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Autumn Holidays Are Irreplaceable, But Some Recipe Ingredients Are Not

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"The Food Substitutions Bible: More than 6,500 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment and Techniques" by David Joachim (Robert Rose, $24.95)

As the holiday season is about to get underway, what could you use more than a food substitutions bible? I've found season after season that David Joachim's replacement guide has gotten me out of more jams and quandaries than a helpful elf ever could have.

Don't change your mind and substitute another book for this substitutions-savvy tome. It's the best one that I've ever come across. There really is no replacement for this 700-page helper that concisely describes more than 6,500 stand-ins for ingredients as well as equipment and techniques.

Joachim has weathered his own scrapes and close calls in the kitchen while authoring a staggering 30-plus stack of cookbooks, including the first edition of this book, which won the prestigious International Association of Culinary Professionals award.

He and his fans felt a fatter edition was needed. He added more than 1,500 additional substitutions.

His substitutions are usually one-on-one direct and as easy as pie.

For instance, if you don't have the heavy metal pellets that are used to weigh down a pie crust while blind baking (baking the crust without a filling), replace with dried beans. If you don't have a pie pan, his size chart clues you in to what to use instead. No jar of pumpkin pie spice (the convenience many of us have come to rely upon)? No problem. Joachim will tell you the proportions of individual spices to emulate.

And it goes on, such as the fresh pumpkin substitutes, of which I've kicked off a list with Joachim's examples below. Helpful, too, are his many back-of-the-book ingredient lists, which compare large varieties of everything from rice, to potatoes, to oils, to coffee, to crabs, to olives.

— If you don't have fresh pumpkin, substitute with: canned pumpkin puree (to replace mashed pumpkin), chopped butternut squash, chopped buttercup squash, chopped sweet dumpling squash, chopped Hubbard squash, chopped calabaza or chopped sweet potato.

For further reference: 1 pound of fresh pumpkin equals 1 cup cooked and mashed; 1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin equals 1 & 3/4 cups mashed; and 1 (29-ounce) can of pumpkin equals 3 & 1/2 cups mashed.

— If you don't have mozzarella cheese, substitute with: Scamorza, Caciocavallo, provolone, string cheese, queso blanco, Bel Paese, muenster, Gouda or fontina.

For further reference: 1 pound of low-moisture mozzarella equals 4 cups shredded.

— If you don't have 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemon balm, substitute with 2 & 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint plus 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh lemon verbena; 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh lemon basil or holy basil; or 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon zest. For further reference: 1 ounce of fresh lemon balm (a minty lemon herb often used to season salads, poultry and meats) equals 2 cups chopped or 1 cup of fresh chopped equals 1/4 cup dried.

— If you don't have a spatula, substitute a pancake turner (for turning and gentle scraping or stirring) or a clean flexible spackling knife or dough scraper (for spreading for stirring).

— If you don't have a fondue pot, substitute a heavy earthenware or stoneware pot set over a low flame or on a warming tray; a heavy-bottomed saucepan (enameled cast-iron works particularly well) set over a low flame or on a warming tray; or a chafing dish set over a low flame.

Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the author of seven food books, including "Mrs. Cubbison's Best Stuffing Cookbook" and "The Sourdough Bread Bowl Cookbook." She also writes the Creators News Service "After-Work Gourmet" column. To find out more about Lisa Messinger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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