Last week, I wrote a story from a book that a friend gave me long ago who had traveled through Kentucky recommended for me. This week, I would like to tell you about another place I long ago had visited and a place that I have visited several times. You may have too — South Union, Kentucky.
1869 Shaker Tavern
“The Shaker Tavern, built in 1869, as a business venture for the South Union Shakers, housed a hotel for the ‘people of the world.’ The Shakers leased the building to an outside interest for $100 a month, leaving its management to the ‘world.’
“The tavern maintained a thriving business for more than 40 years, catering to the Victorian railroad travelers who stopped at South Union.
“The building’s architectural features were clearly incorporated to attract the world’s people, whose tastes differed dramatically from that of the Shakers. The stark simplicity of the buildings contrast greatly with the grand columned facade, intricate brickwork and the ornate staircase.
“The Shaker Tavern is owned and operated by the Shaker Museum at South Union.”
If you have not visited the South Union Shaker village, it is small compared to Pleasant Hill, but it is a beautifully furnished museum with nearly only real Shaker items. When the village closed it was entirely sold, but the village was restored almost perfectly with all of its holdings which the village neighbors returned to the Shaker village.
Two of the Shaker menus are still among their dishes which are still used everywhere Shaker food is served:
Shaker lemon pie
— 2 large or 3 medium-size juicy lemons, clean well
— 2 cups sugar
— 4 eggs
— 2 pie crusts
Cut lemons into paper thin slices, then quarter the slices. Remove seeds and end slices. Layer slices in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar. Cover and let sit several hours or overnight.
Place one pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate. Lift lemons out of sugar and layer in crust. Sprinkle with a little more sugar if you wish. Add eggs to sugar/lemon juice and beat until well blended. Pour over lemon slices. Top with remaining crust and crimp the top to vent for steam. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown approximately 45 minutes.
Another Shaker recipe that is well done:
Bourbon sweet potato casserole
— 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
— 1 cup sugar
— 1 stick butter, melted
— 2 eggs, beaten
— 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
— 1/3 cup milk
— 1-to-1-1/4 teaspoon Maker’s Mark bourbon
— 1/2 cup brown sugar
— 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
— 1/4 cup or less butter, softened
— 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Combine the first seven ingredients with a mixer and pour into a 2-quart baking dish. Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top of the sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly, approximately 20 minutes.
Nothing better to know about than the history of the Shakers, their lives, their ways, their accomplishments and yes, even their food.
Joe Rhinehart can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.