The One-Armed Cook

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My sister in law is a fount of wisdom. One of her sayings is "Inbetween falling, kick up your heels!"

I've had plenty of opportunities to put her advice into practice as over the years I have broken an ankle, wrists, arms, elbow and hip. You'd think I'd be an expert by now but each fracture, although it is only a temporary inconvenience brings its own challenges. It's comforting to know that I am one of many. About a third of GrownUps are likely to experience a fracture at some stage.

Fractures do heal. I keep on reminding myself of this as I type awkwardly on the computer with my left arm encased in a fetching apple green plaster cast.

This time it's taken time for the pain to subside and for the first few weeks it was too painful to use a can opener or to chop anything hard with a knife. Luckily the supermarket has a lot to offer the one armed cook. There are instant meals you can buy but I like to cook from scratch with fresh ingredients. I did buy a few pouches of soup and pasta sauces which are easily snipped open.

After a walk down the aisles I came out with a trolley laden with sliced bread, fresh pasta, rice, gourmet potatoes and baby carrots. As well as a bag of ready cut coleslaw, frozen peas, couscous, sliced bread, and a bag of grated cheddar. Meat that doesn't need chopping or carving such as chicken pieces, sausages, fish and mince were useful as well.

Back in the kitchen I pulled a pair of oversize rubber gloves over the plastered arm and gave it a go. It was a fast learning curve but also a good challenge to be inventive and come up with some manageable recipes.

But it's not just the ingredients, but also the equipment which can help or hinder. It so happened that I had offered to test drive a Russell Hobbs Stick Mixer and it duly arrived the week I broke my arm. But would it work for a one-armed cook? I could but try.

This is a multiple piece of equipment (including a stick mixer a mini chopper and a balloon whisk which I saw at a Trade show some months ago). I thought it might suit GrownUps that are thinking of downsizing their kitchen and may want to replace some of their equipment. I gave each of its parts a try. Here are the results.

The Stick Mixer

A stick mixer is very useful for blending a homemade soup in the saucepan in which it was made. This saves having to carry hot liquids from stove to blender or food processor.

What I liked about the Russell Hobbs stick mixer is that it has an ergonometrically designed handle which was easy to grip and comfortable to hold. It also comes with a beaker which I used to make healthy banana smoothies for breakfast.

The Mini Chopper

This was easy to operate. It has a non-slip bowl so there was no problem with the bowl sliding across the bench while chopping.

It is like a small version of a food processor but chopping is all it will do. It doesn't have a grating or slicing blade. I could easily operate it with my good hand and it was very easy to take apart and clean. It chopped an onion in seconds and was very useful when making breadcrumbs for a roast chicken stuffing.

One thing the mini chopper did not do so well was to chop a bunch of parsley. I chopped it briefly and it was too coarse. When I continued to chop it turned into a watery paste.

But it was perfect for making pesto. This was a good way to use up the parsley, spinach and rocket from the garden. Homemade pesto can be turned into an almost instant light meal by tossing some through freshly boiled pasta and sprinkling with parmesan.

The Balloon Whisk

A balloon whisk aerates egg whites so it is perfect for making meringues and soufflés and can whip up a batter for Pancakes and hotcakes batter.

But it can't cream butter and sugar so it is not be a replacement for hand held beaters. I didn't find it particularly useful but I did make a great batch of meringues with it.

I grew rather attached to the Russell Hobbs Stick Mixer but it was only on loan for a test drive and has now gone back. What I'll miss most is having such an efficient onion chopper. From now on onions will reduce me to tears again!

Like other good kitchen appliances it is not cheap ($159.95). So if you are thinking of purchasing a new piece of kitchen equipment my advice would be to go in and see it ( rather than order online) and ask if you can practice assembling and disassembling it to make sure it is comfortable to hold and easy to operate.

Next I'll be turning my attention to putting more calcium in my diet, getting fit, keeping the floor less cluttered, and hatching more plans for kicking up my heels. It's just been another little reminder that Life is for Living!

Pesto Recipe

Here is the basic recipe I created and its nutty variations. It makes a moist pesto which is how I like it. Decrease the amount of oil if you want a firmer mixture. Do experiment further by substituting different nuts. You can use young spinach leaves/parsley or rocket instead of the basil.


2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
¼ cup of a good olive oil.
About a dozen nuts (brazil/macadamias/walnuts/ almonds)
3 cups of basil leaves
4 tablespoons of freshly grated parmesan
A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Rock salt and black pepper to taste.


Put the garlic, nuts and basil in the food processor and process briefly until these are finely chopped. Then start to gradually pour in the olive oil. You can add more or less depending on the consistency you want.

Scrape the mixture into a bowl, stir in the freshly grated parmesan, and season to taste.

To read more about how to make home pesto go to Lyn's food blog.