Digging Lately: Retro Recipes

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Over the weekend, I attended a bridal shower where “Strawberry Nut Gelatin Salad” was served at the request of my husband’s Nana. I designed some paper goods for the shower, like a Bride-to-Be Banner and a Bridal Luncheon Menu, so when I first heard this addition and had to tweak my design file, my reaction was: BleghGelatin Salad?!

I was pleasantly surprised though and soon found myself scooping seconds and then thirds. It got me thinking more about retro recipes and even inspired me to go out and purchase all the ingredients for another one of my favorites from my husband’s family: Ambrosia Salad. The original recipe is really simple — sour cream, mandarin oranges, chunk pineapple, coconut flakes and mini marshmallows. Healthy, right?! I like to add Cool Whip and halved grapes to mine, too. It’s the perfect summer party food for BBQs and easily elevates itself for a bridal shower luncheon. I usually have most of the ingredients in my pantry too, so it’s easy to throw together in a pinch.

Retro recipes can be hit or miss, I’ll be the first to admit that. They certainly don’t err on the healthy side, usually relying on excessive processed or canned foods to round out the ingredients list. But as long as you take them for what they are, they make special occasions with family more meaningful specifically because they’ve become treasured, signature dishes over the years. I’ve yet to host a party where we haven’t served Nana’s Grape Jelly Meatballs, and in my family, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without my grandmother’s Cranberry and Raspberry Sorbet drink served in a fancy goblet. I still remember how drinking this made me feel oh-so-fancy and grown-up as a young child.

retro food artimage via

As I sit here snacking on a bowl of Ambrosia Salad and peering out the window at my spring garden, I’m envisioning a fun summer party idea to help unearth some new vintage gems: A Retro Recipe potluck. We need a sexier word to replace “potluck” by the way. Just saying.

I can already see sweet, retro-inspired invitations, themed decor and outfit potential and a wealth of family favorite recipes shared among family and friends. Maybe mid-July I’ll get around to hosting this if I’m not too busy with a newborn. Hah!

Additional Resources
FoodNetwork.com — 14 of the best of the best retro recipes

Retro Housewife – 1950s recipes index


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