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How To Make The Perfect Pizza, According To My 93-Year-Old Grandma, Who Knows Everything

"Step 1: Wash your hands."

Hello there! Perhaps you remember my Grandma Lenny. If you don't, let me introduce you. She's turning 94 years old next month, so she's an endless fount of knowledge and entertaining stories. She absolutely loves Trader Joe's and food in general.*

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(*The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, right?)

Recently, my family decided to celebrate Mother's Day with a DIY-style pizza party, and naturally, Grandma Lenny wanted to get involved. This may have been her first time cooking pizza that didn't come frozen in a box (most likely a Trader Joe's box), but my delightful-yet-opinionated grandma quickly took charge of the situation.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

Within minutes, she was directing the pizza-making process and giving us all some much-needed pointers. Then she decided to get her outfit dirty and show us how things are done. So without further ado, here's how to make pizza from scratch, according to Grandma Lenny.

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Tip #1: Start with a VERY clean working area.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

My grandmother is tidy. She does not let me wash dishes when I visit her because I "don't do it right." Her first order of business is always cleanliness. Your hands must be washed (yes, she's watching to make sure), pizza toppings should be organized into small bowls, and the countertop should be cleaned before — and at various times throughout — the pizza-making process. At first, the copious amounts of flour spewed all over the countertop made her a bit nervous, but eventually she embraced the mess and got her hands dirty.

Tip #2: Wine helps the flow of the pizza-making process (or, at the very least, it makes your pizza taste better).

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

Grandma Lenny didn't explicitly say this, but I saw her drink at least two glasses, so I am inferring.

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Tip #3: Don't be afraid to take risks.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

Some novice pizza-makers might be afraid to toss their dough in the air like an experienced veteran, but not my grandma. She's fearless. She let her dough FLY. And you know what? She caught it.

Tip #4: Always go with Rao's tomato sauce.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

I presented my grandmother with two sauce options: 1) a sauce I lovingly made from scratch myself — with tomato puree, salt, garlic, etc.; and 2) a jar of Rao's store-bought tomato sauce. Without hesitation, she reached for the Rao's and showed no regrets. Who can blame her?

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Tip #5: Be creative, and follow your heart always — but especially while making pizza.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

Grandma Lenny happens to keep kosher, so her topping selection was limited to the vegetarian options — she went with a little pepper, a little 'shroom, a lot of cheese. Still, she told the rest of us to follow our hearts while making pizza and to never let someone else's preferences dictate our own. She is 100% correct: A personal pizza is, by nature of its very name, a personal pizza, and no one can decide what belongs on your pizza but you.

Tip #6: Don't take your eyes off the pizza.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

We used an Ooni pizza oven, which heats up to about 900°F. The extreme heat of the oven didn't deter my grandma from getting close and sliding her dough off the peel. But she was very vigilant, refusing to divert her gaze from the oven. These babies cook in a matter of minutes, and she refused to let her very first pizza burn. That being said, Lenny says any good pizza should have a slightly charred crust, and I would have to agree.

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Tip #7: Be proud of your accomplishments.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

At the age of 93 years and 11 months, my grandma made a pretty impressive pizza from start to finish. Look at that bubbly cheese and perfect char! She was proud of her accomplishment and wasn't afraid to show it. In fact, she asked me to confirm numerous times that her pizza was my favorite of all the pies made that afternoon. If you're ever feeling discouraged, just look at this picture of Grandma Lenny with her first homemade pizza, and remember that there's always time to learn something new.

Tip #8: Don't forget to indulge.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

My grandmother takes very good care of herself, and her diet is no exception. But she'll be the first to tell you that every now and then, you've got to indulge. Life is too short not to eat pizza. She won't admit it, but I saw her go back for a third slice.

Do you have any questions for Grandma Lenny? They can be pizza-related or broader life questions. Let me know in the comments below. I can assure you that she'll be calling me all week and asking me to read her every single comment.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

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