Soften gelatin in warm water until mushy. Set in heatproof cup, in pan of hot water, until it’s clear. Let cool. Combine berries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Stir in Knox mixture. Chill until a little bit thickened and set aside. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry.
Whip cream until stiff and beat in egg whites. Fold in strawberry mixture. Pour into baked/chilled pie shell or crumb crust. Chill over night or until firm enough to cut to serve 6 nicely or 2 foolishly. Makes one 9-inch pie.
I hope everyone enjoyed their Mother’s Day celebrations, yesterday, with their families! It’s been five years since I celebrated it with my mom. I still miss her, so much! However, I do love celebrating it with my own kids (now adults), just as Mom did with us – at a restaurant, or with carry-out, or having a backyard cookout – as long as it doesn’t involve me having to cook or clean-up for one day! On the other hand, I actually enjoy doing all that for any other celebrations!
Other noteworthy, unofficial “holidays”, celebrations of which embrace food (and/or drinks) in some way, include Major League Baseball’s opening day, Super Bowl Sunday, Spring Break Week, Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day Weekend!
There are also special milestones that we celebrate with food, as well – engagements, weddings and anniversaries, along with pregnancies and birthdays are most common. Additional fetes include confirmations, bar/bat mitzvas, graduations, family reunions, retirements, job promotions, and house-warmings.
People usually celebrate almost every special day or event with some kind of food (and/or drink) – except for a few religious holidays, as they focus on “fasting”. New Year’s Day through New Year’s Eve, all the big holidays and special events in our lives are, in some fashion, marketed in the food industry as much as they are commemorated in the greeting card industry!
As I’ve said before, “Any reason to celebrate, is a reason to celebrate with food…” (Feb. 24, 2020) would make a great ad slogan – but remember, I coined it first! No matter the occasion, even for something as simple as a Sunday supper, nothing amasses people together more than food. All-in-all, we love food almost as much as we love each other.
Sharing food is how we celebrate, make friends, nurture relationships, and mend conflicts. I remember when I was young, crying to Mom that I didn’t have any friends. The next day, she sent me to school with a lunch bag full of cookies to share with the other kids. Mom firmly believed that the way to the heart is through the stomach. Thus, friendships can be formed through the sharing of good food – and cookies are great ice-breakers! It worked for me!
Food brings us comfort, happiness, and joy. It makes us feel welcomed and connected, bringing out the best in us. Common interests in food allow us to bond with others, creating a sense of fitting in. Humans, by nature, seek pleasure and they often find it in food. Certain “comfort foods” – sugar, salt, and fat based foods are the three basic culprits – trigger pleasure censors in our brains, making us feel good (emotionally).
Food obviously provides nutrients for energy, growth, and health. However, in many cultures, certain foods and drinks symbolize status, power, and wealth. Food, as well as cooking, connects people – to each other, events, and places –crossing all borders, both, literally and figuratively. “Foodie” is the modern term given to the artisan who is passionate about food (& cooking).
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipe Report (Secret Recipe Report, St. Clair, MI; Issue 85, January 1981; p. 2)
NOT MANY FOLKS KNOW, and even fewer folks care that cooking habits and preferences give a clue to others about your hidden characteristics and secret personality ingredients.
If you look closely at the kind of cooking that people enjoy, you can tell a lot about their disposition and attitudes toward life. Like an astrological reading – only in some cases it’s more like a ‘horror’-scope, the experts tell us what to expect of folks who choose the following cooking preferences:
THE GOURMET COOK – Is a perfectionist in theory – but not always in practice. They set high standards for themselves – and for others, making it difficult to please them. They’re conscientious about improving their present position, never completely satisfied with what they have and always secretly desiring to identify with the refinement and good taste that purports to accompany elegance.
THE JUNK FOOD COOK – Is a person who can make instant decisions and not be upset by an exhilarated lifestyle. They are a bit reckless in their choices, usually preferring total freedom and personal happiness even if there is a risk to be considered. They don’t like to waste time and cannot be troubled with unimportant details or pretensions. They like short-cuts because they are usually impatient – but extremely thrifty.
THE HEALTH FOOD (OR NATURAL FOODS) COOK – …Is pre-occupied with sound, physical health and well-being to the extent of sometimes sacrificing emotional well-being for disciplined decisions. How one feels physically and what makes the body operate and function properly is more important than how one thinks to this cook. They are basically apprehensive, fearful and suspicious. They insist upon facts – not assumptions. Hardly careless and extremely dedicated, they are dependable people.
DOWN-HOME COOKS – …are usually content with whatever sufficiency is assigned to them in life. They make the most of what they have, ‘making-do’ and ‘doing-without’ when necessary. They’re inventive and creative and appreciative.
ETHNIC COOKS – […are] proud of their heritage – are very family-oriented and serious about tradition, home life and moral obligations. Stable and sometimes stubborn people, but loyal!
When you enjoy cooking, spending time in the kitchen eases stress and restlessness. Cooking engages all of our senses. It also generates pleasant memories, which relieves anxiety and boosts attitudes. The immersion enhances the cook’s mood and improves happiness.
Mom turned creative cooking into a new art form when she pioneered the copycat cookery movement over 45 years ago. Cooking can be like any art form in that the artist – or the cook, in this case – finds harmony in the process of creating and satisfaction in seeing the finished product, as well as the joy it brings others.
When I was growing up, it seemed like every gathering Mom (and Dad) hosted or to which she took a dish-to-pass, Mom was a combination of David Copperfield and Da Vinci; creating, both, magic and art with her delightful, culinary cuisines! Check out a great, timeless article that I’ve recommended before, called Cooking is an Art: What Makes a Chef an Artist, Craftsman and Visionary by Colt Taylor (July 3, 2014), at EliteDaily.com!
Even if you’re not a “foodie”, here are some ways to help you fall more in love with cooking:
Get familiar with the basics by watching videos and/or taking a beginner’s cooking class.
Start with searching (online) for individual recipes that you’ll enjoy before investing in collections (i.e. books).
Experiment with different ingredient combinations to customize to your tastes.
Get family and friends involved with your new passion – share the love!
Saturday, May 14th, is… National Buttermilk Biscuit Day! In honor, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for Kentucky Biscuits, as seen in her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 101).
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…
Happy Monday to all and welcome to Mondays & Memories of My Mom! I hope all the moms out there had a wonderful, memory-making Mother’s Day yesterday!
I’m Laura (Pitzer) Emerich and I started these blogs last September to channel the memories I have of my mom and how she impacted my life – as well as the lives of so many others the world over. I’m one of five children of the trailblazing pioneer who originated the copycat recipe movement, as my mom is Gloria Pitzer; aka: the famous Recipe DetectiveTM, investigator of Secret RecipesTM. As such, my inherited love for writing, which came from my mom’s genes, took me on this incredible journey, down a new and diverse path of blogging to honor her legacy.
TheRecipeDetective.com website was originated by my brother, Mike, years ago to help bring our parents’ Secret RecipesTM business into the digital age, on the internet. I remember when Mom got her first computer…she tried to learn how to operate it, even just to get into her email; but, she was too frustrated by the new technology and ended up giving the computer to one of her grandkids, who new what to do with it. Mike managed the website and email until he passed it on to me last summer, because I wanted to start these blogs about our mom, in tribute to her legacy!
Mom passed away over a year ago – in January of 2018. Shortly before her passing, Mom’s last cookbook was published by Balboa Press. I worked, together, with Mom for over two years to write it. It’s actually a rewrite of Mom’s favorite self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (May 1983, 3rd Printing), freshly formatted and somewhat updated for a new, digital generation. The writing/rewriting collaboration put our mother-daughter relationship on a whole new level.
In the process of publishing the new/old cookbook through Balboa Press, they REQUIRED us to change the book’s title (or they wouldn’t publish it) because it too closely resembled the title of another cookbook by the famous Betty Crocker! It was supposed to! Regardless, I failed to get through to the publishers that the whole premise of the entire cookbook was a parody of IMITATIONS, from the title of the book, Better Cookery Cookbook v. Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, to the recipes, themselves – Hopeless Twinkles, for example, is similar to Hostess Twinkies; and Wednesday’s Chili sounds similar to Wendy’s, the fast food chain.
Balboa suggested calling the new book Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook, but that wasn’t good enough for Mom and I. Thus, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places – the Best of the Recipe Detective”, grudgingly became Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – the Best of the Recipe Detective, with the secondary title of “Famous Foods from Famous Places” remaining. I suppose, contrary to Charles Colton’s famous quote, imitation isn’t always considered flattering!
As a matter of fact, there were a lot of food companies that were totally offended by a small-town homemaker, not only imitating their products in her own kitchen, but also naming her recipes to sound like theirs! As well as, sharing her recipes with the public, so they could also “eat out, at home!” Many companies complained of copyright infringements and threatened her with lawsuits, but none of them actually took her to court. One company, however, started an ad campaign, using a 1970s, stereotype housewife with a claim that even she can’t make their product at home!
Stouffers’ and Orange Julius’ attorneys were among the worst of the top 10 complainers in that offended category. Continuously, the Orange Julius people threatened Mom with lawsuits regarding one of her “Original 200” make-alike recipes, “Orange Judas”, as found (in 3 versions) on page 6 of her self-published cookbook, The Secret Restaurants Recipes Book (Jan. 1977). In fact, neither company liked it when Mom AND the media referred to her recipes’ finished products as being like their products, nor did they want her recipes’ names to sound anything like their own products’ names.
Mom renamed her “Orange Judas” recipe a number of times, and still couldn’t appease that company! Regardless of their lawsuit threats, she finally settled on “Orange Brutus” for the recipe’s name. In a way, Mom turned that “lemon into lemonade”, so to speak; since, as she promoted it, “Brutus was the one who ‘did in’ Julius!” [See Mom’s recipe at the end of this blog.]
All the fights between the companies saying she infringed on their copyrights and Mom wanting to pursue her right to create her own homemade versions and promote them, just spurred her on all the more! She felt that, if all of these companies’ attorneys were persistently huffing and puffing to blow her house down, she must be on the right path – and she must have gotten pretty close with her imitations too!
On the other hand, some food companies, such as White Castle and Sanders Chocolates, were honored by Mom’s efforts at flattery by imitating their products… In fact, the Hershey and General Foods corporations happened to be a slight mixture of both. At first, their attorneys wrote to Mom to cease and desist the use of her recipe titles, “Recess Peanut Butter Cups” and “Shape & Bake”, for they too closely resembled their trademark names, “Reese’s” and “Shake & Bake”, as to cause confusion between the products; inferring lawsuits would follow if she didn’t cooperate.
To the Hershey corporation, Mom explained the meaning behind her title, using the word recess (as in a retreat); she also offered to only use (and promote) Hershey’s chocolate in the recipe. In the original version of this recipe, Mom used Nestle’s brand and noted not to substitute on the brand. The Hershey corporation was agreeable to, both, Mom’s explanation and offer.
Mom also worked with the General Foods corporation, changing the title of her coating mix to “Shook & Cook”, with which General Foods was, likewise, pleased. Mom had sent General Foods a copy of an editorial page from her newest cookbook (at that time), The Joy of NOT Cooking…Anymore than You have To (1983). In the editorial, Simple Reproductions, Mom wrote about her recipe imitations and their effect on certain “big” companies, comparing her opposite encounters with General Foods’ attorneys and Stouffers’ attorneys.
General Foods was pleased with Mom’s editorial compliments on their helpful approach and even offered Mom complete cooperation at any time with any of their products that she used as ingredients in her recipes. As Mom said in the editorial, “now that’s a BIG company – big in spirit and in customer relations. I purchase all of their products as often as I possibly can to show my approval of their efforts not to alienate a customer.” Unlike Stouffer’s hammer approach, General Foods took a scalpel approach to reach a remedy that could benefit, both, them and Mom.1 There was no problem with the recipe Mom presented as an imitation of their product, they just wanted a different title for it to protect their trademarks and copyrights.
As I wrote about in an earlier blog, Imitation, Merriam-Webster.com says that imitation means “something produced as a copy; resembling something else…” and Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment…” Thus, Mom often referred to herself as “the Rich Little of recipes”. Rich Little was a famous, stand-up comedian and extremely good imitator of celebrity voices; while Mom was a comedic writer and cartoonist, as well as an imitator of “famous foods from famous places”!
I found it ironic – and still do – that over the years, since Mom officially started her Secret RecipesTM enterprise in 1973, so many people have imitatedher, the ORIGINAL famous foods imitator. It’s a niche Mom originally carved out in the early 1970s. But, not all of those who have followed since have given Mom the appropriate credit due her for being the original sleuth to uncover the supposed secrets of the food industry, imitating the “famous foods from famous places” at home! Kudos to those who have given Mom the proper credit, though!
In other news…
According to NationalDayCalendar.com, among some of the national celebrations taking place right now, today is National Women’s Checkup Day! According to the website, there are five healthy habits “they” recommend women do to improve their well-being… (1) maintain regular checkups, (2) be physically active, (3) stick to a healthy diet, (4) don’t smoke and (5) follow general safety rules. Use #Women’sCheckupDay to post your tribute to women’s health on social media.
In addition, for foodies and gardeners, alike, NationalDayCalendar.com says that May is also National Strawberry Month! The website suggests that, to observe the holiday, you could visit a “pick-your-own” strawberry farm (or go to your local farmers’ market), plant a few strawberry plants of your own (or in a community garden) and/or prepare a recipe that uses strawberries. The website also gives a few links to some good strawberry recipes.
However, I have a great recipe for you, here, with a strawberry alternative! As discussed above, this famous frozen drink imitation has been in Mom’s repertoire since the beginning of her self-publishing business in 1973, as it’s one of her “Original 200” recipes. It has appeared in several of her cookbooks, in a few different versions and under a few different names; but, all of which Mom personally created. This form (pictured below) can currently be found in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press, Jan. 2018)…as always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it!
NOTE: Mom’sstrawberryversion of this Brutus drink appeared in her cookbook, The Three-In-One Book of Less Fat and Sugar & Best Bread Recipes (Secret Recipes, Marysville, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 11), which is no longer in print, but used copies may be found on Amazon or eBay. This strawberry version calls for 7-Up or Faygo Red Pop and a strawberry Kool-Aid type of drink powder instead of the orange juice or Tang ingredients that some of her other versions include. I posted one of those other versions in a previous blog, Recipes and Radio, back in November of last year.
The cookbook also offers a version of just the “powdered mix” to jar up and mix, by tablespoonful, with individual glasses of your own chosen liquid. Mom’s recipes were often quite flexible in this way, as she recognized (having 5 children and a husband to feed) that a lot of peoples’ tastes vary, and good recipes should be able to accommodate such taste variances.
1 References to scalpel and hammer are from a former television show, Person of Interest (Season 3, episode 12), when Shaw says, “There’s a time for a scalpel and a time for a hammer. It’s hammer time!”
2 The earliest written form I can find of this proverb is a reference by William Shakespeare, in his 1600 play, As You Like It, when Rosalind asks, “Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?”