Monthly Archives: February 2012

3 cleaning secrets to keep your house shining at all times


I have to be honest with you, a year ago my house used to be a complete mess. I dreaded those unexpected visits of my friends or relatives. I just could not have anyone over. If we planned to invite someone to visit us, this meant a day or two of urgent cleaning for me. Now, I have a very good reason to excuse myself for such a mess. I have two young kids of 4 and 1 years of age. I work 5 hours a day. I used to do all the washing by hand and I still hand wash my dishes.

But, I did not feel happy or content living in all that mess, neither did my husband or kids. I got sick and tired of all my relatives speaking their minds out to me and no help from them. So, I only had to pray for a miracle. And, I got one. I have stumbled on the Flylady.net and a book by Marla Watson. It is a pretty simple book to follow. At first, I did not think much of it. But, I had nothing to lose, so I gave it a try… and it WORKED!

So, if you can at least partially relate to my story, here is my first practical cleaning tip. It really worked for me: Use the alarm clock, when cleaning.

Here is what you do: you set the alarm clock for 15 min and get to work. First select the area for cleaning. Do not attempt to clean the entire house all at once. It won’t work. I used to spend hours cleaning my house with no visible result. I made my heart fail at the very thought of cleaning.

So, you select just one area or one room of your house and get to work just for 15 min. Do not try to do the in depth cleaning during this time. Just try to get rid of the biggest mess in the area: make up your bed, put away all the clothes or other stuff, laying on the beds or floor. Try to dust, sweep and wash the floor or vacuum. That’s it. Do not set a goal too large to accomplish in 15 min.

Here is where the miracle comes in: if you focus on cleaning just one area and spend just 15 min on it, you will be amazed at how much you can accomplish in that short time. Even little effort counts, especially if it is a very targeted one. You will be amazed to see, what difference it makes to clean one area for 15 min with alarm clock. In my next post on cleaning tips, I’ll share my personal ‘cleaning miracle story’. To be continued…

Tips for busy moms: mayonnaise for head lice


Did you know, you could use mayonnaise for treating head lice? It is one of the safest and efficient home remedies for these parasites.

You can use either packaged or homemade mayonnaise. Here is a quick tip on how to use mayonnaise for head lice:

You should rub mayonnaise into dry hair. Rub it well into the scalp skin and cover up the entire hair. Leave no space on your hair and scalp skin uncovered with mayonnaise.

Then put a shower cap or a plastic bag on and wrap up with a towel. The trick is to keep mayonnaise on your hair for over 12 hours. It works as a suffocation treatment for head lice.

For one, mayonnaise has oily base. It immobilizes the lice. And, oil gets inside their breathing tubes. Lice can shut down and stay with no oxygen income for over 8 hours. So, if you can keep the mayonnaise on for longer, you suffocate them. And, vinegar or lemon juice in mayonnaise unglues the nits.

After 12 hours, you remove the towel and cap and start coming out. First brush your hair to untangle it. Then use lice comb to comb out any dead or immobilized lice.

Finally, wash your hair and shampoo it well to remove the grease off. Repeat this treatment 2 weeks later to kill any newly hatched lice.

Dinner Recipe Ideas: Ukrainian Soup Borsch


Ukrainian BorschUkrainian Borsch – Healthy Dinner Recipe Ideas

Borsch is a kind of most loved soups in Ukraine. I did really plan to post this recipe for Valentine Day.Even though, it does not look much like a love dish, cooking great Borsch is a fast way to win the hearts of Ukrainian men. They love it! Here is Borsch recipe:

Ingredients:

Borsch ingredients

Potatoes – 3

Beetroot – 1

Mushrooms – 4-5

Onions – 1 large or 2 small ones

Carrots – 1 (I used parsnip instead)

Garlic – few cloves

2-3 table spoons of tomato paste

Cabbage

Plant oil or fat

Spices, salt

Chicken or pork broth

Dinner Recipe Ideas: Borsch Making

You boil the broth, then you peel all the veggies. Carrots and beetroot has to be grated. The rest of them can be just chopped. All, but cabbage. Leave it for later.

When you broth starts boiling, add all the veggies into the pot. All, but cabbage. Add tomato paste, salt and spices. I love to use red pepper powder and coriander. You may also add bay leaf.

Let the veggies boil on slow heat. When potatoes get almost ready, cut cabbage into thin slices and add to your Borsch. Add a table spoon of plant oil (sunflower, corn or olive). Leave on the stove for 2 more min and take it off. Leave Borsch to draw a bit. The cabbage is added the last one to remain a bit raw and crumpy.

You should serve Borsch hot with a bit of sour cream. We also eat it with rye bread, bacon and garlic.

In Ukraine Borsch is cooked in large pots. The trick is that this soup gets only better after few days in your fridge. It is true. It gets all the aromas and taste of veggies in it. So, you may cook it for several dinners and boil the entire pot of Borsch before each serving. It would only improve its taste.

Borsch has been a favorite and healthy dinner soup, cooked in Ukraine for centuries. Till this day, we serve it even for such special occasions, as weddings or Christmas.

A Bit Of Kitchen Humor: funny things that happened to me, while cooking


Smile, when you make mistakes

When funny things and mistakes happen in your kitchen, they may also lead to some local disastrous consequences. But, they still are funny and when you take care of the consequences, you get good memories to last you for life.

Here is one of my kitchen disasters to share. I was just starting to date this one guy. It was our third date and I invited him over for a dinner. I cooked a full dinner, just as Ukrainian men like. Then I decided to make a desert. I wanted something old fashion and sweet in both senses of this word. So, I remembered my grandma making the cookies, we call them straws. I never made them before.

It’s not the best idea to try something out the first time, when you expect your new boyfriend over:) I know that now! Got some first hand experience. But, I did not know that back at the time. So, I found a recipe and made another serious cooking mistake. I was running out of time, so I just checked the ingredient list, but did not take time to read the recipe.

So, I just started to mix the dough for the cookies. It turned out alright, but it still had one ingredient, I had no use for: 1 table spoon of vodka or cognac.

If you know, to make straws I had to heat up oil on the pan. I poured the oil in and turned on the stove. Then I returned to my cook book to find out that I had to pour that 1 table spoon of cognac right into the oil. By that time oil got heated up well and the fire underneath the pan was well going. Believe me, I did not take a second thought before I poured the cognac in…!!!

Boom! That was the first time in my life, when I saw flambe! The fire went up all the way to the ceiling. I am quick, so I managed to duck and did not get burnt.

I have to say that my cookies turned out alright. I still managed to fry them without having to set the house on fire. But, this flambe thing took place about three minutes before my boyfriend’s arrival. The entire house was full of smoke. I opened the door in quite a frantic state: my hair all messed up, I was in my old clothes on and when I opened the door, the smoke just flowed out of my apartment. One good thing: my boy friend could hardly see me through the smoke.

I did get him a surprise that time! We had a good laugh over it later on that night. This story had a happy end, as eventually we got married, despite my seemingly poor and obviously dangerous cooking skills.

Quick and healthy salad recipe


Nice looking salad recipeEveryone knows salads are the healthiest things you can eat. They help you to stay healthy, energized and fit. They supply you with vitamins and antioxidants. And, they are easy to make, as fresh salads do not require any cooking.

However, there one thing I dislike about making salads. That is grating some of their ingredients, such as carrots, for instance. Carrots are good for my health, I know that. But I really detaste grating them or eating roughly chopped pieces of carrots.That is one reason why I got my food processor. It does all the grating for me:)

But, what if you need to grate just one half of carrot? Washing and cleaning food processor would only be a waste of time in this case. So, I got a better idea on how to make nice looking, nice tasting and healthy salads and avoid grating.

Now I use my potato peeling knife for carrots. I do not only peel carrots with that knife. I also slice them with it. If you do not press hard, you get perfect thin and long slices of carrots. They look much better in you salad, too.

There is one con to mention, though. The core of carrots cannot be sliced so easily. So, I just either leave it for the soup I cook, or throw it away.

There is another great salad combination, for which you can use potato peeler. If you take purple cabbage and daikon, you get amazingly beautiful and healthy salad. You chop the cabbage with the regular knife. Then you peel daikon and start slicing it with the potato knife. You get long white slices to match your purple cabbage. The match each other just beautifully and look great and dressy.

 

Quick Brownie Recipe


This quick homemade Brownie recipe does not take long to mix and make.

Ingredients:

7 ounces of butter

7,5 ounces of sugar

1 table spoon of vanilla sugar

4 eggs

4 table spoons of cacao powder

1 dark chocolate bar

1/2 cup of nuts

1 tea spoon of baking soda

1/2 tea spoon of salt

5 ounces of flour

Mixing Brownie

Brownie recipe

Making:

Mix together sugar, vanilla, salt, baking soda and eggs. Beat them all well with your mixer or food processor.

Add cacao powder, half of the bar of chocolate (grated), crushed nuts, and flour.

Add pieces of chocolate and put into the oven. Bake for 20 min.

5 min Brownie cookies recipe


I love Brownie, who doesn’t? Now, most of my friends use ready made mixes to make them. I prefer home cooking and always try to find quick recipes. Take a look at what I call 5 min Brownie cookies recipe. It really takes just 5 min to make with no ready mix used.

Quick and easy brownie recipe

Ingredients:

A pound of cookies

Cookies I use for quick Brownie recipeThis is the kind of cookies I use.

1 can of condensed milk or 1 cup of thick cream

3 ounces of melted butter

Half bar of chocolate

4 table spoons of cacao powder

2 ounces of sugar

Nuts: almonds, hazelnuts or chesnuts

Making:

Melt the butter. Put the cookies into your kitchen cutter or kitchen machine and chop them. Add sugar, cacao powder and a piece of chocolate bar, chop and mix again.

Making Brownie in 5 min

Then pour in the melted butter and condensed milk or cream. Mix again.

Now, you can form your Brownie cookies. You can just roll the balls or sweet potatoes of them with your hands. I used a small form for cakes to make them. I crushed nuts and put some inside the cake form, then filled it with the mix and press hard. Then I just got the ready cake out.

You can form hearts out of this Brownie mix, too and use them for your Valentine day celebration.

Cleaning tip on dish washing sponges


Eco friendly tip for dish washing spongesThis tip would work well for you, if you do dish washing by hands. I do. And I use up lots of these small dish washing sponges every month.

Being an eco minded person, I feel bad about using these sponges and throwing them away after just 2 or 3 days of use. You know, you should not really use them longer than few days. They make a great environment for bacteria. If you use them longer, they turn into a bio hazard objects in your kitchen.

But, these sponges are hard to recycle. In my area no one recycles them. People just throw them away.

So, here is my cleaning tip: you can sterilize these sponges! Just put them into your microwave for 1 min. The key is to put a wet sponge in. If you try to microwave a dry sponge, you risk to get your microwave on fire. But wet sponge does not get burnt and gets sterilized with all the bacteria in it killed.

So, you can use them longer and be a less of a litter bug 🙂