Frugal Food
Blogging about feeding my family of six without spending a fortune. You won't find fancy foods like beef wellington or chicken carbonara (most of the time), but you will find really good food eaten by an actual real family, with real activities and really picky children.
Friday, February 17, 2006
The Art of Substitution
What do you do when you want or need to make something but you go to your pantry only to find you've forgotten to buy an ingredient or someone has eaten it already? Or in my case, your 4 year old has taken the last three eggs and tried to make an omelet on his bedroom floor LOL!

Do you give up and just not make anything?
Do you go to the store for that one ingredient...invariably ending up with a cartful of stuff you didn't need as you walk out of the grocery store?
Or do you make do? Do you find another way to make what you wanted without the actual ingredients?

When I'm in the kitchen, it's a science experiment a lot of the time. I'm throwing in this and that...usually these recipes are the best. The only problem is, I can never duplicate it exactly lol. This past week, I have substituted or creatively cooked a couple of times. I thought they would be helpful or at least inspiring to others to branch out and try something different. Don't be afraid to experiment!

First it was Valentine's Day. We don't do a whole lot on V-Day. There are no boxes of chocolates, to extravagant gifts, etc. Just a card, maybe. But every year I make a heart-shaped cake. The only problem was I had no eggs. The day before my 4yo did as I previously mentioned. He swiped the last 3 eggs out of the fridge and tried to make an omelet on his bedroom floor (while his father was "watching" him....). So I needed to make a cake, from scratch, but I had no eggs. While brainstorming, I remembered my grandmother used to make a cake without eggs called "mayo cake". I remembered it to be the very first from scratch recipe I ever made. I remember my aunt & uncle pulling my leg and telling me that 'from scratch' meant I had to scratch myself after adding every ingredient. Yes, I was that gullible. I was only six lol.
Anyway, so I got on my trusty computer and googled mayo cake. Literally TONS of recipes popped up. I selected one that most fitted my needs. One that didn't call for eggs and was basically a chocolate cake mad with mayonaisse. No frills no fancy stuff, just Chocolate Mayo Cake .

Along the same theme of substitution...I do not own a heart-shaped cake pan. I have a square 9"x9" brownie pan and a round 9" cake pan. I divided the batter, half in each pan and baked them according to the directions (one 9x13" recipe will fit these two pans as well, if the recipe says to use smaller pan, you may need to double the recipe). When the cakes were done and cool, I first inverted the square pan so that it was "diamond" shaped rather than square. Then I cut the round cake in half (while still in the pan). Then I turned it upside down and while holding half so that it stayed in the pan, I dropped half of the round cake into my hand and placed it along one of the top straight edges of the square-turned-diamond cake. I did the same with the other half of the round on the opposite side of the square-turned-diamond cake.

So it looks like this:
Image hosting by Photobucket
(disregard the date...every time the battery on my digital dies, the date needs to be reset! what a pain)

Then I frosted it like I would a usual cake. I wouldn't recommend the glaze that is at the bottom of the above linked chocolate mayo cake for this heart-shaped cake. You really need a thick frosting so you can cover and hide the seams where the round and square cakes meet.

The cake was delicious, moist, and tasted nothing like mayonaisse lol.

Another instance this week where I creatively cooked was just last night. Our weather turned very cold and blustery and everyone felt like soup. I didn't have soup on the menu because we had just had chicken stew & dumplings a few days prior. But everyone was adamant, soup was what they wanted. So I scavaged through my refrigerator. I found leftover chicken (from a whole chicken), chicken gravy (made from the broth of the whole chicken carcass) and the leftover chicken stew w/ the dumplings in it (which was also full of peas, green beans, corn, carrots, and mushrooms). I said what the hay, why not. I threw it all in the crockpot with a couple of potatoes and a little bit of extra water to thin it out a bit. By the time dinner rolled around, the dumplings had "melted" and helped to thicken the soup, which it did not need. So I added more water and stirred. We ended up with THE BEST chunky chicken soup I have ever made. And I don't like chicken soup lol! I coupled this meal with my homemade yeast rolls and everyone left the table stuffed. There were no leftovers last night!

So go ahead. Try something new, experiment, have fun!!
posted by Heather @ 4:31 PM  
  • At February 21, 2006 6:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yay! New updates!

    Thanks for the ideas.
    The other Heather

  • At February 23, 2006 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    where are you? miss you in the village!

  • At March 03, 2006 10:51 AM, Blogger Dirtdart's Wife said…

    Waaaaahhhhh I want some of that Chunky Chicken soup! Do you think you could re-event that again?

  • At March 04, 2006 5:04 AM, Blogger Jenn said…

    You can also use soy flour to substitute for eggs. 1TBS of soy flour added to the dry ingredients, 1TBS of water added to the wet. I buy soy flour at the bulk food store and keep it in the pantry just for occasions like that :)

  • At March 04, 2006 8:30 AM, Blogger Heather said…

    Good idea!
    Soy flour isn't something I keep in my pantry, but after this instance I'm definitely going to start :)

  • At April 18, 2006 7:16 AM, Blogger Mom2fur said…

    I make a really pork ribs with a sauce that's supposed to use plum jam. I can't tell you how many times I've used up the last of any other kind of fruit jam to make it!
    I'm thinking with substitutions it's as much chemistry as cooking. If eggs are there to bind something together, another 'binder' might do. And when you think about it, mayonnaise has eggs in it!

  • At April 05, 2007 6:00 AM, Blogger Stephe said…

    I just found your BLOG!!! I LOVE it! I'm learning A LOT. I am suprised that you don't have rechargable batteries for your digital camera! Yes, they are a bit pricey but you'll make up the money in NO TIME AT ALL!!! GO RECHARGABLE, you won't be disappointed. :)

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Name: Heather
Home: New York, United States
About Me: Mom to four kiddos. Love to cook, knit, crochet, read, and playing on the computer.
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