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)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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Buy me some peanuts and Whiskey Jacks | June 17, 2021

Our nine-year-old played two sets of double-headers last Friday and Saturday.  On Sunday, we naturally decided to detox after hours upon hours of baseball by taking our two sons and a friend to a Wheat City Whiskey Jacks baseball game.  The Whiskey Jacks played the Badlands Big Sticks at Kraft Field, which is apparently known to our family as “that place with the concession stand” because the boys ate their way through the entire experience.

In the first inning, the Whiskey Jacks and Big Sticks each scored two runs.  We had come to the ballpark directly from dinner – and by “directly” I mean that one of the kids was still chewing it as we found a parking spot – and so the three boys got six two-for-$1 Freeze pops for dessert and I had a frozen Snickers because I was standing in line anyways.

In the second inning, both the Whiskey Jacks’ and Big Sticks’ pitchers hit a batter with a ball.  While getting beaned by an errant pitch is certainly nothing new in nine-year-old baseball (one of the kids on Nine’s team had the luck of being hit twice during a single game the previous weekend) the kids were beside themselves with excitement that it could happen to the big boys, too.  Shouting “OOOOOOOOH” and “THROW STRIKES, PITCHER” made our six-year-old thirsty, so Kyle stopped by the stand to buy him a bottle of water.  Six went along “to go to the bathroom” and came back with a bag of popcorn.

In the third, the Whiskey Jacks’ second baseman got a double and did a little celebration dance on the bag.  The dancing made our sons’ friend realize that if he didn’t spend the $5 his mother had given him, he would still have $5.  Fortunately, the concession stand was willing to trade it for a soda and a bag of chips.

In the fourth, a different Whiskey Jacks pitcher hit one of the Big Sticks with a wild pitch after a contentious “was it, wasn’t it” foul ball situation.  The boys’ friend had trouble yelling, “OOOOOOOOOH” with a mouthful of chips, which reminded Six that he was “starving.”  When offered a hot dog or a hamburger, Six revealed that he wasn’t that starving, “only chippie hungry.”  It was also in this inning that Nine and the friend gathered enough research to determine that the handful of fly balls that had left the playing field had tended to go in every direction except the one in which we were sitting.  When I pointed out that most people prefer to be away from the path of fly balls, Nine and Friend decided to leave the park and hang out around the concession stand in order to nab one.

“What are you going to do if you catch a ball?”  I asked.

“Play with it,” Nine said.

“But we have a whole bucket of balls at home,” I reminded him.

“Ugh, Mom,” he said.  “These are different.”

At the top of the fifth, the Whiskey Jacks took out the Big Sticks 1-2-3.  A little boy sitting in front of us was eating a giant hot dog.  The hot dog had other ideas, and slowly slid out of the bun and onto the ground.  The little boy took a look at it, shrugged, and went back to eating his bun.  Nine had returned briefly to initially announce that he, too, was “only chippie hungry” – elevating his declaration after the hot dog incident to “maybe hot dog hungry.”

In the sixth inning, the Whiskey Jacks’ batter hit a drive directly to the Big Sticks’ pitcher, who caught it for the third out.  This gave us a chance to talk about how much that must have hurt, and how dangerous it is to be a pitcher, and how maybe I was “maybe hot dog hungry,” too.

We left at the seventh inning stretch because Six had circled around the concession stand menu and was hinting strongly at both another Freeze pop and a need for sleep.  Nine and Friend did not catch a foul ball, so they had to settle for bringing home only good memories.

“What was your favorite part?”  I asked as we got in the truck.

“I liked when the catcher got to run down the runner at third,” said Nine.

“I liked the home run,” said the Friend.

“I liked the baseball game,” said Six.

“And I liked when the pitcher didn’t realize it was a live ball,” Kyle said.  “What was your favorite?”

“The Snickers,” I said quietly.

The photo above is from the game, which ended 8-6 in favor of the Big Sticks.

This week’s news is about a really big garage sale, a pride of lions, and Pie Day.  Read on.

The 19th annual “Highway 21 Treasure Hunt” kicks off today (June 18) and includes 100+ rummage sales along a 100-mile route, going through Flasher, Carson, Heil, Elgin, New Leipzig, Mott, Regent, and New England. (Dickinson Press)

Grenora’s Ron Laqua and Joanie Ledahl have put together an online record of the stories of everyone buried in the local cemetery. (Fargo Forum)

Hillsboro displays 500 flags up and down the boulevard in honor of Hillsboro Days, Independence Day, Labor Day, Patriots Day, and Veterans Day. (Jamestown Sun)

Bottineau’s Lauren Vad has lived in South Africa for the last 6.5 years, and is now opening her own wildlife sanctuary (with four new lions!), named Warriors of Wildlife. (KX Net)

The Fargo Memorial Honor Guard will be honoring Navy veteran Brian Gordon Johnson, who served between 1976 and 1980 and will be the fourth veteran to go unclaimed and buried by the organization. (KVRR)

Seven-year-old Cooper Craig got to be a Dickinson police officer for the day (and stop a bank robbery!), thanks to Make-a-Wish North Dakota and the Dickinson Police Department. (KX Net)

Hillsboro’s Elise Jacobson is headed to Arkansas to compete in the Miss College America Pageant. (Hillsboro Banner)

Pie Day is back at the Valley City Barnes County Public Library. (Valley City Times-Record)

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.)