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3/2/2005 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

This is a continuation of a report on my big three-day vacation in Omaha, Neb.
My other quest was for an additional purple martin house for my garden. I like seeing the martins flying through the air and I’m especially fond of their songs. It sounds like a symphony in the back yard during the summer.
I think they’ve pretty much filled the birdhouse I have and want to attract more of those birds. I’m not much of a bird watcher but my cats find this hobby fascinating.
These martin houses are expensive. They’re built specially for these birds and you can drop a couple hundred bucks easily. The poles on which the houses are mounted are also expensive. I checked at Home Depot, Lowes and Menards first. Neither Home Depot nor Lowes had them, but Menards did, at a reasonable price of less than $50. But they had no poles. These poles have to be telescoping with keys in them so you can lower the birdhouse to clean it and then hoist it back up. On the Internet one can get a pole for about $60 plus freight. I figured I could find a pole cheaper than that.
So, I checked the phone book, looking for birdhouses. I must have gone to 15 or 20 of these stores. Several had martin houses with poles for just under $200. Too rich for my blood. I even called a flagpole company in Council Bluffs asking if they had poles which could be used for martin houses. Oh, yes, was the reply. I drove all the way over there only to find that the pole cost more than $200! My quest was a complete bust. Guess I’ll have to order a martin house from the Internet.
Thursday and Friday I continued my quest for salt and pepper shakers and martin houses and poles. I met with failure. But there was no failure with my hobby of gluttony.
Wednesday noon I went to McKenna’s at 7425 Pacific for my obligatory sausage sandwich. As I said, I don’t usually eat a noon meal, but for your sake, dear readers, I had this incredibly spicy sausage. Oh, it’s good.
Everything at McKenna’s is good. They advertise themselves as the home of booze, blues and barbecue. Boy, do they have great barbecue! But getting back to the sausage, it’s probably made by a Cajun in the basement. The first bite and the wax in your ears melts. Wow! Your tongue goes numb. And you get that warm, satisfied feeling in your gut. Cost is $5.99 and well worth it. You get a side dish, but I didn’t have anything to go with it because I didn’t want to fill myself up. Supper was going to be early.
Supper was at the Kobe Steakhouse at 120 Regency Parkway. On my last trip to Omaha I took Jim and Sue’s grandkids there and they wanted to go again.
As a coincidence, so did I. This is one of those places where you’re seated around a grill and the Oriental chef provides a show while he cooks the meal in front of you. It’s impressive and fun and the food is always excellent, but it ain’t cheap. If I remember right, there were nine of us.
Several of us splurged on the house special which was filet mignon, shrimp and boneless chicken for $21.95. With that you get fried or boiled rice, lots of vegetables and a full and contented belly. Jim’s son Dan was the most adventurous. He had steak and calamari (squid). He said it was good.
Thursday Jim and Sue and I had breakfast at Mimi’s Cafe off the 168th Street exit on Dodge. It’s a very nice chain restaurant with pleasing decor. I had the Santa Fe omelette for $7.79. This is a three-egg omelette with diced jalapeno peppers, cilantro, tomato, onion, tortilla bits, Monterey jack cheese covered with a spicy chipotle chile sauce. On the side are fried red potatoes with the skin on them and a muffin. I ordered an oat and banana muffin which came first. That was nearly a meal in itself. Oh, so good. The butter melted on the warm muffin and it tasted so good with the coffee I ordered to ward off liver cancer.
When the breakfast plate came to the table it was almost overwhelming. The spicy red sauce covered the yellow omelette, which contained flecks of red jalapeno, red tomato and green cilantro. It was very colorful. I ate until I got full and then ate some more. The potatoes were so delicious I couldn’t leave any on my plate. With Herculean effort I ate everything on the huge plate! What a feast! I waddled out of the place plumb full up to my gills.
I’m sorry, dear readers, that I had to let you down. There was absolutely no room for a noon meal. That afternoon I even had to turn down the food samples at Sam’s Club. That’s full!
Supper was at an old favorite, Grisanti’s at 10875 West Dodge Road (Dodge and I-680) with Jim and Sue and their kids and grandkids. I had recovered some of my appetite and tackled angel hair pasta with shrimp for $11.95. It was deliciously garlicy, but my appetite flagged about halfway through the meal. I had to leave the place with a doggy bag. I finished off the shrimp and pasta the next morning for breakfast — with a cup of coffee, of course.
I wanted to be good and hungry for supper, so there was no noon meal. We did stop at the Cold Stone Creamery and had the equivalent of a double dip ice cream cone mid-afternoon. This is located in a unique mall just off 168th and Dodge. It’s kind of a strip mall built like a smaller town’s main street.
Friday supper was at Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs. We got to the casino about 4 p.m. figuring we could gamble for half an hour and win enough to pay for supper. Ya, right! The casino was jam-packed. Everybody was there for Lent, I guess. It was hard to find a quarter machine I felt I could afford. Turns out I couldn’t afford the one I found, but I’m certainly not going to brag about being a loser.
The casino features a seafood buffet for $15 per person on Friday nights.
We got in line at 4:30 and must have stood in line for 45 minutes before being seated. You can go through the buffet several times. I did twice and Jim did at least three times. His son-in-law, Jeff Benak went through the line at least four times. It was a fabulous feast. Crab legs, garlic shrimp, plain shrimp, stuffed crab, breaded cod, mahi-mahi, clams, mussels and other seafood I can’t remember. If seafood isn’t your bag, they had a complete Chinese smorgasbord, prime rib, chicken, several different potatoes and desserts. I had a plate of seafood and fried potatoes and went back for a slice of prime rib and more shrimp. There was no room left for dessert. What a meal!
Saturday morning I got up early and came back to the reality of hamburgers and beans in Minnewaukan.

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