Cooking from a Wheelchair Tip: Convenient Pre-Cooking
Sometimes the hardest part of cooking from a wheelchair is browning meat in a skillet that’s shoulder level. On days when you’re feeling energetic or have someone to help, fry several pounds at once. Season the meat as you would for your favorite meals, and then scoop the browned meat onto a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to absorb the grease. Slide out the paper towels, spread meat into a thin layer and place cookie sheet in freezer. When frozen, crumble meat into small pieces and store in a large zipper bag in the freezer. Don’t forget to write down any seasonings you used in the outside of the bag so you know what recipe the meat would taste best in. You can also buy green peppers when they’re in season and cheaper, dice and freeze them raw (but don’t serve them raw). It’s so easy to sprinkle them into a recipe. Or even better, first braise them in oil in a skillet with onions and add to a recipe. Want chili, spaghetti, tacos, casserole, sloppy Joes? Smile! The hard work is already done!
— Sharon Gardner
Bins, Baskets and Bookcases
It’s irrelevant how many things you have if you can’t reach them. The answer could be baskets and bins — just a couple dollars at thrift stores and likely available in a size, shape and style to fit most any need. A large basket in my bathroom holds a colorful jumble of clean washcloths and hand towels. No need to fold them or take up shelf space. A square basket on top of my microwave is the perfect size for a stack of napkins. I can quickly move it to the middle of the table, eliminating one table-setting task. Another basket holds small toys to entertain visiting children and prevent messes to clean up later. A bin under the kitchen sink holds cleaning supplies. It’s easy to slide forward and reach every item.
Now that I have to be dressed in bed, I bought a tall bookcase. The shelves hold bins — for catheters, colostomy supplies, small clothing items, and meds and herbs for middle-of-the-night emergencies. There’s even space for a few books or knick-knacks.
Now my husband doesn’t groggily search through the medicine cabinet at 2 a.m. He hands me the bin I need and goes back to sleep. In the morning he hands me other bins to make my selections. It saves his time and aggravation and empowers me with the dignity of choice.
— Sharon Gardner
This is Allen Rucker’s backyard, a postage-stamp size paradise that came with the home in West L.A. he and his wife Ann-Marie bought. Rucker says grilling is one of the best ways to make use of your outside space: “Just turn the propane knob and grill something. Don’t worry about getting better at it. It’s like a mediocre golfer: he’ll never get any better, but he likes to do it anyway.” Rucker thinks wheelers have an advantage in grilling. “You’re the exact right height, eye level to burning meat. I’m better at it after paralysis because I am closer to the action, thus paying closer attention.”