Mondays & Memories of My Mom – The Stories Of Our Lives

Happy Monday, once again! I think Mondays are fabulous and I always look forward to every one of them, as they’re my 52 Chances, each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#TellAStoryDay

#NationalHumorMonth

Wednesday is celebrating National Tell a Story Day! That’s just what I try to do, here, every Monday. I love telling stories about my mom – and it’s become one of my favorite things to do every week! Likewise, Mom always loved to tell up-lifting and humorous stories in her columns, newsletters, and books – even through her cartoon panels.

By the way, for the rest of this week, it’s still National Humor Month, too! Similar to some of her favorite comedians, Mom found her “family life” to be the best source, on which to draw inspiration for her cleverly witted, food-for-thought stories and cartoons. She was creatively gifted as an artist, writer, and story-teller – among many other things.

#CoupleAppreciationMonth

Additionally, April is National Couple Appreciation Month! And, when you think about it, none of us would be here, with stories to tell, if it weren’t for our parents getting together – and their parents (pictured above) getting together – and so on! Therefore, as far as couples go, I have to say that I really appreciate my own parents – as well as each of their parents, etcetera.

However, I would think this national observance could be better celebrated in August (rather than April) – especially in this context – as that’s when most family reunions are held, especially on Labor Day weekend, to honor the families’ elders. Otherwise, wouldn’t it make better sense to hold family reunions in April, in honor of Couple Appreciation Month? This could be the new trend for “Spring Break” events!

Mom and Dad were together for 58 years, before Dad passed away in October 2014. The first 20 years of their marriage, Dad worked in various positions at a sign company. He retired in 1976 to help Mom with her business, which had grown a lot in its first couple of years, alone; and it was taking all of his attention, when he wasn’t working at the sign company, as it was. The last 38 of those years, Mom and Dad lived and worked together, side-by-side, 24/7.

#MarriageAndCompatibility

[NOTE: I shared this in one of my February blog posts, Marriage And Compatibility, along with Mom’s story of “Compatibility And Forgiveness”, from her own self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 62-64).]

It takes a very special bond – and, as Mom claimed, a lot of forgiveness – to be practically inseparable, day-in and day-out. Many couples discovered that in the early months of the “pandemic shut-down”, when most states were issuing “stay-at-home” orders to try to curb the spread.

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

As seen in…

The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, St, Clair, MI; June 1997, pp. 28-30)

HOMESPUN AFFORDABLE & EASY TO WORK WITH

When the recipe cards became so popular that we were packaging them, sometimes in complete [$40] sets of the full 200 selections, I began to look at the possibilities of doing my own recipe books – less-expensive to the customer, surely, and less work for us considering all of the myriad choices one can have with 200 individual cards.

I assembled several single page books that I could mimeograph, remaining independent in the production of them, and came up with several workable ideas. It was very shortly thereafter, [from] a printer Paul was dealing with, at the company he worked for in the city, that we learned how to layout our own camera-ready copy and provide the recipes quite inexpensively. It was such a relief to be rid of the messy mimeograph machine.

SELF-SUFFICIENT & SUCCESSFUL

Self-publishing is a hard row to hoe, but worth all efforts when the final product is the result of your dedication and determination not to fail. We hope to now be able to accept QVC’s offer to let them sell our books in a series of six, as they asked us to do just two weeks after we signed with Guthie-Renker [1993]. With that now long behind us, we are finally free to fix things the way they were before we fixed them!

BLESSING IN DISGUISE

It was a blessing in disguise that Paul’s assignments at the company where he worked had given him the job of purchasing agent, for it certainly prepared him strongly for the responsibilities that would come our way in branching out into self-publishing our books.

Every department he worked in at Willey Sign Company gave him a basic foundation for being able to structure our business into a self-sufficient operation, from advertising to marketing and bookkeeping.

It was right after the ‘National Enquirer’ and ‘People’ magazine and ‘The Washington Post’ interviewed us and [printed] stories about our work, that he found himself spending every evening after he got home from his job, every weekend and his two-week vacation time, as well, working on our recipe business, that he knew he had to make a choice.

He had to give up his 20-year job and the benefits and such in order to devote full-time to Secret RecipesTM. It was a decision we have never regretted. With only $1000 in the bank and all of the bills that continued to come in day after day, we launched our ship of dreams and have never once had any regrets. Nor have we ever gone one day [as of this printing] since that date, August 13, 1976, without an order!

‘The experiences we have encountered in building this family enterprise of ours, this cottage industry…has occurred while distributing recipe secrets through radio [and television] broadcasting and newspaper exposure… I have met some of the nicest people in the world, some of the most generous people who want to share their good ideas with me as much as I want to share mine with them. Of these good people, I will speak often and lovingly.’ – Gloria Pitzer [My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 2)]

LAST THOUGHTS…

I have a sign, hanging proudly, near my dining room table that reads: “There’s a room in every home where the smallest events and biggest occasions become the stories of our lives.” The table is the same one I grew up with in the 1960s and 1970s. It always seemed to be my family’s favorite spot in which to gather, eat, laugh, and talk about our lives. Those were, at least for me, great times; inspiring many, humorous, family stories.

IN CLOSING…

In honor of TODAY, being National Zucchini Bread Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for “Zucchini Bread, Inspired By Bill Knapp’s”; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Secret Knock-Off Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Nov 1996, p. 35).

#ZucchiniBreadDay

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

Some of April’s observances include… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Poetry Month, National Pecan Month, and Scottish-American Heritage Month!

Today is also… National Telephone Day and National Poem In Your Pocket Day (which changes annually – April 25 for 2022)!

Tomorrow is… National Kids and Pets Day, National South Dakota Day, and National Pretzel Day! Plus it’s also… National Soft Pretzel Month! Here’s another re-share of one of Mom’s imitations!

#NationalPretzelDay

#SoftPretzelMonth

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

Wednesday, April 27th is… National Devil Dog Day and National Prime Rib Day!

April 28th is… National Blueberry Pie Day, National Great Poetry Reading Day, and National Workers’ Memorial Day! Plus, as the fourth Thursday in April, it’s also…  National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day and National Teach Children To Save Day!

April 29th is… National Shrimp Scampi Day! Plus, as the last Friday in April (for 2022), it’s also… National Arbor Day!

April 30th is… National Oatmeal Cookie Day, National Raisin Day, and National Hairstylist Appreciation Day! PLUS, being the last Saturday in April (for 2022), it’s also… National Sense of Smell Day!

May begins on Sunday, observing, among other things… American Cheese Month, Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month, National Stroke Awareness Month, Older Americans Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Hamburger Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Preservation Month, National Recommitment Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

May 1st, is also… National Loyalty Day, National May Day, and National Chocolate Parfait Day! Plus, as the first Sunday in May (for 2022), it’s also… National Lemonade Day! Additionally, as the first full week in May (1st-7th of 2022), it’s also the start of… Small Business Week, National Wildflower Week, and National Pet Week (1st-9th of 2022)!

#TGIM

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

…17 down and 35 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Let Me Tell You A Story

Happy 17th Monday of the year! Personally, I always look forward to every Monday because they are my 52 Chances each year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!

#TheRecipeDetective

#WHBY

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!

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

#NationalTellAStoryDay

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.

#TheRecipeDetective

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…

LAST THOUGHTS…

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.

IN CLOSING…

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

#NationalSoftPretzelMonth

#NationalPretzelDay

In honor of this being National Soft Pretzel Month & National Pretzel Day, together, here is an encore of Mom’s “secret recipe” for Soft Pretzels; as seen in her last book…

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)]

#GloriaPitzersCookbook

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

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

#LearnSomethingNewEveryDay

APRIL IS STILL in effect for most of this week and still celebrating, among other things… National Month of Hope, Keep America Beautiful Month, Lawn and Garden Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Couple Appreciation Month, National Decorating Month, National Fresh Celery Month, National Garden Month, National Humor Month, National Soy Foods Month, National Straw Hat Month, National Poetry Month, National Volunteer Month, Scottish-American Heritage Month, and Stress Awareness Month!

Some other celebrations for this week, through the end of April, include the following:

Today, April 26th, is… National Kids and Pets Day, National South Dakota Day, and National Poem In Your Pocket Day [which changes annually – April 26, 2021]! This is also the 35th birthday of one of my kids… my daughter, Tara (pictured below, with Mom)… Happy birthday, Honey!

Tuesday, April 27th, is… National Babe Ruth Day, National Devil Dog Day, and National Prime Rib Day!

Wednesday, April 28th, is… National Blueberry Pie Day, National Great Poetry Reading Day, National Superhero Day, Workers’ Memorial Day, and Denim Day [which NationalDayCalendar.com claims changes annually – April 28th for 2021. *NOTE: Wikipedia says it’s annually on the 29th of April.]

Thursday, April 29th, is… National Peace Rose Day, National Shrimp Scampi Day, and National Zipper Day!

Friday, April 30th, is… National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, National Bugs Bunny Day, National Honesty Day, National Oatmeal Cookie Day, National Raisin Day, National Hairstylist Appreciation Day, and National Arbor Day [which is always the last Friday in April]!

#TGIM

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

…17 down and 35 to go!