To avoid confusion: I (her eldest son) will be helping my mom type up the answers.

My mother lost her eyesight more than five years ago (doctors have yet to identify a specific cause, with some hypothesizing conversion disorder or a rare eye disease they haven't understood yet).

A lifelong housewife and passionate cook (though she never cooked "professionally"), her dishes outdo anything from a five-star restaurant (and that's not me being biased). And today she celebrates her 50th birthday.

This is her flipping prathas, a type of Indian flatbread:

She made this spread yesterday:

And she made these over the past year. Like a true artist, presentation is equally important for her. So yes, amazingly, she did the presentation herself. Photos were taken to include in a cookbook I'm working on putting together for her: (edit--photo credit: Sonya Kumpus)

EDIT: She expresses her gratitude for all questions and birthday wishes, saying that this has been the best birthday so far. She is eager to continue answering more, between preparing the day's meals--we're not allowed to cook anything for her, especially in her kitchen. "When I come to your kitchen, then you can cook for me."

EDIT: Thanks for all the love! My mom is very honored and humbled to get on the front page. And she wants to continue answering more questions. Thanks for making her day. You guys gave her the best birthday present.

Comments: 737 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

SCam36749 karma

Christine Ha (MasterChef) proved to the world this year that blind people can make some of the best tasting and looking food. Cooking is more about passion than being able to see what you're doing.

Your mother's food looks absolutely delicious, and I would be interested in seeing her finished cookbook.

LouF---ingGrant464 karma

Here's her response about Christine: "... Christine helped me realize that there are others with my situation and that if she can do it, then so can I. I was so proud of her."

Salacious-242 karma

How do you find the right spices in the spice rack?

LouF---ingGrant494 karma

By smelling the spice. And through memory. Everything must be kept where I leave it.

Salacious-135 karma

How are you able to tell when something is ready? For example, when baking something in the oven, I have to look in to see how brown it is. How can you do that?

LouF---ingGrant113 karma

I ask my husband to check on the time and I lightly feel the dish. Its firmness will determine what level of 'done'.

[My mom has a method using her hands to determine the levels. I will upload a video of her explanation shortly.]

se7enthson192 karma

Do you identify with Mrs. Patmore?

LouF---ingGrant102 karma

"I've never listened to that show. But now I'm curious."

JimmyMac483153 karma

What is the most challenging task for you while cooking? Happy Birthday!!

LouF---ingGrant378 karma

Cutting/dicing. "It scares Dad every time."

iamaredditer137 karma

What is her best dish?

LouF---ingGrant294 karma

She said that's a tough one. Her favorite dish is Tiramisu. Her most requested dish is fried rice and eggrolls.

iamaredditer98 karma

mmm love some homemade eggrolls. my neighbor made them and they kicked ass. What is her recipe?

LouF---ingGrant364 karma

She gave a devilish giggle and said, "chef's secret."

iamaredditer91 karma

Does she make chicken and dumplings?

LouF---ingGrant169 karma

Yes, she does. She can pretty much replicate a dish by tasting it.

iamaredditer113 karma

Awesome tell her to get some going and I will haul ass to wherever the hell it is y'all live. Been craving some chicken n dumplings. Makes me miss my grandma.

LouF---ingGrant157 karma

She said, "come on down!"

Indydegrees283 karma

Would you rather cook a hundred horse sized ducks or a duck sized horse?

LouF---ingGrant200 karma

"I just need one horse-sized duck."

heatmiZ79 karma

How is it that you lost your eyesight and can cook at a genius level, but I can't cook an egg without toasting the shit out of it?

LouF---ingGrant205 karma

"Well, your biggest problem is that you can't toast an egg (laughs). But it just takes practice. I've been cooking since I was nine. I've burned many dishes in my time."

thegreatgazoo65 karma

How do you measure ingredients?

How do you cut things?

What is the best prank someone has pulled on you because you can't see?

LouF---ingGrant141 karma

Here are the answers to your questions

edit: includes a demonstration of her cutting potatoes.

minnieman59 karma

What's the biggest daily hurdle for you, being a blind chef?

LouF---ingGrant319 karma

"Thinking about what I'm going to make for the day."

JustCallMeDave57 karma

Have you found that your sense of smell and taste have sharpened? If so, has it made you an even better chef in some sense?

LouF---ingGrant96 karma

"Yes, it definitely has made me better. It has helped with my concentration a lot."

dBONGman42052 karma

Ever try and teach others in your situation

LouF---ingGrant87 karma

"No, but I would love to."

thebritishbloke44 karma

Is there anything you can't do during cooking, that you could do before you lost your eyesight?

LouF---ingGrant134 karma

"No, I can pretty much do everything that I was able to do when I could see. I can even multitask; I'll be on the phone while cooking and while the food is simmering, I would go take care of some laundry."

Fastmolasses34 karma

How many century eggs can you eat in one sitting?

LouF---ingGrant70 karma

"As many as I can. I LOVE century eggs."

easyiris29 karma

Your food looks incredible!

Where did your love of food and cooking come from?

Who taught you to cook?

Do you prefer cooking savoury or sweet dishes?

As I'm such an awful cook (I can bake well - I've won competitions! I just can't make meals), I'd love some advice on timing. I have no idea what to do when it comes to timing and get very flustered.

Will your cookery book be for sale?

LouF---ingGrant44 karma

1 & 2. "From my mom. She taught me to cook when I was 9. She's the most influential person in my life. And knowing how much my family enjoyed my cooking only drove me to try new things out. My mom always said the secret to cooking is love. You have to enjoy it, you have to love it. And that's what I do."

  1. "Both."

  2. "This one is a tough one to explain. It's hard for me to explain timing. I always tell my kids to just pay attention to the dish as it's cooking. Look at it. Taste it regularly. Keep an eye on the heat. It's hard for me to explain because I can only follow my instincts because of my blindness."

  3. "Yes, hopefully it will be finished by the end of next year."

str8faced33325 karma

Do you find yourself cutting yourself more now or before the loss of eye sight? What is the hardest dish for you to do now but was easy for you before?

LouF---ingGrant47 karma

"Definitely more now. But as long as I keep my concentration, I usually do pretty good."

edit: "There really isn't a dish that I find more difficult now. I feel like I can do better than before."

lurkerlurkerohmy17 karma

Does cutting onions make you cry?

LouF---ingGrant27 karma

"Nope. But it does bother my nose."

gingerlaur14 karma

Happy birthday!!!!! I can only imagine what you know about food now..... I'm guessing it's more of an intimate knowledge. Touch and aroma. Have you been surprised by any food you thought you knew, but being sightless put it on an entirely different level?

LouF---ingGrant18 karma

"Thank you! But not really. Instead, it's made me feel like I can my dishes than before."

VeritablyClean9 karma

Whats the most difficult dish you still make?

LouF---ingGrant36 karma

Pineapple Tarts. It's a family cookie I learned in Singapore. It's very meticulous--you have get the dough just right and the pineapple must be grated. But I love making them.

Burge1048 karma

Did you get to watch Master Chef this year. A blind woman name Christine won it! Do you feel like you cook in a similar manner to her?

LouF---ingGrant28 karma

"I would say so. Christine helped me realize that there are others with my situation and that if she can do it, then so can I. I was so proud of her."

NineOneEight7 karma

I've heard many times that when someone loses a sense, all of the other senses increase greatly in sensitivity, have you found this to be true for you? As in, can you taste the depth of the food better than before you lost your eyesight?

LouF---ingGrant37 karma

Yes, but it wasn't an automatic thing. I was taught to use my concentration to accentuate my other senses."

CarlosMontoya4 karma

When you're making a dish does someone usually help you? Or do you have your workstation all laid out before you in a way you can memorize?

LouF---ingGrant22 karma

"I would have my daughter help me so I can teach her. My husband helps me out with the heavy pots, he sometimes helps me confirm temperature setting. But I've worked in my kitchen for 21 years, so I know where everything is. And because I know my area so well, there were many people who doubted my blindness for a long time."

FeedbackInhibition2 karma

How long after losing your sight did it take you to get into the groove of things? Like was there a period where you nicked your fingers until you were adjusted?

LouF---ingGrant15 karma

"It was definitely a struggle at first. I took it very hard for the first year. But I had many supporters who kept urging me to keep going. What struck me was when a good friend of mine who told me she wouldn't give me any sympathy and would yell at me for "being blind." It felt mean, but it was to make me get up and get it together. From there, along with plenty of family support, I got back to it within a month."