Making cooking preparation easier for this Spoonie…

I tweeted, yesterday, that I need a wheelie-friendly flat, and I also need to be able to cook when I can, because being able to do so, even if only occasionally,** means a hell of a hell of a lot to me, and I can’t reconcile the two.  Bugger!***

**Because the ability to do almost everything else in my life that I enjoyed has been taken from me by illness.

***Though, it being Twitter, I was rather more succinct.

But, having given the matter some thought, I might have a solution to the cooking problem,. especially the prep. What I need is a small, but robust, table, at which I can do my food prep while seated, either in my manual chair, or my computer chair – my biggest physical problem, after walking, is standing, and most of that is done in the kitchen. Also in the bathroom, but having tried peeing sitting down it does have a major drawback – I have to stand up again, and that hurts more than standing! Seriously, though, I do need a seat in there – at the basin.

NB: Before anyone suggests Social Services, they’re a joke.

I’ve tried a perching stool in the kitchen, but it was useless, positioning me too far away from the worktop. The problem is much the same in the bathroom.

Before I go any further, the usual, tedious, DWP disclaimer – cooking is something I can do only occasionally, and what I’m about to propose is not going to change that by so much as a scintilla. OK, snoops?

So, a small table, with a holster (or magnetic strip), on the side for my knives (no point in constantly to-ing and fro-ing to the kitchen, it’ll defeat the object), is what I need, positioned in the living room (I have the space as the place where it would go is currently occupied by a folding table with my laptop on it). The work surface will be a large, high-density polypropylene chopping board, set on a non-slip base.

It’ll also put me closer to the fridge, which is in the living room as there’s no room in the king-size bed sized kitchen.

I have enough knives that critical ones are duplicated – like a lot of good, amateur, cooks, the search for the perfect knife is always ongoing. I’m tempted by ceramic knives, but while they are exceptionally sharp, and hold their edge well, drop them (something I do a lot), on a hard floor, and you pick them up with the Hoover.** A shame, because I’d love a ceramic Santoku knife (my chefs’ knife is superbly sharp, and holds its edge well, but my damn Santoku loses its edge very quickly). I suppose I could spring for a quality Santoku – I bought a cheap one just to test the water.

**They shatter.

A good steel Santoku is anywhere from £60-ish to around £100, a ceramic-bladed one can be had for about £65 – a lot for something I wouldn’t have for very long! On the other hand, sharpening the one I’ve got costs nothing. It needs re-grinding, though – something I can do myself, but it takes quite a while.

A little rearrangement of my existing setup will give me room to use my manual chair too, something I’ve been putting off for far too long. I’d like to be able to use my powerchair, but while it’s doable, the risk of reversing into something expensive – I’m surrounded by electronics and my TV is vulnerable – is too high. Frankly, though, given how unsuitable this flat is for wheels, I’m getter focusing on reducing the amount of time I spend on my feet in other ways.

Thing is, I do have a suitable table, sans casters, but hey, nothing’s perfect. Trouble is, a large part of the aforementioned electronics are on that table – PC base unit, scanner, router, cordless phone, a whole bunch of external hard drives, plus a hard drive dock, and my UPS unit (no, not the courier company – the Uninterruptible Power Supply – my electrical supply is hinky). Bottom line – it’s staying where it is.

It does, though, give me the dimensions I need to source something I know will suit, height being the most critical.

Height really is critical, at around71cm, but I can’t get close to it. 75cm is as close as I can get and appears to be standard. Doesn’t sound a big difference, but it’s the difference between working comfortably while seated in my chair and, well, not. Something a couple of centimetres lower would be OK, but not higher.

I suppose that I could swap a new table for the one holding my PC and all the other stuff, but it’s a major hassle and one I’d prefer to avoid – no point in squandering energy now to save energy down the line. Last weekend would have been a good time for that, as I had to replace my PC, but the idea hadn’t occurred to me at that point.

So, right now, I’m at an impasse. If I still had a car, I could tour second-hand shops – that’s where I got the one I have now – but doing that with a powerchair is pointless, so for the time being the idea is on hold while I scour the Web for something suitable.

Watch this space…

In fact, I’ve just found something suitable – and cheap – at John Lewis. At 73cm high I can live with that, but it’s 70cm square – right on the limit of what’s feasible, and would need some rearranging of my existing furniture, but unless I can find something smaller, I’m going with this.

Finally, for those who don’t know what a Spoonie is, check out The Spoon Theory.


13 thoughts on “Making cooking preparation easier for this Spoonie…

  1. What about a folding table? Is that not feasible? Or if so, how about one that wall mounts and you can just hinge it down when finished? Sorry if I’m being a pain, just that I can’t see the layout of your room so am trying to think of other ways for you.
    As for the seat in the bathroom – I have two for sink usage – a perching stool for long washes and a shower seat (the one without the back on) for quick washes and teeth cleaning – I find the shower stool easy to move around and it has the side handles inbuilt which helps me when I want to get nearer or farther away from the sink. I also have hand rails above and at the sides of the sink for holding me up on my one good leg when I need to reach something.

    • I have only a small amount of space in the middle of the room (which isn’t a great deal bigger than a jail cell, about 8 feet by 12!) – none of the walls are accessible. Folding tables just aren’t robust/stable enough, not at the size I need (commercial folding tables are strong enough, but way too big and expensive). I’ve ordered the table from John Lewis – it’s the best of a really rotten bunch. I was tempted to buy a smaller, but taller, table, and cut the legs down to the height I need – but I’d probably spend the rest of my life trying to get the buggers level!

      Just been working in the kitchen for about 20 minutes, packing sausages for the freezer, and cutting up fatty pork to render down for its lard – legs are now so swollen my trousers are skin-tight – if I had my table, I could have done all that sitting down. The table will work – I just need to be more organised and tidier!

      I got what passes for a shower stool from Social Services years ago – it’s more like a table than a seat, which is what it gets used as. Might give it another try.

  2. I have a square wooden top which is supposed to fit over the kitchen sink with a ‘curved corner ‘ cut out, its very old but fits perfectly on my lap in either manual or powerchair, the cut-out curve fits perfectly around my middle !!! Advantage is that it requires no more storage area than a wooden bread board.

  3. As far as dropping knives goes, I had a keen scouting nephew solve that one for me; he made me a fancy knotted leather wrist strap which has a sort of slip knot on it. I can put it over the grip of the knife, but it is very easy to slip off when I need to wash up! (I dropped a knife and it skewered my already swollen foot to the floor and I could not bend down to get it out, without tearing my foot to shreds! The aforementioned nephew answered my call for help, I have always had my mobile around my neck, and got me out of a deadly situation!)
    I have 2 butchers blocks on wheels which we adjusted in height to allow me to prep food on sitting. I have plans for a larger one with legroom, like a mini desk, which I hope my son is going to build for me in “technology” (woodwork class to you and me) as part of his A level project.
    In case I don’t get another chance, I’d like to wish you everything you would wish yourself for the “festive season” and a better New Year.

  4. This is a great idea, it’s a pity there doesn’t seem to be any channel of voicing disability aid ideas from disabled people (like your cup holder idea, which also sounded fantastic). It astonishes me how much of everyday stuff is completely impractical and unhelpful, and how few alternatives there are, if any.

    • That’s partly what my blog’s for – anything I learn, or any feasible ideas I have get posted, whether it’s a way to carry inconvenient loads on a powerchair or wheelchair, or a new design for a cup holder (which I submitted to a company claiming to be committed designing disability equipment – didn’t even reply). I didn’t want money, I just wanted some bugger to make it! Though I wouldn’t have turned down a free one 😉

      Mind you, I don’t think they like me. They came up with the “knork” – a fork with a blunt cutting edge on one side which retails for an extremely ambitious £25. They probably weren’t amused when I pointed out that I had one in the 70s as part of my backpacking kit, and the idea wasn’t new!

      The spork – a spoon with short fork tines was around then, too (now, for reasons that elude me, it’s called a splayed). I don’t know if either of them originated within the outdoors community, but they were certainly widely used by us. The spork was probably more versatile as you could also cut with the edge – I still use one now (just waiting for a new one).

      I went down with a mystery stomach bug (I hadn’t been anywhere to catch anything), and after about 8 god-awful weeks I finally figured it out. My spork had a hollow handle, and somehow washing-up water had got inside and bred a load of bugs, and every time I used it a tiny dribble of contaminated water leaked out onto my food – which I spotted quite by accident. I binned it and finally started to recover.

      But here’s the thing – most splayeds, as I suppose I’d better call them to avoid confusion, are made to the same design, and I’m willing to bet there’s a whole lot of disabled people sicker than they need be as a result.

      Come to think of it, I’ll put that in a blog post tomorrow.

  5. can you take a photo of the table you have Ron and then people who follow you could keep an eye out locally things can be delivered, also you could email local funruture charity shops etc and if they get one then could email and let yuou know worth a thought

    • Nice idea, and I appreciate the suggestion, but it’s a problem that has to be solved pretty much right now, as the ability to stand at all is rapidly fading. The one I’ve ordered will do the job nicely, though, and I’ll have it in a few days.

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