The Retro Mom

Bringing your grandmother's comfort food out of her recipe box and into your gluten-free kitchen

Bologna Lilies and Avocado Crunchies. Really.

Looking through vintage cookbooks, I can tell you one thing, people had some pretty crazy food combinations. There was a whole peanut butter & ketchup phase, a cooking vegetables into oblivion and then smothering them in sauce phase, a prune phase, a ham and banana casserole phase, and an anything goes as an appetizer phase. That’s where I landed. I love, love, love appetizers. Big, small, hot, cold, fruity, vegetable filled, saucy, it doesn’t matter. The taste combinations are endless, but maybe not all to be tried. Peanut butter and ketchup?

In the 1960’s, as the country moved away from formal dinners with beginnings of soup,etc more casual entertaining and “finger” foods became all the rage! Hostesses could prepare these things earlier in the day, put them in the frig, and work on their mighty Aquanette up-do’s instead.

When I looked into my 1965 Illustrated Good Housekeeping Encyclopedia Cookbook, there were a few helpful hints about appetizers – one of which reads:

“Appetizers, This is an era of dips and dunks and sticks and picks. And we say “hurrah!” Guests love making their own while the hostess takes care of the last minute doings, or greets her guests, then joins in the fun.”

“….then joins in the fun.” Fun? That’s a strange word to be used in the same room as Speedy Tuna Dunk, Surprise Cheese Whip, or Clam and Cheese Spread. Yes, clams. And cream cheese. Together. Sound like fun? No. Fine…….

Digging a bit deeper, I found recipes for this lovely hostess platter:

While not exactly fancy, it provided a good sample of tastes and textures to please everyone here at home. Actually it pleased only me. No one wanted to try anything. So, I am happy to report that 24 hours later I am still eating all of this goodness!

What do we have? Clockwise we have Avocado Crunchies, Garlic Olives, Daiya Jack cheese, Mary’s Gone Crackers. and Bologna Lilies. No, not a typo. Bologna shaped into flowers. Meat flowers. Let’s see how the magic happened:


For the Avocado Crunchies, I skipped the French Dressing – which apparently people added to everything in the 60’s – but did dip my cubes in lemon juice and rolled them in potato chips. They tasted wonderful! Crunchy, which usually you stay away from in an avocado, slightly tangy and creamy. Who would have thought? Also, I don’t know exactly how big avocados were back then, but I only got about 20 cubes out of my avocado – not 48….. Make these right before your guests arrive, or they will turn brown quickly.

For the Garlic Olives: I split my cloves of garlic, put them in with the green olives and their liquid from the can and let them sit for 24 hours.  When I was ready to plate them up, I stuffed the little bits of garlic in each olive – they were a bit spicy and yummy! See the picture below for an alternate “decorating” idea for the olives……..snowman eyes and limbs. That’s something straight out of Doctor Who, for sure.

olive snowman

I can’t lie to you all, beloved readers. This next recipe intrigued me so much – bologna lilies…..who came up with this????? Who sat around the Good Housekeeping test kitchen and said “what can we do with meat, to make it look like a flower?” This is their answer.


For this, I just followed directions. that’s all I could do. And stare. I stared at my creations. They looked like little deranged lilies, but they were definitely meat flowers.


Easter corsages will never look they same……

Until next time gracious hosts and hostesses…….remember, “A drink of some kind is a prerequisite when an appetizer is served……don’t overlook the possibilities of hot tomato juice, hot or cold soup, or bouillon-on-the-rocks….”


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