Monday, April 16, 2012

Food For Thought-The Perfect Job Share

Brownies,truffles,meringues

In the run up to the festival of Pesach (Passover) which is punctuated by an enormous amount of preparation, I had the most wonderful experience cooking in the kitchen with my mother. Given the normal challenges of cooking with a partner, especially when that job share is a close relative such as your  mother, things might not have gone as smoothly as they did. We have cooked together in my kitchen before but this time was particularly special.
My mom (Joy), arrived from London on a Tuesday evening, 3 days before Pesach, to spend the eight day holiday with us. With the kitchen clean, the groceries bought, the menus designed and the recipes found, the two of us were ready to begin. 20 recipes in two days –a marathon cookup.  Add in to this cooking mix normal mother-daughter baggage, strong opinions and my mother at 72, having cooked for at least double the number of years I have, the experience might have been bumpy.


To give you a little background,
I grew up in the hustle and bustle of her producing beautifully presented, delicious tasting, original food. I did not cook that much in her kitchen. I was relegated to salad making and have hated it ever since! However through watching my mom, I learned to take risks in the kitchen, adapt recipes, rescue flops and garnish food. I hovered as she and her mother cooked and baked  around the festivals and it seemed perfectly normal for us to be cooking together, as long as she was leading the cooking and I was making the salad. 


So ...forty-eight hours on, with all the food ready and with a lot of tea drinking and laughter along the way, we marveled at how easily it had gone. We had not had one cross word, disagreement  or power struggle and we wondered how we had managed to achieve this lofty goal without setting out to. As I thought about why it had worked so well I realized a number of ingredients were necessary. Here is my recipe:

Gilly -Joy Perfect Kitchen Job Share.


Cooking time: 2 days     Oven Temp: breezy,sunshine  68F/20 C        Makes: 100s of servings

Ingredients



1 Mother


1 Daughter


NO SALAD

75 years of combined cooking experience


20 recipes


A Passover ready kitchen


A good friend nearby with confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) that  I have forgotten to buy and she is ready to give.

Method


Separate out tasks, but end up cooking each recipe together.Egg beating is in and brow beating is out.


Take shared goals and in a large bowl combine  with a sense of humor, mutual trust, creativity, respect, experience, encouragement and common sense.


Fold in a healthy dose of listening to constructive criticism and counting to 10 before responding.


Sift out ego, rigid thinking and negativity about recipe choices.


Add lots of cups of tea, tastings, children to lick the bowls  and a few minor crises which you enjoy solving together.


Combine taking charge with  supporting roles that are flip-flopped from recipe to  recipe and happily wash bowls, wipe surfaces or  pipe  meringues and decorate chocolate mousse as needed. 


Pour a generous number of meaningful compliments  into the experience. 


Spread positive energy by acknowledging great suggestions and enjoy the challenge of  fiddly, sometimes complicated  ideas.


Sprinkle in alternative solutions such as combining leftover mousse, strawberry ice cream and lemon cream into an unplanned new triple layered dessert. 


Bake ingredients together until neither chef remembers or cares  who has been responsible for any particular creation and is delighted with  the combined  results. 


Cook and decorate  until mutual high standards are achieved  and both chefs are satisfied.

miniature meringues with lemon curd cream

Ten days on from our cooking marathon, my Mom and I are still basking in the warmth of the experience and have enjoyed analysing why and how it was so successful, considering that we did not start out with a set of rules to abide by. Perhaps the fact that we live thousands of miles away and do not have the opportunity to job share in the kitchen very often, worked in our favor! Perhaps it was also because the last time my Mom was with us, was last October/November. This was when Jonny was in excruciating, unrelenting pain and had brain surgery. So this visit was a much appreciated contrast when the only problems facing us were what to cook first, finding the baking trays and remembering how many eggs we'd already added to a recipe we'd quadrupled.



Who knows? 


Hopefully our experience will give you food for thought.


* Please email me at gilly@bringingbooksofcomfort.org or leave a comment on this post below. I'd love to have your feedback.
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26 comments:

  1. Glad you enjoyed it.Thank you for leaving your comment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was me (Kara), I didn't mean to comment anonymously, but its sort of mysterious and fun, right? Next time I won't let on...

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    2. Ha! I was so polite!So glad commented and I know someone in your family LOVES making salad.

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    3. are you suggesting that you wouldn't be polite had you known it was me?!?!?!
      that someone says: "chop chop chop..."

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    4. I might have been less formal, but just as polite.
      I need Kobi to come and make salad here.....
      Gilly

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  2. gillful and joyous!! love it xoxox

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    Replies
    1. :-) Thanks Sukey! Still have some desserts in the freezer. Come and eat them with me!

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  3. Aww & yum!!! Such a lovely post as ever. It has left me feeling happily satisfied, like I feel after a good meal, & a smile on my face.

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    1. Thanks Nikki- glad this post filled you up.
      Looking forward to eating with you soon.Gilly

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  4. OMG, what a good thing I wasn't there to provide disequilibrium. I am Gilly's sister and I burn rice and can just about boil an egg. I also never make salad.
    Now please do all your readers a favour and publish these things before next pesach:
    1. all you pesach menus with refrences to the recipes
    2. your complete shopping list
    3. your "experience-tested" best order to do the recipes in.


    thanks

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    Replies
    1. Anna -you made me laugh. I know you feel the same way about salad. If you come and organize my house I'll cook for you for Pesach..........much easier than trying to write it all down!Lots of love. Gilly

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    2. wow, and I have it in writing. off to book flights.

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    3. ...and I have a year to turn my house into an organizing nightmare.

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  5. Amen to NO SALAD! Remembering your beautiful homemade macaroons wistfully~~

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    1. I wonder who does like making salad. Some people feel the chopping is very cathartic. I like eating it.
      Thanks for leaving a comment and a memory. Much appreciated.
      Gilly

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    2. ahem..yes, SOME people do.

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    3. Kara ....we know who. Gx

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  6. Glad you had such a wonderful experience and time with your mom.

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    1. Thank you Corey. I said goodbye to her this afternoon. Her trip went so fast. But I was so glad we had this precious time together. Gilly

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  7. Funnily enough, I also remember being dealt the salad and fruit platters in my mother's kitchen. Now that I run my own kitchen I understand how possessive a hostess feels over the cooking. In my sister's kitchen for Pesach this year I offered to be her tweeny maid and make all the salads (vegetable or fruit). It was actually very relaxing and satisfying.

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    Replies
    1. Your sister must have been thrilled.( my sister -please take note about making salad and fruit!) I must say that I never realised why I felt so strongly about salad until writing this piece. Luckily my Mum was up for all the salad making while she was here.
      Hope you had a wonderful trip to the UK with your family.
      Gilly

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  8. You sound like you enjoyed this time with your Mum so much.

    Now, what am I supposed to do....it's half past ten at night and you have given me the nibbles!

    Liz

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    Replies
    1. Yes, thank you it was wonderful. She is back in London now. I'd send you over some desserts-I still have lots in the freezer, but they won't get to you quickly enough to cure the cravings.
      Gilly

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  9. next you will have to share the real recipes !
    your chicken soup is our shabbat staple...so we all might like to learn what were those 20 dishes so lovingly prepared : )

    btw: great post on aron's EMT experience. i read it over kol ha'moed and sent it to all my family. he is a star as are both you and jonny for allowing him to live out this dream all the while performing so many mitzvot. that college essay is a slam dunk! (that is basketball speak, gilly, for easy winning points :)

    lots of love,
    mollie

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    Replies
    1. Mollie -thanks for your lovely message. I'm glad you still make the chicken soup.I have been thinknig about setting up both a recipe spot and book recommendation corner on my blog. What do you think??

      Well if you remember Aron as a little boy, then you will really understand what an achievement it is! I am still trying to get my head around the fire fighting training he is going to do this summer, but he is determined so we will support that too. Thanks for the slam dunk translation! It made me laugh. Love to you.
      Gilly

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