Strangely, despite not being able to move my fingers I’ve grown to love cooking. I’m slow at it, the kitchen looks like an explosion everytime I cook and I’ve burnt myself countless times, but despite all of that I still cook on a near-daily basis.
Not many quadriplegics do it, but I can’t help myself. It’s in my genes. My mom is one of the best cooks I know. I grew up always envisioning I’d be a fabulous cook like my mom, and I’m dead set on making that dream a reality.
I will admit it’s not easy. A lot of considerations need to be made in order to cook without too much of a struggle. Good thing is that I have some experience under my belt, and I’m here to help. Check out my single-handed (and no finger-movement) cooking tips below.
Make Sure You’ve Got Your Balance
Safety in the kitchen is paramount and making sure you have your balance is huge when you’re cooking. If you have balance issues, this is the first thing you need to resolve in order to start cooking. I do the “quad-hook” to keep my balance, but other people prefer to use chest straps. Whenever you end up using, make sure it’s something you can count on.
Use an Apron; Cut Off the Ties
Since I can only use one hand very well while cooking, you can call me the spill queen. I don’t care what I’m cooking, some of it will end up on my lap (flour by the way is one of my arch enemies). Because of this – I love to wear aprons, but they’re not the easiest to put on when you can’t stand up. I cut the ties off my aprons since they’re not necessary (as I’m not standing). Easing, accessible solution.
Prep Everything Before Turning On the Heat
A really important thing you need to do before turning on the burners is to prep everything you’re cooking with first. It can take longer to do things when you’re arms and hands are compromised, so make sure you have everything poured, measured out, chopped, whatever, and put to the side just like a cooking show. This will make sure you don’t burn anything while taking too long to prep food.
Know Your Limits
Don’t get too cocky and try to make something that you can’t cook on your own safely, say a pot roast in the oven and pulling it out when it’s done, and ending up spilling it on you. The best thing you can do is accept what you can’t do in the kitchen, be ok with it, and instead try to get really good at what you can cook.
Buy Pre-Cut Foods When Possible
To make things easier, look for pre-cut foods is they’re available. Pre-cut vegetables, meats, cheese, potatoes; if it eliminates one extra step from your cooking process it’s a good thing. And don’t feel like it’s cheating either. You have a great excuse; you don’t want to overuse the strength in your arms over the years as you use them.
Get a Sharp Knife
To help your arms along the way as well, a sharp knife will do you good big time. If and when you do have to cut things, an extremely sharp knife at least will make the job a lot easier physically. A lightweight knife is good as well, such as a ceramic knife by a Cusinart.
Maybe you don’t like cooking and that’s cool, but if you do, don’t ever let your disability stop you. I’ve even seen a high injured quadriplegic stir a soup using a very long stir spoon in his mouth; that’s the commitment I’ve seen to the love of cooking.
With a little bit of planning, smart thinking and a few self-imposed restrictions, becoming a decent cook is possible. I’m living proof (and you should try my bread pudding).
What cooking tips do you have?
– Ceramic knife by Cuisnart