Ten years ago we had a client at the Carroll Center from up-state New York who had fallen off a roof and was terribly injured. He longed to reclaim his family role and barbecue again on the grill in his garage.
I went out to search for anything that would help him and was thrilled to find suitable grilling accessories at Home Depot and Lowe’s. There were grilling pans and “fish baskets,” which secured pieces of food between two wire grids on a long handle. With a good apron and long mitts he could get back to his grill.
How do you grill with little or no sight?
First you have to know how to grill. You also need good balance and good assessment of the positioning of food items as well as nearby hazards. This blogpost is not for anyone new to grilling. If you haven’t grilled before, schedule a lesson with a rehab teacher to assess your skills and safety before you begin.
But for experienced barbecue cooks, getting back to the grill is a definite possibility. Just grill inside a container! It is efficient and gives you much more control over placement and timing.
Grill sergeant: safety first
If you have lost sight since you last grilled, please follow these safety steps as you get back your grilling expertise.
1. Check out your grill when it is cold several times, especially noting if the grill has high sides, and where they end to avoid edging a burger off the grill entirely.
2. Check that the grill is positioned on, and backed by, a stable non-flammable surface (sorry for such an obvious point!)
3. Make sure that you and the grill are separated from young children and dogs because you may not see them coming now.
4. Check how you will approach the grill when it is hot – how you will find the outer edge and then position yourself so you can grill and then transfer the burgers etc. off the grill.
5. Consider a side table at one side or both sides, which might also help with children and dog safety.
6. Practice! Even if you already know all this, with little sight it is necessary to try out all this several times using touch and sound before you go live.
Here are some new pans and baskets to assist you
Grill pan by Weber about $20. This looks like any stainless steel pan but the base is perforated. There is an area at the right front corner where the side is absent so a spatula can be slid in.
Large fish basket $26. This has a handle and adjusts for various foods. It’s recommended for delicate foods like shrimp, but will also hold hot dogs and hamburgers in place.
Brinkmann Grill Topper $16. This is a 3-sided grill pan, 16×12 inch, with small holes and open front for easy access for a spatula. It’s another good choice for control of hot dogs, small burgers and chicken wings
There are also high-sided woks, vegetable baskets and shaker baskets all for stirring or shaking rather than flipping.
There are of course extra long spatulas and tongs. Choose a length that will suit your arms and your grill.
Flame retardant long oven mitts from the Carroll Store are only $6 each, and shipping is free. These mitts protect you almost to the elbow, and give more grip than fancier silicon mitts which tend to slip forward.
Some grills have a hook for your mitts. If yours does not, please establish a spot to keep them., So you are not endangering the burgers while you hunt for them, or endangering your hands if you cannot find them.
There are talking digital meat thermometers some of them very expensive which some American grillers love. But I think a combination of touch and timing works better on a grill: a light press with your fingertip on the burger you have lifted off the grill, or a quick squeeze of a vegetable plus a talking timer (on your phone?)is a better way to check for doneness .
Grill Sergeant’s BBQ Apron ($15.23) is a joke apron for men with tons of pockets. The first Amazon review I read stated that you could also use it instead of a basket at the grocery store or when you take a shower.
It is lightweight and may be less safe than a thick cotton or leather apron.