While in college, my friend Tzippy and her family generously hosted me for many a Shabbat and Yom Tov. Tzippy’s mother didn’t expect her to help in the kitchen; she told her that she would have plenty of time later, and now she should study and have fun. The mother was right; Tzippy did get married and learned how to cook. I’m sure she consults her mother frequently about the family recipes.
Still, I’m glad to have had a different childhood experience. I left home at 17, never to return for more than a month or two at a time. My mother died when I was 26. I so appreciate the fact that she shared the legacy of her unique blend of Eastern European cooking and modern American techniques with me. The recipes would have survived, but most cooking secrets aren’t found in recipes.
I understand people who don’t have patience for kids in the kitchen. Every mother (and father) has her limits, and knowing that you “should” do something is of no use if you don’t enjoy it. Thanks to my mother, I feel I have something special to share with my children in this particular area, but there are many areas in which parents can share their experience and knowledge with their children.
I probably spend more time cooking than on any other household task. As my older kids grew into teenagers cooking regular meals became almost a full-time job in itself. Even when I do the actual cooking, I can always use help peeling and cutting vegetables. At the very least kids should be able to prepare simple meals for themselves, like scrambled eggs, and know basic safety rules.
Check out the website that I opened in 2009, to help home cooks save time and money: Cooking Manager.