Nothing else comes close to Grandma’s knoepfla soup
By Travis Svihovec
Damon Opp has a strong foundation for his cooking skills, including a grandmother who was once part owner in a kuchen business in his hometown of Eureka.
“I cook all the time,” Damon, 35, said. “Lots of beef, chicken, deer, anything from grilling to stove top to Crock-Pot.”
Damon recently started his job as an occupational therapist at Golden LivingCenter in Mobridge. He is a 1996 graduate of Eureka High School and holds a bachelor’s in biology from Northern State University in Aberdeen. In 2007 he earned a master’s in occupational therapy from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. After college he worked at a skilled nursing and subacute rehabilitation facility in Lincoln, Neb. He moved to Mobridge in January.
His interest in occupational therapy started when he was in his 20s. His mother experienced some health issues and occupational and physical therapy were part of her healing process.
“I saw how much it helped,” he said. “She got her strength and got back to a normal life.”
His job at Golden LivingCenter is to help people get to the point where they are able to take care of themselves.
“We help them with their daily needs,” Damon said. “We help them get stronger, build up their strength and activity levels to reach their goals and manage their daily care.”
Damon grew up on his parents’ farm near Eureka. He was drawn back to the area because his family is here and he enjoys the recreational opportunities of the area, especially hunting and fishing.
“I’m going to get back into fishing,” he said. “There was no fishing (in Lincoln) like I was used to.”
Damon has one brother who lives in Eureka. His mother is retired, his dad is “partially retired,” and they live on the farm northeast of Eureka.
Damon’s grandmother made more than just kuchen. Her recipe for knoepfla soup includes pork sausage, and it’s become the standard by which he judges knoepfla soup. He’s tried others at many restaurants.
“It’s not the same,” he said.
Damon said he doesn’t bake much and he also doesn’t eat many sweets.
“I’m more about meat and potatoes,” he said. Lately, he’s been making venison jerky in his dad’s smoker.
Though he’s an experienced cook he’s still had a mishap or two. A few months ago he was baking a pork loin in a glass baking pan. He noticed that it was a little dry and decided to add some water. The pan exploded.
“It was about an hour and a half ordeal to clean it up,” he said. The good news is that he was able to salvage the pork loin.
Damon also enjoys working out and watching sports in his spare time. Living in Mobridge will give him the opportunity to spend time with family and friends in the Eureka area. There are some new faces there, and even though the overall population has decreased, one thing hasn’t changed for Damon.
“It always feels like home,” he said.
DAMON OPP’S RECIPES
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
Beat one egg, add water and beat until blended. Mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to egg mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in enough flour to make dough. This will take another cup of flour or slightly more. Knead lightly and let rest in greased bowl while preparing soup. Knead once more before adding knoepfla to boiling soup broth.
Thaw ring of pork sausage. Remove sausage from casing. Break up and brown, and set aside while preparing soup broth.
3 to 6 potatoes
1 or 2 onions
Cut potatoes into small cubes. Dice onions and cover this generously with chicken broth. Boil until starting to soften. Add chicken broth to achieve as much liquid as you wish, then boil. Using kitchen shears, cut dough into small pieces and drop into boiling broth. Add browned pork sausage. Then season as desired: celery salt, garlic powder, pepper, parsley flakes and whatever desired.
Combine a single fruit such as apples or a combination of any fruit of your choice (apples, pears, bananas, pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges, kiwi, etc.). Add honey to moisten and cinnamon to taste.
Hawaiian Sweet Sour Pork
2 pounds pork loin or pork roast
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup pineapple tidbits with juice
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. paprika
4 Tbs. brown sugar
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 Tbs. tapioca
Bake at 350 F for 2 to 3 hours. Sometimes I add more ketchup or pineapple juice. I just use all of the juice from a can of pineapple tidbits and all of the pineapple tidbits.