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The Military Wives’ Cookbook

Today is Military Spouse Day! As a military wife who also grew up in a military family, I learned at an early age that gatherings, from formal ceremonies to backyard picnics, all have special meaning to military families. The recipes, traditions and fellowship are something to be cherished and passed down.

Author Carolyn Quick Tillery, who currently manages the United States Central Command Family Readiness Program, has pulled together an amazing collection of  recipes, anecdotal stories, and vintage photographs tracing the history and unique contributions of American military wives inThe Military Wives’ Cookbook: 200 Years of Traditions, Recipes, and Remembrances. Beginning with an Independence Tea Party featuring the foods served by the women of Edenton, North Carolina, at a party on October 25, 1774, it recreates the scenes and foods that recount the stories of the commitments and sacrifice that military wives have given the nation for more than two hundred years.

Presented in menu format, each chapter includes a story related to the recipes of the period (“A Colonial Thanksgiving” and “Christmas in the Confederate White House”) and feature foods from around the world, including places like Morocco, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Japan, and Korea.

One of my absolute favorite recipes featured in the book, Texas Sheet Cake, is one treat I remember being at so many picnics, gatherings and teas. A true classic.

Recipe for Texas Sheet Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking soda

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Greas and flour a 9×13-inch baking pan and set asid. In a large mixing bowl sift together the sugar, flour and salt then set aside. In a small saucepan combine the butter, cocoa, and water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Immediately pour into the flour mixture; using an electric mixer, beat for 3 to 5 minutes until well blended. Pour the batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 15 minutes but frost while warm.

Frosting for Texas Sheet Cake

  • 6 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 tbsp cocoa
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pound confectioners sugar
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (opt.)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat combine the milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to boil taking care not to burn, and remove from the heat. Add the vanilla. Add the confectioners’ sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Finally, add the nuts and beat until smooth. Pour over warm cake.

The Military Wives’ Cookbook: 200 Years of Traditions, Recipes, and Remembrances is a perfect gift for any military spouse – any time of the year. The stories behind the recipes make this a true keepsake as well.

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