Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Americana Nostalgia

Happy Labor Day! Plus, #ThankGodItsMonday, again; so #HappyMonday, too! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!


Besides being the UNOFFICIAL end of summer & start of the fall season, Labor Day is an Americana celebration, honoring the contributions and achievements that American workers provided to our country’s economic strength, prosperity, and well-being.

OFFICIALLY, Labor Day observes the improvements of working conditions and fair wages that were gained through the efforts of the American labor movement, which still continues evolving and acquiring additional improvements, to this day.

This is also a patriotic holiday that people like to celebrate with parades, community picnics, backyard barbeques, sports events, and the like. In Michigan, today, it’s the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk across the “Mighty Mac”, which has bridged the Straits of Mackinac since 1957.

The Mackinac Bridge connects the upper and lower peninsulas that make up the state of Michigan. At about five miles in length, it’s the third longest suspension bridge in North America.


The bridge walk has been an annual Americana event since 1958 (with the exception of 2020, of course); thus, the 2023 bridge walk will be the 65th occurrence of this grand event. As many as 30,000 people have partaken in the walk in recent years. The bridge is usually closed to motor traffic for the first half of the day, for the safety of the Labor Day walkers.

By the way, did you know that September is, among other things, National Americana Month? Americana is considered to be a nostalgic culture of a simple, small town, Norman Rockwell lifestyle – depicted as middle-class, humble, God-fearing people, enjoying a prosperous family life.

Rockwell’s art work appeared on over 300 covers of the weekly edition of The Saturday Evening Post. He often used Americana-style elements like community pride, patriotism, white-picket fences, denim, baseball, apple pie, Coca-Cola, farmers and blue-collar workers.

According to, Americana encompasses not only material objects but also people, places, concepts and historical eras…” Michigan is rich in small-town Americana oddities, natural beauty, history, AND FLAVOR!


For over four decades, Mom loved reviewing different restaurants, especially throughout the state of Michigan, as the Secret RecipesTM Detective. She always figured out how to duplicate their famous dishes at home. Incidentally, her writings, drawings, and self-published books were also filled with a lot of Americana characteristics.

On the whole, Mom put her books and newsletters together like Americana quilts, with a little of this and a little of that, all pieced together with love.

[NOTE: For a little piece of Americana, hard copies of Mom’s last cookbook are available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, at; eBook versions are also available for $3.99 at the Bookstore.]


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes© Newsletter (Secret Recipes©, St. Clair, MI; Sept-Oct 1991, p. 1)


EVEN ON A SLOW DAY, Paul and I have at least 100 letters to open, read and reply to. On our busiest [day], however, like following a TV appearance, we  can have 1,000 letters a day to handle. It’s been like this since 1973.

We’ve made great friends through these letters and acquired now some 6,000 subscribers to our newsletter and ever so many more who just want our 6 [available] cookbooks.

Our morning starts around 7:30 at Gallagher’s, in the mall, for breakfast. This is where, as every morning the round table of some local businessmen will be accessing world situations.

‘The world has never been more interesting than it is right now,’ Richard J. Cattani, Editor of a Boston newspaper assures us. ‘The world is not so much in decline, as it is changing,’ he writes. And this is pretty much what is discussed over breakfast.

Although, breakfast talk consists also of how the Chicago Bulls fared the playoffs and where the [Detroit] Tigers might build the new stadium. And how everyone who works at the new Walmart store smiles and speaks to you with kindness and concern – but most of all, when will Detroit give us a car we can afford, again.

It’s the same in every [small] town, I suppose – a favorite place, a special time, with friendly folks, who treat each other like family. I can’t help but think that half of President Bush’s problems could be solved like ‘that’ – with the snap of your fingers – if only he could sit in on these discussions.

Also during what I laughingly call a ‘normal’ day, the phone rings frequently and 3 or 4 of the calls will be from the radio stations with whom I visit periodically for up to an hour at a time. Our regular visits with some of these stations who call us, might only run 15 minutes.

Nonetheless, we will, in a month’s time, visit with 30 to 40 different stations, covering calls from their listeners wanting to know how to recreate famous foods at home. Some of the mail we receive as a result of these radio visits have reflected some very interesting facts about favorite foods…

When I think of the nostalgic icons that represent Americana to me, in terms of food-related, I think of Coney Islands and carhop drive-ins, as well as the classic carnival and state fair foods, traditional department store restaurants and old-style dime store cafeterias.

By the way, this time of year is known to harvest more than just crops. Americana nostalgia is reaped more in the fall, than in any other season of the year. Did you know that observing that kind of lifestyle, as depicted by Rockwell, is known to decrease stress levels, as well as increase creativity?


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 3)


IT IS OBVIOUS…if you are familiar with [any] of my books…that traditional presentation is not important to me. It has nothing to do with concept and everything to do with the time in which I put a book together.

Most of what I have written has been done like a patchwork quilt, pieced here and there; hardly in sequence and never in a thoroughly developed format that probably every writer worth their salt (or Mrs. Dash) would be apt to follow, in producing a book of their own.

Since the [very] first book, back in January 1973, I have not been able to stick to ‘the rules’ when writing, publishing or distributing a book. It was the first thing a publisher would mention to us when, a few years later, they wanted to take over our books and publish them for us.

The comments would range from ‘making your books more [sellable]’ to ‘changing the format somewhat’, which all meant redesigning what I had developed so that it no longer reflected ‘me’, but ‘them’. Making our books more [sellable] was the biggest puzzle, considering that, in the beginning, these same publishers quickly rejected my work…

After an appearance on the [Phil] Donahue Show in July 1981, over a million letters from Donahue viewers made our books probably THE MOST [sellable] in the country – if not the world – in the shortest period of time.

So many things happened along the way that contributed to our success as a family enterprise; and, while [in my writings] I will touch on some of the highlights of these experiences, it won’t necessarily be in the order in which they took place.

Recollections of how we developed our Secret RecipesTM and the unique circumstances under which this dining room table operation has endured, will surely never make the ‘Best Seller’ list and, perhaps, not even interest most critics, let alone the skeptics, who predicted that the public’s interest in my kind of recipes would not last long. Having been our only source of income since August 1976, I would say they made a mistake in judgement.


In my blog posts, like mom’s own patch-work quilt style writings, I try to bring “my readers” a hodge-podge of happy recollections of Mom, with current interests to “homemakers” and nostalgia from days gone by. Add in a few smiles and, maybe, a giggle or even a belly-laugh.

Like Mom, I enjoy sharing little bits of knowledge with a recipe or two from Mom’s extensive collection. I have so many wonderful memories, traditions and teachings that Mom instilled in me, as her mom taught her. I can only hope that, in sharing them with all of you, they may benefit someone else, in some way, as much as they have me and my family!


In honor of TODAY, being National Macadamia Nut Day, here is Mom’s copycat recipe for Coconut-Macadamia Nut Cookies, Inspired by Mrs. Field’s; as seen in her self-published book… The Copycat Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1988, p. 96).


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


The month of September observes, among other things… Better Breakfast Month, National Blueberry Popsicle Month, National Chicken Month, National Courtesy Month, National Italian Cheese Month, National Library Card Sign Up Month, National Mushroom Month, National Potato Month, National Rice Month, National Sewing Month, National Self-Improvement Month, and National Whole Grains Month!

Plus, as the first FULL week in September (for 2023) it’s also… National Waffle Week!

Today is… National Spice Blend Day, National Wildlife Day, and National Newspaper Carrier Day!

Tomorrow is… National Cheese Pizza Day and National Be Late For Something Day!

Wednesday, September 6th is… National Coffee Ice Cream Day and National Read A Book Day!



September 7th is… National Beer Lover’s Day, National Neither Snow Nor Rain Day, National Grandma Moses Day, National Acorn Squash Day, National Salami Day, and National New Hampshire Day! Plus, as the second Thursday in September (for 2023), it’s also… National School Picture Day!

Friday, September 8th is… National Ampersand Day!

Saturday, September 9th is… National Wiener Schnitzel Day! 

September 10th is… National Swap Ideas Day and National TV Dinner Day! Plus, as the Sunday after Labor Day (for 2023), it’s also… National Grandparent’s Day!


Among my children’s favorite memories of their grandparents, they all agreed on the fall seasons that Mom and Dad took them to the Ruby Tree Farm & Cider Mill (Ruby, MI), when they were young.

It was a tradition they truly looked forward to every year – the petting zoo, pony rides, hay rides, cider and donuts. Unfortunately this iconic, local, Americana business is no longer around.


…36 down and 16 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Camping Michigan’s Great Outdoors

Happy June! Thank God Its Monday, again; and, as such, #HappyMonday to all! I personally look forward to each and every Monday. They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!





June is finally here, celebrating, among other things, National Camping Month and National Great Outdoors Month! Summer unofficially started last weekend but it’s a little more than 2 weeks until the official start – Summer [Solstice] Begins June 21st. It’s the longest day of the year.

Summertime is the best time for picnics, road trips, and going camping! A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I have a camping checklist, part of which I use for my picnic “basket”. Nowadays, my camping checklist is quite extensive. It’s grown and shrunk and re-grown over the years. I find that the older I get, the more conveniences I like to bring.

Worth repeating: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!” My husband and I have not yet advanced to a camper or motor home. I call our style of camping “Comfort-Camping-Without-A-Camper”. Motorhome or camper style “camping” is often referred to as “glamping”, particularly by those who camp in tents.

There was a 5-year span when we had a van, in which we slept, while using our dome tent as a “shed” for our “stuff”, instead. Now, we have a mid-size sedan, in which we pack everything we need and want – including a large, octagon tent AND 10’ x 10’ gazebo. Organization is key!

When I was young, our family always stayed in motels when on vacations. We never camped. “Roughing it” was when the power went out for a week (at home, in Algonac), during a winter/spring ice storm. We had to use candles for light and the fireplace for heat and a “stove”.

Mom and Dad started “camping” AFTER becoming empty-nesters. They invested in a motorhome and joined the Good Sam [RV] Club. They first learned about “RV-ing” and Good Sam from Mom’s older sister, Hazel, and her husband, Chris, who were members of Good Sam’s California chapter. Mom and Dad joined the Michigan AND Ohio chapters.

While on the road, Mom and Dad usually ate in local restaurants. Mom never stopped looking for different dishes to try and imitate when she returned home. Their camping friends often kidded Mom, about being the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM and never using the oven in their motorhome. She did do some microwave cooking, on occasion.

I learned about camping (in a tent) from some friends decades ago when my children were very young. It was an inexpensive way to vacation with kids. Through experience, came more knowledge. I often learned cool camping hacks from other campers whenever we went camping with a group. Camping with friends is so fun!


As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43)


A SMILE IS THE universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!

People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.

A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!

Joining the Good Sam [RV] Club was among Mom and Dad’s most favorite experiences. It was a huge source of wonderful friendships and memories for them. Mom kept many scrap books full of photos and special keepsakes from their many trips with the Michigan and Ohio chapters of Good Sam.

Mom often wrote about those trips in her summer newsletter issues – from the new restaurant dishes they tried as they traveled (of which Mom imitated when they went home) to all of the great people they met everywhere they went.

Mom and Dad especially looked forward to Good Sam’s big “Samboree” events! Mom would sometimes give lectures at these events, regarding her copycat and short-cut cookery concepts, such as those published in her Mostly 4-Ingredients cookbook (and the recipe I’m sharing today is from that book).


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Jan-Feb. 1988, p. 1)


ONE THING AMONG MANY that I have learned from Good Sam, the national RV organization, to which Paul and I have belonged for three years now [since 1985]; is that you should never ever withhold your enthusiasm for caring about others.

Never regret anything you do or say on behalf of the good it might bring to those [about whom] you care – for, if your motives are unselfish, and your intentions are to encourage or enrich or benefit others, you can’t lose.

You should jump right in, adding enthusiasm to whatever it is that you are doing that might appear to be just a passive condition when enthusiasm is needed. Try a little enthusiasm!

…Enthusiasm and optimism go hand-in-hand with happiness. These provide us with an emotional springboard from which we can dive quite smoothly, into deep and troubled waters, and still surface refreshed and invigorated.

During Michigan’s unofficial summertime [Memorial Day through Labor Day], tourism is on the rise. There’s so much to do in Michigan’s great outdoors! May through October is the best time for Michigan camping getaways. There are 1,190 licensed campgrounds in the state.

[Pictured below is my extensive camping check list, all of which fits in our Pontiac sedan (as pictured above). I am not paid to advertise for any companies but I am brand specific on a few things because, from my personal experience, they work the best – Dawn dish soap, SOS (soap filled steel pads), and Kingsford Matchlite charcoal.]

If you’re planning to go swimming or doing any water sports or activities along the shoreline surrounding most of the state, the warmest lake water temperatures are generally found July through September, depending on where you go. As beautiful as the Memorial Day weekend was, it was too cold to swim in Lake Huron – I know – I was there.

I’ve mentioned at least a few times, in previous blog posts, that Michigan holds the record for the longest fresh water shoreline in the United States, coming in at 3,288 miles. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only second to Alaska, in total length of coastline.

Over the next couple of weeks, kids will be getting out of school for their big summer break. Many families are planning their vacation times, now. Summertime in Michigan is also a popular time in which to plan events like company picnics, graduation parties, class/family reunions, and outdoor weddings.

There’s always something special to see and do in Michigan! Summer’s also the best season for car shows and cruises; outdoor concerts and music festivals; art, 4-H and county fairs; plus, other carnivals. Speaking of which, I love the hit Canadian show, Carnival Eats, with Noah Cappe! The food is always the best part of any special event.

Activities and entertainment venues vary slightly, by region – but usually, throughout the summer, you can often find, somewhere nearby, a botanical garden, flea market, farmer’s market, petting zoo, classic car shows; as well as thespian renaissance, art, craft, and/or music festivals.

Pools, beaches and water parks are now open for the summer season. Even though the big lakes’ temperatures are still a bit cold for swimming, Michiganders can’t wait to dip their toes in, at least. Additionally, you’ll find seasonal amusement parks, small-town carnivals, and big county fairs all over the state and nearby.

Some of the outdoor, summer sports and other such activities that Michiganders enjoy include baseball, softball, soccer, track, golf, disc golf, putt-putt golf, tennis, volleyball, and horseshoes (the game). Then there’s the backyard games like cornhole, ladder toss, washer toss, and so on.

Many table-top games have been made into large lawn versions for people’s backyard enjoyment (or to take them to a park or when camping). Many in-land summer activities include picnicking, camping, hiking, biking, motor sport racing, motorcycling, motocross, dirt biking, “4-wheeling”, “mudding”, dune buggy riding, horseback riding, and more.

Popular water sports and other such activities include kayaking, canoeing, sailing, boating, jet skiing, water skiing, parasailing, swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing – even building sand castles on the beach. Sand sculpting can be quite amazing!



Here, again, are four basic tips for planning road trips that I’ve shared a couple of times, previously…

    • Always bring a hard copy roadmap, as there are places that may not have cell or wi-fi service for miles.
    • Allow extra time and gas (or electric charge – whatever the case may be) for spontaneity. In case you decide to take a detour or two to other map dots along the way!
    • Stop frequently and take breaks – “smell the roses”, photograph the memories, and talk to the locals.
    • Pack a cooler with some drinks and snacks, even if you plan to eat at restaurants along the way. You know what they say about the best laid plans…


In honor of June, being National Candy Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Coconut Confections; as seen in her self-published cookbook… Gloria Pitzer’s Mostly 4-Ingredient Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; April 1986, p. 6).


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


The month of June observes, among other things… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!

Starting the first Saturday in June and running through the second Saturday (June 3rd-20th for 2023) it’s… International Clothesline Week and National Fishing and Boating Week! Starting the first Sunday in June (4th-10th for 2023), it’s… National Gardening Week and Community Health Improvement Week!

Today is also… National Gingerbread Day and National Veggie Burger Day!

Tomorrow is… National D-Day, National Gardening Exercise Day, National Drive-In Movie Day, and National Applesauce Cake Day!

Wednesday, June 7th, is… National Chocolate Ice Cream Day, National VCR Day, and National Oklahoma Day!

Thursday, June 8th, is… National Best Friends Day and National Upsy Daisy Day!

Friday, June 9th, is… National Donald Duck Day and National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day!

June 10th, is… National Egg Roll Day, National Ballpoint Pen Day, National Iced Tea Day, National Black Cow Day, and National Herbs and Spices Day! Plus, as the second Saturday in June (for 2023), it’s also… National Rosé Day!

June 11th, is… National Making Life Beautiful Day, National Corn on the Cob Day, and National German Chocolate Cake Day! Plus, as the second Sunday in June (for 2023), it’s also… National Children’s Day; and the start of… Men’s Health Week [the second Sunday in June through Father’s Day (11th-18th for 2023)]! Additionally, as the start of the second week in June, it’s also… National Little League Week and National Flag Week, which is always the week of [June 14th] National Flag Day (11th-17th for 2023)!


…23 down and 29 to go!



By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 235) [A revised reprint of… Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)]


¼-lb. butter or margarine

½ cup light corn syrup

Dash of salt

1-lb. powdered sugar

12-oz pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla [extract]


In a 1 ½-quart sauce pan, bring the butter and corn syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard for 1 minute; then, immediately, turn heat down to lowest point. Beat in the salt and HALF of the powdered sugar. It will lump a bit, but the electric mixer will smooth it out as you continue beating.

Add rest of sugar and raise the heat for 1 or 2 minutes until it shows the 1st bubble of a boil again. Quickly remove from the heat and beat in the rest of the powdered sugar, then the chips until melted and smooth. Next, beat in the vanilla. Pour into a buttered 8- or 9-inch, square pan. Chill 1 hour. Cut into squares.

Makes about 2 pounds. To achieve the “Mackinac loaf-style”, pack the fudge into a buttered 9-inch bread loaf pan. Chill it several hours, or overnight, and remove it from the pan to slice it as you would bread. You can change the flavor of the fudge by changing the flavors of the baking chips and extract.


See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Michigan Summertime

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Summer Road Trips and Picnics

Thank God Its Monday again! I love Mondays. They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!




You can almost feel summer in the air now. Even though it doesn’t really start until June 21st, Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer. And this Friday is the unofficial start of the Memorial Day weekend. Among other things, Friday is also National Road Trip Day and National Cooler Day! 


When my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they’d often go on a road trip somewhere – for the day or the weekend. It didn’t matter if it was a planned trip or a “new scenic route” (when Dad got lost), because they were together, exploring, and enjoying Michigan’s beautiful scenery.

Did you know that Michigan has 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes? It’s the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only in second place, to Alaska, in total length of coastline.

Sometimes, however, “work” would manage to creep back in, because whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, Mom always managed to find someone’s [restaurant] “house special” that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got home.

Whenever possible, my husband and I LOVE to go on road trips to different areas in our scenic state of Michigan, just like my parents used to do. We really enjoy exploring the sparkling, blue water shorelines of the Great Lakes, surrounding most of our state; as well as the in-land lakes, small towns, rivers, forests, farmlands, and parks.

Additionally, Sunday is celebrating National Beef Burger Day and National Hamburger Day, all of which adds up to more great reasons for a road trip and picnic (or a backyard barbecue) this weekend to celebrate the unofficial start of summer!

May is coming to a close soon so, this weekend, celebrate that it’s still National Barbecue Month, National Hamburger Month, National Salad Month, American Cheese Month, National Egg Month, and National Salsa Month!

What are your favorite go-to picnic or backyard barbecue foods? Among classic picnic treats, the finger foods that travel well and won’t spoil on a warm day include sandwiches/wraps, fried chicken, fresh vegetables and fruit. Remember – if anything has mayo in it, keep it chilled!

Aside from the “main dish”, popular picnic foods include appetizers like deviled eggs, pigs-in-a-blanket, and stuffed mushrooms; sides like mac-n-cheese or baked beans; coleslaw and salads like pasta, potato, veggie, and fruit; desserts like pies, brownies, bars, and cookies; plus, snacks like string cheese, meat sticks, chips, pretzels, and trail mix.

Just as in any celebration, throughout the year, a very important part of picnic activities, besides socializing, getting fresh air, and making memories, is eating the food! Therefore, I’m including, here, a list (based on a Google search consensus) for 10 popular food choices to take on a picnic.

10 Popular Picnic Food Picks:

    • Fried Chicken
    • Hot Dogs
    • Sandwiches/Wraps
    • Pasta Salad
    • Potato salad
    • Baked beans
    • Deviled Eggs
    • Watermelon
    • Brownies
    • Pie

Things to do on a picnic outing (besides eating) include playing music, singing/dancing, walking, playing table/yard games, bird watching, people watching, sun bathing; plus, if you’re at a beach, you can add in searching for skipping stones or sea shells, swimming, fishing, and building sand castles.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING”, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]

You don’t need to go on an expensive, fancy vacation or plan an extravagant party to reconnect with family and friends over the Memorial Day weekend. A simple picnic is a fun and relaxing way to gather and make memories. But if you want to have MORE than a “simple” picnic…

Have you ever heard of a mystery picnic? I recently discovered this fun twist on our iconic, seasonal tradition at, out of Australia. I can’t wait to create and host my own scavenger hunt style picnic for a special summer gathering with friends and family!

According to the website, “mystery picnics” combine travel, food, and fun; while solving a series of clues that take you to various places, where you collect things to add to the “picnic basket” at the final destination. It’s a fun idea to explore the area, as you collect “picnic basket items”, and then gather with the other guests to share your collection and adventures.

The difference between a treasure hunt and scavenger hunt is slight. A treasure hunt has only one thing for which to hunt (aka: the treasure) – the first one to find it wins. Once “the treasure” is found the hunt is done for everyone. A scavenger hunt offers each guest a list or variety of things to find/collect.

Both hunts use riddles and clues to send participants from one place to another. Usually, participants can work in pairs or in teams or individually. A scavenger hunt is typically played in an extensive outdoor area but it can also be scaled down to play at home, like a treasure hunt.

The host typically creates a “trail”, so that the answer to one clue reveals the next one. You can either write them on pieces of paper hidden at the chosen locations or put them in an “online” forum (like an “event” or “group” page on Facebook) that gives clues to the answers, as well.

The first riddle should be included in the initial invitation. Guests have to figure it out before they start, so they know where to go first and collect something for the picnic, along with a clue to the next destination. Repeat as often as necessary, before getting to the final destination – the “mystery picnic” spot.


A checklist comes in handy, when packing for anything. I use part of my camping checklist for my picnic “basket”, which is actually a plastic tote. It’s always on the ready so I can easily throw it in the trunk of our car, along with a food bag and cooler, whenever my husband and I want to go on a spontaneous, all-day Road Trip.

It may seem like a lot of stuff but it actually packs up fairly small and compact. As a Mom of three, I learned from my own mom, over the years, (as she used to have to pack for a family of seven) how to pack 10 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag. I found organization is key. As the old adage says: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”


In honor of May, also being National Salad Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Macaroni (or Potato) Salad, Like the Colonel’s; as seen in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – Best Of The Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 29). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

I also gave this recipe out a couple of years ago, on Kathy Keene’s Good Neighbor’ radio show, on WHBY (Appleton, WI). Kathy has since retired. The show was discontinued and, unfortunately, my link to the recorded audio doesn’t work anymore.




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


May also celebrates… National Asparagus Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Today is… National Craft Distillery Day, World Paloma Day, National Maritime Day, National Solitaire Day, and National Vanilla Pudding Day!

Tomorrow is… National Lucky Penny Day and National Taffy Day!

Wednesday, May 24th, is… National Yucatan Shrimp Day, Brother’s Day, National Escargot Day, and National Wyoming Day! 

Thursday, May 25th, is… National Brown-Bag It Day and National Wine Day!

May 26th, is… National Blueberry Cheesecake Day! Plus, as the Friday before Memorial Day (for 2023), it’s also… National Don’t Fry Day! 

Saturday, May 27th, is… National Grape Popsicle Day!

Sunday, May 28th, is… National Brisket Day!


…21 down and 31 to go!



By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 30). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).

This is one of those unique combinations of ingredients that has been copied by other restaurants under various names. Some places used celery seed and others used poppy seed, but the basic idea was for a cornstarch thickening in a cooked pudding-like mixture that’s cooled and seasoned.


1 cup water

1/3 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

5 tablespoons sugar

1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix


Put it all in a blender, blending thoroughly until smooth. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan on medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken, resembling a pudding. Remove from heat as soon as you see the first bubble of a boil surface. Cool and refrigerate several hours before using to allow it to stabilize. Makes about 1 3/4-cups.


See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Benefits Begin



By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 30). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).

[From Mackus Red Fox House Dressing] This is one of those unique combinations of ingredients that has been copied by other restaurants under various names. Some places use celery seed and others use poppy seed, but the basic idea was for a cornstarch thickening in a cooked, pudding-like mixture that’s cooled and seasoned.


1 cup water

1/3 cup vinegar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

5 tablespoons sugar

1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix

1 teaspoon celery salt*

1 tablespoon celery seed


Put [first 5 ingredients, as listed] in a blender, blending thoroughly until smooth. Transfer mixture to a sauce pan on medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil and begins to thicken, resembling a pudding. Remove from heat, as soon as you see the first bubble of a boil surface, [then] stir in celery salt and celery seed.

Cool and refrigerate several hours before using to allow it to stabilize. Makes about 1 3/4-cups.

[*See, also on this “Recipes” tab, my Homemade Celery Salt Mix (from page 16, of same book).]


See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Benefits Begin

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Benefits Begin

Spring begins today so happy spring and happy Monday to everyone! Thank God Its Monday, again.  I personally look forward to all Mondays; as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!




Spring begins tonight AND April is just around the corner – which is, among other things, National Lawn And Garden Month, as well as National Garden Month! I’ve written in other blog posts, of how growing your own food saves money on groceries – especially if you don’t factor in the value of your time – but gardening is beneficial in other ways, too.

Most gardening requires some amount of physical care and a continuous dedication of time to such care. When Mom started her newsletter in 1974, she used to dedicate about a page to gardening tips and tricks. She was an avid gardener, when she had time. As her business grew, her gardening time shrunk.

Except for most perennials, you can’t just drop some seeds and come back in a few months to reap the harvest. If only it were that easy! Gardening, after tilling the soil and planting the seeds, usually requires a lot of daily, weekly, and monthly activities – like fertilizing, mulching, watering, trimming, pulling weeds, etc.

However, on the upside, all those activities burn calories. Plus, our bodies get a lot of essential Vitamin D, as we’re doing all that outside, in the sunshine, which is a natural source for it! Gardening also contributes to many important life skills like having faith, patience, and commitment, just to name a few.’s infographic, 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening, explains how gardening can also strengthen our immune systems, relieve stress, elevate feelings of happiness, provide a physical workout, stimulate the brain, and even encourage a healthier diet. Check it out.

Gardening is classified as “moderate” or “light aerobic” exercise because it works all the major muscle groups – legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen – as you stretch, bend, lift, pull, push, etc. Tasks that use these muscles build strength and burn calories.

Gardening is also known to improve heart and lung health and help prevent obesity. It also lowers the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Plus, it stimulates serotonin production, in the brain; regulating mood, anxiety, and happiness. There’s growing research on all the positive effects gardening has on, both, mental and physical health.

One hour of light gardening and yard work burns more than walking, at a moderate pace, for the same amount of time, as it works more muscle groups. An hour of gardening, depending on the specific activities involved, can burn about 324 calories or more. Feel the burn!

Pushing a bagless lawn mower (not a self-propelled or rider style) for 1 hour can also burn about 324 calories and raking up the grass clippings for another 30 minutes, burns an additional 171 calories, according to 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (date unknown), on


The afore mentioned article additionally asserts that reducing waste reduces the waist, since picking up yard waste can also reduce your waist size; claiming that 4 hours, of hard yard work, burns about 1,800 calories. That’s a whopping 450 calories per hour! Did you know that riding a bike for an hour only burns about 135 calories?


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 171)


WHENEVER I FIND PEOPLE unable to master a difficult experience, I like to think of Charles Schwab’s theory about sweetening somebody’s self-image with a little praise.

Whatever the situation in life, there are few people who do not do better work, nor put forth greater effort, under a spirit of approval than they ever would under a spirit of criticism. I like to think of approval and praise as our emotional dessert!

The conflict of opinion between the ‘down-home cook’ and the so-called ‘food purists’, over what is good, and which is bad for our diet, reminds me of the story of the two children playing in a garden where their mothers were visiting. One of the children came running to her mother, crying that the garden was a dreadful place!

When the mother asked her why, the child cried that it was full of bushes that had long sharp thorns that scratched her. The other child soon came skipping back to her mother exclaiming that the garden was a delightful place to play and she was having such a wonderful time there.

When the mother asked this child why, the little girl replied that every thorn bush in the garden was full of lovely red soft roses that smelled so nice and felt so soft to the touch… So it must all boil down to what we are looking for in life – the thorns or the roses!

Early spring is usually when I start pruning our large patches of roses and wild, black raspberries, growing in the backyard. Cutting out all the dead stems and canes makes room for new ones to grow. Thick gloves are highly recommended for this task, to help prevent the hands from getting impaled by the thorns!

Because they’re perennials, not much care is required afterward, until it’s harvest time. But I have to closely watch the timing of that or the birds will harvest all the raspberries, first! And while I am happy to feed our backyard feathered friends, I’d like to be able to gather some, myself, for jam and pies and such.


Early spring is also a wonderful time for bird watching, as flocks return (from down south) to roost here! Our cats have been sitting in our dining room window a lot, lately; watching the birds eating from their feeders and around the lawn, and building nests in the houses my husband made and hung for them.

The spring perennials have started peeking through the thawing ground and the bright sunny yellow of witch hazel is popping against the fading winter landscape. But the arrival of Michigan’s state bird, the red-breast robin, is usually one of our first signs of spring, around here.

Some robins don’t even migrate south, in the fall, anymore – not like they used to. I wonder if their adaptation to our more-mild-than-normal winters, lately, is just another sign of the increase in global warming.


A wide variety of birds like to roost in Michigan, March through October. Others are here all year long like the cardinals, woodpeckers and blue jays. However, most of the varieties that we see are migraters – in with the spring season and back out by mid-autumn. Many people, here, are that way, too – they’re affectionately called “snow birds”.

Bird watching is said to be very therapeutic and, trust me, if you feed them, they will come! I remember Mom always putting out special treats of peanuts, bird seed, and peanut butter for the backyard birds (and squirrels). Watching the birds, she said, relaxed her and inspired a flow of creative thoughts, for her writing. My husband and I do the same.

Throughout the spring, we like to put out orange halves and small cups of grape jelly for the orioles that migrate to our backyard. I’ve seen the woodpeckers enjoy these treats too! It’s also a joy to watch the yellow finches fight over the perches on the thistle feeder. But when the oriole wants thistle, all the finches grudgingly move out of the way.

One of our resident woodpeckers made himself heard, early the other morning, with a loud “rat-a-tat-tat”, on an old tree behind our house. It echoed in our quiet neighborhood. Meanwhile, a big “Mama” robin, was perched in another tree, looking into our garden – probably for worms rising from the thawing earth or stuff to add to her nest.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 15)


COOKING IS ONE OF THOSE personal accomplishments that afford us all the opportunity to express ‘talent’. We love being approved of. In fact, we eat it up! It’s the little pat on the back that gives us the incentive to continue trying. And where else, but in the kitchen, can you try to win approval with such satisfying results!

I’m very partial to my kitchen because it is the one place in our home where I feel the most comfortable! Whether I’m there alone, working on a recipe, or sitting at my desk, looking for inspiration on a new article I’m writing, or sharing a cup of coffee with a neighbor or a friend, who’s dropped by – it’s my favorite room!

I have a desk in the kitchen right next to the [sliding glass] door…that overlooks the yard. Our daughter, Debbie, and our son-in-law, Jim, gave me a flowering crab [apple] tree last Mother’s Day, which they planted right in the middle of the yard. I can enjoy it’s flowers each spring; also the very long bare, red branches during the autumn and it’s snow-covered limbs all winter.

It’s my sundial, by which I observed the seasons and the changes involved with this natural wonder. While the Scotch pines around this little tree never change, never go through the transition of bud to blossom to barren branches and then buds again, I can see the contrasts that are parallel to our own personal predicaments.

Some things, places – and yes, even people – never seem to change, while others go through budding and blossoming and withering away, only to come right back to life again in the sunshine of human kindness; as does my tree, in the sunshine of the seasons.


Before Covid-19 hit us, Mackinaw City used to host an annual “Mackinaw Raptor Fest”, celebrating the unique convergence of migrating birds every spring and fall, due to the area’s exceptional location at the rare intersection of two peninsulas and two of the Great Lakes. Mackinaw was one of my parents’ favorite map dots to go for a long weekend.


In honor of March, being National Celery Month, here are THREE of Mom’s copycat recipes – Mackus Red Fox House Dressing, Celery Seed Dressing (Like Women’s City Club – Detroit), and homemade Celery Mix; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 16 & 30). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].





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


March celebrates, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Craft Month, and National Sauce Month!

[NOTE: Lent began on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, and will run throughout March, until Thursday, April 6th (for 2023).]

Today is also… National Proposal Day, National Ravioli Day, and World Flour Day, as well as it being National Flour Month!

March 21st is… National California Strawberry Day, National Common Courtesy Day, National French Bread Day, and National Single Parent Day! Plus, as the third day (Tuesday) of the third full week of the third month (for 2023), it’s also… National 3-D Day!

March 22nd is… National Bavarian Crepes Day, National Goof Off Day, and National West Virginia Day!

March 23rd is… National Chia Day, National Chip and Dip Day, National Near Miss Day, National Melba Toast Day, National Puppy Day, and National Tamale Day!

March 24th is… National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day, and National Cheesesteak Day!

March 25th is… National Lobster Newburg Day!

March 26th is… National Nougat Day and National Spinach Day! Plus, as the fourth Sunday in March (for 2023), it’s also the beginning of… National Cleaning Week.


…12 down and 40 to go!



By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – Best Of The Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 281). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]


1 cup flour

1/3 cup butter (not margarine)

2 ounces (a scant cupful) shredded cheddar cheese

A dash or 2 of cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp paprika

1½ TB of cold water


Mix flour with butter until crumbly, using pastry blender or 2 forks. Work in cheese, cayenne pepper and paprika. Sprinkle mixture with cold water, mixing as you would a pie crust dough and trying not to handle it too much. Shape into ball and roll out ¼-inch thick on floured surface. Cut with small round cookie [or biscuit] cutter dipped in flour.

Transfer circles to a Pam-sprayed or lightly oiled cookie sheet, placing 1 inch apart. Preheat oven to 350°F and bake 8 to 10 minutes. Remove carefully with pancake turner to let crackers cool on paper towels. When completely cooled store them in a metal tin, with a tight-fitting lid, at room temperature for 7-10 days. Makes about 3 dozen crackers.


See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Pure Michigan Love



By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 7)

At the Governor’s Mansion that year [June 1975], I enjoyed this luncheon dish while attending a National Federation of Press Women’s conference. I asked Mrs. Milliken if I could print the recipe and she graciously agreed.


1 dozen eggs, separated

1¼ tsp salt

½-pint heavy cream

½-lb boiled or baked ham

8-oz can mushrooms, drained

3 tsp butter

Finely shredded cheddar cheese


Butter a 13” [oblong] baking dish generously. Set oven at 350°F. Separate the eggs into 2 deep bowls. Beat yolks and 1 tsp salt until thick and lemon colored. Beat whites with ¼ tsp salt until stiff but not dry. Set both aside. Beat heavy cream until thick. Fold cream into yolks.

Slice ham into matchstick pieces. Combine with mushrooms and sauté very briefly in butter. Add to yolk mixture. Fold in whites. Spoon into prepared baking dish. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350°F or until eggs are “set” but not dry. Should be lightly browned on top. Spoon onto serving plates while hot. Sprinkle each serving, with cheese, immediately. Serves 8-10.


See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Working Parents



By Gloria Pitzer, as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 182).

Chop Suey Buns:


2 2/3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 TB baking powder

1 tsp salt

¼-lb butter, melted & cooled

1 cup milk

2 TB sour cream

3 eggs

½ cup each: chopped candied cherries, scissor-snipped dates, raisins, and chopped walnuts

1 tsp bottled grated orange peel


Combine [first 4 (dry) ingredients] in a medium bowl. [In a separate bowl,] Beat [next 4 (wet) ingredients] together until well combined. Pour wet mixture into dry mixture. Stir with mixing spoon to completely moisten all dry particles and then stir in remaining ingredients.

Grease 18 muffin wells with Crisco. DO NOT flour them. Fill each ¾-full with the batter, which will be thick! Bake at 400°F about 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from pans while warm. Makes 18 large buns.

Mackinac Fruit Bars [Variation]:

Prepare Chop Suey Buns batter (above) and spread it evenly into bottom of a 9”x13”x2” cake pan. Bake at 400°F, about 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes and apply Thin Vanilla Icing [2] over top and sprinkle with pecans. Cut into bars. Makes 3 dozen [small] bars.

Thin Vanilla Icing [See “Recipes” tab: Thin Vanilla Icing (2)]


See also…

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Unforgettable Family Fun