Dramatic Green Bean Casserole?
October 5, 2013 10:24 AM   Subscribe

Help me make Green Bean Casserole, for "accidentally" dropping on the floor in a play.

For our production of August: Osage County, there's a supper scene where an awful green bean casserole accidentally gets dropped on the floor, and cleaned up. The director is extremely concerned with the food looking realistic and there being a good audible splat. We've got a lot of shows so I'm hoping I can make some decent fake stuff that can be reused.

I don't know what makes a "bad" green bean casserole (texture-wise) so I don't know what I can get away with for the texture. It's not a specific dish I'm familiar with, I'm more used to broccoli/cauliflower casserole which is fairly firm, holds together. I get the impression green bean casserole is ideally more like a thick mushroom sauce on the green beans, with onions. This picture looks like an example of a good casserole clump, maybe i could strive for that.

For fake green beans, I've found some smooth green extension cords at the dollar store to cut up, should look pretty good. I was hoping to incorporate some sponge into the mix to allow the casserole to hold some water for the "splat". What do you suggest for holding it all together though? Gelatin? Some kind of rubber cement? Latex? Can I get away with making it more like a gelatinous mass that holds its shape, or should it be chunky clusters?

If anyone can tell me about their experiences in dropping green bean casserole and what kind of mess it made, also very helpful. I don't really want to have to try it out myself :P

Thanks in advance!
posted by lizbunny to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total)
Best answer: Okay. so the King of Random does an awesome Ninja Turtle Ooze Green Slime.

Modify the recipe as follows:
1. Double the recipe.
2. Use bottles of White Glue instead of clear
3. For color add 1 drop red, 1 drop yellow and 1 drop blue to make a light brown color
4. Use 1.5 - 3 tsp borax

The white glue will make this opaque, the increased borax to glue ratio will make it a little thicker, and the light brown coloring should match green bean casserole.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:34 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

I should note - totally reusable, salvageable, and it sort of stays together when dropped.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:35 AM on October 5, 2013

I can't offer specific advice on fauxserole (sorry) construction, but regarding the realism: remember that you don't necessarily want something that accurately mimics a real dropped green bean casserole. You want something that behaves as the audience would expect a dropped casserole to behave (assuming that most of them have never witnessed one). Sometime reality is unrealistic, and plausible but incorrect "realism" is preferable.
posted by pont at 10:49 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just make sure there's no oil: it's hard to clean up, lingers, and stains things.

I think the easy-peasiest solution would be your fake green beans in lime jello. Easy to make in advance and stock up in the fridge, makes a good splat. Add in some red sponge for maraschino cherries like those scary 50s recipe with cherries and pineapple in everything, that WOULD be terrible.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 10:50 AM on October 5, 2013

If affordable/feasible, I would probably err on the side of just making a green bean casserole. You can probably skip the fried onions or any other toppings, and all of the spices and flavorings -- that won't be visible from the audience, anyway. And probably go heavy on the cream of mushroom/whatever soup so that you get a better splat and mess. Just buy the cheapest canned green beans and cheapest creamed soup.

How many of these do you need, and how far in advance do they need to be made? That's the only real hitch to doing the real deal, in my opinion. If you need 20 and they have to be done ten days in advance, something like the ninja turtle ooze might work better (or really any non-food lookalike item).
posted by Sara C. at 10:52 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think the easy-peasiest solution would be your fake green beans in lime jello.

Except that this won't resemble green bean casserole at all, thus ruining the whole idea of the stunt.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 AM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think the easy-peasiest solution would be your fake green beans in lime jello. Easy to make in advance and stock up in the fridge, makes a good splat.

Actually, something similar could work if you used clear gelatin, plus something to make it cloudy and whitish-brown, plus chunks that resemble green beans and mushrooms. The gelatin would mean it wasn't runny, so it would be easier to clean up, yet splat satisfyingly. If you HAD to reuse it, you could chill it again to make it re-set.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:55 AM on October 5, 2013

Oh, and re cut up extensions cords, rubber cement, etc... all of those things will be drastically more expensive to obtain and turn into a green bean casserole than actual green beans and creamed soup, unless this is a production that is going to run several months of performances.

I do like the idea of throwing sponge in there to really bring the moisture and the splatter. I'd use these, because they're cheap and could pass for fried onion or some kind of crust. The golden brown ones, obviously, and no need to spend $20 for them at Williams-Sonoma. Trader Joe's sells them for like $2.99 for a pack of 12.
posted by Sara C. at 10:56 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would think the real difficulty would be finding a casserole dish that will look right, but not break, unless the casserole is supposed to already be served. I've always seen green-bean casserole in a Pyrex casserole dish. Maybe a soft silicone baking pan would be the next best thing? I guess a metal cake pan could also work well, but the clatter might drown out the sploosh of casserole.
posted by limeonaire at 11:18 AM on October 5, 2013

Casserole droppage for refererence.
posted by islander at 11:22 AM on October 5, 2013

I was thinking that it would be one of those disposable foil baking trays that people do special occaision food in. The ones they sell at the supermarket for $2, are lightweight, and don't make any sound when dropped.

Though I guess it depends whether the casserole is for a family dinner vs. Thanksgiving. (I've never read or seen August Osage County.)
posted by Sara C. at 11:22 AM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

The thing about bad green bean casserole is that it's a lot closer to brown than green: that awful sludgy color that canned green beans get is what you're going for here:


So, like others are saying, I might just mix in canned grean beans plus a brownish creamed soup every night. You probably don't even need to cook it. It'll cost less than $5 a pop and it'll be messy and nasty and perfect.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 11:39 AM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Nanuk's modification to the turtle ooze sounds like a great idea to try out. Should be cheap and easy to clean up! I'm going to make a sample of it for the director this afternoon. There's 2 weeks of shows and already so much real food to worry about in this play, totally worth my peace of mind to spend a bit extra and make this fake and reusable if it's believable enough.

Thanks a ton for the link, islander! very helpful!
posted by lizbunny at 1:20 PM on October 5, 2013

Doesn't have the clean-up advantage but Allens Vegetables makes canned green bean casserole that looks very much like the photo you link to.
posted by XMLicious at 1:45 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

For the 'casserole dish' itself, I'd suggest something plastic: not a metal baking pan or even those disposable aluminum baking dishes (they may not be as loud as a regular metal pan, but they're loud enough!), and certainly not anything glass. Something like a Tupperware container will be clear or at least clear-ish (good for letting the audience see the contents), easily reusable, and flexible enough to plausibly easily drop quietly, letting the 'green beans' splat nicely.

(Note: actual Tupperware might be too pricy, but you can get cheaper versions --- Gladware or store-brand --- in any grocery store; also check thrift stores.)
posted by easily confused at 2:33 PM on October 5, 2013

How about some variation on the ooze recipe but with cream of mushroom soup and lots of gelatin in the mix along with your cut-up cord bits? Can't hurt to also sprinkle some gerbil sawdust on top to be the onion topping.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 3:33 AM on October 6, 2013

Keep in mind how close the audience will be to your fake casserole. If you have a small space where people will be right up on you, consider making the real thing, even from a box or a can.

Also, please consult with your costumer, because if this prop got glue-goo on my costumes, or if you were using anything other than washable fake blood that involved food coloring, I might actually commit a series of crimes. Food coloring can and will ruin costumes. Food things can come out - particularly if you know about them ahead of time and can treat the clothes right away, but food coloring is quite often indelible.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:05 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

In a small theatre, I would use real food, because the audience will be able to see it. I would just mix canned green beans with canned mushroom soup, uncooked (maybe 2:1), maybe sprinkle bacon bits on top. Even for a lot of shows, it's easiest to make each night, and it's standard practice.
posted by jb at 1:23 PM on October 6, 2013

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