When you live twenty-five miles from a grocery store (we have a small store in our little community, but it’s minimally stocked and fairly expensive compared to a “real” grocery store) you need to learn flexibility. Many dishes can survive the elimination of an ingredient or the substitution of X for Y with good results. One thing you don’t do if you’re out of something is hop in the car and make a fifty-mile round trip for eggs.
When I shop I stock up on staples, so it’s unusual to be caught short on the basics. And one advantage of raising our own is that I nearly always have eggs, milk, cottage cheese, cream cheese and butter, as well as a variety of meats, frozen fruits and veggies. Still, a sudden influx of unexpected guests or a request to bring the 4H snacks when I wasn’t expecting it can find me standing at the pantry pondering my options. I operate on the pantry principle: keep an assortment of the versatile basics and search out recipes that can be made with those ingredients.
Take desserts, for example. You want to make cookies but you’re out of eggs. Here’s a nice little cookie recipe that doesn’t need them.
Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
- 8 ounces/1 cup cream cheese
- 1 cup butter
- 2/3 cup sugar (can be all brown, all white or a mix)
- 2 cups flour (all purpose)
- 1/2 tsp. flavoring – vanilla, lemon, almond and peppermint are all good options
Ideally, the butter should be at room temperature, but if you’re short on time, cut it into thin slivers right out of the refrigerator. Cream the cheese, butter, sugars and flavoring in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gradually add flour and mix well. Refrigerate about an hour, then roll into logs and wrap in waxed paper. Freeze for at least eight hours and up to three months. If you’re short on time, you can roll the dough into small balls, put on an ungreased cookie sheet, press flat with the bottom of a glass that has been buttered and dipped in sugar, and bake. For the freezer version, when ready to make cookies, slice 1/8 thick and place on ungreased cookie sheet. You can sprinkle with sugar at this point. Bake at 400º for 8 to 10 minutes (the edges should be lightly browned). Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
You need to bake a cake but don’t have any butter, lard or shortening. Use sour cream!
Grandmother Sandrock’s Sour Cream Cake
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¾ tsp salt
- (Add 3 Tbs cocoa for chocolate version)
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp baking soda
- About 1 ¾ cups sour cream
Mix dry ingredients in mixer bowl. Break eggs into a 1 cup measuring cup and fill with sour cream. Mix the soda in a second cup with 1 cup sour cream, then mix creams together. Gently mix sour cream into flour mixture. Pour into 3 greased 9-inch pans and bake at 375 for 30 minutes.
Baked a cake and realize you don’t have any powdered sugar to frost it with? Try this old-fashioned recipe. This is a spreading frosting, not one you can use to pipe decorations. It also takes a lot less sugar than the typical buttercream frosting recipe.
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup butter
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla
Beat flour into cold milk with wire whisk until smooth. Cook flour and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly. When thick, remove from heat and let cool (ideally, refrigerate for a couple of hours). If you wound up with a few lumps in it, the way I usually do, you can pour it through a strainer while hot. Cream the sugar and butter, add vanilla. Beat in flour mixture and beat until smooth and light. It will look curdled when you first mix it in. Keep beating until it’s smooth and fluffy – it’s going to take more beating than a buttercream frosting. The frosted cake should be refrigerated, as the high butter content makes the frosting prone to melting.