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Saturday, February 4, 2012

February 3, 2012: Omaha Comes to Knoxville! And a STUPID PINEAPPLE FAILURE!

Every year, one of the partners in my practice generously sends me Omaha Steaks and some goodies that go with it. Two years ago, the steaks came the same day that a construction worker was installing a new fire alarm in my condo. He didn't look at me very lustily, but I swear I could see his salivary glands working when he looked at those steaks. So when he left, I just gave them to him. He was pretty dumfounded. But it was good for both of us.

The truth is: I have NO IDEA how to grill. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I married my husband: an engineer, a man of reason, a man who measures a steak thickness and then sets a timer to grill it by the advice on a chart. Would I go to this much trouble? Probably not. At least not for everyone.

I noticed when we relocated to our present domicile, that not only did I still have LAST YEAR'S steak from the giver of gifts, but this years steaks had arrived, too. So when I asked my good fishing buddies, Melanie and Dorothy to come over for dinner, and I realized I would be teaching class until 3-4 pm, OMAHA came to mind.

Everytime I think of Omaha, several things come to mind.

The movie ABOUT SCHMIDT with Jack Nicholson. Did anyone else see this?

I think Jack Nicholson is a WEIRD DUDE, but he is also a great actor. And this movie probably was not such a box office blast like so many other of his films, but I thought it was sadly funny. (Do those words belong in tandem like that?) A true dark comedy. After I got over the shock of seeing Kathy Bates in the buff, I thought this was a real winner. Here's the plot:
Jack Nicholson plays retiring insurance actuary. Schmidt has settled into a dormant life. He has an unfulfilling marriage and conspires to spend as much time away from his wife as possible. Schmidt's daughter Jeannie is engaged to Randall, a man Schmidt believes is entirely unworthy of his daughter. When Helen unexpectedly dies, Warren is adrift until he discovers old love letters sent to his wife from his best friend. This inspires Warren to make a valiant effort to stop his daughter's wedding. His plans start to go awry when he meets Randall's extroverted mother, Roberta (Kathy Bates). About Schmidt was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival where many were surprised that Nicholson did not take home the Best Actor award.
But I think the film was just way too dark for the audience. Anyway, if you are in the mood, check it out!

My friend Teresa Onzay Dawson who probably weighs 90 lbs sopping wet, but is a very cool chick. She is from Omaha. Everytime I think of her, I think one of the most uncomfortable situation I have ever been in. Years ago, one of my students wanted me to meet a woman he was working with who he thought I would "click with." So I agreed to meet up at a local restaurant in Shreveport and invited Teresa and my secretary, Shirley. During the course of the dinner, Robin, the lady in question, started to have a spirited dialogue about abortion and about how archaic the state of Louisiana was. It ended up she, the manager of an abortion clinic, was hiring my student to do the pre-abortion mandatory "think twice" session that must precede any abortion by 24 hours in that least in 2001, it did. NOt sure if that is still true. Just so my personal stand on abortion is known: I am not a "fan" of abortion, particularly as a form of birth control, but I also realize it has been going on for millenia, and no one will stop it, so I am a fan of making it safe for those who choose to do it. I also realize there are women for whom abortion is the only viable medical choice and for those individuals, I favor it. That is my general stance about the issue in a very simplistic manner, realizing I haven't given my whole opinion, the potential nuances and the fact that no matter what my opinion is, there will be those who do and have every right to disagree.
So as Robin began to rant about the ridiculous state of Louisiana, the rights of women, and the good points of abortion, I guess she was surprised that all the women at the table were not sharing her enthusiasm wholeheartedly. We were all silent but respectful. Finally, she looked at me and said, "Don't you agree with me?" I told her, "Well, I wish no one would get an abortion, but I would never try to stop anyone who felt like they needed to do it, because I really don't know what they are up against." So she looked at Shirley and said, "What about you?" SHirley said, "Well, I had my son when I was twelve years old. Now he's 45, and I don't have any regrets." Lastly, she turned to Teresa who was probably in her late 20s at the time and said, "Surely, you agree with me." And Teresa replied, "Ummmmmm. I'm adopted." Fortunately, since everyone, including Robin was a reasonably nice person, we changed the conversation topic immediately. But I think everyone felt tense for a while.

Stockyards, meat packing and steaks. I know Omaha no longer meets the stockyard characteristics of its past. But it ran till 1999, so the Union Stockyards have just recently met their demise. However, Omaha Steaks, founded in 1917 out of a single butcher shop is still up and running nearly one hundred years later by the same Simon family.

Paul cooked up this very delicious top sirloin on his webber grill. He heated it to 600 degrees and cooked one side for 5 minutes and the other for 3 to produce a perfectly done medium rare steak. YOU GO, BABY!

The package also came with a twiced baked potato which you reheat in the oven for about 25 minutes.

I served these gifts with a kitchen sink salad (tonight it was triple washed baby lettuce, grape tomatoes, shredded carrots, edamame, yellow bell pepper and avocado sprinkled with feta. YUM!)

For dessert, I recycled the brownies on my previous blog, Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownie. I split the brownie in half and put chocolate chip ice cream between the two halves and doused it in smucker's brand hot fudge sundae sauce. I did not indulge in this dessert, but there were no left overs on anyone dessert plate :)

Crowd Consensus on this Meal:

The steaks: Yum. Melanie left one bite on her plate and Dorothy grabbed it
and ate it saying, "Hey, Mel. That's meat!"
Kudos to my hubby for great grilling!
The salad: "Love the edamame and the avocado."
The twice baked potato: "Pretty good for something that's been frozen for
over a year."
The sundae: To quote Mel and Dot as they watched Paul eat his serving-- "He
Keeps making those grunting noises."

The dinner was great and thanks to my husband for his help, but mostly, thanks to Mel and Dot for coming over and sharing a great evening!


  1. How are you not 600 pounds? You must exercise like mad. My god, that sounds amazing. I think I'm having lean cuisine fried rice tonight. I'll be thinking of your steaks

  2. Well, I do weigh more than I should! You know I am on a diet. It is roughly based on weight watchers. I hope to get rid of weight while cooking for a foodie husband. HA. I am going to prove this isn't mutually exclusive. The diet is simple, if you want me to send it to you. But I get to eat WHATEVER I want at dinner, sans dessert (I can have 3 bites though) and alcohol (but I can have one glass of wine...somedays I don't drink at all so I can "save up" my weekly wine/beer Writer's night. Y
    You will enjoy this: I was going to make a STUPID PINEAPPLE CHEESECAKE...which I did make but it wasn't set in time for dinner. SO I failed in the stupid pineapple competition, but I see you made it. YOURS was great!

  3. That dessert looks so delicious I might try to eat it off my screen. The steaks sound good too. I'd like to see that diet because I wuld like to get some poundage off as well.

  4. Nancy if you check the blog before this one, it has the recipe for those brownie. Remember when you took that children's writing workshop and I was the "secret caterer" for it. It is the same brownie. There is nothing hard about it. I even cheat and melt the chocolate in the microwave instead of over a boiler of water!