Because I feel like you and I are real, live friends, I keep this running list in my head of all the things food- and recipe-related I want to call you up and chat with you about, except that

a) I hate talking on the phone and

b) I really hate talking on the phone and

c) I don’t have your number so, yeah, that method isn’t going to work. I get a lot of the same questions over and over and sometimes assume that you guys just know what I’m talking about (you should feel very sorry for Brian’s existence based on that sentence) but since that obviously isn’t the case, here are a few things jumping around in my head that need to be shared based on my preference for certain ingredients:

a basket of golden brown rolls1) I haven’t specified this in the past but for nearly all of my yeast bread recipes, I usually use at least part whole wheat flour. Most of the recipes just list “flour” in the ingredients list, but in order to help those who want to incorporate whole grains, I’ve tried to go through and update the yeast bread recipes where I consistently use whole wheat flour – especially because for many of the recipes, I often use 100% whole wheat with great results.

Also, this post (#1 and #2) on wheat and wheat grinding may be useful also since I grind my own wheat (hard white wheat) and think that can make a difference in the success of using whole wheat flour in bread. Sorry I haven’t done a mass update about this before now! I hope we can still be friends.

white plate with cooked noodles topped with ground beef stroganoff2) Speaking of substitutions, I almost exclusively use lean ground turkey for most recipes that call for ground beef (except for specific ones that use a blend of beef, pork, or something like that).

Again, I’ve gone through and updated the recipes to indicate that little tidbit but in the event, I missed a few, know that in my world, lean ground turkey makes a great substitute for ground beef (PS: I have nothing against ground beef, I just like the leaner aspect and taste of ground turkey).

golden brown cooked quinoa patties lined up on a piece of parchment paper3) I don’t know that we’ve ever talked about this before, but while I love rice and pasta and potatoes and carbs in general with my whole soul, in an effort to reduce my carb intake a bit, for the last year, I always make a small batch of quinoa to serve alongside a meal if it involves eating it over rice and potatoes (like Hawaiian Haystacks, most of my stroganoffs, and all of the Indian-type curries we love).

I save the leftovers, if there are any, for these divine little quinoa patties (which my kids eat up like crazy and make for a great easy dinner). So if you see a recipe that says “serve over rice, noodles or potatoes” chances are, I’m eating it with quinoa (always cooked in chicken broth with a touch of salt). Just thought you should know.

top view of three chocolate chip cookies and butter in different states of melt behind them4) I know this is really looked down on in the foodie world, but I rarely, rarely use unsalted butter. I just don’t buy it and never really have and don’t really anticipate doing so in the near future. There goes my gourmet food career, darn it.

So in my recipes, unless it specifically states in the ingredients “unsalted butter,” it means I’m using salted butter. The salt amounts in my recipes are adjusted for that fact so if you are using unsalted butter, you might want to increase the salt accordingly.

a red measuring cup full of flour5) Although I don’t always state it in recipes (because it doesn’t necessarily affect the outcome of a baked good), I only use unbleached all-purpose flour for recipes that call for all-purpose flour. It’s ever so slightly darker in color than bleached flour and doesn’t have the strong chemical smell of bleached flour. I started buying it in bulk (at Sam’s Club – the Dakota brand) years ago and use it 100% of the time for regular ol’ flour.

What it means is that in some light-colored baked goods (banana bread, maybe, or white cookies), my results are a shade darker but honestly, it’s hardly noticeable. I opened up a can of bleached flour from my basement food storage when I ran out of unbleached a month or so ago and the chemical smell nearly knocked me over. I was relieved to get unbleached flour back in my huge 25# container I keep in my pantry.

And…I think that’s it. Until next time.

If you have any questions about these tidbits or other preferences, let me know in the comments below!