How often do you run across a recipe to find you have all but one ingredient on hand?
Fairly often, judging all the blog posts I've read. Many times, we can leave the ingredient out or find an easy substitute that won't harm the finished product.
But when I'm stumped — which is more often than I usually admit — I turn to "Substituting Ingredients: An A to Z Kitchen Reference."
This book tells you, in alphabetical order, what do do when a recipe calls for such exotics as amaranth, fuzzy melon, mizuna, tamarind and rapini — none of which are basic, everyday Wisconsin ingredients.
The book also offers recipes for Angostura bitters, creme fraiche, herbes de Provençe and pickling spice.
At the end, there is a section on household formulas, like chrome and copper cleanser, drain opener and carpet deoderizer.
Looking for mascarpone cheese in your cheese compartment? Whip cream cheese with butter.
Does a recipe call for star anise or anise seed? Fennel is the perfect stand in.
Fresh out of winter savory? Use pepper.
Out of paprika? Blend tumeric with cayenne pepper.
A lot of the substitutions are common sense. But I found this book to be quite informative. There are many sites online where you can also find basic ingredient substitutes, but this little guide is very thorough.