By Kevin Williams
I recently noted how Sister Frances Carr of the Shakers at Sabbathday Lake passed away. That leaves just two Shakers left in Sabbathday and the religious will likely pass when those two pass. But Shaker cooking leaves behind a legendary legacy, an absolute trove which will live on in Shaker cookbooks. I was excited when Kim H. of Cincinnati told me that Sister Frances had written a cookbook back in the 1980s and she had copies of it. I'm excited from an anthropological standpoint. Recipes are capture lifestyle and customs during various time periods and earlier Shaker cooking is better documented than the cooking that took place in during their slow decline in the 20th century. Yet the cooking and baking that took place in Shaker villages in the 1900s was just as tasty and inventive as the earlier era. And this later era of Shaker cooking connects back to its earliest days, so there is a lot of historical and culture value in the recipes in Sister Frances's book. I'll be sifting through and sharing some over the months ahead. I will say again that the Shakers have no connection to the Amish. But the Shakers are often lumped in with them because there are similar values and an embrace of simplicity and wholesomeness. But there there is no theological connection.
And, yes, I looked on Amazon and there are copies of the book available, used and some new for very reasonable prices so you can all follow along on this lake Shaker era culinary journey with me. Click here to get your own copy. It's definitely worth having.
The Ham and Noodle casserole below is classic comfort food, so we'll start with that. I think this is a recipe is a classic that has probably been served throughout all of the Shaker era. There is an ingredient in this recipe called Shaker Fine Herbs. It's a blend they make in Sabbathday. You can buy some here. (no, I don't get a commission for that, just putting that there to be helpful), but I'd think the casserole would turn out fine without it.
SHAKER HAM AND NOODLE CASSEROLE
1 ½ cups cooked noodles
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 cups cooked ham, cut up
1 cup peas, drained
In a skillet, melt the butter and add flour. Stir until smooth. Gradually add milk and cook and thickened. Add the cheese and blend well. Add all the other ingredients stirring them until well mixed. Turn mixture into a baking dish. Top with buttered bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.