Have you ever seen a recipe you’d love to try, except there’s one ingredient that you really hate? “No substitutions” may be a good rule in a greasy spoon, but it doesn’t apply in the kitchen. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you might surmise that I don’t go out of my way to conform my behavior to society’s standards. I’m not a sociopath. Really. I’m not. I just can’t see doing what I don’t enjoy in order to be considered correct. When you take a recipe and make a few changes, you are not committing sacrilege; you are inventing another dish.
I don’t consider myself a picky eater because I’m the one who does the grocery shopping. That means that I don’t buy things I won’t eat, like zucchini, green beans, or lamb. I don’t cook foods that I don’t like and I don’t include ingredients that a recipe calls for just so that I’ll make an exact duplicate of whatever. Sometimes that means I leave something out; sometimes it means I substitute. My favorite meatloaf is the Quaker Oats Classic Meatloaf recipe, but I don’t always have oatmeal in the house. I’ve substituted cracker crumbs, pretzel crumbs, crushed cereal, and packets of honey-nut instant oatmeal for the Old-Fashioned or Quick Oats in the recipe. Nobody died; nobody got sick; nobody even complained. If I’m going to make meatloaf, it’s not going to be the same each time because I might have something sitting around that I’d like to add. Raisins, for instance. Don’t groan; if you make an Italian meatloaf, add some raisins and pignoli nuts. I like a variety of textures and flavors, and the fruit and nuts do the trick.
Meatloaf is no longer a regular menu item at our house because I don’t actually like ground beef all that much. I think it’s kind of gross, which is why I’ll eat a kid’s burger and not a half-pounder. If I’m craving a burger, it’s more that I’m craving the burger experience than the meat. It doesn’t happen very often, anyway, and when it does I give half the burger to Charity. Charity is my dog (Charity Marie Doggie-Dog, to be exact).