It’s time for an infusion. An infusion of flavor!

July 1, 2015 Potent Potables  4 comments

I don’t think I’ve ever noted my fascination with infusions over at my home web site at, as it’s not really the thing one often has a chance to bring up.

Years ago, I discovered a Chinese food cookbook called “The China Moon Cookbook” from the restaurant of the same name. As part of cooking with the cookbook, you have to prepare a number of spice blends from hand, as well as a number of specialized oils which you infuse with various flavors. Ever since I’ve thought it fun from time to time to create concoctions such as chili oil, and garlic infused oil for use in cooking.

infusedSeveral weeks back when wandering through World Market in Sioux Falls, I came across a book recommending a different type of infusion (Infused)  – Specifically, an infusion with liquor as the base ins...

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To Eat SPAM or to Spam the Comments? That Is the Question

June 16, 2015 Cheap Eats  2 comments

Image from

By Todd Epp

After having spent the last half hour getting rid of spam comments on this site, my thoughts turn to the original SPAM.

Does anyone still eat SPAM?

In visiting my Dad, we were thinking about lunch. I suggested lunchmeat for sandwiches. He said he had SPAM.

Which begs the question, is SPAM lunchmeat? Is SPAM even food?

SPAM is pretty good. Not good for you—it’s full of fat and sodium—so of course it tastes good.

When I was a kid a long time ago, it seemed like SPAM was more popular than it is now.

Do you still eat SPAM? Let us know your SPAM comments but not your comments that are spam.

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Life Is a Beach–And a Mexican Beer

June 11, 2015 Beer  2 comments

hard rock heaven

I love Mexican beers.

I know, Mexico is known for many things—enchiladas, burritos, great beaches and ancient cultures—but not so much for beer. And I realize that some beer snobs think Mexican beer is literally and figuratively pale.

Maybe it is because of the warm climate, the more laid back attitude and availability of limes, but lighter beers are exactly perfect for Mexico.

Many of you have drunk Corona, which seems to be the most popular Mexican beer in the United States. And again, the snobs tell you it isn’t even the best Mexican beer. And that may be true. But what is true about Corona—and Tecate, Sol and Dos Equus–is that they light, sparkling and refreshing.

When it is hot and you’re in the sun (or under a cabana on the beach near the ocean), do you want some bitter IPA o...

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Country Ribs – a great ‘meat candy’ alternative to grilling burgers.

June 8, 2015 BBQ, Grilling, and Smoking meat  No comments

IMG_1478I was in HyVee this morning, picking up a few things for Breakfast, and wondering “what on earth can I get away with throwing at the hordes of hungry children in my house for dinner tonight?”

They’ve been hit with chicken (the best bargain for protein lately at .99 to 1.50 a pound), and hamburger (not such a bargain at 3.50 or more for an 80/20 mix, but a staple). And then I came across the Pork Country ribs at $.2.57 a pound.

They’ve been cheaper, and you can generally get a whole pork loin at 1.89 a pound.  But, still, it’s not an awful price, and inexpensive in comparison to hamburger.  And they’re a treat given the amazing things my wife does to them.

What exactly is a “country rib?” If you look at the picture, in many instances, the country rib cut differs little from a pork chop.


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At the Texas Roadhouse. Bring me the beef, and thanks for the good service!

June 4, 2015 Uncategorized  No comments


Because I needed to burn some time before the Eagles concert I’m attending tonight, I was able to talk my wife into a treat – the Texas Roadhouse!

And what they do well here is beef.

Yes, it’s a chain. But, if I’m in Sioux Falls, I know it’s a particularly well run chain. The service has always been good, and I have never, ever been disappointed in the food.

And tonight is no exception.

Starting off with a Cesar’s salad, unlike many South Dakota steak houses, it’s freshly tossed, not stacked up in a refrigerator until needed:

We started the meal with a basket of bread, and basket 2 is on the way, as we await the main event.

I’m taking on the 12oz New York Strip,

while my wife has the 12oz ribeye.

She prefers a Medium Rare (warm red center) while I like mine a straight medium (hot...

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A Review: Legion Lake Lodge Restaurant

June 1, 2015 Restaurant Reviews  No comments

legion-lake-lodge-logoBy Todd Epp

Saturday night, a large group of us ate at the Legion Lake Lodge restaurant in Custer State Park. Here’s my review.

Ambiance: A

It’s the Black Hills, for goodness sake! Rustic but clean, on the shores of Legion Lake.

Service: A

With over 20 people in our group, we put the waitstaff through their paces, particularly when about 2/3 were teenage boys. The staff was courteous, prompt and good natured.

Main Course: C+

Most of the main dishes are simple and typical South Dakota cafe food: Hot beef or hot turkey sandwiches hamburgers, fried trout, etc. I had the chicken fried buffalo steak, mashed potatoes and gravy and cooked, sliced carrots.

I like bison and I also know it can be tougher than beef. But my bison steak was very tough though tasty...

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DakotaFoodie’s Own “Ribfest”: Dry or Wet? Beef or Pork?

May 28, 2015 BBQ, Grilling, and Smoking meat  No comments

ribfestlogoBy Todd Epp

With Ribest starting today and running through Sunday in Sioux Falls, I’ll leave it to others whether local rib places should be allowed to participate.

OK, yes, I think they should have, but that meat wagon has driven off.

My questions are more basic. What are the better ribs–beef or pork? What’s the better method? Dry rubbed or slathered in sauce?

Having lived in Topeka, Kansas and having made many trips to Kansas City, my personal preference runs to pork and sauce. I find the pork ribs leaner and I love the selection of BBQ sauces from different BBQ joints. My favorite is Gates (“Hi! Can I help you?” they scream at you as you try to make up your mind.) It’s spicy and vinegary and I can put on as much or as little as I like.

I also like Famous Dave’s BBQ sauces and I like th...

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Five Uniquely South Dakota Foods: Do You Know of More?

May 27, 2015 South Dakota Cuisine  2 comments

Photo by George Hodan at

Photo by George Hodan at

By Todd Epp

Is there a uniquely South Dakota cuisine?

I’m not sure there is, but here are five items that I think are uniquely South Dakotan, or at least Upper Midwestern. I’ve only seen them in this region or if I’ve been somewhere else and asked for them, gotten only blank stares. See Tomato Beer.

  1. Tomato Beer—Beer purists don’t think you should put anything in beer. Fruiting the beer can have your man card rescinded in some places. But I’ve only seen tomato beer in South Dakota. Take a cheap beer, add tomato juice and if you’re fancy, green olives, and you have what I consider a nectar of the gods. Just don’t expect most bartenders outside of South Dakota to know what it is or to make it for you.
  2. Indian Fry Bread—...
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Is it really a ‘Sioux Falls Rib Fest’ if they don’t let the locals compete this weekend?

May 27, 2015 Uncategorized  3 comments

I just ran across this article again tonight from March in the Argus Leader. Where a dirty little secret of the local rib event taking place this weekend was exposed to the world – that local talent isn’t welcome:

Mark Lambert found out recently that his bid to add Rowdy Hog Smokin’ BBQ to the lineup at this year’s RibFest was rejected by SMG Management, just as it had in the past.

Lambert was told that the eight slots are full, mostly with the same national competitors that have been there for years.

“You would like to think Sioux Falls would want to support local businesses, but that’s not the case,” Lambert said. “I would like to know why they can’t look at adding a local vendor.”


Managers say the festival isn’t meant to showcase local barbecue.

The festival does offer spots for lo...

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Take a Safari to a Dollar Store’s “Land of Misfit Foods”

May 26, 2015 Uncategorized  2 comments

Photo by George Hodan at

Photo by George Hodan at

By Todd Epp

Please don’t take this as snobbery. I go to dollar stores because, well, everything is a dollar and some things really are a good value, like computer cables.

But I have a secret guilty pleasure about dollar stores: the food aisles.

There are brands there that you’ve heard about—Kraft, Coca Cola, Keebler, etc. But what I find fascinating are the brands I haven’t heard of.

It’s the “Land of Misfit Foods.” It’s like they’re from an episode of a Prairie Home Companion if it were produced in Lithuania.

Things like “Bob’s Pretty Good Tuna” and “Sally’s Mostly Hot Sauce.”

OK, I exaggerate.

But if you look on the labels—I dare you!—you’ll see many of the items from the “Land of Misfit Foods” are fro...

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