Jan 31, 2018

When the Cook Can’t Look

By MaryAnn Miano

Just when you think a cookbook cannot be innovative, cookbook author Ralph Read created a cooking handbook for the blind and visually impaired entitled, When the Cook Can’t Look. A blind man himself, Mr. Read designed this book to be read aloud to the sightless by family and friends. This book, available for checkout from the Colts Neck Library, encourages the visually impaired to cook.  Cooking for oneself creates a pride in independence for sightless individuals along with the general enjoyment that comes with cooking.

When the Cook Can’t Look helps the aspiring cook overcome feelings of helplessness by showing that creative use of other senses (like smell and touch) can effectively compensate for diminished eyesight. Mr. Read’s style makes the lessons simple for the sightless listener to remember after just one or two readings.

The first part of the book presents kitchen techniques such as lighting the stove and oven and measuring liquid and dry goods. “Arranging is the key to finding” is a theme emphasized by the author. If the kitchen is arranged functionally, the blind person will soon know the location of every object in it down to the square inch. Using memory and touch, recognizing the difference between a cereal box from a cracker box can be discerned by shaking and squeezing the box. The second part tells how to apply these techniques to preparing all meals (graded as levels one to three in difficulty) from breakfast to dinner.

Departing from the usual cookbook format of ingredient lists and step-by-step procedures, Ralph Read’s cooking handbook weaves ingredients in with the instructions in a narrative form that is far easier for the blind cook to recall. The author also takes care to clue the sighted reader into the blind person’s world and suggests ways to participate with the blind in daily life.

QUICHE (Level 2)

Use frozen pie shell.

Combine: 1 tablespoon of flour, 3 tablespoons of milk, 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise, and 1 egg.  Mix well with a whisk.

Separate an egg in order to obtain the egg white for coating the frozen pie shell. Crack 1 cold egg on the rim of the mixing bowl; hold it over a cup. Hold it from beneath with your left hand and finish pulling the shell apart with your right; the raw egg will slide into the palm of your left hand. Let the white run through your fingers into the cup, and add the yolk to the mixture in the bowl. Pour the white into the pie shell, and spread it around the bottom sides and rim.  Pour the excess white into the mixing bowl. Grate ½ cup or more of Swiss cheese and add to the bowl. Add a cup or more of ham cut into small pieces.  Add a small can of mushrooms, drained (optional).

Stir the ingredients and fill the pie shell, spreading them evenly. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Recipe from When the Cook Can’t Look, page 97, By Ralph Read, Publisher: The Continuum Publishing Corporation, 1981.