Truly Upsetting Recipes from the Lutheran Ladies’ Family Favourites, and Puffy Pirate Shirts

On Friday I was visiting my parents and going through old albums, feeling nostalgic for years gone by. Not all of the albums had dates written in them, but as it turns out I can predict with 95% accuracy the year based on my hairstyle and clothing in the photos. Long, straight hair with hairbands and ripped jeans with tights underneath? 1990. Gigantically teased bangs and permed hair with Benetton t-shirts and acid washed jeans? 1988. Babydoll dresses with combat boots? 1991. Super short kilts with turtleneck sweaters that probably made my dad age 100 times faster? 1992-3. High waisted jeans with puffy pirate shirts and spiral permed hair, drinking a bottle of Evian?


1994. This photo sums up the early nineties quite nicely, I think, including the home décor.

That hair was soon to be sacrificed for the Rachel cut, as I joined practically every other female aged 16-34 in getting those layers that took forever to grow out.



Speaking of hair, this morning I was having a startlingly good hair day. It was amazing, voluminous but not too voluminous, wavy but not too wavy, grey roots noticeable but not too noticeable. Sadly, the wind is gusting 65 kilometres an hour, and three minutes before I had to leave the house the snow started. And not regular January snow, either, but the super wet, heavy snow that is more typical for spring than winter. Sadly. Wet, heavy snow plus gusting wind equals a demolished good hair day. Since I am nothing if not spunky and tenacious, I did manage to salvage something out of my initial “one hour of fabulous hair”, enough to take a picture:


A number of people have sent me the link to Buzzfeed’s “Truly Upsetting Vintage Recipes” and honestly, a startling amount of them reminded me of church potlucks of my youth. In fact, I have a cookbook given to me by my mother, many years ago, entitled “Canadian Lutheran Ladies’ Family Favourites Cookbook” and it features an entire section of “Meat and Macaroni Salads”. Don’t get me wrong, the baked goods in this cookbook are amazing – no one makes muffins and “squares” like the Lutheran Ladies, but the “Salads” sections are sadly lacking in yumminess. Of course, this book was published in 1983 and things were different back then. I don’t know about you, but the salads of my childhood were iceberg lettuce-based, with a few radishes and cauliflower pieces thrown in, topped with Thousand Island dressing. That’s what salads WERE back then, people, at least in my part of the world. We didn’t have fancy herbs and lettuces and avocados and vinaigrettes; vinaigrettes were white vinegar with some vegetable oil, lettuce was iceberg, and no one knew what cilantro was. We all survived, and now we’re all completely spoiled with our year-round produce availability based on the 10,000 Mile Diet. Nowadays I get all uppity if the grocery store kale isn’t crisp enough, or if there’s no fresh basil in the produce section. COMPLETELY SPOILED.

But just to show that I haven’t forgotten my roots, I will share with you a couple of recipes from the Lutheran Ladies.

Truly Upsetting Recipes From The Lutheran Ladies’ Family Favourites

1) Vera’s Weiner Pie. Besides the impressive name, this recipe involves potatoes, onion, celery, carrots, and turnips in a creamy sauce, along with a “package of wieners” and a “pie crust”. Vera, is the pie crust homemade or frozen? We will never know. How did Vera come up with “wieners” in a “cream sauce”? WE WILL NEVER KNOW.

2) African Chow Mein. I’m just going to let that title sink in for a moment. This recipe utilizes the flavour combination of hamburger, celery, and onion, together with rice, soy sauce, canned mushroom soup, and – oddly – molasses. What makes it African? What makes it chow mein, for that matter?

3) Beet and Cream Molded Salad. Molded salads were the backbone of the church potluck, were they not? Fortunately I have never actually seen the beet and cream one, which involves canned beets, orange jello, and sour cream.

4) Watergate Salad. Again, the title is the most impressive thing about this salad, which really just sounds like something that would have made me cry a little at the church picnic. I mean, it’s no African Chow Mein, but still I wonder – what makes this worthy of the Watergate title? It’s crushed pineapple, pistachio pudding mix, non-dairy whipped topping, miniature marshmallows, and nuts. Not my cup of tea, but it just doesn’t seem scandalous enough for the name.

5) Vegetable and Pineapple Souffle. This odd recipe mixes lime jello with mayonnaise and vinegar, then adds crushed pineapple, cucumber, celery, and ONION. I’m really confused about the flavour combination.

6) Jellied Chicken Salad. Have you ever looked at a packet of Lipton’s Chicken Noodle Soup and thought, I wonder what this would be like in jellied form? Well, here’s the recipe for you – also includes cooked chicken, celery, onion, apple, and lemon jello.

7) Summer Salad. I think you could probably make this any time of the year; the ingredients are always available these days. One can of tomato soup, 1 package of lemon jello, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, celery, green pepper, onion, cheddar, and chopped chicken. You could use shrimp OR salmon instead of chicken, to shake things up a little.

8) Liver Casserole. Entire recipe reads as follows: “Sear liver. Place in layers as follows: Liver. Onion. 2 apples. Place bacon slices on top. Cover and cook 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Uncover and cook 1/2 hour more.” Ah, simplicity.

9) Hungarian Style Baby Beef Liver. I was going to write the recipe for this one but I got as far as “skin liver” and I don’t know what that means and my mind is racing. I guess what makes this recipe Hungarian is the paprika involved.

10) Jellied Egg Salad. Lemon jello is very popular in this book. This recipe involves lemon jello, mayonnaise, cottage cheese, and sliced hardboiled eggs. I need offer no further comment.


  1. My mom has a Betty Crocker “Dinner For Two” cookbook she received as a wedding gift in 1968. I had a wonderful time reading through it when we were home for Christmas. They were obsessive about gelatin, beets, organ meat. That cookbook might explain Gen X’s low numbers. After a candlelight dinner of liver ‘n beets, all anyone would want it a toilet and a pillow.

    Also, we had the same fashion sense. The. Same. When did you graduate from high school? ’89 here.

  2. My mom was visiting last night and we were talking about some of those terrible recipes in that link. She told me about this gelatin salad that she used to make that had canned crab in it. She said everyone always gobbled it up and she never had leftovers, but she always thought it was disgusting herself. I can’t believe the amount of Jello that people used to eat.

  3. I could tell you what they mean by “skin liver” but I don’t want to upset you. BUT I COULD TELL YOU. Membranes are involved.

    I have so many of these kinds of recipes from Michael’s Nana – the seafood muffins are just the beginning. Cold jellied salads! Loaves of meat! Olives if you’re being fancy!


  4. Those recipes..ugh. I’m not even picky, and I’ve gone to plenty of church potlucks, but wow, things have changed. Thank goodness, say I!

  5. My usual rule of thumb is if I didn’t have to make it, I can’t complain about it, but finding any of these recipes at any function I attended would cause me to violate that rule so hard. I can’t even conceive of enjoying the vast majority of these. Wow.

    • I just found out through a friend that Watergate salad is named Watergate salad because it was originally served in the Watergate hotel; nothing to do with the scandal. Interesting, no? Like a Waldorf, but with marshmallows and gelatin.

  6. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, not in a church-going family, and some of that food sounds familiar. I still get nostalgic for those casseroles with noodles and canned soup. And chow mein (regular chow mein with crunchy noodles). My guess is the molasses might be the “African” part, though I think it’s probably more Caribbean.
    p.s. Spell check wants me to spell it chow mien– chow face. Appetizing, huh?

  7. I just…can’t. EVEN. I will never look at jello the same way again.

    Also: I totally miss the combat boots baby doll dress look! It was adorbs. Next time I’m at Value Village I am totally seeking out combat boots.


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    Truly Upsetting Recipes from the Lutheran Ladies’ Family Favourites, and Puffy Pirate Shirts

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