Gefilte Fish | March 18, 2021

My heart belongs to the Fourth of July because it’s the day both my son and my nephew were born; however, in terms of actual festivity-related commemoration, my favorite holiday is the Jewish celebration of Passover.  Passover, which kicks off this year at the end of March, is the remembrance of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt and (after a forty-year desert walkabout) over to the Promised Land.

Considering the story of Moses brings with it a lot of heavy topics – slavery, devastation, mass death, pyramids – Passover is one of our top two jazziest holidays.  It’s basically Jewish Dinner Theater.  It has Singing!  Plagues!  Wine!  Participation by Kids of All Ages!  Hide-and-Go-Seek!  The whole thing centers around The Meal, which we eat while merrymaking about swarms of locusts and a wave of water wiping out the Egyptian army – Yay, Plight!

The Meal is my favorite part of Passover.  While I’m guessing there are plenty of Jews who consume Passover food year-round, I use the eight days of the holiday to stuff in so much related food that I gross myself out of it until the following year.  And speaking of gross, I’d like to tell you about the most disgusting of my favorite Passover foods: gefilte fish.

When you think of universally-beloved foods, they are almost all made up of fish that has been boiled into mush.  Gefilte fish is conglomeration of white-colored fish mush mixed with matzah (a giant cracker eaten at Passover) meal and then smooshed into an oval or loaf shape.  It’s texture can be likened to a moist kitchen sponge and it’s odor is a strong blend of tangy, fishy sweetness – all big selling points when it comes to a gill-based food product.

You can typically find gefilte fish on your grocery store pantry shelves – nothing says meat-based protein like a lack of refrigeration! – stored in its trademark jar.  Gefilte fish is packaged suspended with carrot slices in urine-colored jelly, and there’s nothing like that sluurrrppping sound when you pry out a slab.  I eat mine with red horseradish.

Kyle is not Jewish; he is, however, a real mensch about being Jew-adjacent, especially at Passover.  The Passover seder is a multi-course meal with accompanying stage props, and Kyle has spent many-a-holiday running around Grand Forks in search of boxes of egg matzah and digging through the toy boxes to gather up rubber frogs.  He has participated in every part of the Passover celebration…save for the eating of the gefilte fish.  As is the case with other piscine delicacies such as lutefisk, people who actually consume and enjoy fish on a regular basis have trouble choking down a lump of gefilte fish.  For my dear husband, who will only eat fish if it has been breaded and fried past visual or taste recognition, it ain’t ever gonna happen.

We celebrated one of our first Passovers in our country house with my parents and my aunt, who drove up from Minneapolis and Denver, respectively, for the occasion.  There are a lot of benefits to being Jewish in North Dakota but procuring a large quantity of a wide variety of Passover food isn’t one of them, and so I gave both groups a list of groceries (seriously, red horseradish is really hard to find) so as to fulfill the seder and also sate my holiday palate for the rest of the year.

Kyle and I were setting the table in anticipation for their arrival when I realized that I hadn’t bought or requested any gefilte fish.  No matter, I thought, I’d seen a few jars around town and Kyle hadn’t been out on an errand in at least twenty minutes, and so off he went…only to return an hour later empty-handed.  Every store had been shopped clean.  I called my mom.

“We’re pulling into the driveway!”  She said.  “What’s up?”

I called my aunt.

“You don’t need to buy gefilte fish,” she said.  “We can just make it.”

Before the sun set, my kitchen was covered in groceries and two giant pots of boiling fish.  Kyle sat on a stool, trying to make light conversation without breathing through his nose.

“Here, Mandy,” my aunt said (she’s one of only two people in the world to still call me Mandy, which immediately takes me back to being eight years old, sitting in my grandma’s kitchen, drinking a Coke and eating chocolate chip cookies), handing me a spoon.  “Skim off the fish foam.”

At the word “foam,” Kyle left to take our baby out for a walk.

We made two kinds of gefilte fish – one “regular” and one flavored with salmon – and both were by far the best gefilte fish I’ve ever eaten.  My mom, dad, and aunt had one piece each, and I consumed the entire rest of the loaves.  The house and I smelled like gefilte fish for weeks.  The whole thing was so traumatizing for Kyle that when I buy a jar of gefilte fish now, he hides it in the back of the refrigerator so that he doesn’t have to look at it.  Passover is a week away, which is just the right amount of time for me to test out (my marriage and) my aunt’s gefilte fish recipe once again.

I’m not going to put a picture of gefilte fish on this story because there’s never been a delectable photo taken of gefilte fish at any point in the history of Judaism or photography.  Instead, the photo above is from last year’s Passover seder, which took place right after everything locked down.  I needed a roasted lamb shank bone for the seder plate and there wasn’t one to be had in town, so Kyle drew a little picture and we made fun of it for a minute.  Boom, roasted.

This week’s news has an app for farmland hunting, online art lessons, and Miss Basketball.  Read on.

Montpelier High School has received $15,000 in technology supplies after making it to the semi-finals of the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Contest with their student-led initiative to create an app to make it safer for hunters on area farmland.  If they make it to the finals, they receive a total of $65,000; the national winner will get $130,000. (Valley News Live)

Jamestown’s Myra Klein has held free virtual art lessons for elementary-age kids every weekday since the beginning of the pandemic, and now she has been awarded an extra $1,000 for art supplies to keep her instructions going into the future. (Jamestown Sun)

Dickinson’s Jared Shypkoski has hooked a state record-catching 33”, 16.39lb walleye. (Grand Forks Herald)

KX does a regular featured called “Someone You Should Know,” and this one is particularly nice: a fellow named Cello who is new to Minot. (KX Net)

Congratulations to Hettinger-Scranton’s Sam Oase, winner of North Dakota Miss Basketball!  A fun fact: Sam is the first player from the school to win the award. (KFYR TV)

The headline says it all: New England’s Devin Wert is the SIXTH generation to harvest wheat on his family farm. (GS Publishing)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s tale about mowing the lawn.)

Nice news of the week – June 4, 2020

Did you know the Fargo Moorhead Area Youth Symphonies are performing live every Friday on Facebook?

And did you know this week’s news features an Employee of the Month, a poetry contest for high schoolers, and free ice cream?  Read on.


One of the greatest inventions in the world is the ice cream truck.  In Williston, Susan Elsbernd took her truck to Bethel Lutheran Home to say thanks to the staff and residents with free ice cream paid for by the community. (Williston Herald)

Devils Lake’s Pete Pederson has given over 100 hours of his time to drive groceries to people who cannot leave their homes. (Devils Lake Journal)

Minot’s Papa Johns held a fundraiser to provide 100% of the daily profits to the family of one of their former employees who had passed away. (KX Net)

New Rockford’s Employee of the Month, which is nominated by the community and selected by the newspaper – is Andrew Presnell, the youngest recipient of the award. (New Rockford Transcript)

A cool Hettinger three-year-old named Aakron Raba now has an equally-cool wheelchair swing thanks to Make-A-Wish North Dakota. (KFYR TV)

Jamestown Public Schools is continuing their free meal program to the end of June to make sure families get fed. (Jamestown Sun)

NDSU’s Corso the bison is now home, home on the range. (KFYR TV)

The coronavirus pandemic has led to some really beautiful opportunities to create wedding memories beyond the norm. (Wahpeton Daily News)

In all of this sadness, I think it’s wonderful to see North Dakotans coming together to help one another. The morning after rioters damaged buildings in downtown Fargo, volunteers showed up in force to clean up. (Dickinson Press)

The Minot Chamber Chorale is holding its first-ever poetry contest on the theme “Life & Love in the Time of Covid-19.”  If you know of a North Dakota high school student who loves their way around words, have them enter now. (Minot Daily News)

A lot of bad news surrounding the police lately, but here’s something good: if the police “catch” you wearing a bike helmet in Minot, they will give you free ice cream. (Minot Daily News)

Watford City’s Samantha Jorgenson saddled up for The American, one of the biggest rodeos in the world. (McKenzie County Farmer)

Congratulations to Minot’s Paisley Stanley, winner of the North Dakota PBS Kids Writers Contest!  Paisley just finished the third grade, and you can hear her story on (KFYR TV)

I think it is so kind how the North Dakota community has rallied around the family of Grand Forks Police Officer Cody Holte. (Grand Forks Herald)

On a personal note, I posted a poem the other day on North Dakota Nice and received so many nice comments from all of you.  I’m always a little embarrassed to share what I write, and your words mean so much to me; thank you.

Nice news of the day – January 9, 2020

Here’s something to buzz about: did you know there are 670,536 registered bee colonies in North Dakota?

And did you know today’s news is about entrepreneurial pre-teens, rural religion, and bugs.  Read on.

This is a great idea: Garrison business owners are partnering up with sixth graders who want to start working. (BHG)

Bismarck’s Kari Warberg is changing the world, one bug at a time. (KX Net)

The Richland Lutheran Church near Hettinger is one of the last operating rural churches in Adams County, and it has been seeing recent growth. (Adams County Record)