Melissa Thiessen is not your typical mom. She is busy with her two foster children, a baby and a toddler, and still finds time to garden, can, freeze vegetables and make salsa from her garden tomatoes.
Melissa is originally from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania. She came to South Dakota on a church mission to teach elementary education at Cherry Creek.
There she met Dennis Thiessen and they would later marry, but it was not love at first sight as they explained.
She and another single female teacher were living in the single males home at the Cherry Creek Mission, as there were no single men at the mission. When Dennis arrived, the two women had to move back into the female housing and no longer had the luxury of living on their own. She got over the disappointment as she got to know Dennis.
Dennis had also gone to Cherry Creek on a mission trip, but his was a longer road than Melissa’s. He was born in Belize, Central America, and when he was three his family moved to Canada. He traveled to South Dakota from there.
They came to Mobridge when Dennis was called to serve the Beacon of Hope Church as a pastor. He still works with the church, but has cut back on the hours he dedicates there. He also works full-time at Real Tuff in Mobridge.
The couple just purchased a lot across the street from their home. There they planted half of it with garden vegetables and grass on the other half.
“That half is for the kids to run around on,” she said. “We will see how that works out.”
Dennis said Melissa is a very good cook and she said she likes to experiment. She researches new recipes online and keeps the recipes the family likes.
Her family’s favorite is homemade pizza. She makes the crust from scratch and piles on the fixings.
“It is usually the Friday night dinner,” she said.
“The leftovers are for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” laughed Dennis.
Melissa said she loves to make soup during the colder months and usually bakes rolls or biscuits to go with the soup. They also like grilling and especially like grilling vegetables from the garden. Grilled zucchini is one of their favorites. Melissa also makes lasagna with zucchini.
The couple’s families make the trip across county from Pennsylvania and from Canada to visit. Her parents visit at least once a year and they travel back to Lancaster County once a year.
When her family comes from Pennsylvania, Melissa has a few requests for items to bring for her.
“Good’s Potato Chips, ham loaf and sour dough pretzels,” she said. “The potato chips are so good because they are fried in lard.”
Melissa said a craving for one of her favorite foods from home led to a strange result when she tried to duplicate the food.
She looked online for the recipe for Lancaster County’s Martin’s Potato Rolls, and found the recipe for the hamburger buns.
She also found that the rolls were now prepared with turmeric for color, rather than the food dye.
She was careful to duplicating the recipe, but was surprised when the rolls were finished.
“They were such a strange yellow color and had a bit of a taste to them,” she said.
“The guys at work were really eyeing them up,” laughed Dennis.
She has since worked to prefect the recipe.
Melissa likes to bake and have the children help her in the kitchen. She prefers monster cookies, Dennis likes chocolate krinkles and the children’s favorite is chocolate chips.
Melissa Thiessen’s Recipes
Macaroni and Cheese
1 1/2 cups macaroni, cooked according to package directions
2 cups milk
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Dash of black pepper
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
In a blender, blend milk, butter, flour, salt and black pepper. Pour into a greased casserole dish and stir in cheddar cheese. Add cooked macaroni. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour or until thick, stirring a few times during baking.
Wet Bottom Shoo Fly Pie
1 9-inch unbaked pie shell
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. shortening
1 cup molasses
1 egg, well beaten
3/4 cup hot water
1 tsp. baking soda
I tsp. vanilla
Mix flour, brown sugar and shortening in mixing bowl. Set aside 1/2 cup of the crumbs. Add egg, hot water, baking soda and vanilla to mixing bowl. Batter will be thin. Pour into unbaked pie shell and sprinkle the 1/2 cup of crumbs on top of the pie. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes or until set.
1 22-ounce loaf of bread, torn into pieces
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 stems celery, chopped
2 Tbsp. parsley
2 sticks butter
1/4 cup milk
4 cups mashed potatoes
l tsp. salt
Saute onion and celery in the butter until soft. In large bowl mix all ingredients adding a little more milk if the mixture seems dry. Put into a greased casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes.
2 lbs. ham, ground
1 lb. ground beef
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup milk
Mix all ingredients and form into balls.
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
Mix sauce ingredients in small pan and bring to a boil. Pour over the ham balls. Bake at 350 degrees for I hour.