Firing Up the Gas Grill When You Are Visually Impaired

Firing Up the Grill

well used gas grill in yard

With the summer upon us, it is time to get out those hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, fish, and veggies. It is time to get cooking and fire up the grill!

The summer months are a prime time for picnics, backyard barbecues, and grilling out with friends and family. For some of us, this cooking ritual has been a big part of our lives and having a visual impairment shouldn’t keep you away from the grill!

Hadley Webinar on Grilling

When I lost my vision, I stopped barbecuing because I felt it was too dangerous using charcoal, lighter fluid, and wood chips. However, after listening to a webinar from the Hadley School for the Blind, called Backyard Grilling Basics, I am now thinking differently.

The webinar provided a history of barbecuing, grilling, the types of grills that are safe to use for a visually impaired person, and a variety of cooking techniques. I learned that instead of using a traditional backyard charcoal grill, a gas or electric grill might be a better choice because there is no flame to manage. Even using a George Foreman grill was highly recommended.

One of the presenters discussed the benefits of using a gas grill and the steps she took to purchase and use it properly. Additionally, the importance of reading the instruction manual was noted for maximum performance and cooking safety.

Preparing Food for Grilling

When it came to preparing food and actually cooking it, the presenter offered several tips and suggestions.

food wrapped in foil

The first step was to gather and prepare your food in advance. Because grilling is a fast-cooking method, you want to have everything you need ready and quickly available. This could mean having vegetables washed and cut to size or having meats cut and seasoned, so they are ready to go on the grill right away.

Other tips included how to wrap food in aluminum foil. For example, grilling fish can be done this way by placing the fish in a foil wrap along with your seasonings, herbs, and vegetables and then putting the foil-wrapped fish packet on the grill. Other examples were using foil for potatoes and corn on the cob. Using foil is quick, easy, and there is not much cleanup afterward.

Extra Grilling Tips

Extra cooking tips included using a grilling pan specifically for vegetables like beans and asparagus. The pan keeps everything in one place, and you can toss gently with a spatula for even cooking.

One of the presenters liked using skewers for cooking meats and vegetables. She mentioned the challenge of some things on the skewer cooking too fast, while others were cooked more slowly. To remedy this, she suggested cooking your meats on one skewer and your vegetables on another. Once done, mix them all together in a bowl and serve.

The consensus on skewers is that they are easy to use because you don’t have to figure out how to turn it over, and you can purchase skewers with handles that keep your hands away from the flame. When turning the skewer, use a grill glove to protect your hand then take the end of the skewer in your hand and flip it one time. Because the portions are smaller and typically chunk-sized, they will cook faster, and you won’t have to wonder if it is done or not.

When it came to accessible cooking utensils, all of the presenters used regular-sized forks, spatulas, and tongs. They explained that using regular utensils was more manageable and provided more control. One presenter, however, explained that he uses an iPhone app that helps him with grilling.

Cleaning the Grill

An important aspect of grilling is keeping the grill racks clean to avoid bacteria and contamination. One suggestion was to heat up the grill rack and clean it with a grill brush while the rack was still warm. An approach that my father used when I was a child was to let the grill rack cool and then wash it with a Brillo pad. But I think the quickest and easiest method is to cover the grill, prior to cooking, with aluminum foil and just remove the foil afterward. No fuss, no muss!

Are You Ready to Grill?

What I have shared is only a portion of the webinar, so if you are interested in grilling, please take the Hadley School for the Blind webinar, Backyard Grilling Basics. It is free! Along with the webinar, check out Hadley’s grilling resource list, and be sure to read VisionAware’s safe cooking tips.

So do you grill out? What tips and techniques do you use to be safe on the grill? Do you use an electric, gas, or charcoal grill? Share your comments below and let’s get ready to fire up the grill!

Editor’s Note: This post is reprinted with permission and was originally published on the SightSeeing Blog at the website of the Center for the Visually Impaired on July 30, 2014.