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Southern city girl happy to be home in South Dakota

Robbi Geffre is a southern girl who lived in South Dakota as a teen and decided to come back later to live a slower paced lifestyle.
“I really liked South Dakota and wanted the close knit feel of community in a small town,” she said.
She was born at Fort Benning, Ga., while her dad was in the Army. The family moved back to Alabama when he returned from the Vietnam War when she was a toddler. Although sidetracked to South Dakota for a while, she graduated from John Carole High School in Birmingham, Ala. She attended Aveda Institute in Birmingham before attending Alabama Barber College also in Birmingham and is a master barber.
“Barbering is what I enjoy the most,” she said. “I wanted to teach, but they don’t really teach you to teach in cosmetology school. I found out you make more money behind the chair.”
Robbi has been in the business for 20 years now and began working at the Hair Shoppe in September.
“I came to South Dakota originally with my family when my uncle trained at 3M. I attended Roncalli and Presentation,” said Robbi. “After my children became adults I moved back in 2010. I moved from Aberdeen to Mobridge in May of this year.”
She has three children, Lauren, who is 26, Alex, who is 24 and T.J. who is eight.
Robbi actually came to Mobridge on weekends while she lived in Aberdeen because there was more to do here. She met Troy Thompson and they began dating.
She said she loves cooking and baking, especially cakes. Her first experience with baking was not a pleasant one, but one she learned an important lesson from.
“I was very young when I made my first cake from scratch for Mother’s Day,” Robbi recalled. “I substituted baking soda for baking powder. It was only about a quarter of a teaspoon so I figured it wouldn’t make any difference.”
She found out it did.
“The cake was awful,” she said.
Poached eggs are another frustrating venture for Robbi as she said she went through about two dozen eggs before getting one right.
“But it was so beautiful and perfect and tasted so good,” she said.
Robbi said she learned to cook using Google, although she has recipes that were handed down through her family. She still bakes apple crisp, using her God Mother’s recipe.
When she cooks for the men in her life, it is steak and potatoes.
“They would eat it every night if they could,” she said. “Not me. My favorite is smoked trout.”
The food in South Dakota is much different than Southern or Cajun cooking, which Robbi said she loves and misses.
“Food is German style here, which is delicious, but southern food has more spices in it,” she said.
“I love gumbo. I always have the ingredients to whip it up.”
Robbi said she makes her gumbo with shrimp, chicken and Andouille sausage and loves it spicy.
“Nose running spicy,” she laughed. “People here either love it or hate it.”
She grows her own peppers to add to her gumbo, including jalapenos and habaneros, but hasn’t had any luck growing the hottest of all, ghost peppers. She also grows herbs including basil, oregano, thyme and mint.
Robbi said she is glad to be away from the city and is enjoying the life in a smaller community. She said she is looking forward to meeting more people and becoming more active in the Mobridge community.
“I love it here,” she said.


Herb Roasted Turkey
Makes 8 servings
4 medium russet potatoes
2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 turkey (14 lbs.), thawed and giblets removed
2 whole lemons
3 Tbsps. olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel potatoes, and cut into 2-inch-thick rounds. Place potatoes in a 15-inch cast-iron skillet. Sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt, and top with herb sprigs.
In a medium bowl, stir together butter, garlic, chopped herbs, zest, pepper, and remaining salt. Rub butter mixture under skin and on outside of turkey. Stuff turkey with lemons. Tuck wings under, and tie legs with kitchen twine. Place turkey on top of potatoes.
Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven to 325°, and bake until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 165°, about three hours more, covering with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Remove turkey and potatoes from skillet. Discard herb sprigs. Reserve 1-1/3 cups drippings for turkey gravy.
Wipe skillet clean. Heat oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, and brown on both sides. Place turkey on top of potatoes, and serve with turkey gravy.
Turkey Gravy
Makes about 6 cups
1 1/3 cup reserved drippings from
Herb-Roasted Turkey (above)
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 32-ounce carton chicken broth
6 fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, smashed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place reserved drippings in a fat separator. Strain until 1 cup drippings remain. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour; cook, whisking constantly, until smooth and light brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
Gradually whisk in drippings and broth until smooth. Add sage and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, and discard sage and garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Cast-iron Skillet
Cornbread Dressing
Makes 8 servings
1 cup unsalted butter, divided
3 cups whole buttermilk
8 large eggs, divided
3 cups plain yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps. sugar
4 tsp. kosher salt, divided
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cups sliced celery
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 32-ounce carton chicken broth cup
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
4 tsps. poultry seasoning
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a 2-inch cast-iron skillet, melt 1/2 cup butter over medium-high heat. Pour butter into a medium bowl; whisk in buttermilk and 3 eggs. Place skillet in oven to preheat.
In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, 2 tsp. salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Carefully remove skillet from oven. Pour buttermilk mixture into cornmeal mixture; stir until combined. Pour mixture back into skillet.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. lnvert cornbread onto a wire rack. Let cool; crumble.
Reduce oven to 375°. Wipe skillet clean. Melt remaining 1/2 cup butter over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a large bowl, whisk together broth and remaining 5 eggs. Gently stir in crumbled cornbread, celery mixture, pecans, poultry seasoning, thyme, pepper, and remaining 2 tsp. salt. Spoon cornbread mixture back into skillet.
Bake until top is golden brown and dressing is firm to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes.

Pecan Cornbread
Makes 1 (9-inch) skillet
1 cup plain yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup pecan flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh sage
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 15-ounce can cream-style corn
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet on middle rack of oven to preheat.
In a medium bowl, stir together cornmeal, flours, baking powder, salt, and onion powder. Add pecans and sage.
In a large bowl, whisk together melted butter, corn, eggs, and sugar. Add cornmeal mixture to butter mixture, stirring just until combined.
Carefully remove hot skillet from oven. Spray with cooking spray. Pour batter into hot skillet. (It should sizzle.)
Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pecan Bourbon Cheesecake
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
1 3/4 cups crushed Biscoff cookies
5 Tbsps. unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
2 Tbsps. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps. bourbon
1 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3 Tbsps. bourbon
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup toasted pecans
1 tsp. kosher salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For crust: In a large bowl, stir together crushed cookies, melted butter, sugar, and salt. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool completely.
For filling: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with a mixer at medium speed until creamy. With mixer on low speed, add confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch, beating until smooth. Add sour cream, eggs, flour, and bourbon, beating until smooth. Pour batter into prepared crust. Cover crust loosely with foil. Place pie plate in a roasting pan, and fill roasting pan with enough water to come 1 inch up sides of plate.
Bake until edges are set and center is slightly jiggly, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
For topping: In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, and bourbon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until mixture turns amber in color, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cream.
Add pecans and salt. Let cool to room temperature. Spoon on top of pie.