How to…

How to...Boil an Egg

If your eggs are straight from the chicken via the local Babushka, clean your egg. Then add cold water to a small sauce pan. Place the egg in the water, so that it is covered. Slowly bring the water to a boil. Boil for about ten minutes if you want hard boiled eggs, three minutes if you want soft boiled eggs.

How to...Cook Rice

Steamed rice: Bring two cups water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Add one cup white rice and stir, reducing heat to low. Put a tight fitting lid on the pot for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, lift the lid. You should see dimples in the rice surface, and all water should be evaporated. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Boiled rice: This is not the same as steamed rice. The recommended proportions are nine cups water to one cup of rice. Add one teaspoon of salt to the water, bring it to a boil, then add the rice. Shake the pot gently so that rice settles. DON’T STIR. Keep the water boiling 15-18 minutes (white rice) or 35-40 minutes (brown rice), then test a piece at the minimum time. It’s done when it’s firm, but not hard and not mushy. Drain and serve.

How to...Cook Potatoes

In Ukraine it is recommended that you peel and wash your potatoes. If you choose not to, wash and scrub them thoroughly.

Baked potatoes: Scrub and wash your potatoes well. Poke them once with a fork. Wrap them in a layer of aluminum foil and bake on medium heat for about one hour. Enjoy with smetana.

Boiled potatoes: Peel, wash and quarter the potatoes. Place them in a pot filled with cold water. Bring the water to boil and cook the potatoes 10-15 minutes, or until they can easily be stabbed with a fork. (Smaller pieces will cook faster, larger ones will take longer.) Drain and serve.

Mashed potatoes: Follow the instructions for boiling potatoes, but let them cook a little bit longer. You want the potatoes to break apart easily. Drain and return the potatoes to the pot. With a masher, or a fork, begin to mash the potatoes. Many Ukrainians simply add butter at this stage. You may also add a little milk and/or sour cream, as well as salt and pepper. Start with a little, then keep adding to get the desired consistency.

How to...Cook Beans*

First, wash your beans in cold water. Second, if possible, soak your beans overnight prior to cooking them. They triple in size so make sure to add plenty of water. (Lentils don’t need to be soaked.)  Third, look at the following chart:

Type of beans (1 cup)

Cups of water

Cooking time

Yield (cups)

Black beans


1 ½ hours


Chick peas


2 ½ - 3 hours


White beans


1 hour


Kidney beans


1 hour




35 minutes

4 ½

Pinto beans


1 ½ hours


Small beans


1 hour


* These times are for pre-soaked beans. If you’re not the pre-soaking type, cooking time and water needed to cook them in will increase a lot.

How to...Handle Poultry

Chicken. Turkey, Duck or Goose. You bought one at the bazaar or store (recommended with the prevalence of bird flu), a whole one or maybe a few pieces. But now what do you do with it?

First and foremost, always wash your hands, utensils, cutting boards, counter tops, etc., with HOT soapy water after handling raw poultry. Also, if possible, cut up your bird on a plastic cutting board rather than a wooden one.

Next, if you bird still has its insides, remove them, you can make pate with them. It is not recommended to stuff your birds.  If you’re going to marinate the bird, do it in the refrigerator. Also, any and all marinade that has touched the bird must be thoroughly cooked.

If you buy a chicken or turkey and don’t plan to eat it immediately, you can freeze it for up to 3 months. It’s best to wrap it up in a plastic bag the aluminum foil, or have some freezer bags sent from the USA.

When thawing frozen birds, do so in the refrigerator. Plan on 1 day for every 5 pounds. An alternative (and quicker option) is to submerge the wrapped bird into a large bowl of cold water. Allow 30 minutes for each pound.

Skillet cooking times vary, depending on the thickness of the meat. It’s always done, however, when the center is no longer pink. When in doubt – cook it longer.

Oven Cooking Times for Poultry:

Type of Bird

Oven Temperature


Chicken pieces

375F or 190C

45-55 minutes

Whole chicken

375F or 190C

1 ¼ hours (2 ½ - 3 pounds)
Add 30 minutes for each half pound.

Whole stuffed turkey

325F or 170C

3 ½ hours (8-12 pounds)
Add 15 minutes for each additional pound.

How to...Bake in an Oven-less Kitchen

If you are dreaming of chocolate chip cookies or homemade bread, but do not have an oven, here is the solution! You can bake almost anything, from pizza to cakes, in a makeshift oven called a Dutch oven.

What you need: 
·        A large, heavy pot with a tight fitting lid
·        Small baking pans that will fit within the pot
·        2 empty “tuna” cans with the tops and bottoms removed
·        Stove-top burner or hot plate

What to do:

Place the large pot on a burner. Place the tuna cans on the bottom, inside the pot. Turn on the heat at low. Cover with the lid to allow the pot to preheat.

Put whatever you are baking into the small baking pans. Place these pans on top of the tuna cans. This allows air to circulate, thus baking evenly and preventing burning. Cover and bake. Note that it will take some trial and error to find the right temperature and cooking time. Check progress of baking by frequently lifting the lid slightly to peek at your dish.

·         Check baking frequently, especially the first few times using this method.
·         Once you figure out correct flame height, baking times and other tricks for a particular recipe, write it down for next time.
·         Tight lids keep the heat in better, prevent longer baking times and thus, dried out baked products.
·         Keep this pot just for baking, if possible.

·         The heavier pot, the better. Thin, aluminum pots tend to warp and will not last as long.

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