While walking in the park with friends last month, we started talking about the recipes our mother’s made for us growing up.  The more we tried to trump each other with these ingenious concoctions, the more we laughed.  My memories of sitting on the radiator in the kitchen chatting with my Mom while she opened a can of cream of mushroom soup, frozen green beans and a tube of processed cheese are clear as a bell. The food was pure comfort, and I felt the love.

Liza and I dressed the part for this post.  Here’s a photo from our session – we’re getting inspired from a the 1953 Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, a must-read for any housewife in 1960…

Here we are, getting all inspired about what recipes to prepare….

We tend to think of cooking as a practice that doesn’t change much, but I’ll challenge you to find a recipe in a cookbook from the 80’s that uses pork tenderloin or one today with a can of creamed soup in it.  Just like the hemline of a skirt, recipes slip in and out of vogue seamlessly.  The only thing about Thanksgiving that smacks of tradition is the turkey, unless you’re frying yours this season.

Cheers from Mad Men

I thought it would be fun to give you a view into Thanksgiving in the 60’s.  Here is a tribute to Don Draper and crew!  I’d open a can of cream of mushroom soup with him any day. Drum-roll (or drum-leg?)…

Thanksgiving Menu  1960

Table Setting

# 1 Cocktail

Old Fashion

This is our family’s favorite cocktail and my Dad, in his day, could make a mean one.  The secret is the wrist movement when you muddle the fruit, bitters and sugar.  Consider powdered sugar, it’s easier to muddle.

  • 2 oz of bourbon
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube or teaspoon of powdered sugar
  • orange slice/maraschino cherry to muddle
  • ice cubes

Put orange slice, sugar and bitters in the bottom of an old fashioned glass.  Muddle until juices mix, add ice and bourbon.  Stir.


Who can resist this beautiful arrangement Liza found in an old cookbook?  It’s got all the elements: liver sausage, mayo, gelatin, green olives and a pineapple top.  Kind of a twisted tribute to Hawaii 5-0 and all of you out there who put pineapple on your pizza.  I mean, who can resist the mayonnaise-gelatin-green olive scored glaze?  Beth, if you’re reading, this one is for you:

Seriously, this is from Better Homes. This is high livin’… spread it on a cracker and wait for everyone to ask “Where did you EVER find this recipe?!!

Turkey & Dressing (the usual):

no need for recipes here.


There were three ingredients that went into any good salad in the 60’s:  canned fruit, cream cheese, and jello — hold the lettuce.

Yummy?  Yes, people eat this.

Coke Salad

  • 2 packages of raspberry or jello salad
  • 2 cups crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 cups black bing pitted cherries
  • 1 package of cream cheese
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 2 regular Coca-Colas

Drain juice from pineapple, combine with 2 cups water and bring to boil.  Dissolve jello with this and add cokes. Refrigerate until it begins to gel then fold in the remaining ingredients.

Mrs. Lucille Miller Tull, Mike Miller’s Family and Friends

Sumptuous Sides

Add some hard-boiled eggs to the top for a true depiction of what was made, and loved.

Asparagus-English Pea Casserole

  • 2 cans cut green asparagus  (drained)
  • 2 cans tiny English peas (petit pois-drained)
  • 2 cans of Heinz cream of mushroom soup
  • 4 extra large hard-boiled eggs
  • Velveeta Cheese as garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Grease 2 quart oblong casserole with oleo.  Layer asparagus, peas, soup and chopped eggs. Add another layer of same ingredients.  Cover with slices of velvetta.  Bake at 350 degrees until bubbling hot. Serve 8-10.

Mrs. R.J.Allen, Jr  from Bayou Cuisine


Pink Stuff

  • 2 large cartons fat free Cool Whip
  • 1 large package vanilla instant pudding
  • 1 can fat free Eagle Brand milk
  • 2 cups cherry pie filling
  • 2 cups pineapple tidbits, drained
  • 1 cup pecan pieces.

Mix Cool Whip and instant pudding together.  Stir in Eagle Brand Milk.  Then stir in pineapple and pie filling; add pecans, mixing well, and sprinkle with nuts. Submitted by Wilma Dee Coode, Mike Miller’s Family and Friends cookbook

No wonder in the 60’s women sported a stiff drink, took a long inhale on a cigarette and thought, “If it’s in a can, it’s gotta be good for you.”

And, at the end of day, how does any true lady from 1960 relax?  With a martini, a cigarette, and a good friend:

StyleBlueprint circa 1960

With a few giggles thrown in….

Happy Thanksgiving.  A special thanks for our 1960’s outfits and aprons to Kim Brewer at KimVintage, at the Tennessee Antique Mall and Downtown Antique Mall.