This is the casserole my mom liked.
I found the recipe in a torn and tattered cookbook. It’s falling apart and the pages crumble between my fingers. I handle them as delicately as possible, turning them with two fingers. The typed words appear to be mimeographed, not photocopied. And each page contains a single recipe.
This book is a culinary tribute from the students in my mother’s second grade class to their own mothers.
Earlier this year, I took home a stack of old cookbooks from my parents’ old house. I was surprised to find my one with mom’s hand print traced on the front cover and her name, neatly written in cursive, in the entree section beneath a recipe for Green Bean Casserole. It’s funny how handwriting doesn’t change much over time.
Five days ago, the fourth anniversary of my mom’s death quietly passed. In fact, it passed so quietly that I mostly forgot.
My mom must have liked this recipe. So much so, that she chose this recipe over any others for this class cookbook. My grandma was a wonderful cook. She gave me my first sip of coffee (of which I spit onto her white table cloth), whipped cream by hand, and showed me how to make homemade mashed potatoes. So, when I studied this recipe of nothing more than canned green beans, mushroom soup, American cheese, and French fried onions, I had to smile.
When my mom was grew up, canned vegetables must have been all the rage. When I grew up, they were frozen. And now that I’m an adult, I seek out those that are fresh and local.
But this must have been one of my mom’s favorite dishes, so I had to try it. In honor of my mom, I made the casserole, almost exactly as it was written, adding a few additional seasonings. I tried to restrain myself so I would not ruin the integrity of the experience.
I made a face as I sniffed the uncooked casserole in all of its canned glory. Fortunately, it tasted better when baked. In fact, it was pretty darn good, though I am one who enjoys that traditional green bean casserole, preferably made with canned beans.
Cheesy, creamy, salty and crispy. No wonder she liked it.
Green Bean Casserole
Recipe from Dorothy Bossen. Cookbook published by Bittinger-Wolford, 1959. Recipes compiled from second grade students, rooms six and seven, Richardson School, Cuyahoga Falls, OH.
2 cans green beans (cut or French style). I recommend using lower sodium varieties
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup of American cheese
1 pinch of white pepper
2 pinches smoked paprika
Dash of garlic salt
French fried onions
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Combine the green beans, mushroom soup, cheese, and seasonings.
- Place in small casserole dish.
- Top with French fried onions.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until bubbly. Check part-way through baking to make sure fried onions aren’t burning. Cover casserole with foil if onions are becoming too brown.