While many local Thanksgiving cooks spent this week in the kitchen mashing potatoes and basting turkey for their families, a visitor to Lawrence has been making batches of cookies for U.S. soldiers stationed in the Persian Gulf region.
"The whole thing is just to get the cookies there just to show the servicemen there that we're thinking about them," said Pat Rowen, who this week baked her usual 1,000 cookies for participants in Operation Desert Shield.
"I've been baking about 1,000 a week since Labor Day," she said.
Rowen, a native of Kirksville, Wash., is staying in Lawrence this week for the holiday with her mother- and father-in-law, Mary Margaret and Kenneth Rowen.
A holiday vacation, however, didn't keep Pat from baking and sending her weekly batch of treats for U.S. soliders.
"It takes about four to six weeks for packages to get there," she said.
"The deadline for a package to get there by Christmas has already passed, so these cookies will be there sometime after that."
ROWEN SAYS she began sending the cookies to various military units because she wanted the soldiers to know people were thinking about them.
"It doesn't matter what your politics are, or whether or not you think they should be over there," she said. "The fact is, they are over there and I think it's important to let them know that people care."
Rowen said she became intrigued with the idea of sending cookies after learning that members of a national personal computer network were doing the same.
"There's a lot of people doing this all over the country," she said.
Rowen, who bakes ginger snaps, oatmeal raisin and other cookies, says she used to be "horrible" at baking cookies.
"I've gotten better," she says. "I can make about 300 cookies an hour."
She says postage for each batch of cookies costs $20 to $25. However, Rowen says she hasn't had to pay any cookie postage.
"EVERY TIME I've been in the post office to send them off, there's always somebody who gives me money for the postage," she said.
Rowen said she's spent $200 to $400 on cookie ingredients since she began the weekly mass bakings.
She says the best way to send cookies is to wrap two cookies back-to-back. She says the wrapped pairs of cookies should be packaged so they don't rattle around and break inside packaging.
Another cookie-sending tip, she says, is to only send cookies that won't melt in hot temperatures.
"I don't use too much chocolate or peanut butter,'' she said. ``A lot of the soldiers have gotten homemade cookies that have just kind of turned to goo."
Instead, she uses molasses, cherries and other ingredients that will prevent cookies from melting in moderate heat.