Hi there! It’s Donna and thank you for allowing me to come into your inbox.
Today, I’d like to talk about in the kitchen.
This is part one.
IN THE KITCHEN
Hang most used pots and utensils from a wooden strip or pegboard on a wall or cabinet to easily locate.
When storing canned products such as fruits, vegetables and soups, reserve a shelf or a section of the shelf for each food group. The food most used (soup for example) may be placed in the most convenient-to-reach location and the remaining cans arranged in alphabetical order according to their contents.
Extra shelving wide enough to accommodate one row of canned, bottled, or packaged goods eliminates the need to conduct extensive searches for items. Shelves can be installed on any convenient wall in the kitchen or basement, on the back of a door, in a closet or pantry. Attaching labels to shelf edges will help eliminate the need to label individual products.
Shelves can be sectioned off with a plastic straw laid horizontally and glued or taped into position. Strips of wood or dowels can be used for the same purpose. Use easily recognized items as dividers (for example large bottles of mayo or ketchup) to separate canned goods of a similar size.
A variety of plastic trays and adjustable drawer dividers are available in hardware and department stores.
Canned products, baking products, etc., can be organized in different ways: according to frequency of use, in alphabetical order, or into categories used. For example, spices may be divided into two groups – those used for baking (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.) and those used in main dishes (garlic, celery seed, etc.).
To help you find what you are looking for in your freezer try grouping foods of a similar type – fish, vegetables, or meats for example – into larger bags which you can take out while you find the particular packet you want. If you have some color perception, differently colored labels and tags or colored bags may help.
A simple way to distinguish between a small number of identical containers such as cans, bottles, or salt and pepper shakers is to put an elastic band around one of them. Alternately, select brands so that no two items are in identical containers.
Use large print or braille to make labels for spices, etc. When a bottle is empty, you simply transfer the new item to the old bottle to avoid having to make new labels. If the name can be shortened so that the label can be put on the lid of the container, you only need to change the lids.
Use a variety of materials and techniques. There is no one material or technique that covers every labelling need. You may elect to use some or all of the methods described here, and even invent some new ones.
Do not be obsessed with labelling! Among your food items and household supplies there are a number of items easily recognized by the touch, shake, or smell method. These need not be marked. Good organization in storing canned and packaged products, as well as personal items, and keeping everything in its place will significantly cut down your need for labelling. Label only those things that cannot be distinguished by any other convenient means and keep any labels as short and concise as possible.
People who are visually impaired hould take advantage of colour contrasts. Work with dark ingredients on a light-coloured counter top or cutting board. Work with light ingredients on a dark surface.
Remove the eyes from potatoes with point of peeler or knife before peeling.
It is easier to determine if the peel on vegetables has all been removed when the vegetable is wet. The portion of the vegetable that has the peel remaining on it will have a rough texture, while the portion peeled will have a smooth, moist texture.
Keep fingers curled in and downward while chopping vegetables, etc. To gauge the thickness of a slice, put the blade of a sharp pointed knife by the forefinger of the hand that is holding the vegetable, then move knife and forefinger the required distance before cutting. Some vegetables ( for example turnips ) should be cut in half and placed flat side down on the chopping board before cutting into slices. The Magna Wonder Knife (available from CNIB) has an adjustable slicing guide that makes it safe and easy to cut slices of bread, vegetables, and meat into different thicknesses.
Toss a salad by shaking in a large covered bowl or container. It gets well dressed and there is no mess!
Safety should never be overlooked, especially in the kitchen! When working around the stove, avoid wearing anything that might dangle over the burners, such as loose sleeves or ties.
Don’t store flammables, especially oven mitts and dish towels, near the stove.
Be very familiar with your stove and oven before using. Know which knobs control which burners.
Place your filled pot on the stove burner before turning the burner on. If you have to place or replace a pot on a burner that is already hot, use a long-handled wooden spoon (which doesn’t conduct heat) to feel around the edge of the pot, ensuring the pot is centered on the burner.
Make sure pot handles do not extend over the front or sides of the stove where they can be easily bumped or knocked over.
When frying eggs, use an egg ring (available from CNIB). Grease the ring before placing in the frying pan and drop one egg into each greased ring. A food turner may be slid under the ring to easily remove the egg from the pan.
When frying meat which has to be turned, use a two-sided spatula (available from CNIB), which works like a pair of tongs. Some people prefer oven baking or roasting meats because they do not have to be turned over. Bacon, for example, which is very difficult to turn, may be cooked in your oven or microwave.
A colander, placed in a sink, provides an easy way to drain water from vegetables, pasta, etc. Pot strainers which attach to the rim of the pot are also excellent for draining water.
Explore your oven when cold to ensure you are aware of the position of the rack(s).
If you would like to become a member of my CCB Mysteries chapter you can do so for the price of $10 annually and in return you will receive unlimited access to any of the following libraries.
Recipes – A collection of hard to find recipes
Audio mysteries for all ages – Comfort listening any time of the day
Home and garden – A collection of great articles for around the home and garden
Or you can subscribe to all 3 for the price of $30 annually.
The Albert A. Ruel Road to Blindness
A 21 year old man stood on the beach at the Sproat Lake Provincial Park with friends early in May of 1977, and upon gazing across the lake found the Gulf Oil sign missing from the dock-side filling station there. When this fact was shared with his companions they glanced at him with puzzled looks and said, “No Albert, the sign is still there”.
That was the beginning of a road through confusion, anger, isolation, loneliness and discovery for me. It all began with a visit to a local Optometrist who could see that my vision wasn’t right, but that corrective lenses wouldn’t help. He then referred me to a General Practitioner, where I received a clean bill of health and an additional referral. This time to an Ophthalmologist. Immediately upon peering through the dilated pupils, Dr. McKerricher was able to see the problem, Retinal Vasculitis.
Now, you would think that all would start to improve at this point, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. You see, CNIB, from 1918 until 1985 only served the needs of people who were “Legally Blind”, a level of vision loss I wouldn’t reach until November of 1979. The words of Dr. McKerricher still echo in my mind today, “Albert, I don’t know what has caused this and nothing we’ve tried is helping to stop it, and you’re not blind enough for me to refer you to CNIB”!
In the middle of this transition from 20/20 vision to “Legally Blind” came the Motor Vehicle Branch and it’s rules of the road. On August 3, 1978 I drove a car for the last time as my vision had reached the level at which operating a motor vehicle became too dangerous, further intensifying feelings of fear, isolation and anger. Sadly, through this period the only available guidance and support was through family and friends, but not the experienced professionals I needed at the time. Although these support systems are critically important they can often be smothering and facilitating, rather than encouraging and supportive.
With gratitude, and some trepidation I finally was able to access CNIB services in November of 1979, and the world opened up then. There I was able to meet other blind people and receive the daily living and mobility skills required to live independently in this sighted world. I learned elementary braille and began to discover technology as necessary tools of independence.
Thankfully, in 1985 CNIB’s National Board altered the course of service to visually impaired Canadians forever. They added a third prong to their Mission Statement, “To promote sight enhancement services”. This opened the door to all Canadians who were beginning to lose sight, as well as those who had a fear of vision loss to access the full range of CNIB Support and Rehabilitation Services. So now, whether it’s someone’s Mother who is experiencing Macular Degeneration, or an Uncle experiencing the affects of Glaucoma, all have the ability to seek information, guidance and support as all involved deal with the fear and anxiety that accompanies such life altering experiences.
With the help of professional Rehabilitation Workers and Employment Counselors I was able to continue traveling independently within my own community, and even more remarkably anywhere in the world I desired to go. I managed to attend College in Nanaimo and New Westminster, as well as traveling to the Mayo Clinic and to doctor’s appointments in Nanaimo and Vancouver without assistance. All of this while living with some usable vision, but not yet needing a white cane for travel.
During the mid 1980’s I was a stay-at-home Dad and did all that was required of that challenging work, from changing diapers to preparing meals, and from cutting the grass to maintaining our home. I even took a woodworking course through Alberni’s Adult Education program and built and restored several pieces of furniture. Of course the 1958 Chevy Impala in the garage was my pride and joy, and I devised ways to do much of the work it required.
I also joined and participated in many community activities, like the local Car Club, and a disability support group that catered to the needs of people with many different disabilities. Of course, continued participation in family life remained of critical importance through this period.
In 1989 a secondary condition began to extinguish the vision that remained, which set into motion a new stream of professional rehabilitation services and supports. By the spring of 1990 Glaucoma had turned out the lights completely, and the darkness I had feared so desperately was upon me. Strangely though, I found this to be a great relief rather than the tragedy I had imagined it would be.
Through several professional rehabilitation sessions, and by joining peer mentoring and advocacy groups I was able to come to terms with this strange feeling, and to learn additional skills and strategies for living with no visual cues of the world around me. This is also about the time that I decided to explore CNIB as an employer, and to see if I could provide the sort of guidance and support to others that had been my pleasure to receive. Those 14 years were a wonderful experience of ongoing discovery for me, as teaching may be the best way to solidify one’s own learning. In other words, those we assist through this transition in turn help us all as we develop best practices and improved service.
Following a 14 year career with CNIB I also served the blind community as the first National Equality Director employed by the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC), and as a Basic Computer Literacy Trainer with the Canadian Council of the Blind (CCB). Most recently I have enjoyed coordinating the CCB’s newly launched Get Together with Technology Program in Western Canada, which brings to the fore my passion for assistive technology and the power of peer mentoring.
Without sight I have continued to travel far and wide, with trips to Conventions of and for the Blind in Anaheim California and Melbourne Australia, as well as to many events and activities in Toronto and Vancouver. Of course my work has taken me to many communities throughout Western Canada, and most particularly nearly all regions of BC and on Vancouver Island. None of which would have been possible without the services and support of organizations like CCB, AEBC and CNIB.
For most people blindness generates a fear of extended movement, both within one’s home and community, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Independence comes from personal desire and increased skill. Many community organizations can assist with both through their mentoring and skill development programs. I remember always that life has little to do with what happens to me and 100% what I do about/with it. There is a quote I like to use from the National Federation of the Blind in the USA, “With adequate skill development and opportunity blindness can be reduced to the level of a nuisance”, and nothing could be closer to the truth.
Helen Keller said many years ago, “There is nothing more tragic than someone who has sight, but no vision”. She also challenged the Lions Clubs of the world to become the “Knights of the Blind, and to take up the crusade against darkness”. I too joined a Lions Club in 1992 and continue to work on the crusade that Helen Keller began in the 1920-s.
View all posts by Albert Ruel