Wassermelone Finale

Gwen Schock Cowherd, White Bear Lake, Minnesota, native of Leola, South Dakota, December 2010

My favorite meal at Grandma Mehlhaff’s house was fricasseed chicken with onions (huhna rahmdungis), mashed potatoes and cream gravy, bread dressing with eggs and onions, fresh or canned garden vegetables, creamed rice with raisins, dill pickles, pickled beets, homemade bread with apple butter, molasses cookies with powdered sugar frosting, and lemon jello (my grandfather was diabetic and it was the only sweet he would eat). In winter mid-afternoons, my uncle would fetch fresh cream from the dairy cream cans and grandma would cook up a big kettle of fudge!

Just before we would leave for home, grandma would ask my uncle to fetch wassermelones (watermelons) out of pickling barrels in the cellar. The cellar, eerie and dark, smelled musty and had a dirt floor. Its creaky lift-up door was located in the kitchen pantry. Dripping whole wassermelones were placed on the oil-clothed kitchen table and sliced while my mother hastily swung around a dish rag trying to soak up escaping sweet-sour juice and grandma chased acrobating slimy black seeds. There was much talk about the wassermelones. Were they too sweet? Too sour? Too much pickling spice? It seemed like I was the only one who preferred the fresh taste of sweet summer melons. When the wassermelones were eaten and the scrapes put in a metal slop pail and readied for the pigs, it was time to head for home. My childhood visits to the farm almost always concluded with a wassermelone finale, no matter what the season.

Note: The recipe for huhna rahmdungis (creamed or fricasseed chicken) is on page 38 of the cookbook "Food ‘N Customs – Recipes of the Black Sea Germans" published by the Germans from Russia Heritage Society, Bismarck, ND.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Libraries
Germans from Russia Heritage Collection
NDSU Dept #2080
PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050
Tel: 701-231-8416
Fax: 701-231-6128
Last Updated:
Director: Michael M. Miller
North Dakota State University Library North Dakota State University North Dakota State University GRHC Home