If you could only use 1 hand (your dominant one) while cooking, what would you make? Assume you can use the outer heel of the non-working 1.

This describes my current situation. I had major surgery and expect to get some functionality back within a month and most, if not all, within a year, but for now, it's kind of like having that hand tied behind my back. It all came up quite suddenly so, having to deal with everything else in my life that's affected, I wasn't able to plan ahead on this. Links to resources for cooks with challenges like this would be appreciated. Thanks so much, everyone. ;o)



susan G. March 30, 2012
So glad to hear the good report. I'll echo the wisdom others have said -- feeling better may make you think you can (or should!) do more than you are ready for, so take it slow. Woodie Guthrie said, in a song -- I'm takin' it easy, I'm takin' it slow, I ain't-a gonna worry when the sir-eens blow...
I think we have all learned a lot from you, and from those who had wonderful suggestions too.
Droplet March 30, 2012
Sorry about your hard times. Here are a few extra suggestions : Tortillas in place of bread for a while (if you have a tortilla press, by rolling the balls with your healthy hand on the counter). I've actually seen Italian grandmas rolling pasta dough with the bottom half of their arms, not using hands at all, so you could do that too, would be easier than trying to knead. And if you don't have one of those silicone trivets, you might order one as they work great from keeping any dish from skidding on the counter and would greatly facilitate whisking and mixing things with one hand. A one- handed mezzaluna would be handy for all fresh herbs...
healthierkitchen March 30, 2012
so glad to hear you're managing so well!
healthierkitchen March 30, 2012
so glad to hear you're managing so well!
garlic&lemon March 30, 2012
This is a very heart-warming and life-affirming thread! Thanks, AJ for putting your question out there and allowing the Food52 community to respond! Two additional points: 1) When something similar happened to me, I actually developed an over-use injury in the other arm! So please don't push it and pay attention to the "good" hand and arm. 2) I DID reach out to my friends and Sangha for help and they responded in ways large and small to them, but all of it large to me. Months afterwards, they told me how grateful they were to be able to "allowed" help. (Are you kidding! I was going DOWN!) I learned that allowing others to help and receiving that help graciously was actually a service I was allowing them to do! It was an awesome lesson.
AntoniaJames March 29, 2012
Thanks so much, everyone. I'm actually already getting the use of my thumb and index finger back, somewhat, which helps a lot! I made boulangere's Italian Boule last weekend, using the dough cycle of my bread machine; I was able to do it all including the shaping, etc. with one hand. Meatballs are easy with one hand if you use dried herbs/onions, etc. (I put sdebrango's insanely delicious meatballs/sauce on ciabatta made using the boule dough with a touch of pesto and some good mozzarella, shoved under the broiler just to melt. Highly recommended. Half of the meatballs, etc are in the freezer; pasta and polenta are easily made with one hand. As is pan-fried fish.) My dominant hand and arm are getting really strong (and tired), as I must rely on them for so much more. But overall we're managing well, thanks to these many excellent suggestions. The problem solving aspect of all of this has really spiced up my life. Many things take a bit more time, but the whole business has been downgraded to "inconvenient but generally not too bad." I'm in excellent health so the healing part is going really well. Thanks again. ;o)
sdebrango March 29, 2012
So glad to hear that you are doing so well, I know you will continue to heal at record speed. You are strong and determined and I know you will be back 100% very soon, Thank you for the shout out on my meatballs. Appreciate it and the meatball sandwich on boulangere's bread sounds amazing. Take care of yourself and get well really soon. I'm sure your family is rallying around you and are helping you tremendously.
drbabs March 30, 2012
Thanks for the update! I'm so glad you're feeling better.
petitbleu March 29, 2012
So sorry about your hand! If that happened to me they'd probably have to put a cone around it to keep me from trying desperately to use it.
I would make a big batch of granola for starters. That takes care of breakfast. And I would imagine that one-handed oatmeal or toast and eggs wouldn't be too difficult. Lots of sandwiches (if you're really determined and have a stand mixer, you could probably even make the bread yourself) and miso soup for lunch. For dinner, you could coarsely chop veggies with a Cuisinart and make stir fries. Sauteed chicken breasts, omelets and quiches, and simple soups might be other good options. Don't forget about cheesy toast and crudités either ;)
Hope you have a speedy recovery.
BoulderGalinTokyo March 29, 2012
AJ, I'm so sorry to hear about your problem. While this seems like a big problem now, it will pass. I broke my back 4.5 years ago. After a year of being bedridden, all my muscles had faded away. It has been a long climb up but now I'm enjoying my new community. Cooking has become rehabilitation- not grind my teeth and bear it, but in the process of each new improvement, I can be happy with my achievement. Your friends are offering you care packages--take them up on it. Time will come when you can return something to them and be happy in what you gave them but really thrilled with what you received from them. Good luck!
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 22, 2012
Wishing you a speedy recovery.
calendargirl March 22, 2012
Oy! So sorry to hear of this. This link about equipment for cutting, peeling, opening and stabilizing items may be of interest:
Perhaps a session with a friend who can do some of the work while you both catch up on each other's lives and share a glass of wine? Though asking for help is hard for many of us to do, it can be a revelation and bring pleasure and connection for both the helper and the one who is helped.
bobbie J. March 21, 2012
Tea, toast (presliced, soft butter), meat and cheese from deli counter (presliced), just about every frozen entree from trader joes (but not pizza - impossible to cut), eggs, waffles if you've got a nonstick iron, fresh fruit you dont need to cut or peel like berries and apples., ramen from packets...and i'd be looking into takeout A LOT!
healthierkitchen March 21, 2012
Oh AJ that must be difficult. As I'm learning this year, despite my attempts to plan ahead for everything, sometimes life throws us these curveballs. If we're lucky enough that they're not life threatening, we sometimes have to let go of some of the standards we home cooks set for ourselves, or at least I have. I work on not getting upset that I didn't get to make another Irish soda bread this week, or that I really need to get another batch of granola going. I'll get to it but maybe not today. Meditation helps. Hope your recovery is speedy and that you're back in action soon! Wish I lived closer and could prep some vegetables for you.
boulangere March 21, 2012
Good mention of standards we expect of ourselves. Spot on!
jmburns March 21, 2012
MauraKaras March 21, 2012
You can buy a pasta pot that has a pasta strainer/basket built in so that you don't have to dump into strainer. With an electric can opener and buying pre- peeled garlic you can easily make pomodoro sauce. Evoo in pan. Cook garlic whole (don't brown). Add a can or two of diced tomatoes (I used whole marzano and squish) . Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, basil. If you have trouble chopping fresh basil you can use dried

Panfusine March 21, 2012
Oh dear.. I hope you're healing well AJ.. Please take care.
SKK March 21, 2012
Oh AJ - I am so sorry! I love the links DrBabs sent you. This seems like it would be a great time to delegate to friends and family. Perhaps every Sunday have a prep session for the dishes you will be making the upcoming week and invite your Food52 community and friends to attend. That would be fun. This could also be an excuse for a Big Feast! Sending you healing thoughts.
boulangere March 21, 2012
If I had to break an arm, I was glad it was my left one. I was also running a restaurant at the time. I was surprised at how much I was able to do one-handed, or one-armed. Still, there were times when I simply needed help. I love sdebrango's suggestion about asking for others to chop, slice, and dice some ingredients for you to keep in ziplock bags. Also as she notes, one of the hardest things was taking a shower, and then trying to towel off. I understand well how frustrating this is for you. Most of all, please don't hesitate to ask for help. It is important to let yourself heal. If you will email me your address, I'll put some bread in the mail to you so you can freeze some. I'll even slice it.
drbabs March 21, 2012
Great idea, boulanger! AJ, send me your address and I'll bake you some cookies!
sdebrango March 22, 2012
I second that if you send your address I will gladly send you something also.
beyondcelery March 21, 2012
How frustrating that must be, AJ! I can't really imagine. Not exactly a resource, but if you'd like to private message me your address, I'll send you some bread. How about Black Tea Pumpkin bread (great for breakfast)? I'm in the middle of moving, but my kitchen should be back up and running the way I like in a week or so. I hope you heal quickly.
Meatballs&Milkshakes March 21, 2012
Oh no! So sorry to hear it! I second the chopper suggestion, I want one even with two good hands. It's also a good time to use a standmixer to mix things (even when you're not baking), so you can just drop stuff in with your good hand and let the mixer do all the work. You might want to think about recipes you can freeze on days you have the time to make them, so you don't have to kill yourself during the week making dinner. Roasting steak, chicken breasts, fish filets, and pre-cut veggies are always easy things you can do one-handed as well.
Meatballs&Milkshakes March 21, 2012
Thought of you as I was reading this: http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshows/2012/03/sheet-pan-dinners-slideshow#slide=1
drbabs March 21, 2012
AJ, so sorry to hear of your predicament. I hope you feel better soon. It must be so hard for you to not be able to get your hands into bread dough! I agree with everyone else--this time calls for pre-prepped foods (Time for your husband to hone his knife skills!) and reservations!! I do love megan's hand chopper idea. Here's an essay from Gourmet for you: http://www.gourmet.com/magazine/2000s/2009/07/single-handed-cooking, and a blog by a woman who had a stroke and lost the use of one arm: http://onehandedcookblog.blogspot.com/

Hope this helps! If I didn't live >3000 miles from you, I'd come cook for you!
pierino March 21, 2012
AJ, sorry to hear about your injury. I can sympathize as both my thumbs sublux. One of the most amazing feats I've seen was Anita Lo in the Quick Fire competition on Top Chef. Her hand was literally tied behind her back and she still managed to soft cook and top an egg.
ChefJune March 21, 2012
Ohboy! Do I remember that!!! And I had no advance warning, because my injury was caused by a fall. I'm left-handed, and was without the use of my right hand for 5 months. I was catering, so I "had staff" who did prep for me. IIWY, I'd enlist friends and relatives to chop quantities of onions, celery, carrots, peppers, garlic that could be measured out and stashed in the fridge or freezer in baggies with the amount inside labeled on them. Then you will be able to do sautes and soups with your "good hand."

I live alone, and the hardest thing was fastening my bra!
meganvt01 March 21, 2012
That is a bummer - on Top Chef quick fire challenges - the one handed cooking is one of the most difficult things I see all the cooks struggle with. But they are suprisingly creative with solutions and hopefully you too. You could get one of the OXO choppers http://www.amazon.com/OXO-1057959-Good-Grips-Chopper/dp/B0002YTFU0 that would help with prep while you only had one arm. I'd probably eat sandwiches - panninis or pizza :)
Pegeen March 21, 2012
So sorry you have a "broken wing," Antonia. Aside from all the sensible entries here: I realize this is a little inventive but wouldn't it be a great time to enlist someone to learn to cook from you and document your recipes? (College student home for the summer?) And maybe help you around the house. Get well soon!
Pegeen March 22, 2012
If I didn't live on the east coast, I'd gladly volunteer! You're a wonderful cook and I so appreciate all the recipes and tips you've shared here. Here's hoping you'll mend steadily and soon!
sdebrango March 21, 2012
I had surgery a year and a half ago on my dominant hand for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, still struggling to get total use of my right hand back. I had to learn to use my left hand for just about everything, I was lucky to be able to prep things before the surgery as it was planned. I prepared and cut vegetables and put them in ziplock bags, cooked and froze food in advance. But if I had not had that option, I would make a lot of sandwiches with pre sliced bread, meats and cheeses. It's very difficult to cut anything with only one hand, I had to live without the use of my right hand for 3 months and then very limited use for 6 months. I made a real mess with eggs but if you have your dominant hand you would probably be able to do it. Even boiling water is a challenge because you have to fill the pot at the sink and carry it to the stovetop. Honestly, during the recovery time I would take advantage of food that is cooked and frozen that you can simply heat and eat, sandwiches that don't require you to use a knife and quality prepared foods I got salads at Trader Joes and Whole Foods. Taking a shower was a another real challenge since I could not get the soft cast wet and only using one hand is a real challenge.I suggest having friends and family handy to help you, prep veggies and fruits for you and store in ziplock bags in the fridge. So sorry to hear about your hand and I do hope you make a speedy recovery.
sdebrango March 21, 2012
You might want to look at websites that have to do with post surgical care after carpal tunnel surgery I found them to be very helpful.
ChefOno March 21, 2012
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ChefOno March 21, 2012
Bummer. At least you've got your dominant hand. I hope you heal up soon.

Meanwhile, if you haven't learned to crack an egg with one hand, now's the time.

You might want to drag a chair into the kitchen so you clamp bottles and cans between your knees to manipulate them.

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