From our friends at Second Sense Beyond Vision Loss
by Cody Froeter, CVRT
Cooking is something every person will experience to some degree at some point in their life. Some people detest cooking. Others think of it as just another task that needs to be done. Some people view cooking as a hobby. Others make it a passion or profession. Regardless of the perspective, every person will, at some point, have to cook a meal in some capacity. For individuals with vision loss, cooking can be a source of anxiety because of safety concerns. And, also due to the visual nature in which cooking is often presented in recipes or cooking shows. As with any other daily living skill with vision loss, cooking has adaptations and safe methods that accomplish the same task. A person with vision loss just approaches the task from a different perspective.
Organization and Identification
One of the most important aspects of cooking with vision loss is kitchen organization. A well-organized kitchen allows for the efficient location of ingredients. Your primary method of labeling — bump dots, large print labels, or puff paint to label containers — will still be your primary method of identifying these items. It is also helpful to be familiar with each item in your pantry for a secondary method of identification. When organizing seasonings and other ingredients, you can:
- Explore the way each spice and seasoning smells.
- Compare the consistency of baking powder vs flour vs powdered sugar.
- Learn the difference in feel and taste of granulated sugar and salt. (I have confused these two due to using unlabeled containers and not following my own advice about using secondary methods of identification!)
- Feel the weight of your salt container vs your black pepper container when they are full. Salt is heavier than black pepper.
Take the time to become familiar with these aspects of your seasonings and ingredients. You are building a mental catalog of each item which can be used as your secondary method of identification when cooking. By being very familiar with each item, you will be able to use this secondary method of smell, tactile consistency and weight to confirm you have the correct item. Do not be afraid to get your hands a little messy when organizing!
Another common issue is the recipes themselves. I use recipes that say, “bake until golden brown” or “cook onions until they are translucent.” These are commonly used terms in recipes that are visual in nature and do not offer any information for a tactile feel, smell, or temperature. My best advice is to build your knowledge base on non-visual methods to determine doneness. For instance, when a breaded chicken breast needs to be baked until golden brown, have someone assist you to determine when the chicken is golden brown and then investigate using non-visual methods. You can check the way the breading feels or sounds when you poke it with a fork. You can also:
- Keep track of the exact time it took to cook the chicken.
- Use a talking meat thermometer to make sure the chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use your sense of smell to determine if the item smells cooked or burnt.
If having a person on hand to assist is not an option, Google is your friend. A recipe for chicken parmesan may only describe cooking the chicken to golden brown. In that case, try searching Google for another recipe for baked chicken that gives accurate timing or non-visual terminology for determining doneness. Remember, when you choose a recipe, you are not limited to following that recipe step by step. If one aspect of the recipe is not informative enough, search for another similar recipe that gives you the information you need. Google can also be useful for information regarding specific aspects of your recipe like temperature for meat doneness or cooking times for specific items…..read more: https://www.second-sense.org/2021/05/the-no-look-cook-adaptive-cooking-for-people-with-vision-loss/?fbclid=IwAR1Mjt3oEXud0KSJkOSHKCTv011miOrqryhGj6MxSaaU9oyXjyo7sbOKgME
Source: Second Sense