Posted in Back in the Day, The Hungry Hen, Veggie Recipes

Mrs. Gertrude Crum’s Mushroom Casserole and The Saturday Evening Post

postThe Saturday Evening Post Family Cookbook, 1975, 1976, 1977

The pages to this one are tarnished yellow but just as strong as the day is long. How many fingers flipped through its pages? How many times has it passed hand to hand? How many recipes copied and then given away? How many times have I done all of the above?

I suppose that creates a history all its own. And where there is history, there is a story — one I cannot claim to know. What I do know is, I found this book in a box of many others completely clueless of what I really had. Marked ten dollars, I barely blinked before the owner crossed that out and made it five. I would have happily paid ten and had I known how many vintage things lived inside the cardboard walls of what I carried off to my car, I would have gladly paid more.

In this cookbook, The Saturday Evening Post, ran something of a contest asking Readers to send in their favorite recipes. Not only did the readers do so, but every recipe published contains a bit of color, personalized touches, reflecting that of the original Authors. I have chosen the recipe below because its something I don’t see around any dinner tables now days nor at any of those ol’ timey potlucks I used to go to. Haven’t caught sight of this one at any church socials or family gatherings. It’s ingredients are easy to come by and inexpensive, yet I don’t see my generation or the younger generations swoon over them the way my Mother’s and Grandmother’s had.

Mrs. Gertrude Crum’s Favorite Recipe: Mushroom Casserole

(The entire recipe especially the instructions are in Mrs. Gertrude Crum’s own words.)

  • 2 Ibs. Mushrooms (caps only)

For Mushroom Béchamel:

  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup light cream (half & half)
  • 3 eggs (separate whites from yolks)
  • Salt & White Pepper
  • Extra Butter for Sautéing Mushrooms

Chop mushrooms. Sauté in butter 5 minutes. Drain and reserve dark, buttery juice. Yield: About 1 cup juice and 2 ¼ to 2 ½ cups of sautéed mushrooms.

Make a roux of 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour, mushroom juice, and light cream. Use half cream, half juice (1 cup of each). Result: a thick, rich béchamel of pronounced mushroom flavor. You will have 2 cups of mushroom béchamel. You will need only 1 cup for the casserole. Save the remainder for a heavenly mushroom soup.

Cool the béchamel and add 1 cup to the sautéed mushrooms. Beat yolks of 3 eggs and add to sautéed mushroom and béchamel mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remember, adding the egg whites will reduce flavor.

Beat the egg whites until they are stiff and fold them into the first mixture. Bake in a buttered casserole or soufflé dish in moderate 350 ° oven in pan of water 40 minutes or until set. Serves eight. Note: This is such a marvelous dish it deserves a party.

I love, truly love all of the steps, which shows what sort of work and care Mrs. Crum put into this dish. And I love, absolutely love, her instructions — concerning egg whites reducing flavor and how this marvelous dish deserves a party. Makes me reminisce of how mushrooms, something overlooked quite a bit now days, were at one time, the caviar of a previous generation.

Do people now days put such work into their recipes? I cruise recipe sites and I really never see any side notes or how comes’. I never even see people trying out the original recipe before they put their own touches on it — they are always so quick to change things, throwing in their own.

How would Mrs. Gertrude Crum’s Mushroom Casserole hold up on let’s say, How would she react if she read a review that said . . .

Great recipe except when I made it, I used 2% Milk and half skim. I used all of the B-word stuff, whatever that is. I am not planning to make mushroom soup so tossed it all in. I used the entire egg, too, because it was crazy work separating the whites from yolks, plus, am I making a pie? I think not. Anyway, the entire recipe was rather bland so I added chopped steak and garlic and not the salt. I —-

How would Gertrude Crum handle all of that, indeed? How happy was she when The Saturday Post published her words? Did she have the book that I have? Was there a handwritten copy tucked into the pages of the book itself? Was this recipe passed on to younger generations, of Gertrude’s proud accomplishment, of the Crum family? Or did it fall on deaf and careless ears of some distant niece or nephew who would eventually toss it into a box that was marked trash bin? Or maybe that box is the one I brought home? Wouldn’t that be somethin’?

Side Note . . . .What was The Saturday Evening Post ?

For nearly 300 years, The Saturday Evening Post has chronicled American history in the making—reflecting the distinctive characteristics and values that define the American way. Today’s Post continues the grand tradition of providing art, entertainment and information in a stimulating mix of idea-driven features, cutting-edge health and medical trends—plus fiction, humor, and laugh-out-loud cartoons. A key feature is the Post Perspective, which brings historical context to current issues and hot topics such as health care, religious freedom, education, and more.

Tracing its roots to Benjamin Franklin, The Saturday Evening Post mirrors cherished American ideals and values, most memorably illustrated by its iconic cover artist Norman Rockwell. The Post is also known for publishing such literary greats as Ray Bradbury, Agatha Christie, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, J.D. Salinger, and Kurt Vonnegut, and continues to seek out and discover emerging writers of the 21st century. Read More



Stylist. Cover Artist. Author.

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