About

Hi there and welcome to Let the Baking Begin, a page where you’ll find homemade and simply delicious recipes that have made my family and friends happy for many, many years now.

I love being able to create things from scratch – be it a simple one pan dish, or an elaborate dessert that requires time and patience, as long as the result is something that can make our taste buds dance, I am happy. So go ahead, check it all out, and don’t forget to pin, comment, share and then…cook, bake and create, because after all that is the main reason I’m sharing my recipes with  you, I know you were wondering 😉 .

Initially, I created this blog to share recipes with my friends and family as well as document the recipes I use myself (this was before Pinterest). Over the years as you guys have been coming here, using my recipes (thank you for that!) and even sharing my website with your friends (oh you have no idea how much I appreciate that as well) my blog’s audience grew to hundreds of thousand visitors every month (pinch me, is this for real?) making me realize just how truly blessed I am to be able to share my passion, share a piece of my soul with each one of you through the recipes and photographs that I created. Thank you! Your presence here makes me happy and it is what keeps me posting week after week. It would’ve been pretty boring to be doing this just for myself.

If you’d like to read more about me and my family, read below…

About Me:

I am a wife, mother, and a believer in the almighty God. I am also a student for now, but that fortunately is temporary. As a teenager my family moved to the beautifully evergreen northwest of the US from Ukraine and I have lived here ever since. It might rain here more than in other parts of the country, but I will take rain over scorching heat any time of the day 🙂 Plus having the mountains and the ocean 2 hours away from us is pretty awesome too!

Pacific City, Oregon. - it's hard not to appreciate the amazing sunsets at the beach.

Pacific City, Oregon. – it’s hard not to appreciate the amazing sunsets at the beach.

Being raised in a Ukrainian household has greatly influenced the way I cook. Yes, that means tons of dill and sour cream. Dill can make anything taste Ukrainian and by Ukrainian I mean fingerlicking good! Oh and sour cream, wait, I already mentioned sour cream. Never mind. We do put that stuff on everything though.

In my close and extended family there’s not one person who is a bad cook. Everyone grew up in a place where going out wasn’t really an option, which allowed for lots of time and opportunity to practice and hone the craft. That and my natural love for cooking and baking made me start early. I was eager to do something ‘grown up’ and my mom was willing to teach me, so by the time I was 10 I was making borsh, vareniki and even piroshki all on my own. They didn’t always come out right, but hey it’s the effort that counts, right?

My husband & me on our honeymoon cruise. Circa 2006. Major throwback.

My husband & me on our honeymoon cruise. Circa 2006.

When I got married, having a full kitchen to myself, with all my own kitchen gadgets + the privacy of being able to fail with no one seeing took my cooking and baking passion to a whole new level. I would work my 4 days a week, and every one of those days I would plan on what I was going to cook or bake on my 3 days off. That kind of passion needed an outlet and this is how I found cooking forums, which later led me to starting my own blog, first in the Russian blogosphere world and later in the American.

So now, I cook and my husband tests. And tests. And tests. And tests. So far there’s no indication that he plans to quit. I guess for as long as he continues to do his part, I will continue to do mine. And I tell you, if there was one thing I could definitely rely on my husband for – it’s to tell me the truth. Sometimes it’s brutal, but it’s the truth.  Any recipe you see on here, has passed the brutally honest taste tester and that is saying something!

A while ago I shared some random facts about me on Instagram, so I decided to include them here as well. They are about me after all 🙂 

  • I love to bake. If surviving on dessert alone was possible I would totally try.
  • I came to US when I was 14 not being able to make 1 sentence in English, but managed to keep a 4.0 all throughout high school until the last semester of senior year when I decided that it didn’t matter anymore.
  • My sister and me are often mistaken for twins even though we’re 2 years apart.
  • I have an unending supply of curiosity which can never be satisfied. Science fascinates me beyond words.
  • List of hobbies that I have taken upon the years include: cross stitch, sewing, knitting, crocheting, jewelry making, small bead bracelet making, baby headband making, scrap-booking, baby shoe making, cake decorating and baking. The last one is lasting longer than any of the other ones.
  • Often times I will try the same recipe, replacing one ingredient at a time to see how it affects the baked goods. I’m just curious.
  • Becoming a mother was the most fascinating, exciting, exhilarating experience in my life. Nothing else in my life matches the feeling.

Three girls, three treasures

  • When we had our second daughter, due to her complicated medical condition we were told that she will most likely spend the rest of her life bedridden, limp, staring at the ceiling and probably not for very long. She is 7 now, definitely not limp, definitely not bedridden and definitely not staring at the ceiling. She goes to school, loves to paint, adores her sisters, has a great sense of humor and loves life.

  • In 2013 we went to Disney World with our whole family through Make a Wish Foundation. Every single step of our trip seemed to have been orchestrated to make it the most memorable moment of our lives. If there are angels among us, I think those people were it.

  • In October of 2016 we were blessed with our third little blessing, Camilla Mae. Click here to read about her birth story and check out a bunch of her pictures.

Baby Camilla Mae

Alrighty now, thank you for stopping by and making it to the end. I hope you enjoyed meeting and learning about me.

Now tell me about yourself. Where are you from and what do you enjoy about my blog? Share away!

Family of five

Yours truly,

Marina & the fam

UPD: Jan. 2017

Comments

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  • Kameon Quillen

    I was looking for some comfort foods and was directed to your page from Delish. I don’t think I have ever seen so many recipes in one place that look so delicious and I am excited to try making a lot of them! My family is near Seattle, so I understand your comment about the rain. 🙂

    · Reply
    • Oh you’re too kind Kameon! I’ve learnt to embrase the rain, or rather the amount of rain we get here in the NW – not like we have another choice anyway lol

      · Reply
  • Crys waters

    Just discovered our blog this evening and am very happy to have done so! Your recipes look wonderful and I always appreciate finding true “ethnic” recipes on the ’net. My warmest wishes to you and your beautiful family for a blessed and joy-filled Christmas!

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  • Elena may

    Hi dear,
    I just look at pinterest and seen ‘ Ricotta Pancakes’ recipe. I wanted to see a recipe but when I clicked on the picture and it was no recipe just a picture. So I started googling and I found the same picture on your blog and of course the recipe. That picture reminds me ‘ sirniki’ that my family used to make all the time. I have not ate them for very long time. So that’s how I discovered your blog. I’m looking forward to check some more recipes. And I am pretty much sure they are greatly delicious. I am in United States for 9 years and I came here from Ukraine – yes from Ukraine , same as you. I’m very excited to meet you

    · Reply
    • Hi Elena! Thank you so much for sharing your story! When I made them I was in fact trying to make something similar to syrniki, but had no farmers cheese, so I used ricotta 🙂
      I”m very excited to meet someone who shares the same homeland! Welcome to the blog and I hope you stick around!

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  • Roxy

    Hi!

    God bless you and your family. You have a very touching story, I came here for your graham cracker medovik recipe. It is an easy solution to my 3yr old sons request to “bake a cake”. It is not one of those days where I am full of energy. 🙂 My 3yr old and 1 yr old keep me very busy. Keep up the good work dear!

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  • Sue R

    Hi from Australia! I just noticed your blog today and loving pinning the recipes on Pinterest. Can’t wait to try lots of your recipes. Everything looks so good! I’m especially enjoying the Ukrainian ones as my mother was born in Ukraine and I have made a few things my mum and grandmother use to make like perogie, borsht, cabbage rolls and studinetz. My very Australian husband loves all of it 🙂

    · Reply
    • Hello from the other side, Sue 🙂
      Thank you so much for your kind words! Do you make your studinetz with gelatin or with pigs feet and such? Your husband is a lucky man to be able to experience the delicious world of Ukrainian cuisine!
      I’m in the finishing stages of updating my website layout, so check back soon for a much easier way to navigate through the recipes with all of my Ukrainian recipes in one category, for easy access.

      · Reply
  • Tomas Edvardsson

    Hi Marina,
    just found you, and after a few seconds, bookmarked your site in my food section. You are doing a great job keeping traditions alive while at the same time inventing. Not many can do that without going overboard one way or the other. And you are a “from scratch” creator which is something I am very particular about. Just wanted to say Thanks and keep doing what you are doing. Your 5 year old looks fantastic!

    · Reply
    • Hi Tomas,
      Thanks for your wonderful comment and words of encouragement! I’m happy to hear your enjoy the recipes I have shared. I will do my best to not disappoint in the future as well!

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  • Doris Sherrill

    I come from a German background, and many of your recipes are like what I grew up with. I was looking for Pfaummenkuchen and your plum coffee cake was just what I needed. I look forward to visiting your site in the future.

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  • Sandy

    Hi Marina 😀
    I came across your blog while Googling recipes 🙂
    I have bookmarked it as a favorite.
    I have always been a good baker, but only recently started cooking haha!
    Seriously, I always ate out.
    The only time you would find me in the kitchen is if I was making cupcakes or cookies.
    I started cooking about 3 months ago, and your blog has helped me a lot!
    Your recipes are wonderful, I have loved everything I have made, and they are simple enough for newbies such as myself.
    I actually enjoy cooking now, in addition to baking!

    ~Sandy from Canada

    PS My hubby is also Ukrainian/Russian and he loves all the food so far as well. I told him about your blog and now he wants me to make all the salads from back home. I have not had the courage to venture into that yet haha 😀

    · Reply
    • Hi Sandy,
      So happy you found your way to my blog, welcome!

      Usually people start out with cooking and never get to baking, not the other way around, but I love the fact that you bake and now are starting to venture into cooking! Even though I can do both, I definitely enjoy baking more as well!

      Don’t tell your hubby I have recipes for Napoleon or Prague cake, because then he might never stop bugging you, haha.

      · Reply
  • Janet R.Vicedomini

    Dear Marina, It was only by chance that I came across your blog…I was looking for an almond cream recipe I could make rather than buying it. Little did I know it is also called,frangipane, yes? Nonetheless,I read on and was intrigued to learn of your Ukrainian origin…my rarely finding anyone from the Ukraine where I have lived(New York …Long Island) and now in Miami,Florida.I write because my father was born in the Ukraine…long ago..came to the U.S. as a child …married my mother,a Polish American.Hmmm,I learned almost nothing about the Ukrainian culture until now in my many years..no longer working,I have delved into whatever I can find…as I do love to cook.As you can see by my married name…I am a very good Italian cook,Hmmmmm? When you have time,of which I am certain you have little to spare,I would truly appreciate hearing from you and perhaps sharing a Ukrainian recipe..truly authentic.Thank you,Janet Vicedomini

    · Reply
  • Mati

    Dorogaya Marina,

    Thank you for your blog!, I think I found the right recipe for the Napoleon ,finally. It does resemble a lot of how my grandma used to make it (hers was the best in town of course, no joke.)
    That was back in North Caucasus, not Ukraine. So, i’m thinking that the recipe is classic and has little to do with what country it came from.
    I do find your story inspiring and can only imagine the challenges you have to face on a daily basis as a mother…

    Now, back to the “dill”, we use a lot of dill in everything and of course marinades; “we”= people from Kuban’, the South of Russia. I thought that it was a bit misleading for you to state that the over-usage of dill is specific to Ukraine. I was born in the USSR when everything and everybody were together ( I lived in other Republics too.)
    So, let’s agree that the foods and recipes that we like so much were really a heritage of our parents and grandparents and cannot always be tied to a particular region.

    As for myself, I came (bought a ticket on borrowed money at 120% APR) to this country with nothing, no money, no Green Card, no language, w/o knowing anyone, no place to stay, I was 19… I suggest we stay humble and don’t brag about the things that most of us faced…Been an immigrant is a tough path, but there are a lot of us who received US education and have good careers. We achieved these things not despite but because we are immigrants, our advantage is our survival mechanism and resilience.

    I am looking forward to more of your recipes. As a matter of fact I’m still looking for the cake (grandma used to make it also) that was called (and looked like) “Zebra.” I remember she would pour white batter first and then cocoa colored batter and so forth. So, when the cake was cut it would look like Zebra stripes on the inside.

    Piece and health to your family and Happy Holidays.

    · Reply
  • nora

    You have a wonderful family ,God bless you and your family.

    · Reply
  • Just would like to exchange great energy and positives thouth and amazing food ideas.
    Love,Andreia

    · Reply
  • Stephi Cantley

    I just discovered your beautiful website! Amazing. God is surely using your talents/gifts to bless so many! Thank you for the recipe One Pot Chicken and Potatoes! I’m making it for dinner tonight! 🙂 Jesus bless your work! I shared your site with my sisters and friends!

    · Reply
  • Mrs. C.J Johnson

    Thought I’d take a peek about you.

    I moved from Detroit to Lakewood, Washington in 2009. A “servant to the servants” in Christ Jesus since 2011.

    And yes I know bout that rain here in GODS country. That’s what they call it where I come from.

    I was moved to tears by your brief story on your 7 year old princess. You mentioned ‘seems to be orchestrated”. We know not the mind of GOD that’s part of why HE Is I AM. HE is….Sovereign.

    The world will always take issue with that. They don’t like what they don’t and don’t want to–understand. Your beautiful princess with such life in her smile was given to you for GODs glory and a purpose which I truly believe you know. You know because GOD said ‘yes’ to her life and the productivity & quality of it–in spite of what they said she and it….would be.

    Your story made me wonder: “If all doctors prayed for their patients conditions instead looking at only what their own purchased, enhanced wisdom sees…

    How many more….how many?

    Marina, I am elated for you and your family. GOD Bless and forever– keep you all.

    GOD’S providence. Everything is orchestrated by GOD. Keep your eyes on HIM.

    · Reply
  • Julia Vayner

    I love your story! I was born in Russia and moved here when I was 5. I absolutely can’t wait to try some recipes from your blog. I’m pumped. My mom and I have been looking for Farmer’s cheese replacements for-ever. Can’t wait to try the Ricotta Syrniki.
    Xo,
    Julia

    · Reply
  • Elizabeth E Stephens

    What a beautiful family you have! This is my first time to your blog, your recipes look amazing. Thanks for that and God Bless! Elizabeth
    (By the way, it looks like you live in Oregon, me too! I love it here.)

    · Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth,
      welcome to the blog and thank you for your kind words! Yep, I live in Portland, Oregon and also love it here!

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  • Denise

    Thanks for sharing your sweet story and photos of your beautiful family. Keep up the good work in all areas ! You look happy and blessed and it is wonderful to have you share your stories and, of course, your delicious recipes ! I look forward to trying many of them ! God Bless.

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