Karen Overstreet | 4/22/2005 1:00:41 AM
Do you find yourself in a favor frenzy in which your kind gesture turns into a last-minute "emergency"? It may be time for an "extreme"-ly easy makeover, according to LSU AgCenter family resource management professor Dr. Karen Overstreet.
Did you just volunteer to bring 36 cookies with green icing to your child’s classroom for St. Patrick’s Day? Will you be spending the next few evenings picking up your child from practice, which means there’s no time to cook dinner? Did you suddenly remember your neighbor’s birthday…you know, that one who always sends you the perfect card! If this sounds like you, Overstreet suggests a change.
"A little extra effort now can save time later and earn you a reputation for your thoughtfulness," the family expert says.
Go ahead and keep your promise for the St. Patrick’s Day cookies, but make a double or triple batch of dough. Bake only enough for the party, and roll the remaining into logs. Wrap, label and freeze the logs.
"Although shaped cookies are fun, plain round sugar cookies can be iced and decorated for the season, making them versatile," Overstreet says.
With an assortment of logs in the freezer, you won’t panic the next time you are asked to bring dessert to the office. When you notice that your new neighbors are home, take a log from the freezer, slice, bake and deliver warm cookies along with a couple of frozen logs for their future use. They will feel welcomed to the neighborhood. Frozen cookie logs also can help your family with portion control. If you bake just enough for one or two cookies apiece, there’s no opportunity to eat the whole batch.
Do you make mixes in a jar as gifts? Next time, make a batch for yourself. It’s a good rainy weekend project to do with your children or grandchildren, especially children who are learning to measure. Use a jar of soup mix yourself when time is running short. Did you forget teacher appreciation day again? Grab a jar of mix and add a bow with the directions attached.
If you don’t want to take up the space or tie up the jars, store the mixes in individual freezer bags then put all the bags inside a larger container. This will keep out bugs and keep the bags from accidentally tearing. When you need a gift, place the plastic bag of mix inside an appropriate container such as a mug, pretty dish or soup bowl.
Check out garage sales and dollar stores for containers so you always have a supply on hand. It’s a good idea either to date the mixes or rotate the jars if you make large quantities. Some ingredients such as baking powder or nuts in baking mixes can become stale.
Most basic cookie recipes such as sugar or chocolate chip can be doubled and freeze well. If many of your "emergencies" involve children, stick to favorites you know kids like. Recipes for mixes range from soup to bath salts. If you are looking for ideas, check your local library for holiday issues of popular magazines or food sections of newspapers. Feature articles on mixes are especially popular during gift-giving seasons.
For information on related family and consumer topics in family, housing and nutrition, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/
Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.