Sorry I'm a little late posting this...I've been having too much fun with my sister! But better late than never right?Because I really do think this stuff is helpful. So many times I think people are turned away from cooking because the ingredients are too complicated. It is so much nicer to be able to cook with what you have on hand rather than running to the store to buy something you know you aren't going to use again any time soon. I find myself turning to these substitutions often and I appreciate them for making my life easier and for making complicated recipes more simple.
Some simple substitutions that I use on a regular basis:
Buttermilk- The real thing is amazing and worth buying if you are going to use it, but if you find a great recipe and all you are lacking is buttermilk this works great too. Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to one cup of milk. (whole milk is best but others work too) Stir it in the allow the milk to rest for 5-10 minutes. Give it another quick stir and add it to your recipe.
Self-rising flour- I keep white whole wheat, all-purpose and cake flours in the house at all times. For me, three types of flour is more than enough. If I need self-rising flour I add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to all-purpose flour. Works like a charm!
Bread flour- Again, this just isn't flour I buy...but I do like to make bread a lot. Instead of buying more flour I keep a box of vital wheat gluten. Add 1 teaspoon to a cup of all-purpose flour to make your own bread flour. The wheat gluten lasts a long time and the little box takes up much less space than a 5lb bag of bread flour.
Chocolate- When baking you'll find recipes that call for unsweetened, sweetened, bittersweet, semi-sweet.....chocolate. That's a lot of chocolate to keep on hand so most of the time I stick to buying unsweetened chocolate only and I sweeten it myself to suit whichever is called for in the recipe.
**1/2 cup Sweet chocolate - melt 4 oz of unsweetened chocolate (usually 1 square is 1 oz) with 1/3 cup sugar in a small pan set over another pan of simmering water. (double boiler)
**1/2 cup Semi-sweet chocolate- use the same process as above but only 4 tablespoons of sugar with 4 oz of chocolate. Bittersweet and semi-sweet can be used interchangeably.
Heavy Cream- for 1 cup use 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/3 cup butter.
Half and Half- for 1 cup use almost a cup of whole milk (about 7/8 cup) and 1 tablespoon of butter
Lemon juice- use 1/2 teaspoon of vinegar to replace 1 teaspoon of lemon juice if necessary.
There really are a ton of these so when in doubt, Google it! Don't set aside a yummy looking recipe just because you are lacking one item. Happy Cooking!