Cooking while being blind

Text by Reddit user Blind Insider

Being visually impaired does not imply that a person cannot learn how to cook. In fact, there are thousands of people with vision problems in the world who are independent and making their own dishes is part of their activities.

For those who have the disability since birth, it may be difficult to explain at the beginning what is a cup, an oven, a microwave, a blender, a stove or some ingredient; however, with practice they will get used to identifying these through smell, taste and touching each of the ingredients and objects they need.

People with an acquired visual impairment already have an advantage. They perfectly know kitchen utensils, food and appliances. They just need to tap into their memory to remember them and get a better idea of what they need and what they will cook with.

We understand that there are various reasons why people learn to cook.

It can be for the love of food, for delighting their family with a dish or out of the need to feed themselves since they do not have anyone or they live alone or even to save money by eating in.

Whatever the reasons a visually impaired person learns to cook, we want to share with you, in a thorough and detailed, way some useful and practical tips for you to get down to work.

First of all you must lose your fear.

We understand that no one wants to have accidents much less if they involve danger such as burning yourself with fire, oil or boiling water; however, it is necessary that you learn to trust your abilities and that you do not stress. If someone tells you that you can't do it, don't listen. Everyone has inevitably made mistakes and had failures while cooking, but if you arm yourself with courage and believe in yourself, fear will be a thing of the past.

Cooking while being blind also takes more time so you need to make use of your patience. Remember that the calmer you do things the more attention you will pay and the better the result will be.

Learn to organize.

This is undoubtedly one of the most important issues before learning to cook because the more order there is both in your utensils and in your ingredients, the faster you will find things.

You can organize your cupboards so that you have easy access to everything.

Choose plastic containers of different shapes and sizes for you to store things in and try to memorize in what container you have stored which ingredient.

If your memory is not very good, you can use sticky labels that indicate the content of a container and use cell phone apps to read them.

Keep in mind that ingredients such as oil, salt, pepper or flour need to be inside wide-mouth containers so you can stick a spoon or your fingers in without any problems.

It is also important that you always put them in the same place and in the same order so that you do not go crazy looking for them the next time.

As for the knives, a rule of thumb is that you buy those that come with a sheath and that you store them inside a plastic box with a lid so that you know exactly where they are and do not cut yourself when looking for one.

Keep appliances and utensils in good condition. The fact that the pans or pots are dented or beaten means that when you put them on the stove they will not be steady and at some point they can move or turn and you could have a serious accident.

Make sure that all the pots have their own lid so that when you make some soup or broth you will not knock them over and burn yourself in the process.

Before using the blender, mixer or food processor always check that the blade piece is properly fastened in place. If by mistake this is not adjusted correctly it could short circuit, explode or eject all the contents making a disaster.

It is important that when you no longer use an appliance that connects to a power outlet, you disconnect it for safety. Otherwise, by mistake you could press the power button and scare yourself to death.

Make things easier on yourself using tapes or stops that indicate certain measures.

For example, those of the knobs of the stove and the oven. That is, if you have low, medium, high flame or different temperature degrees you can put a tactile signal on each one so that you know how far to turn the knob.

Here you will need the help of someone who can see so that he can indicate the position of each one and you can learn them.

You can also put some tactile markers in the microwave, but since there are too many buttons I suggest that you only put three or four. For example, one in the button that indicates a minute, another in the button that increases or decreases seconds, in the start and stop button and in the power button.

In fact, many people find it easier  to cook in microwaves because it is safer, there are even complete recipe books for microwave meals that could make it easier and faster for you to cook.

When you want to learn to cut things like vegetables, meat or bread it is important that you touch each of these foods with your hands so that you identify the thickness and texture. Doing this will let you know from the outset how much force you have to put on the knife or how deep you have to make the cut.

You must also learn to position your hand safely so that you do not cut your fingers, the appropriate way is to close your fingers in the form of a fist having your nails touch the food or the cutting board so that only your knuckles protrude and in this way when and if the knife slips you will not cut yourself.

Also you need to learn to take the handle of the knife in a firm way and identify if the edge is smooth or if it has teeth because that also entails a difference in cutting food.

If you are a nervous person, maybe it would be better to buy some utensil that helps you with the cutting of food. There is a great variety in the market. You just put your vegetables or meat and press a lid or a lever and everything is cut evenly.

There are others tools that help you chop onions, tomatoes or soft things. Anything that helps you and makes things easier for you is welcome. You can also buy frozen vegetables and fruits that come chopped and as for the meat, you can go to the butcher's shop or the supermarket and ask them to cut your meat however you like it.  

It would also be good to buy an anti-skid mat that you can put in the stove area so that if you mistakenly spill any liquid, you do not slip and fall or spill the contents of the pots or pans on you.

You will need to learn to  guide yourself  through sounds, time and smells.

The sounds will tell you if the water is already boiling, the meat is frying, the sauce is bubbling, and if the microwave has already stopped.

Smells help you identify ingredients, to know when a food is no longer raw, also to know if a food is fresh or spoiled and in general to know if gas is leaking or if something is burning.

Time helps you with precision, since some recipes, especially when baking call for exact times. Using precise times you will be able to know when the bread is already baked, when an egg is cooked, when a flan has curdled or when meat is cooked to your liking.

And in this case you can buy a talking clock so that you program the time and avoid having to be checking on the food.

Here is a recommendation from me to you: never touch anything you are cooking with your hands because you could burn yourself. It is best to take the food with a spoon, shovel or fork and first blow to cool it off and then try it.

And speaking of utensils to help you, aside from the talking clocks there are also talking thermometers, scales and measuring cups. All of them are an excellent help in the kitchen especially if you want things to be more accurate and safe.

But in case you can't get them, you'll always have other options. For example, one way to check the temperature is to put your hand on top of the pan at a distance where you do not burn but you can feel the heat to know if it is already hot and you can start cooking, or as we said listening to something already boiling because that will indicate a very high temperature.

As for the scale you have two options, buy exact quantities so that you do not have to be separating and measuring or using on some cups or containers of a given volume that indicate an approximate weight.

And speaking of measuring cups, you can also buy those that  already have a certain capacity and using the "hook technique" where your finger makes a kind of hook that you insert into the cup, you can guide yourself to know to what extent it has been filled.

For example, if you buy a 240 ml cup of and you only need 120 ml for your recipe, then try to put your finger inside the cup more or less in the middle of it so that as soon as you pour the liquid and it touches the tip of your finger you know that you have the right amount.

Also for the measurements of powdered ingredients, they sell spoons that indicate exact amounts such as half a spoon, 1/4 spoon, 1/8 spoon etc. With this you just have to take the correct spoon and fill it to the brim without exceeding the edges.

Finally, you need to start with easy things like boiling an egg, toasting a slice of bread or making a vegetable soup.

As you master some dishes, you can start trying with more complicated ones.

Remember that in the kitchen everything is a matter of practice and soon you will be able to make use of your creativity.

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