Military Wives Cookbook …Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

I was fortunate to receive an email from Sourcebooks asking if I could take a look at their Military Wives Cookbook,200 Years of Traditions , Recipes, and Remembrances. This treasure of American historical lore and modern vignettes is the brainchild of an accomplished Military wife herself , Carolyn Quick Tillery.She’s a go getter who having a law degree and retired form the Air Force, decided she needed a ‘portable career’ as her husband , still in the Air Force was constantly assigned all over the world in various posts.So she combined her love of history and food , thereby forging a career. A pretty successful one at that.
I admit, I know nothing about the whole military culture and lifestyle. As an account executive I had an account on a naval base and saw a glimpse. I envied those PX Stores for the great deals.What I did see was my hard working sales staff who may have had a spouse in service and was used to the ordeal of moving around , or them being way , and surviving on limited means. I saw the cadets come in every few weeks after graduation to pretty up a bit and get their cosmetics before heading off to some new assignment. For many it was there first time away from home perhaps. I admit I am pretty privileged and spoiled at times, but I can recognize the great sacrifice those that serve and their families make for our country. It takes a strong woman, or man to support that spouse in service. Lets honor them on Friday May 8th , which happens to be Military Spouse Day.Our current First Lady of the United States, Michele Obama has vowed to focus on aiding Military families.
Military Wives Cookbook is chock full of recipes from today to 200 years ago. I was expecting Americana type of recipes, which there were plenty, but also got some international ones , reflective of the wives travels all over the world. The author assembles the recipes into menus with themes. For example a Colonial Thanksgiving or Christmas in the Confederate White House. The cookbook is divided into 6 sections:
Teas and Coffees
Buffets, Brunches, and Lunches
A Taste of Home: Dinner Family Style, Alfresco Dining
Over There: An International Affair
Home for the Holidays and Other Celebrations
It was hard to pick a recipe to try out. But I was drawn to the Old Fashioned Banana Pudding, because it reminded me of my mother and is a tradition in the Black community and others as well . You will find this at every event or picnic this summer. A lot of people fake it with pudding mix and vanilla wafers. I like it old school.
Note I was out of Vanilla wafers but had Vanilla Biscuits , that worked fine. A coworker of mine uses shortbread , which is also a great substitute. I shamefully admit I polished this off and gave a bit to a neighbor. Nothing was wasted. It was that good. I might play on this recipe with chocolate chips or banana rum one day.
I will be giving away a copy of this cookbook. The drawing runs until May 12.Just leave a comment! And be sure to check out Month Of Edible Celebrations posts on this great book and her giveaway as well.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding
adapted from Military Wives Cookbook 200 Year of Traditions, Recipes, and Remembrances
6 servings
2/3 cup Sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups half and half( I used heavy cream and milk combined)
1/2 tsp salt
3 egg yolks
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 12 oz box vanilla wafers
2 cups bananas (ripe)
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a double boiler over boiling water, combine sugar, salt, and flour.Add half and half and stir constantly until mixture thickens.Remove from heat.Place egg yolks in separate bowl. Gradually while stirring constantly( I use a stand mixer for this to free up hands) add some of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks to temper. Then add the egg mixture back to the cream in the pot.Cook to a simmer and thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cool for a bit while you assemble the pudding.
In a baking glass dish, layer vanilla wafers first, the sliced banana, then pudding, Continue layering of wafers, bananas, pudding, ending with pudding on top. Set aside.
Make Meringue topping.
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
In a bowl whip egg whites, with cream of tarter with a electric mixer or use your stand mixer. Whip until they hold stiff peaks.Fold in vanilla extract and confectioners sugar.
Spread atop the pudding and bake for 10 -15 minutes until golden.

I know I missed the deadline by a few days, but I want to offer this up for the Retro Themed Waiter There Is Something In My Soup.