I would consider this to be less of a cookbook and more of a ultra useful kitchen utensil. You won’t find any recipes, glossy photos, or entertaining stories here. This is a thick, plain-jane, black and white 695 pager with a purpose, and I love it! As advertised, The Food Substitutions Bible contains over 6,500 substitutions for ingredients, equipment and techniques. But it does more than just provide straight substitutions – there are also descriptions of ingredients, units of measurement and a little bit of (unintentional?) humor. What I had imagined would be a book to pull from the shelf only when needed, instead turned out to be quite an interesting read.
Even though the layout seems very self-explanatory to me, there is still a nice little section in the front titled “How To Use This Book.” Like a dictionary, the items are listed alphabetically, with a chapter for each letter. Under each item is a short description, plus some measurement equivalents. For example, after a brief description of four types of limes, we learn that one pound = 6 to 8 medium limes = 1/2 to 2/3 cup lime juice. Most items have several possible substitutions listed in the next column. No Boursin on hand? Try using Alouette or Rondele instead, or mix up your own concoction of 1 ounce herbed cream cheese mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter.
I was a bit surprised by how extensive the listings are – but it was also a big part of why I found it so fascinating. The J chapter covers Jaboticaba to Jute Leaf. Not only was I unfamiliar with both of those, but also Jarrahdale Squash, Jagdwurst, and Jocoque. Not all entries are so obscure, as Jam, Jasmine Rice and Jerky all put in appearances too. This just goes to show just how thorough The Food Substitutions Bible really is. An example of what I thought was funny: Bowls: Essential kitchen equipment for mixing and serving. If you don’t have any bowls, substitute with hollowed-out squash or melons, large coffee cups or saucepans. If you don’t have bowls, I think you’re going to need a lot more than this book to make a winning dish.
I cannot count the number of times I have been midway through making a dish and belatedly realized the sour cream container was alarmingly light or the the can of coconut milk I had been counting on was way past its prime. Depending on the severity of the situation, I search my kitchen wildly, call my mom or send my husband into town. From now on, I will definitely be turning to The Food Substitutions Bible first.
Jen lives in Michigan with her husband and six year old son. She writes reviews of children’s books on her blog, FIRR-Kids and loves filling her shelves with cookbooks.
This book was provided free of any obligation by The Lisa Ekus Group, LLC. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.