Over the last few years I’ve gotten in the habit of sending my grandparents cookie care packages about once a quarter. I don’t live very close to my grandparents in Long Island or my grandmother in Georgia, so sending them cookies is my way of telling them that I’m thinking about them and reminding them that I’m a fantastic baker.
I’ve probably sent somewhere between 50 and 100 baked good care packages through the mail over the past five years to my grandparents and other assorted friends and family, and I’ve developed somewhat of a formula. When it comes to packages for the grandparents I usually include three things:
about a dozen of a seasonal cookie
about a dozen of a heartier (perhaps more nutritious) cookie
a couple mini loafs of a quick bread
The purpose of the seasonal cookies is obviously to make the package festive. In December it’s a Christmas cookie; in the spring it’s heart shaped shortbread, Hamentashen, or coconut macaroons; in the fall it’s something pumpkin oriented; and the summer is kind of a wild card. The heartier choice is sort of the same idea as putting vegetables in your kid’s mac and cheese. Cookies with oats, dried cranberries, nuts, or bananas add a couple little nutritional elements to my grandparent’s limited daily diet. I know that my cookies are better for them than any of the baked goods they buy at the grocery store. Lastly, I throw in one or two mini loaves of a quick bread. I usually do banana bread because it’s just so easy, but I’ll also do cranberry nut bread or zucchini bread. I just know my grandparents all love quick bread so I try to always include it.
This past weekend I baked for a care package for my Grandfather in Long Island. He’s turning 94 next week! Keeping that in mind, I made two of his favorites- Hamentashen (it’s Purim season) and banana bread. I also added chunky lola cookies (adding Craisons to the recipe) for a little extra something.
Here are a few pro tips to remember for mailing cookies:
do bake as close to mailing as possible (I usually bake Sunday afternoon and mail first thing Monday morning)
don’t be shy with the bubble wrap, peanuts, newspaper, etc.- cookies need cushioning
do include a quick note that identifies the enclosed items
don’t make anything too fancy, delicate, or perishable because it will not hold up in the mail- btw cookies covered in powdered sugar do not usually look great when they arrive, but they probably still taste good
do allow everything to cool completely before you package them
Banana bread is a classic for a reason: it’s easy, it’s economical, and it’s delicious. I always have bananas on hand for my breakfast smoothie so I will regularly have surplus that get a little too ripe. I love using the over ripe bananas to make banana bread because I can throw the bread in my freezer and grab it when I need it. I’ve been using a very simple recipe and it’s always a crowd pleaser. I usually have 90% of the ingredients on hand, and I just have to remember to grab some walnuts when I’m at the store.
Yields one 9 x 5 loaf or 3 mini loaves
2 ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350. Coat the loaf pan(s) with non-stick spray.
Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
Mash the bananas in a medium/large bowl, and whisk in the “wet” ingredients: sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla.
Add the dry to the wet slowly, and fold in the chopped walnuts.
Divide the batter equally amongst the pans, and bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes for a 9 x 5 loaf or 45-55 minutes for mini loaves. Use a toothpick to test. If it comes out clean then it’s ready!
I’ve come to realize I’m pretty much a carbon copy of my mother. For the most part this means we have a lot of the same mannerisms and similar speech patterns and sayings. I’ve also been told we look a lot alike. These are the things that other people see.
For us, the similarities mean we basically have ESP with each other. We have fragmented conversations because it’s redundant to say every word out loud when you know what the other person means.
Though this connection is helpful, sometimes the similarities combine to too much of a good thing. We’re both very strong minded, and we do not always appreciate compromise. So we tend not to compromise and each do our own thing. We also both love to cook/bake and plan family gatherings and menus. When we have the family out to the summer house during the summer weekends we go through several iterations of menus and dishes to try. We have trouble settling on one idea.
This past weekend, we went food shopping separately and not surprisingly we ended up with a lot of duplicates. This included an abundance of bananas. What to do, what to do with too many bananas?