Food For Thought

Six banana muffins in a pan.
Photo credit: Jinnie Saran

Cooking is a vital task that one needs to do almost every day in some shape or form in order to ensure that they are meeting their body’s needs. However, most often when people have a disability such as blindness, they are discouraged from this practice. This could be due to the fear of the person in question injuring themselves, or due to the lack of knowledge on encouraging them to do this in a safe manner. I can assure you that cooking when you are blind is completely possible! When I was younger and during my teen years, I too was not involved in much food preparation. This didn’t come until I was a few years older and was living semi on my own in a dormitory setting for school. Even though this setting did not have a kitchen, it was the perfect way to start, as it did have a microwave. This slow introduction got me acquainted with measuring cups and spoons, frozen meals, and kitchen clean up. Measuring cups and spoons are a good basic cooking tool that one can start with. They are quite versatile in the sense that they are used in both cooking and baking as a way to follow the steps given in a particular recipe. Not only can you purchase Braille measuring cups and spoons from places such as the Braille Superstore, but you can also learn to differentiate the measurements by the way in which they are stacked. Typically these are stacked in one another from smallest to biggest, with the quarter cup at the top, and the one cup measurement at the bottom. Along with this, crafting simple meals is the perfect method in which to get comfortable using these as there is not much room to mess up. The worst that can happen is you may end up with either watery or too dry of an oatmeal breakfast or a Kraft Dinner. In fact, this is a perfect segue into preparing frozen meals when starting off with cooking! These meals are a perfect way of perfecting basic skills before introducing a stove and oven into the mix. In my younger days, I would often make oatmeal, Kraft Dinner, and other simple creations. You are able to purchase packages of microwavable oatmeal from your local grocery store, and all you should need to add is the correct measurement of water as indicated on the package. This makes for a quick yet healthy breakfast if coupled with some fruit. Many may not know, but you are also able to make Kraft Dinner in the microwave. If one looks at the back of the box, microwave instructions are also provided. Simply follow the directions and add the appropriate measurements.

Once you are comfortable with the basics of food creation, you can introduce new elements to your skill set. This didn’t happen for me right away and only happened when I attended PTCB. This is where I was supported in the usage of the stove and oven. The worry for most may be identifying when their water on the stove is boiling or when food is completed cooking. In terms of boiling water, this is a pretty basic thing that is needed to cook foods such as pasta. There are a few ways of determining if water is boiling, and one of them is to simply listen. If you listen closely, you should be able to hear the bubbling in the pot. If you need further confirmation, placing your hand on the handle of the pot should let you feel the vibrations as the water is beginning to boil. If you had placed a lid on the pot in order to retain the heat, sometimes it may rattle when water is beginning to bubble. If these tips don’t work for you, a pot minder is also another option. The pot minder is a ceramic device that one can place in their pot before setting it on the burner and will eventually rattle around in the pot once the water starts to boil. This can also be purchased at the Braille Superstore. As for telling if your food is done, you can simply taste to see if it is to your liking. Taking a small piece of the food out of the pot with a fork and tasting it should tell you not only if it is done, but whether or not you wish to add more or less of an ingredient as well. In terms of baking, investing in silicone baking cups and sheet is a good idea as not only are they reusable and easy to clean, but your baking will keep from sticking to them. Along with this, rather than use a knife to make your flour or cup of sugar level, you can simply use your hand to swipe of the excess.

These are just a few tips to get you started on your cooking journey, and there are many more out there if you get to looking around. Once these are mastered, consider introducing other skills in small increments into your cooking and baking. Although it may seem like a challenging task or as if you may hurt yourself, it is highly doable and everyone makes mistakes when first cooking as well as nicking themselves with a knife, blind or sighted.

Cooking is one of the many blindness/Deafblindness skills that will be taught by instructors at the Bowen Island Recreation, Training and Meeting Centre. By supporting this project, you can help us to insure that Canadians who are blind and Deafblind receive the skills and confidence to independently cook the meals they need to live healthy, well-balanced lives.