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I don't exactly enjoy cooking. Okay, actually, it scares me, and I usually avoid it for several reasons, especially because of the pain. But at some point, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do and that means I have to learn to cook if I ever want to be able to live on my own and truly care for myself. I need to face the fears and learn the adaptations so that I can feed myself successfully. Today, I took another step toward that goal.

A few days ago, last Friday to be exact, a friend who also happens to have a visual impairment taught me to make macaroni and cheese from a box. I have to admit the thought scared me, but she explained it well. I know from experience that when I'm learning a new skill, it's often best if I can put it into practice right away, so today's lunch needed to be macaroni and cheese made by me, for me, with no intervention from anyone.

I have to admit, again, I was pretty freaked out by the idea, but I also know from all of the learning I've done that some things we fear still need to be faced and I knew this was one of them. I want so badly to have choices in where I live and how I live. I want to control what I eat, how I eat and when I eat and to do that, I think I need to have some basic skills and the confidence to use them in the kitchen. So how did I make this work and how did it go? What would I do differently? ay, here comes my social work major:

Pre-planning


I needed to make sure I had all of the supplies. My parents had purchased the boxed mix and we had the milk and butter, I needed a knife to cut the stick of margerin, a pot to boil water and cook the pasta, a strainer, a spoon for stirring, serving and locating the pot while on the stove, hot pads, measuring cups, a small pitcher to pour some milk into to make it easier to measure a small quantity of milk and a pie tin to catch any spillage of the milk as I poured. Hot pads, or in my case, ove gloves were a necessity.

It was also important to know the instructions which I felt pretty confident. Finally, I needed a way of timing the cooking of the pasta. I chose to try the iPod Touch's stopwatch since I knew I'd have it with me. Once all of these materials were gathered, I was ready to begin.

I'll note here that since I wasn't using my own kitchen, it's not like I can assume everything will always be in the same place as I expect it to. This is why I had to prepare so carefully. That said, it's always good to know you have everything before you start.

The Process


The process wasn't too bad. We use a gas stove which allowed me to hear the level of the flame and the strength of heat being produced. It was actually quite easy to listen to and figure out when the water was boiling. I used the spoon to find the pot to dump the noodles into the water and stirred carefully. Then I poured them into the strainer and back into the pot and mixed in the sauce.

Assessment


I found the process to be rewarding in that I survived it safely and I am glad that I can do this now. I'm trying to let myself feel proud of this accomplishment too, but that's a process I'm still working on. Anyway, the pain and fatigue were the biggest barriers for me. I found that by the time I was actually ready to eat, I'd done so much problem solving for little things and stood so long that I felt sick and my pain was high. It's hard to enjoy the fruits of one's labor like that, no punn intended.

I thought of a couple adaptations which might decrease the impact the of cooking macaroni on my pain. First, I could break the task into smaller chunks, for example, first getting out all of the pots, bowls and utensils, then doing something that is not standing, then filling the pot with water as appropriate; then taking another break. Next, I'd measure the butter and milk and refridgerate them. and, you guessed it, another break. Then I could do the actual cooking and while waiting for the water to boil or the pasta to cook, I could sit, instead of madly dashing around to measure the butter and milk. I think that would help a lot.

Overall, however, I consider this a success, I made myself something to eat, and even though it was hard, I still did it. I'm facing my challenges and turning them into positive stepping stones with the help of my friends. I'm so blestt!

Comments

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sockkiah
Feb. 22nd, 2010 11:05 pm (UTC)
Congrats on the meal!

I'm a terrible cook myself (my math disability being a barrier here; I have to use lots of extra bowls so I can measure ingredients several times), and reading your accomplishment made me smile. You have so many challenges with cooking, and I would find that scary too. And macaroni and cheese is hard to make, so definitely be proud of yourself! Hooray!
katia_chan
Feb. 23rd, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
Congrats! I was a little hesitant the first few times I did this as well, but it gets easier and easier the more you do it. Something you might want to look at buying or making, you can get a little ceramic disk you drop in the water, which will start to thump around when things are at a boil; saves you from having to keep checking on the water. I use it all the time, and it saves a lot of hastle.

I also don't do very exact measuring when it comes to the milk and butter, just chop about a quarter off the stick and pour in a splash of milk. But that's probably my hap-hazzard way of cooking coming through, and you might prefer to be a little more precise. Either way, you did great stuff, and I think once you figure out how to work this around your pain, you're really going to love doing it.

Remind me sometime to pass on some recipes that I think you'd enjoy a lot. I'm a horrible cook myself, but I've found a few things that work pretty well, and will taste good with minimal effort. :)
lbfmusic
Feb. 23rd, 2010 12:33 am (UTC)
Way to go Nickie! I'm impressed that it went so well! Looking forward to hearing more of your cooking adventuress!
bridgelene
Feb. 23rd, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
Yeaaaaaahhhhh Nickie! Way to go :-)

That sounds like a good plan/way to make the task a little easier for you :-)
hsavinien
Feb. 25th, 2010 12:17 am (UTC)
Good for you, Nickie. That's great.
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