Greatest Generation Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 6,129 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—8,751 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! MJ 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life   

For this week’s Each Other/Greatest Generation Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I was off to visit Gramma Barbie at the Sunny Oaks Retirement Home in Florida. Don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t just going to earn a new merit badge, I also love me some Gramma time. She’s a hoot. She promised to teach her secret family recipe for Green Bean Casserole, so I set off for Florida, my mouth watering all the way.

The drive gave me plenty of opportunities to think up new life questions for Gramma. Sometimes you know someone so well, you don’t realize what you don’t know. You know? Last time I spent time with her, she almost gave me TMI, if you know what I mean. So this time, I planned to keep her on the straight and narrow,  conversationally speaking.

Turns out, my little plan was derailed by plans of her own. The sneaky woman put me to work organizing old photographs while she gallivanted off with her friends to play bingo. Well, I admit grudgingly, this works too …


Photo by Ricardo Peralta Solis via Wikimedia Commons

By the time Gramma got back (three hours and 20 bucks richer), I had several photo albums filled with old—er, I mean to say vintage—photos, and my tummy was rumbling for some casserole. I let her thumb through my masterpiece while she talked me through her secret recipe:

Green Bean Casserole

Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup Concentrate:
3 T unsalted butter
1 small shallot, minced (about ¼ cup)
½ cup minced crimini mushrooms
2½ T all-purpose flour
½ cup vegetable broth
½ cup whole milk
1 pinch kosher salt
2 pinches freshly ground black pepper

Start by melting the butter in a pan. Add your shallots and sauté till soft. You can add some garlic here too, if you’re feeling wild and crazy and want to stay vampire free. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk. Pour in broth and milk. Let bubble and simmer for about 5 minutes. Season.

Now it’s time to use this baby for some casserole!

Green Bean Casserole:
2 lbs haricot verts (green beans)
1 recipe Homemade Cream of Mushroom Soup Concentrate (above)
½ t kosher salt
¼ t coarse black pepper
¼ cup half-and-half
4 T unsalted butter
2 large shallots, peeled and sliced thin

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Season a pot of boiling water with a few pinches of salt. Drop in the beans and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove and immediately plunge the beans into icy water for a minute or two. Remove to a colander and pat dry.


Photo by Warden via Wikimedia Commons

Add the blanched beans to a large bowl. Pour the homemade cream of mushroom soup over top. Season with kosher salt and black pepper and pour in the half-and-half.

Toss the beans around until coated and place them into a 1½ to 2-qt baking dish. Pop into your preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the beans are fork tender. Toss the green beans once halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet. Add the sliced shallots and stir every so often until they start crisping up. Once they’ve reached a golden color {but not too deep} remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined dish, where they will continue to crisp as they cool.

With 10 minutes remaining on the clock, remove the casserole and top with the shallots. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the shallots turn a deep golden. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Leave a comment 2 Comments

  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I have been wondering what would be the homemade version of cream of mushroom soup. Voila, Crimini mushrooms are the secret mushroom flavor! I might have to try this family favorite over the holidays while my children are here for meals.

  2. NancyB says:

    Green bean casserole has been a must have Thanksgiving dish for my family for years. About 4 years ago I found a recipe for making the whole thing from ‘scratch’. It was amazing how much tastier it was than using CANNED SOUP! Now the dish is requested frequently all through the year instead of once or twice. My problem has always been the crunchy onion topping…failure every time in trying to create the goodness of French’s but disaster with the deep fryer (tried a baked version once but it was a miss). I like your idea of crisping the shallots and must try it.

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