Guests will get comfort foods when Merilee is cooking


By Sara BertschCook Big

Whether it’s making an elaborate wedding cake or cooking a new recipe with fresh herbs, Merilee Welton can do it all.
Originally growing up in Montana and Washington, Merilee didn’t move to South Dakota until 2002.
“I love South Dakota. I tell people I wasn’t born here, but I got here as soon as I could,” Merilee said.
She moved to South Dakota because of her mother’s health. Her mother was diagnosed with colon cancer and Merilee decided to move to Newell, where her mother lived, to take care of her.
She eventually found her way to Selby and now lives on a farm south of there. Two years ago, Merilee started working as a registered nurse at the Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics.
Merilee is also a mother and has three full-grown boys. They all live elsewhere, but they always call her for cooking tips. Merilee’s mother was a really good cook as well. Cooking runs in the family, Merilee said.
“My mom was French so she was one who taught me to cook,” Merilee said.
For many years, Merilee was a commercial baker. She doesn’t bake much anymore, but if a friend asks she will still make a wedding cake every once in a while.
In addition to baking, Merilee loves to cook with fresh foods from her garden.
“I usually plant all the herbs I can find. I really enjoy cooking with fresh herbs,” Merilee said.
Mostly, she enjoys cooking comfort food the best, especially soups. At her house, everyone who stays to eat will probably put on some weight after awhile, Merilee joked.
Cooking is not Merilee’s only talent, because she also is an artist. She enjoys painting just about anything. She has made window murals for a good 20 years and she has painted around Selby a lot.
In addition to all of this, Merilee also enjoys hunting, fishing and riding her horse. She loves to go deer hunting, but she’s not a big bird hunter. Her favorite thing to do, however, is riding her horse.
“I really like to work cattle with my horse. Its one of my favorite things to do,” Merilee said.
Merilee is just finishing her first year on the Mobridge Rodeo Association. She was encouraged to join the MRA by Dr. Robert Marciano. She happily agreed.
“We didn’t really talk about it much after that until one day he came back and told me they voted me in,” she said.
She really enjoys being a part of the rodeo and it has kept her busy. Overall, Merilee’s experience in Mobridge and in South Dakota continues to improve each year with something new for her to add to her already busy list.
“I just love it here, I didn’t want to leave,” she said.

Chicken Fried Steak
2 cube steaks- good quality with no visible fat or tough membrane
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sour cream
2-3 sleeves of saltine crackers- crushed
2 sticks butter
Basil chicken rue
3/4 stick of butter, melted
Enough flour to absorb butter
1 tsp. chicken bullion
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 to 1 1/2 cups milk, depending how thick you want it
Pepper to taste
Combine beaten eggs with sour cream.  Place in shallow bowl big enough to soak cube steaks in. Soak for at least 1/2 hour.
Roll cube steaks coated in egg mixture in cracker crumbs, use a rolling pin to press cracker crumbs in well.
Fry steaks in butter until golden brown over medium heat.
While steaks are frying, make rue.
Melt butter over medium heat, add flour until butter is a thick paste. Allow to cook for 1 min., then add bullion and basil. Slowly add milk. Use whisk and stir until smooth and creamy.
When steaks are done, plate with rue on bottom, then steak then top with a dollop of rue and a light sprinkle of dried basil.

Deer Steak Supper
Deer steak free of any membrane or fat. Tenderized with meat mallet
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. Lowry’s Seasoning Salt
Pepper-to taste
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Packet of herb flavored gravy mix
1 cup milk or Half n Half
Bacon- 6 slices
Butter-1 stick
Fry bacon in skillet- reserve bacon grease. Crumble bacon when cool. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare gravy ingredients and heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Keep gravy warm.
In non-stick skillet combine a dollar-size dollop of bacon grease with a quarter stick of butter. Heat skillet to medium heat. While skillet is heating, dredge deer steak in flour mixture. When skillet is heated, add steak into butter bacon grease and fry until blood rises to top of steak then turn. Fry until blood rises on browned side, then transfer to an oven safe casserole. Pour half of gravy over steaks and cover tightly with foil or lid. Bake in low oven for 30 min. Serve steaks with plenty of gravy and side dishes.
Prepare side dishes. I like green beans with bacon from before crumbled over and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper.  Mashed potatoes, and left over gravy.

Tuna Fish Tacos
Heat oven broiler
Tuna fish, drained
Flour tortilla shells
Grated cheddar cheese
Chopped lettuce
Chopped tomato
Sliced mushrooms (optional)
Lemon juice and salt/pepper.
Spread tortilla with butter. On one half place sliced mushrooms, on the other half sprinkle generously with cheese. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly and tortilla is lightly browned.  Remove and plate. Add lettuce, tomato to preference. Lightly add lemon juice and salt and pepper. Fold and enjoy.

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