Brain injury inspires mum's cookbook

Jenny McClure was inspired to create a simple cookbook after seeing her son, Joe McClure, struggle with traditional cookbooks. Photo /supplied
Jenny McClure was inspired to create a simple cookbook after seeing her son, Joe McClure, struggle with traditional cookbooks. Photo /supplied

Joe McClure suffered a traumatic brain injury after he was hit by a car while cycling in England when he was 13.

He spent 10 days in an induced coma and had major surgery, before returning to New Zealand with his family almost six months later when he was cleared to fly.

Years later, he moved out of home and struggled to cook for himself, using standard cookbooks, due to the lasting effects of his brain injury.

"When he left home to go and live by himself, it soon became clear that standard cookbooks didn't work for him," his mother Jenny McClure said.

"I couldn't believe how crazily complicated they were, and my son really struggled to follow them."

Joe, 30, suffered from a brain injury after he was hit by a car while age 13 in England. Photo / supplied
Joe, 30, suffered from a brain injury after he was hit by a car while age 13 in England. Photo / supplied

So the English teacher, with the help of her son, decided to write a cookbook. Short Takes: Making Cooking Simple which Jenny McClure describes as "the world's easiest cookbook", to help those such as her son who struggle with traditional cookbooks.

The book uses graphics to represent ingredients, makes measurements simple to understand and instructions easy to follow.

"Every recipe in here is foolproof. The book is designed for people who find cooking a hassle and recipes hard to follow: not just those with cognitive difficulties."

At the time of her son's accident, McClure and her husband were living in Cambridge, England as he was on a six-month sabbatical from the University of Cambridge.

After the accident, the family endured an almost 10-year-long court case with the person who hit their son, before it was finally settled out of court.

McClure said her son was hugely helpful throughout the writing process and even built the website for the book.

He is "highly able but struggles to carry out actions sometimes" such as doing assignments and getting resources for his course, she said.

He completed a degree in Latin and is now doing a film course at Yoobee School of Design in Wellington. He is also involved in Wellington's theatre scene, as a volunteer at Bats Theatre and usher at St James Theatre.

"It brings a tear to my eye to see the satisfaction and pride Joe gets from cooking a meal by himself," McClure said.

The self-published book received high praise from some of the world's top neuropsychologists when McClure presented to them as part of a global neuropsychological rehabilitation conference in Scotland, she said.

"I really hope Short Takes can bring that kind of joy and independence to others who have difficulties cooking. Cooking can be incredibly therapeutic and calming but not when recipes are difficult or stressful to make."

Recipes from Short Takes


- NZ Herald

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