As seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 279)… [A rewrite of her famous, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]*
Legend has it that Puddin’ Hill has the best-darn fruitcake west of the Mississippi – and the recipe for it is a secret that has been closely guarded by a lady named Mary, and her family – who’ve made it, not just a tradition, but a reason for celebrating!
Break up walnuts with hammer. Slice dates into 4 pieces each. Mix these with currants and set aside. Put pineapple and its juice with 1 cup of the sugar in a small sauce pan. In another small sauce pan, combine cherries with their juice and the other cup of sugar.
Let both pans simmer briskly, uncovered, about 30 minutes. Reserving the syrups, drain each. Set fruits aside to cool, spreading them out over lightly-oiled cookie sheets. Place cookie sheets of fruit in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.
Remove [cookie sheets] to cool for 15 minutes. Combine [fruit] with the first cup of flour and walnut mixture in roasting pan. Coat every single dry particle of it with the flour.
Then beat remaining ingredients, as listed, with electric mix er on medium-high speed for 5 minutes.
Pack mixture evenly into bottom of 2 Pam-sprayed, 8-inch, square Pyrex baking dishes that have 2 layers of wax paper on bottom only.
Place dishes on cookie sheets to bake at 275°F for almost 2 hours or until toothpick inserted in center of each comes out clean.
Cool [cakes]. Cut each into 2 equal loaf-like pieces. Wrap each in a brandy-soaked cloth and then in plastic bags. Store at room temperature for 30 days to “ripen” before serving.
If you [want to] use the cakes right away, you can take the reserved syrup from the pineapple and cherries, which you set aside earlier, and combine them in a small sauce pan, until piping hot.
Remove from heat and measure the syrup. Add half as much whiskey, rum or brandy and brush the warm syrup over the cake-loaves before slicing to serve. Freezes well up to a year.
Makes 4 loaves (4 x 8” each). If prepared 30 days before serving, soak and re-soak cloth in liquor during that time, keeping them just dampened. Sealing cakes in air-tight containers – after wrapping in the cloths and in the plastic bags to keep them moist.
There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football. Thus, in honor of both, Mom and Dad, I want to write a little about the colossal Super Bowl event that is only 6 days away, now. This year the big extravaganza is being held in Tampa Bay, FL.
And it just so happens that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the NFC champions, facing-off (at home) against the AFC’s champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a rare event when a city hosting the Super Bowl actually has their own team in the event, as the hosting cities are set years in advance. Therefore, Tampa Bay Floridians have been celebrating on a huge scale, as the NFC champions AND Super Bowl LV hosts!
Despite the pandemic that has been plaguing our country and the rest of the world for nearly a year – and continues to do so – parties are still being planned for the big event (even if on a smaller scale than usual), squares are being bought, bets are being placed and all the usual hype about the half-time show and “special” TV ads have already begun!
It seems that there’s always something to celebrate, every day of every year – even if it’s not an “official” holiday – and next Sunday is no exception! Football is not something Mom celebrated but Dad certainly did! Regardless, Mom did always like to entertain – especially with food and drinks – and almost any excuse for a “party” would do!
Over the past five and a half decades, the Super Bowl has evolved from a simple championship football game into a cultural phenomenon and an un-official holiday. How perfect that February is also National Snack Food Month, since the most popular Super Bowl party eats are from the snack foods category! At home, snacks are usually prepared from common pantry ingredients and don’t require a lot of preparation. They’re typically “finger-foods” intended to be convenient, easy, quick, and satisfying.
Whether packaged/processed or homemade, snacks are usually small portions of food that are generally eaten between meals and/or before bedtime. However, the category of snack foods (like the Super Bowl event, itself) has evolved from simple cookies, popcorn, pretzels, chips, dips, and the like to also include appetizers like pizza bites, chicken wings, nachos, fondues and deep-fried morsels of just about anything; as well as sliders!
[Below is a re-share of Mom’s famous imitation of sliders, like White Castle’s, who were one of the few corporations that took her imitation for what it was – a compliment – and approved, buying a bunch of her cookbooks to give to all of their company’s executives!]
Last year, according to an article at TheDailyMeal.com, The Most Popular Super Bowl Party Foods, Ranked [written by Carolyn Menyes (Jan. 13, 2020)], the #1 favorite snack food choice was chicken wings! Others that made the top 15 list in this article include sandwiches like subs, pulled pork, and sliders; as well as nachos, chili, pigs-in-blankets, potato skins, guacamole and a half-dozen others.
Another article, Ranking the Best Super Bowl Party Foods, from the staff at SI.com, lists 12 favorite Super Bowl snacks of their own – some not listed in the other article. A couple that I really liked were jalapeño poppers and crab dip. However, they were both in agreement with the #1 choice being wings!
Wikipedia.com claims that about “28 million pounds… of chips, 1.25 billion chicken wings, and 8 million pounds… of guacamole are consumed during Super [Bowl] Sunday”. I searched for Brady’s and Maholmes’ favorite Super Bowl snacks. It seems that Brady is a vegetarian and health nut, while Maholmes seems to like KC Barbeque (go figure).
If you’re a vegan, like Brady, check out Que’s Baked Cauliflower Wings! Que is from our Detroit area and often appears on our local Fox2 News show. This lady is awesome – and I’m not even vegan!
For your Super Bowl celebration (or any day for that matter), below is a repeat sharing of Mom’s imitation for Hot Wings like she had at one of our local Hooters’ restaurants many decades ago… followed by one of her satirical columns about football.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 301-302)
Originally from… “MINDING THE HEARTH” – a syndicated column by Gloria Pitzer (circa 1970s)
I am resigned to my life with an armchair quarterback, for I know that the garlic in our matrimonial gladiola patch is PRO FOOTBALL! From September to March, every year, there is always going to be a gigantic communication gap in our house.
The art of conversation isn’t really lost. It’s merely hidden behind the pre-game warm-up, installing a power offense which will take advantage of decent, but not blinding, speed in the backfield in a right-handed attack with a lot of blocking in a size-out pass pattern.
I guess the reason I’ll never win an argument with my husband in the fall is that I can’t understand one single word he says. I even tried to leave him once during an NFL game, but it wasn’t until the Super Bowl was over (5 months later) that he even noticed I was gone.
I admit, I don’t know much about football, but I still insist it isn’t quite fair that the fellow who worked so hard last season, doing a terrific job as quarterback, wasn’t promoted to HALF-back this season! Anyway, the last time I tried to cultivate an interest in the game was the time my husband called me in to watch the last two minutes of an exciting game. (Mind you, I use the term ‘exciting’ very loosely!) I guess it was exciting.
Paul kept jumping up and down, hollering, ‘Look at them go!’ All I learned from that experience, was that two minutes of football is equal to 20 minutes of Daylight Savings Time. An ordinary Sunday afternoon at our house would begin as he slipped into his George Blanda sweatshirt and punted his bottle of Ironized Yeast Tablets across the room, then he would step up to the TV set and announce, ‘Gloria, is there anything you’d like to say to me before football season begins?’
Perhaps you understand why every fall I join ‘Parents Without Partners’. Because my husband would only notice me if I were to run through the living room with… a number on my back. I can forgive him a lot of faults, especially during football season, but… When he asked if I had anything to say to him before he turned on the set, it was no wonder I replied, ‘Do I have to say it all now?’
‘…You know better than to speak to me during an instant replay!’ he snapped.
‘All right,’ I screamed. ‘Why do you love football better than you love me?’
‘I don’t know,’ he said, scratching his head. ‘But I love you better than basketball! … Love you? Of course, I love you! That’s my job. I’m your husband! Besides, I love EVERYBODY!’
‘I suppose you’d like to have dinner in the living room, in front of the TV,’ I said tartly. ‘Or should I time it for the half-time extravaganza?’
‘Half-time will be fine. By the way,’ he asked, ‘what are we having for dinner?’
‘Film clips of last Sunday’s roast!’ [I answered.]
‘That’s not funny,’ he snapped. ‘I’m getting hungry!’
‘Good!’ I said bitterly. ‘Then the pre-dinner line-up includes whose off-sides that can set the table while I give you a slow-motion replay of how your son kicked the oven door while I was pampering a Boston butt-cuss (an illegal substitution for pork roast) and spelled out Billy Sims with 659 parsley flakes on a field of mashed potatoes.’
‘Okay,’ he chuckled. ‘I can take a joke as well as the next guy. But what are we really having for dinner?’ He asked.
[I answered.] ‘PICKLED PIGSKIN – that’s what!’
WITH ALL THIS INFORMATION IN MIND, you must now understand why it is that I have never written a book for women. I thought I did not have enough information to hold a woman’s interest for more than one or two chapters. But I do NOW, and I’m going to entitle it ‘EVERYTHING YOU NEVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT FOOTBALL – and were sorry you asked!’
Football season, the punt of no return, is that once-a-year experience that makes me wonder, as my husband sits, watching one game after the other on TV, why he hasn’t worn out HIS end zone! It’s my own fault. I tried to cultivate an interest in the game so that we could share something besides the absence of conversation between us on weekends from September through February.
But looking back, it seems that all we have been able to share, instead, is the compelling urge to see this season over with. I want to see it over with, so that we can be a family again, and my husband would like to see it over with, so that he can see how closely he came to determine the winning team at the Super Bowl!
My armchair quarterback keeps giving advice on every play. Every time this happens, I expect Tom Landry to stretch his arm right through our picture tube and point at my husband, insisting, ‘Hey, you – you with all the advice! Go in for Dupree!’
Mind you, this is the same man who has committed to perfect memory such statistics as how many touchdowns and yards run, his favorite player has mastered, but he can’t remember his own shirt size, where he left his car keys, our kids’ middle names, nor his mother’s telephone number!
But, at least, he is not as emotional over the game as some husbands I know. Just last weekend, I visited my friend while she was in traction in the hospital, bandaged from head-to-toes like an Egyptian mummy – while her apologetic husband leaned over her, explaining, ‘Honey, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times… NEVER walk in front of the TV during a 95-yard punt return!’
I SUPPOSE, ONE THING I CAN ALWAYS DO, while he watches television football games, is the grocery shopping. After all, somebody must! We can’t eat without groceries. While I have tried to train Paul for retirement, by trying to teach HIM how to shop for the food, I don’t believe he is ready, yet, for his ‘solo flight’ down the aisles of the A&P!
I’m the food-shopper with outstanding guilt-complex who is driven to [let]to poor souls with 4 items in their arms to go ahead of me – unless they’ve brought their lunch with them and are prepared to spend a month in line behind me, explaining the 3 carts of groceries to the person behind me who has never had feed a family of teenagers.
One must chance that while you are permitting all those nice people to pass you up with their one or two items more than the express line will allow, and YOUR ice cream is in a puddle on the floor under your cart that is being mopped up by a disgruntled stock boy! Things like this occasionally afford me the reputation of being recognized by butchers everywhere as, ‘Here comes that nut who always has to see the other side of the roast!’
Parties for Super Bowl Sunday typically involve large gatherings of friends and families, including those who aren’t even fans of the game. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, the “Super Sunday” event (even during a continuing pandemic) always gives people a good excuse for getting together (if only in small, safe groups) to socialize, watch the big game and half-time show – and let’s not forget about the buffets of snacks, appetizers and sweets to consume (as well as the beer)!
The consensus seems to be that Super Bowl Sunday is America’s second biggest day of food consumption, next to Thanksgiving. Maybe that’s why half of the Super Bowl ads are usually food focused. One could say that the Super Bowl parties, themselves, have evolved into a food-fest competition! The top three contenders, for the past few years have been between chicken wings, pizza, and nachos.
I agree with what Jenna Helwig noted in her article (Feb. 5, 2016), You’ll Never Believe How Much Food We Eat On Super Bowl Sunday, on Parents.com, regarding the “second biggest day of food consumption”. Jenna argued that the “Super Bowl actually better reflects what most of us really WANT to eat: classic junk food. From chips and wings to nachos and beer, the Super Bowl is our excuse to just chow down and enjoy all the foods that we rarely eat or feel like we should eat the rest of the year. It should go without saying: There is no place for food guilt during the Super Bowl.”
In case you missed WHBY’s “Good Neighbor” show last week, below is a link where you can listen to the recorded podcast of Kathy Keene and I, discussing Super Bowl snacks and some of Mom’s favorite Mexican-style appetizers from page 65 of her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018).
Happy Monday AND happy summer! I hope all the dads out there had an awesome, memory-making Father’s Day with their kids yesterday! As always, #TGIM – I always look forward to Mondays because they are my #52Chances a year to share these memories of my mom with all of you!
After being cooped up, to some degree, as usual, for the winter months, (which, in Michigan, is usually 4 months long instead of 3 – all of December through all of March) people are usually “biting-at-the-bit” to get out and enjoy spring! But this spring turned out to be a 3-month-long (and more extreme) extension of our “winter hibernation”, because of all the pandemic restrictions and closures. So, I ask: “Who isn’t ready to get outside now and explore the “Great Outdoors”?
My husband and I love to enjoy the outdoors by going on a nature hike, or by taking a long scenic drive around Michigan’s “Thumb Area” and having a picnic by the lake or checking out a small village eatery. We also enjoy camping whenever we can get away for the weekend – Michigan has a lot of beautiful campgrounds, parks, and state land to enjoy and explore.
I, myself, have been spending more quality time outdoors, this month, going for long walks or working in my gardens, as the weather has been getting warmer. I pulled out our cushions for the backyard furniture and made it “visitor-ready”. In fact, we had a backyard campfire with a few friends to welcome in the summer solstice.
I’ve also started organizing all of our camping gear and going over my checklist so it’s “ready to go” (except for filling our coolers) whenever we are ready to go. We usually go camping a few times a year – spring, summer, and fall. We missed our usual springtime excursion – so we’re really looking forward to our annual summer get-away! How do you like to enjoy your summer?
An online survey of Americans, conducted four years ago, in 2016, by the National Recreation and Park Association, found that the three most commonly preferred summer activities, among all the different age groups, were walking/hiking, going to the beach and having a picnic/barbecue. That sounds about right, still, today! It was interesting, though, that the survey had also found that Millennials preferred going swimming in a pool over walking/hiking.
If you’re one of those who are working out of their home all the time, like Mom and Dad did – or as many have been doing, temporarily, for the past 3 or 4 months because of the Covid-19 restrictions – that can also make you want to “get out and about” every once in a while.
Mom and Dad loved to take a day just to go on a scenic road trip to unwind from the workload at home and refresh themselves. Sometimes, however, work would manage to creep back in whenever they stopped for a bite to eat. Mom always managed to find something good that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got back home.
FRIENDS ARE A TREASURE and, when we count our blessings, we count our friends twice! It’s not possible to have a full and happy life without others to share with, to help when help is needed, to be helped when help is offered. – Gloria Pitzer
Mom and Dad seemed to make friends everywhere they went. Some trips were just for relaxation and fun. But other trips involved some Secret RecipesTM work too, as Mom really did enjoy what she did and it was easy to incorporate 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.
Mom and Dad also loved to spend a weekend, here and there, camping with their “Good Sam” friends around Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. In fact, Mom wrote about that in her book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 61); saying: “Recipe seminars that I have conducted for the Good Sam RV organization in, both, Michigan and Ohio, have given me the opportunity to meet with and talk to people from all over the country relative to their recipe interests and food needs.”
Mom often said that her writing made living worthwhile. But her legacy of Secret RecipesTM gave her so much joy that, for the most part, it wasn’t like “working” at all.
FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…
As seen in…
My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 100)
MORE THAN FRIENDS
Some of our best ideas that come from our friends and we happily share the good they have offered. But even before the recipes were a part of our livelihood, I was learning from friends, holding dear the wonderful ideas they offered. From Dolores Garavaglia, one of my first friends when Paul and I were married, I learned how to make a terrific Italian spaghetti sauce.
We were visiting Ray and Dolores at their cottage, recently, near Houghton Lake [MI], and laughing over the dramatic shortcuts we’ve learned to take since those days, over 30 years ago, when we cooked ‘from scratch’ and thought nothing of an 18-ingredient recipe. From Harold and Anna Muzzi, we have derived a sense of appreciation for a friendship that goes back to Paul’s childhood when Harold [Muzzi] and Ray Garavaglia were his best friends and neighbors.
Julia Bulgarelli, another long-time dear friend, has always given me good ideas and she came from the cottage next door to Ray and Dolores to share an ‘oven stew’ recipe with me that we used in our January-February 1990 issue of our newsletter. Our files are full of such wonderful dishes. But, in addition to that, we learn about living and about loving from our friends. There is a reciprocation that blooms with affectionate exchanges, whether by mail or with personal visits.
Sherry Ellis came to my aid more than once when I was bogged down and needed another pair of hands. I appreciate her sparkle and enthusiasm for just about everything. Sophie Wesley and I have been super friends since we bowled together years ago and, when I least expect it, and needed it the most, a card would come in the mail from Sophie, reflecting the beautiful thoughts that comfort when comfort is needed.
Betty Pumford and I became friends through Flossie Taylor, who passed away a few years ago. Flossie [also] introduced me to Elsie Masterton’s cookbooks, which I truly treasure. Some of Flossie’s recipes dated back to her childhood when she remembered visiting her Aunt Clara and Uncle Henry [Ford] at ‘Fairlane’, their home in Dearborn, Michigan. Betty and I had wonderful lunches with Flossie and after Flossie was gone, carried on the happy tradition, also exchanging some great recipes along the way, as well as understanding and happy conversations.
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!
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!’ [From “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING” by Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]
To 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! – from Gloria Pitzer (1989)
Since my dad passed away in the fall of 2014, Father’s Day has become one of those days when I miss my dad more immensely than others! Like any daughter might feel, he was and will always be my hero! Thus, being that yesterday was Father’s Day, I want to share with you an old, satirical editorial that Mom wrote about Dad called “Father’s Day (or) the King and I!” Below is a photocopy of the article, which I found in Mom’s June 1974 newsletter issue.
There weren’t many things that stumped my mom more than understanding my dad’s love of football.
When I shared the following passage in last week’s blog post, I knew something about it sounded familiar. The “Texas Fruitcake” and “Horton’s…family” referred to in Mom’s story were that of Puddin Hillfame.
Grandpa was holding a full house, trying to beat the town’s commercial Baker, and Grandma’s competitor. When Grandpa ‘called’ him, Hartwig Horton was holding a flush of diamonds, but confessed he couldn’t pay Grandpa in cash. However, he would call the debt squared, if Grandpa would agree to take, instead of cash, a much-coveted recipe for his family’s ‘Texas Fruitcake’ that Grandma had been trying to duplicate for years; the secret formula closely guarded by Horton’s Texas family [as in ‘Puddin Hill’].Grandpa agreed. – Gloria Pitzer, Eating Out At Home Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1981, 12th Printing, p. 42)
Mom’s “imitation” of this famous fruitcake was in her last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 279); which was a rewrite of her famous, self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).
It’s unclear if Mom developed this recipe, herself; or if she may have gotten it from “Grandma’s Kitchen Journal”, which she has mentioned a number of times in her “family folklore” stories that I’ve been sharing with you the last few weeks. I’m sure Mom would like to spin another yarn about this being THE recipe, won in a West Virginia saloon poker game! But I’m pretty sure it’s Mom’s own development.
These recipes, pictured below, are worth repeating. In honor of today, being National Onion Rings Day – here is Mom’s copycat recipe for the BEST ONION RINGS IN THE WORLD! It’s the same batter she used for her imitation of Arthur Treacher’s fish. Both of the recipes, in the photo below, were on Mom’s sample sheet of recipes that she gave away years ago in exchange for a SASE. They were also among Mom’s “Original 200” recipes – the cornerstones of her Secret RecipesTM legacy. Enjoy!
P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…