One thing no one warned me about when I was looking for an apartment to move out on my own is this: you’re going to need to learn how to cook. Frozen meals and takeout, while convenient, are not permanent solutions because A) they’re not the healthiest options in the world and B) they can get expensive. So for the first time in my life, it was just me versus the stove. And to give you some perspective on my level of cooking experience, my skills in the kitchen were essentially limited to pouring milk into my cereal bowl and burning toast. I was also very good at warming up leftovers my mom had made, and the microwave was my best friend. That’s about it. So I had a lot of catching up to do when I started living on my own last month.
To be clear, my lack of cooking skills had nothing to do with my limb difference. It had everything to do with laziness and the fact that my mother made all the family’s meals while I was growing up. So I didn’t need to learn how to boil rice or whip up an omelet. Now I no longer have an excuse or an easy way out, so I’ve learned to love the process of preparing food for myself (and sometimes for my family and my boyfriend.) No one who’s eaten my food has gotten sick or died yet, so I’m assuming that means I’m a decent chef.
Check out some of the dishes I’ve made:
Anyway, I’m aware that having a limb difference can seem like a challenge in the kitchen. But I can assure you that cooking awesome and delicious meals is totally doable with a few minor adjustments. I’ve spent the past month trying new dinner recipes and baking like a maniac (making sweets and treats is a WONDERFUL antidote for anxiety, trust me), so I’ve learned a few tricks that have helped me out immensely as a one-handed chef. Check them out below.
One-handed cooking problems (and solutions):
Knives – One thing I learned the hard way is that you should never buy cheap cookware and kitchen gadgets. The plastic spatula I bought at WalMart melted the first time I used it, and my Ikea knife broke in half a week after I bought it. Lower quality knives are more difficult to use because they’re typically not as sharp. So I bought a set of very good and very sharp knives that allow me to easily slice through any food with one hand.
Salt and pepper grinders – These things are the WORST. I hate when I eat out at restaurants and they leave grinders on the table like they expect me to figure them out. (I usually end up either asking for help or just eating a bland meal.) Silly restaurants – salt and pepper shakers are so much more convenient! Seriously. BUT if you absolutely need grinders in your kitchen, then there are options. Several cookware companies now offer grinder designs that don’t require two hands to use. I bought a really cute bunny-shaped magnetized set from Chef’n.
Cracking eggs – Okay, this one wasn’t an issue for me. I actually found out just a few days ago that most people use two hands to crack an egg. Really?! Why would you use twice as much energy and effort when it’s so simple to do it with one? I guess I’ve had a bit of practice with this. I can recall plenty of times when I was a kid and helping my mother bake cupcakes for school, eagerly cracking the eggs over the bowl and hoping that one of them would contain a baby chick that I could keep as a pet. Anyway, click the image below to see how I crack eggs just in case you were wondering:
Cutting steak/chicken/etc. – This one’s not really related to cooking, but it’s something I’ve always struggled with. I suck at using knives to cut up my food when I’m eating dinner. I mostly just use the side of my fork to slowly cut through whatever I’m eating until the piece comes off. But recently, my cousin gave me a set of Knorks that have made the process easier. Knorks (knife/fork, get it?) are basically forks whose sides can double as knives to help cut through food. The company makes a variety of flatware, but the forks are the ones I find to be the most useful. The utensils are heavy as heck too, so prepared to grow some muscles. See? They even have fitness benefits.
So those are my super-secret one-handed cooking tricks, for now. As I continue to try more recipes and projects, I may run into different issues specific to my one-handedness. And hopefully I’ll be able to find solutions and alternatives in those cases. But if anything else comes up, I’ll be sure to let you know.