Suck it up

Stuffing a curved banana in to the hollowed-out centre of a pineapple was the most difficult bit of this great dessert  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.



Blind leading the blind in the Kitchen.

Nearly bloody Jam – not enough for a massacre but it could have been messy!  I had a new blind-leading-the-blind experience cooking alongside Madeline who also has limited sight but, together, we made her jam recipe.  It is especially simple as it doesn’t rely on checking temperatures.

Like me, she prefers using short knives in the kitchen because it is easier for us to feel what we are chopping.  And, of course, because I was showing off, I immediately nicked a finger.  Luckily for us, videographer toby spotted the blood and we could save the rest of the rhubarb.  The other piece of essential equipment is an always-to-hand dispenser of sticking plaster!

If you’ve not heard two people chatting about how they find life with blindness, this  is one to watch.

Following her success working within the NHS, Madeline is just about to launch her new business (, specialising in gathering the real human stories that bring drier academic research to life.  She has a talent for “Discovery” interviews that have mainly been used in the retail trade but are going to be equally influential for many of the public services that we all use and need.  And, using her experience having a guide dog, she’s spent her spare time developing a unique dog-walker’s bag that should appeal to anyone with a hound: from the lovable pet to the working dogs of the police and others.

Penny Melville-Brown OBE

Disability Dynamics ltd

Helping disabled people to work since 2000

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