Thankfully, I’ve had the benefit of collaborating with adults with disabilities of various kinds and in various environments. Cooking is an essential skill required to live independently, but most recipes don’t seem to take into account that some people have bodies and brains that work differently from others. Some people may not be able to safely use a knife while others may become mentally overloaded by the number of steps and ingredients. Some may live in homes not equipped with materials appropriate for their height. Still others may not have success comprehending recipes written at reading levels beyond their current abilities. Any number of things contribute to making a basic life necessity difficult. Even anxiety makes cooking a daunting task sometimes. We all need recipes that are accessible. I do realize that cooking may not be a possibility for everyone, but it can and should be a possibility for more people than it currently is.
During my time working with college students with developmental disabilities, I recognized a need for recipes that used few ingredients and had concrete directions, written in accessible language without being written with children in mind. These students also needed recipes that didn’t start with appliances with more potential danger than others, like ovens and stoves. Many had no experience cooking due to fear of being burned or catching something on fire. They also needed success early on to build their confidence and help them continue to believe that they could cook. Thankfully, my husband learned how valuable a rice cooker is while teaching in Japan. While there, he developed a recipe, passed it on to me, and I began to modify it over time with the intent that nearly anyone could make it. I wanted to assure students they could tackle this recipe, make good food for themselves, not break their budget, and not hurt themselves in the process.
Below, I’ll share how to make the most basic version of this recipe. Some things to know about this basic version:
-no open flame or exposed heat
-is a little bland, but comforting
-only needs food ingredients, a 8-10 cup rice cooker, and a big stirring spoon
-once in the rice cooker, this takes about 45 minutes to cook
-only heat concern is related to the steam release vent
-makes 6-8 servings
-can typically be made for less than $10
You’ll need the following foods:
-32 oz carton of broth, any flavor
-16 oz bag of rice
-1 lb bag of baby carrots
-16 oz of cooked, diced ham
-olive oil, optional and used just to further soften the rice during cooking
Step 1- Over the rice cooker bowl, tear open the rice bag and pour the rice in.
Step 2- Tear open the bag of ham and pour the ham over the rice.
Step 3- Tear open the bag of carrots and pour them over the ham.
Step 4- Open the broth carton and pour it over the carrots.
Step 5- If you want to, add a drizzle of olive oil over the carrots.
Step 6- Stir all the ingredients together until the broth has covered most of the other ingredients.
Step 7- If your rice cooker just has an on/off button, just press it. If your cooker looks more like mine, click power and then white rice.
Step 8- Wait until the cooker moves to warm before you open the cooker.
Step 9- Open the cooker, spoon into bowls, and enjoy!