The Turkey King | November 30, 2022

Holy buckets, tomorrow is December.  Please say a prayer for Kyle, whose wife wouldn’t let him put up Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving.  I know that “Christmas tree timing” is a hot topic and I really have no opinion except that I am in possession of a bunch of Thanksgiving décor and am Toy Story-aware of the feelings of my box of paper mâché turkeys.  As always, my sweet husband tries to be mindful of the fact that I, too, have a holiday by suggesting we also display Hanukkah decorations, which…what would that be?  A baby pool filled with oil?

Speaking of oil, this American Thanksgiving Kyle deep-fried our turkey.  I say “American” because this was our second deep-fried turkey in 2022 (and ever); we also had deep-fried Canadian Thanksgiving turkey, and that’s what I’m going to tell you about today.

As I’ve said in the past, Canadian Thanksgiving is exactly the same as American Thanksgiving, except that it’s on a Monday in October and it’s Canadian.  This year, we decided to invite our eleven-year-old’s hockey team to our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner because their fall hockey season had recently ended and, more importantly, they are our friends.  They are so much our friends that 1) I didn’t even bother to clean the house before the party (meh, they’ve seen it), and 2) when we sent the invite everyone immediately RSVP’d with the food they were going to bring, even though at no point did I say it was a potluck, because that’s what friends do (and especially what hockey friends do).

Our guests ended up volunteering so much stuff – including their own chairs – that all I needed to provide was the turkey.  I did some quick math and figured that adults-plus-players-plus-siblings meant we could have up to fifty people, and so I would need two turkeys.  No problem, I said to Kyle, I would make one turkey on Saturday (the day before the dinner) and one on Sunday (the day of).

“We’ll be out of town Friday and Saturday for a wedding,” Kyle reminded me.  “Do you want me to see if someone else can do a turkey?”

“No,” I said, mindful of the fact that if I didn’t make the turkeys I would be nothing more than a guest at my own soiree.  “I’ll figure something out.”

Here is The Something I figured out: I would get up early and roast one turkey at 8:00am, and the second at noon.  I quadruple-checked the turkey weights and cooking times, and was 1000% solid on the fact that I could get two turkeys roasted and carved by the 5:00pm dinner.  Plus, I’d have the back-up meatballs (if you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that I always make back-up beef), which would go in the crockpot and wouldn’t be subject to any oven-related issues, should they appear.

The Thursday before the party, as I was packing up for the wedding, Kyle said to me,

“Oh, I told all the dads about the wedding issue and they said we could deep fry one of the turkeys.  It would be much faster, only 45 minutes.”

“But we don’t have a deep fryer,” I said.  “And we don’t know how to deep fry a turkey.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Kyle said with a wave of his hand.  “The dads and I got this.”

Normally, this would be the kind of last-minute laissez faire that would be ripe for a-fightin’ – but, as noted, these were our friends and I knew they would never leave me uncooked…nor would they care if things didn’t go perfectly.  Also, back-up beef.

“Sounds good,” I said.

Sho’nuff, by Sunday morning my patio was graced by one of the dad’s deep frying equipment.  Kyle moved it into the garage while I got the first turkey in the oven.

“Do you know how to set up a turkey deep fryer?”  I asked him.

“Probably,” he said.  “We’ll do it after hockey.”  (OH YEAH, I forgot to mention that; the boys had a skate directly before dinner.)

“Is that enough time?”  I asked.

“Yes,” he said.  “It only takes 45 minutes.  We’ll come here after hockey at 4, set up, and have the turkey ready to eat by 5.  We got this.”

“Sounds good,” I said.

Turkey #1 was done right at noon.  I pulled it out of the oven as Kyle set down his coffee and started arbitrarily injecting and rubbing Turkey #2 with random objects.

“Are you supposed to do that?”  I asked.

“Yes,” Kyle said.  He held up the injector.  “This was in the box.”

“Are you sure you don’t want me to roast it?”  I asked.

“Yep,” Kyle said.  “We got this.”

“Are you sure…” I said, pointing at the empty oven, and then, “Sounds good.”

Since I had a few extra hours on my hands, I pulled up YouTube because I figured it might be helpful if at least one person in the Kosior household was educated on the turkey frying process.  After sorting through a LOT of content about house fires (one of our guests was a firefighter, so that was his problem), I learned that the oil had to be heated before the turkey went in.

“The oil needs to be heated before the turkey goes in,” I said to Kyle as we cleaned up from lunch.

“Oh, okay,” Kyle said.

At 2:30pm, as Kyle was pulling out of the driveway for hockey, I shouted,

“Do you want me to start the oil while you are gone?”

And Kyle shouted back, “Nope, we got this.”

“Are you sure…” I shouted back, but he didn’t hear me.

Or maybe he did – because, twenty minutes later, I heard shuffling out in the garage.  Our next-door neighbor (and party guest) was maneuvering the deep fryer onto a makeshift platform out the side door.

“Kyle said you were a little worried about time,” he said, dumping the oil into the pot.

“I’m a little worried about all of it,” I said.

“Not to worry,” he said.  “We got this.”

“So I’ve heard,” I said.

Kyle was the fourth dad to arrive at the house after hockey.  By that point, the first three dads – including the neighbor – were standing around the deep fryer looking at the temperature gauge.

“’Bout ten more degrees,” one of them said.

Another one tapped his hand on the side of the pot to confirm.  “Yep, gettin’ there.”

The third nudged the stand with his toe and said, “Yep.”

Kyle, who had been wandering around the garage, took that “Yep” as his cue to go into the house.  He emerged a few minutes later with an apron, gloves, and the turkey on the fryer stick(?  Grabber?  Unknown).  He lowered the turkey into the deep fryer with the confidence of a man who had kerplunked a turkey in oil thousands of times before and was not doing it for the very first time without watching a single YouTube video – and then immediately wandered off again.  His spot was replaced by two more dads, who also looked at the temperature gauge.

Those five dads stood around the turkey for forty-five minutes.  At the end of the forty-five minutes, Kyle appeared from wherever he was, lifted the turkey out, set it on a cutting board in the kitchen, and, again, disappeared into the night.  The five dads, plus two more, came inside as I was taking the turkey’s temperature.  It was 15 degrees shy.

“It’ll get there; let it rest,” my neighbor said.

“Put it in the oven,” another dad said.

“Let it rest, then put it in the oven,” another dad said.

They stood around debating it for the next ten minutes – during which the turkey’s temperature got to its appropriate degree.  As per his M.O., Kyle came back from the mall or whatever and carved the turkey.  It was delicious.

That night, after we hadn’t cleaned up because everyone else had already done it, Kyle said to me,

“Deep-frying that turkey was really easy.”

“Easy for who?”  I asked.

“Yep, pretty easy,” he said, ignoring me.  “I’m going to do it for American Thanksgiving.”

“Better put the dads on speed-dial,” I said.

The photo above is of Kyle and his dad holding up the walls of the garage while the American Thanksgiving turkey was in the deep fryer.  It, too, was delicious.

This week’s news has a Toy Farmer, a real farmer, and a lot of nice people looking to make the holidays bright for seniors and families. Read on.

The Grand Forks Santa Claus Girls are at it for the 106th year, delivering 1,400 gift packages to low-income families around the community with the help of donors such as Deeks Pizza. (Grand Forks Herald)

A management class at Mandan High School cooked up Thanksgiving dinner for five Roosevelt Elementary families. (KFYR TV)

Speaking of Thanksgiving, the Jamestown community put on its 31st free Thanksgiving meal, distributing 1,060 drive-up dinners. (Jamestown Sun)

Live in Fargo?  Home Instead is looking for donors to help purchase 500 gifts for isolated seniors this year. (Valley News Live)

Live in Grand Forks?  Alexis Kringstad is putting together gift boxes for area elementary school families and is looking for dollars to make it happen. (Grand Forks Herald)

A mobile meats lab is making its way around southwest North Dakota to teach kids about ag careers. (KFYR TV)

Happy 111th birthday to Fargo’s Helene Sandvig! (Fargo Forum)

Kyle sent me this article with the note, “This guy is my hero.”  Dickinson’s John Jaeger is 92 years old and still farming…with his vintage equipment. (Dickinson Press)

This is the story of Toy Farmer magazine, which has been publishing from LaMoure since 1978. (Grand Forks Herald)

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The Grand Forks Mercantile Exchange | March 23, 2022

This week, my company is moving out of our long-time downtown office space to a fancy new building about two blocks away.  The whole thing has been a little weird for me because I have worked in our old building – the Grand Forks Mercantile Exchange – for 17 years, which is two years longer than I’ve lived in any one house.

While I typically don’t like to talk about my job on here (I can’t imagine my coworkers would be pumped to know they were associated with this nonsense), I feel I owe it to the Merc Exchange to give it a proper sendoff.  Plus, I work for an architecture firm, and if anyone would forgive me for telling a building story it’s a bunch of architects.

The most important thing for you to know about the Mercantile Exchange is that I have spent the last 17 years in unflappable conviction that it is haunted.  It is also important for you to know that there has never been a single iota of proof of this being the case.  No moving furniture, no weird noises, not even a random light flickering during a storm.  No one has ever had a weird premonition, or felt a cold breeze in the summertime, or seen a spectral image.  Even more disappointingly, there is nothing in the Merc’s history to suggest a scenario that would be appropriate for future hauntings, like star-crossed lovers or an Ancient Egyptian burial ground.  It’s just a building.

If it’s possible to make it even less romantic, it’s just a building that was originally set up for the purpose of warehousing a wholesale grocer.  The early settlers of North Dakota were not exactly precious about recording the days of yore, but as far as anyone knows the Grand Forks Mercantile Company Building was first constructed in 1893 – four years after North Dakota became a state – by Nash Brothers Wholesale.  Grand Forks is so named because it is set at the confluence of the Red River and the Red Lake River, and so it’s unsurprising that the downtown was an old-timey mecca of wholesale distribution, from farm machinery to building materials, to tobacco, to, you know, food.

Check out this sexy description of downtown Grand Forks from an account written in 1897:

“Grand Forks enjoys the distinction of being one of the best business towns in the west, and for that matter in the country, for the business done here in a general way, in proportion to the population, is equalled [sic] by few cities in America. This is due in a large measure to the enterprise and “push” of our businessmen. In none of the metropolitan cities can be found more complete stocks of goods than are carried by Grand Forks merchants. Grand Forks citizens have no occasion to go to St. Paul or Chicago to buy merchandise of any description, for while the tastes and requirements of Grand Forks citizens are doubtless as fastidious and exacting as any, yet the merchants appreciate this fact, and the best there is in the different lines of goods can be found in the mercantile establishments of Grand Forks. The splendid tributary country of prosperous communities and thriving farming population enables our business men to carry large and well selected stocks, and it is no wonder that our business men draw a large share of trade from a distance.”

As you know, North Dakotans would rather gnaw off their own arms rather than take a compliment.  As a response to the exuberance in the aforementioned commentary, in 1897, the Grand Forks Mercantile Company Building burned itself the ground.

The next year, Mrs. Minnie Clifford (along with the architect John W. Ross) rebuilt the Grand Forks Mercantile Exchange for $20,000.  The new building once again included warehouse and retail space, as well as fifteen apartments set within red hard-pressed brick from Winnipeg, Manitoba, because Grand Forks loves us some Canadians.  Mrs. Clifford was obviously a witch because her foresight (to install a brick wall) protected the retail and apartments from total destruction when it was gutted by a second fire in World War II.

From 1898 to 1996, the Grand Forks Mercantile Exchange housed Pure Foods (Hugo’s original food store, for those of you who are in the know of North Dakota grocers), the Ford Model T dealership, the John Deere Implement, and the S&H Green Stamps Premium Store.  When my company took it over in ’96 the front retail façade was painted a mint green in support of(?) the main floor tenant, a consignment shop called The Pink Hanger.  We (“we” – I was in high school) converted the retail to a restaurant space and fitted out the upper two floors with offices.

Anyways, I think the Mercantile Exchange is haunted because, even without any woo-wooing down the corridors, it carries the ghosts of the past 100+ years.  There are charred lintels above the windows from the second fire.  The structural beams have remnants of John Deere green.  The back stairwell is formed from the skeleton of the vehicle elevator that moved cars, trucks, and groceries up to the second and third floors.  And throughout the whole building, the tilted – one of my coworkers just had to lift her feet if she wanted to roll over to talk to her neighbor – wood floor is a novel all on its own with its tire, high heel, and life ruts, a few of which were made by yours truly.

(Also, the basement looks like a scene out of a horror film, although the only terrible thing that’s happened was some water damage.  Once we found a transient woman down there moving stuff around, but she was less “threat” and more “outside-the-box hiring potential.”)

In my early days with the company before I had kids and/or a desire for more than two hours of sleep, I pulled an all-nighter to get a proposal out the door.  I was the only one in the building when the sun came up, and for a few minutes the entire river valley was awash in fiery beams of gold – no fire department necessary.

We are officially out at the end of the month.  I’m guessing a new tenant will soon take our place and make their own ruts and memories.  My company will become a part of the structural ghosts – which, now that I type it, is probably the reason we restored the building in the first place.

I took some pictures of the historic elements I noted above and put them on Instagram if you’re interested.  Kyle took the photo of me (and the Merc Exchange, and my ample nostrils) above.

This week’s news has an undefeated team, a viral grandma, and a ranch in Sterling.  Read on.

Three students at LaMoure Public School – Rose Wendel, Makayla Jones, and Molly Musland – won third place in a documentary competition hosted by C-SPAN. (Grand Forks Herald)

Grandma Judy Wanek traveled from Breckenridge to Fargo for a night of karaoke – and went viral. (Fargo Forum)

The Four Winds-Minnewaukan boys basketball team went undefeated – and won the state championship – this season, and here is a nice interview with their coach about their hard work. (Facebook)

In case you missed it, I put up a bunch of stories on North Dakota Nice this past weekend, including:

After a long hiatus, I’m bringing back North Dakota Grows with a story on Black Leg Ranch Meats, the Doan Family, and holistic cattle and bison management. (North Dakota Nice)

Spring is the perfect time to start planning your backyard rink, and so here is story I wrote on ODRs (Outdoor Rinks) for The Red Cent. (North Dakota Nice)

My best friend Raemi does not live in North Dakota.  She lives in Boston.  However, I thought all of my fellow North Dakotans (and Bostonians) would enjoy a story about her cat, named DolphLundgren. (North Dakota Nice)

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Crab | February 11, 2021

Kyle and I met in late December ’04 and were engaged by April ’05 – the word you’re searching for there is “insane” – and so we were obviously hot-and-heavy-schmoopy-woopy-kissy-poo by the time Valentine’s Day rolled around.  Kyle made a big to-do planning a romantic evening that would best represent our lurrrvvve, which included dinner at a fancy establishment advertising a Valentine’s Day-only crab leg special, followed by a movie.  Fresh seafood is a bit of a rarity when you live roughly 3,000 miles from the closest ocean, and I was both excited and incredibly impressed that I had such a thoughtful boyfriend.

We gussied up in our best duds that evening.  I was wearing a printed white top, cherry miniskirt, and very high patent leather heels because that’s the outfit you choose when you’re in your early 20’s and red-hot with passion, negative-20-degree weather be damned.  I topped off the whole look with a plastic seafood bib.  Kyle was crabtivated.

The waiter had to push aside the floral centerpiece and candles in order to fit what I would describe as a trough o’ legs on the table.  I daintily readjusted the top of my bib and peered over Mount Crustacean to smile at Kyle.  He grinned back, his face shining in the reflection of the buttery summit.  I selected the largest of the crab legs, stuck the cracker in the middle, and gave it a slight squeeze.  It flopped like a boiled Twizzler.

I dabbed my fingers on my napkin, and gave it another go – this time with more gusto.  The crab leg folded in two under the cracker, remaining perfectly whole.  I smiled again.  Kyle looked concerned.

“Everything okay?”  He asked.

“Mmm, yes,” I said, not about to ruin our romance with something as trivial as rubbery seafood.  I set aside the cracker, casually pushed up my sleeves, and twisted that crab leg like I was wringing diamonds out of a towel made of coal.  The shell finally gave way, flinging bits of butter and crab all over and around my bib.  I salvaged whatever meat I could, and dove in again.

Kyle either finished his meal or had lost his appetite long before I made it to the bottom of the platter.  The waiter had to bring me a new napkin three times.  When I finally hit parsley, I made a big show of using the little wet towelette to wipe away the butter running down my forearms into my pits and then excused myself to the ladies’ to further “freshen up” before the movies.  The bib had served as more of a ceremonial decoration rather than an actual protective covering, and I was coated from literal head to toe in crab goo and grease – rendering my white shirt see-through in places and somehow working its way into the toes of my heels.  I considered a hand soap scrubdown or just straight-up washerwomaning my clothes in the sink, but instead just did a cursory job with a couple of hand towels and figured the movie theater would be nice and dark.

I spilled the buttered popcorn on my poor skirt and tights before the previews had even started.  Kyle made the best of it by proclaiming that the popcorn smell covered up the eau de crab.  When I got home that night, I found a substantial piece of shell in my underwear.  We got married anyway.  That date was seventeen years ago, Kyle’s taste has not improved, and I now keep a poncho in my car in case of crab legs.  The photo above was taken during our four-month courtship at the Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg.  It was very cold that day, but we were fortunate to have Kyle’s sideburns to keep us warm.

This week’s news is about a 40-year volunteer, a room full of prom dresses, and Hygge.  Read on.

Bismarck’s Marlene Sapa donated her entire stimulus check in order to help 250 Grimsrud students. (KX Net)

Congratulations to Watford City high schooler Sumaiyah Alyadumi, winner of the Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Award! (McKenzie County Farmer)

Minot elementary school teacher Sara Medalen has received the National Education Association’s Horace Mann Award, and is now one of five finalists for the National Education Association Salute to Excellence in Education Award. (KX Net)

Vickie Phippins, Minot’s Citizen of the Year – and the Minot Air Force Base Civilian of the Quarter AND Civilian of the Year – has spent the last four decades volunteering at the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, the American Red Cross, and the Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry. (KX Net)

The Davies High School swim team is swimming a LOT of laps – $10,000 worth – to raise money for teammate fighting cancer. (KVRR)

This is the short story of a long-term rodeo participant, judge, director, and volunteer: LaMoure’s Jannene Janssen. (News Dakota)

The Pioneer Museum in Watford City is hosting an evening of Hygge. (McKenzie County Farmer)

A Williston salon is gathering up new and used prom dresses to give out to students later this year. (KX Net)

Bottineau’s Case Thompson now has a new fish house to make the most of winter, courtesy of Make-a-Wish North Dakota. (Minot Daily News)

(Like Amanda Silverman Kosior and/or North Dakota Nice?  Check out last week’s tale about T-shirts and Engine Block Heaters.)