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05 2017

Dining In and Out: Pappy’s the Original

One young foodie explores the local restaurant scene, bringing quality cuisine into your kitchen, sans doggie bag.

By Kaylyn Deiter

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Dining Out

Housed alongside a bank in a modern brick building called The Plaza downtown, Pappy’s the Original is a refreshing take on the classic, homegrown coffee shop.

Owned by husband and wife team, Chris and Jessica Pappas, Pappy’s is a shop that serves up traditional staples like pizza, breakfast sandwiches and smoothies all made in-house. But that commitment to tradition isn’t to say that Pappy’s is stuck in the past.

What the owners call the “ultimate Greek yogurt bar” is the centerpiece of the eatery, featuring a plethora of Greek yogurt parfaits perfect for those with a sweet tooth or customers who crave something a bit more savory. High-top tables dot the interior, while a wall of windows and light up letters that spell out “Pappy’s” give one of Sioux Falls’ newest coffee shops a big city vibe.

“The owners really want to give people a coffee shop with healthy food options,” general manager Ryan Birckner said. “We serve a little bit of everything here, from pizza and smoothies to yogurt and salads, plus breakfast all day long.”

Pappy’s is a bit different than your typical coffee shop though, and for this downtown spot that’s not a bad thing. Patrons gravitate toward Greek yogurt and breakfast sandwiches during the early morning hours, while lunch can produce a crowd craving Pappy’s pizzas, salads and wraps. I’ve found myself hanging out there in the late afternoon, sipping on an Almond Be Joyful smoothie in the presence of other patrons hidden behind laptops and buried in books.

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And that’s how Pappy’s is able to stand out in a city filled with coffee shops, bars and restaurants—it dares to do things differently. Pappy’s isn’t completely committed to coffee, doesn’t advertise an expansive beverage list or serve course upon course of dinner entrees, but that’s where Pappy’s shines, it’s an eclectic mix of the best of all three.

“We really appreciate everyone who comes in here and we want them to feel that way,” Brickner said. “Essentially we just want people to leave happy and feel special.”

Three reasons to eat at Pappy’s:

  1. Delicious smoothies
  2. Light and healthy breakfast options
  3. Plenty of outlets for those doing homework

Dining In

Taking that Pappy’s breakfast home is as easy as making your own granola and adding in some Greek yogurt and seasonal fruit. Spice things up by enjoying your treat out of a mason jar and you’ve got one cute and healthy start to the day.

Ingredients:

  • granola:
    • ¼ cup water
    • ¾ cup brown sugar
    • ½ cup butter
    • ¼ cup honey
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 cups oatmeal
    • ½ wheat germ
    • 1 cup slivered almonds
    • 1 cup or more raisins
    • 1 cup flaked coconut (optional)
    • 1 cup salted peanuts
    • 1 cup peeled sunflower seeds
  • Parfait:
    • Bananas
    • Vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
    • Blueberries

Instructions:

  1. Microwave first 6 ingredients for 5 minutes, stirring often
  2. Pour liquid ingredients over dry ingredients and microwave all together for 9 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes (add raisins in only during the last 3 minutes)
  3. Spread mixture out on wax paper or tinfoil to cool
  4. After granola has cooled, layer yogurt, granola and fruit in a dish of your choice

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Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter

This parfait was light and refreshing, just what I needed after a day spent outdoors. Eat it as a snack with fruit, or sub in some strawberries and chocolate and you’re good to go for dessert.

Three reasons to enjoy Pappy’s at home:

  1. Homemade granola makes a quick and healthy snack
  2. Mix it up with different fruits and flavors
  3. This recipe makes a large batch, keeping you in granola for a week at least

Pappy’s isn’t just another Sioux Falls coffee shop—with its extensive menu, traditional Greek yogurt and South Dakota brewed coffee, this is one downtown spot you won’t want to pass up. Take that Pappy’s spirit home with our simple granola recipe and enjoy parfaits from the comfort of your couch.

 

Related:

Dining In and Out: Crawford’s Bar & Grill

Dining In and Out: Crave

Dining In and Out: Oh My Cupcakes

Dining In and Out: Fiero Pizza

Dining In and Out: Phillips Avenue Diner

Dining In and Out: Mama’s Ladas

Dining In and Out: Ode to Food and Drinks

Web Extra: Ode’s Dirty Arnold

Meet the Interns Kaylyn Deiter 
 

05 2017

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2006

By Sean Calhoun

While I’ve covered a lot of different genres on this blog, one that I’ve avoided up to this point is country music (partly because I was interested in other bands, and partly because I’ve never been a country fan). That changes this week, as I kick off my 2006 entry with…

Me And My Gang – Rascal Flatts

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I haven’t regularly listened to country music since elementary school. Even then, it wasn’t a conscious choice – my bus driver would always have the radio tuned to what was then KTWB 101.9 Sioux Falls, so that’s what I heard. Between those bus rides and the release of Disney’s Cars in 2006, I remember hearing a lot of Rascal Flatts over my last couple of years of elementary school.

Specifically, I heard “What Hurts The Most” – over and over and over again. It was an absolute smash hit on country radio upon the release of this album. I think that, at least for a while, I was a fan of the song. It’s got a reasonably heartfelt vocal performance and it’s really not that bad musically.

Even though I’m not a country music fan, I was rather excited to take a trip down memory lane with this particular album – the title track is another one that I heard several times on the way to and from school, and a couple of other tracks jogged my memory too. Unfortunately, a couple of tracks in, I started to realize something – almost all of these tracks basically sound the same.

Perhaps symptomatic of pop-country as a whole around the middle of the decade, pretty much everything on Me And My Gang is heavily formulaic. The tracks are basically pop songs – some ballads, some pump-up tracks, some inspirational numbers – with some “countrified” instrumentation and a few loose lyrical references to “good old boys” and those types of things. Switch out Gary LeVox for one of any number of pop vocalists of the era, and I’m not sure that the album would be all that different than what Rascal Flatts ended up with (outside of the removal of a little bit of admittedly enjoyable Southern drawl).

I wish I could take more positives out of this album – I really do – but there’s just not a lot of substance here. LeVox does an admirable job, and the instrumentation is competent if not particularly inspired, but it’s really not enough to overcome the homogeneity of the production and the content.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 4.7/10

 

I’ve listened to a lot of pop-punk over the last few years, and it’s gotten me into other genres as well – emo, post-hardcore, and even some metal. The next album up for 2006 is one of those albums that exists in a bit of a transitional state between all three of these genres…

Decemberunderground – AFI

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I’ve always enjoyed the bands on the heavier side of pop-punk and emo, including acts that could occasionally cross over into harder genres like post-hardcore and screamo. My Chemical Romance, Hawthorne Heights, and other similar bands have been a staple of my Spotify history for years now.

Decemberunderground is, onstensibly, another genre that falls into this “in-between” space. Musically, AFI sounds like a mix between MCR and early Silverstein here, which would seem to fall cleanly into my sphere of enjoyment.

There’s a slight problem here, though, and it’s a balance that’s difficult for acts like this to properly strike – the border between self-seriousness and self-parody. A band like My Chemical Romance, while dealing with heavy subject matter, understood that moments of levity were necessary to balance out the angst, and that’s a key component that AFI misses here.

This album takes itself very seriously. Davey Havok’s lyrics and vocals are, more or less, devoid of humor, which makes the music significantly darker than it has to be. It almost comes across as a parody of the genre at times (as did Havok’s personal visual aesthetic at the time – see his hair and outfit in the “Miss Murder” video) and, paradoxically, makes the album far more difficult to take seriously.

On a more positive note, it’s a pretty musically proficient album. The guitar and percussion work is solid, as is Havok’s voice, apart from the occasional “dark” affectation that he tries to put on (which just makes him sound kind of ridiculous). “Miss Murder,” the album’s big single, is a defining song of the mid-2000s theatrical emo scene (maybe not quite to the degree of something like “Welcome To The Black Parade,” but not too far off either).

If it seems like I’m bringing My Chemical Romance up a bit too often in this review, it’s because they serve as a reminder of what AFI could have been here. Havok basically sounds like a humorless, C+ version of Gerard Way, and while there are a lot of musical similarities, there’s just a certain disappointing flatness present throughout Decemberunderground.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 5.0/10

 

Related:

Meet the Interns: Sean Calhoun 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1996

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1997 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1998

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1999

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2000

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2001

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2002

05 2017

Interviews with South Dakotans finding success outside their college major by Kyle Hallberg.

Images submitted

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Throughout my journey with 605, I’ve delved deep into the music scene of Sioux Falls. While I have met my fair share of bands, singer-songwriters and producers, none were quite like the band made up by Adel Toay, Donny Minor and Zane Lodmell. Also known as Remember To Breathe, this band has been through the ringer and back, and all for one common goal: revive pop punk. Between school, jobs, relationships and life in general, the band has found a way to keep things going, thriving when everything else felt still.

Kind enough to let me into their personal world of recording, the band invited me to their studio and sit down and talk about things from the beginning, to the now, and what there is to come.

Kyle Hallberg: So, how did this happen?

Adel Toay: My junior year of high school I decided I wanted to make a record and it was originally acoustic, solo stuff. Then I wanted to move it more towards studio, band work. The band itself took a bit of a hiatus when I went to the Art Institute of Los Angeles, which is where I lived for a year. I realized that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. At that time, there were only two members of the band. So when I got back, we got the ball rolling on our recovery EP, which is when John left and Zane came in. So that’s how that part happened.

KH: What about Donny?

AT: We actually found each other on Craigslist! It was much less of an audition and more of an invitation. Which also led to Zane, who happened to be living with Donny, so it just made sense for him to be in the band, especially because we were in desperate need of a drummer.

KH: Wow, that’s quite the unconventional approach to acquiring a full band. So after you had a band, a new EP and a release show, where do you go from there?

AT: Well we knew that we wanted to have something out within a year of the EP, and we each kept bringing our own things to the table. We actually started this album before the EP was released, so things kind of just kept going at a natural pace. We were pumping out songs and playing a crazy amount of shows, which we could never seem to get enough of. But, what really launched this album was our recent signing with Loud, Broke and Dumb Records here in Sioux Falls. We plan on taking it to Minneapolis in the end, but it is just a cool thing to be recording in Sioux Falls, where everything started and all of our fans discovered us.

KH: Not that you don’t already seem busy enough, but besides shows, recording and signing, what else happens in your lives? What about school?

Donny Minor: Well I go to USF for Theatre, which has always been in my life. I have dabbled with the idea of teaching, but the thing with that is music has always been number one, and I kind of look at theatre as my fall back, teaching or not.

Zane Lodmell: I am not currently going to school. I went to USF for two years for Youth Ministry and Theology, where I discovered that was something I really didn’t want to do. My plan is to get my degree in some sort of music production.

KH: You guys seem to have juggling down to an art, and the decision to stay, leave and go back to school can be a rough one, but your calm demeanor lets me think the band is number one right now. Do you think your fans see it that way too? Will this album keep that up?

DM: I’m really stoked for this new album, I think it will shift people’s outlook on what kind of band we are. If we had to describe our album, it would be this: If pop punk is dead, we are a band of witch doctors trying to revive it. We have had people come up to us and tell us that they can hear a change in our sound, a good change. It’s awesome to have people come up to us at shows and say we’ve gotten better and grown as a band. Honestly, that’s why we do this. We love writing and recording, but the shows are the reason we are still doing this. The fan base we have built in Sioux Falls is incredible; and while it is small, they are true fans. It’s a crazy feeling to be doing a show and look out and see people in the audience singing along to one of the songs you’ve written.

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KH: That’s really cool. I don’t want to say groupies, but I feel like that is the ultimate goal, to have people follow you from album to album, to be able to build a consistent sound that keeps people around.

ZL: Definitely. The best compliment we’ve ever had is a girl say she is excited for our new album. Hearing that was insane. Hopefully when we are able to expand out of South Dakota and take this album on tour, we will be able to build an even bigger fan base.

KH: I find it super interesting that you guys are really best friends and that you have such a personal relationship with the audience and your fans. Do you guys ever feel like there is a certain kind of pressure between school, friends and the band?

AT: Yes and no. I think that is only ever feels like a burden because we know we can’t not do it- And while we have met some of our best friends in college, the people we meet at shows are able to forget about their problems and all of the negativity just falls away. We feel that with the bands we meet, too. The music community in Sioux Falls is so welcoming and everyone just wants to have fun and make music. But, in the end, we are honestly so lucky to have found each other. After everything that this band has been through, to come out with these people is amazing.

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Related:

Locally Grown: Mari Ibis

Locally Grown: Ben Gertner

Meet the Interns: Kyle Hallberg

Locally Grown: Mato Jacob Standing Soldier

Locally Grown: Tevyn Waddell

Locally Grown: Kyle West

Locally Grown: Addison Avery

Locally Grown: Cassia McLoon

04 2017

605 Outdoor Wonders: Good Earth State Park

By Anna Strictecky

Images courtesy of South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks

As far as natural beauty goes, Good Earth State Park stays true to its name with some of the most luscious greenery and landscapes that South Dakota has to offer. As we take a look at our next destination, we see a phenomenal natural beauty with a river that flows through and trees higher than the eye can see.

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Good Earth State Park at Blood Run, southeast of Sioux Falls, is a national historic landmark, mainly recognized for its history as a settlement for thousands of Native Americans. The landscape along the Big Sioux River allowed the area to be very habitable, and much of the landscape remains today. It derives its name from a late 17th century Oneota Culture Indian Village complex that covered up to 3,000 acres spanning both sides of the Big Sioux River.

This is one of the oldest sites of long-term human habitation in the United States. The river, abundant wildlife, fertile flood plains, availability of pipestone (catlinite) and protection from winds made the area an important gathering place for seasonal ceremonies and a significant trading center for many tribal peoples from 1500 – 1700 A.D. By 1720, Blood Run was abandoned and remnants of this significant archaeological site were nearly forgotten. Blood Run is the largest Oneota cultural site discovered to date in the upper Midwest.  

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Even though Good Earth doesn’t have an excess of different activities for one to do, the best part about it is being able to absorb all of the nature that surrounds. As I hiked around Good Earth, it gave me a chance to truly just walk around without the different tourist activities. Other than seeing a couple of visitors that were kayaking on the river, everybody else there was just soaking up the sun and the beauty of the state park around them. That, is why Good Earth state park tops my list of genuinely natural South Dakota beauties.

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Related: 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Pactola Lake

605 Outdoor Wonders: Palisades State Park

605 Outdoor Wonders: Spearfish Canyon

605 Outdoor Wonders: McKennan Park 

605 Outdoor Wonders: Mary Jo Wegner Arboretum 

Meet the Interns: Anna Stritecky

04 2017

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2005

By Sean Calhoun

Last time around, I promised you more pop-punk. Well, this entry’s first album is one of the most successful albums in the genre’s history, by one of its most successful acts. It’s time to talk about…

American Idiot – Green Day

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There’s no denying that American Idiot was an almost absurdly successful album. It launched Green Day back into mainstream relevance for the first time in about a decade, generated a healthy amount of controversy due to its overtly political content, and was even adapted into a successful stage musical that continues to tour.

It’s a pretty darn good pop-punk album, too. American Idiot is either Green Day’s best or second-best album (depending on your feelings toward 1994’s Dookie) and one of the best and most thorough pop-punk albums ever made.

Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong is perhaps at his strongest on this album, delivering many of his vocal lines with just the right amount of righteous anger – enough to get the point across, but not so much that he becomes a parody of himself. He’s also not afraid to get more personal and less angry, as when he sings a memorial to his deceased father on “Wake Me Up When September Ends”.

While American Idiot ostensibly functions as a concept album about Bush-era America (and indeed, there’s enough of a story to the album to make the aforementioned musical make sense), its thirteen tracks function well on their own, especially singles “American Idiot,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and the aforementioned “September,” the latter two of which are, at worst, two of the five biggest songs of Green Day’s career.

Perhaps the best track on the album, however, is “Jesus Of Suburbia,” a sprawling, nine-minute epic that solidifies much of the story of the album. With its multiple melodic and thematic twists and turns, it practically functions as the band’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with the bonus of contributing to a larger, overarching story. Armstrong carries a good deal of the song, but the hard-pushing accompaniment of Mike Dirnt on bass and Tre Cool on drums contributes a lot as well. The two halves of “Jesus” almost function as two completely separate songs, but there’s just enough hanging between them to allow the track to function as a cohesive whole.

The band is able to keep it up for the album’s full running time. There’s a lot of creativity, both musically and lyrically, on display here. “St. Jimmy,” a fast-charging punk number, and “She’s A Rebel” are also significant highlights, and the album closes with “Whatsername,” another excellent track and a fitting conclusion to the record.

An interesting coda – American Idiot only came into being because the master tapes for the album Green Day was intending to release – titled Cigarettes and Valentines – were stolen from the studio. While it would have been interesting to hear what the band had produced outside of the confines of the final record’s conceptual format, I think that it’s for the better that American Idiot – a bona fide pop-punk classic – was the final result.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 8.7/10

 

The next album for this year is by a band that has been a massive worldwide success for years. However, over that same time, they’ve had a very difficult time shaking off their reputation as a “boring” and “safe” band. No matter your opinion on the group, there’s no denying the success of…

X&Y – Coldplay

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I won’t deny that I’ve fallen into some of the easy Coldplay-hate tropes since I first heard their music. It’s easy to see them as a boring, lowest-common-denominator pop-rock group, especially when compared to acts like Muse and Radiohead.

However, I’ve grown to realize that this is a pretty unfair characterization of Coldplay. Chris Martin and company are talented musicians with a solid knack for spacious and accessible pop-rock songs, and X&Y is actually one of the standouts in the group’s discography.

The perfectionism of Coldplay as a group is apparent throughout X&Y. Every piece of every song snaps together in almost mechanical fashion, with nary a misplaced or unnecessary note. The music manages to be both spacious and economical, both easy to listen to and rewarding to a more discerning listener. It skirts the “boring” label by being impeccably performed and produced – even the more repetitive and uninspired bits sound pretty musically excellent.

As a former piano player, I’ve always appreciated Coldplay’s extensive use of the instrument. There’s quite a bit of piano peppered throughout this record, perhaps most memorably on hit single “Speed of Sound”, one of the best tracks on the album. Beyond simply the keys, the instrumentation on X&Y, which borders on electronic at times, is solid and accompanies Martin’s crisp voice and fluttering falsetto quite well.

Coldplay’s music may be somewhat unremarkable when compared to similar acts, but there’s a quality of sharpness and maturity that generally manages to set it apart. There are certainly moments on this album where Martin and the rest of the band sound pedestrian and less than exciting, but they never dive downward into banality or amateurism. It’s a professional album, and it sounds very musically good.

Perhaps the album’s most significant weakness – even then, not nearly as significant as it could be – is Martin’s lyricism. Too often, he resorts to empty platitudes or uninspired metaphors, and he has a tendency to fall thematically flat more often than the rest of the band. (At the very least, even his most uncreative lyrics are, for the most part, well-delivered.)

I can understand the typecasting of the group as “boring”, seeing as it’s a line of thinking I’ve often indulged in myself. However, if nothing else, X&Y is an album that deserves an open-minded listen – it just may have a couple of surprises in store.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 7.7/10

 

Related:

Meet the Interns: Sean Calhoun 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1996

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1997 

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1998

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 1999

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2000

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2001

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2002

04 2017

Dining In and Out: Grille 26

One young foodie explores the local restaurant scene, bringing quality cuisine into your kitchen, sans doggie bag.

By Kaylyn Deiter

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Dining Out

Though its name speaks to its location on 26th and Western, Grille 26 is more than just a number in the Sioux Falls restaurant scene. Owned by the same company that runs Minerva’s, Grille 26 serves up home-style food with a professional flair. It’s a neighborhood restaurant with a decidedly metropolitan atmosphere.

“The general feeling we want to give people is that of a neighborhood place,” dining room manager Ryan Van Roekel said. “We’re more business casual, but we do have a really eclectic menu that people love for special occasions.”

One of the best things about Grille 26 is its commitment to quality—this is high end food minus the snobbish attitude that so often accompanies that mindset. It’s a restaurant built on passion and primed to serve anyone who walks through its double doors. Grille 26 is truly a neighborhood gathering place with hospitality at its core.

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Photo courtesy of onlyinyourstate.com

Speaking of doors, the ones that open into Grille 26 reveal an airy floor plan steeped in a soft golden glow, courtesy of both the lights and wooden accents. Pops of green complement the brightly lit interior, while a well-stocked bar area gives way to more intimate seating in the form of booths and small tables. It’s contemporary while still remaining cozy.

“The reputation of Grille is one of celebration,” Van Roekel said. “We want people to have a really good sit-down meal and the overall energy to be really happy and enjoyable for them.”

And we haven’t even gotten to the food yet. Grille 26 preserves that Minerva’s-style quality while making high-end dining accessible for the masses. What I mean is, yes, they serve mac & cheese, but this isn’t your typical box of Kraft (though I do love some good Kraft mac & cheese). Instead Grille 26’s mac & cheese is a combination of three different pastas, all made in house, mixed with a heavenly blend of white cheddar, fontina and gorgonzola cheese. It’s an upscale spin on a classic, something this restaurant does like no other.

 

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(Photo courtesy of grille26.com)

More high quality options litter the menu, from the famous honey almond chicken penne and brick oven salmon to the NY strip Michael and creme brulee, but its Grille 26’s commitment to quality service that pushes this neighborhood favorite over the top.

“From special occasions to just going out to eat with friends, our restaurant is all about making sure people have a great time, that they really enjoy their experience,” Van Roekel said. “It’s a welcoming atmosphere that people want to come back to again and again.”

Three reasons to eat at Grille 26:

  1. Homey atmosphere
  2. Diverse menu
  3. Excellent service

Dining In

Though Grille 26 is known for its hospitality, what’s more hospitable than your own home? Try out this simple roasted potatoes recipe courtesy of Jana Hurley, of Aberdeen. It’s the perfect side dish for your next steak dinner a la Grille 26.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ lb new potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Place potatoes in a mixing bowl
  3. Sprinkle on salt and pepper
  4. Add olive oil, rosemary and garlic
  5. Toss until potatoes are well coated
  6. Spread potatoes out on a baking pan
  7. Roast for 40 minutes or until potatoes are browned

Once they were done, we enjoyed these roasted potatoes along with steaks and fresh green beans. A restaurant-quality meal that won’t break the bank.

Three reasons to enjoy Grille 26 at home:

  1. Avoid the battle to find a parking spot.
  2. Feel accomplished by conquering steak on your own.
  3. Avoid the temptation of one of Grille’s delectable desserts.

Neighborhood friendliness is a major selling point for Grille 26, as is homestyle food with a high-end flair. Take one of their best dishes home by cooking up some steak, potatoes and veggies. This is one dinner you’ll want to share with everyone.

 

Related:

Dining In and Out: Crawford’s Bar & Grill

Dining In and Out: Crave

Dining In and Out: Oh My Cupcakes

Dining In and Out: Fiero Pizza

Dining In and Out: Phillips Avenue Diner

Dining In and Out: Mama’s Ladas

Dining In and Out: Ode to Food and Drinks

Web Extra: Ode’s Dirty Arnold

Meet the Interns Kaylyn Deiter 

 

04 2017

Locally Grown: Dennis (DJ) Smith

Interviews with South Dakotans finding success outside their college major by Kyle Hallberg.

Images submitted

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Growing up in a three generation home, playing football and soccer, and being avidly devoted to Boy Scouts, Dennis (DJ) Smith had a full schedule to keep up with. If that wasn’t enough, Smith ended his senior year with a gold medal at the national FCCLA gathering. By creating and implementing a project called “Doing More Than Writing Love On Your Arms”, based on the pay it forward theory, Smith was able to give some insight on suicide prevention, starting the national program known as Lost and Found, which was later picked up at the University of South Dakota.

Smith went on to join the Peace Corps, which is where things get even more interesting. Smith and I sat down to talk about his life after the FCCLA win, which was as full, if not more, of adventure, accomplishment and discovery.

Kyle Hallberg: After such a diverse high school experience, what did you do when you started college?

DJ Smith: When I first started as USD, I was double majoring in Theatre and Political Science. After finding out I would have had to do two completely separate degrees, I ended up switching to a double major in Political Science and English, which was okay since I was still able to take Shakespeare classes.

KH: At least you got to keep those theatre-esque classes. Is that when you decided peace corps?

DS: Have you ever read Perks of Being A Wallflower? There is one sentence in that book that talks about joining the peace corps – which started my two day binge on researching everything there is to know about the peace corps during my senior year of high school. Then in college, everything I worked on was to move me towards the peace corps.

KH: So, your interest was sparked in high school, and grew in college?

DS: Actually, one of my buddies had just gotten back from a tour in Afghanistan and we went out for drinks, which is where he convinced me to get up and actually do it, to join the Peace Corps. So I went home at 2 a.m. to apply, got an interview a week later, got nominated, and was appointed to Peace Corps Tanzania. I was extra excited because the Tanzania post was actually the first Peace Corps post set up by JFK.

KH: Wow, that’s a lot to happen while still going to school. What happens after you get appointed?

DS: After I was appointed, I spent the next year going to medical checkups and doing everything you need to do to go to a different country. In February of 2015, we flew to Pennsylvania, then to Tanzania where we met everyone and started our journey. Then, the next 8 weeks were spent doing language training, where we were immersed in Swahili.

About 5 weeks in, we were given our assignments and I was placed in the southern village of Mtambula. I was in the Health/Agriculture cohort, so I worked for three months to get to know my village and not early terminate. My friends, we were called the Goon Squad, spent every weekend together, and we were on our way to a lake when one of our friends was killed in a car accident. The Goon Squad was hit hard, and we were somewhat expected to early terminate, which none of us did. We wanted to do it for Robby.”

KH: I can’t even imagine going to through all of that, and still deciding to stay the full term. I’m sure it was difficult to go back to a somewhat normal life.

DS: Yeah it was hard. We all went back to our villages to continue to cope, which is where things get interesting. Each cohort has their own Facebook page to help each other out, which is where I found the love of my life. We started talking and I just knew things could only go up from here. So the next year of my life was spent doing projects in my village and being with Ben. We would try to see each other at least every other month, which was especially hard in a country where being gay is illegal. But, we made it work and we are doing exceptionally well.

Back in my village, I worked with mothers with HIV, built new water sources for the maternity wards to keep moms and new babies healthy year round. We were also in the process of building twelve wells in our village, which is based on a 12-week rotation to ensure the wells last longer. I was able to teach about gender equality, sex education and the LGBT community as well.

KH: That sounds absolutely incredible. I can’t believe that all of that was over the course of a year. Obviously you are home, so did your term end?

DS: Well, that’s where things get a little fun. It was during one of my LGBT training classes that I noticed my pupils were different sizes. The onsite doctor attributed it to my life-long battle with migraines, but suggested an MRI just to be safe. Another doctor came in and told me I had to go to South Africa to have a follow up MRI, which is when I found out I had a brain tumor.

KH: That had to have been quite the shock, especially since you were in a different country.

DS: Right. So I flew back to America, had a bunch of tests done, had a biopsy and discovered I had a grade two astrocytoma brain tumor in mid-June. Matter of fact, the pupil dilation had nothing to do with the tumor, but ended up being from my migraines. I was told that the chances of finding a brain tumor of grade two status is under 2.5%. Finding my tumor was by complete chance, we were beyond lucky. Ben came back to be with me during the biopsy, which was fantastic. After the biopsy, I had brain surgery on July 28th. They are pretty sure they got it all out, but I will go back for another MRI to double check before I fly back to Tanzania. Dr. Asfora saved my life, he is an excellent doctor and a really amazing person.

KH: Wow. How are you feeling? What is next?

DS: My memory is a little foggy, which will improve over time. Otherwise, I am doing really well. I miss Ben and my dog, but I also miss my village and the work I’m doing in Tanzania. I’m so excited to go back and resume my life in the Peace Corps. I have so much left to accomplish in my life, that I never had the time to think there was a chance the tumor would win.

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03 2017

605 Outdoor Wonders: Falls Park

By Anna Stritecky

Images courtesy of Siouxfalls.org

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The next outdoor gem to be explored is Sioux Falls’ own Falls Park. This park’s central feature is not only what gave Sioux Falls its name, but what has kept tourists coming to the city to see the rushing water flow down the rocks.

The Falls of the Big Sioux River have been a focus of life in the region throughout history. Native American peoples were the first to visit the falls and bring stories of them to European explorers. They have been the center of recreation and industry since the founding of the city in 1856.

Alongside the natural falls, there is a building that overlooks the water, originally the Queen Bee Mill. The quartzite building still standing on the east bank is the Sioux Falls Light and Power Company building, completed in 1908. The building housed three 500-kilowatt hydroelectric generators and used the dam and the millrace from the Queen Bee Mill. In subsequent years the plant added additional coal-fired steam generators. The plant was abandoned in 1974 and donated to the city in 1977. Before remodeling took place to create what is now Falls Overlook Cafe, the building was in similar condition as when it was first constructed.

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Even though I have been to the Falls, which now seems like hundreds of times, I took a trip downtown all by myself, hoping to take in something that I hadn’t before. Despite the beauty of the rocks and the calming sounds of the rushing water, I felt as if what the falls had to offer grasped the essence of Sioux Falls. Walking Into the visitor’s center you see nothing but the friendly faces of the employees, shortly before you climb the stairs and get easily one of the best views in Sioux Falls. These falls, even though what might seem as just another attraction, has the power of unity for the city it inhabits. Alongside that, the park itself carries many paths and trails that surround it allowing any tourist to appreciate the land.

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Related: 

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Meet the Interns: Anna Stritecky

03 2017

THE (MUSIC) YEARBOOK: 2004

By Sean Calhoun

Outside of Blink-182, I haven’t covered a lot of pop-punk yet on The Music Yearbook. That’s about to change in a big way, starting with this year’s first entry…

Under My Skin – Avril Lavigne

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As popular (and radio-friendly) as pop punk became in the first half of the 2000s’ first decade, it never seemed like there was a lot of room for female artists in a genre ruled by the likes of Panic! At The Disco, Fall Out Boy, and others. One major exception was (and is) Fall Out Boy’s Fueled by Ramen labelmates, Paramore, fronted by Hayley Williams, while another, perhaps more unique, example is Avril Lavigne.

Early in her career, Lavigne stood out as one of the few solo singer-songwriters in the genre, and her first album, Let Go, quickly catapulted her onto the scene behind the strength of hits like “Sk8er Boi” and “Complicated.” Under My Skin, Lavigne’s sophomore effort, unfortunately features nothing as distinctive as these hits.

It becomes apparent early on that Under My Skin is a change in direction for Lavigne, featuring heavier and darker musical themes and a general departure from the sunny skater-punk aesthetic of Let Go. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work to her benefit, and songs like “Take Me Away” and “Slipped Away” bring to mind a bargain version of Evanescence’s Amy Lee (while “Bring Me To Life” is an absolutely ridiculous song, it stands out more than much of the music here).

In fact, even at her best, Lavigne on Under My Skin often lacks originality, mining the musical styles of more successful and established acts. “Don’t Tell Me” and “Fall To Pieces” bring to mind a slightly punk-ier Alanis Morissette, while “Who Knows” sounds like a Blink-182 b-side.

In fairness, there’s no denying Lavigne’s vocal talent. Her lines carry a lot of these songs (although they aren’t always able to overcome cheesy or just plain mediocre lyrics), and she’s got the Pop Punk Teen Angst formula down pat. “Nobody’s Home” is a genuine standout, and the Alanis-esque tracks are also solid.

In the end, however, there’s nothing particularly special here, just an album of pretty average and forgettable pop-punk tracks that fade into the background of what was a grossly oversaturated genre.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 5.5/10

 

One of the two artists featured in the next review will look very familiar to Music Yearbook readers; in fact, I just covered them in my last entry. However, the sheer inexplicability of this album’s existence meant that I couldn’t help but cover…

Collision Course – Jay-Z and Linkin Park

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Where do I even begin with this album? While Jay-Z and Linkin Park were both household names in 2004, this matchup couldn’t have made a whole lot of sense back then and looks even more inexplicable now (especially given the career trajectories of the two artists going into the 2010s).

While both artists are given equal billing on the album art and tracklist, it becomes obvious pretty early on that this is Jay-Z’s show. He dominates each of the EP’s six tracks, as well as significantly outclassing Mike Shinoda) and largely turns Chester Bennington and the rest of Linkin Park into a glorified backing band.

The formula behind Collision Course is rather simple: each of the six tracks is a mashup between a Jay-Z track and a Linkin Park song (with the exception of the final track). Some of the combos work surprisingly well – “Numb/Encore” (easily the best part of the EP) manages to improve both songs, recasting it as an inspirational track in the vein of T.I. and Rihanna’s “Live Your Life”, while “Dirt Off Your Shoulder/Lying From You” probably does the best job at shoehorning Bennington’s vocals into what’s essentially a two-man rap track – but just as much of the album falls flat.

For example, the EP’s final track, “Points Of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer” quickly becomes a hot mess, starting with the indefensible decision to turn “99 Problems” into a rap-rock song and going downhill from there. Shinoda’s verses are bad, the sound mixing is bad, and the vocal placement is bad, and it left a sour taste in my mouth as I finished my initial listen.

In the end, I think that Collision Course was a pretty dumb idea that lucked into a couple of solid tracks. Since its release, it has somehow become the highest-selling EP ever, perhaps out of sheer curiosity (or a deluge of tongue-in-cheek irony purchases). If anything, it’s a monument to excess, a messy wedding of two big names with the cynical knowledge that commercial success was all but guaranteed.

Score, Adjusted for 2017 Ratings Inflation: 4.3/10

 

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03 2017

Dining In and Out: M.B. Haskett

One young foodie explores the local restaurant scene, bringing quality cuisine into your kitchen, sans doggie bag.

By Kaylyn Deiter

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Dining Out

Serving up homestyle breakfast in the mornings, deli-style delicacies during the afternoon hours and a three-course “Prix Fixe” meal on weekends, it’s not even cliche to call M.B. Haskett a local gem, because that’s exactly what this downtown deli is: an eatery with a local following as diverse as its menu options.

“We want to have that fun, neighborhood feel here at M.B. Haskett,” owner Michael Haskett said. “We love food and we love coffee, but what we really love is that casual atmosphere, serving people from all walks of life and having them mingle in our space.”

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(Photo courtesy of travelsouthdakota.com)

Locals love M.B. Haskett and M.B. Haskett loves the locals right back. The restaurant proudly serves Breadico bread and recently expanded its drinks menu to include a house blend featuring The Breaks Coffee Roasting Co, a locally-owned roasting company based in Sioux Falls.

(Photo courtesy of mbhaskett.com)

(Photo courtesy of mbhaskett.com)

But though its service is home-grown, the food at M.B. Haskett is decidedly more diverse. With Spanish, French and Mediterranean influences, this deli’s food is anything but typical. Patrons can take a taste bud trip to Paris with a breakfast of traditional French crepes, enjoy a Mediterranean muffaletta sandwich for lunch or stay true to their red, white and blue roots by starting the day off with the American Breakfast of eggs, bacon, ham and toast. Weekend dinners are always a surprise catered to the customer, but you can be sure that a variety of artisanal meats and cheeses will be a staple.

“We’re so fortunate to be in the middle of this downtown restaurant scene in Sioux Falls that’s just exploding right now,” Haskett said. “It’s been fantastic to be part of that and offer a variety of food to customers looking for that versatility.”

For all the diversity of tastes and styles present inside M.B. Haskett’s wood-paneled walls, the restaurant has an undeniable knack for making everyone feel at home.

Tables nestled elbow to elbow invite conversation with neighbors, making the space feel both communal and intimate. The picture window at the front of the shop provides an uninhibited view of Phillips Avenue, perfect for people-watching. And the rustic, wooden design choices and graffiti adorned seating area in the back alley transport you out of Sioux Falls and into a big, bustling city during the time it takes to eat your meal. But the warm hospitality and familiar banter between customers (along with the fact that there’s usually a dog or two in meandering around), gives way to a closeness that’s undeniably Midwestern.

(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

M.B. Haskett is a lot of things—local staple, eclectic eatery, favorite Saturday brunch spot—but ultimately this is a deli with a lot of heart, and hearty flavors to boot. It’s a local restaurant so good, many have stopped to take notice.

Three reasons to eat at M.B. Haskett:

  1. Breakfast you can’t beat
  2. The Breaks Coffee Co.
  3. There’s almost always a dog there, what’s not to love about that?

Dining In

When M.B. Haskett is swamped on Saturday morning but you’re still craving a delicious breakfast, try out this strawberry-Nutella crepe recipe modified from juliasalbum.com. Though this Parisian staple may seem intimidating at first, crepes are a fun way to spice of breakfast (or any meal, for that matter).

Ingredients:

  • Batter
    • 2 cups milk
    • 4 cups flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    • ½ teaspoon baking powder
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Filling
    • Strawberries
    • Nutella

Instructions:

  1. Mix all batter ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until lumps dissolve
  2. Heat a frying pan on high and spray with cooking oil
  3. Using a soup ladle, spoon a small amount of batter into the saucepan as you roll the pan from side to side to cover the bottom with a layer of batter
  4. Let the layer of batter cook until surface is bubbly
  5. Flip the crepe and let cook for another 1-2 minutes
  6. Transfer finished crepes to a plate
  7. Once all the crepes are cooked, spread Nutella on half a crepe
  8. Arrange strawberry slices on top of Nutella
  9. Fold the crepe in half, then fold it again to form a triangle
  10. Top with more sliced strawberries

I have to admit, this was probably the trickiest meal I’ve attempted so far (not to mention I minorly burned my hand in the process). It took a couple crumpled up crepes for me to get the flipping technique down, but once I did this turned into a delicious dinner sweet enough for dessert.

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(Photo courtesy of Kaylyn Deiter)

Three reasons to enjoy M.B. Haskett at home:

  1. Beat the morning rush
  2. Conquer homemade crepes
  3. Strangers won’t judge you for eating five crepes

M.B. Haskett is one of Sioux Falls’ most beloved small restaurants. The local crowd makes this deli feel like home, while the food is quality enough to stand crepe to crepe with big city cuisine. In that same homegrown style, crepes make a delicious breakfast at home modeled after this little deli with big flavor.

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