The Power of Popular Kitchen Tools

The Power of Popular Kitchen Tools
From the Editor:
This post was written by Lindsay Kerr and Nina Marranca. Lindsay has the goal of becoming a teacher of blind students. Her love of personal and professional accessibility even extends into the kitchen. One of Nina’s favorite hobbies is cooking and finding new recipes to try. Both Lindsay and Nina will offer tips for using common kitchen appliances that make cooking quick and easy.
As college students, there comes a time when we find ourselves living on our own. One of the key facets of living independently is meal preparation. Three tools that I find helpful in prepping meals independently in a college dorm or apartment is the Insta pot, air fryer, and crockpot. In this blog post, I am going to cover how these tools can be used independently by students who are blind or low vision. With some smart buying and a bit of modification, these tools are a fantastic addition to traditional large kitchen appliances.
Before I go into the tips that have worked for me as someone with low vision, I thought I would explain what got me into using the Insta Pot, Air Fryer, and Crock Pot. One evening I happened to be searching through YouTube for easy dinners to make and I came across the Six Sisters Stuff YouTube channel, where they often post demonstrations of easy recipes and how to videos for the Insta Pot, Crock Pot, and Air fryer. After watching their YouTube videos on how to use the Insta Pot, I realized how easy and time saving it was to use the Insta Pot to make soups, meat, and steaming vegetables. After finding their YouTube channel I also found the Six Sister Stuff website, where they post easy to follow recipes. Ever since finding both the Six Sisters Website and YouTube channel, it has been my go-to for how to best use my Insta Pot, Air Fryer, and Crock Pot. In addition to the Six Sisters recipes, I have heard good things about Skinnytaste, Drizzle Me Skinny, and Lexi’s Clean Kitchen. Of course, there are a multitude of good websites and videos online that serve this purpose. I encourage you to explore online and find some recipe creators you enjoy. It can make experimentation in the kitchen much more fun.
When looking to purchase a new appliance, there are several things to look for. Typically, I avoid touchscreen appliances, as they are usually inaccessible. However, those with Bluetooth connectivity or decent color contrast have been favorites for others. I personally search for appliances with raised buttons or dials. I have found it easier to label these models. Still, flat button displays can also be labeled in the manners we will describe below. Finding models one prefers comes down to mostly personal preference. It’s also helpful to feel the various models before purchasing.
Two low tech options that can be used in order to make devices such as the Insta pot, air fryer, and crockpot accessible are bump dots and braille labels. I use both of these tools on my Insta Pot Duo Crisp in order to identify commonly use buttons. The Insta Pot Duo is an Insta Pot and air fryer combined. The Insta Pot Duo Crisp is great for someone who has a small kitchen because the Air Fryer components fit right inside the Insta Pot itself when not in use. I personally have bump dots on the start button, Pressure Cook, Air Fry, plus on the temperature side, and minus on the time side. If one wanted to, they could use Braille labels in place of the bump dots, but at the time when I labeled my Insta Pot Duo Crisp I only had bump dots. When it comes to using the Crock Pot, the method of using bump dots and Braille labels would work just as well; you would just have to place them on the commonly used buttons such as start, low, medium, and high. I like this method, in short, because it is low cost and can be used to modify appliances you already own.
Some of the apps that can be used in conjunction with the Insta Pot, Air Fryer, and Crock Pot are Aira, Seeing AI, and Be My Eyes. These three apps can be used in conjunction with the Insta Pot, Air Fryer, and Crock Pot by placing your phones camera in the view of the LCD display. When using Seeing AI, it is best to use the Short Text channel because you do not have to worry about lining your phone up to find given text. This is helpful when encountering a new display message or familiarizing yourself with a new appliance. Many find this method not as ideal for regular use, though.
Although I have given some great tips on how to use these popular kitchen tools, I have one caution when using the Insta Pot. Most Insta Pot models have a steam release button, which one either has to turn or push down on depending on the model of Insta Pot they are using. When dealing with the steam release button, I usually use tongs or a large kitchen spoon to find and press down on my steam release button. I personally choose to use tongs or a large spoon because I do not want to burn my hands when releasing the pressure in my Insta Pot. In addition to using a spoon or tongs to release the pressure, I have a spout on my exhaust valve, so that the steam that is released does not go straight up in the air. Do not let this aspect deter you from using this very handy appliance. It is helpful to familiarize yourself with how the valve operates before cooking.
Happy cooking!