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How Do You Deal with Handicaps in the Kitchen?


Marlene
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Staff note: The course referenced below is  'Cooking With Disabilities ' (there is also a part two and a part three).

 

I know we have a wonderful Cooking with and for Disabilities course, and I have read that several times. I'm looking for a few simple tips though.

I'll be spending a week up near my brother's house doing a lot of meal prep etc. for them. My brother, who used to be very active in the kitchen is feeling increasingly frustrated and useless because he hasn't been able to cook at all, or do much of anything else around the house.

I'm looking to get him re-engaged in the kitchen next week and show him how much he can do that he probably doesn't realize. This isn't about gourmet meals, rather this is an excersise in confidence building.

He can only stand and walk using a walker, and not for long periods of time. He can't really bend to take things out of the oven. I know I can get him to sit at the table to do basic chopping type prep, but I want to take him beyond that if I can.

I'll be buying them a crockpot and we can do a lot of stuff with that.

So help me out. What simple things can I get my brother to start preparing on his own that won't take a lot of standing time. They don't have to be overly healthy since we're looking to add some weight to him as well.

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Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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The crock pot is a wonderful idea. A lot of the prep can be done while sitting down, and if you are doing one big piece of meat, a person should sit while one side is browning.

Another idea is eggs. Prep could be done while sitting down, and the cook time at the stove is really fast. Bacon is another idea -- it is great done on a baking sheet in the oven, and if he can get the slices on the sheet, and someone else can put it in and take it out of the oven, you can cook a lot at one time and just put it in a zip lock in the fridge. Lots of calories and fat in cheesy eggs with ham and bacon on the side. You mentioned that he likes Egg McMuffins earlier, and these would be pretty easy for him to make.

Another idea is sandwiches. Sandwiches can be laden with all sorts of meats, cheeses, cream cheese spreads, mayo, mustard, etc.

If he's a salad person, that's another idea. You can also load a salad up with stuff like meat, cheese, eggs, oil-packed tuna, etc.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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As snowangel said, a lot of prep can be done while sitting down--at the table or while sitting on a stool at the counter. Grating cheese for macaroni and cheese can be done at the table, and the white sauce can be stirred while sitting on a stool.

If bending to get things in and out of an oven is a problem, he could also consider getting a small convection oven that sits on the kitchen counter. The Delonghi convection/toaster ones are relatively cheap, but I would go for one of the high-end microwave/convection combos, especially if his physical problems are long-lasting. With a small convection oven (either the Delonghi-type or the high-end ones), he can still do things like baking cakes or cookies (almost all the prep of which can be done seated), and roasts.

Best of luck!

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As snowangel said, a lot of prep can be done while sitting down--at the table or while sitting on a stool at the counter.  Grating cheese for macaroni and cheese can be done at the table, and the white sauce can be stirred while sitting on a stool. 

Stool thats the magic word a cheap one might hurt after a few min but try ....FREECYCLE.ORG may be able to get a padded one

or if this will be reasonabley long term buying a nice one isnt a bad idea

A stool will get him up to counter and conversation height....good feeling not to be looked down on too much...literally

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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Buy a cheap hotplate and locate it on the table or counter where he is sitting doing prep work. He can then cook as well as prep, and quite a lot can be accomplished this way as long as someone else gathers ingredients, utensils, etc. for him.

Ruth Dondanville aka "ruthcooks"

“Are you making a statement, or are you making dinner?” Mario Batali

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This might sound odd, but maybe if he's mostly alone in the kitchen a backpack might be of use. Whenever my knee has been very bad, I've used a backpack in the kitchen to carry around ingredients, utensils, etc. That way I can stand at the fridge, load everything in the backpack, and get it to the table (or whever I need it) without having to make multiple trips. Very convenient, but make sure he has knife guards if he's going to be putting knives in a backpack!

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I really like the convection counter top oven idea! The backpack idea is pretty good too, although his walker has both a basket and a tray that he can put stuff on as he wheels about.

Today I want to observe him as he moves around the house so I can get a better idea of what I think he'll be able to handle.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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You might also want to consider a table top butane burner where he could sautee to his heart's content.

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

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Marlene, since you seem to love being talked into buying "toys," how about one of those single induction burners? I don't know where you get them, but catering friends of mine absolutely love theirs. The only catch is that you need special pans (well, not really special, I think any pan that a magnet will adhere to) to use on these things. They seem really cool because the only thing that gets hot is the pan, not the burner.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Life's simplel victories. Today we went shopping. We discussed a number things that he thought he might like to make, made a list and off we went. We use his wheelchair for shopping, because it's a lot of walking for a man who hasn't walked much in three months. I have to say I had a hard time keeping up with him!

We bought several things, and tomorrow we're going to make peanut butter burgers (this was our dad's recipe and he's been craving them for some time) and spaghetti sauce to freeze. Today I taught him how to microwave corn on the cob.

He adores corn, and Ontario is just coming into its corn season, although it's still a touch early. He's always boiled his corn, and while that method works, he has trouble handling a full pot of water from sink to stove. So, I taught him to husk it first, wrap each cob in a paper towel, and place in the microwave. 3 and a half minutes on one side,then turn them over and another 3 and half minutes on the othe side. I think he'll be eating corn endlessly.

They are coming out to the campsite for dinner tomorrow and I'm going to get him involved in BBQ the steaks. The BBQ is just the right height for him in a wheelchair and I want to get him past the fear that he can't BBQ anymore.

they do have an older toaster oven which he can reach so we went through the basics of brie in puff pastry today as well. We went to Loblaws which has the butter puff pastry already rolled out. I showed him how to spread a chutney on top, wrap it in pastry, do the egg wash and pop it into the toaster oven. Now I think he's definately in heaven, since this is one of his favourite things that I make him

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just had a call from my brother. He very proudly informed me he just accomplished a baked brie on his own. I feel kinda like a mother watching her kid take his first steps. :biggrin:

(big secret) his birthday is in two weeks and everyone is banding together to buy him a new BBQ. We'll have him grillin in no time.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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As snowangel said, a lot of prep can be done while sitting down--at the table or while sitting on a stool at the counter.  Grating cheese for macaroni and cheese can be done at the table, and the white sauce can be stirred while sitting on a stool. 

Best of luck!

I just wanted to mention that based on this post, we went out and bought him a bar stool. He keeps that stool by the stove and its been wonderful for him to be able to sit and stir sauces etc.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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This might sound odd, but maybe if he's mostly alone in the kitchen a backpack might be of use.  Whenever my knee has been very bad, I've used a backpack in the kitchen to carry around ingredients, utensils, etc.  That way I can stand at the fridge, load everything in the backpack, and get it to the table (or whever I need it) without having to make multiple trips.  Very convenient, but make sure he has knife guards if he's going to be putting knives in a backpack!

My MIL has a cart with wheels. She's very healthy but oftentimes does high volume cooking for family and friends. I mean high volume like 100 pounds of kalbi for a family get together.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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I suspect my brother would have trouble pulling a cart, while trying to manipulate his walker, but like this idea for my kitchen!.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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I suspect my brother would have trouble pulling a cart, while trying to manipulate his walker, but like this idea for my kitchen!.

Maybe he can genly push it in the direction he wants it to go in and then pull it towards him with one hand?

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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That's possible. It's a matter of getting him some confidence of being on his feet, plus working on his balance, which is off right now.

He does have a tray on his walker, that he can put a number of things on and then wheel them over to the counter or table.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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That's possible.  It's a matter of getting him some confidence of being on his feet, plus working on his balance, which is off right now.

He does have a tray on his walker, that he can put a number of things on and then wheel them over to the counter or table.

I know what you mean about confidence. My wife's grandmother who is 88 recently had a fall. She acted like she was immortal before that and now she takes uncertain steps with a cane.

The tray sounds really helpful and maybe a vegetable chopper. I know those manual choppers don't produce the prettiest cuts but they seem easy to use and clean.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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That's possible.  It's a matter of getting him some confidence of being on his feet, plus working on his balance, which is off right now.

He does have a tray on his walker, that he can put a number of things on and then wheel them over to the counter or table.

I know what you mean about confidence. My wife's grandmother who is 88 recently had a fall. She acted like she was immortal before that and now she takes uncertain steps with a cane.

The tray sounds really helpful and maybe a vegetable chopper. I know those manual choppers don't produce the prettiest cuts but they seem easy to use and clean.

Exactly. He's got a fear of falling, since he fell once, outside recently. I bought him a Cuisinart mini prep and he really likes that. We aren't worried about presentation right now. We just want him to cook again!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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  • 16 years later...

As we age we all find that we have to modify our cooking habits due to arthritis, tendonitis, failing eyesight and mobility issues as I do, being subject to all of the above plus just being older than dirt. What shortcuts or gimmicks have you come up with to help you in the kitchen?

 

 

 

Host's note: this fine topic has been merged with a much older (and long lost) one, lest older ideas be lost.

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This is an on-going quest for me. My hands and right arm get worse and worse all the time. I have changed the way I cook--nothing that requires tons of chopping or slicing unless it can be done with a food processor. Even a mandoline is problematic because you have to hold things. I got this gadget a few months back (someone recommended it and I can't recall who or if it was an eG member). It works great and makes peeling many different things so easy. They are available at various prices from many sources. This just happened to be the first one that popped up. Starfrit Peeler

 

Blenders, mixers and immersion blenders can also save your hands/arms/shoulders from a lot of mixing and stirring. After many years of it sitting in the back of a cupboard, I am using my bread machine a lot for mixing a kneading dough. 

 

As I say, it is an on-going search for me as my issues get worse.

 

 

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Deb

Liberty, MO

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A couple of years ago I fell and injured my left arm badly and I became quite Adept at doing things with one arm. I've since recovered the use of it but my problem has been lifting things. I have tons of counter space but only one outlet that I can use for all of my kitchen appliances. Everything, my instant pot, KitchenAid mixer, food processor, electric skillet, all have to be carried from some storage place to that one outlet. I started using a rolling cart more in my kitchen because just one wrong lift can mean I'm out of commission for a couple days.

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1 minute ago, Tropicalsenior said:

A couple of years ago I fell and injured my left arm badly and I became quite Adept at doing things with one arm. I've since recovered the use of it but my problem has been lifting things. I have tons of counter space but only one outlet that I can use for all of my kitchen appliances. Everything, my instant pot, KitchenAid mixer, food processor, electric skillet, all have to be carried from some storage place to that one outlet. I started using a rolling cart more in my kitchen because just one wrong lift can mean I'm out of commission for a couple days.

 

Lifting heavy items is difficult for me, too. I seldom use very heavy pans like I used to. Cast iron, when full of food, is nearly impossible for me to lift. I am trying to re-arrange my pantry and cupboards so that I have better access to my appliances and don't have to carry them so far. Ideally, I'd like to have the ones I use most on the kitchen counter, but that is very much space.

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Deb

Liberty, MO

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6 minutes ago, Maison Rustique said:

I am trying to re-arrange my pantry

I've done that too and all my heavier appliances have to be stored above waist-high because lifting them from under the counter is impossible. Unfortunately I have an old Costa Rican kitchen and I think that my kitchen space was designed by a blind plumber. Some things have to be carried quite a ways, hence the rolling cart.

When I was almost completely one-armed, I had trouble gripping things to cut them. Things such as a hard loaf of bread or cabbage were almost beyond my ability. I solved the problem by using a small, clamp on, shop vise of my husband's. I cleaned it thoroughly, oiled it with non-toxic oil and clamped it to my kitchen counter. It wasn't very pretty but it did the job.

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Another little item that may sound trivial but it is so important. How do you wash your hands one handed. You can't hold on to the soap bottle to put soap in your hand so just to begin with you're dead in the water. I started putting a small bowl of water with soap in it beside the faucet. It worked so well that I still do it to this day.

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