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Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Simpler Living Tips #4: Food Substitutions

Because I am not quick to run to the store when I don’t have exactly what a recipe might be calling for, I have learned a few things that might be helpful to others.

  • Green vegetables.  In my experience, any (non-salad) recipe requiring spinach can be just as tasty if you use any of the following green vegetables: kale, swiss chard, rapini, broccoli, asparagus, or romaine lettuce.  Just chop into small pieces and increase cooking time slightly for broccoli or asparagus.
  • Beans.  When I make chili or another recipe that calls for kidney beans, I usually use a variety of different beans, such as garbanzos (chick peas), white beans, romano beans, black beans along with kidney beans, based on what I have on hand.  As long as the beans have been fully cooked on their own before adding the tomato ingredients, they will all be tender and not mushy.
  • Shortening.  Many recipes I use list shortening, but I almost never buy shortening.  I’ve found that you can use margarine cup for cup instead of shortening, with one small change.  Since shortening has no salt, I reduce or eliminate the amount of salt called for in the recipe when I switch it to margarine.
  • Flour.  Most baking recipes (muffins, quick breads, biscuits and brownies) suggest using “all purpose white flour.”  Already years ago, I began adjusting recipes to use half white flour and half whole wheat flour.  Once I was completely out of white flour, so I used all whole wheat flour instead.  The result was that nobody noticed.  You cannot do this with birthday cakes and sugar cookies, however.
  • Orange vegetables.  In the More with Less Cookbook it states that pumpkin pie can be made with pureed carrots, sweet potatoes or butternut squash because the spices will pass everything off as pumpkin.  For soups, the same orange vegetables are interchangeable, so just use what you have on hand.
  • Brown Rice.  I use brown rice, even though it takes twice as long to cook as white rice.  Last week I had only ½ cup of brown rice and needed more to make a tomato rice dish.  I was pleased to discover that the barley I had bought for making beef barley soup worked fine to round out the recipe.  It also takes between 40-45 minutes for the kernels to swell to the proper tenderness.

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