Sunday, July 08, 2012
caring and the culinary arts
We once dined in restaurants like any other couple. We once did a lot of things before Multiple Sclerosis began stealing Patti’s abilities.
That was decades ago, this is now. Patti primarily eats or more accurately is fed at her care facility.
It’s no longer about fine dining it’s about safety as trained feeding assistants help Patti through meals in assisted dinning. The kitchen also stacks the deck preparing easier to swallow meals including mincing entries.
Progression of MS symptoms not only confounds her ability to chew and swallow (dysphagia) but see her food (visual impairment). Her failing ability to control her hands and arms makes getting food to her mouth with utensils an exercise in futility.
While their teamwork is extraordinary, it seems to me that every once in a while texture diets and feeding guidelines can use some one man showmanship in the kitchen. Interestingly the care facility era ever challenges me to become better.
So I found myself inspired on the hottest day of the year to create a summer finger food entree specifically for Patti to try and enjoy at home. One handed finger food I should say, only her right arm works.
Why not grilled boneless chicken breast with a bowl of cut up fresh peaches, blackberries, and white grapes? My thinking was the mixture of berries and fresh fruit would provide an array of textures and shapes to stimulate her sense of touch over failing vision. The kaleidoscope of flavors I hoped would keep refreshing her cognition and attention. To prevent the chicken from seeming bland in contrast but not dominating as in BBQ, I grilled with a citrus stir-fried sauce (orange, pineapple, and grape) before briefly chilling and cutting up into bite sized squares.
The secret ingredient is verbal cueing … if you were nearby you would have heard “bite” … “chew” … “swallow” … interspersed with “now here take a sip of your drink to wash it down”. Verbally cueing Patti as she eats I sound more like a coxswain coordinating rowers as a rowing shell knifes through the water.
“Bangin’!” reported Patti as she safely finished her self-fed, one-armed, finger-food dinner bowl.
Caregivingly Yours, Patrick Leer
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