Friday, November 20, 2009

Tips & Gadgets: The Cook's Thesaurus

A few Thanksgivings ago, I set out to try a Sunset recipe for a dry-cured turkey. It calls for a heady blend of herbs and spices: thyme, marjoram, anise, rosemary, pepper, salt -- and dried juniper berries. I dragged my worn-out toddler to market after market, convinced that the turkey absolutely needed those three tablespoons of juniper berries, whatever those were.

I finally found the berries at an overpriced shop. But even as I swiped the debit card to take my little bag of berries home, I knew the quest had been a ridiculous waste of time and effort.


The next year, I skipped the search and consulted the Cook's Thesaurus, an amazing online resource for learning about swapping ingredients. Juniper berries, I found out, are used to make gin. I might have known that if I liked gin. The suggested substitution -- bay leaves and caraway seeds -- made for a turkey just as fabulous as the year before.

The Cook's Thesaurus has bailed me out more times than I can count. It's been there for me when it was too late to call my mom to find out how she'd fix whatever mess I just made. It helped me get through the year when anything containing eggs gave my older son hives, and the year when dairy, wheat, and corn products made my younger son throw up. It has saved me countless trips to the grocery store and salvaged more than a few batches of muffins.

If you haven't used it before, check it out -- and bookmark it!

The Cook's Thesaurus

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