Correctly Identifying My Ingredients
Over time I have come up with many different ways of identifying what spices i have in my cupboard or what is in this tin or that. Identifying the ingredients I need used to be far more of a challenge than it is these days. Thanks to advances in technology, a smart phone is a blind persons best friend. I have an app on my phone called ‘Seeing AI’ which is incredibly helpful. It uses the camera to scan for product barcodes or, through visual recognition, reads out short text such as product lables. However this can be time consuming, so sometimes I admit I take a shortcut and just ask Neil to find me the things I need.
Other methods I use include labelling the pots in my spice rack in braille. It took me a while to find a spice rack that could fulfil all my needs but now thanks to Joseph Joseph, I have the perfect one, enabling me to label the lids myself. Also because the pots are so wide it is far easier for me to take out the right amount of herbs or spices I need and refill them without spilling anything.
Making use of my other senses can also help me find the right ingredients. Smell, touch and taste are all good ways to identify what you’re looking for. Often sighted people overlook these, but they can be just as effective as vision.
Sometimes I can even use my hearing to identify something or at least narrow it down. If you shake a tin you can hear the fluid moving around inside. So beans, tomatoes and coconut milk all sound different. This one is definitely harder and sometimes, I admit, I have got it wrong but it is all about learning to cope in the best way. It is much easier if you have a couple of tins to compare against one another.
Recognising the packaging is another way. Generally I know that my tinned mackerel is in a rectangular tin and tuna is in a round tin. Tinned tuna tends to need to be opened with a tin opener, whereas tinned pineapple has a ring pull. I know the different shapes of jars for peanut butter, jam and nutella. I generally stick to buying the same brands so that I can remember how they come packaged, making it easier to identify them.
Touch is another way of distinguishing between ingredients. The grains of basmati rice are longer and thinner than risotto or sushi rice, which are shorter and fatter. Green lentils are bigger than red. However there are some that feel similar. Couscous and quinoa I struggle with as well as barley, risotto rice and sushi rice. One way around this is to put them in to different airtight containers and label them in braille
Its all about trial and error and learning what works for you. There have been times when I have got things wrong, but you have to be able to just laugh at yourself and accept that sometimes you will make mistakes. One time I made my porridge with smoothie rather than almond milk. Another time I used dried chickpeas instead of green lentils. Many times i’ve opened coconut milk instead of tinned tomatoes but fortunately I’ve never drastically got it wrong.
Having sight doesn’t prevent you from making mistakes in the kitchen. Getting salt and sugar mixed up is a common one. I can safely say I have never done this…yet. Have you ever got any ingredients mixed up? If so which ones and how did it turn out? I would love to hear all your mix ups and mishaps so feel free to share.
Thanks for reading and speak soon.