Make the most of your time | Kitchen to Kitchen

Sidonie Maroon
Posted 4/19/23

My daily cooking has a rhythm and flow, meals come together at regular times, there’s lots of variety and delicious seasonal variations of meals.

I cook most everything from scratch, making …

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Make the most of your time | Kitchen to Kitchen

Faux Green Papaya Salad, embellished with avocado slices
Faux Green Papaya Salad, embellished with avocado slices
Photo courtesy of Sidonie Maroon

My daily cooking has a rhythm and flow, meals come together at regular times, there’s lots of variety and delicious seasonal variations of meals.

I cook most everything from scratch, making weekly loaves of bread and yogurt. All of our condiments, spreads, jams, sauces, crackers and treats are homemade. Much of our produce comes from the garden.

For all of this, including clean-up, I spend 90 minutes a day five days a week. Even if you aren’t interested in this way of cooking, I hope you’ll find something useful in my time and management style.   

My Why

Reminding myself of why I cook everyday keeps me on track: It’s important to provide my family with food that is healthy. Through cooking, I maintain a strong sense of culture and community. It’s a creative outlet, and a way to explore the world of food. Cooking is a way for me to get focused and use my talents.


Starting from scratch is a priority, because I like to have a hand in what’s in my food. I care about ingredients.

Home cooking is part of the adventure, because I constantly have to perfect new techniques and learn more about the science and culture of food. Every week, I make yogurt, bread, sauces, and treats. It takes time, but no more than driving to the store and standing in line.

Power of Limits

You may think I’m in the kitchen a lot, but that’s not the case. We eat our big meal at noon together and are on our own for a simple breakfast and leftovers for dinner. During the weekends, I usually rest, and we work through the leftovers. 

To reduce stress and create space around my time, I might start with something in the Instant Pot at
10 a.m. so that it will be ready when I want to put everything together at 11 a.m. I’m mindful not to take on too much, and besides, deliciousness doesn’t require complicated preparation.


I don’t make structured meal plans anymore, but I know what I’m cooking by the morning.

Whenever I open the fridge, wander into the pantry, or step out to the garden, I take inventory of what I have and what needs to be used. Keeping a stocked pantry and freezer simplifies meal prep.

Five Top Tips

1. Make a commitment to cook at a certain time. Don’t do it when you’re already feeling ravenous. Maybe do a batch cook once a week, or make a big pot of soup, but take your time and focus on cooking only.

2. Slow down and plan out the cooking steps before you start the meal, making sure it fits your schedule.

3. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Allocate your time for cooking without rushing and don’t do more than necessary. Stress-free enjoyment of the process is much better.

4. Give yourself tomorrow off by putting in some extra effort today.

5. Refresh your enthusiasm for cooking by enrolling in a class, looking through magazines, reading cookbooks, or catching your favorite cooking show. Move away from the “have to” and toward the “want to” in your cooking practice. 

Faux Green Papaya Salad

Serves 2-4
Granny Smith apples make a decent substitute for green papayas, and the salad’s zowie flavor combinations justify the adaptation.
This salad has it all: sweet, sour, heat, crunch and color. Serve it any time of year and feel free to add seasonal produce and herbs.


2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and shredded
3 medium carrots, shredded
2 cups shredded daikon radish, about a 6 inch long piece with a 1½ inch diameter
½ cup mint, shredded
½ cup cilantro, chopped or just leaves
¾ cup roasted peanuts or cashews
½ cup fried shallots
Optional avocado slices
Optional addition of protein: chopped eggs, sliced pork loin, smoked or baked firm tofu, etc.


2 limes juiced plus zest
2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fish sauce
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1 to 2 Thai chilies, seeds removed and minced (reduce or increase heat to taste)


Blitz dressing ingredients together in a small food processor, or by hand.

Toss apples, carrots, daikon together, top with mint, cilantro, nuts and shallots. Make one big salad or individual servings. The colors and textures are beautiful, so embellish and decorate. I like to pile the shredded produce into a steep mountain with the garnishes cascading down the sides and a surround of avocado slices.

Spoon the dressing over the top and allow the diners to mix it in. If your diners have heat preferences, then leave the chilies and cayenne out and allow them to adjust at the table, or make two dressings with varying heat levels.

Oven Fried Shallots and Shallot Oil

Makes ½ cup plus ¼ cup shallot oil


2 cups shallots, thinly sliced, about four shallots
½ cup good quality, high heat oil (I use avocado)
Sea salt to taste


Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay the shallots evenly on the paper and mix in the oil.

Roast for 15 minutes, stir halfway through. Roast for another 5 minutes, watching for a deep golden color without burning the shallots. They will quickly change in the last 5 minutes. Take the baking sheet out and set the temperature to 200F

Thoroughly press the shallots through a small hand held strainer, set over a small bowl, to catch the shallot oil. Spread the pressed shallots on the baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and return them to the oven to dry out and crisp up for 15 to 20 minutes.

You can find this recipe and more in our most recent publication of Co-op Community cook! Get your copy at

(This recipe and more are available at Sidonie Maroon is culinary educator at The Food Co-op; Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group, Cooking with the Co-op.)