Thursday, November 23, 2006

Look, Ma: No Cans

The green bean casserole. Ugh. A staple of American holiday feasts as far back as I can remember.
For all I know, it was invented by a team of marketing specialists who wanted consumers to buy canned and frozen junk. A can of cream of mushroom soup. A can of fried onions. And a package of frozen green beans (unless you opted for the canned).
It sort of disappeared from the culinary landscape for a while, but it was reintroduced fifteen or so years ago. It started showing up in the Sunday newspaper coupon pages.
And it rang an old Pavlovian bell for me.
I wanted it.
So, one Thanksgiving, back in the '90s, my parents came to visit. Along with the usual cornball traditional offerings, I served this wacky NASA 20th Century superfood.
One word: Sodium.
It was a salt casserole. I couldn't eat it. (There was one diner at our table who liked it just fine, and that was lucky for him. He got more.)
This year, I finally decided to wrestle the salt casserole to the mat. I made my own, from scratch. And it's all local: the mushrooms, the fried onions, the beans, the herbs. It's really tasty.
Take that, ya corporate goons.


drbiggles said...

Yeah, okay. But doesn't the lack of cans take all the fun out of it? I mean, isn't the fact it sucks make it the cornerstone of the table?

The reason I'm a little sour on it cause my dear mother attempted to recreate the such things using fresh ingredients when the Moosewood Cookbook came out. Today I still get day terrors when she put whole wheat flour in my tollhouse cookies.


cookiecrumb said...

Yer mom's a hippie!

Kevin said...

I've never liked it, and a year ago I had a from-scratch recreation such as you made -- better, but not good.

Kevin said...

And Happy T'day!

cookiecrumb said...

Kevin: I know. It's a really stupid dish. Gummy, starched-up beans? Heh. But I'm wallowing in reduced-sodium nostalgia, and that's fun.
How's phone duty going?
Happy T D to you too!

lucette said...

I had some home-canned beans this year--my daughter and I traded her beans for my peaches. The one good thing was that they weren't high in sodium, and the texture was better, but they were just as bland. Maybe beans just aren't meant to be canned.

Shauna said...

I love it! Not the dish I mean — believe me, I have nightmares about that food, especially the Durkee french fried onions on top. But I love your cantankerous spirit.

I bet it tasted pretty good, too.

mrs d said...

Okay, confession time: My family never ever did the green bean casserole thing. In fact, I'd never heard of the tradition till I met Chopper. My reaction? What the HELL are you DOING to those poor beans????

Seriously. Beans should be fresh, and should be sauteed lightly with garlic or served in a stir fry. Anything else is Just Plain Wrong. And no cans EVER. Canned green beans on MizD's plate = wire hangers in Joan Crawford's closet.

Lucky for me, the classic recipe calls for that evil can of (very dairy) cream of mushroom soup, so y'know what? I have never ever eaten green bean casserole. Not a single bite. And I fully intend to live out the rest of my days in this manner. :-)

cookiecrumb said...

Lucette: Even so, I'm impressed that you had home-canned beans. I guess they just don't like sloshing around in all that water.

Shauna: Keep away! Scary, evil flour in the cream sauce.

Mrs D: I admit, it was a waste of food and effort. An "ironic" accomplishment, though, and how hip is that? I think there might have been some Anita O'Day playing in the background.

Katie said...

I was entrusted the task of opening the cans for the GBC (Green Bean Casserole) at the last family gathering I attended. I snuck in some herbs, garlic and a few other 'unauthorized' bits in order to make in palatable. It was universally panned and I have been forever banned from that chore....(insert sinister laugh here)

Glenna said...

LOL! LOve that you did that! My family always did the corn and cornbread casserole thing too. What's up with that? A Jiffy mix cornbread spoon dish that counts as a veggie? Hmmm....

cookiecrumb said...

Katie: Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! You made it "better" and they didn't get it.

Glenna: Never heard of the corn and cornbread. Jeez, it sounds difficult. (To eat, I mean.) Oh, it was like spoonbread? That's OK, then.

Stacie said...

you go! I am the offical "green bean bringer" in my fam.. and I blow them Midwesterners away with FRESH GREEN BEANS! yep, make a bechamel with roasted mushrooms, and some breaded and fried shallots on top! They don't know what hit 'em!