At Mesa's Edge: Cooking and Ranching in Colorado's North Fork Valley

At Mesa's Edge: Cooking and Ranching in Colorado's North Fork Valley

by Eugenia Bone


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780803271494
Publisher: UNP - Bison Books
Publication date: 10/01/2012
Pages: 376
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Eugenia Bone is the author of Mycophilia: New Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms, Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods, and Italian Family Dining, written with her father, Edward Giobbi. She also writes a blog for the Denver Post about preserving foods, called Well Preserved.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: The North Fork Valley

I agreed to buy our forty-five-acre ranch sight unseen after my husband, Kevin, came back from a fishing trip to Colorado’s North Fork Valley. It had been coming on for a few years: while I was perfectly happy with our life in New York City and the occasional trip abroad, Kevin suffered from a kind of yearning without name, a desire he couldn’t articulate, a lack of vigor and contentment that would have been mopey in a lesser man. There was, quite simply, an empty place in him that was not being filled: not by our marriage, not by our children—Carson, a girl, who was seven, and Mo, a boy, who was five—not by his work as an architect and a professor. I signed the mortgage papers the same way I would sign a release for Kevin to have necessary surgery: it had to be done.

The North Fork Valley lies on the western side of the Rocky Mountains due west of Colorado Springs. Its streams drain the Grand Mesa, the Ragged Mountains, and the West Elk mountain range into the Gunnison River. (The Gunnison is a major tributary of the Colorado River.) The valley runs from east to west, with the towns of Delta, Hotchkiss, and Paonia situated in fertile bottomlands 5,000 to 6,300 feet above sea level. Crawford, where our ranch is located, lies on a mesa above the Smith Fork River, another of the Gunnison’s feeder streams.
The entire valley is surrounded by public lands. To the southwest is the Gunnison National Forest, which is about the size of Delaware. To the north is the Grand Mesa National Forest, the largest flat-topped mountain in the world. To the southwest is the Uncompahgre (UN-com-pa-GRAY) National Forest, and directly south, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.
It sounded like scenic beauty abounded, but Kevin didn’t let me see the place for six months. When we talked on the phone, he alluded to a few problems: exploded toilets, big-rig oil spills, and mounds of rotting carcasses left over from years of poaching. He mentioned the skunks living under the house and the pack rats living in the ceiling. I knew there were plenty of other problems, too, but Kevin didn’t share them all with me. He was, in fact, rather evasive on the subject of the ranch’s condition. No matter: I was in denial and didn’t ask too many questions.
As work on the ranch progressed, I started to worry about this mysterious place I would have to call home. I had never been west of the Rockies, unless you count a short, wild trip to Los Angeles, which I only vaguely remember. I was worried that my children would be run down by mountain lions, mauled by grizzly bears, surprised by rattlers. Was I going to be stranded, miles from hospitals, firehouses, and the Gap? And what would I do for company? What, after all, did I have in common with cattlemen? What was an Italian girl like me going to eat? There was only one way to find out. And so we went west.

Copyright © 2004 by Eugenia Bone. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

Table of Contents

I. At Mesa's Edge
Introduction: The North Fork Valley
1. Thistles and Cockleburs
2. The Logic of Water
3. Visitors
4. Vermin and Critters
5. Local Characters
6. Roundup
7. Rods and Reels
8. Gardens on the Mesa
9. Bearing Fruit
10. At Mesa's Edge
II The Recipes
Main Dishes
Breakfast and Brunch
Canning and Preserving
High-Altitude Conversions
Sources: A Selection of Local Producers

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