Secrets of living with blindness

Maribel from Melbourne down-under shares her survival tips https://youtu.be/cX8dvHsuamE.      But her ideas go way beyond blindness and can be used by anyone facing a life-changing event – not just a disability.

 

 

 

 

 

Her secrets are:

 

Acceptance.    Accepting whatever it is you have to cope with – not avoiding, hiding or denying the situation, tough as that sounds.

Collaboration.  Letting other people help you.

Courage.  You do have to be brave to face life again.

Organisation.  Vital for blindness but key too for other major life changes.

Sense of humour.  Being able to laugh at yourself and with other people re-builds relationships.

Sense of intuition.  Trust your instincts about what is right for you.

Use all your senses.  Vital for a visually impaired person but equally important for everyone: it’s a richer life when you experience every sensation  and live in the moment.

I can recognise all of Maribel’s secrets and and recommend them to anyone facing a life crisis.  It might not be possible to tackle every one of these at once but they do provide a pathway for the future.

Since Maribel and I met, she has gone from strength to strength: publishing her memoire and getting her new guide dog, Dindi.  She’s also spreading her ideas wider afield on Australian breakfast TV and through her podcasts:

Cooking ‘Blind’ on Sydney TV

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyCwxaXdRX4&feature=youtu.be

Podcast: Cooking in a Tactile Kitchen ABC Radio Part 1 (14 mins)

https://maribelsteel.com/listen-to-cooking-blind-in-a-tactile-kitchen/

Podcast: Cooking in a Tactile Kitchen ABC Radio Part 2 (14 Mins)

https://maribelsteel.com/listen-to-cooking-blind-in-a-tactile-kitchen-part-2/

 

Penny

http://www.bakingblind.com

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Maribel is another great blind cook

Maribel is another great blind cook: see us making her mother’s classic Spanish dish of eggs à la flamencohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9OnaZzQTkI&feature=youtu.be in her sunny Melbourne home.

Maribel maribelsteel.com was a driving force behind my baking Blind trip to Australia, and we had a fabulous time cooking together, sharing laughs and songs plus our ideas about living with blindness.

Not only a great cook and singer, Maribel is already a published author, speaker, blogger and general all-round entrepreneurial woman who is unstinting in sharing her own experiences.  We talked about why people who can’t see still want to choose the colour of their clothes.  On that day, quite by chance, we were both wearing red and she had even chosen crockery to match!  My coordinated luggage definitely came up second-best.  But, since then, I’ve tried to go one better and now have a red cane too – who wants a boring white one?

I hope that this little video gives an insight into life with a disability.  There were just two women having fun together, totally unfazed by their blindness, completely competent and capable.

The dish would make a perfect brunch: simple ingredients of garlic, onion, peppers, tomatoes and chorizo sausage gently sautéed before sharing between individual dishes that were each topped with a fresh egg before oven-baking.  You don’t really need a recipe for something so straightforward. 

We ended the morning on her sunny balcony, enjoying the sounds and smells of the city.  Maribel and her partner, Harry, broke into a song that summed up our thinking: “Everything’s going to be alright!”

G’day Melbun

Trying to write with an Australian accent doesn’t really work!  While I was in Melbourne https://youtu.be/jvVX4GwFQVA, I kept forgetting to pronounce the name correctly so all the locals knew that I was a pom.

But they did give me stunning cooking experiences in this city that has more restaurants and bars than any other place in the world.  No wonder they include such excellent chefs and cooks – who were generous enough to give me some time and share their knowledge.

Next time: meet Melbourne’s blind cook, Maribel, who is already gaining a strong following.

Penny

First week in Australia

Catch up with the drama of my first week in Australia https://youtu.be/BbhhANADhm8

There were the thrills of the life-and-near-death sea rescue; a fire-pit barbecue that nearly smoked out the neighbours; cooking  aboriginal-style and more.

Cooking with blind professional chef Martin and with award-winning Jo was a breeze in comparison.

You can look back at the other seven videos that try to capture the excitement of that memorable week.

You can see Martin and I cooking fish and lamb in his kitchen in Sydney, Australia on my Baking Blind YouTube channel.

Martin also has his Enabled Cooking website and has shared his recipes with us:

Asian-style baked fish:

https://www.enabledcooking.com/recipe-baked-fish-fillet-asian-style-en-papilotte-cooking-with-penny-from-baking-blind/

Middle eastern rack of lamb:

http://www.enabledcooking.com/recipe-oven-roasted-australian-lamb-rack-with-babahganoush-sheeps-milk-yogurt-and-pomegranate-cooking-with-penny-from-baking-blind/

Next time, Melbourne  where Maribel has some great tips on living with blindness, I learn how good a Thermomix used to be and lots more.

 

 

Smoking out the neighbours

An Iranian fire pit- see how simple it is https://youtu.be/qAxVKhKj_nU

if you have a pickaxe and shovel along with really understanding neighbours prepared to risk their fence.

I’d woken in the morning to the sound of nearby digging and whispered excitement.  It was the final cooking day of my time in the Australian seaside town of Kiama and I was due to help with an Iranian barbecue feast for the neighbours.

Eddie and his very pregnant wife were the hosts and chief cooks, next door to the home of Ken and Rosemary who had accommodated us.  We’d already visited to take in his home-made pizza oven and barbecue and were now ready to see both in action.  Meanwhile, Rosemary and friend Jill were back in her kitchen creating their salads.

But Eddie stole the day with his fire pit: dug just a couple of feet from the wooden fence between the two houses –as close together as anywhere we’d find in England.  He’d filled it with kindling, logs and even some broken wooden furniture before setting light to it all.  I think our cooking together was his excuse for all the smoke that drifted over the fence!  Once hot, he topped the pyre with a shoulder of lamb, wrapped in damp cloth, fig leaves and cooking foil before another layer of charcoal and a top-dressing of soil.  And there we left it for nearly six hours.

We prepared the kebabs.  But forget the prim bamboo sticks we might use in the UK.  Eddie had an armful of steel swords that were perfect for conducting the heat in to the heart of the thick cylinders of beef and pork we’d moulded on to the blades.

 

The smoky barbecued aubergines went off to become outstanding babaganush as the swords sizzled.

Meanwhile, Lebanese flat breads were cooking and slightly charring in the pizza oven crafted from an old oil drum and the salads and other neighbours arrived.  It was a damp and drizzling day but the weather certainly didn’t interfere with our jolly celebrations.

But I did have to make my excuses for a couple of hours to visit the local Silos Estate winery www.silosestate.com and sample their excellent products with owner, Raj.  All made rather more dramatic as the owner’s wife had been bitten by a tic and needed to get to hospital for it to be removed – a day of dramas!

Returning to the neighbours, it was clear that they too had been imbibing a little too and the jollity had increased.  It was time for the great unveiling as the lamb was carefully dug out of its fiery grave and ceremonially shared between the guests.  It was utterly delicious, succulent and moist – a great way to celebrate our last day before flying to Melbourne.

Strawberries and cream at the Palace

 

Royal golf buggy with golden tassels swirling; military band strutting; Yeoman guarding; all bathed in warm sun and washed down with lemon barley.

Each year, there are six garden parties in London: three by the Queen, two for the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and, finally,  for the Not Forgotten association.  Thanks to David  from Blind Veterans UK, I was nominated for the last.  Top -to-toe in summer finery with the emphasis on comfortable shoes, I had the snobbish delight of telling the taxi driver “Buckingham Palace please” .  This was the garden party for ex-military people drawn from across the country and many with different health conditions and disabilities.

Tea was a memory of traditional English afternoon fare: delicate finger sandwiches and tiny cakes.  They had advised that a good lunch beforehand would be sensible!  We strolled around the garden  which ranges from abundant herbaceous borders to peaceful woodland that even the band couldn’t penetrate.

As the shadows lengthened, we sat around the grassed parade ground with pots of strawberries and cream to hear the skirl of the bagpipe band.  I gather that there was a backdrop of Yeomen on loan from the Tower of London.  Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Gloucester sped to the VIP enclosure in her Royal buggy (so much easier on the heels than walking) and the finale Beating Retreat could begin.

 

It was a leisurely exit as we unpinned medals and crunched across the gravel to the great gilded gates of the Palace.  Back to the hurly burly of London in rush hour after those tranquil hours commemorating so many who have served their country.

 

Carving with your eyes shut

I’ve avoided roasting joints of meat as they can be too difficult to carve elegantly without sight.  See  https://youtu.be/gJTOoOTXBPA

how, In Australia, I learned one way of getting around the problem.

I was in the Sydney home kitchen of chef and lecturer Martin who is also visually impaired and who shares his recipes, hints and tips through his website: www.enabledcooking.com.

We were making a straightforward rack of lamb with Middle eastern flavours: baba ghanoush, pomegranate seeds, slivers of toasted almonds, sheep’s yoghurt and mint.  We seared the meat to give it some colour and flavour.  Not the easiest task for two blind cooks.  Martin judged it by time: about a minute each side.  I relied more on hearing and touch: the hot oil in the pan sizzles madly when the raw meat  is first added but calms as water  is evaporated;  don’t move the meat in the pan until the sound has reduced; when you do turn the meat, the side that has just been seared will feel hot and much firmer, even a little crisp in places.

About 10-12 minutes in the oven and the same again resting and we were ready to carve.  The joint could have been designed for it: a “rack” describes the row of lamb or pork ribs before they are separated out in to individual chops.  You can run a finger down your side and feel your own rack of ribs.  Lamb racks are often “French trimmed”: the fat and sinew cleaned off the bones so that just the meaty part of the chops remain below the separated and shortened bones – they stick out like a row of soldiers.

And those bones are the answer to blind carving.  You can hold them to get a good grip of the joint without touching the bits that will be eaten.  Then a sharp knife just follows the line of the bone from top to bottom and the first serving is ready.  Simply repeat between each soldier and the job’s done!

Then Martin’s accompaniments add the taste of the Middle East.  Toasting almonds or any other nuts or seeds without sight depends mainly on your sense of smell when you can’t see.  I use a non-stick frying pan without oil and add the nuts or seeds while it is heating up.  After a few minutes, you can smell them becoming toasted, so it is time to give them a stir to cook the other side.  Seeds tend to be easier as you can also hear them start popping.  The trick is to take them off the heat early before they start burning.  If there’s any risk, pour the pan contents on to a cold plate to stop them cooking further.

Next time, Eddie’s Iranian barbecue brings more of those Middle Eastern flavours.

Good cooking!

Penny