It is so important to be safe in the kitchen, especially when you have a visual imparity. I wasn’t born blind, but in 1993 blindness began to creep up on me. After having surgeries, and countless rounds of medications to which I had significant intolerances, I realized that blindness just might be something that I would experience.
I was enrolled in the Center for the Visually Impaired, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me. There I learned, before I actually lost my sight, how to manage and live cautiously in a world without sight (If you even think that a diagnosis will leave you sightless or vision impaired, ask your physician to refer you to this wonderful knowledgeable institution).
I received my certificate from the center, and it has been a Godsend in my life. While going through the gradual loss of my sight, I began to pull back from cooking, thinking that I would get my sight back and then take up cooking, which I loved, again. Life doesn’t work like that. One day I realized that I was hungry, and my diet was lacking, and I prayed. My prayer was not only for my own belly’s contentment; but that I could continue to fix nutritious meals for my family. After the prayer, I took on small projects with success. Today, the only thing that I do not cook is open fried food (it is better for you to bake it anyway).
Here are a few tips:
- Choose an electric stove, if you have a choice. Electric stoves have no open flame, and the burners are strategically placed. My suggestions will assume that you are using an electric stove.
- Use the back burners, first. Do not turn on the front burners, and reach across the hot elements to place something on the back burners.
- Keep your stove as clean as a plate. After every use, clean the stove. Raise the top, when it is cool, and wipe all food from the bottom of the stove. This will ensure that there is no grease, or food particles that can catch fire when you are in the midst of a grand cooking spree (vinegar and water cuts grease, and leaves the surface squeaky clean).
- Get yourself a collection of long handled wooden spoons. They are excellent for stirring your pots, and they guarantee your hands are above the hot contents of the pot. Last year, I even found some wooden spoons that had nice handles.
- Turn all pot handles the same way all of the time, and then when you go to reach for it, you won’t burn yourself.
- Listen to your food. Listen for the boiling of water. Be familiar with the very sound of food that is getting ready to stick and or scorch.
- Use as many small electric utensils as you can safely handle. For instance: waffle iron, toaster oven, stand mixer, bread machine, toaster, etc. Make sure that you have a working knowledge of how to use the utensil according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Never start with your burners on. Whenever you start a project on top of the stove, make sure that the burner is clean, and off. Center your pot on the cool burner, and then turn it on. If it is a recipe that calls for boiling water, fill the pot first, and then center it and place it on the cool burner. Make sure that the pot is centered on the burner. It has been a bad day when a hot boiling pot tips off and sends its scalding contents scattering onto the floor (Avoid this accident by securing your pot while it is cool).
- If you happen to be sharing your kitchen with a sighted person, agree on which side of the top burners is yours, and respectively theirs. If possible, don’t use the stove while another is cooking. This is not to place enmity between you and the other. It is to keep you safe because you can’t see where the sighted person lays hot equipment, or when the burners are left on, etc.
- Always keep an electric kettle with hot water with which to add to your boiling pots. When boiling food, and the contents begin to stick, it is better to use hot water to keep up the temperature than to use cold water, and start the process over.
These are only a few tips that will help you to have a safer experience in the kitchen. In fact, it would be fun to use these tips as soon as possible in the cooking of your next recipe.
Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind