There is just something about food that makes people happy, and what’s better than good home-cooked comfort food? David, a C6 quadriplegic who lives independently, knows exactly the power of food and how it brings people together, and hence has learned how to cook over the years. With a few modifications to his kitchen and having a few essential equipment and gadgets, cooking independently as a quadriplegic has definitely been made possible.
Here are some tips David has for someone who is looking to be able to cook independently as well:
Preparation and Cooking Area
It is ideal if the preparation space is connected to your cooking and cleaning equipment, such as the cooktop, bench top oven, and sink. This way, you can slide things around, which is an easier and safer option, rather than carrying them while you move.
“I don’t have to lift any pots, which would be very dangerous, not to mention impossible for me to do. I can also slide dishes/pots from the cook top or oven to the sink or serving area after cooking.”
Additionally, it will also be handy if your kitchen bench and cook top has knee space underneath.
One method of cooking that David prefers is by using a combination oven – his combination oven includes a microwave, conventional oven, and grill. A combination oven is safer and more convenient, not to mention it also offers a variety of ways you can prepare your food! David uses plastic containers for the microwave, and pyrex for combination cooking.
As for cooking on his gas cook top, David uses “commercially available heavy pots with insulated D handles on each side.” The pots also have an insulated D handle on the lids. Heavy pots ensure that the pots do not move around when he stirs the contents inside, and the insulated handles prevent him from getting burnt if he moves the pots around.
Also, you don’t need an abundance of cooking vessels – just the bare necessities. “I only have 2 pots, 2 pyrex and a hand full of plastic microwave containers. With these and a few salad bowls I can easily do dinner parties for 8 or so,” says David.
When preparing food, David makes sure he uses high quality knives as they make cutting a much easier task. He also modifies his knives by replacing their original handle with one that is at a right angle to the blade.
"I then get a leather strap made which has a pouch custom made so the new handle fits into it extremely tightly, and velcro fastenings. With this I can, chop mix, stir, poke, prod, stir etc."
Other handy equipment include a jar loosener and a can opener. The jar loosener is simply a lever with a catch that goes between the lid and the jar to bend the edge of the lid, thus loosening the lid in this process. The can opener that David has is one that is suited for cans with ring pulls.
One other equipment David has in his kitchen is a little wooden tray for carrying items around.
This set-up and basic equipment are more than enough for David to be able to cook independently for himself and for his family and friends.
“With the above equipment and approach I regularly host dinner parties at my place and I am one of the main cooks at gatherings of my extended family. I have found this very rewarding because there isn’t much else I can contribute to family gatherings, so it’s great to feel I have done my bit and made a contribution like everyone else.”
Being able to cook has empowered David, and he hopes that with these tips, more wheelchair users can take up cooking, too!
Share this post with your friends who want to try out cooking at home independently!