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
75 years of combined cooking experience
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.
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.
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