Due to the traumatic brain injury, doctors have labeled me a “hazard in the kitchen.” At one time in my life, cooking brought me great joy, now it can be dangerous. I have set off smoke alarms on more than one occasion and nearly melted a small frying pan when I sprayed Pam directly over the stove! This led to one of my favorite Christmas gifts ever, a portable fire extinguisher. I have memory challenges when preparing meals, and lack the attention and focus needed while reading a recipe.
To ensure safety, my rehabilitation specialist writes a “medical necessity” letter for meal delivery services. This service used to be a company out of Miami, FL called Fresh Diet. I would receive a prepared meal three days a week. Inside the refrigerated bag would be breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack and dessert for one person. It was a convenient way to enjoy prepared meals that were healthy and properly portioned, and I didn’t have to cook.
One morning in July 2016, the bag was not waiting outside my door however the online system showed I had received the delivery. I called customer service and left a message to report it missing. No one returned my call, and the following two deliveries were also not made. When I tried to call again, the number was disconnected. It took nearly a week before I learned Fresh Diet unexpectedly went bankrupt. Unfortunately, this occurred shortly after I prepaid $1,500 for the next three months of service. I filed a Better Business Bureau complaint and this issue is still unresolved.
I saw a friend’s recommendation on Facebook for a new meal service called Home Chef. The main difference is now I am required to prepare the meals. After discussing it with my fiancé Augustus, we decided to give it a try. On January 12th, I received the first smartly packaged box that contains three meals. filled with fresh produce, delicious ingredients and a helpful cookbook.
Cooking with a brain injury is nothing short of an adventure. I still agree to never cook without someone else here and have only prepared meals when Augustus is home. I have already thoroughly ruined two recipes, which he saved both times. The Truffled Cremini Mushroom flatbread and the Mushroom-Spinach Lasagna Rolls both have a “one-spoon Easy” difficulty rating. In both cases, I made the mistake of adding the wrong ingredients at the wrong step, which was much more of a problem than it might sound. I was terribly frustrated by my errors and was about to give up until Augustus helped calm me down and worked out a solution.
Home Chef is making me feel more confident in the kitchen, and I have started using a crock pot again. My friend Peter Herrschaft is a real foodie and an impressive chef. He expressed the desire to teach others cooking as a form of therapy. I will become his first client this Saturday when Augustus leaves town for Super Bowl Sunday. Standby for the next blog to see where this goes!