Sunday, August 26, 2012

Midnight snack - single serving molten chocolate cake

Recently the WCM tried a little thing she discovered on Pinterest - the microwave chocolate chip cookie. Being a pastry chef, the West Coast Muse knew that this wasn't going to match up to the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie recipe or anything...but might it do in a pinch? Kinda. If you are really hankering for cooked chocolatey dough, go for it! However, if you want a sweet n' salty cookie with that crisp crust and tender, melty chocolate inside, skip it! You just can't get that sumptuous texture in a microwave.

Instead of trying the microwave cookie, I say, go for the individual molten chocolate cake. This takes more cooking time than the two minute microwave cookie BUT it takes the same amount of active time. You are just melting a few things in a bowl and throwing it in the oven (or toaster oven!) for a couple minutes.

Let's get down to it.

Single Serving Molten Chocolate Cake

1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon flour
1 egg
pinch of salt
+ a little extra deliciousness (I used a pinch of cumin! Other ideas - cinnamon, cayenne, ground lavender, or frangelico.)

Flip your oven to 375.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl (~ 60 seconds in the microwave). Mix in the rest of the ingredients. Plop the batter into a greased 6 oz ramekin. 

Pop it in the oven for 8-11 minutes, until the edges are well set but the inside is still gooey. When it's done, pull it out of the oven, put a plate on top of the ramekin and then flip it upside down so the cake slides out. 

That's it! So if you need a warm cakey chocolate fix before you hit the hay, forget mediocre microwave cookies and bake yourself a quick gourmet treat. Best served bedside with a cold glass of milk and your favorite book. 

Night, loves!

Friday, February 17, 2012

To Shellac or Not to Shellac

Shellac manicures are all the rage right now, at least here on the East Coast. And why not? The benefits promised by indulging in a shellac manicure are alluring: a beautiful manicure that lasts for up to three weeks, no-chip color, and extra savings for you in the long run.

Deciding to see what all the hype was about, I went to get a shellac manicure with a friend about a month ago. The manicure started off as one would expect – soaking, trimming, filing, cuticle-grooming, etc. However when it came time to apply the color, the nail technician slathered my hands in SPF 60 baby sunblock and inserted them into small boxes with the creepy purple glow of UV light. Apparently this is the only way that the shellac nail polish sets properly. It kind of creeped me out, but I decided that for the low, low cost of $28, surely this manicure and its promise to last 2+ weeks was worth it.

As we left the nail salon with our pretty manicures, the nail technician reminded us to make an appointment to have our polish removed properly - that is, by her at the salon again. We promised to obey and left.

Fast forward two weeks – my manicure was still intact, but hanging on for dear life. Admittedly, I am hard on my hands – I type on a keyboard all day, I do a lot of cooking, and I wash a lot of dishes; not only that, but the time during which I had my manicure was also when my husband and I were busy doing a lot of prep around the apartment for our baby boy (due this summer). Also, my nails currently grow super-fast due to the prenatal vitamins, so it was painfully noticeable that my manicure was growing out at the base of my nails. I noticed that the polish was starting to peel off, and having heard that this was a major no-no, I tried to apply some top coat to keep it on for another few days until I could visit a salon. No dice – the very next day, while running my hands through my hair, the polish peeled right off of my finger. Two more followed. I rushed to CVS to purchase some acetone, which I had read was the only way to remove the polish. That didn’t work. I soaked. I scrubbed with cotton balls. I soaked again. No dice. I ended up peeling off the rest of the polish from my other seven fingers. My nails, usually healthy and pink and white and hard (people often ask if I have a French manicure when I’m not wearing any polish at all) were soft, transclucent, and bearing the scars of the shellac peeling off the top surface layer of my fingernail. I was horrified – and very sad.

Bottom line regarding shellac manicures: they do serve their purpose. I could see going out of the country for a business trip and getting one of these manicures so that I don’t have to worry about a chipping manicure while traveling. However, I’m not sure that I would get another shellac manicure just for the day-to-day. Below are my “Lessons Learned”: 
  • Go to a salon and have the manicure removed properly by a nail technician
  • Don’t get a shellac manicure just for the day-to-day – signing up for the same color for 2+ weeks is quite a commitment
  • If you are someone who is particularly hard on your nails, aim to keep your shellac manicure for at least 10 days, but at the first signs of distress, go to the salon and have it removed (otherwise you’ll end up peeling it off like I did)
We would love to hear what you think about shellac manicures - have you had one? How did it work out for you? Did you like it, or hate it? Let us know in the comments section.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meatless Monday: Pea-lafel

Last week, WCM was down to the dregs in the pantry - I had reached the point when all that was laying around was rice, peanut butter, and tuna (well, and loads of frozen oatmeal banana chocolate chip cookie dough and 5 kinds of homemade ice cream). A dinner this makes not. AND I had zero time to shop. My weekly menu went something like this:

Monday night - take out Thai
Tuesday night - tacos from my local taqueria and a bottle of chardonnay from the corner store.
Wednesday night - I don't remember, but vaguely recall the last bits of three different kinds of pasta mixed together with some butter and a can of black beans....and the rest of that bottle of chardonnay.
Thursday and Friday - who knows.

So last night, I fiiiinally got to menu plan and grocery shop. I felt quite relieved that I would spend the rest of the week eating "real" food. One of the things at the top of my list - pealafel! Pealafel is the invention of the beautiful and spunky Aarti Sequeira. For anyone living under a rock, Aarti ran a blog for a long time and posted fabulous cooking videos. She then joined the cast of The Next Food Network Star. And she was AMAZING (she won)! The Muses were definitely backing Aarti during that competition - she is so real and radiant, and it seems as though she's the kind of person that would easily slip into your friend group and come over for brunch (which would be great because I bet she'd bring something delicious to brunch). Not only that, but she's brilliant when it comes to infusing Indian flavors into modern American food. Pea-lafel, for example. This dish is the same basic concept as falafel, except it is made with peas and edamame instead of chickpeas. So delicious and fresh! I love to load plain ole pita bread with pealafel, tomatoes, cucumbers and tatziki.

PS, Dear Food Network, this photo is awful. Common people, really. The whole point of your company is to make food appetizing. 

Pealafel - recipe loosely based off of Aarti's on Food Network

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp coriander seeds
1 cup frozen peas, thawed and drained
1 cup frozen edamame, thawed and drained
1 shallot, peeled and chop roughly
1 clove garlic, peeled
Handful of fresh mint leaves, plus another handful for yogurt sauce
Glug of extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Squirt of horseradish sauce (optional)
1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour; regular flour is a fine substitute)
Canola oil for frying
1 cup plain yogurt

In small skillet, toast the fenugreek, fennel and coriander seeds for a couple of minutes until they’re fragrant and slightly darker. Don’t walk away from the pan! They’ll burn! Remove from pan into a small bowl and allow to cool. Meanwhile, make yogurt sauce: Mix yogurt with finely chopped mint leaves and a generous pinch of salt. Chill in the fridge. Throw seeds into a coffee/spice grinder and powder.

Throw peas, spices, shallot, garlic, mint, extra virgin olive oil, salt into a food processor. Whizz it up, and if it isn’t grinding well, then pour up to 1/4 cup of water and puree until smooth. It won’t get completely smooth, because of the edamame, but process until as smooth as possible.
Scrape into a big bowl. Add horseradish sauce (optional) and flour. Mix.

Pour enough oil into a nonstick skillet so that it’s 1/8″ thick. Heat over medium heat until shimmering. Meanwhile, shape mixture into a small pattie in your hands, then gently drop into oil. Fry until the bottom is dark caramel brown (about 2 minutes), then carefully flip over. Brown other side, then remove from the pan and drain on paper towel-lined plate.

Serve in a pita bread pocket with some fresh veggies and a spoonful of the yogurt sauce.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Caramel: on the rocks with salt

Ok, maybe you don't want your caramel on the rocks but you do want it on ice cream, drizzled on cookies, or even on pretzels (Lisa!) and you certainly want it with salt. A co-worker of ECM asked this morning where she could buy high quality caramels to melt down and schmear on cookies (yum!). But why buy when you can make?! Well, I guess because buying is easier but you are talking to WCM who has been pegged as the "Made It Myself!" Foodie (this description is an uncomfortably accurate depiction of real life events in this girl's SF kitchen).

In any case, the Muses conferred over email about our caramel making strategies.

ECM likes the wet method described in this Cooking Channel recipe. WCM prefers the dry method illustrated by David Lebovitz. They are the same basic concept except one doesn't have water. Even if you go with the wet method, check out David's troubleshooting and tips. Thank you David Lebovitz, we bow to your genius.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Aunt Brenda - Food Muse for a Sick Day

Yours truly (the West Coast Muse) is working from home today since I'm feeling under the weather. All I can (day)dream about though - is soup. Nice hot soup. Since I am "cold sick" not "icky stomach" sick, I am really yearning for a filling, soul-satisfying soup, too.

When I was in college (at Florida State, woop woop!), I spent my first year in Tallahassee living with my Aunt Brenda, her awesome husband Roger (who lovingly teases me to no end), and their twin boys. Brenda and I loved to cook. I'll be honest: there were occasional weeknights on which we could be found scarfing down cans of Spaghetti Os. It's true. But she and I both really loved to entertain and cook for a crowd. ... and crowds were frequent at Brenda's. She and I would cook from the stash of well-worn copies of Gourmet and Bon Appetit that collected high on a kitchen shelf.

Also during my first year at school when I was living with Roger and Brenda, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and for the next five years fought like a damned champion. Funny bit of info for you ladies: after her double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, she was elated that her bra cup size increased from an A to a C. She also loved to brag about her absence of the monthly "blessing" because the chemo caused her to go into early menopause. I very specifically remember her saying, "I should have gotten breast cancer years ago!" I adore my memories of Brenda, how she fought, how she cooked, and her sense of humor.

The last time I was able to talk to Brenda was at my grandparents house when she called from Florida on Thanksgiving day. I had just gotten engaged and I remember asking if her twin boys would be ring bearers in the wedding (the three of us had talked about this extensively while I was living with them ;). Sadly, a month later my favorite aunt, who had become more like a best friend, passed away. Just a few short months later I received a wedding gift from Uncle Roger: a complete collection of all the stock pots one could ever possibly need. The card attached to the package said that my newly-acquired, fully-stocked kitchen was from Aunt Brenda, too.

The following soup recipe is one that Brenda and I loved to make together. In a bit, if I feel up to it, I think I'll make a trip to the grocery store, snatch up some ground turkey, pull out one of my stock pots from Brenda, and make a hot pot of turkey meatball soup. Soul-satisfying, indeed!

Escarole and Orzo Soup with Turkey Parmesan Meatballs
via Epicurious

1 large egg
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
12 ounces lean ground turkey
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
3/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
4 cups coarsely chopped escarole (about 1/2 medium head)

For the meatballs...whisk egg and 2 tablespoons water in medium bowl to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs; let stand 5 minutes. Add turkey, Parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper; gently stir to blend. Using wet hands, shape turkey mixture into 1 1/4-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on baking sheet; cover and chill 30 minutes.

Bring 8 cups chicken broth to boil in large pot. Add carrots and orzo; reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered 8 minutes. Add turkey meatballs and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in chopped escarole and simmer until turkey meatballs, orzo, and escarole are tender, about 5 minutes longer. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm over medium heat, thinning with more broth if desired.)

Ladle soup into bowls and serve.  Also, I really seem to remember this tasting lemon-y when Brenda and I made it. So I would top each bowl with a squirt of fresh lemon juice.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

[belated] Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

The East Coast Muse was a bit preoccupied yesterday, and it's only now, Tuesday morning East Coast time, that the Meatless Monday post is being delivered to you. To be fair, it's not everyday one gets to find out the gender of their first child (for those who care - it's a boy!) But it's Tuesday now, and back to work.

This week's Meatless Monday post can be prepared vegan, should you skip adding shredded Mexican cheese and sour cream as garnish in the last step. This recipe is adapted from - the original recipe called for some hard-to-find Mexican specialty ingredients, and we're all about making vegetarian/vegan cooking accessible to even the busiest singles and most harried mom's out there (let's be honest: negro pasilla and sprig epazote aren't just hanging out in your local grocery, unless you live in San Antonio - in which case, check out the original recipe and knock yourself out).

We hope you enjoy! ECM made this for her lunch co-op last week (post to come regarding this very fun new endeavour and its many benefits) and the ladies loved it - one even remarked that tofu and kale are not something she incorporates in her diet regularly (read: ever) and she gobbled it up and begged for the recipe.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
adapted from

1 15-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

2 tablespoons chipotle sauce

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick

4 cloves garlic, peeled

4 cups vegetable broth

4 cups water

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu

4 cups chopped kale leaves

½ to 1 teaspoon salt

1 ripe large avocado, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 cups roughly broken tortilla chips

3/4 cup shredded Mexican-style cheese (cheddar and Monterrey-jack mix)

Sour cream (optional)
1 large lime, cut into 6 wedges

  1. Place the can of tomatoes and their juice as well as the chipotle sauce into a blender. Blend well.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 6 to 9 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to the blender with the tomato-chipotle mixture. Blend until all ingredients are smooth.
  3. Return the Dutch oven to medium heat. When hot, add the puree and stir almost constantly until the puree has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6-8 minutes. Add the vegetable broth and water, and bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer, leaving the pot uncovered.
  4. Drain tofu, rinse and pat dry, then cut it into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook in a single layer, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until beginning to brown – this will take about 10 minutes total. Once the tofu cubes have become nice and golden on almost all sides, add to the soup and simmer for 30 minutes (again, uncovered).
  5. Add the chopped kale to the soup and season with salt to taste, depending on your taste and the saltiness of the broth you used (I found that I needed about a teaspoon of salt – but be sure to add a little at a time and taste as you go). Stir the soup until the greens are wilted, about 3 minutes (you don’t want them mushy, just nice and tender).
  6. Ladle the soup into soup bowls. Divide the avocado, tortilla chips, cheese, and sour cream (if using) among the bowls. Serve warm, with lime wedges.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Macy's Customer Service and their need to do multiplication drills during staff training...

Recently (well, not that recently anymore) the WCM decided to get some new dinnerware. I ordered these (amazing) salad plates from Anthropologie.

To accompany these under-the-sea wonders of beauty, I ordered these dinner plates and bowls from Macy's. Let's all agree at the outset here that these plates and bowls are kind of amazing. Their style pairs perfectly with the nautical look/feel of the Anthro plates - in fact, the bowls even look like seashells. (Please note: this detail is crucial as to why I didn't give up on Macy's customer service 4+ months ago).

In August, I ordered 3 sets of the above-pictured dinner plates, bowls, and mugs.  Each items comes as a set of 4 (i.e. 4 plates come together, 4 bowls come together), so I ordered enough to have 12 place settings (you all are following me with the multiplication at this point, correct?).

To reiterate, please note: this saga began in August. Checking the timestamp on my blog posting, it is now the end of January.

Soon after ordering my plates, I receive a box in the mail from Macy's, containing exactly:
3 plates
3 mugs
3 bowls

Not 3 sets...just 3 individual pieces of each.

I decided to call Macy's for some help clarifying the matter.
Me: "Hello, dear customer service. I ordered 3 SETS of plates, however I only recieved 3 plates, 3 mugs, and 3 bowls."  
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "Oh right right, we'll be sure to send the rest out."

Time goes on - and I receive nothing in the mail. Stumped, I call Macy's again. 

Me: "Um, just a quick question: where are my dinnerware settings?"  
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "Oh right...about turns out these place settings are on back's going to be another 3-5 weeks."
Me: Internal groan. "Ok fine, I can wait."

A month after placing my original order, I received an email from Macy's whose subject line reads, "Return merchandise confirmation." I call Macy's again.

An increasingly annoyed Me: "What is this email?"
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "Oh, it's a refund for the dishes you ordered."
Me: "And what refund is this? I'm still waiting for my dishes."
Macy's Rep: "I'm afraid those aren't on back order, they're actually out of stock."
Me: "You know, they probably were in stock when I originally ordered them, but you sent me the wrong amount of stuff."
Macy's Rep: "Yeah, right. sorry about that. We will have your money refunded and send you a $25 gift card."
Me: "Ok. Thanks....?"

Two weeks after this exchange, my money still had not been refunded. So I call Macy's again.

Me: "Where the hell is my money?"
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "Good question. Um, let me look through these notes. [insert long pause] Ma'am, it appears that your dishes are on back order."
Me: "Are they on back order, or are they out of stock?"
Macy's Rep: "Back order, so you should receive them."
Me: "Ok fine. I can wait. How long do you think it will be?"
Macy's Rep: "Let me see....oh no wait, you know what? They ARE out of stock. I'm sorry. We'll refund your money."
Me: "If these are out of stock, why are they still on your website?"


This time, Macy's refunded my money. Meanwhile, I happened to find my coveted and long-awaited place settings online at Bloomingdales. Bloomies was selling them individually, so I ordered 12 bowls and 12 plates. 

Bloomingdales sent 1 bowl (one!!), followed by an email whose subject line reads, "Cancellation confirmation. Cancelled items - 11 bowls, 12 plates." So I call Bloomingdales.

Me: "Seriously?! What does this email mean?"
Bloomingdales Rep: "Well, those place settings are out of stock, so your order has been cancelled and refunded...except for the one bowl, because you have that already."
Me, now frantic: "One bowl?! What do you want me to do with one bowl?!? I ordered a set of dishes, and you sent me ONE BOWL! It's like if I had ordered a pair of socks and you sent me just one, rather than the pair. Or if I had ordered a set of silverware and you sent me one knife. Please, for the love of all that's pure and holy, just refund my money."

In December I noticed that the plates and bowls are still on the Macy's Web site. I needed to talk to them about this.

Me: "Are these actually available? I already ordered them once and didn't get them [insert long, dramatic retelling of the story here]."
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "No, they are definitely available! Try again!"

I ordered 3 sets of 4 plates, and 3 sets of 4 bowls (you all can do the math, right? Again - I'm essentially ordering 12 place settings). 

The next week I receive my box, containing 3 plates. Are these people kidding me. So I call Macy's agian.

Me: "Yeah, so 3 times 4 equals 12."
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "We'll get those sent out right away."

The following week, I recieved my new box, which this time has 3 more plates in it. I called Macy's again.

Me: "Ok kids, what the hell is going on out there? I have received the wrong amount of dishes three times."
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "This is a problem at the warehouse. Our systems says "set of 4" but theirs doesn't."
Me: "....Curious, considering that the packing slip in the box says SET OF 4 on it."
Macy's Rep: "We have to fix it on the warehouse's end, give it 5 days and they'll send you the rest of your stuff"

I waited 10 days, all the while giving Macy's the benefit of the doubt, but after 10 days I still had received nothing. I called Macy's.

Me: "[Retell dramatic story]. I am still missing 6 plates and 12 bowls. You told me 10 days ago to expect the rest of my shipment in 5 days. 
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "Oh dear! Let me send that out right away."

This time, I immediately received a shipping confirmation. YAY!

Meanwhile, I received a gift card for $100 in the mail from Macy's. Clearly they heard my cries and groans and compensated me. Thank you, Macy's!

Shortly thereafter, I received a box...of 3 bowls.

Now, this is probably the point in the story when you start to doubt my credibility and you want to close your browser window so as not to read anymore, right? Macy's couldn't possibly send you the wrong number of items four times. Oh yes, my friends, yes they did! Also, this is when all my friends (who have been monitoring the saga with me for months) start to say, "It must be written on the Web site wrong? They must come individually, not as sets." Interesting thought but no...I went over this with my Macy's customer service friends (who are now more like close family if you are measuring familial ties based on the number times you call a person in a week. Hell, I call them multiple times a day, it's like we're dating... note to self: dump Macy's).

Call Macy's
Me: "So, listen here. [Recount fiasco in great and dramatic detail]."
Macy's Customer Service: "I can see why this is frustrating. I will get everything else sent out to you right away."

Soon, I received my new box from Macy's...of 2 plates. THIS MUST BE A COSMIC JOKE! Are you kidding me?! FOUR TIMES THREE IS TWELVE. TWELVE!!!

At this point, the current dish count is 8 plates and 3 bowls. 

Last Wednesday, I decided to call Macy's again.
Me: "I want to talk to a manager."
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "Sure, what seems to be the problem?"
Me: "I am not repeating this story more than once. Get a manager."
Macy's Rep: "Sure, hold on."
[Hold for 15 minutes]
Macy's: "Hi, how can I help you?"
Me: "Is this a manager?"
Person on the other line: "No, but I can help." 
Me: "No. Get. A. Manager."
[Hold for 15 more minutes]
Person on the other line: "Just hang on another minute."
[Hold 10 more minutes. Clearly Macy's is not only terrible at multiplication, but they can't tell time, either.]
Person on the other line: "Ok, I have someone who can speak to you, but they need 5 more minutes."
[Hold for 10 more minutes...get the Macy's credit card division (?!?!)]
Me: "LISTEN, I have been on hold for 50 minutes waiting for a manager and now somehow I've been transferred to credit cards?!  I don't even have a Macy's card (nor do I EVER plan to apply for one now!). You get a manager on this phone right now!"
[Hold 10 more minutes]
Manager: "Hello ma'am, how can I help you?"
Manager: "Sure thing, right away ma'am." (This is where she also told me that she would put this on her "watch" list so she would call me before I could call her if something was wrong. Take a guess if that happened.)

I received a Fedex shipment confirmation in my email inbox. I notice that the box en route weighs 2.1 lbs. Huh. That doesn't sound like the weight of 4 plates and 9 bowls.

I weigh one of my 3 bowls. 11 oz. if I am supposed to be receiving 9 bowls, that would be 9 x 11 oz = 99 oz ...that's a little more than 6 lbs (plus the weight of the box and shipping materials). Clearly, this is not the rest of my merchandise. But, of course, we wouldn't expect them to realize that because, if we've learned one thing, it is that Macy's staff struggle with elementary mathematics.

Last Friday night, I called Macy's.
Me: "...just send me my dishes already."
Macy's Rep: "Sure. I just talked to Josh* and he is contacting the warehouse directly instead of ordering them through the system. These will ship on Monday, second day, you'll get everything Wednesday."
Me: "Perfect. And what is Josh's extension?"
Macy's Rep: "Um, I don't know."
Me: "Ok, what's his last name?"
Macy's Rep: "Eeeerrrrr...."
Me: "Let me talk to a manager."
Macy's Manager: "Hi, this is Jake Allen."
Me: "Hi Jake, I'd like to receive the merchandise I paid for."
Jake: "Sure sure, Cynthia and Josh just ordered it. You'll get it Wednesday. If you have any problems you can call me."
Me: "Jake, I don't have too much faith in this. You are very nice and you all have clearly understood the issue, but based on previous experience, I'm fairly skeptical."
Jake: "I understand. See we're in Missouri and the warehouse is in Connecticut so it's hard because if it was our warehouse here, I'd just go talk to them myself."
Me: "Jake, I don't care if you have to fly to Connecticut and personally put 4 plates and 9 bowls in a box yourself and then walk them to me in California, get me my plates!" (I actually said this)
Jake: "No worries, I'll be sure to help if you hit any problems. Let's talk Wednesday to see what you get. Here is my direct line"
Me: "PS Jake, I don't feel like I should really be paying for this, at this point."
Jake: "I understand, but did you get our $100 gift card?"
Me: "You know Jake, I'm not really falling all over myself about the gift card because if I were to charge you my hourly wage for the amount of time I have spent on the phone with Macy's customer service, it would add up to more than that."
Jake: "Let's see what you get on Wednesday and then we can talk about some kind of accommodation if you are still unsatisfied."

Meanwhile, Cynthia sends me an email confirmation of all we've discussed and tells me that my dishes will come Wednesday.

On shipment confirmation. I checked my order online. Nothing new has shipped.

I called Jake. 
No answer.
Left a message.

Tuesday, still nothing.
I called Jake.
No answer.
Left a message.

Wednesday (yesterday), still nothing.
Called Jake.
No answer.
Left a message.

Have you died Jake Allen? Are you out with the flu Jake Allen?

I called Macy's customer service - the only thing it seems I know to do these days.
Me: "Manager! Now!"
[Hold for 20 minutes]
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "We can call you back...the supervisor is on another call."
Me: "Fine - call me back."
I never received a phone call. Let's be honest - nobody is actually surprised by this at this point.

Meanwhile, I get home from work to that package that we saw in shipment. Ya know, the one that should have weighed 7+ lbs. It was 2 bowls. I. kid. not.

Call Macy's.
Me: "Manager!"
Macy's Customer Service Rep: "I can help."
Me: "No, you can't. Manager."
Manager: "Hi, this is Sandy!"
"[Recap ridiculous story with Sandy (who has turned out to be a real gem and quite attentive in the following days...unfortunately for her, she was getting me at a very frustrated point)]. Sandy, I need you to place an order for me of 7 SETS of bowls and 4 SETS of plates"
Sandy: "But if I do that, you'll get like, 28 plates!!"
Me: "Really Sandy, really? I've received SIX shipments of the wrong thing. I would really be shocked if somehow they suddenly miraculously sent me the correct thing."
Sandy: "Ok right. I'll do it, and send you an email confirmation. Oh and errr... umm, the plates are on back order until March 11."
Me: "Do you know WHY that is Sandy? Because every person that is ordering a set of 4 dishes is getting 1 dish so Macy's is sending 1 dish here and 2 dishes there. So my sweet BIA feathered plates are scattered all over the country. But when those people get fed up and send their three plates back, you're going to send them to me."
Sandy: "You know I could refund the money on a gift card and you could just buy them at the store."
Me: "SANDY THEY AREN'T SOLD IN STORES!!!! Don't you think I would have thought of that after wrong shipment number FIVE?!?!!"
Sandy: "Right, I'll order you 7 sets of bowls and 4 sets of plates. And I'll send you another $100 gift card."
Me: "Thanks, and you might want to check on Jake Allen. I think he might have slipped in the bathtub or something."

*all names of Macy's customer service team members have been changed for their job security.