Adaptive cooking: The Joy of Baking


There’s nothing more satisfying than a sweet sugary burst to the tongue, and this is especially true if you made it yourself. Tiramisu, Snickerdoodles, a simple white cake, I love it all. But don’t do what I did after my injury. I finally found the courage to start baking again 6 years ago (way too long) and despite no finger movement, I haven’t looked back. Baking, like any other adaptive cooking, can be great fun, and even therapeutic. Here are some priceless baking tips from wheelers to overcome any possible worries that may be lingering in that pretty little head of yours (too).

Our first video comes from a new paraplegic by the online name of Mike Fatty. He was injured in 2010 trimming trees, becoming a T2 – L1 paraplegic. As a service to people of spinal cord injuries, he’s created a slew of videos showing how he does everything now that he uses a wheelchair. One of his most entertaining is how he puts a pumpkin pie in the oven (and taking it out). Handling both tippy and hot objects from the oven is never easy sitting down.

And he shares one of the best tips anyone in a wheelchair should know for baking (whether you’re a quadriplegic or a paraplegic), and that is putting the pan in the oven FIRST empty (without the batter) and putting in the batter once you’ve set the pan on the oven rack. Carrying a pan full of wet batter without spilling it is incredibly difficult whether you’re pushing yourself in a manual chair or driving yourself in a powerchair.

Mike shows how he does this when making a pumpkin pie. He preheats the oven, puts the pie tin in, then he fills it up with the filling. Once the pie is done, he layers his lap with a towel, a plastic temperature protectant pot holder and another basic cloth pot holder, so he can put the hot pie on his lap and bring it over to the counter without fear of getting burned. Watch his smooth moves

Our second video comes from imbonnie, another person with a SCI making a plethora of how-to videos. In her “Cooking Gadgets Part One” video on adaptive cooking, she shares some of her favorite baking tools. After showing how she uses an egg slicer to slice fruit for her baking needs, like strawberries and kiwis, she shows a very cool sheet of plastic you lay out on your table when rolling out dough. This semi-clear dough measurer tells you exactly how big of a circle, if you’re making pie for example, you should roll out. Watch her tips!

After you’ve finished making your tasty treats, you need to wrap them up, right? And one of the most “green” ways to do this is with tin foil (used tin foil can be recycled!). In this video Jilly Bond, a C4-5 quadriplegic, shows how she gets foil out of the box (without it rolling everywhere) by using a trick many quads use – putting whatever it is your lap and on a flat surface (she uses a cutting board), then using both your arms and mouth to manipulate it.

It may take longer than the average Joe to get it done (about 1 minute), but she can get it done. You can’t put money you can put on independence! Watch her video

And remember – adaptive cooking has its risks! Always be careful when handling hot pans. I have a few scars on the backsides of my hand from learning the hard way (ooof!). Ah well, at least they’re pretty though (sorta).

Do you bake or do any other kind of adaptive cooking? What do you looove making? Have any tips?

Watch the videos!

Paraplegic putting in/removing pie from an oven

Baking gadgets for adaptive cooking with limited hand function

Taking tin foil successfully out of the box so you can wrap your stuff up!

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