Monday 1 June 2020

Cooking With a Disability

Hello Everyone,

I've been doing a lot of cooking recently. By a lot I mean I've cooked 5 times this month, making 4 different types of dishes. Plus a few desserts here and there. So, today's post is about how I cook with a visual impairment. Hopefully the tips I share can help you, regardless of whether you have a disability or not. I'll be using photos from the time I made chicken cous cous as examples. 

1. Buy the Right Equipment:

The first thing you should do is research what products are out there to help you. When I had orientation and mobility training, my trainer showed me different types of equipment blind and partially sighted people can use to cook safely and more importantly independently in the kitchen. The RNIB Online shop has a whole range of tools you can use in your everyday life, especially in the kitchen. They even have talking products like, scales, measuring jugs, microwaves and induction hobs! I use RNIB's single talking induction hob. They do have a double one, but since I'm still new to cooking I don't need it right now. I was taught that induction was the safest hob to use because the heat stays in the pan and there isn't a flame. It even came with a free pan as well!

IMAGE DESRIPTION:  photo of my black and silver single induction hob on the cooker. It has tactile buttons and a pan is placed on top of the hob with a lid on it. Behind it are white kitchen tiles.

You can also buy equipment from Amazon, such as a coloured knife set or chopping boards. For me, different coloured knives and chopping boards are essential for cooking. The colours make it easy to identify what each knife is used for. Plus they stand out in the sink when you do the dishes, so you don't accidentally cut yourself. I use the. Taylor's Eye Witness 5 Piece Knife Set - Reflex, but it's no longer available.  If you need some coloured knives, these Ross Henry knives could be a good place to start. But the more expensive the knives, the better the quality. Different coloured chopping boards aren't just used for cutting vegetables and meat separately. Yes it's important to do that for health reasons, but they also offer great colour contrast against what you're cutting. That way it's easier to see the item your cutting. Personally I like using a light green board to cut vegetables and a black one to cut meat. My level of vision means I don't have any issues with seeing light coloured ingredients like garlic cloves, or dark coloured vegetables like red peppers against, the board as my background. Also some boards have pictures stating which items you should use on them. If you'll have trouble seeing the item against that board's background, ignore it and pick the one that will work best for you. Some people even say, those pictures are just there for decoration. Do whatever you want.

2. Know The Recipe Well

When I find a recipe I like, I always read through the ingredients and method a few times beforehand. That way I have a better idea of what I need to do when I actually start cooking. Plus it makes cooking less stressful because I don’t have to keep referring to the website, on my phone after each step. I did this when making my chicken cous cous. I read through it a few days in advance. This helped me know the recipe by memory, more or less. It helped me feel more relaxed and like I knew what I was doing when making it. So, if you’re new to cooking, going over a recipe really helps you get to grips with it. It won’t feel as daunting as It did before. Also make sure you read some of the reviews! People share great tips or advice about the dish. For example, for my cous cous dish one review said to add double the amount of broth, the recipe instructed you to add. Why. Because otherwise it would taste too dry. I did this and found it really added to the flavour, helped my food taste better. To me, doing this makes cooking a lot easier, but some people might find it a little much. Feel free to try it, but always do whatever  will help you the most.

3. Prep First

When I’ve followed recipes before, I always found it hard to cut the ingredients whilst everything else was cooking. I had to be quick, or else my food would burn. Which is why I tried something new when I made my chicken cous cous, I did the prep first. I’m other words I put everything I needed in one place, cut the vegetables, chicken and made the cous cous and broth beforehand. That way, all I had to do was follow the steps and put each item in the pan. Although doing that took a long time, it was worth it because it made the whole cooking process a lot faster and smoother. So, before you start make sure you have everything laid out and cut what you need. It’s worth it.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: photo of all my ingredients all laid out and ready before I started cooking. The cut  onions: garlic, ginger and chicken are all cut into chunks and placed in separate bowls. The cous cous has been made and is in a bowl. The chicken broth is in a clear glass measuring jug and has a small white plate covering it. 

4. Do It Your Way

My final tip for you is to find a method that works for you. Cook in  a way that makes sense to you. Some people like putting it all in a pan and cooking it in one go. Others like meal prepping and leaving it in the freezer to have later in the week. We all have our own way of doing things. When making my cous cous I did what the recipe said, but also made my own judgements. For instance I put a whole jar of Harrisa sauce in and cooked the onions and garlic together. I also preferred checking if things were cooked by carefully touching  them from my wooden spoon, or looking at the colour. Instead of leaving it for a few minutes and figuring out how long it took to cook.There isn’t a one way fits all. You just have to keep trying until you find what works best for you. Cooking is all about practice. The more you do it, the netter you’ll become.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: close up of my chicken cous cous, which is  in a black pan on my hob and covered in  orange sauce. There’s a wooden spoon in it as well.

Changes I've Made

Since then I’ve made some changes to how I cook. For one, I bought the 28cm Pro cook professional Granite Non-stick saucepan with lid because I needed a bigger pan. There’s a reason why I only showed you a close up of that cous cous. The mess was too bad to reveal on camera. I also put vegetables that are cooked together in one bowl. Not only does it reduce the amount of washing up I have to do, it makes my life easier. I now write recipes down on a piece of paper. For me it’s much quicker to refer to that when I need to double check, instead of my phone. If you’d like to know more about cooking with a visual impairment, watch this video from Henshaws. For those of you that have also been doing a bit of baking I recommend this  Link Chef mixer. It has a light that automatically turns on at the front when it’s on, is easy to stand and you just need to press a button to get the whisks out.  So it’s quite accessible. 

That’s all I’ve got for this post. If you’d like to see what else I’ve been cooking, check out my instagram. I hope you found thus useful, regardless of whether you have a disability or not. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments down below!


1 comment:

  1. Although ideal for healthy cooking, non-stick pans are subject to scratch, if not taken care of properly. frying pan