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HELP for the physically limited in the kitchen

baking cooking

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#1 miocean

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 09:01 PM

Please post any helpful hints you have for those who have physical limitations to make it easier for them to bake and cook.

Get a stand mixer if you want to bake and can afford one as they are expensive. I cannot cook (I burn the salad :VeryHappy: ) but was a pretty good baker. As my hands now have some curve to them and my left thumb joint is bone on bone I cannot mix batters or thick doughs for cookies with a hand mixer or spoon. I bought my husband a stand mixer as a present and it is the greatest thing! It is worth the investment if you need help mixing things. I have baked several different kinds of cookies every year and have the baking down perfect so they are not burned around the edges. The secret is to take them out before they look too brown and let them rest before you remove them from the pan. I note the actual time as most recipes will say between 8-10 minutes but ovens differ. Also, parchment paper on the cookie trays is a time saver. You don't have to prepare the pans, you can put the next batch right on the same sheet, and you can even save the paper and reuse.

My left hand is very weak because of a bad thumb joint. I have trouble taking the pans out of the oven. If I have to pour one bowl into another I have to use my right hand to hold the bowl where I used to use my left to hold and use my right to spoon whatever it was from one bowl to the other.

Do you know of things you have done to adapt? Any more hints?

:thank-you:

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#2 Joelf

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 10:20 AM

Hi Miocean,

Well, I'm not the world's greatest cook, although I do enjoy cooking. I don't make things like cakes and scones because if I do, we feel compelled to eat them and I struggle with keeping my weight down as it is!! ;)

I usually get my husband to open jars and lift plates and dishes out of the oven as like you, my hands are quite stiff now with painful thumbs and it is difficult to grasp things safely (especially with the dogs hanging around in the kitchen drooling, ever hopeful that we might drop something tasty!)

My first oven was fantastic; my mother bought it secondhand from a neighbour who was moving and paid £15 (about $24) for it when we were first married and it lasted me 30 years!! (Ah, they don't make 'em like that anymore!! ;) ) I'm afraid I had to give it a decent burial and then a friend very kindly donated me her oven when she got a new one. It was very sweet of her but unfortunately she neglected to tell me that the thermostat was broken so I had to watch it like a hawk whilst cooking as it would suddenly heat up without warning and burn everything to a crisp! :rolleyes: I have a new oven now but actually don't like it as much as my original one and within a couple of months of buying it I had to get the engineer out to modify it as there was some problem with the grill and there was a recall for that particular model. :emoticon-dont-know:

Your cookies sound delicious and I wish I could sample them!!! :)

Best wishes,

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#3 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:33 PM

I recommend buying the food processor, preferably in the same colour as the stand mixer, again pricey but worth it. I have both and could not cook without them as I can't chop or mix because of my hands and the physical effort required to actually mix.

I have an adjustable height stool that is tilted slightly forward and I use it in the kitchen as I can't stand for long. It is a nuisance to drag it to and fro as my kitchen is rather large but it's necessary.

I also have a peeler, for when I rarely peel as hubby usually does this, that has a large rubber handle on it that I can hold. The peeler blade is also larger and flatter than normal blades so I can see where it's going so no accidents!

I also get my husband to open things, if he buys bottles of drink I ask he pre open the bottle so I can use it later.

Take care.
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#4 miocean

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:18 PM

Isn't that the truth about having help opening things? I just love it when I have a problem and hand it to someone else and that person has trouble, too! :emoticons-yes:

My occupational therapist gave me a opener that helps with vacuum sealed jars. It looks like a bottle opener, you kind of pop the lid of the jar with it and then the jar opens easily. Not all jars are vacuum sealed, though.

I know a long time ago people suggested different kinds of can openers. I bought an electric one that was worthless and now that my hands are better I am able to use the hold fashioned hand held one. We don't use very much canned food but for years if I wanted tuna fish I couldn't make it myself.

It is very difficult for me to lift a pot off the stove, especially if is full. Any suggestions for that? My husband does it all but I would like to help.

miocean
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#5 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 26 February 2012 - 03:29 PM

Sorry Miocean but I think the only solution to the "lifiting stuff" is getting A N Other to do it!

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#6 Teatime

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 10:47 AM

Someone once told me that either you're a cook or a baker; few people are excellent at both. I think there's a lot of truth to that. I'm a cook. I don't do very well with baking which is probably a good thing because I love pastries! Most of the time I'm too lazy to go out and buy some so that keeps my weight down!

I only have one baked specialty that I make around the holidays -- lemon cream scones. I'll whip up a batch for breakfast holiday morning and I like to make them to put in tea baskets as gifts with some exotic teas and blackcurrant preserves. (Haha, I chose my nickname here for good reason! I love tea!)

Because my hands are weak and I struggle with cookie sheets and pans, I bought some silicone ovenware. Wow, it's really good stuff! I found the initial "plastic" smell to be rather odd but it was all good after that. Everything bakes faster and browns evenly on silicone and it's lighter to lift and handle! Cleanup is super-easy, too! I have silicone baking sheets, cupcake/muffin pans, and a loaf pan. The cool thing about the silicone baking sheets is that they double as pastry mats so I use them to roll out dough, too, and cut homemade pasta.

Amanda is so right -- a food processor is essential. I have a couple of them in different sizes that I've collected over the years! A good set of sharp knives is important, too. Good knives can make tasks way easier!

Because I live in the Southwestern US, I have a few other appliance "musts" -- a slow cooker, a roaster oven, and a good barbecue grill. It gets SO hot here and our hot season seems to be starting earlier and continuing later. I won't use the oven if I can help it from April through September and I don't like to stand over a hot stove, either. I have a large crockpot in which I can slow cook poultry or roasts. (Lots of folks like them for soups, too. Personally, I don't because I add dumplings or pasta to my soups and those get sticky in a slow cooker.) Roaster ovens are fantastic for doing large turkeys, hams or roasts in a fraction of the time an oven takes. And I love to fire up the barbecue to grill or smoke foods. I can only do that, though, when someone is here to load it up with charcoal and wood for me. I don't fancy gas grills and I could never handle big jugs of propane, anyway!

Jo, I always have a dog or two underfoot, as well! They know I'm clumsy and will drop something tasty at some point! On bad days, they've gotten half a platter's worth of foodies! My Weimaraner doesn't like vegetables but she's learning to like fruit. My silky terrier likes just about everything. He's my veggie eater and he's nuts about cantaloupe!

#7 Joelf

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 01:17 PM

Julie, your dogs sound gorgeous!! Our dogs eat most things, especially the labrador and most of it stays down, although very occasionally their stomachs do rebel if they've eaten anything too rich (these are dogs to whom cow pats and sheeps' manure are considered a delicacy!!! :sick2: :lol:)

How much we love our hairy members of the family!! :wub: :wub: (This time I'm not referring to my husband, bless him!! ;) :lol: :lol:)

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#8 Teatime

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 08:32 PM

Julie, your dogs sound gorgeous!! Our dogs eat most things, especially the labrador and most of it stays down, although very occasionally their stomachs do rebel if they've eaten anything too rich (these are dogs to whom cow pats and sheeps' manure are considered a delicacy!!! :sick2: :lol:)

How much we love our hairy members of the family!! :wub: :wub: (This time I'm not referring to my husband, bless him!! ;) :lol: :lol:)


Hahahahahaha! But I'll bet your husband wouldn't object to some petting regardless! Morgaine, my Weimaraner, surprised me this evening. I had some parsnip and carrot mash left over from dinner so I put some in each of their bowls. Bobby, my silky terrier, gobbled it right up as I knew he would but Morgaine was hooked after the first taste, too, lol. I think she licked her chops for about an hour afterward! What are your doggies' names?

#9 Joelf

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 12:24 AM

Our cocker spaniel is called Domino (because he's black and white) and our lab is called Spike.

There's a couple of photos of them in the Photo Gallery.

Perhaps you might like to post a couple of photos of your dogs in the gallery?

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#10 Teatime

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 10:50 PM

Your dogs are adorable, Jo! I love your horse Dolly, too! I'll have to look at more pictures when I have more time! I know that once I start looking, I won't be able to tear myself away for a while.

I did manage to post pics of Bobby and Morgaine. Took me about an hour to figure out how to do it! I'm techno-challenged, sigh.

#11 Joelf

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 02:07 AM

Hi Julie,

What lovely photos of your dogs! Thanks so much for posting them.

I've moved your sub album to the main global album "Pets and Animals" rather than the "Scleroderma Society UK" album (just so you can find it again! ;)) If you do have any techno problems with the forums please let me know and I'll do my best to help you. :)

Unfortunately, Dolly doesn't belong to me; I ride her for some friends to help keep her exercised! ;)

Best wishes,

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#12 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 07:16 AM

Hello Teatime

Well I can cook and bake...that is I used to be able to. My speciality was novelty cakes on the baking side and 3 course meals for up to 10 on the cooking side. We had lovely dinner parties, my husband would set the table properly (table linen and all that jazz) and make sure the lighting was conducive to pigging out and help me serve each course. It was more formal dining than you would do yourself and people seemed to enjoy the difference and the food.

Now all I can do is a buffet, as for the local group meetings that I host for the Scleroderma Society, with help of my husband and just be grateful to be able to do at least that and live in hope of one day being able to do more.

Take care.
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#13 Joelf

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 01:52 PM

Hi Amanda,

Well, I think you can still do fabulous dinner parties; judging by the one we had with you when Jeannie came over. I can't remember ever before having such a lovely meal in such a gorgeous setting with great company.......who could have asked for anything more?!! :you-rock:

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#14 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 01 September 2012 - 03:30 PM

Thank you Jo, you're very kind. :emoticon-hug: :emoticon-hug:

Take care.
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#15 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 12:33 PM

Amanda, I heard nothing but rave reviews for the fabulous dinner party you hosted for Jeannie and Jo, et al. Visions of your dinner even helped keep Jeannie kickin' when she was in ICU. Even with Sjogren's, my mouth watered hearing of your dinner extravaganza!!!
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#16 miocean

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Posted 07 September 2012 - 05:06 PM

Somehow I have missed this post for a while...I have the best cook in the world for a husband and we could open a kitchen supply store with what we have. I still don't know what some of the things are in the refrigerator and pantry . We make a great team, he cooks and I do the decorating, table setting and ambiance when we do entertain, something we are getting back to.

Right now he is making homemade pizza with dough he started this morning while I am doing nothing. :yes: It tastes delicious, is a thin crust, crispy pizza that is so light you can practically see through it. Dinner anyone?



I am happy to report that during my recent baking extravaganza, two different kinds of cookies and two batches of brownie in 3 days I noticed a BIG improvement in handling the pans and bowls. Having a good stand mixer really helps. These were all to give away to the lifeguards and people who I know from the beach although I made the mistake of keeping some and eating them all. :blush:

I think the improvement in my hands is from actively using them more and the skin not being as tight.

Teatime, we (he) don't (doesn't) cook much in the summer either. We don't have quite as high as temps as Texas (my sister lives there so I know) but it gets into triple digits with awful humidity. My husband has been able to do great things with rotisserie chickens from the market.

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#17 Joelf

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Posted 08 September 2012 - 07:49 AM

Does that invitation to dinner still stand, Miocean?.......I'd love to accept!!( Slight problem of being in a different country, though!! ;) :lol: )

I'm so pleased to hear that you're experiencing an improvement in your handling of the bowls and pans; I'm sure you're right about using your hands and keeping them mobile.

........I still don't know what some of the things are in the refrigerator and pantry........


Every so often I have a clear out of the cupboards in the kitchen; I do hate to throw things away, but I think even I should draw the line at keeping tins with "best before Sept.1998" stamped on them!!! :rolleyes: :lol:

Kind regards,

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#18 Amanda Thorpe

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Posted 21 September 2012 - 04:23 PM

Miocean, I love homemade cookies, ones with chocolate (milk, dark, white, I don't discriminate) chunks in are my favourite. At a previous Scleroderma Society local group meeting, a lovely lady brought some homemade cookies with chocolate chunks in them. Now I ate nearly all of them, really, I was a poor host as I ate one after the other after the other but I just didn't care! They were soft and chewy and filled with chocolate!

Jo, Michael hates to throw anything away and thinks that if it's in the fridge it can survive for many, many months. Well, no, not really and bread will have gone green and moldy before he gets round to throwing it out. He doesn't get that if air gets to it, it will go stale! I just quietly throw things away and he never notices. There's always some form of stale, baked goods to be binned and something soft and green to be cleared outta the fridge! He does make me laugh!

Take care.
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#19 miocean

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Posted 22 September 2012 - 04:02 PM

My not knowing what is in the pantry and fridge it is a little different as there are all kinds of exotic sauces (especially hot ones) and spices. For instance, we have at least 3 different kinds of cinnamon and asian sauces. My husband is definitely a foodie, reads cookbooks like others read novels. I finally got him to label the spices which he puts in special jars as I do not know the oregano from basil.

We are very careful about expiration dates and my husband will call the number on cans/bottles/jars if he has any questions.

Since I don't cook and only do occasional baking, I can play dumb and get wonderful meals cooked for me!

The seagulls eat well when we clean out the fridge. There were a couple of times we brought home restaurant meals that were inedible and even the gulls wouldn't eat them!

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#20 Shelley Ensz

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 01:45 PM

Hi Miocean,

Back in this thread a bit, you mentioned, "It is very difficult for me to lift a pot off the stove, especially if is full. Any suggestions for that?"

Yes. For example, for boiled vegetables, get a small-mesh strainer that fits within the pot, and that has handles. Then instead of picking up the entire pot, only lift the (cooked) items out with the strainer, and into a nearby bowl. Then let someone else deal with the pot of water, later on -- unless you are home alone, in which case, scoop out the remaining water with a ladle, until the pot is light enough to safely lift.

Also, I cook a lot of meals in our (very fancy) rice cooker, including old fashioned oatmeal, beans, and soups. When things are done cooking there is a handy "Warm" button which will keep things warm but not overcooked, for a long time. Plus, the bowl is lightweight and has handles on both sides, making it easier to lift/carry than most stove pots.
Warm Hugs,

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