Kitchen Tips:

·         Baking powder is available throughout Ukraine. In your local bazaar, as for рыхлитель для теста (Russian) or розрихлювач для тiста (Ukrainian).
·         For vegetable soups, it helps to saute or roast vegetables before adding
      them. This makes their flavors more intense.
·         Jazz up lackluster store bought tomato sauce with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of black pepper. You can also add sautéed mushrooms, onions and garlic, as well as any green herbs you like.
·         If a soup or sauce is too salty, add ½ a potato and cook for 10 minutes, then remove. The potato will absorb the excess salt.
·         Rinse your rice before cooking it to remove indigestible extra starches.
·         A good egg will sink in water, while a spoiled egg will float.
·         Garlic is easier to peel if you smash it first with the broad side of a big kitchen knife.
·         Remove olive pits by using your fist or the heel of your hand: smash the olive under the flat side of a chef’s knife to break the skin, take the olive in your hand and twist skin to remove the pit.
·         Make powdered sugar by grinding sugar crystals in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.
·         When making a piecrust, try to handle the crust as little as possible. The warmth of hands can make the dough tough.
·         Sprinkle lemon juice over fruits and vegetables prevent browning.
·         Never buy fish that smells like fish, has sunken eyes or is soft to the touch.
·         Cream can be whipped by putting it into a jar and shaking it until it becomes thick. Be careful not to shake too long or you’ll have fresh butter.
·         To test to see if a cake is done without a toothpick, use a piece of spaghetti in its place. If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
·         Do not refreeze products that have already thawed.
·         Use two or three times as many fresh herbs as dried herbs.
·         Cheese grates better when it’s chilled.
·         Chilled onions are less apt to make you cry.
·         Celery is sold as a root ball instead of stalks in most parts of Ukraine. Peel the ball and cut up in salads or use grated in place of regular celery. Root ball flavor is a bit stronger than stalk flavor.
·         To prevent vegetables from spoiling in the refrigerator, line the bottom drawers with old newspapers to suck away excess moisture.

·         In Ukraine there are three grades of flour available. The first grade is usually for cakes and baking. The second is for varenyky and the third is for breads. Try to buy the first grade when possible as all-purpose flour for recipes in this book.
·         Dull knives cause more accidents than sharp ones, so invest in a good knife sharpener.
·         Buy a plastic cutting board for use with meats – don’t use a wooden one because the bacteria can get trapped in the wood.
·         Add protein to salads by adding crumbled brynza (a feta-like cheese).
·         Add nuts to salads and side dishes for extra protein.
·         Try growing sprouts as an extra dose of vitamins for salads. Soak ½ cup seeds (radish, wheat, bean) in water for 8 hours, then rinse and place on a plate lined with a clean, wet cloth. Cover with another clean, wet cloth. Rinse several times a day. Sprouts will appear within 24-36 hours.

·         Toast flax seed to sprinkle on vegetables and salads for a healthy kick.

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