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Cookbooks and Combat Boots

Olivia Smith
tagged: food, military life
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I am not a professional chef.  I do not hold a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu, nor have I been an understudy to the most prestigious chefs in history.  I am, however, a seasoned military spouse and hold a degree in Homemade Meals 101… cooking and baking up recipes for my Air Force husband.  Add on producing meals for two of the pickiest kids around, and presto, I have my own virtual cooking show.

Growing up, my mother (who was also a military spouse) made the kitchen her second office.  Most children have parents who beg them to go to the library.  This was not the case with me.  My mother’s cookbook collection was my library.  I remember spending countless hours thumbing through and reading all those recipes that graced our family table every night.  I never imagined I would someday be in her shoes and that those same cookbooks would follow me into adulthood. 

My husband and I married 11 years ago.  The words “I Do” didn’t even have a chance to marinate before he was off to prior service orientation for the Air Force (having served five years in the Army before we met) and then off to complete eight months of tech school.  Our first anniversary was spent over the phone (there was no such thing as Skype back then) as we opened the gifts we mailed each other a few weeks before.  Eventually PCS time came and before we knew it, we were heading to our first duty station. The night before we were due to leave, my mother took me aside and suggested I take as many of her cookbooks as possible, telling me that I would need them on our new journey as a military couple.  Boy was she ever right!

Our move took us to a base that was 17 hours away from my parents by car… 5 hours away by plane.  While we were on the road, I started thinking, “Who is going to cook for us on the weekends?  What will we do without all those homemade meals to get us through the week?” I knew how to make the basics, but I was definitely not America’s Next Top Chef.  I pictured myself standing in our future kitchen, wooden spoon in one hand, holding a cookbook in the other, all the while staring at an overflowing pot of boiling water on our stove. 


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