Quarantine cookbook offers whimsical look at pandemic

©The San Diego Union-Tribune

SAN DIEGO — In a lighthearted take on the pandemic, a local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution published what they call a “Quarantine Cookbook.”

There are recipes for shut-in favorites, such as “Flatten the Curve” Granola, “Lockdown” Chicken Tacos and Pasta “Fauci” along with “Infectious” Breakfast Casserole and “Viral” Chocolate Mug Cake.

The Escondido, California-based Rincon del Diablo Chapter put together 85 time-honored recipes all with a dash of wit and whimsy. The cookbook is sprinkled with anecdotes from the quarantine and colonial-style illustrations hearkening back to the days of the American Revolution, fitting since the recipe book was put together by women who are descendants of patriots who served the cause of the American Revolution.

The 104-page book, the first of its kind put out by the chapter, is titled “Quarantine Cookbook, Rincon del Diablo Colonial Tavern.”

Recipes were culled from dozens of submissions by members and guest contributors from the state and district levels of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a nonprofit known for its patriotic efforts to preserve American history and serve the community.

The nonprofit group of 170 members from the North County inland area, published the cookbook to boost its fundraising efforts, which dropped off since the March shutdown started.

“Tucked in the pages is a time capsule of life in America during spring 2020, an extraordinary time in our nation’s history,” said chapter member Melissa Shaw Bloch.

Along with recipes, the cookbook, six weeks in the making, includes anecdotes about getting through the pandemic—memories of everything from home-schooling and Zoom meetings to drive-by birthday parties and mask making (Daughters of the American Revolution groups across the country made roughly 500,000 face masks for the community).

“The quarantine-themed anecdotes mark the historic significance of the pandemic and the many ways in which American culture has quickly adapted to circumstances,” Bloch said.

Some of the time capsules in the book are humorous:

“Friends are gathering at cocktail time to lift a glass together on Zoom. The signature drink of the era is the Quarantini!”

Others more sobering.

“Families visit their loved ones in nursing homes and health care facilities through closed first floor windows. Many poignant photos have surfaced of loving exchanges across America, hands ‘touching’ against the glass.”

The women collected glimpses into life during the pandemic.

“While many are being forced to quarantine by themselves, others have opted for a furry companion during isolation. Animal shelters across the nation are seeing a surge in pet adoption rates.”

“Love transcends all, including global pandemics. Wedding vows are exchanged as the officiant stands on the other side of a glass partition, while wedding guests watch via an online video-conferencing platform.”

Each section includes Revolution-era line drawings by Bloch, whose illustrations include colonial period dress and settings that hearken back to the days when everyone did home baking and cooking.

“The pen and ink drawings are historically accurate as they reflect the fashions, artifacts and interiors of the American Revolution era,” said Bloch, whose great, great, great, great, great grandfather, Col. Thomas Marshall, fought in the American Revolution. Marshall led the Third Virginia Regiment and was the father of John Marshall, Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court and Secretary of State under John Adams.

The cover of the book, designed by Bloch, represents early American folk art in the form of a colonial tavern sign. “Tavern signs originally identified roadside dwellings licensed to provide services to travelers such as food, drink and lodging, as well as the feeding and stabling of horses,” Bloch said.

“The year 1776 inscribed upon the tavern sign on the book’s cover, was the year that Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence which severed the political connections between Great Britain and the 13 American colonies, the very cause of the American Revolution.”

The cookbook effort began when several of the chapter members were on a Zoom conference call one evening during the quarantine. The topic turned to the challenge of creating dishes using ingredients they had in the back of the cupboard, since they could not just hop in the car and run to the grocery store. “A lively discussion ensued in which we exchanged clever ideas for recipe names like ‘Epidemic English Muffins’ and ‘Hibernation Pound Cake,’” said Cindi Maher, the chapter’s first vice regent, who spearheaded the cookbook project and coordinated the effort.

The group went on to come up with a slew of recipes, ranging from “Homebound” Hamburger Soup, “Covid-Crisis” Chicken Enchiladas and “Solitary” Snickerdoodles to “Corona” Beer Battered Bread, “Relief Package” Cabbage Salad and “Cooped-up” Creamy Corn Casserole.

The cookbook has five sections: Breakfast, Appetizers, Salads and Sides, Entrées and Desserts. It has a table of contents by recipe name, an appendix with substitutions for ingredients when the cupboard is bare entitled, ‘Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measurements,’ along with an index by contributor. It also has a legend with different colored symbols that distinguish state (starfish), district (tree) and chapter (sun) DAR executive officers who contributed recipes.

“The cookbook will prompt time capsule memories for many years and will help to fund our service projects,” said Pam Russell, chapter regent. Proceeds are earmarked for DAR’s projects including Native Women’s Coalition, Honor Flight San Diego, Fisher House and Wreaths Across America, among others.

Several of the chapter’s members put together a YouTube video from their kitchens to give a preview of their work.

The video begins with Maher asking viewers, “Do you have the pandemic blues? Well, open that cupboard, because desperate times call for desperate measurements.” Then Maher picks up her measuring cup.

Cookbooks are $16, (spiral-bound, soft cover) at quarantinecookbooksd.org. Visit escondido.californiadar.org. A video on the cookbook is at https://youtu.be/mTD8PEFkzb4.


©2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune