Treats to send to Iraq
I'm looking for recipes that will hold up well to shipping. My SO's brother is being deployed to Iraq Thanksgiving weekend and we'd like to send him some things. I'm not even sure what the restrictions are, but a friend of mine that's already been over there said that anything and everything is appreciated. Thanks in advance!!!
My nephew was there for a year and got home earlier this year. He was sent cookies, cereal bars, granola, snack mixes, etc. and his birthday came while he was there and his mother sent him a cake (I think it was a rum cake) She even contacted stores & solicited donations so she could provide basic necessities for him & his platoon mates; things they could really use like deodorant, razors, lotion, sunscreen, etc. But that's another post....
Anyway, my nephew said everyone enjoyed the gifts (food & otherwise) from home...
from what i've heard, there are *many* non-food items that the soldiers really appreciate receiving, but in the interest of keeping this CH-appropriate, i'll limit my suggestions to those of the edible variety :)
Rice Krispy treats
snack mix/trail mix
nuts (you can make different varieties of glazed or spiced nuts)
sunflower & pumpkin seeds in the shell
soup packets/ramen noodles
gum & mints
hot cocoa packets
Good list! There are some fantastic suggestions for types of cookies that are good to send in other Chowhound threads, too, and helpful ideas for how to ship. (Pringles canisters are great.)
I'll also add these:
- meat (or tofu) jerkys, turkey jerky if you want to keep it seasonal
- nut and seed brittles (peanut/cashew/etc... separate layers with wax paper since the stuff can really stick after melting)
- homemade hot cocoa mix in a recycled, small oatmeal canister taped shut (keeps out the sand pretty well; good in this form since it's inexpensive to make and you can send a WHOLE lot more of it)
- fruitcake if he likes it
- brownies -- these keep surprisingly well, especially if you use a dense, high oil recipe
- gummy candies (don't really suffer all that much from slight melting)
- lollipops and stickers to hand out to local kids... or just to decorate the barracks
- fruit and veggie chips
- seasoned nori snacks (if your soldier likes those... they're really healthy and really addictive -- especially the spicy kinds -- and they're virtually indesctructable)
- meat sungs (soft, dried meat available in Chinese and other Asian markets; high protein, very appreciated from what I hear, even among soldiers who'd never seen the stuff in their lives, previously)
- magazines and other reading material (ok, not entirely Chowhound appropriate, but I suppose some might eat these out of boredom, after reading)
I'd avoid using chocolate chips in the trail mix, but M&Ms and Reese's Pieces seem to do okay. I've been adding candy corn to mine for the seasonal touch.
A final note on packaging: A good highschool friend of mine's sister is in Iraq, again. We've been sending her all her foodie care packages wrapped in clean socks and ziplock bags. Not only are the socks excellent padding, but one can never have enough clean socks and ziplock bags when you're in the desert.
I just realized how sidetracked I got offering suggestions when you'd actually just asked for recipes! If it helps, this was the recipe we followed for brownies last time: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chewiest...
No claim that this is the best possible recipe to use -- I don't consider myself much of a baker and don't do it often -- but it worked well for us. We cut the brownies into rounds to fit the Pringles container, separated by wax paper, and packed the 'scraps' in a separate container. According to our reports, the round brownies barely crumbled in transit.
Also, not that I've tried this, but I wonder how a semi-homemade dressing/stuffing mix would ship. It's not any harder to make on the receiving end than ramen (just need hot water, really). I'd probably buy a conventional boxed or bagged mix, add bouillon powder, dehydrated onions and vegetables, dried cranberries and apple bits, nuts -- smoked, toasted almond slivers? -- chopped up jerky or salami or country ham bits, and herbs and seasonings. And maybe you could even mix up a mashed potato mix with potato flakes, dehydrated milk, garlic powder, salt, dried herbs and bouillon powder, for easy reconstitution. I'll have to experiment with these. Probably others have thought of this already and have posted recipes online.
Brad is a huge Japanese culture fan, in fact his little sister wore a Kimono for her flower girl dress in his wedding. I didn't even think about snacks like nori and such. We have a great Asian market around, so we'll definitely send him those. He loves chewy brownies, so its good to know they ship well, I'll have to start eating more pringles, just for the containers, of course=) I didn't even think about stickers and lollipops and such, he's such a compassionate person, I know he'll appreciate having something to give to the kids. Thank you!
Send him whatever your SO's brother enjoys eating.
If it's chocolate chip cookies, send him a bunch of those.
If it's something off-the-wall like melba toast with bbq sauce, send him boxes and bottles of those things.
All of our service men and women deserve at least this much ...
My best friend dated an American deployed to Iraq, and his biggest requests were very American "junk food." Things like Kraft Blue Box (or actually, I think the microwaveable one-serving size packets), candy (Sour Patch Kids and Reeses cups are big), his favorite childhood brand of peanut butter, ramen, chocolate chip cookies, boxed flavored oatmeal, etc. Admittedly, a lot of this sounds gross, but as an ex-pat living abroad, I can confirm that homesickness makes you crave weird things.
I'm sure you want to send your SO's brother mostly high-quality things homemade with love, but be sure to include some trashy indulgences, too.
Also, Trader Joes has a lot of nice dried fruits and nuts that can survive shipping and a change in climates well. But not too much healthy stuff, ok? :)
I do want to send him homemade things, but just the other day he was talking about how much he LOVES moon pies, so I'll be sure to include all the junk he likes. Ramen is big with him too, so I'll make sure to spend a few dollars on his favorite kind. It's easy to go overboard on things I think he'll want when I really should just send the stuff he'll be craving. Thank you for the reminder=)
Restrictions: no pornography, no pork items, no alcohol. Those are the biggies.
You can check the weather forecast, but items you mail right now aren't likely to melt. Contrary to popular belief, it can and does get pretty chilly in Iraq. I was in central Iraq and it snowed in January! "Melty" items can be safely mailed until about early March.
I have mailed all sorts of items to Iraq at various times of the year (husband was there for 12 months). Peppermint bark was his favorite during the holidays, and the Hickory Farms boxes (you can usually get free or reduced shipping to APO addresses) were a huge hit with his platoon.
Microwave snacks are a huge hit, along with individual packets of hot chocolate or hot cider. Good coffee and powdered creamer were also constant requests.
Kudos to the person who sent along extra socks and ziplock baggies...you can never have enough of either of those in Iraq! Send both the quart and gallon sizes.
Hard candies are always good, as you can shove a handful in a pocket. Very good to have on the dusty days when you feel like you might choke on all the sand and dirt in the air.
Thank you for lining out the restrictions for me. Brad doesn't eat pork, so that won't be a problem. I was worried about the melting issue, thanks for letting me know I can mail things like chocolate and such up until March. It's been so stressful the last few weeks, I haven't done all the research I should have been doing.
Other fun things to send would be peanuts in the shell. When my husband was overseas, they would sit around, cracking the peanuts and just shoot the sh*t.
Friends in Iraq requested good ground coffee (army coffee is pretty vile). So, I used to send over bags of those, as well as the giant costco bags of individually wrapped life savers, twizzlers and other candies for the soldiers or the kids.
But, when you send this stuff over, send them in separate boxes. I found that one box out of three went missing. As best as we could tell, it was from the military side overseas. Some (unmentionables) people would steal boxes from their fellow soldiers. A secret that the military doesn't let the public know.
I regularly order dried fruit online from apricotking.com, which is in California. They will probably ship to APO addresses. As mentioned, Trader Joe's has some good dried fruits but the stuff these folks sell is exceptionally moist and large. Their large Blenheim apricots, dried nectarines, dried white peaches, and dried Bartlett pears are the standouts.
There are a lot of great suggestions on here, and I don't really have anything to add, except for one more potential restriction...my husband is in the Navy, and I can't send him anything that is a white or brown powder, or can be crumbled into a white or brown powder (because of the anthrax scare). I don't know if it's because he's in an enclosed space, but it's worth looking into.
I just read this hint from Heloise about baking cakes in those tin coffee cans--built in protection, just put the lid on and send. I'll bet you could do a lot of things like that. Bake shorter layers of brownies and stack inside the coffee tin. A good way to keep cookies whole is to put them in Pringles cans, although broken cookies are just as welcome.
If he likes Indian food, you can buy foil packets of different types of daal, vegetable curries, etc., that are shelf-stable. They sell some at Trader Joe's and many more at Indian markets, or you can get them online (I think one big brand is Tasty Bite). They are good at room temperature if no heating element is available. Spicy and ethnic food can be hard to come by at the chow hall and in MREs, and thanks to the generosity of good friends and family at home, I pretty much lived on Indian food for the better part of my seven months in Iraq (the fresh wares of an Iraqi bread baker to whom we had access complemented the curries really well). Good luck with the care package!