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The Sound of One Hand Cooking


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#1 Malawry

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 12:42 PM

I broke my right arm last week. I'm right-handed. :wacko:

I wondered what your cooking tips are for those who cook with only one (non-dominant) hand. We've been subsisting on things like bagged salad with cut-up veg from the supermarket salad bar, deli meat sandwiches, yogurt, pears and apples. I cannot brace food with my right hand while using a knife with my left right now, and frankly cutting left-handed scares me. Also I cannot wash my right hand if it touches something like raw meat. I am dying for a hot meal besides english muffin pizza from my own kitchen. Advice?

Don't be surprised if I don't respond to posts or PMs. I just typed this left-handed. Oy.

#2 Anna N

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 12:53 PM

I broke my right arm last week. I'm right-handed.  :wacko:

...

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Oh, Rochelle - you have my sympathy. I can't come up with anything on the spur of the moment that would not require some chopping or cutting. I can suggest that you stuff your injured right hand into a plastic bag and keep a pile of clean plastic bags handy if you can use that hand to brace things. I will keep you in my mind though and see if I can come up with something tasty, warm and doable.
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#3 racheld

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 12:56 PM

Stir-fry is fairly easy with the already-cut vegetables and meats. Things like already-formed meat patties, sliced turkey breast, boned chicken, go well on a sizzle-grill or in a hot skillet. Soups are easy, as well, with just chunks of onion, celery, chicken or beef, simmered in broth or stock, then noodles, rice or pasta dropped in. The very easiest one is a Sandra Lee-ish egg-drop soup; just bring canned broth to a simmer, season it however you like, pour in a couple of beaten eggs (or even Egg-Beaters, right out of the box spout) in a stream, and don't stir for a couple of minutes.

Chris was out of cooking commission several years ago when he broke his right shoulder, then later had surgery to fix it---double time left-handed. He still mentions that he even learned to eat with chopsticks with the wrong hand.
But it's awkward and aggravating and time-consuming to deal with that and what life brings on an ordinary day. I hope you're all well soon.

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#4 Anna N

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 12:58 PM

How about a pasta dish with shrimp (pre-shelled) and some of those already prepped stir-fry veggies.
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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#5 petite tête de chou

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 01:25 PM

Perhaps braise a hunk o' meat in a pot on the stovetop? Toss in some bagged baby carrots, baby potatoes, frozen peas, etc? I would think that the meat and vegetables would be so tender that you could eat them without a knife.

Edited to add, you might also consider buying left-handed kitchen scissors. That arm is going to take a while to heal and the scissors will ease a bit of your frustration in the kitchen. You can "chop" quite a few things with them. And pop a plastic bag over your cast with a large rubber band- it'll help keep it clean and dry while you cook. :smile:

Edited by petite tête de chou, 12 March 2006 - 01:57 PM.

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#6 snowangel

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 01:39 PM

I would think pasta would be a big problem, unless you have help draining the pot!

I second the idea of braises, just do them on top of the stove. Remember to have hubby open any cans you'll need; he could do that the night before and dump them into re-sealable containers.

Don't hesitate to have the butcher cut up meat or chicken to your specs.

Any way you could get some of your cooking students to come over and help you?
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#7 divalasvegas

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 02:05 PM

Rochelle I'm so sorry to hear this and join everyone here in wishing you a speedy recovery.

As you know, I am mobility impaired, mostly involving not being able to stay on my feet for a great length of time so I understand a lot about having to figure out different ways of doing things. Your situation is of course different from mine, but I have a few suggestions.

1) I'm sure as a professional chef/instructor and do-it-yourself home cook you are used to prepping fruits and vegetables in a way that make sense for the recipe: mincing, dicing, julienne, thin slices, and so on. Unfortunately, the last thing you need after breaking your right arm is slicing your left hand. At this point I think you'll have to concentrate on recipes that call for the kind of rough chopping and slicing one would get from a food processor.

2) Using a food processor, how about rough chopping/slicing vegetables all at once to be used throughout the week for things like soups, stews, braises, chili, etc.? After each batch of the usual suspects--onions, mushrooms, celery, carrot, fennel are chopped then hubby or someone else could put these in freezer bags (even better if you have a vacuum sealer for this) for use during the week. Since many fruits don't freeze well or hold up in the fridge for very long, use the food processor for those that do: oranges, lemons, limes and leave the peeling and slicing of other fruits that you'll be using immediately to helpers. Depending on how agile you are, you can probably take care of berries yourself.

3) As others here have suggested, the only safe recipes for you can be those that you can do safely with your left hand: stirring, some stir fry, maybe sauteeing.

I'm sure there'll be more sage advice for you here coming your way soon.

Take care. :smile:
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#8 chezcherie

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 02:11 PM

oh, my goodness. my sympathies....are you not also quite pregnant? wow...i guess it's time to put your feet up and be waited on (a little early!) i'm so sorry to hear this, and hope it was no worse than a broken arm.
as far as chopping anything, not that you haven't already thought of this, take advantage (or have you designated shopper do so) of the grocery store salad bar stuff...also, trader joe's (if you have one) will be a boon to you, with pre-prepped vegetables, even chopped onions, which i don't use regularly, but i sure would if i had a broken arm!
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#9 Anna N

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 02:23 PM

I would think pasta would be a big problem, unless you have help draining the pot!

....

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Not really. I often don't drain the pot but lift the pasta out with tongs or a slotted spoon. I have trouble with heavy pots full of hot water!
Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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#10 helenjp

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 03:04 PM

Hope it's the kind of fracture which will heal quickly and well...

Meanwhile, how about using kitchen scissors to do some of your "chopping"? Not totally easy to use one-handed, but worth a thought.

#11 srhcb

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 03:14 PM

Even though I have full use of both my hands, (except while baby sitting), I thought about getting one of these:


http://www.caregivin...tpanholder.html


Lots of other one-handed tools and equipment are available too.

SB :wink:

#12 Adrienne Carmack

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 03:18 PM

My dad used to date a woman who was paralyzed on one side. She was a very good cook, but of course had perfected her techinques over years. The one gadget I remember her using was a cutting board with a big nail sticking up in the middle - she could put whatever she was chopping, like a potato, onto the nail (maybe it was 2 nails?) and then do the rest one-handed. Might be worth it if you'll be in the cast for a few weeks.
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#13 Pan

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 04:35 PM

Rochelle, I'm glad to hear from you and very sorry you have to deal with this. I think this is the time to have your husband or someone else do the prep work for you. One thought, though, is that you could at least stew fruit for dessert without too much trouble. Just wash the apple or pear, put some brown sugar (and, if you like, wine) on it, and stick it in the over whole. I'm sure you have your own favorite way to do this. I doubt that it's necessary to quarter or core the fruit before cooking it, but I stand to be corrected. If it is necessary, have your husband do it.

#14 andiesenji

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 04:55 PM

For pasta I usually use a pasta scoop strainer, similar to this one. except mine has a rubber or easy grip handle.

I have an over-the-sink colander and a small cutting board that just fits in the bottom of it. When I have to cut something when I only have one hand working, I put in on the cutting board because the sides of the colander holds whatever I am cutting in place.
I found that I could hold the handle of one of the turkey lifter fork thingies, which I could stick through a chunk of meat and use like a carving fork.
like these.
In fact, these things will pierce a chicken fairly easily. One will also hold a head of lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower or bunch of broccoli.

I always wear the disposable food-handler gloves anyway, when handling meats, poultry, etc.

Edited by andiesenji, 12 March 2006 - 04:56 PM.

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#15 highchef

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 07:47 PM

I've wondered about this cookbook for a while one armed cook. The concept is overdue, I sure could have used the help a couple of years ago. Check it out. Good luck, this should help after the baby comes too.

#16 Maison Rustique

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 07:56 PM

Much sympathy and best wishes for a speedy recovery. Having broken my foot quite badly a year and a half or so ago, I understand how terrible this is! :sad:

I'm curious..

You said "we" in your initial post. Can't the "other/s" help? :huh:

That was how I existed during the first 2 months of not being able to be on my feet. I had help from family.
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#17 maggiethecat

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 08:12 PM

Rochelle, you really don't need this right now! My sympathies. But look on the bright side -- consider it training! You'll be doing a lot of one-handed cooking when your baby arrives, because you'll have him tucked on one hip.

I suggest eggs. Beat them in a bowl then do scrambled, omelettes, frittata...

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#18 tejon

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 09:15 PM

I've wondered about this cookbook for a while one armed cook. The concept is overdue, I sure could have used the help a couple of years ago. Check it out. Good luck, this should help after the baby comes too.

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That's a great idea! I got around that by slinging my boys when they were tiny (carried behind me worked especially well as they got older and wanted to grab things), but simple to prepare meals would have been a blessing regardless.

Rochelle, I hope your arm heals very quickly!
Kathy

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#19 Sam Salmon

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 10:21 PM

Been there/done that-it's tough because you're still suffering trauma and need sustenance.
Dried soup dolled up with whatever-the precut veggies are great.
Boiled eggs with toast.
Porridge never tasted so good even for supper.
My fave was steamed fish, rice and sliced tomatoes.
As days go by you'll become more confident and chopping food will be less of challenge.
Best Wishes for an uncomplicated recovery.

#20 KatieLoeb

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 11:11 PM

Oh honey!! This totally sucks for you. So sorry... :sad:

Get that cute hubby of yours to help you out. If he chops everything ahead of time you can still get into pans and pots one-handed. No different than having a prep cook, eh?

And then there's always programming the local take-outs into speed dial. :biggrin:

((((Rochelle)))) Thinking of you and sending good vibes for a quick recovery.

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#21 divalasvegas

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 12:51 AM

Hello again Rochelle. I'm sending out healing thoughts to that right arm of yours. I saw a product demonstrated on one of the home shopping channels that specifically addressed mixing using only one hand. Here's the product:

Multi-Angled Mixing Bowls

Essentially the lids double as a non-skid base for the bowls that prevents slippage on your countertop and also allows one to angle the bowl for mixing without using the other hand to stabilize it. As maggiethecat, tejon, and highchef mentioned upthread in a short while you'll be doing a lot of one-handed cooking once the little one arrives, so I think these bowls may come in handy (no pun intended) long after your arm heals and life with baby begins. :smile:
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#22 eJulia

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 01:37 AM

Some really good suggestions above... wish I'd thought of them!

In the eCGI course on cooking with disabilities, LoveBenton0 mentions using manual choppers, a rotary-style pizza cutter instead of a knife and/or kitchen shears to assist in cutting food safely.

Two other ideas may not fit for you. It's a shame you or someone local to you can't organize a "cooking party" ala Dream Dinners in your own home. You could plan the dishes (hopefully ones that freeze and reheat well), organize recipes and shopping lists and supervise a bunch of friends putting up several dishes (multiple servings) - it'd be fun for a group of food nerds..... any eGulleters close to VW up for the challenge?

One other choice (although expensive) is using a personal chef on a one or two time basis - don't know if that is an option for you or not, given that you're probably up to your eyeballs in bills or expected costs of the new baby.

I'll keep looking.... you keep mending! And if there is anything I can do from Portland, please don't hesitate to ask!
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#23 andrewB

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 05:51 AM

I broke my right arm last week. I'm right-handed.  :wacko:

I wondered what your cooking tips are for those who cook with only one (non-dominant) hand. We've been subsisting on things like bagged salad with cut-up veg from the supermarket salad bar, deli meat sandwiches, yogurt, pears and apples. I cannot brace food with my right hand while using a knife with my left right now, and frankly cutting left-handed scares me. Also I cannot wash my right hand if it touches something like raw meat. I am dying for a hot meal besides english muffin pizza from my own kitchen. Advice?

Don't be surprised if I don't respond to posts or PMs. I just typed this left-handed. Oy.

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i was in the same boat a few years ago. I had a bad accident, breaking 5 bones in my right hand and then shattering a bone in my thumb. It required 4 operations, 2 in Austria and 2 in the US. The best thing someone brought me in the hospital while i was laid up was my chefs knife. After my first 10 days in the hospital, i had learned to cut left handed.. they say necessity is the mother of invention right? Well, to this day there are things now which i only do in the kitchen with my left hand...

#24 Kouign Aman

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 06:54 AM

roasts including large veggies. Delegate prep chores to Mr.M as much as possible.

Major bummer on the arm, especially with HRH due soon.
Whoever suggested the food prep party, that seems like a really good idea.

Off-Topic, if no one gave you a baby-sling, invest in one. They make a lot of things easier to do with HRH in tow. like...OT ..cooking.

Good luck.
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#25 jgm

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 09:58 AM

It's difficult for me to picture exactly what you can and cannot do. How about walking through your favorite cooking store, and looking into the possibilities? There's an onion chopper that works by twisting two halves of a container in opposite directions. Maybe you could put one of those rubber jar grips on the counter, and twist it against that. Don't forget the electric jar opener. At my house, we'd be hard pressed to find room for it on our counter, but we could cope with it for a few weeks. There may also be electric can openers that would be easy to work with one hand.

I have arthritis in my hands. Most of the time, it just means they're sore. But when I have a flare-up, I'm grateful for my battery-operated pepper grinder. I've also seen one at Williams-Sonoma that is ball-shaped, with two handles that are squeezed together; it's intended for one-handed use.

I think you may be able to use an Oxo mandoline. It's very simple in construction and doesn't have a bunch of parts to put together. Perhaps you could brace it with one hand and move the food with the other.

How about a mezzaluna with the accompanying chopping dish that has the depression for the mezzaluna?

If you can't wash your right hand, "Wet Ones" makes an anti-bacterial wipe that you could use. Also, consider baby wipes for hand cleaning.

Also, consider the possibility of making out menus a week at a time, and having your husband or a friend assist you with doing as much prep ahead of time as possible. I'm thinking about the kind of do-ahead prep that restaurants do; not only chopping and slicing, but also partially cooking certain things ahead of time, then finishing them off just before mealtime.

This also looks like a good time to explore sandwiches! If you don't have Marlena Spieler's book on grilled cheese sandwiches, I recommend it.

I know this must be overwhelming right now, to think of how you're going to cope in the coming weeks. I predict that other (former) broken-arm sufferers will offer suggestions, upon seeing your cast, and that you will discover a few tricks yourself. It will come together. If you're anything like me, patience will be the biggest challenge.

#26 ludja

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 11:16 AM

Sending wishes for your arm to heal quickly.

I thought the pot roast idea above was a good one. (would just need a few vegetables chopped up ahead of time; can serve with egg noodles)

Another dish that would only require a few things chopped up (by someone else) would be a meatloaf. This reheats well for subsequent lunches and suppers too.

Oven roasted chicken pieces are another idea. Roast some potatoes alongside or make some rice and vegetables.

Broiled, poached or pan sauteed fish is another option.

Take advantage of "convenience" foods even if they're not on your normal menu---frozen vegetables, stovetop stuffing, store-made pesto sauce, etc. If there is a Trader Joes near you, they have lots of frozen entrees that are more appealing than regular grocery store options.
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#27 Athena1963

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 12:56 PM

Get a nail brush that has suction cups on the back and stick it to the inside wall of the sink. That way you can clean veggies.
I made a cutting board for my sister that has two thin pieces of wood along two sides to make a corner. This holds bread in place to be buttered. In the opposite corner I put nails thru the bottom to stick up out of the top to impale food for slicing. I put some no-skid materiel on the bottom. A peeler can be mounted on one end so that you can peel veggies.
You can also get a battery-operated pot-stirrer and the angled mixing bowls. Taco holders that stand upright on their own can hold things.
A stick blender can be operated one-handed.
A bettery-operated sifter and pepper mill, an electric coffee grinder for spices would all be handy.
But pre-sliced veggies and fruits if no one can cut them up for you. Perhaps the produce dept would do this if you asked?
Pre-made soup bases. Just add prechopped veggies and meat.
Rolls instead of bread that needs slicing.

#28 eJulia

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 01:11 PM

These may be "cheesy", but I'm not sure what your biggest challenges are:

EZ Carry Handles for groceries

Potential one handed utensils?

Quick Chop

Note these are all "As seen on TV" website, so they could all be crap. :wink:

The suggestions from Athena above are good - many of them are "products" you can find for big $$$$, but it looks like Athena has experience with making them up at home - clearly a $$ saver.
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#29 Teri Everitt

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 02:25 PM

Rochelle, you really don't need this right now!  My sympathies. But look on the bright side -- consider it  training!  You'll be doing a lot of one-handed cooking when your baby arrives, because you'll have him tucked on one hip.

I suggest eggs.  Beat them in a bowl then do scrambled, omelettes, frittata...

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I second that! If bracing the bowl is a problem while you whisk, just wet a kitchen towel, roll it up and arrange it around the bowl in a "C" shape. I do this all the time at work when I need to pour liquid into a bowl while whisking and don't have a third hand to brace the bowl.

Hope your arm heals soon....you have my sympathy, I wouldn't be able to work injured....I need the use of both arms and I have to be able to be on my feet all day. And you are pregnant as well? Well I guess there is no "good" time to break an arm, but still.........
If only I'd worn looser pants....

#30 monavano

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 02:28 PM

Here's a link to Wright Stuff products which provides assistive and adaptive equipment for upper extremity impairments. You may also find other products to help with other daily functions.

I feel for you as I broke my dominant wrist a few years ago. On the other hand(no pun intended) my continental eating technique really evolved!!

http://store.wrights.../inkitchen.html