Editor's Note: Can't See, Will Cook is a short series included as part of the In Touch programme on Radio 4. Here, reporter Richard Lane talks about the series. Listen to clips of the recipes discussed in Can't See Will Cook or download them on the In Touch website. PMcD
It's Saturday morning. I've a strong coffee in a mug and Radio 4 on in the kitchen. Bacon and mushrooms on the grill, toast in the toaster, and a couple of eggs spitting in the pan. It's an easy routine repeated in kitchens up and down the country but, crucially, neither easy or routine if you're blind.
The smoke alarm goes off - because I've forgotten to turn on the extractor fan - Simpson, my dog starts to howl at the noise (and adding to it!) Breakfast is a miserable offering of burnt eggs, a surviving rasher of bacon and some black toast. A grim and dispiriting experience. Things could only get better....
That happened five years ago, and despite taking many culinary strides forward since then, I have not tried to repeat the fry-up. What I did manage to do was to convince the In Touch team to let me present a series of cookery items on their programme.
Listeners offered their favoured and most practical recipes and we set out to track down competent and imaginative visually impaired cooks who could demonstrate how cooking with little or no sight could be fun, safe, and creative.
The response was immediate, and within weeks we had Can't see Will Cook, launched and under way. Our first stop was to Ann Scroggie, sadly now no longer with us, with her no-nonsense Mrs Beaton approach to fish pie in her home near Motherwell; next stop, south-west London, where partially sighted Ben gave a masterclass in how to cook up a superb Thai Chicken Curry while deploying his magical garlic roller. In Cheshire, we met Gill Burrington who does all her cooking (including her signature Spanish Pork Stew) in an electric wok. Rory Roberts in west Wales, when not telling me off, made an unforgettable festive Nut Roast; Janet in north London showed me how to make Lemon Drizzle Cake, then back up north to Preston for Kathy Lester's Creole Fish Stew and Dry-Roasted Cabbage (yes, really); Maxine Turkington, ably assisted by husband Syd knocked up a speedy and delicious summer three-course menu, and Ian Macrae treated us to his favourite fishy dishy, Cod Eleanor, to the accompaniment of music of Lindisfarne. And we ended with Mohamad Khalife's memorable Lebanese feast ... fantastic.
I've enjoyed some delicious food, put on weight and most importantly I've gained confidence in the kitchen. I hope listeners can benefit similarly.
Richard Lane is a reporter for Can't See, Will Cook.