I absolutely LOVE this take on the age-old (is it?) question "Kids in the Kitchen? Yay, Nay, or "is that a booger in my meatball?" All the Good Mothers are Doing It by Andrea Ferrell
My response to this wonderful and witty blogger's question?
Wait until they are twelve.
Ten at the outside.
My 12 year old daughter is a careful and capable cook, more concerned with exact measurements than I am and a bigger germ-a-phobe than any of us. I could probably hire her out as a sous' chef. (sp?)
I had her messing around in the kitchen at a younger age but the keyword is "mess." Be willing to sacrifice the occasional egg or 1/4 of flour to the cause, let them crack and mix and whip to their heart's content. Then practice good sleight of hand (or just wait until they lose interest and wander off).