Finding our way around the grocery store and then making those ingredients into a good meal at home has been quite an adjustment since we've moved to Ukraine. Because of that, I thought I'd take a couple minutes to post about our kitchen and some of the foods we buy here.
First of all, this is our kitchen/dining room. It is a small little place, but we've made it work well for us. We do not have a microwave yet, but plan to get one soon. It took some time to come up with a place to put it since there isn't a lot of counter space or plug-ins. (We finally decided to put it on top of the fridge when we do get around to buying one!) Anyway, our kitchen is abnormally nice for kitchens in Ukraine. You may think our oven is small, but really it's bigger than most ovens here. Our fridge is also gigantic... most fridges are about 1/2- 2/3rds this size. We are blessed and love the extra fridge and freezer space!
- You may also notice that we have dishes drying in our cabinet above the sink. That's very traditional for over here since dishwashers are extremely rare. They drip dry above the sink and it has a nice little pan at the bottom to catch the water. It's not only convenient for a kitchen with little counter space, but it also hides the mess.
- Between that cabinet and the sink there are Ziploc bags drying... my sister taught me that handy trick! Who would have known they'd just stick to the tile by themselves?
- In the picture to the right, there is a white thing hanging on the wall next to the window sill. That is our radiator for the kitchen. These are in each room of our apartment, turned on in October and should be turned off sometime soon. There is no regulating the heat that comes from them, so we open windows when it gets too hot (which happens almost every day, even in the winter!).
- Also notice the water jug on the floor. Tap water isn't good for drinking, so we refill jugs like these from a water truck that comes to our neighborhood once a week. So far, we've found two good trucks that come not far from our apartment, one on Thursday between 4:30-5:15pm and one on Saturday between 11:30-12:15pm. It's sometimes hard to be home around that time, plus a little bit of a pain to lug all that water up to the third floor, so we're looking into other options right now. Until then, we set our alarms to be home on time and are strengthening our muscles!
- Next to the hot dogs is one of the cheeses we buy. Cheese is not easy to pick out here. It may be labeled "Parmesan," but it will taste nothing like it. Most of the cheeses are white as well, so it's hard to pick out based on color. Honestly, we finally found two we like and have stuck to just those two cheeses. We've tried numerous others and liked some, but when we go and buy the exact same cheese the next time, it tastes completely different. We're happy we at least found two good cheeses! Another interesting thing about cheese here is that it does not melt completely in soups.
- Next to the cheese is our butter. Butter doesn't come in "sticks" but rather "slices" that weigh 200g. It's close enough to 2 sticks, so we just round up.
- In between the juice and the mustard is our sour cream. I have a funny story with that one. We buy most of our products in the supermarket right now, but here lately we've been getting less and less pleased with the quality of what we're buying. I mentioned this to our language teacher and she started talking to us about where she buys most of her food-- the bizarre (or outdoor market). We'll be looking into that more really soon. But, she buys almost everything there: meat, vegetables, milk, etc. etc. Even her sour cream. She says she brings it home and tests it (especially the sour cream) on her cat. She'll pour some up for her cat and if her cat eats it, she knows it's good. If her cat smells it and walks away, she knows it's bad and will throw the whole lot out. Interesting!
- On the far left is our version of canned tomatoes. They come in jars like these, whole and with their peels. So, for most recipes, we have to take the peel off and then cut each tomato up. Just a little extra work.
- In front of the tomatoes is a sachet. That's our version of canned cream of mushroom soup. We add water, cook for a bit and it's a pretty good substitute.
- Next to the sachet is a bar of chocolate. There are no chocolate chips here, so we buy the bars and chop them up every time we make cookies.
- Next to the chocolate is our powdered sugar. It comes in a little different bag, but we were really happy to have found that item. You wouldn't believe how many different bags I would put my finger on (because the powder was on the outside) and then taste trying to find powdered sugar before we ran across this.
- The squares next to the powdered sugar are our chicken bullion cubes. :)
- Just above the powdered sugar and bullion cubes is potato starch. Another "find" of ours. They don't have corn starch here, but they do have potato starch which works the same. I had to find that the "finger taste" way as well. :)
The final picture is of a few frozen goods. You can pick out most of these, but probably not the top two. The long item is pastry dough. We can't buy crescent rolls in a can here, so we buy this, thaw it out, and cut it to suit our needs. It works quite well! The bag next to the pastry is ice cream. This is the way most of the ice cream is packaged here, but we also buy it in the plastic tubs (see just below it) because it's a lot easier to work with--the bags get messy quick. Ice cream is something we miss because it just doesn't taste the same over here, nor do they have many choices (including David's favorite mint chocolate chip). But, we've found one good chocolate we like, so we're happy we at least found that!
We are really pleased with how many things we've found over here in the grocery stores, many things we thought we'd have to bring back with us or do without. Grocery shopping for us has been quite the adventure, sometimes an exciting adventure and sometimes a frustrating adventure. But, almost 6 months later, we know where to go to get what and have adapted quite well. I hope you enjoyed this post about our kitchen and some of our foods... I enjoyed sharing!