How do you burn broccoli at high altitude or make “perfect” banana bread at 8,000 feet?

Well, you will have to ask a fourth grader or you could purchase “Namaste: A Cookbook Honoring Our Mountain Communities,” a new local offering that has the burnt broccoli recipe, the banana bread recipe, tons of Nepali dishes and fun facts about Grand County. The book is available at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and Naked Aspen in Fraser.

The cookbook was assembled by fourth graders from Fraser Valley Elementary. Proceeds benefit Tashi and Lhakpa Sherpa and their efforts to rebuild their lodge in Nepal, which burned down last year. The family lives part time in the Fraser Valley selling jewelry from Nepal.

Sure you probably know that the columbine is the official state flower but do you know why? According to these smarty pants fourth graders the blue represents the big sky, the white pedals stand for snow and the yellow represents the gold in them thar’ hills. News to me.

OK, what about Granby? They say that Granby, founded in 1904 was once known as the “dude ranch of the world.” Like all the other towns here in the valley I’m pretty sure that the dudes outnumber the pretty ladies. For perspective, Granby had 30 people, mostly dudes, living in it in 1910. It could be argued that Granby is a lot more exciting now that the population has topped 1,916 people, according to 2016 census figures.

And Fraser? The kids point out that Doc Susie was the first doctor in Fraser. She got to town in 1907 and her waiting room included both horses and loggers. According to Forbes, logging is the second-most dangerous occupation on earth, right behind crab and crustacean fishing. Fraser was named after Reuben Frazer, a pioneer settler that may have been treated after a horse at Doc Susie’s place. Rueben saw plenty of logs in the Fraser Valley but he probably never ate a crab or crustacean.

The Grand County facts are just icing on the cake.There are Nepal facts in this page turner, too. Everyone knows about Mt. Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. Standing at 29,035 feet it has not crumbled despite the crushing rush of ant-like humans desperately hurrying to prove something to someone or just to climbing it because it’s there.

I never heard of Lhotse, the fourth tallest mountain on earth. Even though it will never have the fame of Everest, Lhotse’s got to feel pretty big at 27,940 feet. You may be in great shape, but I will need many canisters of oxygen just to stand at that elevation. And there’s not enough Burt’s Bees in the world to cover my tender, ginger lips in that wind and thin, dry air.

It’s pretty nifty that the Fraser Valley has connections with the Sherpa family. The students have a special connection. Sir Edward School in the Khumbu region of Nepal is a sister school to Fraser Valley Elementary. The kids exchange letters across the continents and cultures. Next thing you know Ms. Finnigan, Ms. Rimmer and Karma Sherpa will be leading the class to the top of Lhotse or Everest after visiting the rebuilt lodge.

What’s heartwarming is is that our local students have undertaken such a generous and philanthropic effort on the behalf of others. This cookbook took time and coordination and craft and a lot of dessert tasting to get off the ground.

I also appreciate the fact that the recipes don’t assume that you are already a three-star Michelin chef. They cover the basics, including how to fix rice, a foundation of the Hindu diet. (If you are going to make ‘Dal Bhat’ then you’d better have the rice part down).

Besides the history, the facts and the exotic recipes, the Namaste cookbook has favorite formulas from Fraser Valley moms and families, from appetizers to desserts. Looking into these simple local recipes is like looking at a snapshot of local life as it is right here, right now. Until I started reading the book I had completely forgotten about how to make Raspberry Vanilla Jello Salad. Thanks to Alondra Terrazas it will be in the fridge soon.

Steve Skinner likes to try new things. Reach him at