Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Art of the Care Package & Luscious Lemon Shortbread

The impact of CARE Packages were acknowledged in 1962 by President John F. Kennedy--the Cooperative for American Remittances in Europe, an organization founded in 1945 to aid Europe after WWII.  He said, "Every CARE Package is a personal contribution to the world peace our nation seeks.  It expresses America's concern and friendship in a language all peoples understand."

At 12 years old, that statement had a definite impact on my life...not that I started sending CARE Packages to Europe, but the part of expressing friendship and for me, love to the ones who live far away and how they are missed has stuck with me.  I saw first hand, many times from my mother, packaging up goodies to send to my brothers when they entered the Marine Corp and then, of course, there were the goodies she'd have my dad deliver at Christmas to our family doctor, dentist, and friends in the area.  A language of friendship for sure.

For me, I started sending care packages to Dad after my mother passed away in 1987.  I had returned to California and wanted him to know that I was thinking of him.  It also became a fascination of our local town as well since Dad had gotten a post office box because vandals had taken out his mailbox with a baseball bat.  He'd come in to the post office and the postmistress would holler, "Mr. Tierney, you have a care package in your box," before he even stuck his key into the hole!  I labeled the box...TO: Dad and listed at the bottom what number this one was...1, 2, 3, etc.  Not only did he love the homemade treats, photos, cards, etc., he loved the attention from the staff wanting to know what his daughter had sent him.

I continued to send him care packages throughout his remaining life and to my own daughters when they went off to Mount Holyoke College.  They loved the treats too, but just knowing a piece of home came in a box, meant something even more. I continued to send packages to both my girls and now my grands--it makes us both smile.

I was thinking of those moments when I decided to send a care package to my great-niece Samantha, who started her freshman year in college this September.  Letting her know she has family with her with this next phase of her adult life is important.  I created Luscious Lemon Shortbread (like her mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and me...we love lemon!), made some granola, then, filled the rest of the box with entertaining reading material, and snacks.
Off it goes to the post office...labeled, of course, Care Package #1!
Luscious Lemon Shortbread
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon (reserve to juice for the glaze)
4 T graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt

1 cup confectioners' sugar
juice of 1 lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
2 T Karo light syrup

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  This recipe makes a 9" x 13" pan of shortbread--I made an 8" x 8" pan and 5 individual ones for my great-niece.

In a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and zest together thoroughly.

Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low until the dough comes together as moist crumbs!  You don't need to have greased the pan(s) -- transfer crumbs to the desired baking pan(s) and pat with your hands.  Use a fork to prick the surface--this helps bake the shortbread.
Bake in a preheated oven 25 to 30 minutes.  The individual pans took just about 25 minutes, the larger 30.  The surface should be a golden brown.
While still warm, I use a paring knife to "score" cut lines in both the individual (made one diagonal) and the larger pan, into squares.  Allow to cool before adding the glaze.

Adding a special tag I made and wrapping up the individual baking containers was all I needed to finish a box that will arrive with love to a very sweet great niece.  Enjoy! 


  1. Susan, this is such a sweet post. I used to send care packages to my daughter when she worked in Chicago. Although I never sent baked goods, it was fun to fill a box.

  2. I love this post, Susan! A friend of mine just told me about the first care package she sent to her freshman daughter in college. I thought that was so sweet, but it also reminded me that my kids will be out of the house pretty soon and I will have to send packages to them (I would rather have them home!). A home-baked good always comes from the heart and I am sure that Samantha was thrilled to see your yummy shortbread in the package! Hugs to you. Kirsten

  3. I can just imagine your dad picking up his parcels. How sweet that must have been. I lived in Calgary for 4 years and my mom would send packages to us from Ottawa just to say 'Hello'. I loved them so much. Your niece will always remember your kind gesture and it will make her feel closer to home. Deb

  4. What a sweetheart you are! I loved the back story and I love the idea of your niece going to get that package. It brings back some nice memories. I think I may have a care package or two to send off very soon...

  5. Well - I sure learned something new today! I never knew this information and will be printing it out!!!

    1. Bernideen, I was at our Farmer's Market today when a woman picked up a round, yellowish green squash and asked the vendor what it was. She replied, "it a round zucchini...much sweeter than the dark green variety." The woman said, "Wow, I just learned something!" The vendor said, "My daddy said, if you don't learn something new each day, why get up!" That's Southern philosophy in a nutshell, XOXO

  6. Susan, you are so sweet and considerate.
    The lemon shortbread with lemon glaze looks fantastic.

  7. who wouldn't love to receive that in the mail..something cool to read and something cool to eat, what could be more fun...Phyllis

  8. I learned something new today also! I never knew the origin of what each letter stood for. I thought a "care" package was sent because someone really cared to make another someone feel very special and very loved. And of course, that is true also. Samantha will love the lemon shortbread and other goodies----the care package is a very special gift from a very special Aunt. Hugs

  9. I love care packages and sent them to my daughter when she was in college even though she was only a couple of hours away. There is just something special about getting a 'care box' in the mail.

  10. I used to send care packages to Chris when he was at sea for months one end.One package contained silly toys and a small teddy bear.The ship picked up some boat people,among them were some small children,guess who got the toys and teddy!
    Jane x

  11. Yummalicious shortbread!! It has been awhile since I sent a care package. Maybe it's time I did that!!

  12. What a thoughtful woman you are Susan! I didn't know the story behind care packages either. I must get busy and send some love to my friends and family. Thanks for the reminder that love comes in many forms. xoxo ♥
    Martha Ellen

  13. I remember when I was in college at the University of Redlands in 1968 and how special it was to receive care packages from a group of Baptist women I never met but who I received a scholarship from. Later, after I was married my husband and I visited the dear lady that sent me cards, letters and packages. Our son in law leaves for Afghanistan soon and we will be preparing care packages regularly. I wonder how these great looking shortbreads would arrive. Hmmm...
    Bless you for keeping a wonderful tradition alive.

    1. hi Ellen, the shortbread does great... Also try my Chocolate Chip Shortbread recipe--it's the one I've used to send packages to Afghanistan to friends serving our country,XOXO

  14. When I was a freshman in college for some reason I was craving home-made applesauce, so of course it arrived from my mom in my next care package; I always sent packages to my children when they were away at camp and school, too. (But I agree with Kirsten, I would rather have had my kids home...)

  15. It's nice to have family that does fun things like that.
    lemon shortcake is a recipe for me.
    stamping sue