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Review: Food Substitutions Bible

Have you ever been in the middle cooking something when you realize, to your horror, that you don’t have a necessary and critical ingredient?  Unfortunately, this has happened to me more than once. 


I would like to think that I always remember to read through a recipe, in its entirety, before attempting it.  But, in reality, when you are rushing to get a meal on the table, sometimes you just end up skipping that step. 


Most of the time, it doesn’t make a difference…

  • But on those few occasions when it does, you feel kind of dumb and start browbeating yourself…  “How stupid!  Why didn’t I look at this before?” 
  • Or you start blaming your family members… “Who was the last person to use X!?” …(when you know very well it was you.) 
  • Or how about feigned indifference… “I didn’t really want to make that anyway…”


The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,500 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment and Techniques by David JoachimWhatever reaction you have, you would be much better off if you had some kind of strategy for dealing with the missing ingredient as it happens.  (And if you’re like me, it WILL happen!)  So, I was ever so happy to find the newly updated version of the The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,500 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment and Techniques, by David Joachim.  Originally published in 2005, this 2010 version has been completely revised and updated. 


The updated portions include:

  • More than 300 new listings, over and above the 2005 version
  • New ingredient charts/measurement tables (e.g. – Alcohol Retention in Cooking)
  • 20 percent new content
  • Larger, more convenient trim size


This book actually gives you the confidence to know that if you do not have an ingredient, there is most likely a reliable alternative that can be used in its place.  For example, if you don’t have 1 tsp. allspice you can substitute 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon + 1/2 tsp. ground cloves + 1 pinch ground nutmeg!  Very handy information which is ready for you, exactly when you need it.


I think this book is especially useful for people who like to watch cooking shows.  There are times, depending on the show of course, when you will inevitably be encouraged to use some obscure or unusual ingredient that the host just raves about.  Unfortunately, try as you might, you just can’t get your hands on that ingredient.  Perhaps the ingredient is not in season or not readily available in your part of the country.  Or maybe you find the ingredient, but it’s way overpriced.  If this is your situation, all is not lost!  Just because you can’t/won’t use the ingredient they recommend, doesn’t mean that you can’t try out the recipe.  All you have to do is check out the listing in the “Bible” and use its ingredient substitution information.


Another good reason why you might want this book has to do with health.  A lot of people need to modify recipes in order to keep them in good stead with their doctor’s wishes.  Other people decide to modify recipes because of personal choice.  Whether it’s food allergies, veganism or other health reasons, sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and cut back on this, or eliminate that, to keep you or your family members on the path to wellness.  If that is the case for you, you will be happy to know that there is a plethora of choices available to you in this book.  You may actually find that the alternatives are more than adequate for your situation, and you do not have to miss out on fun and interesting food at all!


For all the reasons above, and for your own piece of mind, there really is no good reason NOT to get this book.  Considering all the help it provides, The Food Substitutions Bible is really a “godsend” for home cooks everywhere, and is therefore highly recommended.  It’s great as a gift too!

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