New Leb Library volunteers cook up tasty history

NEW LEBANON–Christine Dreyfus says that Culinary Crossroads: Stories from a Rural Community was a collaborative celebration of the bicentennial of New Lebanon created by volunteers at New Lebanon Library and dedicated to Jeanne Bogino who believed the library should be the heart and soul of New Lebanon.

Whether readers seek and enjoy new recipes, appreciate history and stories from the town’s past, or enjoy photography as an art, there is something in Culinary Crossroads.

Recipes were assembled along with stories from the contributors. Among the local eateries and businesses contributing recipes are: Blueberry Hill Café, Chocolate Springs Café, Grant House B & B, Meissner’s Auction Service, New China City, New Leaf Farm, New Lebanon Mini Mart, New Lebanon Post Office, Raven Boar Farm, Shaker Mountain Barbeque, Shaker Museum, and Wild Heron Farm.

Patsy Evans Molasses Cookies with Raisins recipe was passed down by her grandmother, Josephine Reynolds. It just may be the same cookies I ate as a child when visiting Granma Anna Trowbridge.

This book, produced by volunteers at the New Lebanon Library, contains recipes contributed by town residents along with short reminiscences or stories from the contributors and photos of the town. The book is for sale at the library and the Chatham Bookstore.

New Lebanon history comes to life on these pages with tidbits from familiar 19th century figures. Daniel Webster writes of the teaspoons of water cure followed by glasses of wine. Benjamin Sillman, a proponent of education for women and slavery abolitionist, waxes eloquently about the natural beauty of the Lebanon Valley.

Read the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow or his wife, Frances Appleton, who said of sitting through a Shaker service: “No mortal could wish to see this twice.”

George Combe in 1838 describes New Lebanon as “a paradise of beauty.” It is no wonder many here view the area as a spiritual home base.

With the exception of a picture of the Tilden Company picnic in 1943, the photographs of rural scenes in Culinary Crossroads are the work of the late Steve Hawkins. He and his former wife, Peggy Hawkins, generously permitted New Lebanon Library to reproduce his work in this book.

In addition to Ms. Dreyfus, volunteers responsible for this collaborative community celebration of its bicentennial are: Greg Carroll, Jean Crosby, Betsy Gitter and Peggy Hawkins. Look for the young girl with a watermelon at the Tilden picnic and you see Jean Crosby.

Copies of Culinary Crossroads: Stories from a Rural Community are available at the Chatham Book Store and the New Lebanon Library with proceeds to benefit the library and its community programs.

The public is invited to the New Lebanon Library Annual Community Christmas and Hanukah Celebration on Friday, December 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. It is pot luck–bring a dish or a treat to share. Plus music, crafts for kids, and a visit from Santa Claus. Yes, Virginia there is.

The library is at 550 State Route 20, Columbia Pike. Call 518-794-8844 or visit

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