I love to cook. I am editing my first cookbook prior to trying to get it published and working on my second one. When the arthritis started getting really bad in my hands I realized that I was going to have to make changes in the way I did things. I was going to need alternative methods for kneading bread, for slicing and dicing, for a lot of things that go into cooking. Follow me for some of the things I have learned to make cooking with arthritis easier.
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The first thing I discovered was that I needed something bigger in the way of handles to hold onto. The problem I was discovering is that my hands would cramp up and it made it difficult to do the things I needed to do. When the hands cramped I was finding myself dropping things. It was at that time that I discovered a company called Oxo. They made cookware with large cushioned handles. The large handles made it easier to hold onto the cooking instruments.
I found it was worth investing in a couple of high-end machines. I got a KitchenAid stand mixer with dough hook. This heavy-duty mixer gets a real workout in my kitchen. I mix almost all of my cookie doughs in the mixer. It makes it easier to go through the stiffer doughs without my hands and arms tiring out. It is wonderful for beating egg whites or whipped cream. It gets tiring even holding a hand mixer when you have arthritis. It comes in handy to make bread. The machine does all that heavy kneading and the loaves come out just as good as hand kneaded bread. It is perfect for making divinity fudge around Christmas time.
The second major splurge was on a full size food processor. It chops, it slices, it can also knead dough, and it mixes. It is wonderful. I slice my potatoes and onions in it when I make Hot German Potato Salad. I can make huge batches of salsa in it. It is wonderful for making pizza dough. It is a versatile machine that can be used for many things. I also have a mini food processor that I use to mince garlic, onions, and ginger root with.
I have some other things I use to make food prep easier. If I need to slice a few things I use a mandolin. It makes fast work of slicing and is easy on the hands. I have a couple different types of vegetable peelers. It is so much easier then doing it with a knife. My egg slicer is not only used for eggs but also when I need to slice mushrooms or strawberries.
I have several different types of knives. The most widely used is my chef’s knife. It is important to keep the knives sharp. A sharp knife is easier to use and you are less likely to cut yourself on a sharp knife then a dull one.
One of the most essential tools that I have is my tongs. I have a long handle one and two shorter ones, one with Teflon coated edges and one without. Tongs make it so easy to move things around and pick things up.
A very valuable piece of equipment is my Crockpot or slow cooker. It takes very little preparation and I can make a whole meal in it. I use it a lot for soups and stews. I even make my Thanksgiving dinner in it.
One thing I discovered that helps is to measure out the ingredients ahead of time. I use small glass Pyrex bowls to hold ingredients. I find that it is safer to do it this way because if the hand cramps and you accidentally either drop or pour more then you need it isn’t going into the recipe itself but a small bowl where it is easier to start over without the risk of ruining the dish.
Some other tips for cooking with arthritis are:
I will cook a lot if I am having a good day and freeze things for days when the arthritis is bad and I don’t feel like cooking. A large stockpot is wonderful for making big batches of soup or sauces.
A kitchen chair that lets you sit at the counter will also help with arthritis. It helps prevent fatigue if you can sit.
Have plenty of baking sheets on hand. I have enough that I don’t need to stop and wash off a sheet in order to put more cookies on them. I can just pop the used sheets in the dishwasher. Use a melon baller to scoop out cookie dough.
Whisks are great for stirring things because they get into corners easier and cover a wider area then a spoon.
A pizza wheel is the best tool for cutting pizza. It takes a lot less motion to use a wheel then to use a knife.
An egg separator is very inexpensive and makes it easy if you have to separate the whites out for meringue.
These are some of the things I’ve learned while cooking with arthritis. I love to cook and I wasn’t going to let arthritis spoil that enjoyment. You can find my recipes on the web here. As Jacques Pepin always says, “Happy cooking.”