The Secret to Cooking With Zest and Low Vision

seasoning pork ribs
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One of the first things people fear as they begin to notice a decline in their eyesight is having to let go of pleasurable aspects of their life they have enjoyed: travel, playing sport, reading, watching TV and going out, cooking, and so on.

The act of letting go is often something we naturally resist because it feels like we are being forced to miss out on something that gives us so much enjoyment but which no longer seems possible to do with low vision.

The secret is not to give up your zest for living.

Take hold of new techniques and see how letting go is really about letting go of one skill and developing others, or moving away from one mindset to a more positive and useful one.

Cooking, for example, is one such activity where you can let go of sighted techniques to gain new skills in sensory cooking methods.

You will also defy misconceptions by others as in the case when my young son once said to me, “Mom, blind people shouldn’t eat meatballs.” Astonished, I asked, “Why not?” To which he replied, “Because they might get them all over their clothes.” With great amusement, I asked, “So what should they eat instead?” After a moment’s thought, he offered his solution: “Toast!”

Luckily for my family, I didn’t listen to his advice.

 A Confident Chef Has Great Kitchen Techniques

In 2 previous articles, How Do You Cook for Your Family when You Can’t See and Cooking is a Sensory Affair, I shared kitchen basics in how to:

  • Organize specific places for everything
  • Store food in a variety of tactile containers
  • Maximize lighting, and work with contrast
  • Use audible gadgets for cooking with low vision  
  • Adapting all the senses as your kitchen helpers.

The Secret Revealed: Cooking requires Logic, not Sight

Apart from combining your entire sensory world with your passion for creating delicious meals, using a sense of logic is a sign of a master chef in any kitchen.

Blind-Chef Logic #1 Do one task at a time.

Don’t try to carry too many things at once from bench to stove or from bench to table. Focusing on one task helps you to stay calm and organized.

Blind-Chef  Logic #2 Have a system.

Every skilled chef has a system when preparing food. In the case of cutting up vegetables, when you have low vision, you can work from left to right. On the left, you can easily feel for the unprepared vegetables, in the middle you have a bowl for the discarded pieces and on the right, the prepared vegetables await their destiny.

Blind-Chef Logic #3 Use deep pans not shallow ones. 

If you cannot see, the safest way to cook using hot oil when frying food is to cook in a deep saucepan rather than using a shallow frying pan. Not only does this method reduce the chances of hot oil spitting at you, it saves on washing up if you continue to use the pot to complete your recipe.

Blind-Chef Logic #4 Handle those pot handles.

Never have the handle of a pan sticking out in front of the stove. It is wiser and safer to place it to one side and use this side every time so it becomes second nature to your way of cooking.

Blind-Chef Logic #5 Know that timing is everything.

You may be used to seeing when baked dishes are ready to come out of the oven but, with low vision, you can simply use a timer to save opening the oven door too many times.

Your nose knows more than you give it credit for, so remember to keep  your ears on the time and your olfactory senses on the fragrances in your kitchen.

Blind-Chef Logic #6 Keep sighted guests out of the kitchen.

Dishing up in the privacy of the kitchen instead of doing it at the table allows for messes to be unseen by family or dinner guests.

Just set them a task that stops them hovering over you to see how you manage. For example, by asking them to set the table, light the candles, pour the wine, or talk to one another.

By gaining new skills in all these ways, you not only re-build your confidence and retain your zest for cooking but your reputation as master chef of the household will continue to be preserved because of all your culinary delights.