If you’ve followed this blog for a long time now, you know that I’ve always been a fan of using what I have on hand. But just because you don’t have something-an ingredient, or tool handy doesn’t mean you have to stop production and/or not do the project you were working on. Here are some examples of ingredients and tools that might be used when you don’t have exactly what the recipe calls for:
- Brown sugar. You can make your own by mixing white sugar and molasses. Worried about the amount of molasses to add? It doesn’t matter; even when recipes say to use “dark brown sugar” and not “light brown sugar”, I use what I’ve got (usually light brown). As long as you don’t just substitute white sugar for brown sugar because the ratio will be off. Remember, brown sugar is usually packed, so you are going to get more of it in a cup.
- Cooking spray. It’s just oil in a can. What did they use before this invention? Oil or butter. Can’t get all the soft butter off of the paper after adding the stick to the bowl? Use that butter to grease the pans.
- Cheese cloth. Need something to strain cheese or other similar substance? Use coffee filters. Coffee filters are also great when baking pie: if you need to par-bake a crust and need to use pie weights, use coffee filters as the lining between the crust and the weights. Much easier than cutting parchment paper to the right size. Which brings me to my next one:
- Parchment paper. What happened to the good old-fashioned greased pan? If you don’t use too much, you don’t have to worry about that fat adding to the calories you’re about to consume, and it’s definitely the “greener” option.
- Pie weights. Don’t want to spend $15 or so on pie weights? Just use uncooked beans or rice. Who doesn’t have that on hand?
That should be a good list to get you started on your creative baking/cooking. Remember, don’t let that empty pantry get you down. You can make something out of nothing. Just use your imagination!