Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Summer Baking

I love baking and I am pretty fond of cooking in general.

I had a mom that could sew and could cook or preserve anything and she made sure I was capable of doing those kinds of domestic skills. My Dad made sure I could fix some things and that I was reasonably competent with wood working. My parents both worked and from a very young age I was often responsible for getting dinner on the table.

For many people making a meal is about so much more than sustenance, it is caring and sharing with your family and friends, it is a bit of a creative art and full of memories and love.

I had a period when I was not well enough to cook and it became one of my goals to reclaim those skills. I really did not understand how much it mattered to me until I was unable to do it for myself.
I find the same thing is true with the people I work with.  They might not have the energy or ability to be making meals anymore but that doesn't mean they no longer are interested in cooking and baking. It may have been part of their identity for most of their lives. Others might be new to it. I have had gentlemen join me in baking programs and tell me that they never got a chance to learn to cook because they were out working on the field. They never had the opportunity to learn many of the household skills but they were interested in having a go at it now.

I learned a lot about the very practical and individual skills needed in cooking and organizing from my occupational therapist,  and I feel very privileged to share some of that information and help our residents have a good experience.

I try to add to the practical skills some reminiscence opportunities where they can talk about their past experiences, I try to have it sensory so they can enjoy the colors smells and tastes of the food and supplies as well as to experience the kinetic movements such as stirring. I usually do some research about the ingredients or the foods we are cooking so I can share some knowledge or new ideas. I also try to work in some jokes and laughter. I think one of the most important aspects is in the sharing. When we work together and they eventually share the products of our work all of the cooks and bakers are so proud to have contributed and to sit and share with one another.

I have been trying to do seasonal baking at work and at home.

I look for easy recipes that can be broken down into several simple steps that will allow several people to participate. I can bring small groups of residents to the kitchen and use an oven and all the other handy things about a kitchen, I can also do some kinds of cooking closer  to the residents living spaces with the use of kitchen gadgets like slow cookers, toaster ovens and microwave ovens. One of the advantages of cooking on the floor is that the smell of baking is such a wonderful sensory experience and helps create new memories as well as remembering other experiences with home cooking.

In the past month we have made "Strawberry Poke Cake" and "Blueberry Dump Cake" with many more delicious items planned for the summer and fall.


Rebecca Dutton said...

I loved reading this post. When I was an OT I learned that cooking food that is shared and gardening are two therapeutic modalities that never get old and evoke feelings and treasured memories.

Barb Polan said...

I feel the same way about cooking and baking. I could use some instruction: how do you get batter from mixing bowl to pan? If I don't want to ask my husband for help, I use a label, but end up having a lot of the batter stick to the bowl and label, without having a way to scrape it off one-handed. I find cookies much easier to make - a stiff batter allows me to scoop out the cookies bit by bit. I like brownies more, though, so I make those only when my husband is home to help.

Linda said...

Hi Barb. Thank you for your comment, it is good to hear from you.
There are a few little things you can try about the batter. I like a bowl that I have that has a handle on it and has a rubbery grip ring on the bottom. You can tilt it and let gravity do a lot of work. If it is something that can be hand mixed a 4 cup glass measuring cup is great.
My ladle is a kind of big and I think it would be a bit awkward for me. I tend to use a 1 cup measuring cup as a scoop. The best suggestion I have is to give your baking utensils a quick shot with a release spray like Pam. It helps the batter slide off easier.

About brownies.. maybe not quite like homemade... but there are pretty tasty brownie mixes out that are add water only. You can stir it up right in the baking pan. Some even come with a packet of premade icing, just cut a corner of the top off and squeeze over the finished but still warm brownies. Save cleaning the dirty dishes for your husband! grin

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