The Denver International Airport Exhibit - Expanded

Brief exerpts of the stories from the book - Dan and Becca James: The James Ranch

James Ranch
Dan & Becca James with their children & cheese

The James Ranch sits on 450 acres of high altitude irrigated land beyond which are the wide vistas of red mountain tops known as Missionary Ridge. Jersey milk cows peacefully graze the high mountain grasses in the lush Animas Valley and drink from the spring fed mountain ponds. Becca, Dan and their three children are the picture of rosy good health and take the stewardship of their land very seriously. Throughout the interview they comment again and again about how grateful they are to live on such a generous land.

Dan James: Becca and I are one of four families that currently have come home to my family’s 450-acre ranch. The corporate life did not appeal to my Dad. My Mom and Dad knew they wanted to raise a large family in a rural area, so soon after my father and mother were married, they decided they didn’t want to live in California. They had a dream of owning land in the west and as soon as they could, they went looking for it. They bought this land, raised four children, and sent us all off into the world. If we wanted to return to the farm, we were told to find some aspect of farming we wanted to pursue.

We make cheese in batches of 50-150 gallons in a round vat imported from Holland. The wheels are pressed and brined for three to seven days and aged anywhere from two to twenty-four months. The whey is mixed with grain and fed to the pigs, which are also rotated on our lush pastures in the same manner as our cows. We produce our pork without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or antibiotics. Online at: James

Cook pasta in boiling salted water until al denté. You want it slightly undercooked to avoid mushiness in the final product. Melt butter in a large sauce pan. Add flour and cook, stirring frequently for about 3 minutes. Slowly add milk. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally at first and then constantly as it starts to thicken. This sauce will still be rather thin but will thicken more when baked. After the sauce has thickened a bit, add nutmeg, salt, cayenne, and pepper. Remove from heat and add 2/3 of the cheese, reserving 1/3 for the top. Stir until the cheese is melted. Combine the pasta and cheese sauce and pour into a 9x13 pan. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. It should be all bubbly. Turn on the broiler for the last minute or two if the cheese on top did not get as brown and crispy as you like. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes, if you can wait, and then serve.

Becca’s Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 lb. pasta such as Fusilli or Penne
  • 1 to 1.5 pounds of grated cheese, grated
  • ½ cup (1/4 pound) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • ½ to 1 tsp. salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Dash cayenne
  • Pepper to taste