About the Project

ancestor-catherinemace

Cat

After a very long and rich life of more than 95 years, my grandmother recently passed away. During the process of putting her affairs in order, I stumbled upon not only her handwritten recipes but those of her older sister as well. Instantly, I was overcome with the brute force of hundreds of memories of these two strong and amazing women. And I realized that almost every fond memory I have of Cat and May revolves around food, the garden and the kitchen. Harvesting, preserving, preparing, serving, celebrating – nourishing and healing the ones they loved.

These two women were raised by homesteaders on the hard scrabble and high plains of wild Wyoming at a time when the Sioux had not yet been banished to reservation life. Without the luxury of electricity or running water, where birthing a child was risking your life, and when the daily decisions you made either kept you alive or they did not. Cat and May survived World War II, Prohibition and the Great Depression – they lived through not one, but several, important eras of development and destruction.

I also had the epiphany that handwritten recipes are quickly becoming a lost art form, and can without a doubt be considered historical documents. They represent daily life from times long gone – they show what life was like before the advent of supermarkets, mass processed foods, GMO’s, epidemic health issues like diabetes and heart disease, and fad diets.

ancestor-maesmith

Mae

Finding recipes that dated back before the turn of the century and have been passed down through the generations from mothers to sisters, daughters and granddaughters, made me feel a bit like a kid on Christmas morning. These recipes were snapshots of history – MY history – and held everything that I hold most dear about my ancestors.

The birth of Cupboard Project was instant. I wanted to capture these forgotten relics so they wouldn’t be lost or destroyed by careless hands. I wanted their value to be preserved. I wanted the preserves and herbal remedies to not be forgotten.

It is my hope that others will share family recipes with the Cupboard Project and help us build a time capsule of forgotten foods that can be passed forward to the next generations.

I have no doubt that if Cat were still here today, she would slap my hand, shake her head and tell me to stop making such a damned fuss over her. And that makes me smile as I share her with you.

– Angel
sisters2

photo taken before 1920