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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

I Sometimes Go Overboard on the Substitutions

I was making a batch of brownies yesterday and wanted to stretch our butter, sugar, white flour, and eggs -- yep, almost all of the ingredients that go into a batch of brownies. So, I used oil in place of butter, reduced the sugar, replaced most of the all-purpose flour with sifted whole wheat flour, and used ground flax seeds plus water for one of the two eggs in the recipe. I also used the last tablespoon of carob powder for some of the cocoa powder.

The dough/batter was a bit stiff going into the pan. As they baked, I could see the oil bubbling up through the mass. The brownies never had that glistening, smooth look that one expects on the surface of a pan of brownies, even after baking. When they came out of the oven, they looked a bit like a dark chocolate concrete slab. In my attempts to improve the batch and fool my family members into eating them, I topped them with a couple of pumpkin-spice marshmallows, melting chocolate, and the last of some outdated cookie butter (something my daughter bought but didn't really like -- I thought it was okay, though). I swirled this all around as it all melted together. The end result was some not totally horrible bars, which in my family still gets eaten rather quickly.

Going forward -- substitutions are great and can save a recipe when you realize you don't have enough of one ingredient. But if you try to substitute too many of the ingredients at once, you may find that like me, you've made some frankenstein-esque rendition of a family favorite. Fortunately for me right now, I have a very captive audience for anything I cook or bake. These will get eaten.


  1. Hi Lili,

    I've done the substitution thing too. But I have done accidental substitutions too. A couple weeks ago I want to make fried rice so I threw in a bit and a little of that and then put soy sauce and sesame oil in as well as the eggs. It looked really good but tasted horrible. My accidental substitution was worcestershire sauce instead of soy sauce. I just grabbed the bottle and didn't look at it (same kind of bottle). Here's the sad part, I did this twice in two weeks--one for stir fry and once for fried rice. I need to pay more attention and read the bottles first.

    Update on dad. He was to be moved to rehab. today but he is having trouble urinating. Either it's just normal man trouble or he injured his bladder. Urologist will come in today for an evaluation. Lili, I really don't want to move in with them. I still have to work from home during our "stay at home" mandate and they don't have a place for me.
    But I live only 4 to 5 miles away.


  2. Alice, Glad to hear that your dad is almost well enough to go to rehab. And hopefully, the urination problems will take care of themselves. My mother had a similar problem after one of her surgeries and it resolved itself after a few days. But it can very serious if unattended, so it's good that they are paying attention.

    Lili, I love your recipe substitution story. You were certainly know how to stretch things.

  3. Alice, I hope your Dad recovers without any setback. It is reassuring, despite the earlier lack of communication, that he is receiving the right medical attention. Life is getting so stressful for everyone, I think, mainly because the enemy is invisible. Sometimes I feel crazy to be this fearful, yet not being careful means definite real consequences.

    Lili, I couldn't help but chuckle all the way through. You have a humorous filter to the way you see things. That's good�� I'm sure no matter what you make, it's all very tasty and special. I don't think you've had a true fail. Just like in making art, I'm learning that these failures are to be expected and embraced. It means I am taking risks and progressing. Furthermore, if I've learned the basics and have enough experience I can problem solve my way through to the other side. Cooking is an art after all.

    Have a good day,

  4. Hi Alice,
    having your dad remain in the hospital right now because of his bladder issues might be a good thing. I feel like hospitals are following stricter guidelines for safety than rehabs, currently. Although rehabs are also implementing higher standards for safety of their patients. I will pray that the doctors can get this all taken care of and that your dad will continue healing.

    oops, that must've been a surprise with the soy sauce/worcestershire sauce! I've done things like that, too. It's usually when I'm tired, rushed, or stressed.

  5. Hi Live and Learn,
    The surprising thing is most of the brownies are now gone. Like I said, I have a very captive audience right now.

  6. Thank you for your perspective, YHF. So true!
    I hope your day is off to a good start, too!

  7. Oh my goodness, this is so funny. I love your "make do" spirit!

    - Tina

  8. Alice, glad to hear your dad is getting better--and I'm glad the staff are keeping track of his urination so you don't run into more problems down the road. As to your error with Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce--I've thought, countless times, about how easy it would be to make that error. The bottles look so much alike! Now I'm wondering if there's a good way I can mark the bottles or the caps to differentiate them. I had to do that a few years ago with cooking spray vs baking spray--the kind with flour in it--they looked so much alike that I sprayed my griddle with the one with the flour. Not a major problem but certainly a bit of a mess.

    Lili, I love it when you tell real-life stories. I think, if there is sugar in it, it will get eaten. :) Oh, and your comment from yesterday about COVidiots cracked me up. I may have to use that!

  9. Hi Kris,
    I read COVidiot someplace else and it seemed to apply!


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