Man Child has returned from Italy, bearing gifts, stories, love, and cookies. Lots of cooking going on since he arrived, but the first night it only seemed appropriate to celebrate in traditional New York style.
The funny part is that this is our favorite local pizza, and while he was in Italy, the local paper of the small, northern town he was in actually had an article about this particular pizza place. Husband and I got a big kick out of that when we saw MC post the article.
I think Italy was the perfect choice for a first big traveling experience for him. Beauty, history, food, and the passion that comes from an ancient culture; yup, all him. It’s kind of funny, despite the fact that English and Spanish are the two languages spoken here at home, Man Child never looks quite as natural as he does when speaking in Italian.
Just a few days after he arrived, Nerd Child came home for his spring break. Do you hear that? It’s the little chorus of mama-angels singing, all 3 of my chickadees home at the same time for more than a day and a half.
It’s been way too long since we’ve all been together, especially without the stress of just a quick stay or holiday preparations. Art Child is thrilled. Both boys! Bonus, they’ve both been pitching in and doing some of the pick-up/drops-offs getting her to and from school. Every morning I’ve woken up thinking back to when she was a baby, still not yet able to walk, but as soon as she was able to get herself out of her bed, the boys’ room was her first stop of the day; tiny fists beating on their door while she bellowed, “BOYYYYYYZ!”
I’m mom. I see the similarities, the commonalities, the passion all three have for politics, humor, love of music, and certain gestures and facial expressions. Certain things from Husband, certain from me, others I guess just from being raised in the same home. That said, they’re each different in looks, perspective, and presentation. Not that life has been all serious all the time, but Man Child and Nerd Child are both quite funny, and they play off each other perfectly. Both use topical humor, self-deprecating humor (hmm, can’t imagine where they get that from), but Nerd Child is more deadpan, gallows type of funny, one quirked eyebrow to communicate the joke (if each one was born with a parenting manual, his would be titled “Brit-Humor Alert), while Man Child is more about parody, with just the right amount of timeless slapstick. Art Child is quite droll. So, the greatest common thread, in my opinion? Laughter. I have done more laughing in the past ten days than I have in a long time.
Because of school schedules, neither of my boys have been home on their birthdays in a long time. The first missed birthday (on their part, there were others missed because I was in the hospital with Art Child) was Man Child’s eighteenth, his school was on break, but he was away on a service trip. Nerd Child will be turning eighteen soon, but he’ll be back at school by then. Nerd Child’s friend will be coming to stay with us for a few days this week, and he’ll turn eighteen while he’s here. Poor guy doesn’t realize he’ll be subject to my frustrated mama sniffling. So the other day when Man Child suggested he make a cake the following day, I told him to wait, we’ll make a cake for the friend’s birthday in a few days. *insert awkward pause here* Why awkward? Because the following day was Man Child’s birthday. Sure I realized it just after I said it, but still. Bad, bad, mama.
Obviously, now I had to make a cake, and not just a cake, but a special cake. I’ve been making lots of bundt cakes in the past couple of years, but Man Child isn’t enamored of those. He’s young and energetic, passionate about all things food and baking, and therefore considers bundt cakes cheating. What would be special? What would everyone enjoy, that I haven’t done in a while, that wouldn’t break my back? I used to make a lot of cheesecakes. I actually own an entire cookbook dedicated solely to different types of cheesecakes. Ok, I’ll make a cheesecake, and not just any cheesecake, a ricotta cheesecake. Nice tie-in to him and his time in Italy, no?
That morning he took the girl to school for me. I made the crust for the cake, and then went with Nerd Child for his eye exam and new glasses. Afterwards I went and bought a new strainer (my old one is mysteriously missing) so I could get the cheese as dry as possible. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve always found ricotta cakes to be a bit tricky, the texture and moisture levels really have to be perfect.
Surprise! About forty minutes in, I went to take a peek at how it was going, and I noticed a small puddle forming on the floor, under the right bottom corner of the oven. I figured someone dropped ice cubes and missed one when cleaning up. Hmm, this water is mighty slippery. You could even say greasy. Turns out there’s a small leak in my springform pan. Not enough to be noticed when I pre-baked the crust for ten minutes, or when I poured the batter in, but just enough for a slow leak of butter from the crust. In the space of the 38 seconds it took for me to notice the puddle and determine that it wasn’t melted ice, the oven, kitchen, and hell, most of the whole apartment filled with smoke. Once the smoke cleared and the danger of fire passed, we stuck the cake in the fridge to chill, hopefully firm in the middle, and generally hope for the best.
Needless to say,
didn’t quite work. Not to mention the smoky overtones to the flavor. As I said, there’s been a lot of laughter.
Maybe Nerd Child’s friend would like some chocolate pudding to celebrate his eighteenth?