Plan a visit to this restored Shaker settlement in Kentucky and enjoy their hospitality, accommodations and simply-wonderful meals or try their delicious sugar cookie recipe.
By Michelle M. Winner
Fall is my favorite time of year to visit the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg, Kentucky only 26 miles from Lexington. As the largest restored Shaker community on 2900 acres of farmland and 34 restored 19th-century buildings, if you want to learn about this interesting way of life that has all but disappeared, you must visit. Climb aboard the horse drawn carriage and take a short ride through the village. Or wait until dark for guided walk through the town. Believe me even with a lantern in your hand it raises the hair on your neck when voices come out of the candle lit houses (by actors reading journals from the 1800s) or run into the streets in costume shouting to the unseen.
Shakers, disciples of Mother Ann Lee who renounced the sinful outside world, shared work and the fruits of their labor. They made simple and ingenious items for everyday life. All the food they ate they grew, tended or if necessary bartered for. Everything they did including the development of scientific farming, they did to glorify God: they were also called United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming. Shakers were so named because of the shaking they did to rid themselves of sins. Alas the settlement was done for by 1910 when it was sold. The last of the Shakers had disappeared, their law of celibacy to blame for lack of successors.
Today the settlement is cared for by a foundation and is open to the public for tours, hikes, a meal or a stay. Meals are served family style in the Trustees’ Office (dining room) and are as they were then, simple, beautiful and delicious. The rooms in the Trustees’ House are the sought after so book there. Worth a stay.
Here is a sugar cookie from the Shaker’s recipe book, perfect to decorate for Halloween or the holidays.
- ½ cup butter
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1½ cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Cream butter and sugar until well blended.
- Beat in egg and vanilla, mixing well.
- Sift dry ingredients together; add this to creamed mixture and chill for at least 2 hours.
- Roll out floured surface and cut out desired shapes.
- Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F until firm but not brown ( 8 to 10 min but check your oven) . Cool and decorate as desired.
- Note: You may also roll into a cylinder shape chilled and cut off into simple rounds
- If using a cookie press omit the chilling.