Cooking

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since I have been on here. I hope everyone is doing ok.

I want to know if anyone has any tips for useful kitchen equipment for someone with parkinsons that enjoys cooking.

It’s my mum. She doesn’t so much experience tremors, but finds it increasingly hard to lift/move things, e.g. jug of water she finds too heavy if filled to the top, has poor manual dexterity, low vision (not blind) and also finds it hard to manage anything too complex, as her parkinsons has progressed. She has also started finding chopping and mixing food harder, and tiring.

She has always cooked food from scratch,and will continue cooking as long as she can.

She has stopped being able to use the magi mix as too big and heavy for her, and we already had to give away one she tried as a replacement.

She wants to be able to chop, blend, make cakes, soup, stews, etc.

I suggested she uses a number of smaller tools that each do one thing, as they would be smaller/lighter.
She has a hand blender. I am also thinking about mini choppers and mixers.

Any suggestions please? What’s worked for you or those you care for?

Hello Sun-light-17
A few suggestions for you which your mum may be willing to consider, depends how ready she is to accept she may need to do things a bit differently.

To help manage the fatigue - plan ahead to make use of the time her meds are at their maximum efficiency - spread the load eg do some prep work then have a break before doing the actual cooking - collect all your ingredients and equipment and sit to prepare food (a perching stool is good for this) - arrange the kitchen so that the items she uses most frequently are easily to hand - think about changes in the kitchen that might make life easier (allowing for available space of course) for example I have plates and bowls on a two tier drying rack on my counter top much easier than managing a pile of plates in a cupboard. I use a counter top oven virtually all the time if you get a good quality one mines a Sage, it will hold decent sized baking and cooking pans with the added benefit of reaching temperature quickly and it’s at a good height to get food in and out safely. There are all sorts of pull down and pull out cupboard inserts along with simple shelving that can make getting things out of cupboards much easier. There are storage containers with easy open lids, look for lightweight saucepans or buy a vegetable basket (a bit like a chip pan but with smaller holes in which lots of things can be cooked, not just veg, the idea being you lift the basket to drain the food when cooked and the water or other liquid can be left to cool and be safely moved or use a microwave. I swapped my standard kettle for a smaller 1 litre one which is not so heavy and sometimes just use a travel kettle. I have a small kitchen trolley on which I keep herbs and spices, oils etc which I can wheel to the stove if using the hob or wheel to the table if I’m mixing. Pots and pans can be difficult to get out of cupboards so perhaps a saucepan rack would help. Swap heavy mixing bowls etc for lighter alternatives such as melamine, plastic or siliconeThese sorts of things may seem not worth bothering with but the aim is to simplify wherever you can to save energy. They may not individually save much but there is a cumulative price to pay and if a few changes can give your mum a bit more energy to cook they must be worth considering

Re equipment. It is often assumed that many popular gadgets will be a boon to people with disabilities and I am not suggesting that nobody benefits from using food processors and the like but many will find as I did that they are more trouble than they are worth - yes they shred blend and mix but setting them up and particularly cleaning them when finished can be a real faff - so I would in principle go along with your single use idea although mini choppers etc can be as much trouble to clean as full size ones. I actually do best with some good quality kitchen knives as they do not need so much pressure to cut foodstuffs as long as the blade is sharp. Mine have covers that sharpen them each time they are pulled in and out, you can also get self sharpening blocks. I also do quite well with a 3in1 peeler with straight blade serrated blade and julienne blade. I find my stick blender can cope with just about everything a hand mixer can and is a great deal lighter. There are small stand mixers on the market which are presumably lighter in weight than standard but I would imagine less powerful.

A step too far perhaps? It may be time for your mum to accept a compromise at least on her less good days. For example I use ready prepared food vegetables if my hands aren’t too good or I am tired and don’t want to risk using a sharp knife but I can still cook dinner. Depends what is important to her. These days I do more one pot cooking, recipes have to not take too long to prepare or cook because they are too tiring - my slow cooker is well used.

Everyday needs a judgement call. I accept I can’t cook or bake as I used to and these days I make decisions about what realistically I can manage balanced with other demands there may be on any given day. It’s a much bigger picture to consider than just whether a particular utensil works or not and that needs an acceptance of things not easy to accept but which if you are able to do so means you can continue to cook and bake if that’s important but that to keep safe and maintain the activity/rest balance Parkinson’s often demands needs some adjustment

Apologies for going on at such length, hope its given you something to think about if it’s not sent you to sleep!!
Tot

I’m sorry I never replied to you, to say thanks so much for taking the care and time to respond with useful suggestions. I guess sometimes (often!) we want a magic wand! Any experience of those? :-). Anyway, the decluttering, the making changes, is an ongoing process. My mum does use her slow cooker quite a bit. Space is a bit of an issue as it is limited combined with clutter she is resistant to part with or replace.

Absolutely no need to apologise whatsoever, you’ve got your hands full with other priorities. I’m glad you found some of what I wrote helpful.
A magic wand would be wonderful unfortunately we have to make do with more mundane attempts to help when so often questions asked don’t have the black and white answers they really seeking. We can only do our best.
Tot