Archive for the ‘kitchen’ Category

Sausage is a thing here. You know, buterbrod (bread, butter, cheese, sausage– or some combination of that).

So, I mentioned to Vitaliy’s mom that I’d like to try making sausage. There are just a lot of chemicals added to the store sausage. And I knew people here  did magic like this, like making your own sausages.

She wasted no time. She arrived yesterday with washed pig colons (she washed them, Thank her for doing that!) and her manual meat grinder.

I supplied the chicken breast and pig meat. She cut everything into small pieces. At first, I didn’t understand why she did this– I though, shucks, the meat grinder will mix it all up, why are you cutting it? But then I realized that you have to feed already-mixed-up stuff through the grinder right into the colon so it feeds into the colon in mixed up chunks and not huge chunks of chicken, then huge chunks of pig, etc.

So, our recipe was diced chicken, diced pig meat, garlic–pressed, salt and pepper. (I want to experiment with more spices later, but this was a calm recipe suitable for children’s stomachs.)

She set up the grinder on the table. We split the work–one grinds and ties the thread on the ends of the sausages, the other feeds the meat into the grinder and guides the filling of the colon. I said I would grind and tie. But we needed to wait for the KievEnergo guy to come and check out our electricity counter… Then we could get started. It’s a process better not to stop until it’s done.

Here’s how it went:

Putting the colon onto the grinder so the meat could feed through (while gradually pulling the colon off the grinder as it fills).



Woo Hoo!!! Grinding is fun!


Then I pricked holes in the colons (so they wouldn’t puff up and explode while boiling). Then they boiled for an hour.


Then she fried them, then we ATE! We didn’t eat all of them, but I see that they can disappear pretty fast around here. Tastes great!


And there we go!


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A few years back, I took some cooking lessons on smartkitchen.com. I really liked that experience, and would like to study with them again some time. (I learned, for example, what “julienne” means.)

Here’s one thing they taught that changed what I do: To measure flour, it is incorrect to simply scoop the flour out in the measuring cup, then shake it flat–which is pretty much what I always did. This packs the flour too much and the dough will be heavy, theoretically.

The correct way is to sprinkle/pour the flouring into the measuring cup, then use a knife to smooth the top. Like this:



I think this was when I started storing my flour in this wide, plastic box– it gives lots of room to sprinkle and smooth.

There you go. (And the world won’t come to an end, if you want to just want to scoop and shake 😉 )

About laundry.

I’m great at regularity. Laundry has been an easy thing for me. But partly because I’ve done it in a simplified way– almost no stain remover, not sorting colors–I just put it in and go. Folding and ironing are harder for me to get done, but I’ve been trying to consistently get a load washed and folded each day. (Ironing is still almost non-existent, I admit. Small children and ironing don’t mix well. And the outlets here drive me nuts– so hard to plug in and unplug from. Weird barriers, huh?)

But I’m wanting to expand my laundering a bit. Stain remover. Shucks, I loved what my mom used–Simple Green, spray bottle, shick, shick, throw it in and it comes out clean. I’ve considered having her ship it here.

Here, I found liquid Vanish, but it’s so thick and the bottle lids are so wide it just dumps out all over the place. I tried putting it in a spray bottle, but it’s too viscous to go through that.

So, for this year, I’m experimenting. I bought powdered Vanish, for colors and whites. I’m using it on our clothes, and I’m trying to go slower at loading time and look for stains and apply the powder.

Today I rescued Vika’s one winter turtleneck from the rag bag. Stains came out nicely. It’s more of a process than just spraying, but it’s what I have for now.


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Since I did a more American-ish meal yesterday, I decided to do Ukrainian today: borshch. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail–I’ll mostly just share what Vitaliy’s mom taught me to put in at the end.

My borshch ingredients:

Boil for 20 minutes: shredded cabbage, beans (optional, soaked), and meat (usually pig, nice if it has a bone, but not essential, sometimes I braise it a bit in the pan, sometimes not. Sometimes I cut it up at the end when it’s already soft and cooked, sometimes at the beginning). Salt to taste.

Add: cubed potatoes and keep boiling another 20 minutes (sometimes I salt at this stage, rather than the first).

Cut up and fry in oil: onion, carrot (I use the small size of the grater and about carrots generally…. add a bit more, they have a good taste), and beet (I use the big size on the grater (the small size tastes funny).

When the pot has boiled now for 40 mintues, I put in the fried ingredients. You can turn the burner off at any point now. Then, I add what V’s mom showed me–all of this is measured by your tastebuds:

Tomato paste: an idea of how much: in my 5 liter pot, I add 3-4 big spoonfuls.

A medium-sized spoon of honey or sugar.

A lot of lemon juice or a small bit of citric acid (лимонная кислота). The acid is a great twist, I’ve found, that kicks off with the sour cream then added to the individual bowl to counter it.

A dried bay leaf or two.



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Breakfast is my favorite meal to make. So, I have an idea for this year. It combines health, simplicity, and what I like to do.

For the year, our breakfasts will be either yogurt (homemade, with syrup), eggs, or oatmeal. These are simple, good foods to put in first.

Then, for either lunch or dinner, we’ll have the option of having another breakfast-ish meal (pancakes, sausages, whatever).

Vitaliy’s into yogurt making, and I’m getting into it, too. I want to take it over from him. I don’t understanding it scientifically, but our pressure cooker has a “yogurt” button, so that makes it easy enough.

(In the days before our pressure cooker, Vitaliy did yogurt by heating milk, putting in the bacteria, wrapping it all up in a blanket and keeping it on the warmed floor of our village house bathroom. That was intimidating to me.)

So, here it is in pictures–these are the bacterias to buy–they are in the supermarket or pharmacies. I haven’t actually bought them myself yet, but I’m going to start!

20160108_114410 Then, I pour 1-3 liters of milk into the pressure cooker, add a packet from those bacteria, put on the lid and push “yogurt.” (This part I’ve done myself now for a while.) It takes 6 hours. I finally realized that it doesn’t actually pressurize–it just warms it for 6 hours. I also sometimes put the milk in and start the yogurt cycle, then add the bacterias after 15-20 minutes of warming. I’m not sure if this helps out or not.

Sometimes it doesn’t turn out the first 6 hours. So I just add another packet and push the same function, and it turns out (after 12 hours all together).


At this rate, we consume a liter or so a day. Photo of two one-liter jars of yogurt–they look so beautiful to me:


Strawberry or cherry syrups:

20160108_061944Looks so pretty! And the kids love pouring in their syrup and stirring it around. It’s very tactile and visually interesting.



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Today is Vika’s 8th birthday! Imagine, that she was born around 5am in an apartment just a few steps from here! (She was born in building #35 and we live in #51 now.) Hers was my fastest, smoothest birth 🙂 My sister was with us via Skype, and afterwards I wrote the Skype company and told them how we’d had our baby in an apartment in Kiyv, Ukraine, and my sister had attended via Skype from Tennessee and all for free.  The man wrote back saying the office personnel got great pleasure from the story.


I bought her this little rectangular tea candle holder.


The girls’ new pink watches:


OK, new Bibles.

I’ve been wanting a nice Russian Bible that’s easy to read and easy to carry around for over a year now. So today, Vitaliy and I took Vika (and Una) to the Christian book bazaar.

And there they were:


This is the one I chose.


I read the next Psalm in Russian for my Bible reading today, I think Psalm 84 (85 in English). I marked in blue the phrases I’d like to memorize and circled in pencil the words I want to check in the English.

I need  start being able to speak and repeat Bible phrases in my Russian conversations.


Vika chose the pink and white one for herself, and we got the white dove one for Skyla.

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OK, so you know how I sometimes fantasize of having a Bed and Breakfast in my old age. So, we had this American guest coming here, and he’s here with us now, and so a few weeks back, with the good exchange rate, I finally let myself buy a bedding set and a duvet.


I base my B&B ideas on my childhood memories of when we visited Europe when I was 12 and lived in inexpensive B&B’s. (I have egg cups coming soon, too!)

And I made delicious zharkoye today, too. … I can’t stop cooking now for some odd reason…


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What I’ve been hanging in my new kitchen:

Lists of main dishes, breakfasts, etc.


I’m meditating over this passage right now, from Psalm 84:


Various recipes hanging around my stove–basics like crepes and some sweets that are easy to make:



Life has gotten complicated since moving to Kiev, so I’m keeping an open calendar. Still have more months to pin up, but so far, I have March to June up.




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We’re doing tons of cleaning out, wiping down, cleaning, cleaning, moving things away or around, wiping down the dust, cleaning, cleaning, ad infinitum …

Yesterday, we arrived early afternoon, and I just started wiping down and cleaning, and to do something simple to eat, Vitaliy had the girls go pick a bunch of sweet corn from the garden and we boiled and ate it … we still have some left– it’s great cold!

sweet corn from the garden

sweet corn from the garden

When we bought the new oven, V and I also bought watermelon and ice cream cake b/c it was Skyla’s birthday– we had already celebrated twice, but we wanted to notice the day, too.

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I’ve started waking early again, like I used to. And this morning I tried sirniki– a cheese pancake thingy. They were OK, but next time, I want to buy drier tvorog (soft cheese) because what I used runs like yogurt, so I had to use too much flour. But they were still OK and we ate them 🙂

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then I made borsch today for lunch and tried steamed cabbage again (I didn’t like how it came out the first time I did it, so I asked V’s mom how she did it because she does really yummy stuff, and we’d made it together once before). Here are my helpers peeling potatoes for borsch– A is handing them unpeeled and plopping the peeled into the bowl of water.

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Here’s the goose and little … quail I think?… that the rehab guys raise (to eat) out the back door.

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I hope this isn’t gross or offensive to show … while we were in Kiev, the guys killed one of the goats to use for meat. … this is usual end of our farm animals …



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