Watch me make them on You Tube
Download the recipes from bakingblind.com
Highlight of the month was taxi driver John putting on Comic Relief red glasses and nose to cook alongside me for a special Baking Blind fundraising episode.
He went above and beyond the call of duty: using mostly obscured glasses to get a better idea of cooking blind like me. Brave to try in the first place, braver still to do it on camera with a silly nose too– what a star!
We raised over £150 with our American-themed bakes: chewy chocolate cookies, wicked pecan pie, sesame bagels plus more English trays of flapjacks. Heaven only knows how many calories went in to it all!
These are all straightforward bakes although measuring syrup and handling a pastry case full of sugary mix are both hazardously sticky if you’re blind. I should have weighed out the balls of cookie dough in to more consistent sizes – but they still tasted good.
Bagels need poaching or steaming before baking: try fishing soft floppy bread out of boiling water or lifting them off a steaming tray with your eyes shut – pretty tricky. The answer is a set of silicone moulds designed for the job: just slide the dough balls down the oiled rubber cones and dunk them in the hot water. Worked a treat even though we ignored the rest of the recipe and instructions.
Roping in John to cook with me isn’t as random as you might think. I’ve been using the same local taxi firm for over 20 years: we swap news and gossip, and the drivers know when I need a helping hand – just part of the pleasure of not driving myself. A great bunch who have sorted out emergencies, rescued me from station platforms, collected prescriptions and been a real life-line when needed. They supported my Holman prize bid so it isn’t surprising that John and I were swapping recipes on a journey and I dared him to cook with me. Having worked as a professional chef in local pubs and naval shore establishments, we have the Navy in common too. It’s been a real privilege to learn from all his knowledge and experience.
John arrived for my first lesson with a rustling bag of the ingredients to make a glorious pork dish, complete with all the sauce and trimmings. I’d forgotten that it’s possible to whizz in to a supermarket, dash through the aisles and pick up whatever you want, whenever you need. He is used to having every burner going full blast alongside all the hustle and bustle of chopping and stirring – not so easy when cooking depends on listening. And professionals really do use all that salt!
Using the SpecSavers Comic relief glasses helped John understand why I seem so slow in the kitchen. But I don’t think that either of us had fully realised how much we depend on our sense of smell: those red noses from Sainsbury’s made it impossible (and got in the way of tasting too).
The recipes are at www.bakingblind.com and you can download accessible Word versions.
And, if you are still wondering where the third blind mouse was, Toby was behind the camera – nose on but glasses off!
Penny Melville-Brown OBE
Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk
Helping disabled people to work since 2000