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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Ode to the Green Bean Casserole by Bea Tifton

 

Recently, a company who looked at Google results compiled a list of each state’s favorite side dishes for Thanksgiving. Texas’ choice was the green bean casserole. Love it or hate it, given the number of places you’ll see green bean casserole this coming holiday, they weren’t far wrong.

Oh, the humble green bean casserole. That goopy mushroom soup. Those wonderfully healthy canned fried onions. Sigh. I love you so. And this is indeed your season to shine. 

 

 

Many people associate green bean casserole with the 1970’s, but it was actually invented in the 1950’s.

Most popular food companies had recipe pamphlets that sold for a low price filled with ways to use their products. Of course, Campbell’s Soup Company did the same, offering a stylish pamphlet replete with tips and recipes. Dorcas Reilly was a home economist who worked in the Campbell’s kitchen. She concocted the green bean casserole recipe in 1955, and she claimed in subsequent interviews that she didn’t actually remember how she came up with the recipe.

Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup had been available since 1934, used as casserole filler in the Midwest so often that in Minnesota it was sometimes nicknamed, “Lutheran binder.”  Campbell’s estimates 40% of the Cream of Mushroom soup sold in the United States goes into making the modest green bean casserole. 

I took a very scientific poll regarding how people felt about GBC, i.e., I posted a question on my Facebook page and my friends generously answered. I got some great responses. 

 

Allison loves GBC so much that when Dorcas Reilly passed away, her father called her to tell her. I hope they made a casserole.Tom correctly identified GBC as comfort food. He even keeps the ingredients on hand and makes it year-round “in case the muse strikes.” Jacquie likes it but can’t eat it anymore. Moment of sympathy for Jacquie. Bummer. Sal-Ann grew up in Wisconsin and ate it there. Texas may have put it on the map, but the indomitable GBC is popular throughout the country. Carol and Judy associate GBC with the past. Carol says she "feels like it’s 1970 again” when she makes it and Judy still likes GBC “perhaps mostly for nostalgia.” 

 

Not everyone’s a fan. Pam, a gentle, sweet person, was punished as a child for refusing to eat GBC and hurting her mom's, aunt's, Grandma's, and Mimi's feelings as a result. She still seems a little traumatized by it, so if you are invited to her house, take a soufflĂ© instead.  Elaine likes it but she’s “not crazy about it", and Brian would rather just have “real green beans.” Guess that’s a “No” to the canned fried onions. Alana is a native Texan who is so “over it.” Probably she’s eating at Pam’s for Thanksgiving then. 

 


Several of my enterprising friends put their own spin on GBC. Danyelle puts green beans in onion soup mix. Kim has her own recipe with mushrooms and cheese mixed in. Mercedes adds cooked mushrooms. Cheryl, the “designated green bean casserole-maker for her family” uses fresh mushrooms, sour cream, sautĂ©ed onions, and cheddar cheese. 

 

And lastly, my two favorite stories.

When Judith first got married in 1959, someone gave the happy young couple an enamel casserole dish, all the ingredients, and the recipe for green bean casserole. What a cool wedding gift!

 

My friend Kelly was an elementary school librarian. Ten years ago, a young student wanted recipes. She took him through the cookbook section, thinking he wanted sweets, but he wanted something that wasn’t in the kid focused cookbooks, green bean casserole. Kelly found the recipe in a magazine and took it to his modest home, along with the ingredients. She says that “he and his aunt made it for their family holidays. To him, it symbolized a good life.” 

Now wipe your eyes and get out your ingredients. We're making Green Bean Casserole, ya'll.  This recipe is taken from the official Campbell's site.

Ingredients

  • 1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup or 98% Fat Free Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked cut green beans
  • 1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions

Instructions

Tips For the cooked green beans: Use 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) green beans, drained, about 1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans or 16 to 20 ounces frozen green beans, thawed, for this recipe.

Step 1 Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.Step 2 Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling.  Stir the bean mixture.  Sprinkle with the remaining onions. Step 3 Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes           Serves: 6          231 calories/serving

Happy eating, dear Readers. And Happy Thanksgiving! 


 

10 comments:

  1. I love it when it is your turn to post. I like GBC. In fact, I am the designated GBC bringer in my family. Small family, so there are usually leftovers I can pack up and save for later.

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    1. Sounds like you have a master plan in making GBC for family gatherings, Stephanie. Thanks for your comments!

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  2. Clever article and interesting to learn when the casserole began. I can't remember a pot luck dinner without at least one person contributing green bean casserole. I like it but I'm not wild about it.

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    1. Given that it has mushrooms in it, you probably need to avoid it. I can't remember a pot luck dinner without it, either. Thanks for your comments.

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  3. My husband hates mushrooms, so we make ours with cream of celery or cream of chicken soup. You know, I can't tell the difference. It's a creamy mixture of softened green beans. I'm up for trying the soy sauce now. Thanks for the post. Happy Thanksgiving!

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  4. Unfortunately for me, my family are not fans of GBC. I grew up on it in Michigan (another state listed by Google as favoring GBC). We substitute broccoli casserole now.

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  5. I wish I could say, "Yum-Yum!" I've had an aversion to green beans since I was a child. Even the scent of them cooking, made my stomach churn. Lol. It didn't help that my mother made me sit at the table, after my siblings were finished, until I ate all the green beans SHE put on my plate. Ah...the memories. Lol

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  6. Bea, even though I dislike green beans, this post was interesting. I love learning little tidbits of history.

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  7. My husband is a native Texan and wouldn't touch a GBC with a 10 foot pole. I'll never forget returning to the U.S. after living in Japan several years and finding GBC as part of the Thanksgiving meal. The stuff seemed part of everyone's holiday meal. It looked so unappetizing. After all these years, it still looks gross to me. *LOL*

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  8. Joan Reeves, it seems I'm not the only one with a gag reflex when it comes to green beans. My husband is the same way about chicken.

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