About

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 hope you stick around and check out my online recipe book(a.k.a. blog) 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. 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 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

  • 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 9 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 perfect and 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 surprise 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: Nov. 2018

Comments

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  • Svetlana

    Marina, I baked oreshki based on your recipe, they came out AMAZING! Even my mom who is a great cook and usually (criticizes a bit) didn’t say one bad thing and loved them 🙂 and so did my kids and husband. So planning to make more tomorrow! Seems like you have lots of other great recipes so can’t wait to try others as well.

    Looks like you have a wonderful family thanks for sharing the pictures and the recipes as well!!!

    Happy Holidays!

    · Reply
    • Hi Svetlana! I love it when we can impress our parents, always a special sense of accomplishment 😀 Thank you for your wonderful comment!

      · Reply
  • Rose Wachtel

    Your recipes look delicious and easy.

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  • Joanne Abbott

    Hi Marina

    I came across your insta page by chance & found myself salivating at so many recipes. I’ve just read your story & found it so heart warming, thank you for sharing & I’m so glad I came across your page.

    Best wishes from Northern Ireland x

    · Reply
  • Jakub Przedzienkowski

    Just discovered your site via Pinterest. Rustic Farmer’s Bread. Will make it soon. I’m in San Diego visiting grandkids. Hope to look over more of your recipes.

    · Reply
    • Hi Jakub! Welcome to my blog! Hope you love the Rustic Farmer’s bread, it’s definitely one of our favorites! Enjoy your stay in San Diego!

      · Reply
  • Jane Russell

    Wonderful recipes! I’m in Miami & have only just begun to really appreciate all the different good foods, thanks to a Russian store here, Marky’s. I was so glad to be able to start cooking with their ingredients. Thank you!

    · Reply
  • Myla Warner

    Marina,

    I’m simply a mother, wife, hard worker and home cook who lives by my own recipes and of course those of others….my Mom may she rest in peace left me her treasures; her thousands upon thousands of recipes. I was googling new recipes for really crisp chicken quarter thighs with veggies…and came upon your webpage and kept reading because you’re so eloquent and real with your words and other than the fact that you obviously adore desserts….I do not, no sweet tooth what so ever other than maple fudge or butterscotch ice cream 🙂 You could be my ‘other’ daughter, I have one daughter. Your recipe for the chicken will be tried out tomorrow and I know it’s gonna be delicious! Follow your gut and please keep posting your great recipes, I’ll let you know how it works out!

    · Reply
    • Hello Myla,
      What a wonderful and sweet comment! Thank you so very much for your kind words, I truly share my heart through my recipes and this blog and it makes my heart so warm when I get messages like yours!
      Thank you so much and I hope you find lots of other recipes that you will enjoy on my site, as I definitely share lots of savory ones too. The chicken and potato recipe is one of the most popular recipes on this site and I think you will enjoy it! I would recommend that you try my Paprika Baked Chicken Thighs recipe as well, as the spice blend in that recipe can be used for any other chicken or beef recipe, including the One Pan Chicken and Potatoes one.

      Hope you have a wonderful week!

      Marina

      · Reply
  • Bashar Sadiya

    Very nice recipes

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  • Irina

    Hi Marina,
    The first recipe I tried were the plum butter cookies. I was warned that they will take a lot of time, but they were worth it! Our family just finished the holiday cake, every one one was blown away. Thank you for sharing your recipes.

    · Reply
  • jean

    interested in the recipes

    · Reply
  • Sherie Rodrigues

    Dear Marina. Hello. I love your story so far. I am sure you are going to write so much more. I love your enthusiasm for life, love and family. I wanted to let you know I prepared a meal last night for my partner and 4 friends. I created, yes created, your beef stroganoff and cranberry and white chocolate bliss bars. What a hit. I am going to make everyone of your recipes. They are special, like yourself. Love and kisses to you and your beautiful family. I will keep you informed of reactions to your recipes. Sherie

    · Reply
    • Hello Sherie,
      Thank you so much for such heartwarming comment! I love it that you enjoyed my recipes! So happy to have you here!

      Let me know if you have any questions about the recipes!

      Thank you!

      Marina

      · Reply
  • Mary Quinn

    Please add me to your e-mail list

    · Reply
  • Simona

    Beautiful family Marina and yummy recipes

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  • Aryna

    Hey Marina,

    Just found your blog. It made me feel nostalgic and hungry and envious of your close friends and family who get to sample all this deliciousness.

    Can’t wait to try a few of my childhood favorites like Napoleon and Bird’s Milk. I am from Odessa and live in the Pacific NW too 🙂

    A

    · Reply
    • Hey Aryna,
      Welcome to the blog, glad to have you visit!
      It is never too late to start new traditions if they’re something you enjoy 😀

      Napoleon is one of my absolute favorites, hope you find the time to make it some time this holiday season!

      · Reply
  • Bette Lebens

    Hi Marina, I found your website yesterday, searching online for a recipe by the ingredients I want to use, which turned out to be your one-pan chicken and butternut squash. It was delicious! I often search for new recipes by ingredient, and I am rather picky, and often don’t find anything original or outstanding. I’m 72 and have been cooking since I was tall enough to turn on the gas stove. I love to cook, and everyone loves my cooking, which makes me very happy! Today I am looking at your other recipes to see what I think of them, and I want to say that I want to cook more of them! Tonight we are having your roast beef with carmelized onions and mushrooms! (The flu fairy has visited and hasn’t left yet, so easy dinners are on the menu) Thanks for your recipes.

    · Reply
    • Hi Bette!
      Welcome to the blog! With that many years of experience in the kitchen I can just imagine how good your cooking is! I hope you enjoyed the roast!

      · Reply
  • 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.

    · 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!

      · 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
    • Welcome to the site Julia! I can’t wait to see your creations, hope you tag them on social media if you do post them 🙂
      I do have a recipe for Farmer’s cheese on the site as well, just in case you would like to make your own 😉 Fresh Farmer’s Cheese Recipe

      · 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
    • Mrs. C.J Johnson,
      Came across your comment once again and realized I never did respond to it. Thank you so much for taking the time our of your day to comment. My daughter has been through so much over the years and even though I sometimes struggle to know all the answers to my “why’s”, I do know that not a hair falls off our heads without His will. Therefore, I am accepting his will and doing my best to be the best mother I can be for my darling daughter, and learn from her ever enduring strength and bravery as she goes through every day with a smile on her face.

      Thank you for your blessings!

      Marina

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

    · Reply
  • nora

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

    · 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
    • Welcome Mati!
      Glad to have you here!

      Thank you for sharing your story! I loved reading and learning about your heritage. Resilience is definitely one of those things that every immigrant has. You got to have it, if you wanted to survive. It’s the resilience that is making us successful where the opportunities are boundless and many.

      As to the dill mention, through the years when the USSR was all together, many recipes have traveled from one country to another through the use of the common Russian language, so you’re right, in many of those recipes, it is difficult to pinpoint the origin of the recipe.

      · 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
    • Hi Janet!
      Thank you for sharing your story! I love it when people discover Ukrainian cooking, because there’s just so many recipes that are amazing, but people don’t know about them! If you would like to see my Ukrainian recipes, just visit the Ukrainian cuisine section of my blog, here’s the link – https://letthebakingbegin.com/cuisine/russian-ukrainian/

      The section is a mix of Russian and Ukrainian recipes, as the two cultures are very intermingled and have a lot of the same history.

      Enjoy!

      · Reply
  • 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
  • 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.

    · 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!

      · Reply
  • 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
  • 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!

    · Reply
  • 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!

      · 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!

    · Reply
  • 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

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