Of Stick Season, Care Packages and Macaroons

dead leaves in autumn

Stick season in all its glory.

I know. It’s downright inspiring out there, making it the perfect time to send a care package. I’ve been in the business of care packages lately, the other day breaking a personal record and sending three. One to a kid away at school who is the master of the not so subtle hint. One to a nephew whose birthday I missed…by three months, and one to another kid on a trip where lunch is not included and foraging trumps grocery store preparation.

A care package is really just that. It says you care. It also says I love you. I miss you. I’m sorry I swore so much when you told me you lost your wallet. See? It really can say so much.

So, what to send that is delicious and not so “liquid, fragile or perishable” as to make you a liar, liar, liar at the post office? Here are just a few suggestions:

On Packaging

This fall I discovered a vacuum food sealer in our basement. It had been a wedding present over 16 years ago. I am quite sure I wrote a thank you note but still. Wow. Anyway, the thing works like a charm and if you happen to have one in your basement I highly recommend busting it out for care packages. If such a treasure does not lurk in your basement plan B is:

Ziploc bags and baggies: They keep things fresh and contained. Just make sure everything is fully cooled before it goes in. If not you may be sending a stuck-together clump of good intentions.

Cardboard takeout boxes: They pack well, resist collapse and make nice little serving vessels for the recipient:

Tupperware: Especially excellent when sending to a kid faced with his or her first kitchen. They’re young. They don’t know the beauty of Tupperware. Teach them.

Play the USPS game: If you are sending it far across the country, go for broke and figure out how to fill a flat rate box to the gills. Go for the heavy stuff and feel like you beat the system.

Popcorn: If you do have some space you need to fill, fire up the popcorn. Package it in appropriately sized baggies to fill whatever space you need. Envision those little air bubble pillows that come in the way-too-big Amazon package with two CD’s. Or just pour it in there and let someone on the other end clean up your mess.

Bonus Recipe: These are brilliant—easy, sturdy, moist, yummy and cheap. Oh did I say that? Of course money is no object when you care. The recipe comes right off the package of Bakers coconut. Don’t overthink the macaroon.

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

1 pkg.  (14 oz.) BAKER’S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut (5-1/3 cups)
2/3 cup  sugar
6 Tbsp  flour
1/4 tsp.  salt
4 egg whites
1 tsp  almond extract (or vanilla for the underprepared)

Method

  • Heat oven to 325°F.
  • Combine coconut, sugar, flour and salt in large bowl. Stir in egg whites and extract until blended.
  • Drop coconut mixture into 36 mounds, 2 inches apart, onto greased and lightly floured (or parchment-lined) baking sheets, using about 1 Tbsp. coconut mixture for each.
  • Bake 20 min. or until edges are golden brown. Immediately remove from baking sheets to wire racks; cool completely.

Macaroon Pro Tips:

Topped Macaroons: Prepare as directed, pressing 1 almond or 1 drained candied cherry (surely they jest) into top of each mound of coconut mixture on baking sheet before baking as directed.

Chocolate-Dipped Macaroons: Prepare Coconut Macaroons as directed. Cool. Melt 8 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate as directed on package. Dip cookies halfway into chocolate; let excess chocolate drip off. Let stand at room temperature or refrigerate on waxed paper-covered tray 30 min. or until chocolate is firm. Makes 36 servings, 1 cookie each.

Store in tightly covered container at room temperature up to 1 week.

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