Archive for the ‘South Dakota’ Category

Have you ever driven down the interstate, passed a vehicle and looked over and wondered how in the world a toddler is driving the car next to you?

kids in cozy coupe

Perhaps toddler is an exaggeration. But it’s possible the young driver’s parent is back at home (tracking them at every mile marker on Find My iPhone), frenetically doing laundry and scrubbing floors with a toothbrush to keep their mind off the fact they just let their teenager take the car 53 miles down Interstate-29—alone for the first time.

And in the parent’s mind, they can’t shake the terrifying feeling like they’ve just let their toddler run with scissors across a busy intersection, street covered in glassy ice, in an area with frequent DWI and distracted driving crashes.

Cozy Coupe

I know why we have fear like this. It’s not because we don’t trust our kids or feel like we haven’t prepared them. But we know life happens and in the middle of our routine, daily lives, people die. And it seems like barreling down the interstate at 80 mph opens the door to tragedy, because let’s face it, you and I both know there are idiot drivers out there who aren’t paying attention to anything but Snapchat stories of people they don’t know or the slimy lettuce that just fell out of their taco onto the floor.

Little Tikes

But if we look at it from our kids’ point of views, they just want freedom. The day after I rode with my teenager on the interstate for the first time, author and 12-year-old Minnesota blogger (That is Great!) Oscar Wolfe published Great Survey: Parents Give Us Freedom! and although it didn’t ease my vehicular fears, it reminded me that I’m not the only person in this decision. Especially at the age of 17 and having driven for almost two years, my daughter deserved to have me listen to her reasoning about why she thought it was OK for her to drive on I-29 alone.

We had a good conversation and she has since then driven a few times alone to Sioux Falls on the interstate and she does just fine. As parents, it’s hard to look at our young adult children and see young adults rather than babies. We still see the kid who rode on top of the Cozy Coupe while her brother was driving.

cozy coupe

But if I take another look, she was wearing a bike helmet so even at the age of four she inherently practiced road safety in the garage.

And yes, my floors are spotless and I still track her at every mile marker.

Sweet freedom wishes,


I also love Oscar’s follow-up article, How Parents Make the Rules. Often times, kids don’t know why we make the decisions we do about their freedoms. It usually has nothing to do with us trusting or not trusting our kids. And what matters most to us in this world is keeping them safe and alive.


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What are you doing for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day? If you are hosting or attending a party or nursing a hangover while watching football, impress the pants off your guests with the perfect I’m-mingling-holding-a-craft-beer-appetizer—savory cheesecake in tiny Mason jars.

I concocted this recipe to honor farming in South Dakota. Unlike traditional dessert cheesecake, this smoky cheesecake is full of bacon and Gouda and Gruyere cheese and is served with salty crackers.

smoky bacon cheesecake

For the recipe, read Perfect Appetizer for your Pigskin Party: Smoky Bacon Cheesecake with Gouda and Gruyere on Hungry for Truth’s website.

smoky bacon cheesecake

About Hungry for Truth: “Hungry for Truth” is a new initiative from South Dakota Soybean designed to open discussions about food between South Dakotans and the farmers who grow it. We’re putting it all on the table to have open, honest conversations about how our food is raised and its safety.

The opinion written is my own and I was not compensated for this post. I just happen to like farmers. And bacon. And cheese.

Savory swine wishes,


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It’s tradition for me to make deviled eggs for the Fourth of July but it’s not about picnics, campgrounds, or family reunions. In our family, it’s about fireworks.

deviled eggs

I pack up smoky deviled eggs flecked with bacon and trek across the border—the Minnesota and South Dakota border on U.S. Highway 14—where for a week and a half, my sister Kalli runs her in-law family fireworks store on the edge of the state line rest area.

fireworks semi sign

She is a South Dakota resident and I live a few miles into the Land of 10,000 Lakes & 1 Trillion Mosquitoes so we are practically neighbors for nine days! (South Dakota residents can buy fireworks in the state between June 27 and July 5, visitors can buy any time.)

SD sign and fireworks flags

She runs the store during the days and her friend Barry works at night and he stays overnight in a camper to guard the place. He usually texts me on June 27  to remind me that he is looking forward to my deviled eggs. And within a few days, I show up with the smoky little devils.

fireworks store

And because of it, there are two fireworks named after me. (OK, not really.)

sweets firework

Sweet and stressed out. I guess those could be named after a lot people I know.

stressed out firework

(As you can see, she runs an orderly ship around there.)

fireworks store inside

What is a Fourth of July food tradition in your family?

Deviled Eggs

hard-boiled eggs



Worcestershire sauce

dash of liquid smoke

onion salt

garlic powder

dried bacon and onion seasoning (I use Tastefully Simple Bacon Bacon; you could use bacon bits and dried onion flakes.)


  1. Peel the eggs. Discard the shells or use them in your garden.
  2. Slice eggs in half lengthwise with a sharp knife.
  3. Pop the yolks into a bowl and set the whites in a container.
  4. Mash up the yolks with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients to taste and desired consistency.
  5. Scoop the yolk mixture into the egg whites with a spoon or use a bag to pipe it in. I use my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorator with the large star tip so the bacon bits don’t get stuck.
  6. Sprinkle with a few bits of Bacon Bacon.
  7. Cover and store in refrigerator for a few days.

Sweet and smoky wishes,


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Other than South Dakota Magazine, the only magazines you’ll find falling off my office shelves, shoved into my purse, and untidily stacked on my coffee table, nightstand, desk, kitchen table, and office floor are food magazines. The competition for top-of-pile is harsh but with its sixth issue hot like bacon off the press, Wholesome, South Dakota’s premier food magazine, has quickly taken up prime real estate in my home.

Wholesome May June 2014

The July/August edition hit the stands of our favorite local spots this week and it’s jam packed with recipes using blueberries and ingredients from our bountiful garden harvest and farmers markets. If you can’t get your hands on a copy, you can flip through it here and past issues online or you can subscribe to the magazine and have it mailed to your home.

The May/June edition of Wholesome (pictured above) gets you all set for summer gardening, with a few delightful recipes for your strawberry harvest. I have a particular fondness for the Italian Tuxedo Trifle on page 55. It’s a family favorite.

Get more good stuff from Wholesome on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Sweet summer wishes!


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There’s no name swapping when it comes to matters of the loose meat sandwich. Call them what you will – BBQs, sloppy Joes, taverns, loose meat sandwiches –loyalty to one over the rest is likely a reflection of your childhood days spent at church basement potlucks, drive-in cafés, and birthday parties where the main dish was served from a slow cooker. But it really comes down to the region where you grew up.

To add to the controversial list of loose meat sandwiches, I used tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and beer to create a tangy, hearty meat sauce meant for a bun. So is born, and will forever be known from my tiny southwest corner of Minnesota – the BeerBQ Joe.

BeerBQ Joe Taverns - BBQs with beer

Here’s my (Eastern South Dakota roots) take on the meaty sandwiches:

BBQs – this is what we grew up with my mom making. We still say, “I’ll make the BBQs,” for a party. Mysteriously, there isn’t any BBQ sauce in the recipe. Just tomato sauce or soup and ketchup. Catsup? That’s another story.

Sloppy Joes – I’m still afraid this might imply Manwiches, which remind me of “those” kids whose moms made these for birthday parties and it almost always meant there were green flecks in my meat. And the funny dads stuck Cheetos in their ears.

Taverns – I had never heard of taverns until about four years ago when someone at work mentioned them. She grew up in Beresford, S.D. That’s only 89 miles south on I-29 from where I grew up. But…it’s only 46 miles from Yankton, S.D. which according to South Dakota Magazine’s Laura Johnson, proper taverns ought not include anything from a tomato. You must read her article, “The Humble Tavern” and all the comments that follow to get to the heart of people’s steadfast beliefs about taverns. A recipe and story about taverns on Food.com seem to corroborate a comment made by Julie Simpson in Laura’s tavern story – Ye Olde Tavern in Sioux City, Iowa just might be the birth place of taverns in the early 50s.

Loose meats – I just figured these were sandwiches with cooked ground beef and onions and seasonings. Or just deli meat sandwiches. I didn’t really know.

BeerBQ Joes

Make 12 servings (recipe can easily be halved or doubled) 

2 lbs (85-90% lean) ground beef

1/2 cup diced onion

1 garlic clove, minced (or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)

1 cup (8 ounces) BBQ sauce (use a spicy sauce for more heat)

1 cup (8-ounce can) tomato sauce

2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

8 ounces dark beer (I use Shiner Bock, just like in my Once a Month Beer Chili Spaghetti)

Buns or garlic toast, cheese slices, dill pickles

In a medium pan, brown ground beef with onions and garlic until the meat is cooked through, breaking meat into pieces. Drain the grease. Add the next 7 ingredients (BBQ sauce through the pepper), stirring to combine. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.

Pour in beer. Stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Serve on buns, sandwich bread, pretzel rolls, toasted garlic bread, pita bread, etc. Top with cheese and pickles.

Cover leftover BeerBQ tightly and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.


What’s perfect for dessert? Peanut Butter Pie.

peanut butter pie for mikey

Where do your loyalties lie? BBQs? Taverns? Sloppy Joes? Loose meats? BeerBQ Joes?

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Small-town bakeries are as scarce as T.V. repairmen and seamstresses, yet situated on the Minnesota and South Dakota border is a place where the coffee’s on and the glass cases are filled with sweets and doughnuts sure to evoke nostalgic smiles.

Hendricks Hometown Bakery Minnesota

Where the wire shelves are stacked with bread as fresh as teenage boys on prom night.

Todays bread Hendricks Hometown Bakery Minnesota

Step into the Hendricks Hometown Bakery on South Main of this one-horse town, population 699. (They have almost half as many Facebook fans – let’s like them so much that their online population is more than 699.) And say hi to their sweet-as-pie manager, Brenda.

bread rack Hendricks Hometown Bakery Minnesota

Immediately to your right are bags of soft, homemade breads, buns, and rolls. Nestled next in line is a gleaming case of cookies, bars, brownies, and muffins that seem to have been pulled from your grandma’s brown electric oven. To your left is a little rack of discounted items.

bakery case Hendricks Hometown Bakery Minnesota

No high-cost computer generated signs here. Only handwritten cards are needed to help you make the decision about what gets placed in your white bakery sack.

Gold Bricks Hendricks Hometown Bakery Minnesota

Cornered between the cash register counter and the coffee station is the doughnut case filled with sticky, caramely, frosted, sugared, and sprinkled gems.

doughnut case Hendricks Hometown Bakery Minnesota

The white bag I carried out had a few of the most delicious glazed blueberry cake doughnuts I’ve ever eaten. I want to go back and get more. Every single weekend.

blueberry doughnut from Hendricks Hometown Bakery Minnesota

The bakery has shared café-style seating so if you have time, soak up the sweet smell of the warm ovens and enjoy a treat before you hit the road. Hendricks is only three miles north of MN-19 on MN-271. While you’re in the area, take a spin around the border sharing Lake Hendricks and the Hendricks Golf Club. Then get back on the road and stop for shopping at The Gift in Ivanhoe. (Read Off the highway and into The Gift to see why you may want to save the donuts for later.)

Farmers Creamery Co Hendricks Minnesota

At the end of Main Street is a building I’d like to move to our acreage and transform into our house. When you go to the bakery, come back and tell me what you enjoyed most. Happy bakery road trip!

Hendricks Hometown Bakery is located at 108 South Main in Hendricks, Minnesota. Their phone number is 507-275-4010. Hours are Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 7 a.m. to 12 p.m.

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December is coming to an end and South Dakota Magazine will remove my favorite issue from the shelves, soon restocking and mailing the January/February edition. More than 45,000 subscribers will toss the holiday copy onto a towering stack of magazines or they’ll donate it to a local library. (Some might even throw it in the recycling bin. GAK!)

magazine layout

Although I didn’t frame it, the November/December issue of South Dakota Magazine will be my most treasured because it’s the first publication that printed my writing and my photos. The people who publish it are truly devoted to the history and future of my home state of South Dakota. They are storytellers and photographers – they are my kindred spirits. And more personally, I am honored to share a family recipe and a story about my Grandma Janet.

grandmas story

White Cookie Tradition
(Slightly extended version)

My grandma Janet has arrived at Christmas dinners carrying a tall plastic bucket delicately packed with thin, white cookies twinkling of fine sugar for as long as we can remember.

grandmas white cookies ©Staci Perry 2013

It wasn’t until a few years ago that we allowed ourselves to accept that grandma, who turned 87 in October, would not be the white cookie matriarch forever. She happily shared the recipe with us, which is particularly light on instruction, and said, “I don’t do anything special to them.” I knew it was time for me to learn how to make her signature cookies.

recipe card ©Staci Perry 2013

Shortly after she married my grandpa Elroy in 1945, grandma purchased a hefty Sunbeam Mixmaster electric mixer from a store in a town near their farm. She thinks they got it from Hanson’s Hardware in Astoria, S.D., which is also where they bought the only toaster her and grandpa ever owned.

The day grandma taught me how to make her white cookies, she pulled the faded rooster terry cloth cover off the mixer, releasing a flood of sweet memories into the kitchen. It was like peeling back the dusty cover on a hot rod after countless years in storage.

grandmas mixer ©Staci Perry 2013

She chuckled a little when I expressed amazement that with all the baking she has done in her lifetime it is the only electric mixer she’s ever used.

“I was happy when I got it because I did a lot of beating by hand,” she laughed.

Grandma almost crawled into the cupboard to unearth her favorite cookie sheet. “They don’t make them like this anymore and it’s the only one I have,” she told me as she handed me the heavy piece of stainless steel. She won the pan, made by Clydeware Manufacturing Company in Chicago, Ill., at a home party in the early 1950s.

grandma with cookie sheet ©Staci Perry 2013

As we baked that day, I pictured grandpa, with his hands the size of Little League gloves, grabbing a handful of grandma’s white cookies, his long legs pulling up a chair at the kitchen table, steeping the crispy round cookies into his steaming coffee until soggy crumbs floated to the top of the cup. It was one of his favorite cookies.

It’s no surprise – his mother, Ruth Moe, is the one who gave the white cookie recipe to his lovely bride. His father, Edwin Moe, made the richly marbled apple wood rolling-pin that grandma still uses.

rolling pin ©Staci Perry 2013

After almost 70 years of warmly saturating her home with the sweet scent of homemade goodies, grandma’s baking sheets have become almost too heavy for one oven mitt to hold, the dough is getting harder for aged hands to stir, and her kitchen counters have mysteriously gotten taller.

Although my first crack at baking grandma’s cookies taught me that it will take practice before they look perfect like hers, my kids devoured them when I got home. And grandma asked me to come back and make them again because she’d like to have more around. To me, that’s what baking and sharing is all about.

Now it’s my turn to give grandma a tall, plastic bucket overflowing with family tradition and sweet memories that will spread farther than a handful of flour tossed into the South Dakota wind.

Grandma Janet’s White Sugar Cookies

2 cups white sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening (NOT butter-flavored)

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sour cream, room temperature

1 teaspoon baking soda

6 ½ cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

White sugar to sprinkle on top of the cookies

Flour for rolling out the cookies

Prep work: Bring the eggs to room temperature, approximately 30 minutes. At the same time, measure 1 cup of sour cream into a medium bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of baking soda. The sour cream will begin to swell as the soda dissolves. Let set while the eggs are coming to room temperature.

Make the dough:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat white sugar and shortening together until creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, vigorously stir eggs with a table fork or small whisk until well beaten. Add to the sugar mixture and beat on medium-high until combined.
  3. Spoon sour cream into the batter and pour in the teaspoon of vanilla. Beat on medium-high for 3 minutes, turning off the mixer a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Into a separate large bowl, dump 6 ½ cups of flour and 1 teaspoon of baking powder, stirring together so the powder is dispersed throughout. Add the flour to the cookie batter 1 cup at a time, beating on medium-low speed after each addition until all the flour is incorporated and the dough is stiff. If it’s not firming up, sprinkle in more flour until stiff. Depending on how powerful your electric mixer is, you may need a thick wooden or heavy metal spoon to stir in the last few cups of flour by hand.
  5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight. The batter is ready when it’s firm and doesn’t stick on your finger. If the dough still seems sticky after refrigerating, stir in a little more flour.

Roll out and bake cookies: Preheat oven to 350˚. Grab a cooling rack, rolling-pin, two cookie sheets, and two spatulas (metal works best).

  1. On a heavily floured surface, roll a huge handful of cookie dough into a flattened 1/8-inch thick sheet, dusting with flour to keep it from sticking to the rolling-pin or counter as you rotate the dough.
  2. Cut the cookies using a lightly floured 2 or 3-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, turning the cutter slightly as you lift it off the dough. Slide a lightly floured spatula under each cookie to ease it from the surface and transfer it to a cookie sheet, lining cookies 1 inch part. (If the cookie sticks to the counter, there wasn’t enough flour on the rolling surface so add more next round.)
  3. Scatter a generous amount of sugar onto the tops of the cookies.
  4. Bake 7-8 minutes. The cookies go from white to golden brown in a matter of seconds so watch closely in the last minute. The whiter the cookies, the softer they are in the middle. For a crisper cookie perfect for coffee dunking, bake 8-10 minutes removing from oven as they turn a darker shade of brown.
  5. Transfer to cooling rack. Let cool completely before stacking cookies in an airtight container, where cookies will keep nicely for at least three weeks.
  6. Repeat in batches until the dough is gone. Makes approximately 7 dozen cookies, give or take the few you eat along the way.

If you really want to get your hands on this issue, it will probably be on the shelves for another week or so. You can follow South Dakota Magazine on Facebook and Twitter. And join me and 45,000 others who subscribe to the magazine.

Maybe I’ll get to share your story next…

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