Front door of my beautiful school on an icy January day

I woke this morning with my covers on the floor and frozen to the bone. The Ukrainian winter I have been expecting is finally here! The snow is beautiful and I crave nothing more than a cup of steaming hot chocolate. The numbers are not much lower than a typical winter day in Ann Arbor, Michigan (~0 °F) but somehow it feels much colder, like a different category of cold altogether. A cold that is unescapable yet welcomed with open arms as a fact of life. Mother, is this what you endured growing up in northern Minnesota? The children are outside sledding, skating and skiing. I don’t know how they can have fun in these temperatures. I wore gloves when I cooked my buckwheat last night…

Beautiful Romny sidewalk in front of my school. The tree bottoms are repainted every spring along with the curbs to make the town look fresher.

On a more exciting note, I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies this past weekend and brought them into school to share with my fellow teachers. They were proclaimed очень вкусно (very tasty) by all who tasted them! I am so proud. You might ask, what is the trick to cooking my mother’s famous cookie recipe without half the ingredients and in a soviet era stove? The secret is using a Ukrainian recipe! After successfully burning an entire batch of rock hard cookies made from my mother’s US recipe, I decided to (unplug my incessant fire alarm and) get out the handy dandy “Babushka’s Cookbook”, given to all PCVolunteers in Ukraine and peruse their baking recommendations. I learned that you can make brown sugar by adding a spoon of honey to white sugar, you can indeed buy baking powder in some of the large grocery stores (although Ukrainians think it is extremely unhealthy), and pre-heating my oven to 400 degrees means I should not turn the dial pass the picture of a medium size flame. After learning these helpful hints, my cookies took on a whole new life and were indeed очень вкусно.

I suppose I should update you on my life as a teacher. Maybe tomorrow…

Preferred mode of transport for kids under the age of five during the snowy months. Not an uncommon site. Not much snow, but it is sure cold.

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