Stella came home from college last Wednesday amid my Thanksgiving Eve baking fiasco (a yearly event). The pumpkin pie passed the family inspection with only a few points docked for an ugly crust and the nasty scrape I made across the top with my oven mitt. But as usual, despite my intense online recipe studies on making cheesecake, the dessert still turned out looking like a replica of the Sahara Desert with intense crevasses zig-zagging across the top.  Why?! Why?! Whyyyy?!!!

As I stood in front of it cussing, my husband, Ron, reluctantly strolled over to take a look at the thing, then reminded me, “It doesn’t matter what it looks like. Every year you complain about how the cheesecake looks and every year it tastes good.”

“But I wanted it to actually look good this time,” I whined.

Thanksgiving morning we began loading up the car with all of my so-called food concoctions in preparation for the drive to my sister’s house where we’d spend the day. I had the ugly pumpkin pie tucked inside of my 1983 vintage Tupperware Pie Taker and the cheesecake still safe inside of the spring form pan with a protective sheet of heavy duty Walmart aluminum foil across the top.  Both desserts were nestled securely in a box that we placed in the cargo area of our crossover.

As we made our last trip out the front door with our arms loaded with Thanksgiving goods, I glanced down at the dog, Annie, who was looking me with hopeful eyes waiting for an invite to the feast. Stella had mentioned something about bringing the dog along but I nixed the idea since she hadn’t gotten the green light from my sister. But awww…she’d have to spend the entire day inside of the house by herself. And she was 10 years old so she probably didn’t have that many Thanksgivings left, right?

Without even as much as another thought about phoning my sister, I called the dog out to the car. She ran down the sidewalk and instinctively lept into rear of the vehicle. After doing a few confused-looking circles around the boxes and bags of Thanksgiving bootie that we’d loaded in hatch of the car, she apparently decided she didn’t want to sit in back by herself so she hurdled over the seat to join the kids  — using my cheesecake as a spring board.

[Insert expletives here]

Later that day at my sister’s, when we were ready for dessert, we strategically cut around Annie’s footprint (Duh…of course we ate it! And by the way, her paw print was a stark reminder that her toenails needed clipping). But you want to know what was really weird? The next night we went to a comedy theater and my husband pointed out an ad printed inside of the program  for a local bakery named Muddy Paws Cheesecake . The image included in the ad was one of a scraggly dog wearing a chef’s hat.  Could it be that ours wasn’t the first cheesecake leaping dog? That another animal – possibly one of Annie’s distant cousins – actually inspired the launch of bakery business?

Anyway. Thanksgiving weekend is over and we are settling back into somewhat of a normal routine before the Christmas frenzy really begins in a week or two. Noah is back to school and is actually staying on top of his homework assignments. On Sunday, Stella boarded the bus for the University…or maybe I should say she hightailed it back to the University after four solid days of  “blissful family togetherness.”

I ate the last piece of pumpkin pie a couple of nights ago and that was very distressing to me. Pumpkin pie is my favorite and I become almost mournful when the I down the last bite. But on the upside, there is indeed one piece of cheesecake left but I think I’ll save that for Ron because really, it doesn’t matter what it looks like. It still tastes good, right?

If anyone has tricks for baking a perfect, crackless cheesecake, please fill me in. I have tried placing a pan of water inside of the oven, reducing the baking time, greasing the springform pan, casting spells on the batter, acupuncture, fairy dust, and hypnosis.  Please help!

2 Responses to “It Doesn’t Matter What it Looks Like”

  • Kim says:

    I’m not much of a baker myself so all I can say is if Fairy Dust and casting spells didn’t work, then I got nothing!! :-) I do know what you mean about really wanting it to look good as well as taste good though. I go through baking frustration every year trying desperately to make those perfectly decorated and iced christmas cookies! I haven’t got that down yet. My 13 yr. old daughter has more patience with baking than I do, I guess.
    Muddy paws cheesecake might have another helper in your dog! Too funny!!

  • Diane says:

    Ohhh how I love frosted cookies! I have learned that making a few “squiggles” across the top of a cookie like the delicious-looking ones shown at http://bit.ly/upw4fd can do wonders.

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