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At Mesa's Edge

At Mesa's Edge 
Cooking and Ranching in Colorado's North Fork Valley
by Eugenia Bone 
Houghton Mifflin, 2004

The "mesa" of this cookbook-memoir is a flat-topped hill overlooking the Smith Fork River in western Colorado, a tributary of the Gunnison River which flows east toward Grand Junction. The small town of Crawford (pop. 366) is situated on this mesa along with the 45-acre ranch the author's husband purchased during a moment of inspiration at the end of a fishing trip.

Magazine food writer Eugenia Bone, a self-satisfied New Yorker, responds to the transplant with aplomb, exploring a vastly changed horizon of local foodstuffs and making acquaintance with the natives at her dinner table. The ranch becomes more than just a summer retreat after the horrors of 9/11 and Bone develops an effection for the place and its restorative powers.

"I think,looking at the vast landscape, that no one can blow up the canyons, or stop the little Smith Fork from contributing to this great natural endeavor," she explains. "The carving will go on forever -- as a valley resident wrote nearly one hundred years ago, 'as long as the sun shines and the water runs downhill.'"

Bones' memoir is followed by more than 103 recipes based on local ingredients like eggplant ("from Mrs. Burritt, who farms outside Hotchkiss") and onion grass ("grows wild in our yard") and pheasant ("from Charlie and Marilee Gilman's Four Directions Farm"). The recipes range from goat cheese and hot pepper appetizers and wild mushroom soup to a poached trout main dish and wine grape tarts for dessert.


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