Food columnist Lou Groccia has the secret to substitutions

Friday, August 25, 2017

We’re in the process of renovating our kitchen so there are boxes everywhere and less and less of my cherished collection of every kitchen thing ever made. Or so it seems.

While I keep filling the boxes and carrying them upstairs so that everything is out of the way, my wife keeps saying, “Don’t forget to get rid of things you don’t need.” I love her sense of humor.

So amid all this frenetic activity, I still have to put food on the table. Or more accurately in our laps since our kitchen table is covered with 21 pint cans of sample paints that we have tested in small swatches on the walls. Note to self: after renovation is done, mix all paints together to use as primer as needed in the years ahead.

As for putting food on the proverbial table, the other night I decided to use up stuff already on hand. So, into a large bowl went cooked chicken thighs, adobe seasoning, frozen corn, scallions, little sweet peppers, two green bell peppers, a jar of Alfredo sauce, two cups of cooked RiceSelect Royal Blend. The last item is a mixture of white, brown, wild and red rices. I also had a package of puff pastry.

So, I filled a large lasagna pan with the glop, then placed the rolled-out dough over the top. The pastry instructions said to brush the dough with egg wash.

But wait!!!! I was out of eggs. What was I to do?

Why, I turned to my second edition of the “Food Substitutions Bible.” This is one of my desert-island cookbooks. Said island would have cooking facilities, of course.

It’s almost 700 pages worth of problems like the one I was now confronted with — and solutions. The book provided the answer: Just mix some milk and sugar together. Which I did. Which resulted in a beautiful browned crust when baked.

The more than 6,500 suggestions in the book are in alphabetical order, which makes it easy to find what you need.

Among the esoteric things it has replacement suggestions for: sheep butter, farfel, coconut milk, hog jowl, scrapple, lime zest.

You get the idea. So, go forth and substitute to your heart’s content.


Hmmm, I think you could sub all those things fairly easily, except for the scrapple. I would like to hear what they suggest for scrapple. Scapple is one of those scary mystery concoctions that you are better off not knowing what goes into it. My dad used to fry it up for breakfast. Somehow I knew not to think about what it was made of. Just drench it in maple syrup and eat. No questions asked.

Good luck with the renovation. I agree with your wife on purging unneeded stuff. It will be easier to find things without the clutter.