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Winner of Your Best Vanilla

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Congratulations to Rivka, whose Vanilla Rooibos Tea Cookies won the contest for Your Best Vanilla!

1. Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
For years, I was convinced I hated cucumbers. I thought their seeds looked mushy. I can still remember one evening when I was about 6, perched on a stool beside my mother as she cut some cukes for salad. She looked at me, motioned toward the cucumbers, and said, "I really think you'll like them." I tried one: not bad. Not bad at all. These days there aren't many foods I don't enjoy (though keep the cottage cheese far, far away).

 2. What's your least favorite food?
Oops! Just answered that one. Really, it's a tie between cottage cheese and mayonnaise. 

3. What is the best thing you've made so far this year?
Hmm, tough call. I really loved this simple vietnamese eggplant and leek salad. Had that hot-sour-salty-sweet thing going on.

 4. Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
My most recent almost-disaster was a couple months ago, when I left the sugar out of a cake. Fortunately, I have no self control when it comes to cake batter. After staring down the mixing bowl, I took a swipe with my finger. It was distinctly savory, that cake batter. I hastily grabbed the cake out of the oven 60 seconds into baking, poured it back into the bowl, cleaned the cake pan, and tried again. The cake came out pretty much as good as always: phew.

5.What is your idea of comfort food?
Perfectly cooked spaghetti with San Marzano tomatoes and plenty of chile, and slices of just-out-of-the-oven cake for dessert.

6. Apron or no apron? 
I only throw on the apron after I've gotten something on my clothes. Go figure. 

7. What's your favorite food-related scene in a movie?
All the Meryl Streep parts of Julie and Julia. Also, the prisoner pasta scene in Goodfellas.  

8. If you could make a show-stopping dinner for one person, living or dead, who would it be?
I'd love to have had the opportunity to cook for my grandpa, whose love and appreciation for good food shaped my own.

Tags: Vanilla, Bake, Contest