Retro Tea Menu

I hope this menu brings back memories. I wanted to recreate a ladies' tea from about 1960. I remember so well going to Ladies' Aid meetings with my mother where tea was served after the programs. The hostesses were some of the best cooks around and took great pride in the food they served guests. One lady in particular delighted in using unusual ingredients and asking everyone to guess what the secret ingredient was. I remember a cake with tomato juice and another that contained Coke. No secret ingredients in this menu though, just good food.

Offer your guests a Tomato Juice Cocktail when they first arrive. Use a bit of alcohol or not; you know your guests' preferences.

A 7-Layer Salad begins the tea. These were so popular when I was a kid. Use your prettiest glass bowl so all the layers can be seen.

Do you remember when everyone was making Crabbies, a melted cheese and crab spread on English muffins? They are super rich but each muffin is cut into quarters to prevent overload. Although don't count on your guest eating only one.

Fancy Deviled Eggs are a treat that almost everyone loves. I'll give lots of options for fillings, garnishes and shapes.

Pictured at the top of the page is a Party Sandwich Loaf. The illustration and recipe come from a little magazine called The Workbasket. This particular issue was from May, 1957. More about the magazine below.

The dessert course begins with a Frozen Fruit Salad. It can be made a month in advance.

One of my favorite desserts as a kid was Marshmallow Crescent Puffs. I'm sure a lot of you remember these too. They were a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner in the '60s.

It doesn't sound especially attractive but a Dump Cake tastes good and is fun to make. Be sure to tell your guests the name of this cake so they can remember that their grandmothers baked this too.

Since this is a Retro Tea Party, use a favorite old tea bag tea. Yes, I said it, tea bag. Lipton, Red Rose or Tetley Tea is probably what a lot of our families used when we were kids. No one will mind that you aren't using a high quality loose tea. Just be sure to offer sugar, lemon and milk along with the tea.

I mentioned The Workbasket and perhaps some of your mothers or grandmothers subscribed to this magazine. Mine didn't but I found dozens of them at a flea market years ago. Today you can't find doily, tablecloth or bedspread crochet patterns like the ones this magazine featured. And there wasn't only crochet but also knitting, tatting, rug making, embroidery and just about any other craft from that time. There was a recipe section each month and a plant or gardening section too. If you happen to find an old collection of this magazine, pick it up!