Saturday, June 13, 2015

Substitute or Use The Real Thing?

In life and in business there are times we substitute for the real thing.  Sometimes it works fine, but you never have a 100% guarantee that the substitute will work as well as the real thing.

Take automated voice recordings that some companies use instead of a human for answering a phone call. Press 1 for English, Press 2 for Spanish, followed by 5 more requirements in order to get to a customer service representative who has put you in a queue behind number 9.

This morning I set out to make a blueberry cake from a recipe given to me by my mother-in-law. I don't often bake, so it was my hope that this cake would turn out well.

We have our own blueberries, so I picked enough needed to make blueberry pie filling. I had no trouble finding a recipe for the filling, and I was missing only one ingredient: cornstarch. So, I went to the faithful internet to look up a substitute for cornstarch to save myself a trip to the grocery store. Here it is:

"Though a home cook can't make cornstarch at home, it's possible to make a good substitute: potato starch. Use an equal amount of potato starch in recipes that call for cornstarch, including soups, sauces, gravies and custards. To make potato starch, grate potatoes into a bowl and add some warm water. Strain out the starchy liquid by wrapping the gratings in cheesecloth and squeezing the liquid into a bowl. Refrigerate the liquid for four hours, then pour off the top layer of water that has separated from the starchy liquid at the bottom. The starchy potato liquid can be used directly or dried to a powder."

Me? Do all that? Not happening. Too many steps and too much work.

I tell this story to say sometimes you need the real thing, the real deal, and nothing else will do. The real thing may cost a bit more more or be a little inconvenient or it may not. 

I made the trip to the nearest grocery store, purchased the corn starch for $1.49, and it worked just as I knew it would.

I recommend using the real thing whenever possible. Sometimes a substitute just won't make the cut.

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