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Lynn, an experienced military wife, wrote to share some of her expertise in baking cookies for deployed troops during the holidays — or anytime.

She sent her tips for packaging cookies to send downrange, along with a recipe she recommends for popularity and mailing durability.

She writes:

"My husband was wounded on three separate occasions in Vietnam. He was an Airborne Ranger. He still has problems, and my daily prayers and rehab have helped him, I’m sure.

"His former co-worker’s son has been recently deployed to Afghanistan after recovering from a bullet wound to his chest in December of ‘07. He is now in his fourth tour, and we will again send him and his troops packages. My husband says he is so very, very lucky.

"We just discovered that my husband’s VA buddy’s grandson from Florida has been deployed to Afghanistan. We will also be preparing gifts for him and his friends.

"Cookies are a great gift that’s sure to please anyone."

Lynn’s tips for shipping cookies:

• First, choose the right cookies. Thin, crispy cookies will break apart the first time they’re thrown into the mail truck. Don’t bother with those. Your best option will be to pick a recipe specifically for larger cookies. A good option would be a chocolate chip cookie. (See the recipe below.) Bar cookies are also excellent choices.

• For extra protection and to make sure the cookies stay fresh, wrap each one in plastic wrap.

• Make sure the cookies are completely cooled before wrapping and boxing them.

• Don’t leave large spaces between the cookies. Pack them tightly and use tissue or newspaper to fill the space between them. You don’t want the cookies moving around inside their container.

• For maximum freshness, bake them as close to your shipping time as possible. Don’t bake them on Tuesday and send them on Friday, if you can help it. You want them to taste good, right?

• Most importantly, place the wrapped cookies into an airtight container. This can also be a gift for the recipient, so you can use a new Tupperware or other plastic container or use a tin. You can also decorate the container.

• Make sure to cushion the sides of the box with some packing peanuts, bunched-up newspaper or other lightweight filler, so the container doesn’t bounce around in the box.

Lynn’s Big Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

4-5 cups all-purpose flour1 tsp. baking soda1 tsp. salt1½ cups unsalted butter (melted)2 cups brown sugar (firmly packed)1 cup white sugar2 tablespoons vanilla extract2 eggs2 egg yolks3½ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in one bowl. In another bowl, cream melted butter and both the brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in vanilla and eggs until the consistency is light and creamy. Mix in the flour, baking soda and salt from the other bowl until blended. Stir in the chocolate chunks by hand. Drop ¼ cup of dough at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. The cookies should be about 3 inches apart as they spread a bit. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Terri’s note: I baked these in my test kitchen, where the resident taste testers declared them a success. Maybe the next batch will make it to the post office.

A final comment from Lynn: "Send cookies to our troops, because freedom isn’t free. God bless our troops."

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She lives and writes in Germany. Contact her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog here.

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