Skip to main content
Second Sense - Beyond Vision Loss

Summer Grilling: An Extension of Your Adaptive Kitchen Skills

September 1, 2020 | Leave a Comment

by Cody Froeter, CVRT

Tags: , ,

Two shish kebabs on the grill


Summer is still here! For many folks, that means there’s still time to fire up the grill for some great barbecuing! If you have vision loss, barbecuing can seem like a daunting task. In reality, adaptive grilling skills are incredibly similar to adaptive kitchen skills. With any cooking task, safety is always a priority. So, training is a must! And, taking the time for necessary prep work ensures safety and success.

I recently had the opportunity to attend a Zoom workshop on adaptive grilling by David Edwards, a certified vision rehabilitation therapist at the Hines VA Blind Rehabilitation Center. In the workshop, we learned about various grilling tools and the different types of grills available on the market. One thing I came away with was that the key to success is to prepare as much as possible before the heat is ever turned on.


Types of Grills

Knowing the type of grill you are using and its cooking surface are essential first steps. Propane, charcoal and electric grills all have unique characteristics which can affect different aspects of your cooking process.


Propane grills generally cook more evenly. The steps to light a propane grill are:

  • open the lid of the grill
  • open the valve of the propane tank
  • turn on the  burners
  • stand back from the grill as you activate  the ignition system to start the burners

It is important to stand as far away from the grill as possible when lighting it to avoid coming in contact with any flare ups if they occur. Special care should be taken to be sure unignited propane is not built up. If your first attempt to ignite the burners with the switch is not successful, you’ll want to make sure the lid is open to let any built up propane escape before retrying to reignite.


Charcoal grills require a bit more care to light considering they use open flame. A charcoal grill chimney can make the process of lighting charcoal easier. These chimneys are cylinders with a handle that look and feel similar to a water pitcher. You place the charcoal in the top of the chimney with lighter fluid added. After the coals are hot enough, you dump the coals into the grill and replace the top grilling grate.

If you have never done any charcoal grilling, it is strongly advised to have training first and/or sighted assistance to insure safety.


Electric grills are much easier to fire up since they use electricity rather than flame. These grills are similar in appearance to a charcoal grill. They feature a round cooking surface with a lid. The grill sits on top of metal legs and stands about waist high. You can find tabletop electric grills similar to an electric cooking griddle.

Electric grills are most commonly used for camping when an electrical outlet is available. These grills are the simplest to light as it only takes plugging the device into an outlet and adjusting the temperature via a dial. Since they do not use open flame, they are lower risk in operation, but food cooked on an electric grill will not have the same “fresh off the grill” taste that a propane or charcoal grill offers.


Tools for the Task

The tools used when grilling are just as important as the grill. Essential tools include:

  • thermometer
  • long tongs
  • oven mitts
  • or better yet, an oven glove

Long tongs and an oven glove let you flip and arrange food while reducing the risk of burns. Using a thermometer can help determine when your food is fully and safely cooked.

One great thermometer gadget is the Weber iGRILL2. The iGRILL is a meat thermometer that connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth. The temperature of the probe is displayed in an app and is accessible using VoiceOver or TalkBack. It is important to note that there are three different generations of the iGRILL. The third generation only works with certain models of Weber grills, so the iGrill 2 is the recommended generation.


Grilling can be a great, safe way to prepare meals during the warm summer months. While using a grill may seem intimidating, consider grilling as an extension of your adaptive cooking skills. Preparing ahead, remaining mindful of safety at all times and staying focused on the task at hand, using a grill to prepare a delicious meal is a definite possibility.

If grilling is an area of interest for you and you would like training, give me a call at Second Sense (312-236-8569) or send me an email to schedule an appointment.

Cody is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist at Second Sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.