Home-made Christmas presents and pies

Here’s how to make your own Christmas mincemeat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCNMLQN37mE&feature=youtu.be.  Add a ribbon to the jar for a truly personal present or turn it into delicious treats to share with family and friends – or even the postman!

I was creating this traditional recipe, full of fruit and spices, for a seasonal special recording by the local Talking Newspaper team.   And the whole process is so straightforward that anyone can do it – it just takes talking scales for someone like me who can’t see.  And it’s the perfect recipe for using up those tail-ends of bottles of sherry, brandy, port etc.  If you have the time, it’s worth soaking the dried fruit in the alcohol for a few days (or more) before simply adding the rest of the ingredients, stirring and popping in the oven at the lowest temperature for three hours.   Remove the mix and let it cool a little before potting up in warm sterilised jars from the oven and its done.

Throughout I was chatting to Suzie, Chairman of Fareport Talking News, and Dee, her recording specialist.  Together with other volunteers, they create weekly recordings of the news and other articles to send to visually impaired people across our area of southern Hampshire.  Recordings are delivered on memory sticks that can be played on a computer or laptop.  For those who don’t use tech, there are special “speaker boom boxes” designed to be easy-to-use by anyone with little or no sight.  These boxes will also play audio books and have big buttons that can help anyone with limited hand movements.  Linking someone with limited sight to the local Talking Newspaper service could be a perfect Christmas present for them.

Suzie and Dee were enthusiastic about my kitchen equipment and particularly liked the electric lemon squeezer.  The only special “blind” equipment I have is the talking scales, thermometer and labelling system –all the rest are just mainstream High Street products.  But I do choose with care so the lemon squeezer isn’t just super-efficient but is much better at keeping the pips out of the juice; my “kettle” dispenses exactly the right amount of boiling water at the press of a button – no more pouring and guessing; the bread-maker produces the perfect dough or loaf but without all the mess of hand-kneading.

Blind people can be as good, or bad, as anyone else when it comes to cooking but a sharp knife in experienced hands, using all the senses and getting the best from kitchen gadgets makes everything so much easier.



Keeping in touch with your local community.

Interview with Penny on Talking Newspapers

Talking newspapers bring the news, articles and, in my case, interviews to their local communities.  You don’t have to be visually impaired to be able to get this service – it is available to anyone.  Nowadays, the spoken word is delivered on a memory stick – just plug-in and play on very easy-to-use players with a few straightforward buttons.

I was whisked away to a small stone building in the car park of adjacent village, Stubbington, for an interview about Baking Blind and the Holman prize with the Fareport Talking News (www.talkingnews-fareport.org.uk).  In a tiny studio not much bigger than the average utility room, Suzie the volunteer technician and Carl who leads this local initiative, tested me for sound levels and put me through my paces.

They’ll offer the interview to the other local talking newspaper groups and even colleagues across the national Federation of Talking News (www.tnf.org.uk).  There’s even a chance it may get to the British Wireless for the Blind (www.blind.org.uk) that will loan sophisticated radios with internet facilities which give access to international programmes.

If you know someone who wants to keep in touch with what is happening locally but can’t manage the papers, this might be the answer.  There’s almost certainly a similar service close by so call the Federation on 01793 497555 and, for Fareport Talking News, Carl Cater on 01329 664364.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd www.disabilitydynamics.co.uk

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

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