minutes on high-speed.
Remove the beaters and stir in pecans. Divide mixture equally between the 2 partially baked pie shells. Place the pie pans on a cookie sheet and bake on center rack of 350°F oven for almost an hour or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool the pies before cutting to serve. Garnish top of each serving with a dollop of whipped cream. Each pie will serve 6 to 8 nicely. If you want to cut the recipe in half, to bake just 1 pie – use 2 medium eggs, in place of the 3 eggs (above.)
A couple of weeks ago was National Hug a Newsperson Day and today it’s National Columnists’ Day! I used to think they’re the same but learned they’re not. A newsperson reports news stories objectively, fairly, and accurately, without opinion or viewpoint. Columnists write narratives to provoke and produce particular feelings and/or beliefs. Mom did both, preferring the latter. For many years, she was a proud member of the Federation of Press Women, in Michigan.
Before authoring and self-publishing over 200 newsletter issues and more than 40 cookbooks, Mom wrote and syndicated many journalistic columns with satirical viewpoints of current events and hot topics, particularly as they related to homemakers and their families, during the Women’s Liberation era.
Mom’s columns ran under various titles, such as The Pitzer Patter, Minding the Hearth, The Cook’s Corner, Food for Thought, and No Laughing Matter. Mom also created a series of cartoon panels, many of which I’ve shared in these blog posts, called Full House, as kept by Gloria Pitzer; which also focused on the humorous side of the not-so-liberated-life of a homemaker, like herself.
Mom always had a cynical sense of humor – not just in her writings and drawings, but also in her outlook on life. Fifty years later, I’m still amazed by the timelessness of some of the issues, about which Mom wrote. I guess the old adage is true, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”.
History continually tends to repeat itself in new forms of old events. We still need to fix the roads and there’s still corruption in politics. Every now and then, we still face a food crisis or flood or drought or some kind of seasonal/regional natural disaster. There continues to be reoccurring rises in unemployment, interest rates, the cost of living, and general inflation. These were topics Mom covered as, both, a newsperson and columnist.
‘It was all leading to my eventual work in the food industry – but I couldn’t see that at the time – I could only see that I had to write and with any luck at all, luck would be when preparation and experience met opportunity. The opportunity was close at hand.’– Gloria Pitzer [As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 294).]
About fifty years ago, Mom left her newspaper job and began her family-owned-and-operated, cottage-style, dining-room-table business; releasing her first, self-published, cookbook, The Better Cooker’s Cookbook, in early 1973. It was compiled from a collection of recipes she had developed while writing her syndicated, recipe column, Cookbook Corner.
Mom faced major challenges, personally and professionally, when she suddenly switched gears, going from a syndicated columnist to a self-published author. In addition, during the 1970s, there were food shortages, paper shortages, sky-rocketing unemployment, and more.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 6)
IT ALL STARTED WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN
IN THE EARLY 1970s, I was trying to juggle marriage, motherhood, homemaking and a newspaper column syndicated through Columbia Features, when it seemed obvious to me that there wasn’t a single cookbook on the market that could help me take the monotony out of mealtime. There was not a single recipe in the newspaper’s food section that did not smack of down-home dullness!
‘Okay,’ they said at the newspaper I worked for, ‘YOU write the column on foods and recipes that YOU think would really excite the readers and make them happy!’ I did, but that didn’t make the Editors happy, because it made their [food industry] advertisers miserable.
When I was told that I’d have to go back to monotonous meatloaf and uninteresting side-dishes that made mealtime a ritual rather than a celebration or ‘pick up my check’, I told them to ‘MAIL it to me!’ I went home to start my own paper!
It was probably a dumb thing to do, amid an economic recession with the highest rate of unemployment I had ever experienced, but it was worth the risk. I was a dedicated writer that knew someone had to give homemakers something more than what they were being given in the colored glossy magazines, where a bowl of library paste could even be photographed to look appetizing!
Fate seemed to guide Mom in a particular direction, and she faithfully followed, trusting that this was God’s plan for her. In the fall of 1973, Mom put together her first newsletter, titled Gloria Pitzer’s Homemaker’s Newsletter, which she launched in January 1974.
She also sold her growing copycat recipes collection, through the mail, printed individually on 4” x 6” index cards, for 25-cents each or five for a dollar. These are the recipes she later referred to as her “Original 200 Plus Recipes” and she self-published a book of them in 1997.
After a couple years of success with her recipe cards and newsletters, Mom decided to discontinue her growing catalog of cards (some of which she already had to discontinue to make room for newer ones) and start putting her collections into a series of various cookbooks.
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. 22)
JOURNALISM IS A PECULIAR profession to follow. I’ve been a serious journalist [since 1954]. I’ve worked among writers who wrote to live, while the rest of us lived to write. We had to communicate to reach out to someone with ideas, with thoughts, with reasonings and [remembrances].
Somehow, we had to make a difference, touching others with some good – like the single stone tossed into the still waters of a shimmering pond, the ripples begin, as they always do, where the stone touched the water’s surface and responded around and around, until the widest circle touched the grassy edge [of the shore], again and again.
While I live to write, I must consider that others do not. Writers never retire – not if they are truly writers. Editors retire. [Even] reporters retire from their work at some given point. But old writers never die, they just run out of words.
There is great joy in an exchange of ideas; specifically when you have something of value to share. when that exchange of ideas flows from a mutual appreciation of the good in human life, there is no doubt that the abundance of good continues to unfold around us from only one Unlimited Source.
We don’t think too much about that Source until we’re in real trouble. Then, we’re willing to reach out because, after all, what have we got to lose? Too bad we don’t tap that Source when everything is going well and exercise our ability to think [and be grateful], which is something very few people take the time to do…
‘Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.’ – Seneca (1st century Roman philosopher)
Mom lived to write but often said it was her writing that made living worthwhile. One of the nicest things about being a writer – whether it’s as a newsperson, syndicated columnist, book author, blogger, or something else – (especially during the past couple of years) is that you can usually work from home-sweet-home.
Since April is National Pecan Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Spanish Pecan Cookies; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 220). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].
Every day is a new day – a turning point, a gift, an opportunity! Each one has something to celebrate! Celebrating develops gratitude, which creates “turning points” for attitudes. Likewise, it generates a greater enjoyment of what we already have. As Ava Freeman wrote in one of her beautiful paintings (circa 1980s), ‘Every new day offers many gifts… Untie the ribbons!’
Did you know that today is, among other things, National Hug a Newsperson Day? Mom worked as a newsperson and syndicated columnist for years before developing her recipe business. Every day was a turning-point-opportunity to Mom. I wish I could hug her! Her newspaper days were among the many turning points in her life that lead to her becoming The Recipe DetectiveTM.
Long before that, when Mom was 10, she saw the 1946 movie, Devotion (about the lives of the Bronte sisters), which created her own personal devotion to daily journaling. That was the first turning point for Mom, in becoming a writer. As a teenager and young adult, every story she wrote, for the various contests she entered and won, usually had something to do with food. Mom accredited these to being turning points in her journey as a writer.
Another major turning point came in the early 1970s, when Mom left her job (as a columnist at a local newspaper), to go home and start her own business with her groundbreaking concept of copycat cookery. That, in itself, was also a major turning point in the food industry!
All the media exposure Mom received from newspapers, magazines, radio, and TV talk shows, were more turning points in her growth and notoriety as The Recipe DetectiveTM. The most influential of all was probably The Phil Donahue Show, on which she appeared twice! Each time, the episodes were re-run around the world, with an over-whelming response!
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 299-300). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]
THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW…
SURPRISE – A DREAM COME TRUE!
If you’ve ever seen 1 million letters, you know how we felt when we tried to handle the overwhelming response [from our July 7, 1981, appearance on The Phil Donahue Show, in Chicago]! It was exhausting!
Our home, which was both our office and our sanctuary, became like a factory, with people helping us to process the mail, eventually having to return thousands of the orders to the customers with our deepest regrets that we could not, in all fairness to them, delay their order.
The onslaught of mail had forced us to do this. We were all working from 7 AM until 1 or 2 AM the next morning just to open and read the mail. Our phone bill had been buried in some of that mail and in a month’s time, being something like 23 to 24 days behind in opening the mail, our phone was shut off for non-payment of our bill.
As soon as we realized what the mail was doing to us, we tried to get Donahue’s people to stop the continued scheduled showings of our appearance. But that show remained on their repeat schedule for almost a year, playing in the Panama Canal zone, Greenland, Iceland, Australia and on hundreds of small town stations.
Most of the letters requested a sheet of ‘free’ recipes that were included with the order blank for a self-addressed stamped envelope to us. The offer would have been good for us, if it had only been shown that one time – the day on which we appeared on the show – but for nearly a year afterward, the requests still came, as did the complaints and the threats to report us to postal authorities for not having sent those ‘free’ recipes, tore us apart emotionally and physically!
Some people did not include their self-addressed-stamped envelope. Some envelopes were addressed to themselves, such as Joe Smith, but in care of OUR address instead of THEIR address. It was a confusing mess! Some people wrote threatening letters that they hadn’t received their orders and were turning us over to the postmaster general as frauds!
I laid my head on my desk many a time, in tears of anguish and fatigue. The family was falling apart. We couldn’t print our books fast enough, to fill all the orders! Then the post office, in delivering the thousands of books that we DID mail out, lost some, destroyed some, and delayed and even mis-directed other orders.
I remembered what Dick Syatt, one of our radio friends, had told me about finally getting everything you ever wanted, when he said, ‘Hell is God, giving you what you thought you wanted.’ Sometimes we need to have something, lose it and get it back again before we can really appreciate what we have. I had that chance, and I am so glad for it. It was [a turning point] a time to learn and to grow.
Mom claimed that one important “turning point” in her recipe work was the influence she got from Col. Sanders, himself, during one of her radio show visits on a Dallas station. His suggestion of finding one supermarket product for his “secret herbs and spices” made her fried chicken recipe more like the one he originally developed.
Mom shared her famous imitations (as she developed more than one version) of his chicken, during each of her appearances on The Phil Donahue Show. She humorously insisted that (with either version) the Colonel would’ve been a General if he had used her recipes!
Other imitations she shared in her ‘Donahue’ appearances included her Recess Peanut Butter Cups, Gloreo Cookies, Hopeless Twinkles, Hopeless Filled Cupcakes, Quacker Jack, White Tassel Hamburgers, Big Match Sauce, Wednesday’s Chili, and Wednesday’s Frosty Drink. [See the “Recipes” tab for these.]
At one time or another, these were all on Mom’s “free sheet” – a dozen or so copycat recipes that she gave away in exchange for self-addressed-stamped-envelopes, including ordering information for her newsletters and the cookbooks she had in print.
Friday is the 29th anniversary of Mom’s SECOND appearance on The Phil Donahue Show (1993), which SMASHED national records for transcript requests – since Mom and Dad insisted that the show NOT give out any of their contact information; creating another turning point, not only for Secret RecipesTM, but also for Journal Graphics and The Phil Donahue Show!
MORE FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
By Gloria Pitzer, January 1996 (unpublished)
THE PHIL DONAHUE SHOW, AGAIN!
ON APRIL 8, 1993, we accepted the invitation to appear for the SECOND time on ‘The Phil Donahue Show’, with one provision – they would promise not to give any information as to our whereabouts. It was a one-of-a-kind experience that is still talked about, remembered, and known for having broken all records in transcripts sold, as well as video tapes of ‘The Recipe Detective’, as provided by Journal Graphics in Denver, CO.
The reason this show could never again be equaled was because of the spontaneous, un-rehearsed, energetic give-and-take between the audience, Phil Donahue, and myself as we spent the hour ‘live’, preparing 10… of my ‘Secret Recipes’.
The show was so well received it was rerun in June of 1994. Perhaps the reason I’ve declined other TV show invitations, which included Letterman, is that I would rather people remember how well my last TV appearance went than to have them see a show that was not as well presented as Donahue’s.
Unique to the April 1993 show was the unity we all felt as… I worked with the staff, crew, producers, and every person in the backstage kitchen to put those… recipes together. Molly Fowler had shopped for all of the food and gave every dish we did a special touch, along with the efforts of Executive Producer, Pat McMilan, and Program Producer, Donna Wright… even Joe, who had met us when we were in Chicago  for the FIRST appearance.
It was a beautiful reunion and the plaque that they received for their success with it, was later passed on to us, with deepest appreciation. We did the show for the honor of being a part of it rather than to drum up sales and that made it special. The prayers that reinforced the energy, cooperation, and harmony of the entire production blessed everyone involved.
Journal Graphics’ Vice-President called us two days after the telecast to tell us they had sold some 1,000 transcripts for the most popular show before ours, which was Ross Perot; but, in two days, our show had sold 50,000… transcripts and some 3,000 videos. It was up to half a million in a few months – the most ever sold of any show in the history of that company.
ALSO 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. 41)
EVERY DAY IS A NEW DAY!
We always look for a turning point in our lives when things have not gone smoothly. I’m beginning to believe that every day is a turning point – that each experience contributes to our eventual goals and growth. I caution my newsletter readers, even today, not to think in terms of ‘forever’. Think of now and forever will take care of itself.
Most of us worry too much about what my mother calls ‘loaves and fishes’. ‘We worry too much’, Mom insists, and rightly so, ‘about having something to live ON – and too little about having something to live FOR!’
It is not so much where we have been or where we are going but where we are NOW that matters. I look back only to find comfort in those never-again moments during which our five children were growing up and our family enterprise was just getting started. I can only remember how Paul looked when I told him I had bought my own mimeograph machine and how I was using it. BOOM!
Since it’s National Pecan Month, here’s Mom’s imitation of Butter Pecan Bark, like Sanders’; from her last book… 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).]
Today is extra special because it’s the last Monday of the month! That means it’s time for my regular monthly visit on the “Good Neighbor” show, with Kathy Keene! It’s been one year since Kathy and I started reminiscing about Mom on her radio show! You can listen to it live or later through WHBY’s website. I’m usually on during the first half-hour of the show. You can also chime in, as the studio’s phone number is listed on the website and Kathy loves to take calls from her listeners!
Additionally, tomorrow is National Tell a Story Day! That makes this week a really great opportunity for me to re-tell Mom’s story again! She was a very talented storyteller, herself, as well as an awesome illustrator, writer, publisher, and innovative recipe developer!
In the mid-1970’s, Mom became an international sensation for having developed the “Copycat Cookery” concept of imitating the so-called “taboo” junk foods and fast foods at home, as well as other famous restaurant dishes and grocery store convenience foods. Everything about Mom and her work was unique and fresh, thus, word spread fast!
Mom was a regular guest on Kathy Keene’s “Good Neighbor” show, once a month for almost 13 years (June 1992 through December 2005). In fact, Mom was a regular guest on MANY radio shows all over North America for almost 40 years (1974-2013)!
Mom also did some television talk shows (locally, nationally, and internationally), November 1974 through April 1993, including the famous Phil Donahue Show – TWICE! However, Mom didn’t do any more after that last one, with Phil Donahue; which, by the way, smashed the record for the MOST requested transcript ever! The producers even re-ran Mom’s 1993 episode the year Phil retired the show.
Later, in 1993, an attempt was made by Guthie-Renker Corp. to film an infomercial with Mom for selling some of her cookbooks, of which they completely changed the look. The infomercial was supposed to look similar to Mom’s appearances on ABC’s Home show (May 1991 – when she was personally introduced to Wally Amos) and that last interview with Phil Donahue (April 1993).
The infomercial’s talk show format was called “Ask Mike”. Mom demonstrated making some of her popular imitations, while “Mike” acted like a dramatic caricature of Phil. Wally Amos cameoed as a street interviewer, offering taste-test challenges to “random people on the street” with samples of Mom’s imitations versus the originals! It was produced & directed by Positive Response Television, but it never aired.
Without going into all the “Hollywood drama” that surrounded the project, I will just say that Mom received her own personal copies on VHS; but the whole project was otherwise shelved, and the experience really soured Mom from ever wanting to do television again.
Nonetheless, Mom had always loved her radio shows the best! They were the cornerstones of her business from the very beginning, when she started promoting her work on Bob Allison’s “Ask Your Neighbor” radio program. Here’s how Mom tells that story…
When Mom started to semi-semi-retire, after retiring her newsletter in December 2000, a lot of people, like Kathy, began wondering over the years: “What ever happened to the Secret Recipe DetectiveTM, Gloria Pitzer?” Let me tell you that story…
After 2000, over the next four years, Mom wrote and published four more cookbooks and seven recipe bulletins focused on certain brands or chains. Also, in 2002, she and Dad reprinted her popular, 1986, “short-cut-cookery” cookbook – Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes.
Mom had inadvertently carved out another new niche in the recipe industry when she started focusing on developing her “short-cut” recipes (with 5 ingredients or less) for reproducing her imitations. They became the most requested recipes from her radio audience! Mom continued to promote her recipe collections for almost a decade more but on a much smaller scale, as they planned to fully retire when their stock ran out.
Mom continued to do lectures about her short-cut cookery style for imitating almost anything; here and there at various libraries and for some of the Good Sam club’s “Samboree” events. Mom and Dad LOVED being “Good Sam-ers” for many happy years. They made so many friends everywhere they went.
As I told Kathy last year, when we started chatting together, Mom tried but couldn’t bring herself to FULLY retire in 2006, as Dad would’ve liked. However, she did scale back her commitments and offerings every few years until 2014. Mom just couldn’t completely stop doing what she loved so much and so completely.
She eked out eight more years of Secret RecipesTM, promoting and selling (on a very small scale) that 2002 reprint of her Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes cookbook; plus, her seven different, 2-page, recipe “bulletins” and a 4-page “folder” of her favorite “Soups and Other Comfort Foods” – which reminds me of something Mom wrote about “selling”…
In August 2008, my brother, Mike, had created the TheRecipeDetective.com’s original website for Mom and Dad’s business. It was a new platform from which they could promote their current Secret RecipesTM offerings and give out free recipes too, as Mom traditionally did from the beginning.
Since Mom and Dad knew nothing about technology, Mike managed and ran the website for 10 years, until after Mom passed away. That summer, I had wanted to start writing this blog about Mom’s “Recipe Detective” legacy and I had asked Mike if I could put it on the website.
Instead of continuing to manage the site, himself, Mike transferred the domain to me. Due to different hosting and other things, the website isn’t exactly the same as it was three years ago when Mike had it, but I’m working on making it a legacy for which Mom would still be proud.
The winter after Dad had passed away, Mom wanted to revive her favorite cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook (first printed in 1982), hoping to reach out to a new generation of cooks; meanwhile, hopefully creating a new residual income, for herself. But she couldn’t physically do the self-publishing route again, which she and Dad had always done together.
After decades of saying she would never let anyone else publish her works, Mom finally consented to letting another publisher do it. So, my brother, Mike, and I did some research on different publishers, finally choosing Balboa Press; who were more than happy to republish Mom’s old cookbook, without changing nearly as much as she feared they would.
Only two things really needed to be changed, per the publisher. First, the name of the book, because it too closely resembled the title of Betty Crocker’s cookbook. I tried to explain to the publisher that was the whole premise of Mom’s book – to imitate – and it already sold that way for over a decade without incident from Betty Crocker.
But they insisted, otherwise they would not publish it. Thus, to simplify the change as much as possible (see picture above), the title became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective. The second change was removing the likeness of KFC’s “Colonel” from her “Big Bucket In The Sky” illustrations.
However, Balboa couldn’t just reprint one of our original copies. Things had changed a bit. Thus, because of eBooks and new technology equipment, I had to retype the entire book into Microsoft Word for Mom, reformatting it to fit the size we chose for the new edition’s layout.
I also had to scan all of her pictures and illustrations from the original book to be placed in the reprint, too. Due to extended costs, we couldn’t reprint all of them, so Mom and I chose our favorites. We also decided to leave out most of the diet section from the original and a few other things that were no longer current or applicable.
It took me a couple of years to rewrite the book for Mom, as I was juggling many responsibilities, at the time. But the book finally went to print shortly before Mom passed away, in January 2018. She was really happy when she heard it was published again. She told me that one of her favorite parts of her lifetime was that she was kind of famous for a little while and she was blessed to have met some really wonderful people because of it…
I still love hearing from people who knew Mom AND Dad, both. Once Dad had retired from his job in 1976 to help Mom full-time with the business, they spent over 38 years together, side-by-side, every day, 24/7, running their family enterprise. Where there was one, the other was always close at hand!
Even though the past year of quarantining together, 24/7, has tested many couples’ compatibility; keep in mind that Mom and Dad CHOSE to be together that much. It wasn’t always a smooth road, but it was a loving (and learning) journey, nonetheless.
Everyone I’ve heard from over the past few years has had some awesome stories to tell about how, both, Mom and Dad had touched all of their lives in some special ways! I hope you’ll write to me at [email protected]and tell me your stories, your memories, of Mom and Dad.
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 274)!
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]
AND, for it still being April and National Pecan Month, here’s Mom’s imitation of Pecan Pie Like Big Boy’s, also seen in her last book… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 240)!
[A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]