Toga! Toga! Toga!

IMG_7949.JPG IMG_7947.JPG

It was another crazy, fun-filled weekend up in Omaha over the weekend. On Friday night at JNO, I got to wear a toga for the first time. It was the Rite of Swing Toga Party Dance at the Eagle’s Lodge, and you got to save $3 if you showed up wearing a $3 bedsheet. I suppose it all evens out somehow in the end. I also got to put some plastic garland in my hair, which surprisingly completed the look when Vivian and I went out eat Caesar Salad before the dance. Doing the Lindy Hop in a bedsheet proved to be fairly difficult, however, especially when the sheet started coming undone and I began tripping over it. We finished off the night around 2 AM at Village Inn, where we ate Truffle Pie as Jessica showed us some more of her amazing talents.

IMG_8055.JPG IMG_8034.JPG

On Saturday, we celebrated “little” Debbie’s birthday at her house in West Omaha. We grilled hamburgers and had a couple “fuzzy navels” as Eric played swing music and Kevin brought out a couple Slinkies to send flopping down a small staircase. He gave up before too long and started trying to get it to break dance instead. We also grilled up some hamburgers and hot dogs with some delicious deep-fried french fries, courtesy of Vivian and a pot of boiling oil.

IMG_8056.JPGVivian and I had to leave the party fairly early, so we didn’t get a chance to enjoy playing with the electronic game of Catchphrase we gave to her. Instead, we had a double date with some of her old friends, Dennis and Kara, down at the Upstream in the Old Market. We all wound up ordering the same dish: Smoked Salmon with Cheese Tortellini. By some coincidence, the four of us also wound up getting the same beer: Honey Raspberry Ale. Either great minds think alike, or we were all so tired from a busy week that we didn’t feel up to making any more unnecessary decisions. After dinner, we walked down to take a look at a gallery of beautiful nature photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen, and then stopped by Delice for hot drinks and chocolate mousse to finish off the night.

IMG_8069.JPG IMG_8111.JPG

Sunday afternoon, I and a couple guys from my small group at Great Adventures got to prepare a St. Patrick’s day dinner for Monday night. We’d settled on making Shepherd’s Pie, a fairly simple Irish-kind-of dish. My job was to bring twelve pounds of ground beef meat to cook. The rest of the guys—Luke, Jose, Jon, and Ben—were going to bring the instant potatoes, stewed tomatoes, and vegetables for the rest of the pies. The “other” Matt in our group was also making brownies at his place. It took us a couple hours, but we eventually came out with a bunch of Shepherd’s Pies that wound up feeding the whole group. We even made a “vegetarian pie” and also a “non-dairy” pie for the lactose intolerant in our group. It was loads of fun, particularly for a guy like me who never gets to cook for that many people at a time.

GAMe Guys’ recipe for Shepherd’s Pie
(feeds 50)


  • 12 pounds of ground beef
  • Several cans of mixed vegetables
  • Several cans of stewed tomatoes (if you have nothing else on hand, use those diced tomatoes with green chiles or garlic instead)
  • Four or five boxes of instant mashed potatoes
  • A couple sticks of butter
  • Salt


  1. Open a couple cans of mixed vegetables, drain and put into a big bowl. You’ll need the empty cans to drain off the grease from the ground beef.
  2. Brown up the ground beef and drain off the grease as carefully as you can into the empty cans.
  3. Boil some butter in water and mix with salt before stirring in the instant potatoes. Follow the directions on the box.
  4. Line the bottom of a pan with ground beef. Mix in some stewed tomatoes, then add a layer of vegetables on top.
  5. When done mixing up the instant potatoes, spread a bunch of it over the top. Add green food coloring if you want to be obnoxiously Irish.
  6. For lactose-intolerant Shepherd’s Pie, use instant potatoes (make sure the ingredients don’t include something funky like whey, first) made with olive oil instead of butter, and unsweeted soymilk instead of milk.
  7. Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *