Sunday, February 2, 2003

Cookies troop off

When U.S. military goes far away, home-baked goodies are sure to follow

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

We may disagree over the wisdom of war with Iraq, but that does not change the fact that there are a growing number of American servicemen and women being deployed to the Persian Gulf.

Army Capt. Lauren Dorosz of West Chester Township, a 27 year-old communications specialist, will move from Germany to Kuwait next week. And when her mother, Suzanne, decided to send her a care package, she thought of cookies, first.

"I just wanted to let her know we care,'' says Dorosz. "That her loved ones are here for her.''

Capt.   Dorosz
Capt. Dorosz
Dorosz may ship several kinds of cookies overseas, but she'll be sure to include chocolate-mint cookies, one of her daughter's favorites since she was a little girl.

It sounds so simple, but we know cookies and other food can evoke wonderful memories. Eating one of her mother's cookies may help the young woman remember the security of the family kitchen. Imagine what eating two might do.

Home-baked cookies will remind Capt. Dorosz that her parents and others love and miss her, and they'll help her look forward to coming home.

Here are tips for shipping cookies from The Food Lover's Tiptionary (Hearst; $15) and other sources.

Bar cookies, brownies and other soft cookies are best for mailing. Plain, sturdy cookies, such as chocolate chip and oatmeal, are also good travelers.

If you're using cookie cutters to make cut-outs smaller designs are less likely to break in transit than larger cookies.

Avoid shipping cookies with frostings, pointed edges and those that are otherwise thin and fragile.

Wrap soft and crisp cookies separately to preserve their textures.

Use foil to wrap cookies in pairs (flat sides together) or in small stacks.

Use rigid containers such as cookie tins, plastic or cardboard boxes, coffee or shortening cans, or cardboard half-gallon milk cartons for mailing cookies.

Pack cookies close together so they don't have room to move around and break during transit.

Separate layers of cookies with waxed paper or plastic wrap.

Pack the container of cookies to be mailed in a sturdy, corrugated box with plenty of room for a cushion of filler (crumpled newspaper, Styrofoam pellets, popcorn or plastic bubble wrap). Pad the bottom of the box with several inches of filler, add the container of cookies and then more filler around the sides and on top.

Don't skimp on postage when mailing cookies. You want them to arrive as soon as possible.

Lauren's Chocolate-Mint Cookies

3/4 cup margarine

1 1/2 cup brown sugar

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

2 eggs

2 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Andes chocolate-mint candies

Melt margarine and brown sugar with 2 tablespoons water over medium-low heat. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Then beat in eggs, one at a time.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Add to chocolate mixture, stir and chill for 1 hour.

Cover cookie sheet with foil. Roll chocolate mixture into 1-inch balls. Place balls about 2 inches apart on foiled cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees 12 to 13 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and place 1 Andes mint on top of each cookie while still hot. When mint melts, spread over top of cookies with knife.


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