Gift and packing ideas for cheese, cookies

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What is an easy last-minute gift idea that's good to bring to a hostess or when invited for a weekend visit? Even if the only available shop is the supermarket, you can choose a gift of cheese.

For a sophisticated person, choose Blue, Camembert, aged Cheddar, or the even fancier goat cheeses or Brie, with a box of interesting crackers.

For a cooking person, make it a whole Provolone cheese and perhaps some pasta. A large chunk of almost any cheese that looks good to you could be paired with some bright red or green apples. The supermarket cheese case is usually a good place for shopping.

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Students and young people away from home always welcome homemade cookies. How shall I pack the cookies I bake?

Be sure the cookies you choose will travel well. Soft moist ones like bar cookies, brownies, and drop cookies are sturdy.

Avoid fragile or brittle ones with moist fillings or frostings.

Line shipping container with foil. Place sheets of foil or plastic wrap between layers. Bar cookies should be packed in rows with very little space between. Crush waxed paper to cushion formed or cut-out cookies. Use it to fill spaces at sides and top of box.

Add a layer of foil and address information before sealing the container.

Is there any kind of cake I can send in the mail that will not arrive crushed and crumbled?

Fruit cakes are about the only kind and actually they are ideal any time of year. The fruit keeps them moist and their solid texture can take the trauma of long-distance shipping.

Wrap each cake well in clear plastic or foil before packaging or shipping.

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