Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Kitchen gadgets for those with injuries & disabilities


helenjp
 Share

Recommended Posts

There are some other topics about cooking one handed, but I wanted to focus on gadgets and equipment that make it easier to cook with an injury or disability. I had a bad fall and have my dominant arm in a sling. It's almost impossible to use a knife one handed in my non dominant hand.

I'm wondering about a food processor. I've never owned one, though I have a good blender and a cheap juicer. I can't chop things for the juicer or clean it out one handed. I have to say, the juicer has been useful even though I can't use it myself. My husband and sontwo will cook, but they tend not to bother with green vegetables. However, I can nag my son into making green lemonade for both of us from time to time!

A food processor would need to be easy to put together, use, and clean with one hand.I've used a Braun stick blender for years, and never wanted a countertop food processor until now.

Any other recommendations for equipment? I can use my R.H. fingers more now, but it will be ages before I can exert pressure or move my shoulder much, I think.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I like my food processor for making purees, some doughs, and a few batters (cheesecake pretty much.) The slicing blade makes nice slices for some things but they are thin slices (like for a gratin). When my child began to cook, I bought one of those chopper gadgets so he could put an onion or some garlic or herbs in it and I didn't have to worry about him with a knife. He's older now and more proficient with a knife, but he still likes to use the chopper :) It's a small one so it doesn't have much capacity, I don't know how useful it would be to you in your situation unless you were able to find a larger one.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From time to time I have volunteered at our local senior citizens center helping to teach people with handicaps how to handle foods and cook for themselves.

For stroke survivors that have little or no use of one arm and hand, the main problem is holding something in place while cutting it.

A "Swedish" cutting board has prongs onto which a vegetable, fruit or piece of meat or poultry can be impaled, thus holding it in place.

An electric or battery operated knife is essential. It takes very little strength to operate it and will slice just about anything.

For chopping, the gadgets like the "Slap-chop" or whatever it's called, work well with one hand and one doesn't need precise control.

The kitchen at the center uses strong bar magnets on the grids of the stove top to keep pans and pots in place while stirring or using a spatula or similar utensil.

Swedish cutting board

This web site had numerous items for one-handed use.

One of the seniors had her son make her one of these cutting boards. He fastened suction cup feet to one side of a plastic cutting board, drilled small holes and forced slightly larger stainless steel nails through so they stuck up about 1 1/2 inches on the other side - he covered the nail heads with a thin piece of plastic fastened to board with screws to keep the nails in place.

It works as well as the commercially made one for slicing but doesn't have the vise.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Putting the lid on a food processor and locking it in place requires two STRONG hands working in tandem. Unless you have someone to do that for you, I think, given your shoulder and arm issues, a food processor will be a challenge. If that is overcome, the rest of it is perfect for a one-armed person.An old-fashioned plunge chopper might be of help; you have an immersion blender so that can do some pureeing tasks. A Kitchen Aid mixer can be operated with one hand (provided it has already been lifted to the counter).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Putting the lid on a food processor and locking it in place requires two STRONG hands working in tandem. Unless you have someone to do that for you, I think, given your shoulder and arm issues, a food processor will be a challenge....

I can certainly confirm that. Both the flat lid, and the shredder/grater top for my Cuisinart give me fits some day when my arthritis is particularly bad in my hands. All those pesty little interlocking safety catches take a great deal of fine control. Sometimes even getting the work bowl off the base is a struggle.

In that same vein, somedays I've had to resort to taking my meat mallet and giving the KA bowl handle a good thwack to get it to unscrew from the base when I've made a bread dough. I've taking to using a thin film of mineral oil around the bottom of the bowl, where it locks into the base, to help it release more readily.

Perhaps one of the electric mini-choppers/processers would be less finicky than the big Cuisinarts. I had one that was pretty easy to use that was an attachment to my Cuisinart immersion blender. Unfortunately the gears in it stripped after about a year's worth of use, so I can't recommend that model. I'm looking at a Black & Decker as a replacement. Amazon has a ton of them to look at.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Putting the lid on a food processor and locking it in place requires two STRONG hands working in tandem. ...

... A Kitchen Aid mixer can be operated with one hand (provided it has already been lifted to the counter).

There's no such problem with my Magimix 5100 (new bowl and lid, old machine).

But cleaning a food processor, any food processor, and its discs with one hand is going to be difficult.

And for slicing, you usually need to pre-cut so that the stuff will go down the feed tube.

Good slicing wants a steady slight pusher-pressure. Not easy if your good hand is on the switch!

I wonder if a stable (and static) mandolin might be a better tool for single-handed slicing.

Stand mixers are generally easier (less dangerous) to clean! A better choice for mixing, beating, kneading, etc single-handed.

A drum slicer might be a useful attachment if you are keen on mechanical slicing. Gentler and more forgiving than a food processor!

Something I'd expect to be very useful would be any sort of clamping system.

And as a lower end solution, high friction mats or coasters could still be terribly useful to reduce things' general tendency to slide, twist or move when you try to work with them.

However, be inspired by the knowledge that even the total loss of your main hand doesn't necessarily mean that you can't win a second and third Michelin star ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Caines

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Helen,

I was thinking about this yesterday. What sort of applications were you thinking of?

If you want a lot of even vegetable slices, then an adjustable mandoline like dougal mentions (not forgetting a protective glove in preference to a guard) might be the most useful - maybe something like this one from Oxo. Of course you will still need to do some pre-prep of things - ie peeling & chunking carrots, potatoes, onions, etc, in which case the board that Andie described strikes me as really useful.

With regards to a food processor, again, I think it depends on what you're trying to do, and how you can store it. If it's always on your counter, and is quite stable, then you ought to be able to manage it one-handed, depending on how the bits fit together. For example, I have a 10 year old Moulinex, and the knob bit in the bowl that the blade and other parts rest on is a two piece thing that you really need two hands for, and I could not imagine inserting the slicing and shredding blades without two hands (or maybe even two pairs of hands - it's that idiotic). Different processors will have different systems, so it's important to check them out.

The one thing I do have, which gets a fair bit of use and I think would be easy to manage one handed is this pumped-up stick blender. I have a slightly older one which comes with just the whisk and mini-processor, but it looks like newer versions come with a shredder blade as well. They need a bit of a pull and a push to get the blade in and out, but it's something you could do by gripping it against your body with your elbow, or between your knees just to give a bit of resistance. This is the machine I take when we go away, and it works great for lots of applications: pesto, salsa, cakes, ground nuts, etc. I have even made a small amount of pastry in them. They're not perfect, but they are pretty good, and easier to store (just keep all the bits together in a basket under the counter). It's not as powerful as a proper benchtop processor, but it might be easier to manage one handed. And if you already use a stick blender you know how useful they are.

I'm looking forward to others' ideas.

ETA: should have properly read previous post!

Edited by Snadra (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

...The one thing I do have, which gets a fair bit of use and I think would be easy to manage one handed is this pumped-up stick blender. I have a slightly older one which comes with just the whisk and mini-processor, but it looks like newer versions come with a shredder blade as well. They need a bit of a pull and a push to get the blade in and out, but it's something you could do by gripping it against your body with your elbow, or between your knees just to give a bit of resistance. This is the machine I take when we go away, and it works great for lots of applications: pesto, salsa, cakes, ground nuts, etc. I have even made a small amount of pastry in them. They're not perfect, but they are pretty good, and easier to store (just keep all the bits together in a basket under the counter). It's not as powerful as a proper benchtop processor, but it might be easier to manage one handed. And if you already use a stick blender you know how useful they are....

Again, I can TOTALLY confirm this. The afore-mentioned Cuisinart immersion blender with attachments replaced a Braun Multi-mix that I had and ADORED for about 20 years ! Mine had a base that you could turn into a hand-mixer, an immersion blender, a powered whisk and the mini processor. I LOVED IT, and would love to have another one. Unfortunately, Braun has decided, for whatever reason, to stop selling these products in the U.S. *grumble*. It was a snap to put together, had enough power for fairly good sized loads, and did a great job. Until it died, I rarely used my big Cuisinart, it was that good. If you can get a Braun, go for it. It's just what you're looking for in terms of dicing, and apparently now, shredding.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Again, I can TOTALLY confirm this. The afore-mentioned Cuisinart immersion blender with attachments replaced a Braun Multi-mix that I had and ADORED for about 20 years ! Mine had a base that you could turn into a hand-mixer, an immersion blender, a powered whisk and the mini processor. I LOVED IT, and would love to have another one. Unfortunately, Braun has decided, for whatever reason, to stop selling these products in the U.S. *grumble*. It was a snap to put together, had enough power for fairly good sized loads, and did a great job. Until it died, I rarely used my big Cuisinart, it was that good. If you can get a Braun, go for it. It's just what you're looking for in terms of dicing, and apparently now, shredding.

Gah! I completely mis-read that part of your earlier post and thought you meant a mini-prep processor... I'm glad to hear I'm not far off on my assessment. Shame they're not sold in the US anymore though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for all those hints. For some reason, those pronged or spiked cutting boards are not easy to find in Japan. The Swedish version costs nearly twice as much as that desirable Braun multi quick, when it's available at all. Every time I go to the supermarket I see people with obvious aftereffects of stroke, but where are the adaptive devices that could make their lives easier?

I can cook fish whole, and I can buy most meat in chunks. What I really need to be able to do is to peel vegetables and chop them into chunks. If I could get that far, they could go into stews or be sliced or pureed by machine. I'm a little nervous of using a mandolin cutter with my left hand. Plunge choppers - I have memories of things with weak springs that would tip over and rarely cut anything other than cucumber, but it sounds like I should discard those prejudices and look more closely.

I don't have a stick blender anymore, I have the Braun multi mix. I thought the multi quick was just a snazzier version, but it's not. The multi mix is like a hand cake mixer with a stick blender attachment that takes two hands to attach with a firm twisting motion. And some bright person seems to have thrown out the lid of the mini food processor attachment (was it me?). I stopped for some soothing retail therapy (= buy a headset with a better microphone for speech recognition software) on my way home from the hospital today and checked out the multi quick. The attachments click on and off with two little buttons that can easily be grasped with one hand. I had no trouble with the demo model - but they were out of stock. By all means, besiege Braun to make these available in the U.S.

Surprisingly, there was also a modestly sized food processor/batch processor that had a loose lid and components that could easily be assembled with one hand.

Two ideas I've only seen in Japanese: to shred vegetables, impale the vegetable on one of those spiked cutting boards and shred it using one of those Brass spiked things people use to hold ikebana arrangements. And one very useful idea, for cutting up cooked green leafy vegetables. Put the cooked whole green plant on the cutting board, and weigh it down with a rock or a can, then cut away.

Another thing - it seems somebody sponsored a cooking contest for occupational therapists. They had to plan and cook an attractive menu one handed. Look like a lot of fun. One enterprising guy was making kebabs by stabbing rather than threading his ingredients onto the skewers.

Edited by helenjp (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you seen the Dynamic Living website? In particular, the kitchen section has several gadgets designed for one-handed use.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that link. The chopping board looks useful and not so expensive. The Ulu knife however looks really useful. I had been wondering if a rotary cutter would work, but that looks much more realistic.

I forgot to mention the things that I did already bring home. I got a non slip cutting board - that was a dud. It slithered everywhere. But it's much better on top of one of those silicon mats.

Actually it's silicone heaven around here. I got these.

Smile Silicone pasta server. This is already earning its keep. The prongs are soft, and it has drainage holes in the spoon part, so it doesn't break up food, and you can press it right up to the side of the pot. They also had a slightly diamond shaped ladle in firm but flexible silicone. This can also be pressed right into the corners of a pot.

Also, one silicone freestanding colander and a silicone bowl that can be used in the microwave. Its much lighter than pyrex.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A good way to keep a cutting board from slipping is to put a damp towel (cloth or paper) underneath it. That's a standard restaurant-kitchen trick.

Those curved knives are great for one-handed use. Also the jar and can openers, and peppermills/grinders.

I don't know how it is in Japan, and this isn't so much a gadget as a retail reality, but here in the US there's a lot of availability of prepped (peeled, chopped, sliced, diced, etc.) vegetables in supermarkets. I relied heavily on that stuff, which I formerly ridiculed, when I tore my rotator cuff a while back. (I still have pain, and now even with full use of my arm there are many kitchen tasks where I have to ask myself if it's worth the pain or if I should find a different way to do it.)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(snip)

Another thing - it seems somebody sponsored a cooking contest for occupational therapists. They had to plan and cook an attractive menu one handed. Look like a lot of fun. One enterprising guy was making kebabs by stabbing rather than threading his ingredients onto the skewers.

I have a solution for this task. The sleeve-type storage containers for round crackers

work nicely. Just drop all the pieces into it in a stack and stick the skewer down through the center. One of my friends lets her kids do this, rather than chance them sticking themselves with the skewers doing it the usual way. Works very well. In fact, with things that are to be marinated, she just adds the marinade to the containers.

cracker & cookie keeper

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

wet folded towel… left handed origami with wet towels? Quick, hand me my silicon mat! Actually, the silicone bowl is proving very useful. It stays put on most surfaces, I had no trouble beating eggs in it.

knives. So far, my one handed herb chopper, a small ceramic knife, and kitchen scissors are most useful. It took me awhile to get used to using serrated kitchen scissors left handed. In the long run, a two handed mezzaluna might be very useful if I can use my right hand to balance one end of it.

I'm so glad I asked for input. The mention of things like cracker containers and ulu knives were totally new ideas for me. I cooked dinner single handed after a full day's work tonight, and feel very proud of myself. We had rice, spareribs (precut) with soy sauce glaze, pea shoots (scissors), carrots, tomatoes (ceramic knife), and clear pork broth with wakame (precut) and shimeji.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Supplies - I guess this is often a problem with limited mobility, but those handy precut vegetables are only sold at the bigger supermarkets that I can't currently drive to. The small mart near my local station has much less to offer, and specifically, much less fresh food. I went to the big supermarket once...and waited a long time in the rain while taxi cabs slowed down to take a good look at the foreigner with shopping bags and one arm in a sling, before speeding up and driving away!

Online supermarkets are still minor here...when I checked, I found that they didn't sell fresh food.

Seasonings - scissor-accessible sachets are better than screw-top jars! For the moment, it's all about simplicity - flip-top soy sauce, vinegar, and mirin bottles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Compact Mandolin set with ceramic blades, non-slip bottom, own container, from Kyocera. This is small and easy to get out and set up, and I could use it securely with my left hand to slice cucumber and apple for a quick pickle.

Kai also has an easy-to-use universal design series called YASACY. I think the knife that allow top-down pressure, the round peeler, and multi-opener look the most useful.

Green vegetables - I realized that I could toss green vegetables into my blender with a little water and then pour the mix into hot stock - rather like bright green melokhia soup. Worked perfectly. I plan to try the same technique with eggs + garlic chives, green herbs, or spinach for a green omelet. (Didja know I could crack eggs one-handed in my left hand as well as my right!).

The stock was made from chicken wings - easy to put in and pull out of the stock, then grill and eat in the hand.

Sorry to keep talking to myself on this topic, but I figure the biggest step is to know or even imagine what might be able to help you or a friend before it's actually needed. So many things I learned about from this topic that I hadn't even thought about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Compact Mandolin set with ceramic blades, non-slip bottom, own container, from Kyocera. This is small and easy to get out and set up, and I could use it securely with my left hand to slice cucumber and apple for a quick pickle.

.....

This looks like a great little tool not only for those with a disability but for those of us who like to take our tools on the road.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Do you have any sort of butcher shop in your neighborhood? Here, in Vancouver, many butchers are happy to cut "to spec", given appropriate timeline. When I can call ahead, it's much easier to have stir-fry strips and diced chicken breast ready to pick up :) Saves lots of time!

Karen Dar Woon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Compact Mandolin set with ceramic blades, non-slip bottom, own container, from Kyocera. This is small and easy to get out and set up, and I could use it securely with my left hand to slice cucumber and apple for a quick pickle.

.....

This looks like a great little tool not only for those with a disability but for those of us who like to take our tools on the road.

The "compact" bit concerns me.

As a general thing, folks with reduced physical capabilities NEED things that are LESS miniaturised - so they can be handled more easily.

Thus for a mandoline, I'd expect a high value would be placed on stability.

When working with the non-dominant hand, movement is less well-controlled, less accurate - and thus there's a greater tendency to move or tip the tool than there would be when working with the dominant hand.

Compactness is not necessarily a virtue in this field - until it comes to making sure that things can be lifted easily enough.

A principal virtue is efficacy - does it do the job (or rather does it enable the job to be done)?

And following on from that, the emphasis tends to be on tools that do one thing really well, and really easily - rather than having a range of capabilities, each requiring significant reconfiguration.

Its a different game; the usual rules don't exactly apply.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Dougal, that's a very good point...people with plenty of kitchen space would surely do best with their equipment in a semi-permanent stable set-up.

What kind of set-ups or equiment would you recommend?

In my case, my prep space is about the size of a small chopping board, plus the drop-down lid of the microwave, so equipment that is light and easy to stow or deploy has been very useful (silicon rubber bowl, for example - all my other bowls are nested together in a big, heavy group).

Also, chopsticks are useful for so many things! I've bought things like non-slip tongs and a pasta spoon to replace a single pair of cooking chopsticks.

I believe there is an Oxo Good Grips mandolin that has a kind of stabilizing foot that holds it up at a convenient angle? That would be useful - we don't have that type in Japan, and the mandolins I usually use are flat ones that need to be held in one hand while the other hand holds the item to be grated.

This particular mandolin set was chosen more because it has a stabilizing non-slip foot (it flares out at the bottom of the container, that is) than because it is compact. The "catcher" compartment holds about a cup and a half of liquid (US size).

It's been handy as a kind of makeshift peeler, as well as for slicing or shredding.

Karen, you are right about meats, it hasn't been too hard to get precut meats. The biggest puzzle remains hard vegetables like carrots, onions, and so on. Although I can take my sling off now for some of the time, I'm a long way from being able to exert that much force with my right arm. A small cheap serrated knife has been useful for cutting things like leaf vegetables because it stabilizes things as I cut with my clumsy left hand, but it tends to jam in bigger, harder items (Shimomura Verdun molybdenum "tomato knife", though it is bigger and has a deeper blade than the knife I actually use to cut tomatoes).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...