Sure, in a perfect world we’d always have everything we need to create a great dish. But, in the real world, sometimes we forget things or just want to make something spur of the moment and we are just missing one thing.
You could rush right out to the store, which is not always possible. Or, you could just substitute. You might even find it tastier or easier to just use the substitute ingredient.
Most of the time I do not keep chocolate squares in the house. But, I have cocoa powder and shortening or oil. I just use that and it turns out great. I substitute lemon juice and milk for buttermilk all the time.
I have a substitutions book that I have had for years that I am always referring to. However, you can find the same information online. Food Substitutions: Easy How -To- Cooking- Tips-& Advice is the most complete one online that I have found. Some of the substitutions might seem surprising, but they all work very well.
Another couple sites that are worth a look are Cook’s Thesaurus and Healthy Food Substitutions. Cook’s Thesaurus has good information and what foods are related to each other. Healthy Food Substitutions has alternatives that are healthier to an ingredient you normally use. It also contains the caloric differences in some cases.
The Land ‘OLakes website also has baking substitutions.
I love to cook and bake. I see no reason not to make something simply because I don’t have something that I need.
Try it. You may be surprised at how well it works.