South Dakota and All Her Charms

When you think of South Dakota, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For many, especially Americans, it’s Mount Rushmore. Today the idea of Mount Rushmore isn’t very popular among the Influencers. Which brings up a whole different conversation – what the heck are Influencers? Oh, but that’s a rank for another day.

South Dakota is more than just a mountain with carvings of a bunch of dead dudes. The state is filled with natural beauty, a rich heritage, some of the nation’s best hunting and fishing, and just an all-around great quality of life. Small towns rule in South Dakota. And I do mean small, as in population of three. There are actually two towns in South Dakota that share that distinction. But then, South Dakota is one of the least populated states in the nation, with plenty of wide open spaces and lots of leg room.

Take a drive along I-90 in South Dakota and you just might do a double-take at the sights along the way. Porter Sculpture Park is the creation of Wayne Porter, an artistic farmer who created masterpieces from old scraps of metal. Amazing what the son of a blacksmith can create.

Along that same route, just 22 miles west of Murdo, is South Dakota’s attic so to speak. It’s a place called 1880 Town. Much of what you see, including entire buildings, have been hauled away from forgotten towns and repurposed to allow visitors a glimpse into life as it once was. What began as a movie set is now a tourist attraction. Some of the buildings survived the dust storms of the 1930s and even have that faint smell of dirt. Many of the structures were built between 1880 and 1920.

Not far from 1880 Town along I-90 you’ll also see a man walking his pet. Nothing unusual there, except both the man and his pet are skeletons – and the pet just happens to be a dinosaur. Yeah, that’s reason enough for a double take.

Another I-90 roadside attraction is Al’s Oasis. Originally opened by Albert and Dena Mueller, German immigrants, Al’s began as a humble grocery store in 1919. Today it is considered a road-side attraction that includes a restaurant serving up the best homemade delights, a clothing and gift shop and much much more. Al’s Oasis is its own unique community.

Not to be forgotten are some of the more famous stops along I-90. Two that I’ve personally visited are Walls Drugs and the Corn Palace.

Most people headed to the Bad Lands National Park or Mount Rushmore make it a point to stop at Wall Drug Store. It’s almost a right of passage in a way. A pharmacist named Ted Hustead purchased the drug store in 1931. As far as Ted was concerned, his business was in the middle of nowhere, in a town that had a population of barely 200. It was hard to earn a living in the middle of nowhere. But all that changed when a newly opened monument just 60 miles to the west began bringing in travelers. Ted’s wife, Dorothy, thought giving free ice water to thirsty travelers headed to Mount Rushmore would bring customers in, and that it did. And the rest is roadside history.

The Corn Palace is just what the name implies. While an actual building, it is adorned with corn and other grains, making it a unique sight indeed. And if you think you have seen the Corn Palace, think again. The murals and artwork change with new designs constructed each year. From 1887 to 1930; at least thirty-four corn palaces were built across the Midwest to promote grain and other crops in the area. Today only Mitchell’s Corn Palace remains intact. Originally built in 1892 to showcase the rich soul of South Dakota, the exterior murals are a celebration of life in America, with everything from Life on the Farm to Everyday Heroes, American Pride and South Dakota Home Grown.

Here’s to South Dakota and all that make her special.

So what does spicy chicken have to do with South Dakota? Nothing – and everything. After all, South Dakota grows a lot of corn. Enough to decorate an entire palace. And what is ground corn? Feed for livestock. Did you know that nearly two-thirds of chicken feed is comprised of corn? Yup. Enjoy!

Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs
1 Lemon
6 boneless Chicken Thighs
1-1/2 tablespoons New Mexican Red Hot Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 teaspoons dried Onion Flakes
1 teaspoon dried Mexican Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
4 Garlic Cloves
6 Flour Tortillas, optional for serving

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

Cut lemon in half, remove seeds. Lay chicken thighs out on a cutting board. Squeeze half of the lemon over the thighs. Turn thighs over, squeeze remaining half of the lemon over the meat. Set thighs aside.

In a small bowl mix red chili powder, cayenne, onion flakes and ginger. Set spices aside. Peel and finely mince garlic; add to the spices. Work about half of the spice mixture into thighs. Flip chicken over, work remaining spice into the meat.

Arrange chicken thighs in the prepared baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in the heated oven for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over, continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until juices run clear.

If desired, warm tortillas to serve along side the spicy thighs. Great with Mexican Rice and Refried Beans for even more heat.

Let all the earth cry out to the Lord with joy

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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