Saturday , 21 October 2017

Kyra’s Kitchen: Care Packages

Do you have a student away at college or in the armed forces?
Do you know an older relative who is homebound?
Do you know a family that is going through hard times who could use some encouragement and a ‘lift’?
Is there a new mother who is too tired and busy to get into the kitchen?

Think CARE PACKAGE!

I used to send packages to my daughter when at school overseas – to my nephews and nieces at university – law school – medical school – and later to the offices where they worked.  I sent a box of goodies to my best friend when she had her first child – one surprise to be opened every day. She could not resist opening everything the first day – but she never forgot the fun – and she appreciated that SOMEONE gave a gift to the Mother instead of the baby!

When sending Food Care Packages, there are some guidelines to help ensure the package arrives in good order, as follows:

Choose items which will remain fresh for at least a week, (i.e. Royal icing instead of cream or butter cream frostings).
Wrap brownies or other bars in plastic wrap.  I usually leave strips of the bars uncut so they will pack more easily and withstand the rigors of the USPS.
Choose items that will not break.  Hot Chocolate Mix, Trail Mix, etc.
Honey Crisp Bars and Sugar Stix recipes are excellent travelers (see recipes below).
Tuck favorite packaged dried fruits in the box.
Choose cookies that are sturdy and are easy to pack such as the Brown Sugar Cookie (recipe below). Package the cookies so they will not move. (I secure them in single layers to a board then wrap well with foil or saran.)
Remember that a ‘rattle’ in the box means something is going to be broken.
Label each item.
Use real popcorn as opposed to Styrofoam popcorn as the ‘cushion’ – in the box.
Choose the US Post Office Priority Mail boxes [‘if it fits – it ships’] for the fastest delivery and the cheapest cost.
Be sure to affix a ‘FRAGILE’ label on the box.  I am not sure whether that has any effect but it makes one feel better!
Mail the package at the beginning of the week.  If you mail it on a Friday it will take an extra day or two to arrive.

Then sit back and wait for the enthusiastic letters – or emails – or phone calls of thanks!

HONEYCRISPS

½ cup butter
½ cup honey
25 caramels [unwrapped] 8 cups cornflakes

Pre heat oven to 350.
Combine the butter and honey in a large saucepan and bring to the boil.
Boil one minute.
Turn off the heat and stir in the caramels – continuing to stir until they are completely melted.
Add the cornflakes to the liquid and stir until the mixture completely coats the cereal.
Turn into a well oiled 9×12 baking pan and press flat.
Bake for about 7 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool – then cut into squares.

SUGAR STIX

24 pretzel rods
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon meringue powder * [see note] Sprinkles – colored sugar – decorations

Stir the meringue powder into the confectioner’s sugar.
Add just a few drops of water – enough to make a dipping consistency.
Stir until smooth.
Sprinkle colored sugar or sprinkles of choice on a piece of parchment paper.
Spread a thin layer of the frosting over 2/3 of a pretzel rod.
Roll the frosting over the sprinkles to coat.
Set on a parchment paper-lined plate to dry.
Repeat with the rest of the pretzel rods.
[*Note: Meringue powder is available at Michaels and other craft stores.]

TRAIL MIX

3 cups bought granola’
1 cup dried fruit such as cranberries or raisins or mixed dried fruits
1 cup M&M’s
½ cup shredded coconut
½ cup chopped nuts [your choice] 1 cup dried mangoes – diced
1 cup dried apricots – diced

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl – stirring to combine well.
May be enjoyed ‘out of hand’ or as a breakfast treat!

HOT CHOCOLATE MIX

2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup plain cocoa
1 1/3 cups non fat dry milk powder
2 cups chocolate chips

Mix together and package in a bottle or cellophane bag.
Attach instructions:  ‘Add 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the mix to 1 cup boiling water. Stir to melt the chocolate chips.’

BROWN SUGAR REFRIGERATOR COOKIES

¾ cup soft butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt

Chocolate Frosting
4 oz white chocolate – chopped or chips
4 oz dark chocolate – chopped or chips

Beat together the butter and brown sugar until light.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Stir together the flour and baking powder and salt.
Add to the butter mixture and stir well to blend.
The dough will be quite soft.
Turn onto a sheet of parchment and form a log.
Roll up the parchment.
Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375

Slice the log very thin and set the slices on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Melt the white chocolate [microwave for 1 minute].
Stir until smooth.
Dip one half of the cookie in the white chocolate and set on a parchment-lined tray.
Refrigerate.  Allow to set.
Repeat the process with the dark chocolate – dipping the other half of the cookie.

About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com’s “Food” section.  She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking.   She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
 

Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions.  What would you like to have for dinner?
 

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