Monday, August 20, 2012

На кухне... on the cheap?

We're trying to live on a budget these days. Not that we weren't on one before, but now we're taking it more seriously. We came to Ukraine with over $40,000 in student loans (ah, college) and it's tricky to pay that off while earning a local salary. Luckily D just landed a job so that will give us a little more breathing room once his paychecks kick in. In the meantime, I've been exploring the world of recipes to add some excitement to the kitchen and make restaurants a less-tempting idea. I'm trying to cook cheaply, grocery shopping once a week and using mainly local, inexpensive ingredients.

Like potatoes. Potatoes are definitely cheap. How cheap? This cheap:
12 potatoes. 2 uah... about 23 American cents.

(Mainly) Potato recipes: 


Ukrainian Pan Fried Potatoes (from Natasha's Kitchen)

Tzatziki Potato Salad with Chicken (one of this PCV's many great recipes!) Yum, yum, yum! I added some green apples for crunch and sourness.

Chicken in coconut milk - Murgh Malai (from Sitno Seckano)
Haven't tried this exact recipe yet because I haven't the faintest idea where to find garam masala. Luckily there's a recipe for garam masala on the same site, so maybe I'll try that.For now I've been making this meal with just a simple packet of curry spice.

Coconut milk is available at the supermarket Billa. It costs about 25 uah and is sold in the tiny Asian food section near the sushi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger.

Bourbon Chicken (from This was pretty good but I wish the sauce were thicker. If I knew how to find cornstarch here I'd add a bit of that to the meal.

Classic Cucumber Salad (from So good, even with olive oil and honey instead of sesame oil and agave nectar. Added extra lemon juice for the vitamin C!

Blini night with Natalie again... this time with mojitos! How can you make mojitos cheaply? Well, you can't make a real mojito on the cheap. But you can substitute a bottle of Soviet champagne (about 25 uah) for rum, crush up some mint, lime, and sugar, add sparkling water, and call it good : )

Holodnik (another delicious idea from Natasha's Kitchen)

I'd never made a beet soup before. Beets are a little intimidating to work with; at first glance they seem like something straight out of Middle-earth and then they can leave your cutting board looking like a mass murder just occurred.
Once I got past those inhibitions, though... beets are tasty! I prepared this cold soup one hot afternoon and it was a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, this soup is now wasting away in the fridge. I used milk instead of kefir, which D called a big no-no (something about the effects of beets + milk on the stomach?) and turned his nose up at the soup. So now I'm slowly eating the soup alone. (PS: It's fine!) He promises to have some in the future if I use kefir instead. At least I got to enjoy the beautiful sight of this rainbow out the window while making the soup.

Here's a simple meal idea: mashed potatoes, piece of meat, and grated/beet carrot salad. For the salad I like to use a "Korean salad" spice packet (just add oil and vinegar.)
a мужчина на кухне creation!

And, of course, there's always pizza made at home. We've cut back on this but seriously, who can live without pizza!

Thanks for reading!


  1. Very creative with the potato recipes! I'm impressed!
    I will want to know when they get a little old and you switch to pasta!