The Fat and Thin of It

QUESTION: Often I find recipes that I like but have the problem of converting the measurements for liquid shortening or butter into measurements for solid fats or vice versa. Is there a simple conversion table that could be used?

ANSWER: There are no easy answers to substituting liquid shortening for solid fats in recipes. Oils, lard, and hydrogenated fats make a product more tender because they are approximately 100 percent fat, whereas butter and margarine are approximately 80 percent fat, 20 percent water, and added salt. Even though lard, oil, and hydrogenated fats have the same amount of fat per given quantities, they react differently in different baked products.

The following conversion table may be helpful:

1 cup butter equals: 1 cup margarine 7/8–1 cup lard plus 1/2 teaspoon salt 7/8 cup oil plus 1/2 teaspoon salt 7/8–1 cup hydrogenated shortening plus 1/2 teaspoon salt

In making pastry, a plastic moldable fat such as lard is usually considered best. Good pastry may be made with oil, but the pastry tends to be more dry, crumbly, greasy, and not as flaky. When butter or margarine is substituted for lard, one eighth more butter, less water, and less salt should be used. Margarine tends to produce less tender pastry than butter when the same amounts are used. La Vell Turner, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University

Storing Isn’t Boring

Storage space is something almost everyone could use more of, especially in finding enough for a food supply. But it’s also something difficult to create. Sandra Bunner of Rancho Cordova, California, has come up with some innovative ideas for storing dry food as part of regular furniture. “Everyone can store food if he wants,” she says.

For example, Sister Bunner created a lamp with a $5 water bottle, a 50-cent thrift store lampshade, a $2 light fixture, and enough dry food to fill the bottle. It contains 60 pounds of layered lentils, brown rice, yellow split peas, green split peas, dehydrated onions, and pearl barley, which can be used as soup mix.

A war surplus three-gallon can will hold 30 pounds of dry food. The painted can with a pillow on top makes an attractive footstool. Cost: 70 cents plus dry food.

“I have many interesting bottles on my mantle filled with dry food,” says Sister Bunner. “They look nice and make interesting conversation pieces.” Sandra Bunner, Rancho Cordova, California

Bushel Basket Bonus

Fruitstands offer a variety of crates, boxes, and baskets that are sources for endless decorating ideas—especially for a dorm room or low-budget apartment.

A simple footstool can be made with a bushel basket, woodstain, one-half yard of fabric, pillow stuffing, and an old button. Stain the basket. Make a round pillow and sew the button into the center, going through both thicknesses of material. Turn the basket upside down and place the pillow on top. Debbie Jones, Roy, Utah

Reflections Upon Arriving

This is Mother’s Day, and my 21st birthday. As I trace back in my mind all the offerings I have given you to commemorate this day, from burnt toast to books, I know that somehow those would not be appropriate today. For this day, unlike all the others, I stand, because of your very being, tall and proud, with womanhood before me.

For me, “freedom” does not have the same ring today that it had two years ago, or even last year. Now I have at last understood the challenging call of motherhood that you (and for me, no other but you) have filled.

I have never known hunger, but in your mind’s eye you still see the ravages of a depression and have worked until your beautiful hands were red so that the ghosts of a growling stomach would not haunt me at night.

For a long time, I could not comprehend why my childish brawling upset you so, but now my history book tells me that your generation saw Hitler.

Although you sometimes gently chided me when our voices shrieked out homemade police sirens, and although you cringed when a tornado warning would sound, you never spoke what I later learned—that any sound remotely approximating a siren harrowed up terror-filled nights, for your home was on the Florida coast during those days. And you never told me, because your legacy to me has been one of peace.

And so, on this special day, what can I say? Only this, that having arrived at the age of maturity, I can clearly see, surveying the past, that the attaining of adulthood lies in the perfection of family ties rather than the right to become free of them.

As you reach into your apron pocket and hand me the scissors (the old worn ones with which you have cut so many patches and traced so many orange pumpkins and black witches on Halloween) that I may cut the strings so long and impatiently tugged at, I realize at last that the perfection of my womanhood lies in the emulation of yours. Carolyn D. King, Provo, Utah

Vitamin Supplements

“Eat your vegetables. Just think of all those vitamins. Hungry little children in the world would love to get that food.”

Many an unconvinced youngster, forcing down spinach, asparagus, peas, or whatever vitamin-rich food he particularly dislikes, has probably wished he could just take a vitamin pill and have it finished. However, the body needs protein, minerals (such as calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron), and many other nutrients in addition to vitamins. All these cannot be supplied in vitamin pills. Trace elements, not yet fully understood, are also essential to the body. They are needed in only minute amounts, but must be present for good health.

If, for some reason, a person does need more vitamins or minerals than a normal diet provides, the doctor may prescribe a vitamin and/or mineral supplement. If so, these reminders are important in storing them:

Tablets—This is the longest-lasting form of vitamin because they are dry. The bottle should be tightly capped and not stored near heat sources. “Keep in cool place” means at room temperature—preferably under 80 degrees F. But don’t put tablets in the refrigerator, because they will probably be exposed to moisture. If you do put them in the refrigerator, let the bottle reach room temperature before opening it.

Chewable—These are very sensitive to moisture pickup. They can even pick up moisture from your hand, so don’t handle them any more than necessary. If they become very speckled, it means they have picked up moisture and lost some potency.

Liquid—These are the least stable. Some are packaged with nitrogen in the bottle so they will keep longer, but this is lost as soon as the bottle is opened. The label often requests that these vitamins be stored in the refrigerator to slow down deterioration.

Depending upon ingredients, vitamin supplements are stable from 18 months to five years. Most packages contain an expiration date, calculated from the time of manufacture and assuming proper storage. Kay Franz, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, Brigham Young University

By the Yard

Sewing with fabrics that are only 36 inches wide is usually more expensive than using 45- or 54-inch fabric, even if the wider goods cost more per yard. Clothes cut to a much better advantage in wider fabrics and require so much less yardage that they are actually cheaper. Margaret Childs, Brigham Young University Department of Clothing and Textiles

The Don’t Book

“Don’t leave licked lollypops on chairs. Don’t eat mudpies—even if they are chocolate. Don’t take your dad’s false teeth for show and tell. Don’t paint your mom’s roses green. Don’t take your goldfish for a walk.”

These bits of wit and wisdom come from The Don’t Book, a creation of the Dore family of Quincy, California.

“We felt the need for a creative project for family home evening instead of the usual games after our lesson,” they write. “But with children ranging in age from four to 17, finding a project of interest to all was difficult. One of the children suggested we write a book.”

Each of the “Don’ts” has been illustrated by one of the children, showing its consequences. The Dores report “lots of laughs and happy times in suggesting, discarding, writing, and drawing.” Bill and Gwen Dore, Quincy, California