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Cooking with one hand...

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I think I've developed carpal tunnel syndrome. My dominant hand has been playing up since New Year's Day and it's getting frustrating! We're going to a potluck dinner tomorrow and I had to resort to a Stouffers frozen lasagna for my contribution instead of my usual made-from-scratch productions. I can cut stuff up but not finely, and I can stir pots but not if they're heavy, and so on... yesterday I made a beef shank stew in the oven using a bag of frozen soup vegetables so I didn't have to chop anything. It wasn't the best stew in the world, but it was edible. The day before I made burritos, but the amount of stirring I had to do to get the ground beef broken up and cooked properly was a real strain on my wrist. What's worse is DH can't even boil water so I can't get HIM to help me... We went to Sweet Tomatoes for lunch today and I had to get DH to dish up my salad because I couldn't manage the tongs. We've been eating a lot of take out and frozen food, and I need suggestions for one-handed cooking!

PS. DH is going to Michigan next week, so it'll just be me and I'm planning to eat a lot of lean cuisines and frozen vegetables... but he'll be back on Friday and ready for a home-cooked meal.

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  1. Try your other hand. I once had a broken wrist and my right hand was out of commission for quite a while. I got reasonably adept with my left, even some knife work (slowly).

    1. Interesting topic--cooking with disabilities--I haven't picked up a pot or a pan for 5 weeks as I am crutches with no weight-bearing. The hardest part is actually that I can't carry anything due to the crutches. Hopefully only 3 more weeks of banishment from my favourite room in the house...

      As for coping with carpal tunnel, your food processor might help out for chopping, slicing, and shredding, though there is still some prep work to be done (e.g., peeling carrots). Perhaps after your hand gets a little better you will be able to do the prep work and leave the Cuisinart to do the heavy duty stuff.

      Hope you heal quickly!

      2 Replies
      1. re: zamorski

        "The hardest part is actually that I can't carry anything due to the crutches."
        ~~~~~~
        it's tricky, but you can do it. i was on crutches for 3 months when i shattered my heel, and i live alone, so i had no choice. i got very good at doing a sort of one-crutch hopping maneuver so i could keep the other hand free to carry things. i'm sure i looked ridiculous, but no one was there to see it, and it worked :) anyway, you're lucky to have someone there to help you. hope you heal quickly and are off the crutches soon!

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Yes, the key to getting around is a lot of hippity-hopping! And yes, it. is really undignified

      2. One of my favorite meals is Thai vermicelli noodles. I don't know if you have Asian grocery stores where you live (we have lots), but if you can get some of the very thin rice vermicelli, it cooks up in a minute or two. (The most difficult thing for you might be actually eating the long strands - you could ask your husband to break them up when they are raw, into small pieces... that's what I used to do for my kids when they were little, so I wouldn't have to cut it afterwards...) You could get a bunch of different premade sauces, too... add some lemon or lime juice, dash of fish sauce (or skip the fish sauce if you don't like it), ginger (I use the ginger sold for sushi - I'm crazy about that stuff).

        For the veggies, if your grocery carries raw, precut Asian veggies (ours does), you can add that to the bowl afterwards - some precooked shrimp or those precooked chicken packs (I think Perdue has some). Try the sauce separate, just in case you don't like it.

        I'm really adaptable, and have had a variety of injuries throughout the years (and babies - when I saw this title, I thought you were going to say you had a newborn!). The hardest thing for this idea would be getting the jars open - I'd get the hubby to open a bunch - they won't spoil if the tops are left on loose in the refrigerator.

        Another thing that might be easy and nutritious are smoothies - you can add a handful of super healthy greens, like spinach, and it's done in a jiffy, if you have the kitchen equipment to do this..

        This might be a good time to encourage the husband to get interested in cooking... esp. if he likes to eat. Ha!

        1. Oh my. That sounds very stressful Here's a thread from earlier this year you might find helpful.

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6254...

          ~TDQ

          1. I know you can buy faux ground beef crumbles--I wonder if the real thing can be bought as well?

            My grocery store carries many different fresh veggie kits--I frequently buy the one with chopped onions and garlic and sliced mushrooms, or the one for coleslaw.

            I would also get to the dr right away to find out what's really going on. You may just need some physical therapy. I recently had issues with my non-dominant arm, and that was the case for me--no one even mentioned surgery. But in any case, you need to know ...

            Lean Cuisine every day is going to leave you feeling terrible ... the sodium is off the charts, and at the end of the day, it's not real food. There is better prepared food out there, for instance some good jarred sauces. I agree that it would be a good time to renegotiate with your husband. He may want a home cooked meal, but if you're not doing it for yourself ... there's no reason he can't break up the meat for you, etc., under your direction. Old dogs *can* learn new tricks ...

            1. I suffer from carpal tunnel, and have found the store bought braces (at Walgreen's, Target, etc) help a lot. They provide support in all the right places. I have two braces, so if one gets wet, I can change to the dry one.

              2 Replies
              1. re: jeanmarieok

                Do you know you have it, or are you assuming? Look up the Tinel test, which you can do on yourself. It is a good diagnostic criterion. The braces ARE helpful, because they keep you from bending the wrist. Try to keep it as straight as possible and pay attention to placement before you fall asleep. Before going to an orthopedist, I did not know that untreated, CTS can lead to permanent loss of your pinching ability, so don't take it lightly. Surgery is done to prevent worsening - I was the rare case where I actually got some function back. I did a lot of cooking and freezing of meals before the surgery, mainly dishes eaten with a fork or spoon, but not requiring cutting with a knife. I used disposable plates since I don't have a dishwasher and had to keep my bandage dry.

                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  The problem with the braces (to me, at least) while cooking, is the dexterity in the fingers is almost nil. (sometimes worse than the CTS)

                  Suffering with CTS really hampered all my cooking. Bending, twisting was beyond painful. Having the surgery was the best thing ever. I had it on 11/6/09, and today it feels fantastic! The scar is soo tiny, and I only took a week off of work. If you are able to have it, get it done ASAP.

                  Hope you feel better soon!

                2. Thanks for the replies. BTW I actually enjoy some of the Lean Cuisine meals - I'm not trying to punish myself! But you REALLY don't want to eat more than one of them a day, preferably not every day either because I agree that they're very high in sodium. I usually add a cup of frozen veggies of some sort to dilute the salt and increase the veggie volume.

                  Alas I have no food processor - I dropped the attachment that went onto the blender and it smashed and I never got another one. :(

                  1. if you need pre-chopped veggies, you can always take advantage of salad bars!

                    sitr-fries might work for you.

                    casseroles - layer and bake
                    --mexican - http://southernfood.about.com/od/chic...

                    and a great blog for ya: http://onehandrecipes.blogspot.com/

                    hope you feel better soon!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Emme

                      The blog is an interesting idea... except that she's only made nine entries in twelve months! There's not a lot there...

                      1. re: Kajikit

                        sorry! didn't read through the whole thing... maybe a few of the entries will inspire other ideas for you...

                    2. Ouch! I've had broken bones and childbirth and everything else, but still, nothing is as inconvenient or annoyingly painful as carpal tunnel. Did you get a brace to keep your wrist steady? And keep away from the repetitious movements.

                      I do believe that it's time to start cooking with the other hand. For one thing, starting new pathways in the brain is good, right?

                      I hope you feel better soon.

                      1. There may be a lending library in your area with kitchen items for individuals with limited mobility/use of hands that you could borrow/try out for a while. There are cutting boards with a spike to hold the item still
                        http://www.seniorssuperstores.com/car...,
                        pancake turner that don't require turning the wrist, etc.
                        http://www.rehabmart.com/category/Kit...

                        Time for your husband to learn to cook...

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lgss

                          Thanks for the links... now here's a gadget we can ALL use! A jar-popper! I'd love to have one of those babies - even with two functioning hands, opening vacuum-sealed jar lids can be a challenge. I usually have to get DH to do it because I'm just not strong enough.
                          http://www.rehabmart.com/product/5808...

                        2. Trial and error is your best friend. My son is a congenital amputee (no left hand at all) and he is the main cook for his family. He opens jars, he chops and peels, he does it all with no adaptive equipment. Of course, since it is your dominant hand that is affected, it will not be as easy for you, but you can do it. The one thing I would ask for help with is peeling veggies or I would resort to frozen ones at this point because of danger of cutting yourself since it is new to you. You can take an old wooden cutting board and put a nail thru it, to hold your veggies if you don't want to buy adaptive equipment at this point. Good luck! Humans are incredibly adaptive.

                          1. Good news - this will pass.
                            Best not to stress the injury . Trying to tough your way through the pain will delay the healing.
                            A wrist splint is good for immobilizing the joint and preventing further injury.