Cream of mushroom soup: anyone from my generation knows that there are many different

Mine is brown because I used soy sauce in the gravy. You shouldn't do that and I shouldn't have either.

things one can do with a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup.  You can pour it over chicken for a fancy dinner dish, you can use it in a chicken pot pie, and sometimes, if it’s a major holiday, you can mix it with string beans and bake it into a casserole.

Which brings me to an interesting conversation I had the other day. Allegedly, in the midwestern states, a casserole is a dish that is always made with Ritz crackers and Jello. What I call a casserole is referred to as a “hot dish”.  I would appreciate it greatly if anyone out there could shed some light on this for me. A quick google search did turn up some evidence in favor of this assertion, but I would really love it if someone actually from the mid-west could corroborate.

Anyway, this is the first of my Thanksgiving posts. During the month of November, we will be test-driving recipes for the end of the month. Hopefully we’ll be able to scare up enough people to actually host a Thanksgiving dinner, but if not, at least there will be plenty of seasonal fun for us and plenty of ideas for you. String Bean Casserole

1/2 a cup french-fried onions (Trader Joe’s carries them this time of year)

1 pound of string beans, rinsed and trimmed

2 TBSP Earth Balance

2 TBSP flour

1 c. soymilk

1 c. vegetable broth

1/4 c. cornstarch

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4th an onion, chopped

1 c. mushrooms, diced

1 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1 TBSP fresh)

salt and pepper

Bring a quart of water to a boil and add in the string beans and a pinch of salt. Boil for 7 minutes while the rest of this nonsense occurs.

Coat a frying pan with cooking spray and add the garlic and onions. Saute until they turn a light brown and add the mushrooms. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release most of their moisture.

In a saucepan, combine the Earth Balance and flour over miedum-high heat. As the Earth Balance melts, whisk the two together to form a paste. Cook this paste for 2 minutes, stirring often to keep it from sticking to the pan. Add the vegetable broth and soy milk and stir. As the mixture comes to a boil, mix 1/4 c. cornstarch with 1/4 a cup of water and stir until smooth. When the soymilk/broth mixture begins to simmer, add the cornstarch mixture 1 TBSP at a time. You want to thicken the sauce to a consistency of a thin gravy before removing it from the heat. The sauce will further thicken as it cools.

Stir in the mushrooms, garlic, and onions from your other pan.

Drain the green beans and put them in a casserole dish (I used a small square, but a medium rectangle would work just as well). Pour the mushroom mixture over them and stir to combine.

Bake at 375 for 15 minutes. Then, sprinkle on the french fried onions and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown.