A very merry un-14th-birthday to TM! A story in food pictures

TM is now 14. (How did that happen?) He is not overly fond of birthdays or being celebrated, so the trick is to let him know how much we love him in the most low-key, non-celebratory way possible. So I cook him a lot of food that he likes.

The morning started with apple cider doughnuts.

They had an apple cider icing on them. And they were very good, if I do say so myself. (Don't despair, keep scrolling for a cooking failure of magnificent proportions.)

Yesterday morning, with the fall-out from the post-candy holiday free-for-all, I could just tell that it would be pure folly to try to do anything the least bit academic, so I declared a game day. It was the perfect choice and we all had fun. (I think I'll do a post about some of our more recent games in the near future.)

After lunch, I needed to quickly whip up a triple chocolate cheesecake for the un-birthday dessert. I've made this before, so it seemed to be a straightforward affair. My plan was to get the cheesecake in the oven and then take off for downtown to return our current birds to the Field Museum. TM went with me because I needed a second pair of able hands to carry the cases and he wanted to stop by the Vietnamese market on our way. We were foiled by traffic at every turn. Construction, traffic jams, no street parking... it was like a replay of last week. Eventually we made it to the market and TM stocked up on some of his favorite Asian snacks (seaweed and prawn chips). And after an even longer amount of time, we made it to the museum to return the birds. (I forgot my camera, so much to my disappointment, I couldn't take a picture of the dinosaur in his Cubs' jersey.) Thankfully coming home went much faster. I don't know why the southbound traffic was so slow.

When I got home, I took the cake out of the oven and discovered this.

You're right, this is not what a cheesecake is supposed to look like. I realized too late that I should have let it cool completely before taking off the outside ring, but even before that there were significant problems with it. I'm not quite sure what went wrong. D. was very sympathetic. We both tasted it, and it tasted fantastic. One does not want to dump that amount of yumminess even if it looks like a science experiment gone wrong, so I decided to move on to Plan B.

I divided it up into little individual containers and went ahead and made the chocolate ganache topping to cover the less-than-beautiful cake part. Here is what I ended up with.

Not a bad rescue, huh?

For dinner, TM had asked if we could go to a Vietnamese restaurant, which we did. Here TM and P. are about to eat big pieces of jalepenos which were in P.'s banh mi sandwich.

Surely due to it being game 6 of the World Series, we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves. Since they already had sports playing on the TV's, L. and Y. really wanted to ask if they could put the Cubs on, which they did. Thus, not only did we get a nice dinner out with good food, but we got to see the grand slam as well. I also got to be a little amused at the African-American staff worker explaining how the World Series worked to the Vietnamese staff.

Once home it was time for dessert. My Plan B turned out quite well, though it was incredibly rich. TM also opened some cards that were here for him. (His presents will come in sporadically and this is how he feels most comfortable, so I've come to terms with it.)

This is the face he makes when the card from his grandmother starts to sing.

So happy un-birthday my dear son. I love your energy and willingness to work. I love your creativity and eye for design. I love how you take care of your younger siblings. Pretty much, I love you.


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