The help and advice given in these pages is for your guidance only, all methods
can be adapted to suit your individual requirements. I describe safe ways
to use the hob and hope you will enjoy cooking wonderful tasty meals in your


Cooking on the hob or top of your cooker is one of the quickest and easiest
ways to cook food. You can use it to prepare almost everything,
right from just simply boiling an egg, steaming and
boiling vegetables, making stews and casseroles, steaming puddings, making
sauces, shallow frying and so much more! In fact, right through
to cooking a whole meal in a trice so don’t despair if time and kitchen space
are at a premium.

Start cooking quite simply if you’re new to the culinary art, , I don’t want
you to feel under pressure to create that gourmet menu right away. Don’t
think that just because you are blind or visually impaired you can’t handle
hot pans safely and confidently, or aren’t capable of achieving the same standard
or level of competence as your sighted counterparts, you are! All it takes
is a little preplanning, having a set working routine and cooking in a safe
kitchen environment.

Will you be cooking with gas or electricity? This is a question that
has probably already been answered, depending on the utility or fuel supplied
to your home, but if not, you’ll need to decide which is the easiest and
most convenient for you to use. Either way, both are quick, versatile
and efficient.

Which Fuel is Most Suitable?

Gas – Gas has a sound and smell, sometimes making it the preferred cooking method
of many blind or visually-impaired cooks. As soon as a knob is turned
on, or an ignition button pressed, you can hear the gas flow and the burner
light. Gas hisses immediately as soon as it is fed to the burner. Its
necessary to use both hands to light a gas burner, depressing
and turning the control knob on with one hand while pressing the ignition
button in with a finger on the other. The ignition button will click rhythmically
and it should only take a very short time for the gas to light. As the burner
lights there will be a small pop. If the burner doesn’t light within the
first two or three seconds, the knob should be turned off and the ignition button
released. Don’t let the gas build up before lighting it or there will
be more of a pop and a higher flame. Once its alight, as the control knob
is adjusted , the louder the hiss becomes, the higher the heat or flame will
be, the quieter the hiss is, the lower the flame or temperature becomes. Not
only can gas be heard but heat and temperature are instantly controllable. Because
of its extreme manageability, its possible to vary the temperature beneath a
pan instantly. Turning the control knob off, will stop the heat
and curtail the cooking process straight away.

Electricity – Electricity is silent. Heat is supplied and controlled by turning on
a knob to each ring or hotplate. Some hobs are more immediately manageable
and easier to alter and control than others. Halogen or induction
hobs, where heat comes on and builds up instantly, can be quickly regulated.
When a pan is in the right position buttons are pressed to set the
required temperature. The buttons usually beep when pressed to show that
they have been activated.

Something important that has to be borne in mind however, is that most of
these hobs have completely flat, smooth surfaces. There is no demarcation,
indentation or texture change to show where pans should be positioned. If
a saucepan isn’t exactly in the right place when buttons are pressed, the hob
won’t activate and the pan won’t heat up. Its not impossible to use these
hobs, but it may be more difficult to quickly and confidently take pans on or
off as they will slide around and may not always be sitting directly over a
heat source.

Buying the right pans for induction hobs is important as many older types
cannot be used and won’t conduct heat at all. If a magnet will stick
to the base of a pan it will be suitable. Most manufacturers produce pans
which are recommended for all hob types.

Basic electric hobs have rings where, after the knob has been turned
on, it will sometimes take a minute or so to reach full temperature and even
heat distribution. This makes the pan temperature difficult to control
instantly. When cooking, although you’ll have the normal cooking sounds
as guidance, it won’t be as easy to control the heat, lower the temperature
quickly, or stop cooking immediately. The only way to cancel the
heat or stop the cooking process instantly is to remove the pan from the heat
source altogether. If a pan is left on a ring or hotplate after it has
been turned off, food may continue cooking for several minutes as the ring or
burner will hold its heat for quite some time afterwards.

I’m not suggesting electricity shouldn’t be your chosen way to cook, it just
means that a little more accurate timing and careful use will be called for.

Choosing and Buying the right Hob – Will you be buying, or do you already have, a freestanding cooker, giving
you a hob, grill and oven all in one unit, or would you prefer or perhaps you
have space for a split level design, where the hob is set into your worktop,
separately from the oven and grill? Once you have decided which type of hob to buy, please visit a good
showroom so you can examine the design, layout and controls on as many hobs
as possible. You may find that when looking at models produced by the
same manufacturer, features and controls are duplicated on their hobs over a
good wide price range.

Examine each hob while standing in front of it to make sure its set
at the correct height and that it is not too narrow. Split-level hobs
will be inset into a standard height work surface in your kitchen, but some
free standing cookers are lower or narrower.

look at the layout and placement of ignition buttons, heat control
knobs, burners and rings. Please be aware that some hobs have their controls on the top surface along
side the rings or burners. Although there is some space between them and
where the heat will come from, it would be very possible for fingers to accidentally
come in to contact with a hot surface or the side of a hot pan when lighting
burners, switching on rings or adjusting temperatures during cooking.
Make sure that there is room around each knob on the hob’s control
panel to mark temperatures or heat settings if necessary. Some knobs are
round, close to where they join the panel, but are ridged
or flanged for an easy grip with a small notch or indentation at
the top, off or 12 o’clock position. Other round knobs often have a dot
or line at off, or 12 o’clock, Some controls when turned from one end of their
travel to the other, complete more than one circuit, making it difficult to
set an exact or positive temperature. Many controls stop at the
off position, drop, click or notch into a boil setting, and also have a simmer
setting at the far end of their travel, these are extremely useful features
to look out for.

Examine every hob in detail, familiarize yourself with all pan supports,
burners and rings. Look at how each model comes apart for cleaning, pay
particular attention to gas burners as if they’re difficult to take apart and
reassemble then not put back together properly they won’t light, for safety

Lift and lower protective lids or covers to check on their stability, durability
and weight, ensuring that they are well supported and stay securely up out
of the way with the top of the hob easily and safely accessible.

I would strongly advise that you take a saucepan and frying pan along with
you when you’re going to look at different models. While
you’re standing in front of each hob, place them on to every ring or burner,
noting how rigid the top of the hobs construction is, how well and securely
the pan sits on each burner or ring and whether you can easily and confidently
lift the pan on and off each ring or burner. Practice sliding the pan
over from one burner or ring to the other without lifting it. Many hobs
have both large and small, high and low powered burners or rings to cater
for varied pan sizes and cooking temperatures, but what you don’t want to happen
is for any pan to feel unstable or to tip easily when its moved over from
one pan position to another or placed anywhere on the hob. Remember
though, that once a pan is in use, full of food and liquid, it will be
heavier and much more stable.

Your hob should have just enough of a raised edge on either side, to be easily
located by touch. The outer edge of this rim will remain cool when the
hob’s in use, acting as a reference for the safe positioning and location of
pan handles.

Turn control knobs to what will be, once installed, their various heat settings,
to see how easily they travel and to make sure you can grip them securely. Take
note of how easy it is to set them at boil, simmer etc. If heat settings
are to be marked later, check that there is enough space around each control
to put small dots or marks. It might be necessary to choose a hob with
contrasting coloured knobs and panel for easy reference.

If plenty of time is taken to look at hobs in detail now, you will
have the reassurance that you are buying a design that is safe. You
will know that you’ll be able to use it confidently once it has been installed
in your kitchen, and there will be less chance of any spillage or accident
in the future.

Installation of Your Hob

Please have your hob connected to the gas or electricity supply by a qualified
engineer or professional kitchen installation Company. Ask about this
when purchasing your cooker or hob.

Which Pans are Best?

No matter which fuel you are going to cook with I would advise buying pans
that are sturdy, substantial, but not too heavy. Don’t buy saucepans
and frying pans that are too small or too shallow for your needs or the amount
of food you are going to cook in them, its far easier to fry in a large deep
buffet frying pan or boil in a larger saucepan. Cooking in good
sized pans means that larger amounts of food won’t spit splash or boil over
quite so readily. Pans should have a durable interior or a Good quality non-stick
scratch resistant coating, to withstand the use of stainless steel or metal
kitchen utensils, most DuPont Teflon coated pans have this type of finish. May I particularly recommend the new for 2008-9, Cook’s Essentials 500G ranges,
sold specifically by QVC the TV telephone and online Shopping Channel. These
pans are all treated with a DuPont Scratchguard protective coating, which are
safe to use with metal utensils. They are also oven safe to
a high temperature, with or without their sturdy shatterproof glass lids. Yes,
you can even put them in the oven. I have recommended the Cook’s Essentials
range before, but these are oven safe up to a higher temperature than the original
Cook’s Essentials collection. Cook’s Essentials also have a Technique
II professional cookware collection made from anodized aluminium with
stainless steel lids and interior non-stick coating. All ranges are highly
recommended particularly because of their durability and depth. The Cook’s
Essentials 500 G, Advanced range have lids which can be put in the oven up to
the same temperature as the pans.

Saucepans are often but not always, sold in sets of three or 4, measuring
approximately, 14, 16, 18 and 20 cms in diameter. They will hold approximately
1.L, 1.9L, 2.8L and 3.9L.
Whichever pans you choose, whether they are non-stick or not, they should
have thick, impact bonded wide flat bases, and deep sides. All saucepans,
excluding small milk pans, should have lids that fit well with large plastic
coated or heat resistant knobs. Ideally, but not essentially,
with finger guards, an area of plastic or heat resistant material
around the knobs where they join the lids. This means that when in use,
finger ends will be protected from touching the lids each time they are located,
lifted or removed.

Knobs should be large enough and stand proud so they can be located and grasped
easily and quickly, so that when in use, saucepan lids can be removed
confidently. Pans should have long, plastic coated or heat resistant handles
with very little or no unprotected metal where the handle joins the pan. If
handles are long, both hands can be used to lift them on or off the cooker.
When pans are on the hob, where safety is important and you need
to return frequently to quickly locate and grasp pan handles, this ensures that
fingers are further away from the edge of a pan and won’t accidentally touch
any hot surface.

Choose a large stainless steel colander with a round base or non-slip feet
and two heat resistant handles. I know You can buy saucepans with drainer
lids to strain vegetables through, but its much easier and safer to drain them
into a colander.

Buy a graduated steamer insert and lid if you are planning to steam
vegetables or sponge puddings on the hob. Make sure that the steamer will fit
safely inside your largest saucepan and that the lid fits it well.
A small, non-stick milk pan with pouring lips on both sides, will
be needed to make scrambled eggs , custard, porridge, sauces, as well as to
boil milk. A milk saver, sometimes called a vegetable saver,
a small metal or glass disc, can be dropped into the bottom of the
pan before the milk is heated. It acts as an early warning signal, rattling
as the milk comes to the boil. Although it prevents boiling
over straight away, If left unattended, milk will still boil over,
so you may feel it really is far easier to heat it in a No Boil Over Jug
in the microwave.

Buy a stock pot with a tightly fitting lid, if you want to cook stews
on the hob. It should be deep-sided, non-stick, have a wide flat
base, two heat resistant handles, one long, with another shorter, curved supporting
handle on the opposite side, to help with lifting.

a set of wall mounted good quality sturdy, long handled, heat resistant,
plastic or stainless steel kitchen tools is a must, they will be in use every
day, they should include, a spatula or fish slice, a fork, kitchen tongs and
two spoons, one slotted, and a potato masher. Many kitchenware or hardware
shops are like an Aladdin’s cave, full of useful and interesting products, so
take plenty of time to browse for or discover things you think might be useful,
according to the type of cooking you’re planning to do.

Choosing The Right Pots and Pans

When selecting your pans, put each one onto a firm flat surface, hold the
handle with one hand, depending on whether you’re right or left handed, use
your leading hand or whichever feels most comfortable and secure, now put the
lid on with the other hand.

Still holding the handle, take the saucepan lid off, hold it
a little way above the pan, then replace the lid again. Do this several
times to make sure the lid is a good fit and that it sits on top of the saucepan
firmly. Lift it off a little, then drop it back on again so that you are familiar
with its weight. With the lid on the pan, Still holding the pan handle in one
hand, use your other hand to find the knob, now move your hand away from
the pan altogether, now bring it back over the top of the pan again and drop
it down to find the knob again but this time, don’t remove the lid. When
the pan is hot, you don’t want to have any difficulty at all in finding
the knob when removing the lid or putting it back on again.
Keeping one hand in constant contact with the pan handle is invaluable and
very necessary for guidance, particularly when the pan is being used on the

Stand each pan on a firm surface with the lid on, hold the handle with
one hand, choose the hand you’d lift the pan with, then remove the lid with
your other hand, put it down on a flat surface , knob side up a little
way away from the pan. Move your hand away from the lid, then
pick it up by the knob and put it back on again.

The reason why I’m being so specific about the way you use your saucepans
and advising that you choose a steady hand to hold the handle and the other
to find the knobs on the lids, is that when the pans are hot you won’t be able
to touch them. Being able to pick lids up by their knobs and being happy
with the way the lids fit the pans now, is very important, as you will be
assured that you can use them on the hob confidently and safely.

Marking Controls on the Hob

Many blind or visually-impaired cooks are perfectly confident enough to be
able to use a hob without having the knobs marked once they are familiar with
the controls and heat settings on a particular model.
Many manufacturers will fit a studded or Brailed control panel to their hobs
or cookers free of charge. Ask about this when purchasing your chosen

If you’re new to cooking or knobs are to be marked, use small, clear,
self-adhesive bump-ons or clear sticky backed dots for tactile markings.
Alternatively, use hi-marks or a similar heat resistant reflective
glue, to make contrasting coloured reference dots.
As well as marking the various heat settings on the hob’s panel around the
outside of each knob, a reference dot or mark should be placed on each knob
at the off, top, or 12 o’clock position, so that as the knob is turned, this
dot can be accurately lined up with each dot or mark on the panel for the heat
settings. Make sure that the reference dot or mark on each knob is as
close as possible to those marks or dots that you’ve put on the hob’s panel,
so that as each knob moves round, one fingertip can be used to accurately line
the dot on the knob up with each temperature setting. Bump-ons, sticky
dots and hi-marks or reflective glue can be purchased from the RNIB.

Using the controls and heat settings on your Hob.

Stand in front of the cooker or hob while its not being used and practice
finding the knobs or controls without touching the top surface or the rim on
the top of the front edge of the cooker. Drop your hands down in front
of the cooker or hob, below where the knobs are situated, then move them forwards
and back up to find and make contact with the control panel. By
bringing your hands up from below the hob and not approaching it from above,
you won’t ever accidentally touch the edge of a hot pan, burner or ring when
they are hot, or in use. When approaching the hob or cooker from the side
in order to find saucepan handles when you’re cooking to check on the progress
of food, or to lift pans from the hob when food is cooked, always touch
the top of an adjacent worktop, run your hand along to the edge near to or
along side the hob, then you won’t accidentally touch the hot pan, top or front
edge of the cooker.

Before you Start Cooking.

Please familiarize yourself with your kitchen environment and layout before
you start cooking, this particularly applies if you are new to cooking or to
the layout of your kitchen.

Begin by moving around the outside edge or
the perimeter, this is where fixed appliances, cupboards and worktops are usually
situated. Keep doing this until you are confidently moving from one thing
to the next. Now, walk around the room from sink, to hob and back to the
sink again. Move from the cooker to the fridge, from the fridge to the
sink, then from worktops back to the cooker again. In other words explore
your kitchen until you are relaxed and comfortable with its layout and can move
around the whole of the interior, freely and happily. Store saucepans,
pots, pans and other more heavy and bulky items in a cupboard or on a
shelf where they can be accessed and lifted out easily. Once you’ve decided
where to store your crockery, cutlery, dried and canned foods and other more
bulky flour, cereals etc, don’t let anyone else move them into another cupboard
or drawer without your knowledge, after all, it would be very frustrating to
find that you’ve poured washing powder into your cereal dish instead of porridge.
I jest slightly, simply to make light of how frustrating it can be, when
you can’t see, to accidentally open the wrong product, to specify how
important it is to know where everything is kept and to have a methodical labeling
system that suits you best. This could be as simple as using separate
shelves for tinned and dried goods, then using elastic bands, string,
magnetic raised letters, Braille labels, talking labels etc to mark different
products. You must select whichever method suits you best, to fit your
own needs and that of your kitchen space.  Please don’t let other people

move anything in your kitchen once in place, you may easily mislay something
you need but know you have. In time, every item, be it food or used in
food preparation, will become familiar to you, but it won’t help initially when
you are new to your kitchen, if, as they say, “too many cooks spoil the
broth,” so to speak.

Before you start cooking, if you feel it would help, try Carrying empty saucepans
from worktop to hob, then from hob to the sink. Why not try filling a
saucepan with cold water and practice lifting it to and from or on and off the
hob, following the techniques I’ve suggested, while everything is still cold.

Carry out as much preparation as possible before you start cooking, weighing
and measuring out food, peeling, chopping or slicing vegetables etc. You
may prefer to lay out your ingredients and utensils on your worktops in a set
order according to your recipe, so you know exactly where everything is. This
may help you to work methodically, in a set order, knowing precisely what
to do next, with the added assurance that nothing has been left out and that
every step or process has been carried out successfully through to your recipe’s
completion. This might be particularly useful when baking, or where there
are a substantial number of ingredients needed for one dish or a complete meal.

Cooking with Pots and Pans

It isn’t possible to cover every cooking method here, but I’ll give a few
basic helpful, safe, hints and tips to adopt when using the hob.

Boiling vegetables Preparation

Select the correct pan for the amount of vegetables you’re going to cook,
the larger the quantity of vegetables, the bigger the pan should be.

Put the empty saucepan onto a clear worktop or draining board before adding
the prepared vegetables. Pour in just enough water to cover them well. Next,
put the lid on, then take the saucepan to the hob.

Its often necessary to lift a large, full pan with both hands, this is where
a good long handle is useful. Sometimes it might feel safer to hold
the handle with one hand and support the underneath of the pan with the other
hand to help balance it and equalise the weight.

always put a saucepan on the hob before turning on the heat, that way its
possible to adjust it if need be and to feel that it is positioned correctly
over the ring or burner while it is still cold.

Never leave a pan handle pointing toward you, sticking out over the
front of the hob, in case you or anyone else catches or brushes
against it while moving around in the kitchen.

Always Turn a pan handle to the side or outer edge, the left or right, of
the hob furthest from any heat source, equating to either 3 or 9 on the
clock face. If the hob is adjacent to worktops on one or both sides,
the edges can be used as a reference, i.e., when pan handles are in a
correct, safe place. Never point pan handles across or over an unlit burner
on the hob. The pan could get knocked, or you may just forget the handle’s
there and inadvertently either light or try to use that empty ring or burner.

Cooking The Vegetables

If you’re new to cooking or unfamiliar with your hob, I would suggest that
you try to keep your kitchen as quiet as possible so that you can listen to
and concentrate on cooking. The more you use your hob, the more you’ll recognize
the sounds and hear when a pan is coming to the boil by the rise, then fall
of the sound of the Water and vegetables as they begin to bubble. After you’ve positioned
the pan over the ring or burner correctly, with the handle in a safe place,
, turn on the heat or light the burner. Remember to approach and find
the knobs or controls from below the front edge of the hob rather than from
above. when the heat is turned on, the pan will be silent unless you’re
cooking with gas then you’ll hear the gas hissing. The only time a pan
might sizzle a little bit is if the base is wet, it will stop sizzling as the
moisture evaporates. The base and sides of the saucepan will get hot very
quickly, but it will take longer to heat the contents. As the water
heats up it will make a noise a bit like a quiet kettle. As it approaches
boiling point the sound will get quieter, then the water hisses as the steam
starts to rise. Its at this point that the control knob has to be turned
down a little. Now the vegetables will begin to bubble, so the knob should
be turned down to lower the heat even more until the pan is bubbling gently.
By keeping one hand on the pan handle you can feel and monitor the slight
vibration as the veg continues to bubble or boil.
If the heat is too high the water in the pan will hiss and spit a bit, if
its too low, the water will stop bubbling altogether, and the vegetables won’t

When you are familiar with the heat settings on the hob and confident
when boiling vegetables, you might like to keep one hand on the handle and lift
the lid by its knob, up above the pan. If it is boiling, a gentle
stream of steam will rise up to touch your hand. Don’t be concerned, steam
is only very hot and moist if your fingers or hand are very close to the top
of the pan just as the lid is lifted, the higher you lift your hand the more
the steam feels just like warm air rising. Obviously, some care
must be taken when doing this for the first time, you won’t burn yourself if
the lid is lifted high enough because it will protect your hand from the steam
as it makes its escape from beneath the lid. This is a good
way of checking that the water is still boiling.

If your pan has a steam vent, a little hole on the outside edge of the lid,
it may whistle, or the lid might rattle or wobble up and down a little bit,
this is confirmation that the pan is boiling. Regulate this by turning
down the heat with the control if its too noisy.

Never add vegetables to a pan of boiling water while its on the hob, this
avoids the chance of any accident, water splashing or spilling,
the pan moving or becoming dislodged and tipping.

Time the cooking process from when your pan starts to boil, and you’ve turned
down the heat. Once you are happy that the vegetables are cooking nicely,
there is no need to keep your hand on the pan handle.
Please don’t allow anyone to move, alter the position or adjust the temperature
of your saucepans while you’re cooking. It is your kitchen, you are the
cook, therefore, you and only you, should be the one who does this as your safety,
while working in the kitchen is very important.

To test vegetables to find out if they are cooked, use a fork. Hold the pan
handle in one hand, remove the lid with your free hand and put it, knob uppermost
as it is now, on one side on a clear worktop close to you so you can find
it again immediately. Now, still holding the pan handle, pick up
the fork in your free hand and with the prongs angled downward, jab or spear
several pieces of vegetable. If the tines of the fork slide
into them without too much resistance, they are cooked. Obviously, things
like potatoes for mashing need to be softer than green leaf vegetables. Exactly
how much time it takes to cook your vegetables depends on personal taste and
the temperature of the ring or burner on your hob, but a rough approximation
is 10 to 15 minutes for green leaf vegetables, 20 minutes to cook carrots root
veg and boiled leeks or onions, and a bit longer 25 minutes or so for potatoes
for mashing, but for par boiling they’ll perhaps only take 10 minutes.

What to listen out for as given above also applies when steaming puddings
on the hob, please see my page on Steaming puddings for more details.

Another good way to learn how water sounds as it comes up to the boil is
to boil an egg. Put your egg into a saucepan while its standing on a clear
worktop, add enough cold water to cover it, put it on the hob, remembering
to put the pan handle in a safe position. Turn on the heat. When
the saucepan boils the egg will rattle or wobble as the water bubbles. Then
just alter the heat control to lessen the rattling sound but don’t turn it to
low to stop it altogether. Time your egg from when it begins to wobble.

Straining Vegetables

Stand a colander in an empty sink. Make absolutely sure that nothing
is obstructing the plug or drainage hole.
When the vegetables are cooked, always turn off the heat under the pan on
the hob before moving it.

First, lift the pan, by the handle only, with both hands if necessary, for
safety, on to a clear heat resistant work surface or draining board close
to your sink. If this surface is wet or damp, don’t be alarmed if the
pan sizzles a little bit as it comes into contact with any moisture, it won’t
do this if the work surface is dry.

Keep the pan handle in one hand and remove the lid with the other, and put
it on one side. Still with the pan handle in one hand, lift or slide it
over to the sink. Still keeping contact with the pan handle with
one hand, locate the colander in your sink with your other hand. Move
your hand away from the colander and carefully lift the pan with both
hands on the handle if necessary, and tip the contents into the colander. Put
the empty hot saucepan out of the way. Lift the colander up a little by
its handles, so that any excess water can drain freely and completely away.
At this point your colander will be hot, but not as hot as the vegetables
inside it.

Serve straight away as vegetables cool quite quickly. Spoon them from
the colander or hold the colander in one hand and use your other clean hand
to tip or push them onto individual plates or into a warm serving dish. There
is absolutely nothing wrong in using your fingers, once the vegetables have
cooled sufficiently, let your fingers be your eyes.

If you are going to mash potatoes, after you’ve strained them, tip them back into the warm
saucepan, replace the lid, then fetch a little butter or margarine from the
fridge, take off the pan lid, drop in a small knob of fat, then
mash with a potato masher. Hold the pan handle with one hand, then
take the potato masher in the other, pressing it down into the potato,
moving the masher from one side of the saucepan to the other, through the potato.
Mash for a minute or so, then continue using a fork to remove any tiny
lumps. Don’t be afraid to use your fingers to tell you how soft and fluffy
your potatoes are. Just make sure that your hands are clean

Sue’s Kitchen – Cooking Pasta or other food in an Uncovered Saucepan.

Preparation – Pasta should be boiled or cooked in a large, deep-sided saucepan as it needs
plenty of room to boil steadily. Add plenty of cold water to a large
saucepan but don’t fill it right to the top.
Take the saucepan to the hob, put the pan handle in a safe, at the outside,
position and turn on the heat. While the pan is coming to the boil, put
the required amount of pasta into a small jug. When the pan comes to the
boil, either hold the pan handle with one hand to locate and steady it, then
pour in the pasta carefully from the jug or, alternatively, turn off the heat,
move the pan onto a clear heat resistant work surface then pour in the pasta
and take the pan back to the hob again. Bear in mind
that you won’t be able to touch the surface of the ring or burner which you’ve
just used as it will still be hot. You could, of course, use another one.
Turn on the heat again then stir with a fork to prevent it from
sticking. As the pasta starts to boil, you’ll hear it bubble and feel a small
vibration through the pan handle. Turn down the heat a little, still holding
the pan handle with one hand, bring your other hand high up over the hob in
line with the top of the pan, drop it down a bit and, if the saucepan is boiling
steadily, you’ll feel the warm air, or steam rising.
Start timing the pasta for 8 to 10 minutes, or according to packet
instructions, from this point on. Stir occasionally to prevent pasta sticking
to the pan.

Test with a fork until its slightly soft. When its cooked, turn off the heat
then strain the pasta into a large colander standing in your sink, just
as you would when straining vegetables

Sue’s Kitchen – Cooking Soups, Stews or Casseroles on the Hob

I am all in favour of using one large pan to cook a complete meal and believe
me, it will smell lovely from start to finish.

Preparation – Start by following the same preparation method as for boiling vegetables,
i.e. stand the pan on your worktop and add the prepared meat or vegetables,
then put in a small amount of oil if you’re planning to sweat fry or seal meat
as recommended when making many soup and casserole recipes. Take the saucepan
to the hob, put it in position over a ring or burner with the handle in a safe
place and turn on the heat to fairly low. You’ll hear the food begin
to sizzle straight away. Start to turn the contents over with a long handled,
heat resistant spoon. Push the spoon down under the food, scooping up
a small amount, then tipping the spoon over sideways, letting the meat or vegetables
drop back into the pan. Repeat this process several times so that all
the food becomes coated in oil and thoroughly incorporated. Follow your
recipe, browning or softening the contents for a few minutes prior to adding
liquid or stock for stews, soups or casseroles. Turn off the heat
under the saucepan, carefully lift it from the hob onto a clear worktop, then
add your liquid or other ingredients.

Stir well to blend everything together, put on the pan lid if required.  Carefully
lift the pan back onto the hob, turning the handle away from the front to a
safe outer position, then turn on the ring or burner again. If you are
uncertain of the correct position and the hob is still hot, choose another cool
ring or burner instead. Hold the saucepan handle and stir constantly as the
pan comes up to the boil, turn down the heat control until it is bubbling slightly.
Cover with a lid, continue cooking, stirring occasionally, and time
according to your recipe instructions. Thicken if necessary just prior
to serving, by blending a heaped tablespoon of corn flour with a little cold
water in a small jug or mug, then pour it into the contents while stirring constantly.
As it thickens the stew or casserole it will become more difficult
to move the spoon through it as the stock thickens.

Sue’s Kitchen – Cooking Scrambled Egg, Porridge, Custard, Thickening Sauces, Making Gravy

Preparation – Following your recipe instructions, put cold ingredients into the saucepan
when its standing on a clear worktop.

Take the pan to the hob, put it in position. Turn on the heat to low
and hold the pan handle with one hand. Use a heat resistant long handled spoon
to continually stir the ingredients while it heats up slowly. You probably
won’t hear any bubbling or hissing, but as the egg, porridge, sauce thickens
you’ll notice that it gets a little more difficult to move the spoon through
the mixture, when you notice some resistance, it is thickening. Keep the
heat low, don’t let the pan contents pop or bubble too much and stir until
cooked through. This also applies when thickening stews, casseroles and
soups when corn flour and a little cold water are blended together in a mug
or small jug, then stirred in to the pan just before serving.

Sue’s Kitchen – Shallow Frying on the Hob
You might be a bit worried about frying food in a shallow frying pan as you
think that fat or juices might spit or splash, if so, why not fry in a
wide, deep buffet pan, or a large, deep-sided saucepan instead. Diced
meat, chopped onions or smaller quantities of food can be fried in a smaller
saucepan. Never over fill a pan with food, leave plenty of room so that
it can be turned over or moved around easily, this will lessen the chance of
food falling out of the pan on to the hob while you’re cooking.

Preparation – Start by standing the empty frying pan or deep-sided saucepan on a
clear work surface. Now, add a small amount of your chosen cooking oil
to the pan, no more than Approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons 15 to 30 ml is needed
as most food cooks in its own juices. There are several ways of adding
oil to a pan. It can be brushed over the base, prior to cooking fatty
meat like bacon and sausages, or poured into a tablespoon while its
held over the pan. Alternatively, you can gently tip or dribble oil into
a tablespoon from a bottle with a pouring spout or small hole. the
required amount could be poured into the pan from a small jug. Another
way is to hold the bottle of oil over the pan and monitor the amount coming
out with a finger, with practice, you’ll be able to put in exactly the right
amount confidently. Don’t tip the bottle up too far too quickly. Get
into the habit of always putting the top back on the bottle again straight away
to save a messy spill.

Next, lay large pieces of meat or fish, sausages, bacon, chops, chicken breast
etc., on the base of the pan in a single layer. It would be a very good idea to start frying while your kitchen is very quiet,
that way, all your attention will be focused on the task ahead.

Hold the pan handle in one hand, carry it to the hob, and find
the correct place on the ring or burner with your other hand. Put the
pan in position, swiveling the handle to the outside edge of the hob at
either 3 or 9 on the clock, before lighting the burner or turning on the heat.
Turn on the heat or light the burner. Hold the pan handle with one
hand and keep the other on the burner or ring control knob. it will be
easy to control the heat while you listen to the sound or slight crackling of
the food as it begins to get hot and start to cook. As soon as the heat
is turned on the pan will get hot and the food begin to sizzle slightly. If
it sizzles or crackles too much, lower the heat a little. If it stops
sizzling altogether, just turn up the heat slightly. You will smell food
almost immediately.   Begin to time larger slices or items of meat
or fish now, so that you can turn them over half way through the cooking time.
(Please see my section on Cooking Meat for more details).

If you are frying smaller chunks of meat, chopped onions or stir frying,
start to gently move the food around on the base of the saucepan or frying pan
straight away with a heat resistant fork or spoon. Keep
the tip of the spoon or ends of the prongs of the fork in contact with
the base and gently push the food around constantly. When food is
moved around carefully in the pan, there is less chance of any being pushed
out over the rim onto the hob. Some food may stick to the sides of the
pan, so every now and again, just run the tip of the spoon or fork around it,
pushing any little bits back down into the pan.
As you move the food around it will sizzle a little bit as it touches the
hot surfaces, this is quite normal. If the pan is too hot or the food
is sticking, you will smell it. If you have a large quantity of meat and
vegetables in a saucepan or stock pot, you’ll need to turn them over regularly,
do this by pushing the tip of the spoon down into the food scooping some up
then tipping the spoon over sideways, repeat this process several times to make
sure that food is being evenly heated and distributed. keeping the spoon
in close contact with the pan while turning food over, means there will be much
less chance of any coming out on to the cooker.

Have a large spatula or fish slice ready so that you can lift or turn larger
items of meat or fish halfway through cooking.

Always hold the pan handle when moving or turning food in the pan, this keeps
it in place on the ring or burner, preventing it from tipping or sliding.

If you need to turn food over half way through its cooking
time, remove the pan from the heat onto a clear, heat resistant worktop, then,
while still holding the pan handle in one hand, use the spatula or fish
slice to turn it over. If you let the pan cool slightly it will be possible
to gently and carefully feel the edge of the pan and the top of the food to
assist with turning.

In time, you may feel confident enough to turn larger pieces of food over
in the pan without removing it from the hob, always hold the handle while doing
this and remember that the uncooked side of the food will sizzle as it comes
into contact with the base of the hot pan.

Sue’s Kitchen – General Information

How do you tell when something’s cooked?

firstly timing the food will give a good approximation of how long its supposed
to take. Using your sense of smell to recognize and become
familiar with how food changes its smell at its various stages of cooking will
become second nature after a while.

Use a fork to test for tenderness and have a little taste every now and again.
Just put a plate on the worktop next to the hob, spear, or scoop
up and drop a small amount of food onto it, then let it cool slightly before
trying it. Don’t be tempted to taste meat until its almost at the end
of its cooking time and its tender. Listen to the sizzling
cooking sound that the pan is making, don’t let it increase or decrease too
much. Take note of the change in texture of food, the more it cooks the
firmer, more textured and tender the meat or fish will become. Sausages
and bacon will get crisper.

The onions and stir fry will soften. Everything you cook
will have its own unique, nice cooked smell.

Don’t ever leave a pan unattended for more than a minute or so while you’re
frying. When frying onions, stir frying or sweat frying meat and vegetables
prior to making soups or casseroles, you can turn down the heat to very low
and cover the pan with a lid and let them cook gently for a few minutes. but
its always wise to go back and check on them regularly, giving the pan a stir
each time.

When food is cooked, turn off the heat, then remove the pan immediately.
Tip or spoon the contents onto a warm plate.

Never leave a pan on a hot burner or ring after use as any fat or little
bits of food left inside, may get hot and start smoking even after the hob has
been turned off.

It would be a good idea to get into the habit of putting pans away on shelves
or in cupboards after you’ve washed up, rather than putting them back on the
hob or cooker.

It is good practice to check the top of the cooker or hob
after its gone cold to see if it needs cleaning, if you do this and clean after
every use, the hob not only looks and feels cleaner, but it will mean that there
won’t be any food particles to stick or burn, the next time you use it.

Always lower the protective hob cover or lid after its cooled.

Sue’s Kitchen – Deep Fat Frying on the Hob

In my opinion, no one, either with or without sight should ever deep fat
fry, (cook food in a large quantity of cooking oil), on the hob. A deep
pan of Oil gets very hot, quickly, reaching an extremely high temperature
very suddenly which has the potential to cause a fire. If you really do
want to cook those fish and chips with a home made flavour, examine some of
the stand alone electric thermostatically controlled deep fat fryers specifically
designed to fry chips, fish and other battered and crumbed meat and potato products.
If you have little or no sight, please only use a fryer after studying
the instruction leaflet carefully, and then, if you’re at all unsure, fry
with sighted assistance until you get used to how it works and the sounds it
makes. Examine one of the new models where just a tablespoon of oil will
cook a variety of foods, e.g. the Tefal Acti-fry.

I hope that some of the suggestions I’ve given are helpful. Please
enjoy cooking some wonderful food in your kitchen in a relaxed, happy atmosphere.