Are budget constraints or supply-chain issues interfering with your ability to prepare the Thanksgiving meal of your dreams? Luckily, this handy guide can teach you to make ingredient substitutions that your guests probably won’t even notice!
A good rule of thumb is that you can replace one cup of heavy cream with three-quarters cup of milk and a quarter cup of melted butter. The texture won’t be exactly the same, and you can’t use this substitution for whipped cream, but at least you’ll get a visceral reminder of just how much fat the recipe requires.
For one cup of buttermilk (which, for some reason, only ever seems to be sold in quarts despite the fact that no recipe calls for that much buttermilk), you can add a tablespoon of lemon juice, white vinegar, or white wine to one cup of milk. Or, you can use one cup of that whole milk you bought for another recipe and then let expire in your fridge. If it smells bad, that’s good.
You know how every time you have a barbecue, you end up with extra hot-dog buns and then you shove them in the freezer because it feels wasteful to throw them out, but also what are you going to do with random, loose hot-dog buns? This.
It might seem impossible to make a pumpkin pie without a can of pumpkin puree, but that’s not the case! For one can of pumpkin puree, steal three rotting jack-o’-lanterns from your neighbors’ front steps. You can see through their window that they already have their Christmas tree up, so the pumpkins won’t be missed. Using a serrated grapefruit spoon, if you have one (you don’t), or just a regular fork-and-spoon combo, violently hack out one can’s worth of pumpkin guts.
For one tablespoon of cinnamon, you could dump a little bit of allspice, nutmeg, chili powder, cumin, and cloves in a bowl, or you could light a bunch of Christmas Cookie-scented Yankee Candles in the vicinity of what you’re cooking and hope that there’s some aromatic transfer of flavor. If that doesn’t work, you can instruct guests to suck on a cinnamon Altoid while eating. (Suitable substitutes for cinnamon Altoids include: Big Red gum, Brach’s Cinnamon Imperials, and Red Hots, but not Atomic FireBalls.)
Seriously, you can’t even get potatoes? Luckily, the secret to all potato dishes is that nobody actually cares about the potatoes. Potatoes are a vehicle for salt and butter. For four servings of mashed potatoes, substitute nine sticks of room-temperature butter, one tablespoon of salt, and a couple dashes of garlic powder. (Note: This substitution is not recommended for Thanksgiving meals taking place in a hot house. If that can’t be avoided, encourage guests to eat quickly.)
We’ve all been there—suddenly it’s Thanksgiving and either you can’t find a turkey, or they’re astronomically expensive. Jeez. Makes you think. What has the world come to when the foundational ingredient of our time-honored national feast isn’t accessible to all? Is this day of thanks nothing more than a cruel segregator of the haves and have-nots? Or maybe we should be asking why we insist that this day can only be commemorated by gorging on oversized poultry and a repetitive selection of side dishes? Why do we allow ourselves to suffer under the burden of these culinary traditions? Wouldn’t a more fitting celebration of America be us all coming together to share the food we already have in our homes? This half a box of stale Trader Joe’s Os, the can of Menudo I accidentally bought when I thought I was grabbing pinto beans, nine packets of soy sauce? Is this not enough?!
No? O.K., then here’s what you do: buy a brown hoodie. Fill the torso with wet newspaper. Tie the arms in a knot. Plop it on a plate. Salt and pepper to taste.
For one can of cranberry sauce, you can substitute twelve ounces of fresh cranberries combined with three-quarters of a cup of sugar and cook in a saucepan. But it really won’t turn out the same. ♦