I’ve been tagged by Susi of Susi’s Kochen Und Backen, one of my favorite blogs. I’ve never been tagged before! There’s a first time for everything, huh?

1) What is your favorite kitchen tool to use?

My favorite and most used kitchen tools are a pair, though they don’t really belong together.

They are this juicer:

And this meat grinder:

(Excuse my messy kitchen, please. I photo’d mid lunch prep)

Also, forgive how gross the machines look. They’re not actually gross, they’re just really really old. No amount of soap and water will ever make that metal look new and shiny again, and I’m scared to do serious stiff-brush scrubbing on the paint (enamel?) finish, because of their age as well.

I consider them a pair because they both belonged to my grandmother who passed them down to my mother. Now that I love being in the kitchen, and I use these tools much more than my mom ever did, I am hoping that when we part ways she will pass them on to me.

My husband loves to use the meat grinder, so I’ll cut a pile of chunks and pass them over to him, then I’ll cut up some more while he grinds and grinds. It goes so smoothly you’d think the machine was new, not 60 years old. It’s nice to have him in the kitchen with me sometimes.

When I was a kid I’d pull out this juicer and make myself fresh-squeezed orange juice in the mornings. Now that I’m older I use it to make my favorite recipe… Wait. I’ll get to that in question 6.

2) What is your all-time favorite dessert?

That would have to be blondies. This is going to sound crazy, because I love to bake, but I have never made a blondie in my life. When I was in middle school one of the band moms would make blondies to sell at the bake table in the auditorium lobby during our performances. Until I had one, at the age of 12, my favorite dessert had been black-bottomed cheesecake bites that my Great-Great-Aunt Ruth made for family reunions. But this blondie turned my dessert world upside down. I was the happiest girl in the world when that band mom moved on to high school with me, and started having them at my high school band performances. I never found out who her kid was, but I know we were in the same grade. My best friend made me blondies for Christmas a few years back, but the recipe she used called for shortening rather than butter, and while they were tasty they just weren’t the same. I am right now vowing to make blondies this year. They’ll be part of my holiday baking extravaganza.

3) What cooking show would you love to be part of?

Yikes. This one has me stumped. May I say that I do not have television, and haven’t in years? And that many years before I gave up cable I swore off Food Network, because it was making me fat? And lastly that I have a severe fear of being filmed and would never ever want to be on TV? With all of that said, I can feel assured that you understand why I have no answer to this question.

4) If you could travel to any country just for the food, which one would it be?

I would choose Austria. My husband’s grandmother was from Austria, and I have been struggling to live up to the cooking she did for him when he was a child. She passed away before I could meet her, so I have never had a chance to eat her authentically Austrian cuisine. Going on a food tour of Austria would be like walking through my husband’s childhood memories, and I would cherish every moment, every dish.

5) Is there a food you can’t stomach, no matter how often you’ve tried it?

Until a couple months ago I’d have said seafood. Then I learned that pregnancy has made me adore seafood. Funny how that happens. I guess now the contender for ick-factor would have to be grape flavored anything. I like grapes, but fake grape flavor is the grossest thing ever.

6) What is your most treasured recipe?

My most treasured recipe is one I discovered fairly recently. It is Keys Style Lemon Pie. This is because lime is my favorite smell. If I could rub myself in a cut lime every day, that would be my perfume of choice. I’ve always thought Key Lime Pie looked like the most delicious thing in the world. Smells heavenly. But the only thing almost as repulsive to me as fake grape flavor is the flavor of lime. For my whole life I’ve been lamenting over my inability to enjoy the gorgeous tart creaminess that is Key Lime Pie. Then I came across that recipe on Tasty Kitchen. I happened to have Meyer lemons on hand, so I made it that day. Instantly, I was hooked. It was simple. I’ve never made an easier dessert in my life. It gave me a fantastic reason to use my awesome vintage juicer, too. Since that fateful day I have made it probably a dozen times. If I have to take a dessert somewhere, that’s what it will be. It never fails to impress. Except my husband, who is extraordinarily picky about desserts and has something against creamy pies. Can you believe that? Creamy pies? How can anyone… Never mind. Anyway, if you decide to give that recipe a try, let me tell you that I believe the baking time she gives is off. In my oven 17 minutes is perfect.

7) What is your best kitchen tip?

This is going to sound so silly, but it’s something I wish I had started doing when I first started cooking: Start with a clean kitchen and empty dishwasher, gather and measure your ingredients before you start doing anything else, and clean as you go. If you follow those three steps you will suddenly realize how effortless cooking and even baking can be.

8 ) With the holiday’s approaching, tell us about a food you must have on either your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table!

Pumpkin pie. Without a doubt, pumpkin pie. I’d have listed that as my favorite dessert, but the truth is that I enjoy eating tons of it from October through January, but if I ate it all year long I’d probably tire of it very quickly. However, I will choose it as my dessert every time I eat dessert for those few months. The holidays just wouldn’t be right without pumpkin pie.

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