For as long as I can remember, there have been community cookbooks.
For some it was a way to earn money for their programs, for others it was a way to strengthen their communities. People love to build relationships over foods. We’ve certainly seen that during the pandemic where families and friends have cooked together and taken care of each other’s food needs. So why shouldn’t Facebook groups do the same? After all whether it be on Facebook or Instagram and even TikTok, food topics and recipes have always been among the highest rated.
“In the Quarantine Kitchen” is a new cookbook from a Facebook group book that swapped recipes during the pandemic – it contains 120 recipes and all proceeds go to charity. All proceeds go to The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, honoring firefighter Stephen Siller, who lost his life saving others on 9/11, and all first responders. “It kind of grew and grew and snowballed,” Daniella Cangiano, one of the organizers told the Huntington Daily News “We were able to take something really negative and make it something really positive.” The project started in the Staten Island home of the Cangiano family. Traci Cangiano and her daughters Daniella and Kristina launched a Facebook page in March 2020 when the COVID-19 quarantine began. “We started it as a way to just share our dinner with our family and friends. We didn’t see in the beginning what it would become. We just thought it was something fun to do, something to distract us,” said Daniella Cangiano. Now, more than a year later, the page has more than 44,000 members who post recipes for others to try and comment on. The Cangianos decided to collect all the recipes and self-publishing their cookbook on Etsy. It is dedicated to front-line workers. They use a printer in Kansas and then resell them online for $35. The 250-page cookbook is filled with stories and family photos, memories of relatives coming together over meals and ways to honor lost members with dishes.
So what’s in the recipe book? Same old meatloaf? Hardly! Some dishes are cherished family hand-me-downs, like Nanny’s Stuffed Calamari in Red Sauce and Aunt Nellie’s Fried Chicken. Others were concocted during the pandemic, like one for tres leches ice pops that was created because ice cream shops were closed. It uses cans of condensed and evaporated milk, coconut milk, vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon. The book is in its second printing. “This book is a culmination of the people on this page. It’s their book. And we wanted them to have the opportunity to put their story, their tributes, their dedication, their recipes,” said Traci Cangiano. “To us, this book is like an archival piece for the year 2020. I hope we never see anything like 2020 again but this book will serve as a nice reminder.”