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Growing up in Alabama, I use to hear stories about Lucy Cade, my great-grandmother, living off the land, the water, and the air she breathed. Everyone would say, “She always said, ‘If God can feed the birds and bees, I know He can feed me. God has given us everything we need. All we need to do is figure out what to do with it.’ She was supposedly an expert with a gun and a knife, and carried them with her wherever she went because she wasn’t afraid to take on anything or anyone if it got in her way. She could skin a snake and never cut the flesh, could out-shoot any man, rode a horse like a pro, and could make a concoction from the bark of a tree, roots from a plant, and/or herbs from a vine to heal you or kill you. She had the audacity to do some things when it wasn’t fashionable for people-of-color to be doing them in the segregated South. She broke some of the established, as well as the unestablished, rules that applied to people-of-color and lived to tell about it. Many have said she was brave-as-hell, a manipulator, negotiator, fortune teller, seer, crazy woman—some would even say she was spiritual and would go into a trance-like state, with her eyes closed but not fully sleep, talking in tongues and praying.
This book not only captures testimonies of Lucy Cade’s survival and determination, but the testimonies of many of her relatives she taught to be very creative while slow-cooking in cast-iron pots, cast-iron skillets, and/or on a roasting spit outdoors. They learned to stretch their meals by adding plenty of vegetables, nuts, and herbs, which made a small meal into a larger one. So, throughout the years, I recorded many family recipes, home remedies, and family stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.