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Farm girl Gina prefers to be out with the cattle

Gina Thorstenson prefers being out with the cattle, but she takes time for her family and church.  She grew up near Selby, graduated from South Dakota State University in 2015, and now works on her family’s ranch.

She’ll take a couple of their Balancer cattle to stock shows every year and enjoys connecting with cattle breeders and other ranchers. It’s a good way to meet people, but for the most part she enjoys staying home and working.

She doesn’t cook much these days, but enjoys trying new things with her family.

“My mom recently made fish tacos,” Gina said. “They are sweet and savory.”

The fish tacos have shredded fish, cabbage and a mango salsa. The Thorstenson family loves the salsa. Her mom Wendy makes it from scratch.

“We got some mango salsa from Sam’s Club and it wasn’t the same,” Gina said. “No one liked it.”

Gina has found new recipes to try on Pinterest and especially likes to bake. She has a sweet tooth, and one of her favorite sweets is her mother’s scotcheroos.

“It’s pure sugar,” Gina said.

She can’t get enough of them when her mother makes them.

Gina learned to cook through 4-H. Wendy taught her kids how to bake for the 4-H Achievement Days.

“All of us [kids] learned how to bake and cook in 4-H,” Gina said.

They participated in Special Foods, a contest that tested their knowledge and skills. She also said her mother let them cook when they wanted to, though it wasn’t as often as Wendy hoped. 

Growing up, Gina and her siblings would go to grandma’s house where they made bread.

“We’d make a huge batch and make as many things as possible,” Gina said.

They would use the dough for bread, buns, caramel rolls, and anything else they could think of. They’d use garlic butter to spice up their selections too. They then entered their masterpieces to be judged.

Gina remembered making pancakes when she was about 10 or 12 years old. She used baking soda instead of baking powder and the pancakes came out tasting like soap. No one would eat them, and Gina now pays attention to that distinction when she bakes.

“My sisters never let me live that one down,” Gina said. “I learned my lesson.”

– Nicole Hamilton –


Mango-Jalapeno Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced

1/2 c. diced pineapple

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced

1/4 c. seeded and diced tomato

1/4 c. diced red bell pepper

4 Tbsp. lime juice

2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger or 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. dry ginger

2 Tbsp. minced seeded jalapeno

1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Place salsa ingredients in a bowl. Mix together well. Chill in refrigerator. (Keeps up to one week refrigerated.) Good with fish, chicken, or Mexican recipes. Makes 2 cups.

Grilled Spicy

Fish Tacos

4 (2 oz.) pieces of white fish such as cod or halibut, cut into strips

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

2 tsp. Cajun seasoning

4 corn tortillas

1/2 c. shredded green cabbage

1/2 c. shredded red cabbage

1/4 c. shredded carrots

1 avocado, sliced

1/2 c. Mango-Jalapeno Salsa

Preheat grill. Mix Cajun seasoning and oil together. Rub mixture on fish. Grill fish for 2 minutes on each side until medium done. Remove from grill and set aside. Brown tortillas on the grill or warm in microwave for 15 seconds wrapped in paper. Place a bit of shredded cabbage and carrot on the tortillas. Arrange 2 slices of avocado on top of cabbage. Place grilled fish on avocado and top with salsa.

Mexican Coleslaw

1 (14 oz.) bag coleslaw mix

1/2 c. red pepper, diced

1/2 c. black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 c. grilled corn

1/2 c. minced cilantro

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and finely diced

3/4 c. mayo

1/4 c. sour cream

1/2 pkg. taco seasoning

2 Tbsp. lime juice

In a large mixing bowl, combine coleslaw mix, red pepper, black beans, grilled corn, cilantro and jalapeno. In a separate small bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, taco seasoning, and lime juice. Add mayo mixture to coleslaw mixture and stir to combine. Serves 8-10.

Iced Green Tea

1 gal. water

6 green tea bags

1 orange, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

honey, for sweetening

In a one-gallon glass jar with a fitted lid, combine the tea bags and water.  Place in the sun for 3 hours. Add the sliced fruit and place back in the sun for 2 hours. Serve over ice and sweeten with honey if desired.

Monster Cookies

3 eggs

1/2 c. butter

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. white sugar

pinch of salt

1 Tbsp. vanilla

1 1/2 c. peanut butter

2 tsp. baking soda

4 to 4 1/2 c. oatmeal

1/2 c. chocolate chips

1/2 c. M&M’s

1/4 c. nuts, chopped

Mix all together. Roll into balls. Bake for 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees.