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Pandemic Spawns Quarantine Quisine

Co-authors Grace Ubben and Isabel Sanchez
Co-authors Grace Ubben and Isabel Sanchez

As the coronavirus derailed their final academic year, two University of Florida students collaborated on a guide to help their collegiate peers prepare simple, healthy meals.

A recent University of Florida graduate and her best-friend classmate have published a very different kind of cookbook. The work's target audiences is students who have neither the time - nor the cooking skills - to create good-tasting, nutritious meals.
One of the two students is Tallahassee native Grace Ubben. And her BFF at U of F's College of Journalism and Communications has been Isabel Sanchez.

"Isabel was actually - fun fact - the very first person I met when I transferred to the University of Florida," Ubben exclaimed. "And we met at a social event and ever since we've been close friends. And she has always been my go-too photographer. She's an amazing photographer!"

Both Ubben and Sanchez seemed on a smooth glidepath through their senior year, culminating in a festive, typical graduation. Then came COVID.

"After COVID hit and I had to move back home, I saw that she had posted a picture of something on her Instagram account and how she was dabbling in food photography and I reached out to her. I didn't think that much of it, but I said, 'Oh my gosh, we should make a cookbook together and self-publish it and see if our friends and family would be interested in it.' And she fell in love with the idea and was super on-board with it!"
Thus, says Ubben, was born Quarantine Quisine. Both words starting with the letter "Q."
Certainly, college-agers were the prime target audience for the book. The pandemic had closed many of their favorite restaurants. And Ramen noodles could only be tolerated for just so long. So Ubben said the recipes she chose assume no real kitchen skills or a well-stocked pantry.

"I had had a bunch of recipes that were my go-tos throughout college. They were super easy and (made from) stuff that people always had on hand, super-simple. So I started compiling those together, sent them to her and she'd make and photograph them. Along the way, we figured out how to make a cookbook together."

Ubben and Sanchez will unveil the fruit of their literary labors this Wednesday evening, Oct. 28.

"We are going to be at Hearth and Soul from 5 to 7 p.m. We'll be signing books and talking to people. Everyone will be wearing masks and we'll be keeping our distance. Right now, you can get the book through Hearth and Soul's web site and you can also get it on Amazon. You can order a print or e-book if you're one of those people who likes to pull recipes up on your I-Pad."

Quarantine Quisine. The first-ever publication by U. of F. graduates Grace Ubben and Isabel Sanchez.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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