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Kitchen and cooking tips for visually impaired people

The first and most important tip is not to put yourself under pressure.  You might put yourself under pressure by agreeing to cook the Christmas dinner for your extended family – Let someone else do it, arrange for everyone to bring a different part of the meal ready cooked, or buy in readymade.  Another pressure is to attempt to cook something complicated and difficult.  You can show off with simpler meals done well.
Know your lighting needs Install under-the-counter lighting and/or use gooseneck, adjustable arm lamps to position light directly onto your work area.Seat yourself so windows are behind you or to your side.You can buy stick-on battery lights that come on when you open the cupboard for inside them or, for a more expensive system, get an electrician to hard-wire them in.Keep a torch handy for delving in cupboards.
Using Appliances•
Many appliance manufacturers offer large-print or braille dials, overlays, contrasting colour features and marking kits, so ask before you buy.Some hob dials click as you turn the knob to various temperature settings. A popular addition too many kitchens, the George Foreman Grill allows you to cook food on both sides simultaneously, without setting any dials or needing to flip or turn the food. Easy-to-set bread machines, crock pots and rotisseries can simplify the cooking process.A microwave with a dial and push buttons is easier to operate than a digital touch-pad version, but you can put bump-on’s on a touchpad oneInduction hobs that use electromagnetism to cook are quick, safe and efficient.  Induction hobs are quicker and cheaper to run than other hobs – though more expensive to buy – because the heat is transferred directly to the pan rather than the whole cooking surface, meaning you can touch it without burning yourself. Install counter-level plug sockets for easy access, or use battery-operated appliances.  Some people feel more in control when using manual appliances. Small countertop appliances – including toaster ovens, coffee makers and microwaves – may be safer and easier to use for heating food than the oven or hob.Use your sensesTouch, smell and hearing can help you identify ingredients and operate appliances.Tell a can of cream soup from noodle soup, for example, by shaking the cans – the noodle soup will splash and feel looser.You can smell toast getting brown to know it’s done or burning. Meat is brown when it’s rough to the touch. Pay attention to the sounds of food cooking.  Listen for the rolling, bubbling noise that becomes louder and more forceful as liquids boil.  Wait to hear the popping of frying food to know its browning.  When the sounds die down, food usually is ready to be turned. As food cooks, odours change.  Often you can smell when something is done, for example, when cookies are baked. Smell spices before you sprinkle.  There’s nothing like mistaking pepper for cinnamon.When peeling a potato, you can feel the parts that are not peeled because the peeled parts are a little slimy.
Using a knife
Use a sharp or serrated edge knife.  A blunt knife is more likely to slip off tough fruit or veg.Cut away from you rather than straight down as it is easier to control.Hold things you want to cut with your hand over the knife or down bended knuckles so that your fingers are well out of the way.  Watch out for your thumb though.Use the flat of a large kitchen knife, with the blade away from you, to crush garlic cloves makes them easier to peal Cut onions in half vertically then cut off the bottom to make them easier to peel and slice.To dice an onion, cut most of the way through each half towards the stalk, and then cut horizontally to dice.Using a small knife, cut down the grooves in peppers from point to stalk but not through the stalk, then peel back for easy separation from the seed pod.If you can use a pair of kitchen scissors rather than a knife, do so.
Pouring Cold Liquids Use your index finger to position the spout over, and keep it in contact with, the edge of the glass.  Slowly pour the liquid into the glass, using your index finger periodically to gauge the level of the liquid.  Listen to the change in sound as you pour.
Weigh liquids rather than struggling with a standard measuring jug.  A Kilo of water weighs the same as a litre of water. Compare the weight of an empty glass with one that’s partially or completely full. Use a tray or pan with short sides to support your glass and confine any possible spillage.
Pouring Hot Liquids
Place your finger slightly over the edge of the cup and stop pouring as soon as you feel the warmth of the liquid.  Be sure your finger is away from the direct flow of the liquid itself.  For increased safety, use a liquid level indicator or hot beverage dispenser – both of which are available commercially. Pour liquids over the sink or a tray. Pour dark liquid, such as coffee, into a light-coloured cup and vice versa.Take the water from the veg rather than the veg from the hot water by pouring the boiled veg into a colander over a sink.
General tips Develop a system so you know where your utensils, spices and ingredients are stored.  And make sure that other family members are aware so that they return things to their proper places. Labelling with large print or braille as well as tactile markings can help distinguish similar types of containers or the right setting on an oven or microwave.  Wrap a rubber band around the ketchup bottle, for example, to tell it apart from the mayonnaise bottle.The PenFriend labeller is a great tool for labelling most jars, bottles and packages Record your recipes for easy access.  There are cookbooks available in large print and braille as well as on audiocassette.  If you’re online, you can access recipes from Web sites and print them in an accessible format. Keep cabinet doors fully closed or fully open.  Contrasting tape on the insides or backs of cabinet doors can make it easier to tell if one is open.  Install contrasting knobs or handles. Use a cutting board that contrasts in colour with the items that you’re cutting.  Long armed oven mitts, dish towels and utensils that contrast with countertops can make them easier to find.Use a timer when heating foods.  You’ll not only know when the food is done, but get a reminder to turn off the appliance. Divided measuring cups are more accurate and easier to use than a standard measuring cup for both dry and liquid ingredients.  It can be difficult to detect the lines for each measure on a standard measuring cup and divided measuring cups are available in a variety of colours, so you can utilize colour contrast techniques.