Size Matters

The size of served pieces of food is important when you cannot use a knife and fork simultaneously.  At the dining table, bite-size pieces of food are clearly preferable to spearing a large portion and chewing off a bite.  Size suddenly becomes much more important in the kitchen too when you prepare food for a one-handed person, whether yourself or someone else.  A one-handed cook can buy pre-sized ingredients or learn how to cut food into bite-sized pieces during food preparation.

In the kitchen, consider changing your family-size casseroles into multiple individual-size casseroles.  Swap the holiday ham or turkey for single-serving pieces, maybe bite-size pieces.  When you plan a big holiday meal, think about lifting the big pan and placing it in the oven.  Think about how you will remove a hot, heavy dish from the oven, transfer the food onto a serving platter, and move the dish to the table.

It may be time for a new paradigm.  Rethink family-sized.  Think about personalized, individualized.  Remember lifting with one hand.  Will smaller sizes reduce effort?  On the flip side, if the traditions are important, perhaps new ways to lift and carry are worth considering.  This blog will suggest kitchen items to help lift and carry with one hand.

Grocery Shopping

You can save preparation time and effort by shopping for food that is sold in manageable portions. Several convenience items are typically available in supermarkets:

  1. Pre-sliced apples, mushrooms, etc.
  2. Pre-chopped/diced onions, celery
  3. Baby carrots, julienned carrots
  4. Broccoli slaw and florets
  5. Bagged salad ingredients
  6. Canned diced tomatoes
  7. Packaged or delicatessen sliced meats and cheeses
  8. Pre-shredded or sliced cheeses
  9. Ready-made bakery products
  10. Ready to bake pie crusts, bread rolls

Pre-cut fresh food seems to spoil more quickly than whole pieces.  The extra processing provides more opportunities for contaminants to be introduced.  When you shop, you should consider what is a reasonable quantity of each item, the item’s probable shelf life, and possible storage methods.  To maintain freshness and preserve wholesomeness, you may have to choose between convenience and quality.

Onions, a Common Ingredient

Consider keeping dehydrated onions in the pantry.  You can buy pre-chopped fresh onions, but if you need to keep them very long, you will need to spread them out, blot them dry, and freeze them in a layer.  Then you will need to break up the frozen sheet and package up the frozen chopped onions.

If you elect to use dehydrated onions instead of fresh or frozen, they will keep for a very long time.  You can measure out about half the amount called out in the recipe, add an equal amount of water and wait a few minutes for the onions to plump up.

A bonus I’ve discovered is that dehy­drated onions are easier than raw onions on the digestive system, at least it has been for me.

Convenience VS Quality

Attaining bite size pieces, of course, isn’t the sole goal of food shopping.  Plenty of “edibles” are available that can be managed with one hand.  But if you read the labels on some of those products, you may have second thoughts about consuming them.  Even some of the additive ingredients allowed by the USDA have their detractors.  Personally, I agree with those who advise that food should be farm products.  If an ingredient sounds more like a chemical compound than something grown on a farm, I’m hesitant to consider it food.

It seems safer to consume only items known to have a long history of safety and nutritional content.  The USDA publishes an extensive list of food additives.  Many of these items are classified Generally Regarded As Safe (GRAS).  This subject is outside the scope of this project, but the information is readily available on the internet to anyone who wishes to expand his or her general knowledge about edibles.