Ruth McLeod, Leslie Christiansen, Linda Corderman and Cathy Shumard

Historical League members who worked on the cookbook include, from left, Ruth McLeod, Leslie Christiansen, Linda Corderman and Cathy Shumard.

The Arizona Heritage Center closed its doors March 21 in response to the coronavirus, resulting in a “significant” loss of revenue from admissions and canceled events, from educational programming to proms and weddings.

But the Historical League has continued to raise money for the center and its museum in an unexpected way: via cookbook sales.

“’Tastes & Treasures II’ continues to sell through Historical League website as people ‘stay home, stay healthy’ and read and cook more. It becomes a family event to try a new recipe,’” said Ruth McLeod, co-author and Historical League member.

“We like to encourage people to start new family traditions by preparing meals together at home,” McLeod added.

Funds aid important educational programs at Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park, including NationalHistoryDay.org, exhibits, archives, the Historymakers program and capital improvements.

The 216page “Taste & Treasures II,” published in January 2018, is chock-full of recipes and evocative food stories; it is also the nonprofit’s second cookbook.

Since “Taste & Treasures II” was published, the League has sold 3,200 copies, amassed more than $38,000 and recently won the Independent Press Award for best regional cookbook. 

“Tastes & Treasures II” is the winner of two other awards, the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the 2019 Best Book Awards, as well as a finalist in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards.

“We are honored to be recognized in this international competition,” McLeod said. “We always felt it was a well-written, unique, and informative book, but to have this validated by a widely recognized company was very rewarding.”

Historical League volunteers spent two-and-a-half years writing “Tastes & Treasures II.”

In addition to sourcing recipes, photos, and stories from 24 historical restaurants and resorts from all over the state, the volunteers also tested each recipe three times to ensure they were ready for publication.

“It was truly a labor of love as we are all volunteers,” McLeod said. “It appeals to history buffs, educates, encourages us to get involved in history, and welcomes us to the Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park to learn more.”

The cookbook also features food memories, recipes, and photographs from 19 Arizona Historymakers, including Bennie Gonzales, the Navajo Code Talkers, Barry M. Goldwater and more.

“Besides a cookbook, it’s a travelogue and treasure trove of Arizona stories. You can stroll through these historic establishments via photographs and descriptions,” Lisa Schnebly Heidinger, great-granddaughter of Sedona Schnebly, wrote in the book.

“We know that history shapes us and informs us, but at times like this, we see that history also comforts us. Perhaps it’s because history shows us that the human spirit, despite global pandemics, will endure. ‘Tastes and Treasures II’ connects readers to Arizona’s past while connecting them to those around the dinner table,” said Tawn Downs, director at Arizona Heritage Center.

Downs added that funds raised by the Historical League literally help keep the museum doors open. 

She said that last year the League paid for new museum entry doors, exhibit supplies, educational programs and internships and supported the center’s library and archives. 

The center also relies on league volunteers to lead school and group tours and host special events.  

“In the first quarter of 2020, before we were forced to close, we hosted more than 400 school children and opened a brand-new exhibit, ‘Still Marching: From Suffrage to #MeToo,’ which focuses on the powerful and historic impact of women’s collective action. We are incredibly grateful for the Historical League’s support over the last 40 years,” Downs said.

Next February marks the Heritage Center’s 40th anniversary.

The Arizona Heritage Center at Papago Park in Tempe will open June 13 to members and June 16 to the general public.

Current exhibitions include "Current State" featuring the work of Thomas "Breeze" Marcus, and "Still Marching: From Suffrage to #MeToo" that examines women’s protest movements during the past century.

Information: historicalLeague.org, arizonahistoricalsociety.org