Sunday, December 21, 2008

Customer Service

Hard to believe Christmas is less than a week away. Is everyone out there as busy and tired as I am?

At work, my friend and I were complaining about how hectic our lives had become when our other friend, Tim, came over and said, "Ladies, can I get you some cheese to go with that whine?"

I felt bad.

So this year I am making things easier. I am letting go of Christmas past. No more frantic nights spent in a giant cloud of flour, on my feet, baking cookies and sweets that, truth is, my family won't eat. Our kids are no longer little, so we are embracing our new found freedom and forgoing much of the holiday baking this year.

Oh there are a couple special requests. My son's favorite Chex Party Mix. And my daughter's Poppyseed Bread of which she cannot live without.

Other than that, I will visit my favorite stores to pick up some fresh bread, olives, cheeses, and most exciting of all, wine to go with that cheese. And with a little luck, it will be a simple, quiet Christmas.

I hope.

I don't know if I have ever mentioned this before, but I work in Customer Service and this time of year is extremely hectic. So I thought it would be fun to share with you just a sampling of some of the odder things I have heard on the phone this holiday season.

And believe me, we hear some pretty odd things.

Caller no. 1.
Customer called to place an order and first thing she said was: "I have an aversion to that number that comes between six and eight. Whatever you do, you cannot say that number. At no point in this conversation can I hear that number, or else, I will have a fit and begin making odd noises." This is a retail company. So I am required to quote item numbers, credit card numbers, even a confirmation number. So throughout the remainder of the call, I referred to the number seven as that number.

Caller no. 2.
Why did you send me a fake tree?! I ordered the Faux Fraser Fir!

Caller no. 3.
Customer called crying because she neglected to update information in system, so each relative received, what appeared to be, a gift from their dead Grandmother. To make matters worse, Grandma died at Christmastime four years ago. And Grandma's daughter, her mother, suffers from delusions that Grandma is still alive, and must see a psychiatrist regularly. Such person also has been known to send letters and gifts to herself, in Grandma's name. Customer requested that we call psychotic relative to let her know that dead grandmother did not send gifts.

Caller no. 4.
UPS man left package at door. Customer called upset because dog ate package, wants to know if we'll send another. Sadly, we are not responsible if dog eats your package.

Caller no. 5.
Dolores, an elderly woman from Texas called to place an order. After spending five minutes with Dolores, I can now tell you with good assurance that Dolores is doing much better after her surgery, although she does still suffer with arthritis, and her husband, George, has high cholesterol and that's why they are serving the salmon this year. Last year, they went to London. They have four kids, but don't speak to their daughter-in-law, Arlene, who likes to shop at Macy's. Dolores can't stand people who use Chinet and paper napkins. And why do builders in the South put ceiling fans on porches when the wind is just going to blow them down anyway?

And my personal favorite,

6.) Can I order the Chocolate Pecan Mini Pies without the pecans?

Have a safe, warm, Happy Holiday everybody!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gooey, Dense, Chocolaty

I have to admit, when a friend of mine first told me about this trendy, fad-like, treat, I was skeptical. Oreo's and cream cheese? That's all? I said. Sounds like a mess. I didn't trust her. Even though she'd never steered me wrong before. At least not when it came to food anyway.

Several months passed, and my friend was still talking about these silly, little truffles. You really must try 'em, she said. Yeah, yeah, I responded. I have southern roots. I have eaten enough gloppy calorie-laden desserts to feed Michael Phelps for a lifetime.

Eventually my friend gave a little party. And upon her glorious kitchen island sat a lovely spread of the usual Okie party foods: salsa, tortilla chips, Mexican layer dip, spicy empanadas, margaritas, and then, delicately, individually placed upon an elegant plate, the lone dessert, OREO truffles.

Let me just say, there is something about the combination of experiencing a few good laughs with your friends, eating some spicy, salty food, then washing it down with a cold margarita, and topping it off with an Oreo truffle. The sheer delight of it hits you by surprise. It's the perfect bite of gooey, dense, chocolaty, goodness. Sort of like a thick, decedent, brownie. Only better(!).

My friend dipped her truffles in melted chocolate, both white and dark. These are the white chocolate ones above. 

I suggest using a food processor to pulverize the cookies. It's the fastest and easiest way. Also, after dipping them in melted chocolate, sprinkle them with whatever you like - more crushed OREO's, or, red and green sprinkles would be nice this time of year. Either way, run out and pick yourself up a pack of OREO's and some Philadelphia Cream Cheese right away. Err, make that two packs of OREO's, because your husband will see them lying on the counter and think: cookies, milk, bedtime, snack.

Note: I decided to be different and rolled my Oreo Truffles in cocoa powder. My friend came over this morning and we had a pretty good chuckle - they tasted delicious - but she said they reminded her of something Santa's reindeer left behind. Not a totally appropriate connotation on a food website, I know, but it was sure funny.

OREO Truffles
adapted from

1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed, divided

1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened

2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER'S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted

8 oz. white chocolate

MIX 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls.

DIP balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.