Cooking is a Sensory Affair with Low Vision

Girl eating with eyes closed
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Doing visual tasks can seem impossible at times, especially when you are used to seeing what you are cooking. But there is no reason why your creative passion for preparing culinary delights has to be put to one side just because you are experiencing low vision.

Consider this – you have already perfected many techniques to create your favorite dishes by practicing, by tasting what works and what doesn’t.

Cooking doesn’t rely solely on seeing. Preparing your favorite dishes is a sensory affair and knowing this is your cutting edge advantage in the kitchen!

If you want to know how to keep your zest for cooking alive as it gets harder to see, here is some great advice: “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to try new things,” says Christine Ha, blind chef and season 3 winner of MasterChef USA.

From one visually-impaired cook to another: It’s not as difficult or dangerous as you may imagine. In my household, there was no other choice but to adapt my cooking skills. My young family would have starved to death if I hadn’t put a large amount of trusting my other senses into the mix.

In a previous post, How do you cook for your family when you can’t see?, I shared ways visually-impaired people can adapt their kitchen space to help life run smoothly. So now comes the really fun part – exciting your other senses for that culinary affair in your kitchen!

Sensory Tip #1: Cooking with the sense of TOUCH

Your hands are one of the most useful ‘tools’ for any kind of cook, sighted or visually-impaired. It is how you use them that makes the difference. Trust your clean hands to feel and pat, turn and roll foods with your awareness right at the edges of your fingertips.

It’s delightful!

Feeling for the readiness of many dishes is achieved with low vision as you gain skills in gently touching your way around baking trays and cake tins.

Can you still use sharp knives to chop and cut? Yes, as long as you stay focused. For instance, using a short knife gives better control than longer blades. Chopping requires rehearsal so that you develop the technique of keeping fingers tucked away while chopping. Never rush this process or allow distractions to take your mind off your fingers!

Sensory Tip #2: Cooking with the sense of SMELL

Every cook relies on the nose to smell the perfect readiness of a dish. The visually-impaired cook is at a top advantage here. Sight doesn’t even have a role to play when it comes to appreciating the aromas of cooking.

The nose simply knows how to gauge the scent of over-cooked meat, the freshness of crisp fruits and vegetables, the smell of a finished dish.

As you trust your sense of smell like an aroma-detective, you will gain the enviable reputation as the talented ‘snoop-dog’ in your kitchen.

Sensory Tip #3: Cooking with the sense of HEARING

Listen up. Yes, you can actually hear when food is cooking to inform your other senses when to take the next food preparation step. As sight fades, you take more notice of the audible bubbling and squeaks going on in deep pans and mixing bowls. With attentive listening, you’ll hear sounds in your kitchen you never noticed before as you create ‘music’ with spice shakers, tins, pots and pans, timers and audible gadgets.

Before you know it, you’ll be creating an enjoyable symphony of sounds to accompany you in the kitchen.

Sensory Tip #4: Cooking with the sense of TASTE

One of the advantages of not seeing is that you can delight your taste buds more often by dipping into your dishes in the preparation phase. You have the perfect excuse to sip and taste as you go.

No matter how well a dish is visually presented for sighted dinner guests, ultimately our enjoyment of food and its success is judged on the fine balance of flavors, the delicate spices and textures all cleverly mixed together. Not by sight but by sense.

So what’s keeping you back from crafting new dishes is not your lack of sight but a new personal cooking challenge. Are you up for it? Sure you are!

A tantalizing sensory cooking affair awaits you as the visually-impaired chef in your kitchen – there are just some secrets we don’t have to share with our sighted friends. I promise I won’t tell anyone what you are up to in your kitchen!

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