What do South Dakota's surviving first ladies have in common with World War II fighter ace Joe Foss, actress Cheryl Ladd and USA Today founder Al Neuharth? They're all native South Dakotans, and they all love beef.

The proof is in a new 500-page cookbook called “First Ladies' Edition — BEEF Recipe Collection.” It's the latest beef promotion idea of a group of eastern South Dakota cattlemen and cattlewomen who formed a nonprofit group called South Dakota Beef Bucks in 1997 to promote beef and the state's beef industry.

The group's signature item is its South Dakota Beef Bucks, which are gift certificates in $5, $10 and $20 denominations drawn on two South Dakota banks. They're redeemable for beef product purchases in any grocery store, or for the purchase of beef entrees in restaurants. Thus far, more than $200,000 in South Dakota Beef Bucks has been redeemed for beef purchases in grocery markets and restaurants in a total of 35 states.

But a few years ago, the group decided to provide recipes for those beef buys. The result was “BEEF Recipe Collection — Original Edition.” Several thousand copies were sold, says rancher Bob Montross of DeSmet.

“In fact, the first edition was the No. 1 selling regional book at one Sioux Falls Barnes and Noble bookstore three summers ago,” Montross proudly notes.

The group has similar high hopes for its second printed effort, which sells for $14.95. It's a compilation of the favorite beef recipes of South Dakota's first ladies and other notables who now, or used to, call the Mount Rushmore State home.

The cookbook includes recipes from politicians, entrepreneurs, actors, actresses and sports heroes. It also includes recipes contributed by a few nonnative national celebrities, such as former U.S. first lady Barbara Bush.

The contributor listing includes Catherine “Daisy Duke” Bach and her recipe for Tasty T-Bone Steak. Sherwin Linton, the famed country, folk and gospel singer, submitted his slow-cooker recipe called Just Enough Gas To Get Home.

Then, there's fighter ace and former Governor Foss's recipe for Spiced Chuck Pot Roast, Neuharth's recipe for Steak Tartar, professional golfer Curt Byrum's favorite — Creole Steak, and IBP's Bruce Bass' recipe for Make Ahead Beef Stroganoff.

In addition to recipes from 300 or so contributors, the book also offers helpful features such as photos of all the various retail beef cuts with recommended preparation methods. There's also a section devoted to beef industry myths and facts on diet and health, hormones and antibiotics, and animal care.

“A lot of thought and time went into designing and compiling this second edition,” Montross says. “I think we thought of everything.”

Need proof of Montross's claim? How's this? The 3½- × 8½-in., spiral bound, flip-up book is designed with a built-in, cardboard easel to keep the book upright for easy reference during food preparation.

To order South Dakota Beef Bucks or either cookbook, call 888/640-6328, or write to South Dakota Beef Bucks at 20732 436th Ave., DeSmet, SD 57231.

Montross and his wife Nancy are principal players in the South Dakota Beef Bucks program.

Besides the Montrosses, the South Dakota Beef Bucks program's charter members include John Haverhals, Hudson; JoAnne Hillman, Sioux Falls; and Delina Nagel, Avon. Newer board members include Eileen Moller, Mt. Vernon; John Stiefvater, Salem; Ray Kontz, Colman; and Jim Woster, Sioux Falls.