Friday, October 06, 2006

Bribing your colleagues

Every Thursday morning at 10AM, we have a meeting at work to discuss custom loudspeakers that are under development for projects. This meeting brings to light not only any technical obstacles that may have arisen in the prior week but sometimes personal bias against some of our customers; especially our customers that ALWAYS call us about two weeks before they need their speakers delivered knowing full well it is at least eight weeks to deliver a custom product. The meeting also brings out a certain amount of animosity between the members of our little cozy family of mad scientists. It often gets tense, especially when a few of our young turks like to start their sentences with "that won't work" in an attempt to strut their stuff and try to show us sly old foxes a thing or two about loudspeaker design (which they do sometimes, disproving the adage you can't teach an old dog a new trick).

It seems that my projects are overwhelmingly of the type where I need a custom speaker in a custom colour onsite in four to six weeks. Whenever I walk into the room with my black Moleskine and an armload of manila job folders there is a collective groan from the assembled group, because they KNOW I am going to present some project that has to have it's product yesterday. The only thing that saves me from being run out of the room tarred, feathered and on a rail along with my folders and my unreasonable requests? I always bring food.

Normally this food consists of some type of baked goodie like home-made cinnamon rolls or scones. Sometimes, I stop at the Dunkin Donuts up the way from our offices and get a box of coffee and a dozen donuts, heavy on the chocolate covered with sprinkles type. But yesterday, I may have even topped the homemade cinnamon and pecan pull apart bread I brought a few weeks ago to bribe the guys into releasing a drawing in one day versus the normal one week time-frame. Because yesterday, I brought a homemade cheesecake; a mini-chocolate chip cheesecake to boot to the meeting.

I think when I sat the cheescake and 1/2 gallon of milk down on the table, everyone KNEW something huge was coming. A certain client just discovered that next month is November and they have a HUGE world famous to-do every year starting around the week before Thanksgiving and running into the New Year (wink-wink). They figured now is pretty good time to order that custom speaker we showed them in the Spring and, oh yea, they want to have it before opening night in four weeks. Sure I told our customer, knowing full well that it would be pushing the envelope of possibility but safe in the knowledge that it could happen because at home, in a cabinet, rested my secret weapon for success: a springform pan, a bag of mini chocolate chips, and box of graham crackers.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cheesecake
(Note: my mom found this recipe on the back of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk many years ago. I've tried a few other recipes for cheesecake but this makes the best, dense but not too heavy cheesecake. I've made a few modifications to the recipe because I have 10" springform pan. See here for the original recipe for a 9" pan. One last thing, this is cheesecake, don't skimp and use anything but the real butter and cream cheese)

1 3/4 cups finely crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (NOT evaporated milk)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon flour

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter; press firmly on bottom of springform pan. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time and vanilla; mix well. In small bowl, toss 3/4 cup chocolate chips with flour to coat; stir into cream cheese mixture.
Pour into prepared pan (spray sides of pan with light coating of cooking spray and flour). Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips evenly over top. Bake 60 minutes or until set. Let cool completely and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.