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How Do You Deal with Handicaps in the Kitchen?


Marlene
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It's not at all the sort of thing I usually watch. I'm generally allergic to reality TV. But when I broke my wrist a couple of months back and was feeling sorry for myself, a friend suggested strongly that I should watch an old Masterchef USA series (No.3). She didn't tell me why, but I trust her. So I did.

 

It features the amazing Christine Ha as a blind contestant in a cooking competition, totally relying on her other four senses. She cooked with skill, grace and poise and, to be honest, made me feel ashamed that I'd been grumping about only having one functional hand for a while.

 

If you haven't seen it, I do recommend it. If you have, you'll surely know why.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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IMHO, the biggest handicap most of us have in the kitchen is preoccupation.   We are so accustomed to the chores at hand that we don't apply ourselves as we might once have done.   Cooking on autopilot usually works for me...until something untoward happens and it doesn't.    Attention to detail can prevent most burn, cut, fall mishaps if we approach our tasks as novices rather than the pros that we are or were.   

 

Sure, our paws, shoulders and backs ache.    But we can work around aggravating them by slowing down, sitting down, working with them rather than against them.    Like letting aching wrists and fingers soak for a few minutes in hot water between tasks.    At this point in our lives, we aren't running dashes but marathons.    Just thinking out loud...

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eGullet member #80.

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Here is a link to the EGCI course on cooking with disabilities. 

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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

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9 hours ago, heidih said:

My dad and his wife may be here a very long time as his doctors are all here. She is difficult and the countertop oven would not fly. I even keep my pots, pans, dishes etc in my room. Tons of cabinet/closet space but packed to the gills with stuff - not my stuff. I got a reference for gloves that would fit from @blue_dolphin Just need to pull the trigger while I have Amazon Prime. That bottle/tab opener looks more efficient than  my pliers and screwdriver ;)  I know and have seen tomato paste in tubes and bagged coconut milk - just not accessible to now though, like everyone else, I could order online.  Good to hear others struggles as makes one feel less burdened; it is just life. Oh! justt saw @Margaret Pilgrim's reply on the double potholder. Ordering in a sec. Thanks!!!

 

I have long, thin spidery fingers.  In other words weak fingers.  Pull tabs never were a thing for me, even with pliers or a  pull tab tool.  Now for pull tab cans I use a can opener.

 

Even our local Shoprite has a couple brands of tomato paste in tubes.  The convenience is fantastic.

 

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3 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

I have long, thin spidery fingers.  In other words weak fingers.  Pull tabs never were a thing for me, even with pliers or a  pull tab tool.  Now for pull tab cans I use a can opener.

 

Even our local Shoprite has a couple brands of tomato paste in tubes.  The convenience is fantastic.

 

And most of the tube pastes come from Italy and are much better anyway. Just trying to open those dollhouse sized cans with a standard can opener is enough to make you crazy. May be useful for self-defense. If you miss you can throw the can opener.

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2 hours ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

At this point in our lives, we aren't running dashes but marathons.  

Ha, ha! At this point I have to disagree and also to agree. Right now, if I were going any slower I would be going backwards. So that really can't be my problem now. But you are right. If I had slowed down and had paid attention in the first place I would never have fallen and and I would not be in the shape I am today.

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My worst issue is memory!

I need to set timers for EVERYTHING, even to remind me to turn off the burner!!! :shock:

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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2 minutes ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

My worst issue is memory!

I need to set timers for EVERYTHING, even to remind me to turn off the burner!!! :shock:

I hear you! From where I'm sitting right now I can see three timers that I use all the time plus I use the timer on my telephone. Oh, and I have an app that has multiple timers. I sure hate it though when the timer goes off and I can't remember what I set it for.

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8 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

My worst issue is memory!

I need to set timers for EVERYTHING, even to remind me to turn off the burner!!! :shock:

There is an item called Cook Stop and here's one source in the USA. https://www.absoluteautomation.ca/products/cookstop-automatic-stove-shut-direct-wire?gclid=Cj0KCQiAzMGNBhCyARIsANpUkzPoa3gAI0eaYoqesnT5sh3u8jPCfEtFIjD_e7ulSf5bsHxoz2IQGEAaAgDuEALw_wcB

 

It can be installed right into the stove between the wall outlet and the stove plug and it has a lot of different possibilities for turning your stove and oven off.  Ed has caused fires in the kitchen twice this year and so we bought one (our second...the first one died a few years ago) and now the stove will turn itself off after 'X' number of minutes if there isn't someone present attending to the stove.  There is also one made for gas stoves but it requires a licenced person to install it.  

 

The unit does have its drawbacks...the longest you can set it to stay on is two hours which of course means that if your food takes a goodly number of hours to cook/bake/roast/etc, you have to return and reset the thing.  The older original model wasn't quite so fancy with all the electronic bells and whistles, but you could turn it off completely if you chose.  Not to mention how much more the thing cost in Canada.  Rats. 

 

You might look into it as a possibility.

Edited by Darienne (log)
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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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9 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

My worst issue is memory!

I need to set timers for EVERYTHING, even to remind me to turn off the burner!!! :shock:

 

Especially for turning off burners!     If I leave the kitchen with something cooking, I set a timer.   Better than getting involved with a puzzle or computer and returning too late.

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eGullet member #80.

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16 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

 

Especially for turning off burners!     If I leave the kitchen with something cooking, I set a timer.   Better than getting involved with a puzzle or computer and returning too late.

Never worked properly for me unless I take the timer with me and keep it very close.  And yes, it would be either the computer or a jigsaw puzzle...I always have one on the go.  Last week I burned...scorched...incinerated...ruined...about 4 pounds of roasted sweet potatoes.  And that was with the Cook Stop.  Of course I had to set it at long enough to roast the potatoes.  I just quickly set it on the standard 'hold' of two hours instead of resetting it for exactly the correct roasting time.  Too lazy.  

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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17 minutes ago, Darienne said:

Never worked properly for me unless I take the timer with me and keep it very close. 

The trick is to get one with a buzzer that is loud enough to hear and annoying enough that you just have to shut it off. On my phone, I downloaded a sound that is so loud and so screeching that I can't ignore it. I also use it as an alarm in the morning. I get up in self-defense. I never hit the snooze button because one shock like that in the morning is enough.

Edited by Tropicalsenior (log)
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10 minutes ago, heidih said:

Coincidentally today regarding oven gloves and such - a Serious Eats review  https://www.seriouseats.com/best-oven-mitts-pot-holders-5208401

Great article! They did bring out one point that I think is so crucial for you.

"A good mitt should also be flexible enough to allow you to move your hands around, and grip onto a pair of tongs or a whisk with the same dexterity you have when handling a tall-sided baking dish or a sheet tray."

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11 minutes ago, weinoo said:

I wonder if anyone has ever seen a cook, in a professional kitchen setting, using anything other than dry side towels?

 

 

Yes that is how the Se article starts out.

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12 minutes ago, weinoo said:

I wonder if anyone has ever seen a cook, in a professional kitchen setting, using anything other than dry side towels?

 

 

Good point but not everyone here is a professional. First point, over time in a professional kitchen we all seemed to develop what they call 'asbestos hands'. We can stand a lot more heat than most people. Point 2, because we can't stop for minor burns, we become more tolerant of the pain. The article that Heidi mentions actually does talk about side towels, pros and cons.

"While people often ask what kind of oven mitts professionals use, chefs, line cooks, and bakers actually reach for side towels 99% of the time. These inexpensive cotton cloths can be used in large quantities and tossed in the laundry for quick cleaning. They serve as oven mitts, pot holders, and trivets and can be used to wipe up messes or wipe down stations at the end of a shift. But, for all of their versatility, they do the bare minimum to prevent burns (have you seen a line cook’s arms?) and will lose their heat resistance if even slightly damp.

They can also catch fire quickly if left too close to a heat source".

Edited by Tropicalsenior (log)
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1 hour ago, weinoo said:

I wonder if anyone has ever seen a cook, in a professional kitchen setting, using anything other than dry side towels?

 

 

You make several, if unintended, good points.    No, a pro would use one of his endlessly available side towels.   AND/BUT a pro would have extensive practice in how to use a side towel as a hot pot handler.   

 

(I think I remember a conversation we had about your reticence with maneuvering 500degree cast iron DO's recommended in No-Knead bread production.   I totally agree that I could never hoist my heated DOs with a well folded side towel or two, but I have excellent control using the quad-layered terry mitts.    But we all agree that our mileage is idiosyncratic. )

 

I use these terry "mitts" more often as a super thick pot-holder than as a mitt.  i use high oven and burner heat often and need something that allows me to quickly move vessels in or out of or on and off of heat.   

Edited by Margaret Pilgrim (log)
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eGullet member #80.

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6 minutes ago, Margaret Pilgrim said:

But we all agree that our mileage is idiosyncratic. )

How right you are. I found out that when I transitioned from the professional kitchen to my own I did change to pot holders. I just make sure that they are thick and well-insulated. That was for two reasons. One, as I worked less and less in the kitchen my hands were no longer heat-proof. At one time I could turn a steak with my hands. No more! Two, using an unlimited amount of side towels is great when somebody else is doing the laundry but when you have to do it, sometimes you think twice about it.

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I have been into many kitchens where you could eat off the floor and make a hearty soup using nothing but the oven mitts.  

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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

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A workhorse in my kitchen, with my challenges, is my Pyrex 1 cup measuring cup.  The handle is easily gripable for me and it does not get hot at all when I microwave it. I often do that to reheat soups or leftovers for part of a meal.  I can carry it to table easily without fear of dropping or spilling. I also found some wide shallow pasta bowls by Dowan that I can easily carry, are a lovely shape and color, and don't get burn hot in MW. I also ask for help to open something or with whatever is styming me if there is a helpful agreeable person around. My moment of clarity came when I saw a lovely young woman at Starbucks negotiating the stairs in an unusual way. Her issue was cerebral palsy. She did what worked for her. We are not our disabilities - and we keep on cooking ;) 

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4 minutes ago, heidih said:

A workhorse in my kitchen, with my challenges, is my Pyrex

You are so right. I have 2 quart size, 2 two cupper's and 2 1 cupper's. I have a big complaint with a few of them. Some of mine are over 20 years old and the measurements are painted on the side. Those I can read just fine. Some of the newer ones have raised glass measurement indicators. When your eyes get older you don't see so well and sometimes these are almost impossible to read.

As for grabbing things out of the oven, some of the Pans have edges that are hard to grip with an oven mitt. For that I use this.

20211208_112437.thumb.jpg.378d89bba44279e3664c4b77c52c95e3.jpg

I have two of these and I gifted one to a friend of mine that has the same problem. I bought them in my favorite little Chinese restaurant supply store and they were labeled just Microwave Grabbers. They work great for pulling things out of the instant pot, microwave, or the oven.

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