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teaching my daughgter to cook

I am not blind but I have a 14 year old daughter who is. She really wants to learn how to cook and I was wondering if anyone had any advise on the best way for me to start teaching her. I really worry about the stove but I want her to learn how to do it and so does she.

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Re: teaching my daughgter to cook

My boyfriend is with the CNIB because he is recently blind with no sense of smell. They tell him he can only use a stove with raised burners. Hopefully that helps.

Re: teaching my daughgter to cook

Well, I'm not that much help. I am partially sighted/legally blind and I didn't learn to cook at home. I use the vision I have quite a bit with cooking, so it is hard for me to imagine how totally blind people do it. I know they do though and, as I said, even I didn't learn at home. My mother didn't get that I needed any particular instruction. As a result, I didn't get it and thought cooking just wasn't for me. Every little task seemed so incredibly hard. Then, when I got out on my own and had a boyfriend, who cooked horribly, I had to learn, so I did. While I was in college (far from home) and the first year after college, I didn't eat very tasty things. I had no money for eating out and I refused to eat junk food, so I ate lots of tasteless beans and potatoes. But I did learn and now I am a fairly accomplished cook. The first thing I would say is that when I started it took me 3 hours to complete dishes that now take 20 minutes. I thought that it would always take 3 hours and it was really discouraging. It didn't seem like I was doing it slowly, but so many things get faster. So, keep your daughter's faith in it. It will probably be very slow at first. Then, she will have to develop systems of organization in the kitchen that are different from what is standard for sighted people. You will have to work with that and use a blind-person's kitchen yourself for quite awhile. She will get far too frustrated to cook, if she has to ask you where every little spice jar is. So, having her braille spice jars and then fetch spices and utensils and so forth for you may be a good way to start. She'll be in there cooking with you and have a task. Then, slowly you can add other tasks. I would lean towards this, at the very least, as well as using ultra simple recipes she can do herself entirely. Build the tasks she can do and let her do them while you're cooking, even if it takes some doing. She is old enough that it won't be hard or take forever for very long. The more organized the kitchen is the better chance she will have of cooking. It is a very serious safety concern as well. If the stove area is always very clean and tidy, she will be able to learn to use it fairly quickly, but if unexpected objects interfere, it can be a significant problem. Also, teach basic safety skills. I do get mild burns on my fingers regularly. Partly, I have to feel some things that others don't and also I often miss with potholders just a bit. I did not know until I was probably 30, that these mild burns will go away instantly if I put my hand under cold cold water from the faucet for 60 seconds. Otherwise, even a mild burn can last days. So, while she's helping you, help her make this automatic and fast. The faster you cool a burn the more it will not burn. Seconds matter a lot. If she hasn't practiced cutting bananas and butter and such with a butter knife that will not cut her, you should probably never cut another banana or stick of butter for the next year or so. :) Just have her do these tasks. The best way for a blind person to get the feel for how to cut without hurting themselves is to cut. She's old enough to realize that the point is that with a sharp knife there would be real stakes, but the motions are essentially the same with a dull knife and soft items. Make pie and let her cut up the butter and tweak it into the flour. That is most of the work of making a pie anyway. I am not an expert either and I certainly don't have much of a systematic approach, having learned by trial and error myself. Keep bandaids and disinfectant handy when she does start using a real knife. i also get minor cuts reasonably often. That is simply part of the job but I have never had a significant cut because I am always cautious and aware of where my fingers are.

Re: teaching my daughter to cook

Hi, tbankes

I'm sorry I haven't replied before now-- I saw your message, and just thought somebody smarter than me would have better ideas.

But, let me take a stab, and at least get the ball rolling.

It's a very interesting question, and I guess my first thought is, teaching a child (or teenager, in this case) to cook is just like teaching them everything else-- so, for example, when you taught her how to tie her shoes, you put your hand on top of hers and guided her along... and you had her put her hand on yours, and you let her feel what you were doing. So, cooking is full of things like that.

So, for tips on those general kinds of "how do I teach my child...." go to FamilyConnect

You can also post your question there.

Cooking is also loaded with smaller skills-- she has to know how to pour, to spread things like peanut butter, to listen to the sound of water boiling... a million things.

And, the kitchen needs to be accessible-- for example, can she operate the microwave? You might need to label it.

Do you have nested measuring cups? Trying to use a two-cup measuring device to get a half cup is going to make her crazy.

For tips on cooking, and for making the kitchen accessible, there's a whole section on VisionAware

That section is mainly for people who already know how to cook, and just want to know how to do it without sight. So, I think it will be very useful to you, the parent, in knowing what some of the techniques are, and how you might need to modify the kitchen or some of the processes.

So, the teaching part-- where to start?

Here are some suggestions. OF course, she might be past some of these already, and she'll want to make things she likes to eat... so, well, do your best.

Start with some things that don't involve the stove or chopping, the things you're really worried about.

Can she pour a bowl of cereal and get the right amount of milk? Start there.

Try peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Can she spread peanut butter and get it even, and the right pb-to-j ratio? Very crucial... and very transferable to the next bunch of tasks. Same applies to mustard, mayo, whatever she prefers.

On the stove, I'd say first start with the most forgiving dish you can think of .

I like steamed veggies-- you can buy veggies already cut up so you can defer the chopping/slicing until you feel she's gotten some kitchen skills. You'll need to measure water, veggies, spices, so it'll cover a lot of those basic things.

Cooking rice is another good one-- measuring the rice and water is important, the stopping point is pretty crucial, and getting the right level of simmer, but it's mainly pretty forgiving. And, you can experiment a lot with what you do to the rice-- try rosemary one time, bay another, throw peas in near the end of the cook-time, to make a lot of interesting side dishes.

Hummus is another good beginner's dish-- you can start with the chickpeas, the food processor, peeling garlic... a few spices... then you branch into lots of exciting and exotic variations, as she learns to roast peppers, peel avocados, whatever sounds good.

If you have a local rehab agency, they often teach basic cooking skills. It would really be best to have a professional get her started on some of these skills, like knowing how hard the water is boiling, slicing mushrooms, cutting pumpkins in half....

OK, maybe now somebody will realize they have a much better idea. Good luck, it sounds like fun!

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