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Monday, May 31, 2010

Substituting Ingredients - A Book Review

I was asked to review Substituting Ingredients by Becky Sue Epstein, was eager to do so as I know that I sometimes find myself scrambling on the Internet to find substitutes and waste time trying to find a good site for the information. Now, I have a companion in the kitchen.

In her Introduction, Ms. Epstein reminds us of the all too common scenarios:
Rushing to make a quick and last minute meal (most nights right?) to find you are missing a key ingredients or when you find a great sounding recipe but know you cannot get all of the ingredients. Well, here is a book to help you out!

Chapters Include:
Substituting Ingredients A to Z:
1. The best feature of this section is that it is not simply a list of substitutions but also gives you other information such as, when you substitute chervil for anise, you need to use twice the amount.
2. Equivalents are sprinkled throughout this section contain great bits of knowledge such as, 1 pint berries = approx. 2 cups or 1 slice = ¼ to 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
3. Recipes are provided for Cajun Seasoning, Chili Powder and more.

Herbs and Spices at a Glance: This section is a concise section of only herbs and spices and is a quick six page reference but I am not sure why that is done as all of the herbs and species were listed in the large A to Z section.

Measurement Equivalents:
1. This section includes commonly used equivalents in cooking and baking including dry and wet measurement (¾ cups equals 12 tablespoons), metric and temperature equivalents.
2. Baking Pan Sizes can be extremely useful when you do not have the exact shapes or sizes that a recipe calls. Ms. Epstein does issue the reminder to adjust baking times when switching pan sizes.

Too Much, Too Little, Too Late: Remedies for Common Kitchen Disasters: This section includes cleaver tricks to help rescue you from ‘disasters’ when most of us would just toss the items. For the most part, they are quite useful but a few are a bit silly. Did you know that if you add to much alcohol to a punch or drink, you can float cucumber slices in it to absorb the taste? I guess that means, you will still get dizzy quickly but not know it is coming.

Household Formulas: This is a great resource as it can help you avoid nasty chemicals cleaners and save you money by using items you probably have at home.
1. Many of the formulas use vinegar, Borax, baking soda. I know all of these are readily available but have not tried any of the formulas yet. However, I do use an at home formula to clean windows that uses vinegar at it is amazing.

2. It did stop me in my tracks when I found a formula to clean black lacquer cleanser. Does anyone still have that furniture? If so, take it to the dump immediately and go shopping. Another outdated items was the Deodorant of rubbing baking soda under your armpits. If that does work, we all need to stop buying the conventional deodorants. Have any of you tried it? Does it work?

In summary, I love the concept of this book as it remind people to have fun in the kitchen and to use what you have and not panic. Also, when you substitute an ingredient, you often end up with new recipes and new flavor profiles

I think this book would be an excellent resource to have in your kitchen at home and would be a great (and affordable) gift.


Unplanned Cooking said...

That is a fabulous concept for a book. I never seem to have what I need to make what I want. And conversly I end up throwing stuff out becaus. I'm not sure how to use it.

DailyChef said...

Love this idea too! Thanks for the review - I'll go leaf through it.

Rachel said...

What a GREAT book idea -- I'm going to look for this; I would love it!

ChefDruck said...

Great concept for a book! Thanks for spreading the word. I'll have to pick up a copy.

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