Suck it up

Stuffing a curved banana in to the hollowed-out centre of a pineapple was the most difficult bit of this great desserthttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b3NfXTJ4TY&feature=youtu.be.  And we could hardly restrain our giggles.

Jennison, all the way from Silicon Valley, California, was learning more new cooking equipment with me.  The snazzy cutter produces a neat spiral of pineapple and leaves the centre ready for that banana.  Simply put it in a plastic bag with some brown sugar and raisins soaked in rum before sucking hard!  The aim is to get as much air out as possible before tying off.  Then, together, we tackled the vacuum packer – no problem at all for two blind people if you can remember the two simple buttons and hear the click when the seal has been made.  It’s as simple as that.

The water bath isn’t difficult for visually impaired people either.  We could feel the maximum and minimum water markers on the inside and, with the addition of some tactile “bump-ons”, the external controls don’t need sight either.  But the manufacturer still warns that some disabled people shouldn’t use the equipment without supervision!  Amazing that, in this day and age of equality legislation, they still have the cheek to design out accessibility.

The double-bagged pineapple goes in to the water at 73 degrees Centigrade to emerge 24 hours later soft, warm and utterly delicious.  Eat your heart out sous-vide designers.

Next time, I’m making Christmas mincemeat with two of the local Talking Newspapers’ team.

 

 

Don’t try this at home

Fish fingers: not sea-life but real fingers dipped in flour and batter – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOXzP3NGzFk&feature=youtu.be so that we could put the fish in to hot oil safely – or that’s what John promised us!

He was showing us two blind people how to cook classic English fish and chips safely.  Usually there’s lots of deep fat frying with hot oil and other hazards that are even more dangerous when you can’t see.  For this special version, we were shallow frying in just a little oil but still needed to handle the coated fish – so battering our hands was the answer.

Jennison, accessibility awareness lead for Linked In from Silicon Valley, California, was my fellow guinea pig for this experiment and he was understandably nervous about any injury to the hands he relies on for his high-tech, keyboard intensive work and lifestyle.  And he was a very novice cook too.  I take my hat off to him for being brave enough to give this a try.

I was less brave as I knew that I could rely on John’s expert good-hearted and ever-generous expertise and supervision.   With all his care, we produced two very respectable pieces of battered cod to serve up with the super-safe chips, tartar sauce and distinctly unimpressive mushy peas.   I’ve definitely not cooked anything in batter for quarter of a century.  Even if I don’t do it frequently in the future, it was liberating to overcome another of those “blindness barriers”.

Next time, Jennison and I tackle the vacuum-packer and cooking sous-vide.

 

 

Buttons and dials

Even blind cooks can make super-chips with the right equipment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy2ZPSntfH4&feature=youtu.be.

And I definitely don’t mean a deep fat fryer: far too risky.

Instead, friend and co-cook John produced one of those air-fryers that’s so much safer and keeps the calories down too.  For me and fellow blind cook, Jennison, it was the design that was the absolute winner: good tactile buttons.  I know that the more expensive, sleek, digital, wipe-clean plastic versions can seem more convincing   but, even when you can see, the click of a button or the twist of a knob is so much more meaningful.

I’m convinced that human interaction with ingredients, processes and equipment is a vital part of the creativity and care of chefs and cooks I met around the world.

Charlene from Melbourne https://youtu.be/M_pvfHgJB3w was absolutely right that cooking is all about senses and sensuality.  Designers need to ensure maximum stimulation of all our senses when they are creating a piece of kitchen equipment or it becomes a barrier rather than an enabler: languishing at the back of a cupboard without regard or recommendation.

As a blind cook, the senses are, of course, key for me but I don’t believe that anyone else wants their kitchen experience to be one of sensory deprivation.  If we have no personal interaction with our food until the moment we eat it, aren’t we missing out?    Isn’t that sensory stimulation the very core of successful design?

Next week, when we cook the fish, Jennison and I take this thinking to the ultimate: John persuaded us to flour and batter our fingers so they wouldn’t burn when we were handling the fish in the pan!