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.