Bird's eye view of a countertop cooking area with a tablet zoomed in on recipe steps.

Cooking with a Visual Impairment

Last updated: August 2020

As a young girl, my signature dish was Oodles and Noodles. I would pride myself on having the perfect water to noodle ratio. So much so that my younger uncle and I would have Oodles and Noodles competition to see who was the cooking champion. 

Grandma's cooking

To be honest, I never had to cook anything growing up. My stepdad was the true chef in the home. He and my mom always made sure that my sister and I had a hot home-cooked meal every night.

Eventually, I became grown and had to learn how to make meals if I didn’t want to go hungry. I began to pay particularly close attention when my grandma was in the kitchen. I would ask her questions and inquire about measurements for the ingredients. My grandma was from the south and I quickly learned that seasoning was based on taste — never measured. At the time, I was confused about that concept.

Learning how to cook

My son’s father and I moved in together when I was 23. He definitely knew his way around the kitchen and if you ask him, he would say that he taught me everything I know. However, I beg to differ! While he taught me some things, it was a combination of tasting my parent’s food, watching people cook, asking my grandma 1000 questions as she prepared Sunday dinner, and reading recipes that all led to me learning my way around the kitchen.

Why I love cooking

I learned early on that cooking is pretty formulaic. Typically, I use a recipe as a starting point, then depending on how I am feeling I will add my own flare. I have come to enjoy cooking for several reasons.

  1. It’s cheaper than eating out
  2. I’m able to teach my son an important life skill
  3. It’s nostalgic

Cooking with low vision

Technology has even made cooking accessible and enjoyable. I use my magnifier app on my phone to read recipes on packages. When I am trying a new dish, I Youtube videos for instructions. The audio is helpful, and I love that I can pause until I get to that step. Most importantly I have fully embraced and now understand my grandma’s approach to cooking. I feel and taste my way around the kitchen.

My signature dish

If you ask my son, my Oodles and Noodles signature dish has been upgraded to fried fish, aka “stir-fry fish.” Since he asks for it on a weekly basis, it is safe to say I have it down to a science. However, if you were to ask me how long to cook it, I wouldn't be able to tell you. I just fry until it looks and feels ready.

Not relying on eyesight

I once read a quote that said: “Black people don't measure seasonings. We just sprinkle & shake until we hear the spirits of our ancestors whisper ‘enough my child.’” This is so true for most meals I prepare. Throughout the day, I make accommodations for my eyesight, but with cooking, it is all about the feeling and taste, and a time to just have fun with your creation…at least that’s the way eye see it.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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