The internet: the land of wasting time watching cat videos, playing games, getting more information about any subject than you can read in a lifetime and seeing a glimpse of lifestyles we can never hope to live. Instant data, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I have to admit I have a love/hate relationship with my devices. I can sit down with the intention of getting some work done and the next minute I am clicking on the link to a cute pair of boots or the headline that promises to lead me to a story that will be life changing or a link that proclaims it has dog videos, so funny they will leave me on the floor laughing. I find it difficult to stay on task (ironic considering I call myself the Task Tamer). Despite all the distractions of using it, today I want to tell you about my favorite way to use the internet.
One service I offer in my business is helping people to use their Apple devices. I am not an expert, but I do like to know how to use my phone for more than texting or my iPad for more than reading email, playing solitaire or shopping. I often get asked how I know how to use Siri or how to keep apps organized or how to get a software update, etc. My answer is to use the internet. I figure if I have a question regarding my computer, someone else already had the same question and asked the internet for an answer. I type in “how do I connect my iPhone to my printer?” or “why doesn't my email send blind copies on my Mac Book?” or “what is new with the latest iPad update?” and I am instantly linked to multiple answers. I read or watch a video and I practice. Then I am happy to share what I learned with my clients.
This also works with cooking! I always encourage people to change recipes to suit their needs, preferences or available ingredients. But what do you do when a recipe calls for a staple, such as an egg, and you are all out? Or if a recipe uses a spice or herb that you don't have? Or you need to know how many tablespoons are in a quarter cup? Ask the internet! Some of my favorite videos are called hacks. There are a lot of creative people who have come up with innovative ideas to various problems and have put them on video available to anyone with a computer. Just google “lifestyle hacks” and you get over 900,000 results. (Not going to lie, I just spent 30 minutes reading through some hacks!) A couple years ago I wrote a blog about kitchen hacks I use regularly. I also wrote about an experiment I did subbing better-for-you ingredients in a recipe for snickerdoodle bread. If you are not used to making ingredient exchanges or swaps, grab your smart phone or tablet and ask the internet. I promise you will find multiple answers to whatever question you ask and then someone will ask you how you got so smart!
This week's recipe uses a couple substitutions that I use frequently. Whenever I have a recipe that calls for buttermilk I make my own by mixing an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, with milk (non-dairy or dairy). If it calls for heavy cream I will stir some yogurt into milk (again, non-dairy or dairy) or use light cream or half-and-half. The original recipe used bacon, I used smoked paprika and smoked olive oil to get the flavor without the meat. The recipe calls for a cast iron pan, but I am sure you can use any oven-safe, non-stick skillet you have. Use my substitutions or find your own (next time I will try applesauce instead of butter in the batter). As always, remember this is an indulgence, an occasional treat, even if you use healthier ingredients!
Caramelized Onion Cornbread
1 large Vidalia onion, carefully sliced into thin rounds and not separated
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 teaspoon smoked olive oil OR regular olive oil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika, optional
1/2 cup milk (I used cashew milk)
Juice from half a lemon
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup corn meal (I use polenta)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light cream
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup vegetable oil