Grateful Harvest Dinner in the Hilltowns

Notes from Nan: Why I Never Invite You to My House for Dinner
BY HF Contributing Writer, Nan Parati

Last week some people were coming to dinner at my house. Because the number of waking hours I spend at my house does not give me enough time to actually keep it tidy, I had a lot to do before they got there. The one belt that I own was draped over something and I remember grabbing it and thrusting it behind something because I didn’t have enough time to run upstairs with it.

Now the diners are gone, it’s four days later and I cannot find that belt anywhere. I know it’s behind something downstairs, and in a house this small there are only so many places with a behind behind them and I have looked into them all. I have even begun looking inside things, even though I know it is actually behind something.

I found a belt that belonged to Son behind some things in the laundry room and put that on, but he said he had been looking for that one himself and asked for it back. I found another belt that belonged to a little girl who once visited here behind some other things in the laundry room, but that one was a buckle and a tip short of fitting. I don’t want to buy a new belt because I already have one, and I only need one. So now I’m stuck with a pair of pants that I can’t wear because I don’t have a belt. I might have to just put a piece of rope around my pants like Ellie Mae Clampett, but that’s just not the style up here. I know that if it was a snake (which it would sort of resemble in form) it would have bit me by now, but otherwise I cannot find it.

So, if you were wondering why I never invite you to dinner at my house, that’s why.


Mary has gone out right now to collect all the food we will be serving in our Grateful Harvest Dinner this Thursday Friday Night (11/05/09 11/06/09).

On the Menu: 

  • Savory Brined Turkey
  • Roasted Fall Vegetables: Parsnips, Carrots, Brussel sprouts, Acorn Squash
  • Gorgonzola and Bacon Mashed Potatoes
  • “Old School” Pan Gravy
  • Roasted Mushrooms, Green Beans and Caramelized Onions
  • Chestnut Dressing
  • AnnaBread (made locally, if not locally-grown wheat—just because it’s so dang good and we are so thankful for it!)
  • Drinks: Locally roasted coffee from e2m Community Coffee in Easthampton & Currant Spritzers from Bug Hill Farm
  • Dessert: Home made pumpkin Pies made from Local Pumpkins, locally made ice cream (Hilltown Black Raspberry), or Bart’s Pumpkin Ice Cream.
  • (does not include alcohol—for which we have locally-made hard cider from West County Cider, and Meade from Garth at Green River Ambrosia in Greenfield.

The Dinner will be by reservation only and there are a few reservations left, so call for your reservation now! (413) 628-4003

In the article that was in the Valley Advocate, it was reported that the dinner was on Saturday the 7th, but that was an inaccurate report. The accurate report is that it’s on Friday the 6th and will replace our regular Friday night dinner.

We will serve food and recipes—which you know we rarely give out. We will not be giving out the recipe for our pancakes, however, only for food we’re serving at dinner that night.

Hey look! Mary came back and here is her report – with photographs! In her original life, Mary is also a professional photographer.

By Mary Schjeldahl

(c) Mary Schjeldahl

Today I was the harvester of the harvests. I had the lucky job of collecting lovingly grown and raised food from some of our local farmers. I got lost….a lot. But what a beautiful day to be meandering on country roads!

(c) Mary Schjeldahl

I started at Donovan’s potato farm in Hawley (actually Charlemont…first opportunity to get lost – who knew Grout Road becomes Forget Road?) Ivy Donovan helped me narrow down my choices of the many varieties of his organically grown potatoes. We decided on Vikings, an heirloom variety that have a purple-blue-magenta skin, and an absolutely pure white inside. Really nice for mashed potatoes, he said. We picked through some big crates and then he washed them in his machine, uncovering their radiant skins. Like jewels!

(c) Mary Schjeldahl

After consulting with the folks at Greenfield’s Market about local cheeses, I made my way to Diemand Farm in Wendell. This is another one of the well-kept and honorably-run farms that we’re so lucky to have in our area. One of the proprietors, Ann, told me her family has been running the place since the late 1930’s, when her father bought the property. They love raising turkeys, and by the looks of it, the free range turkeys are pretty happy to be raised there.

(c) Mary Schjeldahl

There was more getting lost, which resulted in a visit to Cushman’s Market in North Amherst, where I bought a pencil sharpener in the shape of a dog (no – actually, you put the pencil in his mouth and turn the tail – not what you were thinking). Eventually I ended up at Natural Roots CSA in Conway. One word – bucolic. Owner David left my carrots and parsnips in their deluxe pick-up barn with a cheerful note. As I was leaving I saw him down in the fields driving his horse-drawn cart in the misty late afternoon light.

Tomorrow there will be more harvesting of the harvests – Sangha Farm, Paddy Flat Farm, and other ridiculously splendid places. How lucky are we??!!

(Editor’s Note: I love the picture of Ann and the turkeys—she looks like Maria von Trapp out there! “The hills are alive! With the sound of turkeeeeees . . . .”)

Thursday night dinner will be:

  • Beef Stroganoff (which is made from whole beef.)

Saturday night dinner will be:

  • Haddock with shrimp sauce with Manchego Risoto
  • Vegetable: Local, timely vegetable Manchego Risoto

Speaking of Locally-Grown Food:

You may not have been able to avoid reading about the E-coli-tainted beef that was sold in Western Massachusetts recently. Since we sell only beef from Steady Lane Farm of Ashfield here at Elmer’s, you do not have to run for your lives from here.


We are gearing up for our 5th annual (Elmer’s already has a 5th annual something!) December Craft Show! It is the first weekend in December –Dec 5th and 6th from 10 am -5pm. We have crafters and would like some more! We also have some new vendors who sell locally made foods (bottled or canned—not fresh to eat on site.) We have crafters at Town Hall, at the Inn across the street from Elmer’s and studio shows. We also have an auction! First time for that—with some of the proceeds to benefit the Ashfield Fire Department!

If you are a crafts person, if you are someone making something that people would be interested in buying, or if you have antiques or other cool stuff that you would like to sell through the auction, let me (Nan) know! (For the auction, only a portion goes to the Fire Department; most of it goes back to you.) Write me at and I’ll send you all the official information.

Elmer’s Store | 396 Main St. | Ashfield, MA 01330 | (413) 628-4003



Nan Parati - Elmer's StoreNan Parati

Nan is the proprietor of Elmer’s Store in Ashfield, MA. A New England transplant from the Deep South, Nan shares her southern wit, wisdom and charm every week in her column, “Notes from Nan.” Share dinner with her every Friday at Elmer’s. Menu’s are posted with her column.

One Comment on “Grateful Harvest Dinner in the Hilltowns

  1. The good news is that I found my belt. The bad news is that it was in a box upstairs . . . . which is really weird and I want to know who put it there.

    The other news is that our Harvest dinner this week is not on Saturday, not on Thursday, but IS on FRIDAY night! Why do I make so many stupid mistakes? I think the answer has to do with my belt being in the box upstairs and not behind something downstairs as I was certain it was. Little things grab my head when I’m in a hurry and won’t let go.

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