Sam talks us about confidence in the kitchen

Becoming confident in the kitchen when you have a hidden disability takes a lot of time. I have been enthusiastic about introducing new meals into my repertoire which aren’t the easiest thing in the world to make. It is also quite a challenge to keep the space around me free of carnage so that I don’t get overwhelmed with putting hot apparatus onto heat protective surfaces.

A fellow member of the Dyspraxia community, Laura Adlington, has recently taken part in the popular Great British Bake Off. By watching, people can see the struggle being judged as “messy” or “disorganised” when you are different and don’t have that same perception of a task as someone else. The funny side can be seen, however. I have had a few times over the years where it could’ve appeared as though a chemical reaction happened in the kitchen. When I was trying to work an electric whisk once, I managed to get some of my cake mix up the walls. Safe to say that won’t be happening again now that I have more control over this type of thing.

I have recently been learning how to make one of my favourite meals- chicken, couscous and roasted vegetables from scratch. It is something I have very much wanted to learn as then when I am on my own, I can prepare something healthy whilst enhancing my organisation and time-management skills. It is a trial and error exercise to an extent. The times I have done this so far, the vegetables have been slightly burned on the outside but still not entirely softened from cooking. So I have learned via this happening, that it would be best to use some tin foil so that the vegetables won’t look burned on the outside and undercooked on the inside.

Another thing I have got used to doing with my own health and nutrition plan, is to weigh out the amounts used. I weigh out 55 grams of raw couscous and then use 170ml of boiling water to cook it and leave it to absorb the water for 5 minutes. Before I started making this, I didn’t really have a plan and know the amounts to use. So doing it like this helps me to create a system that works and has an amount that is enough for me.

My favourite meal to make it toad in the hole- one of my favourite dishes from home. It has been an interesting process making this with the new ovens me and my family have installed in our new kitchen. There is a particular setting on the oven which sets the temperature to 210 degrees and puts it on the “Yorkshire Pudding assist” setting, which then counts down the time that it needs to cook for and will sound a timer when it is finished.

Having assistive technology in this context has been a helpful thing to help my overall organisation, and toad in the hole is something that is a fairly “tidy” meal which doesn’t need a million and one things- but anything I do use I put back instantly as I won’t need it again, such as flour for example.

I have definitely become more confident in the kitchen and am becoming more aware of the skills I need to acquire to become a master of this art more. For someone with Dyspraxia, perception of thought, organisation and time management can be a huge challenge, though not impossible to overcome. I am determined to become a connoisseur of all things cooking!

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