Finding good grub in Mormon redrock country

  • With a Measure of Grace: The Story and Recipes of a Small Town Restaurant

    Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle with Lavinia Spalding. 160 pages, 68 recipes, hardcover $30. Provecho Press, 2004
 

The small towns that border the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah have long steamed with political and cultural conflict. But on the northern edge of the monument, in the tiny town of Boulder, a determined peacemaking effort is under way.

Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle, two young chefs from Flagstaff, Ariz., moved to Boulder in the spring of 2000 to open the Hell’s Backbone Grill, a restaurant supported largely by visitors to the monument. The two friends weren’t sure how they would fit into the conservative, mostly Mormon town, population 180. After all, as they write in their book With a Measure of Grace, "We were women who used bad language in private, were raised in unorthodox families, and had treated ourselves to myriad world experiences."

But Spalding and Castle met their neighbors with friendly tolerance, and in time, found tolerance extended back to them. In 2002, with support from the community, the Hell’s Backbone Grill became the first restaurant in the history of Boulder to receive a liquor license. The restaurant now serves wine and beer but, in deference to the wishes of the town council, no hard liquor.

While Castle and Spalding would, of course, certainly like for you to visit their restaurant, their beautifully produced book is too full of genuine gratitude — for their friends, neighbors, employees, and even their dogs — to feel self-promotional. They celebrate Boulder in all its under-appreciated diversity, and don’t mind confessing to the many unlovely crises that come with running a restaurant. Oh, and the recipes? Chatty and unintimidating, with an emphasis on local and organic and only a few hard-to-find specialty ingredients. Check out the snazzified version of fry sauce (that distinctive ketchup-and-mayonnaise condiment favored by Utahns), and the several tasty variations on cornbread. So good, they just might make you believe in peace in Escalante country.

 

High Country News Classifieds
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...
  • CUSTOMER SERVICE ASSISTANT - (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time Customer Service Assistant, based at...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....
  • COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    Come work alongside everyday Montanans to project our clean air, water, and build thriving communities! Competitive salary, health insurance, pension, generous vacation time and sabbatical....
  • CAMPAIGN MANAGER
    Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA), a nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to protecting, defending and restoring Oregon's high desert, seeks a Campaign Manager to works as...
  • HECHO DEPUTY DIRECTOR
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE, COLUMBIA CASCADES
    The Regional Representative serves as PCTA's primary staff on the ground along the trail working closely with staff, volunteers, and nonprofit and agency partners. This...
  • FINANCE AND OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    The Montana Land Reliance (MLR) seeks a full-time Finance and Operations Director to manage the internal functions of MLR and its nonprofit affiliates. Key areas...
  • DIRECTOR OF CONSERVATION
    The Nature Conservancy is recruiting for a Director of Conservation. Provides strategic leadership and support for all of the Conservancy's conservation work in Arizona. The...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • BIG BASIN SENIOR PROJECT PLANNER - CLIMATE ADAPTATION & RESILIENCE
    Parks California Big Basin Senior Project Planner - Climate Adaptation & Resilience ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND Parks California is a new organization working to ensure that our...
  • SCIENCE PROJECT MANAGER
    About Long Live the Kings (LLTK) Our mission is to restore wild salmon and steelhead and support sustainable fishing in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1986,...
  • NEW BOOK BY AWARD-WINNING WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST, BRUCE SMITH
    In a perilous place at the roof of the world, an orphaned mountain goat is rescued from certain death by a mysterious raven.This middle-grade novel,...
  • MOUNTAIN LOTS FOR SALE
    Multiple lots in gated community only 5 miles from Great Sand Dunes National Park. Seasonal flowing streams. Year round road maintenance.
  • RURAL ACREAGE OUTSIDE SILVER CITY, NM
    Country living just minutes from town! 20 acres with great views makes a perfect spot for your custom home. Nice oaks and juniper. Cassie Carver,...
  • A FIVE STAR FOREST SETTING WITH SECLUSION AND SEPARATENESS
    This home is for a discerning buyer in search of a forest setting of premier seclusion & separateness. Surrounded on all sides by USFS land...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, HIke the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • CAUCASIAN OVCHARKA PUPPIES
    Strong loyal companions. Ready to protect your family and property. Proven against wolves and grizzlies. Imported bloodlines. Well socialized.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!