I always intended to learn to cook like my grandmothers. I admired them for the love they poured into the food they prepared for us, and I had no doubt that as an adult, I would take my place alongside them in the kitchen.
But life in the 21st century reshaped my food priorities, and not in a good way. The act of preparing a healthy meal felt like a lot of work with little reward, when compared to the mass availability of convenience food. Since college, I livd on fast food, frozen food, the few good meals that I could make, and the kindness of family and friends who knew their way around kitchens.
That’s all about to change in 2017.
I reset my mindset. I decided that I am worth the effort of preparing good food. I have no interest in fancy dishes. I just want to make food that consists of ingredients I recognize, good food that will allow me to live my best life.
The fact that I am totally blind will present challenges, but nothing I can’t overcome.
Oh, and because that might be boring on its own, I will be cooking without a sense of smell, and without 90% of my sense of taste. Now that should be interesting.
I possess a few good qualities around the kitchen.
I had my senses of taste and smell until my late thirties, so I know what good food should be.
I read and follow directions well.
Timers are my friends, so I never undercook or burn the food I have made. I know how to use a slow cooker.
I’ve learned adaptive techniques for measuring ingredients, separating eggs, and such.
But I still feel about as confident and efficient as a walrus when I’m in the kitchen.
So I took a good look at the situation, to determine my specific issues with cooking. I listed them, brainstormed solutions, and came up with my cooking goals for 2017. Some of my kitchen difficulties are blindness specific, but others are related to a modern-day mindset. Whether you are blind or sighted, you may find my journey of some interest. I am sharing it, because I hope it will inform and inspire anyone, blind or sighted, who is intimidated by their own kitchen. Here is where I begin.
1. complete and utter lack of confidence in my culinary abilities The only fix for this will be practice.
2. inability to meal plan efficiently
I don’t want to go to the store, buy a ton of ingredients, and then use each one once or twice. I’d like to grocery shop with efficiency, and buy the few ingredients I need for several meals. My Grandmas knew how to do this off the top of their heads. I’m going to need a little more help.
3. grocery shopping
I live in a tiny town. There is no such thing as grocery delivery. I would give just about anything for the ability to browse a grocery store online, compare prices, and have my order delivered. I can do this with nonperishable items, but I want to buy fresh food in this way. Until that time comes, I have to make a plan to meet my needs exactly where I am.
To that end, I’m thinking of organizing a group of four or six friends, where one will take me shopping once a week. That way, one person never has to help more than once a month. That cuts down on the burden of it for my sighted loved ones, and helps me get to the store once a week for fresh produce.
4. Find a labeling system I’m happy with.
Without sight, smell, or taste, identifying items in the kitchen is a Herculean task. There are lots of ways to label items, everything from Braille labels adhered to packages with rubber bands, to scanning a bar code with your smart phone, to fancy audio systems that let you record a label using your own voice and then read that label with a scanner. The trick is finding which one fits your individual needs the best. Luckily, I live close to the Lighthouse, an organization that offers tons of teaching options and adaptive equipment to empower a blind person for any goal they can imagine. If I can’t figure this one out on my own, I know they can help.
5. little knowledge about proper storage and shelf life of fresh food In this case, Google, and older women, are my friends.
1. Learn a few meal bases.
If you can learn to make a batch of beans and freeze them, or how to roast a chicken, or how to scramble some eggs, you have the bases for a lot of good meals. If money is tight, you can eat these things without adornment. But creativity and on-hand ingredients can turn a plain dish into something fantastic.
2. Make Vegetables Great Again
I can’t tell you how many times I choked down vegetables that were boiled in water with just a bit of salt, all in the name of healthy eating. I have since read about zucchini parmesan chips, crunchy roasted cauliflower, and these recipes make vegetables sound appetizing.
3. Mix and match flavors.
If I can learn what flavor pairings work best, which spices to use where, etc., I will have an endless array of soups, salads, and stir frys at my disposal.
4. Become a George Foremann grill master.
This shouldn’t be too difficult. Again, it’s just a matter of practice. 5. Become queen of the Instant Pot.
A good friend surprised me with an out-of-the-blue gift of an Instant Pot. You can do so much with this appliance, and I want to work with it to its full potential.
6. Find a couple of healthy breakfast options that I will consistently eat. I am atrocious when it comes to eating breakfast. So I’m hoping 2017 will change that with scrambled eggs, muesli, and whatever else I can make when I’m still half asleep.
Those are my cooking hurdles, and my kitchen goals. Join me as I feel the food and hear the sizzle.
4 thoughts on “Feel the Food, Hear the Sizzle, Cooking Without Sight, Smell, or Taste”
You know you can put me down for one of the people who will take you grocery shopping. I will be glad to help any way I can as I know this is something you’ve wanted to do for a long time.
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Thank you so much
I learned to cook a few years ago, in combination with some other training.
I really enjoy it and face some of the same challenges as you, particularly shopping in a small town.
But unfortunately, I just don’t cook as much as I should or would like to. Only cooking for myself is kind of a drag. I have to really enjoy leftovers. That’s not a good reason I know but it is still a drag. Also, as much as I enjoy the act of cooking, I enjoy cooking with someone more.
Looking forward to reading about your progress, the ups and downs, what you have learned and everything else you share. Good luck!
Thanks Casey. It is difficult to make the effort to cook when you are single, and that grocery shopping in a small town issue is probably the biggest difficulty that I face. Looking forward to the adventure though.
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