Jambalaya and Cactus Salad in the Hills

Notes from Nan: Elmer’s Cajun Fest!
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati


I am back in Ashfield (with my beeyoutiful hair!—which is actually only sort of beautiful now, because, while it’s still blonde, it doesn’t have all the smoothing crap in it, so it’s kind of like normal hair again.

And I have a whole new world of fun that I kind of brought back with me, specifically:

Elmer’s Real, Live Cajun Festival!

on Friday night, June 20th from 5 – 9 pm,

in place of our regular Friday night dinner.

We’re blocking off the street at Norton Hill and Main once again for Cajun Dancing with a live Cajun Band! With Cajun Dancing instruction!

I know that many of you are not dancers of any sort, much less of a sort you’ve never even seen, but the music just can’t be beat and you can stand around and tap your feet and watch if you don’t feel like dancing.

And the food!

Gus McIlhenny of the McIlhenny family that makes Tabasco Sauce (from Avery Island, Louisiana) is coming to Elmer’s to make Cajun Turkey Po’ boys and Jambalaya!  The REAL Louisiana way!  This is as close as you will get in Massachusetts to eating REAL LOUISIANA FOOD!

And Lord, you do not want to miss it!

By the way, “Cajun” does not mean “Spicy” like it does in most out-of-state restaurants. It means GOOD!

So that’s what I’m all whooped up about! The thing I’m most excited about is that this ain’t just pretend food—we got Gus McIlhenny his own self cooking up the kind of food he’s been making since before he was born! And he’s such a nice guy! I’ve known Gus for . . . about . . . how long, Gus? Since about 1985? Just the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet and boy, can he COOK!  With a name like McIlhenny, he has no choice but to be good!

This Friday’s Menu (05/16/98):

And speaking of authentic good food from other places, we have our guest chef Neftali from Mexico (who makes our El Jardin bread) coming back to cook for us this week! 

He’s making:

  • Cactus salad
  • Chicken lime soup
  • Enchiladas Suizas – chicken enchilada topped with a tomatillo sauce and sour cream
  • or Zucchini and mushroom enchilada topped with tomatilla sauce

Cactus salad? Wow! It sounds scary but interesting!

And now it’s time for Grocery Talk with Rob. I thought I fired him last week for out-shining me, but somehow he snuck back in. Let’s see how funny he is this week:

Rob’s Grocery Talk with Rob


Diary of embarrassment

I’m in first grade this time. Our teacher was always warning us about “angering Miss Iten” as in “Miss Iten will be mad if you don’t color inside the lines” or “if you don’t quiet down, Miss Iten will be very angry with you.”

The trouble was, I had never seen this “Miss Iten” and after a couple of months, I was beginning to suspect she didn’t exist. Plus, I was getting weary of this unseen deity holding us in constant judgment, quick to anger and administer punishment. I mean, wasn’t that what church was for?

So one day, after the class had received its daily admonishment, I got up the nerve and said out loud “you’re always talking about Miss Iten but we never see her! Where is she, huh?”

And somewhere, amid the humiliating laughter of my classmates, I realized I was the last first grader to understand the concept of referring to yourself in the third person.

Grocery Talk

Did you know that May is National Egg Awareness Month? Man, it always sneaks up on me. I still have the decorations up from last year.

Just for fun, I ordered in some BBQR’S Smoke Pellets for your barbeque! Make your meat or tofu sing with the smoky goodness of smoking pellets of smoke. Available in applewood, hickory, Jack Daniels, mesquite, or sugar maple. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em!

And if you’re looking for something to cook on that grill, don’t forget to check out our meat department with a fine selection of beef, lamb, and pork. All locally grown!

I also see that we got in a fresh supply of Ricki Carroll’s Cheese making Kits. Make your own Mozzarella or Ricotta at home! With your kids! Then make some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches they ever had. Do I have to tell you parents how to do everything?

We still have some Vermont Summer Sausage left and, judging from the feedback I’m getting, it’s pretty good stuff. So I’m going to order some more for you.

That is all for now. Thanks for reading!  2.75 Whipples!

Um, Rob . . . was Miss Iten your actual teacher then?


And you didn’t know her name was Miss Iten?


Oh. Rob, I feel so bad for you.

Yup. Me too.

Um, let’s see what we have to eat in the produce department:

The Farm Report

By Donna Elwell

It is a great time to transplant perennials because it is cool and it
rains often.  Elmer's has Rhubarb and Bee Balm plants from Spring
Water Gardens (this is my farm on Baptist Corner Road, Ashfield).
These plants are hardy, invasive species but a must for any homestead.
 Plant these varieties away from your vegetable garden and flower beds
– in their own space.  They are acclimated to Ashfield weather
The Bee Balm are 2nd year plants and are the young side in order to
facilitate easy transplanting.  (It is hard on plants to be
transplanted when they are flowering.)  Do your part to encourage the
bee population!
The Rhubarb is from our patch that was here 23 years ago, when we
bought our farm.  It produces nice bright red stalks and is delicious
in pies, sauces, and jams.  It also freezes easily – just cut it into
pieces and put in a freezer bag.  Then when the local strawberries are
ripe, you can defrost your rhubarb and make some mouthwatering
strawberry rhubarb pie!
FRIDAY, 5/4/08
BABY CARROTS and RHUBARB from Spring Water Gardens
FRIDAY, 4/25/08
DANDELION GREENS from Spring Water Gardens
POTATOES from Manda Farm in Plainfield :
Fingerling potatoes (in the cooler on the bottom shelf)
PLANTS from Spring Water Gardens
Bee Balm
Organic (Ecuador) Bananas
Organic (CA) Broccoli
Organic (Argentina) Garlic
Organic (CA) Herbs: Cilantro
Organic (CA) Herbs: Parsley
Organic (Mexico) Lemons
Organic (Mexico) Limes
Organic (CA) Mesclun
Organic (CA) Onions: Yellow
Organic (CA) Oranges
Organic (CA) Red Beets
Organic (CA) Bok Choy
Organic (CA) Cauliflower
Organic (CA) Celery
Organic (HI) Ginger Root
Organic (CA) Mushrooms: Crimini
Organic (CA) Parsnips
Organic (CA) Radishes
Organic (VT) Sprouts: Alfalfa
To make specific produce requests, email me at

And so there it is!

Come on around and see my beyoutiful hair. People don’t even know who I am! (It’s been so long you know.)

Big E


  1. Lauren said,

    January 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    I am trying desperately to get in touch with Gus McIlhenny. PLEASE EMAIL ME.
    I am your long lost god daughter, and I need to speak with you!


  2. William Thuss said,

    October 30, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Hey Gus,
    Remember the time in Maine at Thuss Photo & Video? I’m trying to reach Russell Lanier. I owe him a major Favor, plus he was my best frien. Can you give me his e-mail, phone, adress whatever.

    Keep frying those turkeys

    Bill Thuss
    thuss @gwi.net
    cell: 207 542.0808

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