Can’t chop? Buy it frozen!

casseroleI begin to read the recipe, 1 onion (roughly chopped),  4 garlic cloves (sliced) a can of chopped tomato, 4 chicken breasts (diced) half a Swede (diced), 2 parsnips, (halved lengthways and cut into chunks), 6 carrots, (also halved lengthways and cut into chunks).

Seeing all that, dicing, slicing and chopping can be quite phasing to someone like me who has just one working hand without much fine dexterity and can drive you to popping down the supermarket to pick up a microwave meal. Which of course is absolutely fine for every now and again but most health experts don’t advise ready meals on a regular basis.

So we with dexterity challenges need to find a way round it. Well there are quite a few gadgets on the market these days, like food processors and special work stations that will hold things still for you while you chop. You can get knives that are designed to be used with one hand etc. The complete care shop online is one website which has a large variety of aids which you can buy VAT free. There is a whole page on “One Handed Peelers, Graters & Slicers”. 

You may have picked up I’m quite a gadget addict. I do have many around my kitchen, but my much loved gadgets still make mess and require cleaning. My latest find as an alternative to gadgetry is frozen pre-chopped food and I’ve noticed the variety is getting larger and larger.

veg steamer bagI find frozen pre-chopped onion a life saver. Bell peppers can be a nightmare to prepare, all that coring, seeding and slicing them but these can be bought frozen too. Aunt Bessie do a great range of pre-washed, pre-cut vegetables including parsnips (which are far too hard for me to get a knife through raw), pure carrot & swede mash (one of my favourites!) and roasting carrots.

Most supermarkets stock frozen Spinach parcels and they are really handy. I also use Birds Eye individual steamer packs that just go in the microwave. There are different varieties. I had the fresh field variety recently. Each bag contains Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrot and Peas.

I’ve also discovered frozen fruit. Tesco do a nice big box of chopped up mango which is a fruit I’d never be able to tackle myself.

Buying frozen fruit and vegetables can sometimes be a little more expensive than buying fresh, but it’s worth the considering the amount of nutrients preserved in them. Manufacturers usually claim their produce is frozen very quickly after being picked so is likely to be healthier than stuff that has been in the supermarket a few days then in your fridge in few more days though. There is no wastage either because you take out what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.

frozen garlic

The Lakeland Micro Chopper

Lakeland sent me their micro chopper for me to test and review. A lovely small blender with a sharp blade which ideal for those small tasks such as  chopping the odd onion, peppers, a bowlful of nuts, making breadcrumbs etc. I even made a small fruit smoothie with it!

micro chopper

I was attracted by the ‘simple one touch operation’ description.

Indeed there is a lovely big button which makes the chopper really easy to operate. The non-slip feet are really helpful too. Unfortunately where the product really lets itself down is in taking off the lid. It is near impossible to take off one-handed and I’ve since heard of several able bodied people who struggle with it.I would like to see instead of needing to twist the lid off to have a system similar to the clips on the ‘Klip it’ air tight storage boxes.

So sadly it has not become the everyday gadget I’d hoped, which is a shame because it’s neat enough to have out on your work surface all the time.

Keep working on it Lakeland, you’re definitely on to something!

Owning a cat

Everybody wanting to take on a pet has many things to think about. When I adopted Cookie the cat last year I found my disability added a few extra things to the list of becoming a pet owner but nothing that could not be overcome.

I resisted the urge to buy a cut kittens for two main reasons. Firstly because they can be hard work also there are no guarantees what kind of a personality a kitten will develop.

I turned to the Cat’s Protection website where they list profiles of local cats that need to be re-homed. When I went to meet 5 year old Cookie in his shelter it was clear we were a match. he wasted no time greeting me. He ran up and nuzzled into my leg straight away. He wasn’t un-nerved by my wobbles or the way I spoke.  He’d won me over!

I knew wet cat food in pouches or in tins would prove tiresome for me and so was very relieved to know Cookie ate dry food, which is just like pouring cereal into a bowl. There is little mess or fiddle.

My involuntary movements meant that picking up Cookie’s bowl of water from the floor to change it was something I struggled with. Cookie didn’t seem interested in drinking from the bowl anyway and would instead jump into the sink to drink from the tap. Clearly he preferred running water. So the bowl wasn’t working for either of us!

I wasn’t too keen on the ‘cat in my sink’ idea and a shared the problem with a friend who suggested trying a ‘Cat fountain’. The fountain re-circulates the water through a filter and cooler so Cookie gets his running water and I can just top it up every other day with a jug and ask my cleaner to replace the water every week or so. This has solved the problem for us both.

cookie drinking from fountain

Cookie came trained to use a litter tray. To make things as easy as possible I use litter tray liners to put the litter in. This makes disposal easier and keeps the tray cleaner (I use an antibacterial wipe too make sure it’s completely clean).

cookie and ceri

I’ve tried many types of cat litter but the one I find easiest to manage is Wilkinson’s wood based type. The pellets are large so have less chance of being kicked out of the box and making a mess. It also comes in light, easy to open bags.

Every morning I use nappy sacks to quickly dispose of the mess in the  tray. However for someone who can’t bend down I can recommend a long handled, easy reach poop scoop called the Handiscoop,

Most products I mentioned can found in the online shop under cat care gadgets. Cookie is quite a character and makes me laugh, we’ve definitely become buddies!

Cooking Rice

If you find cooking rice a bother, this bag of 4 generous.portions bagged individually are worth trying. You don’t even have to pierce the bag, just pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Take the bag out by the top which has no rice in so is not hot. Snip the top off and empty onto the plate!

easy micro rice

Switching on lights by remote control

I really love to create a nice ambiance in my living room with lots of soft lighting and lava lamps etc. Having mobility and dexterity challenges, going round each one to switch them on one by one took up lots of time and energy. Taking the time to go round and switch them off again before going to bed was tiresome. With each light now fixed to a remote controlled socket I can switch them all on and off from the arm chair by pressing one button. I can recommend a 3 x Remote Control Socket Set

It allows me to choose which ones I want on, so if I’m reading I can choose to press the button linked to the reading light, and switch it off when I’m finished. A simple, inexpensive solution … that is so long as I don’t lose my remote!

Ear wax

eorol linkEar wax is a problem nobody wants to talk about, and I don’t really want to blog about it! However every autumn for some bizarre reason I get a build up. Putting olive oil in your own ears is difficult whether you have dexterity problems or not.
If you get this problem may I recommend Earol. It is pure olive oil in a title spray bottle which dispenses a discrete unit dose of olive oil into the outer ear. It eliminates the need for the use of a dropper or cotton wool – no spills, no mess and can be done with one hand very easily. I hope writing about this yucky subject helps someone out there!

Single-Handed Soap Dispenser from Joseph Joseph

With its unique C-shaped pump this soap dispenser was designed to be operated with one hand with hygiene purposes in mind but when you can only use one hand anyway it fills a gap in a whole new market.

I have been using it for two weeks now and I really can’t fault it. A light touch dispenses enough liquid soap to wash hands and if you want more you simply press it again. This is much better than the battery operated motion sensing dispensers I have tried in the past which give out way too much soap causing unnecessary wastage and dispense.

It has a large round non-slip base so it does not topple over or move at all. Its wide soap nozzle was designed to prevent clogging.

As with most Joseph Joseph products it is designed with style in mind.

I found it surprisingly easy to fill, (up to 300 ml.)  The top comes off with a light quarter turn and there is quite a wide fill hole so it would be difficult to ‘miss’.

I think it may be improved by having a larger C shape pump being larger so that you there would bee room to put a sponge under it. It would also be good to have it available in more colours.

Priced at 18 pounds, for a soap dispenser it is quite expensive, but you are paying for style as well as functionality. If you can get hold of liquid soap in large bottles, well I think you could eventually get your money back on it. It feels very solid too, so I’m expecting it to last on long time.

Good job Joseph Joseph and thank you for sending me the product to test and review for this purpose. I can now confidently recommend it to my followers who need products they can use with one hand, and/or are sturdy and robust.

The Rocker Knife

A handle positioned in the centre makes single-handed chopping and slicing so much easier – from pizza, bacon to peppers and leeks! The handle has a great grip on it and you chop through food by using a gentle rocking motion with your hand. I wouldn’t be without this brilliantly designed product.

There are variations of the rocker knife on the market but it is the larger one of these pictured to the left that I can personally endorse.

The iSlice – the battle of the cellophane

Sometimes I feel like manufacturers are out to make life difficult for us with their shrink wrap and cellophane. Getting into products such as DVDs, bags of fruits, pre-pack food etc. can be no mean task for the nimblest of fingers.

I find the iSlice a useful weapon for winning some of these battles. It has a safe but sharp ceramic blade which cuts almost everything – except fingers!

It is also magnetic so I keep it on my fridge – it’s always handy!