South Dakota - The Mount Rushmore State
Updated: Aug 31, 2021
Official Tourism Motto “Great Faces Great Places”
Suggested Motto “The Slightly More Popular Dakota!”
Two Truths and a Lie
The state capital, Pierre, is the smallest in the nation with fewer than 15,000 residents. It was never a large city but became increasingly isolated after World War II when the interstate bypassed the capital altogether.
South Dakota is either the 39th or the 40th state to join the Union, no one knows for sure. On Nov. 2, 1889, President Benjamin Harrison shuffled the North and South Dakota papers, then blindly signed them into the union so neither state could claim to be ahead of the other.
In Victorian times, the city of Sioux Falls gained fame as the “Divorce Capital of the Nation.” The Dakota territorial government recognized six grounds for divorce and required only 90 days of residency to establish citizenship. Many wealthy but unhappy couples in the eastern U.S. moved in, split up, and quickly left.
The Recipe - Indigenous Biscotti
Sean Sherman hails from South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. He is a James Beard Award-winning chef and member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He is at the forefront of a movement to restore Native American’s culinary history. He co-authored a fantastic cookbook, “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen,” that relies solely on ingredients native to the Upper Midwest before European settlement. I love this book and knew it would be the basis for South Dakota's cookie.
Sherman shares this bit of wisdom that I wholeheartedly support -- “Dessert at the end of a meal is a European convention. Our ancestors relied on sweet foods for energy; they played an important role in a healthy diet and were not considered indulgences.” Also, the book educates the reader on how to forage, harvest, and source many local ingredients. “Once the pantry is well stocked, improvising dishes and creating your own variations comes easily.” Sean writes. I hoped that would be true for me as I set out to make up a new recipe.
Biscotti is Italian for “twice-baked”. That second bake at a low temperature dries out the cookies, giving them their distinctive texture. This dry, hard texture prevents mold and decay, making them ideal travel food. Italians were not the only ones to figure this out. Hardtack and rusks were popular all over Europe, and possibly the Americas, I am not sure. I am certain the semi-nomadic tribes of the Great Plains were experts at food preservation; so I imagine this biscotti could fit right in with a cache of pemmican or wasna.
I used ingredients recommended by Sherman in a traditional biscotti recipe. Instead of wheat flour, I made a blend of cornflour and cornstarch. I replaced white cane sugar with maple sugar, chicken eggs with duck eggs, and almonds with sunflower seeds. For fruit, I dried my own blueberries. I added a few modern ingredients to help the texture of the dough -- xanthan gum and baking powder.
My first batch looked pretty but tasted just okay. I scaled back on the sugar and seeds, letting the cornflour and dried berries have more of the spotlight. I love it when simple fixes work such wonders. I considered serving these with cedar tea, but my neighbors did not give me permission to chip away at their tree. (Also I had just bought my favorite locally roasted coffee beans) So I paired biscotti and coffee for the perfect elevensies snack.
Want to experience South Dakota for yourself? Then Teresa recommends ...
South Dakota is a perfect place for a road trip. I would recommend camping at Lewis and Clark Lake. I would NOT recommend running along Gavins Point Dam in high summer. My dad insisted it would be fun, but he lied. I had a lot more fun scrambling about Palisades State Park outside of Sioux Falls. Further west, I had the best time camping at Custer State Park in the Black Hills. The hills are actually an isolated mountain range, with beautiful granite spires soaring over evergreen forests and pristine waterways. Bring your camera and some good hiking shoes. It’s a spectacular place.
Time for the whole truth
Pierre is small but not the smallest, Montpelier in Vermont has less than 10,000 people.
(By the way, you can click on any of the 2 truths and a lie statements to visit the source of the trivia)