Here's a great small appliance for the blind and visually impaired. Read on for tips on how to use it without sight and find a yummy recipe as well.
A few years ago my brother-in-law gave me a wonderful Christmas present - a small George Foreman-type countertop grill! I brought it home and made a grilled cheese sandwich, and I was hooked.
Within a month, I had bought a large model that would hold bacon, three or four hamburgers, or enough of whatever I was cooking for a meal for two. I use one or both of my grills every day.
These grills are great little appliances. Easy to use, easy to clean up, and requiring no special recipes and only a good imagination or a little creativity to make good-tasting meals, they are a kitchen appliance that could have been made just for a blind person.
The grill comes in different sizes, from one just big enough for two hamburgers or two slices of bread placed side by side to one that can hold three or four hamburgers.
When the grill is placed on the counter or table in front of you, the lid opens up and back. Food is placed on the bottom cooking surface, and the top is then closed over it. Since the top also has a cooking surface, the food cooks on both sides at once; no turning necessary.
The cookbooks and manuals for the grill tell you to preheat the appliance before adding food. I have found, however, that the finished product is much better if the food is added before the grill is heated. Food cooks more consistently inside and out, and it is easier to place on a cool surface without sight.
Some models come with temperature controls and timers. My grills have neither.
So how do I know when food is done? By sound and smell.
Let's talk about bacon, for example. I use my large grill for bacon, placing strips crosswise. I place the first strip across the back of the cooking surface, and continue laying out strips until I reach the front. Strips can be overlapped a bit if you need to squeeze in an extra strip or two; I usually cook about six or eight strips at a time. After placing the bacon on the cold grill, I close the top and plug it in. As the bacon cooks, the fat sizzles and bubbles and runs off into a little container under the front of the grill. When the bacon is done, the bubbling sound diminishes and the smell is yummy.
A favorite lunch at my house is made by cooking two strips of bacon per person, then placing the crisp strips on multigrain bread and Swiss or Cheddar cheese. Add a top slice of bread, put the sandwich back on the grill, close the top for two or three minutes. Out comes a wonderful grilled bacon-and-cheese sandwich. Add fresh fruit and cold milk for a complete meal.
Many blind and visually impaired people are afraid of heat and don't like to turn foods in a skillet. Some people also are very hesitant to take food out of a hot oven. I know how they feel, because it took me a long time to overcome these fears myself. Many people settle for microwave cooking, trading good taste for easier preparation.
Now, with this grill, you can once again make good-tasting meals easily and with very little anxiety. Yes, food can get very hot on the grill. However, when food is finished cooking, just unplug the grill, open the top, and let it sit for a few minutes. Things cool down enough so you can remove the food with a spatula, tongs, fork or even your fingers.
So what else can you cook on the grill? Meats, fish, sausage, vegetables; toast, frozen waffles or pancakes, or open-faced sandwiches; leftovers (just sprinkle pizza, potatoes, chicken etc. with a few drops of water before grilling).
Caution: Don't try cooking things that tend to be runny; they'll drain right off into the fat tray!
The best news about these grills is that they are available at local stores. So many things that are used by blind and visually impaired people have to be specially-made, and they are only available from a few companies throughout the country. They are usually very expensive. It is truly great to find something so useful that doesn't have an exorbitant price tag.
Although cookbooks are definitely not needed for these grills, they are available in braille if you really want them. Go to www.nbp.org to purchase a braille cookbook for the grill.