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Hi there and welcome to Let the Baking Begin, a page where you’ll find beautiful European Cakes and Desserts as well as other savory dishes my Ukrainian family enjoys.

I’ve been cooking since 8 and consistently for the past 12 years. I hope you stick around and check out my online recipe book with my favorite perfected recipes for all things delicious!

Creating things from scratch is my passion, be it an elaborate dessert that requires time and patience or a simple one-pan dish. So go ahead, check it all out, and don’t forget to pin, comment, share and then…cook, bake and create. After all, that is the main reason I’m sharing my recipes with you, I know you were wondering ;).

Initially, this blog was created 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 has grown to hundreds of thousands of visitors every month (pinch me, is this for real?).

I am just so blessed to share my passion, share a piece of my soul with each one of you through the recipes and photographs that I create. 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 a survivor of a nursing program (ha!) and a proud holder of an RN license.

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 finger-licking good! Oh and sour cream, wait, I already mentioned sour cream. Never mind. We do put that stuff on everything though.

Growing up in a family where everyone is an amazing cook is a great place to hone your skills and acquire a love for all things food. 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 at first, 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 start 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 the 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. Teenagers are weird…
  • My sister and I 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, scrapbooking, baby shoemaking, 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

November 2016

  • 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 almost 10 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.

Sept. 2016

  • 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 perfect and memorable moment of our lives. If there are angels among us, I think those people were it.

Sept. 2013

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

Oct. 2016

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

Oct. 2016

Yours truly,

Marina & the fam

UPD: Nov. 2018


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  • Dave Waldrep

    Well, young lady. I am Dave and my wife and I enjoyed our vacation back in 2021. We traveled to Ukraine and were there for a few months. When I booked the vacation, I had a chance to get a cooking class with a great family, Mama, daughter, and of course Papa. We were hoping to go back in 2022, but, all **** broke loose. We were able to visit many places and different means of transportation. We first landed in Kyiv. We were there for about 10 days then took a day train to Odessa. We were there also for 10 days and we were supposed to take a bus to Dnipro. Well, we somehow messed that up and ended up staying a few extra days to catch a night train. What an experience that was. hahaha. Well, we finally made it to Dnipro and was there a shorter time due to our mishap in Odesa. Well, we did take a bus from there to Kharkiv and were there for another 10 days or so. What a lovely city. We loved Gork Park. Oh, from there we took a day train again back up to Kyiv for the final leg of our trip. We tried just about anything that was Ukrainian. Brought back one of those stackable dolls. My wife loves it. We had so much fun there in all the places we visited that we could not pick just one city that was better than the others. The Black Sea was a treat and being there, was a dream come true.
    I pray for your family and all those suffering in Ukraine.
    You know that “Wars” must take place in one place or another as recorded in the Bible. We all have to endure these things, but still, it hurts us to know that it is happening to those that we love. We have friends that live throughout Ukraine and I just wish and pray that this soon ends.
    I read your information about your family and I hope and pray that if you still have family there, that they stay safe.
    My wife and I live close to Portland and hope to meet you and your family.
    Thanks again for the great recipes.
    Oh, we found a nice place here in the Portland area that has many Ukrainian dishes that we just love. The Borscht is a must-have in our home.
    Dave & Tina

    · Reply
    • Hello Dave & Tina,
      Thank you, so much for reaching out and sharing your experience when traveling in Ukraine. It warms my heart knowing that you got to experience it before all the atrocities started happening. There’re no words to describe the sadness about the effects of war that people are experiencing right now. Such senseless loss of life and possessions that many people worked all their lives to gain 🙁 🙁 :(.

      If you live close to Portland, I wonder if you know about all the European/Slavic stores that are all throughout the city that have many of the foods and dishes that you can buy.

      It was great to “meet” you, Dave & Tina! Thank you so much for your sweet comment!


      · Reply
  • Don Foster

    You have a beautiful family Marina. Your recipes are a source of pleasure for me. I am an 85 year old gentleman whose wife is disabled and that makes me the family cook. Surprisingly, I quickly found cooking enjoyable.

    I weep for the people of your home country in this awful time. I hope if you have relatives there they remain safe.

    Don Foster
    Fort Gibson, OK (Southeast of Tulsa)

    · Reply
    • Thank you, so much Don! I appreciate you taking the time to share about yourself and leaving a comment.
      Cooking can be such a wonderful stress relief, especially when its done for the people we love.

      Yes, we all hope this madness stops soon. So many people are loosing their lives without a reason :(. I appreciate your support!

      Hope you and your family are well!

      · Reply
  • Debra Sloss

    You have a beautiful family. I love to try different foods, and new recipes. I am retire from the military. I enjoyed traveling
    to different countries and exploring different foods and recipes. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

    · Reply
  • Megan Kimmerle

    Hello Marina!
    I’m Megan Kimmerle. I’ve decided to follow your request and sharing things about me. I was born and raised in Moab, Utah and graduated from Grand County High School 2 months ago, on June 1st. I will turn 18 in less than 2 weeks now! Can’t believe it at all!

    Anyway, cooking and baking are my biggest passions as well. I have very much enjoyed your posts and your recipes are out of this world delicious and helpful! So thank you very much for inspiring me. The scorching heat here in Moab is absolutely miserable in the spring & summer, so I am jealous since just like you, I would take rain & cool/cold weather over scorching heat anytime. I will not be going to college so instead have big dreams and goals of finding a place with weather like yours to live in! Please keep inspiring me with more new recipes-you never cease to amaze me! So thank you again-and God bless you with all he can do!

    · Reply
    • Hi megan Kimmerle!
      Nice to “meet” and learn about you! PNW is a good option if you don’t mind rain. The summer and early fall are the best here! It’s not too hot and so beautiful all around. Wishing you all the luck in your endeavors as you journey through adulthood 😀

      · Reply
  • Elena Nagel

    Loved seeing your newlywed photograph.
    I am also a nurse, retired now. Made it to retirement.
    Love all of your recipes.

    · Reply
  • Hi, my name is Ashley. I’ve recently started cooking and baking. I was born in Romania, then adopted and moved to America when I was 4 years old. My husband’s family is from Budapest, and I like your touch of Ukrainian in your dishes. I’m excited to try the ricotta pancakes. Wish me luck

    · Reply
  • Melody

    I love your blog because the recipes sound so good and do-able .and then I read about you and now it just makes it real -not just the recipes – your beautiful family. I see aLOT of recipes on pinterest and think yeah right . But yours I save. Oh and I was born in Washington and raised back n forth between washington and oregon and guess what? I moved to the hot desert and am happy here . Opposite of you

    · Reply
  • Helen Ofwono

    How should I use your Sweet dough recipe for making cinnamon rolls? Do I need to divide the dough?, if so, into how many pieces?

    Your recipe sounds wonderful!

    · Reply
  • Tatyana

    I found you on the pinterest. I notice a lot of familiar recipes so I get interested and I start following you in pinterest, You will maybe ask why familiar because I came myself from Ukraine in 2000 At that time I was 25. I am very enjoying your recipes because like I said they familiar but sometimes has a kind of little twist and I like that very much, I like testing different thing and I like different actually cuisine. Actually I was born in the Uzbekistan, Sometimes I taking ideas from a different cuisines and trying put them together, and sometimes it’s actually coming very well, and other times not so good.
    it’s great you actually sharing Your talent and Passion for cooking with everybody, I am opposite I’m taking recipes from everybody. I am extremely appreciated and I’m looking forward for other great recipes. And I’m hoping God will bless you and all your family .

    · Reply
    • I appreciate you taking the time to comment and share your feedback, sounds like we have been here in the US for the same amount of time.
      It was nice to “meet” a fellow Ukrainian

      · Reply
  • Congratulations Marina on your mastery of the English language considering you only came to North America at the ripe old age of 14. Bravo! I wish you and your special daughter all the best. Oscar.

    · Reply
  • Elizabeth Allen

    I support Ukraine’S FIGHT FIR SOVEREIGNTY, so I am so happy I found your Coconut Candy Recipe today while searching for a Filling for my Original Coconut-Cake Recipe,” Which I’m adapting for my “Coconut Muffins”!!! Someone, I’m surrounded by Unknown People without identities, pretending they are decent when the break-ins And thieveries prove otherwise, I concluded these are Russian-&-Chinese-trained Communist-Totalitarianists here to attack our nation from within along with the human-traffickers-&-kidnappers-&-cult’s-of-Criminals-&-BIRPS-(((Beastiality-Incest-Rape-Pedophile-&-Sadism))), so these hackers-&-plagiarizers Are Breaking Into my phone again and erasing my comments, this is my second-try!!! I have my original “Cream Brioche Recipe” you might like to try out with fully-fresh fillings, and one of my posts today on Facebook is Called, “…..Putin Is Russia’s Abusive Husband” Because Putin is EXACTLY THE PROFILE OF AN ABUSIVE HUSBAND!!! I hope you are well and secure!!! You are a great family and I respect your Rights to choose a life here with your family when you were still a maturing young adult, I WISH YOU ALL THE VERY BEST!!! Authentically Yours, Elizabeth Allen in TUCSON, Arizona, Yes I relocated from Salem, OR to this deplorably hot place and cannot wait to leave to another hot place after I make it through this next year working toward my spinal surgeries and knee surgeries!!! Wishing you All Blessings, SECURITY, And Good Fortune!!!

    · Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, thank you so much for your comment. Ukraine needs all the support it can get, as it’s fighting for it’s survival and freedom.

      I hope the recipe went well and your surgeries are a success. All the best wishes to you!

      · Reply

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