Edible Omaha

Spilling the Beans


Nebraska’s first single malt whiskey to be produced since Prohibition is being released this spring. S.las Distillery owner, Jason Payne’s, eyes gleam and his passion for quality shines bright as he explains how the whiskeymaking process started three years ago. Single malt whiskey is whiskey made from a mash that uses only malted grain (usually barley). The S.las Distillery whiskey got its start in two specially made hand-pounded copper stills imported from Scotland. In true Scottish tradition, only 100% malted barley—the same barley that is used to brew Lucky Bucket beer next door—is used to create the distinguished and complex flavors that stand out in the whiskey. The distillation process involves three cuts: the heads, the heart and the tails. Each cut contains different ratios of different types of alcohol. Using only the smallest of cuts from the hearts of the distilled run, the end product can be likened to the center cut of a filet mignon steak—the finest quality. The batch has been aging in new American charred-oak barrels since February 2010. Bottles will be hand-filled, labeled and packaged, with a limited amount planned for distribution to local grocery stores. The S.las Distillery is in the same building as Lucky Bucket Brewing Company at 11941 Centennial Road in La Vista, Nebraska. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Friday from 4pm to 9pm, with tours at 5:30pm. On Saturdays, the hours are from 11am to 4pm, with tours at noon, 1pm and 2pm. Information about the S.las Distillery and the whiskey release are being shared via the Lucky Bucket Brewing Company website at LuckyBucketBrewing.com and on Facebook at LuckyBucket. Photo courtesy of SШlas Distillery.

ON FARM COUNTRY STORE Orchard Hill Creamery

The relocation of Chisholm Family Farm to a 160-acre plot near Unadilla, Nebraska has led to the opening of an on-farm store, Orchard Hill Creamery & Country Store. Named as a tribute to both the Unadilla area and a former farm that existed on the site, the farm is situated halfway between Omaha and Lincoln. A 2,400-square-foot building is home to the store, and accommodates a variety of functions including an indoor milking area for four cows, a micro-creamery, a storeroom and a retail store. The store sells all of the products produced on the Chisholm Family Farm: grass-fed pork, beef, lamb, mutton, free-range chicken, veal, turkey, eggs, pasteurized milk, cream and cheese. In addition, the store sells pet food, local crafts and other locally produced products like candles and honey. The drought and rising hay and grain prices created the need to add value from the milk produced on the farm. To craft small batches of specialty cheese and yogurt, bottling equipment and a 30-gallon pasteurizer and cheese vat have recently been acquired for the micro-creamery. Future plans include converting a corncrib into dormitories for individuals participating in an on-farm internship program; the conversion of an old camper into a mobile kitchen; and restoration of the nearby fruit tree orchards—another way to honor the namesake, Orchard Hill. In the winter, stop in to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee. In nicer weather, enjoy some time outside at one of the picnic tables. Orchard Hill Creamery & Country Store is located at 1875 County Road “D” in Unadilla, and is open Tuesday–Sunday from 9am to 7pm. Follow it on Facebook at OrchardHillCreamery, on the web at OrchardHillCreamery.com or call 402.440.9409 for more information. You can also order Chisholm Family Farm products through the Nebraska Food Cooperative at NebraskaFood.org.


An exciting addition to the growing list of must-visit establishments in Benson is The Benson Brewery. Not quite a bar and not quite a restaurant, the atmosphere is best described as a casual pub where the quality of the reasonably priced food is as important as the drinks. Co-owners Ryan Miller and Andy Willey want their beer to reflect their experiences while growing up in Nebraska. Their small-batch beers use local berries, honey, grain, flowers and other elements native to Nebraska. Their strict focus on American craft beer and handcrafted beer means that most of it is made on site at the pub, eliminating the need for transatlantic shipping. This reduces their environmental impact and maintains a locally based revenue stream.  The lineup of beers includes eight varieties that will remain constant, with six to eight taps offering seasonal, experimental and progressive beers. Limited wine and classic cocktails are available as well. The tavern features high-quality comfort food. Locally sourced ingredients are used when possible. The owners also plan to offer unique food items, cheeses and appetizers designed to elevate the growing culture of craft beer in Omaha. The tavern’s location—originally a theatre in the early 1900s—along Maple Street is in the heart of Benson’s retail section. The pub has a private and cozy outdoor beer garden behind the building and a covered outdoor seating area facing Maple Street. The Benson Brewery is located at 6059 Maple Street. You can follow it on Facebook at Benson-Brewery or visit the website at BensonBrewery.com.


The newest (yet oldest) earth-friendly plant fertilizer, known as worm castings, is being produced at Benson Plant Rescue. Larry Kurtz, known affectionately as Larry the Worm Wrangler, is the mastermind behind expanding local knowledge about the use of worm castings. Mary Hodapp, who is permaculture-certified, assists Larry as an apprentice and applies permaculture principles to the process. According to Larry, the composting process uses waste materials to produce a rich, nutrient-dense organic matter that can be used to enhance the release of soil nutrients, garden soil renewal and for supplementing potting soils. When used properly, worm castings, also known as vermicompost, reduce the need for water, pest and weed control. Worm castings offer nutrients at a rate higher than traditional compost, and have a built-in slow-release process that can extend the nutrient release up to four months. Worm castings from Benson Plant Rescue also lack plant-harmful salts contained in most commercially available worm castings produced from animal manure. The “wormery” is located in what once was a 99-square-foot built-in freezer, where temperatures are kept between 60–80 degrees, the ideal range for worms. The creation of worm castings involves red wiggler worms and 16 stacked plastic bins in a four-tower module that Larry designed. The worms are fed a combination of dried ground leaves and vegetative waste that would otherwise find its way to a landfill. The module, which uses 48 pounds of worms, produces over 700 pounds of castings each month. As the worms thrive, they double roughly every three months. This allows a new module to be added to the wormery, resulting in more castings being produced. The public sale of worm castings will be available in early 2013. Future plans include selling locally built worm bins for home and apartment use—with worms included—and classes about how to care for the worms. If you want to try vermicomposting at home before the locally produced models are available, there are many versions on the market and Larry can steer you in the right direction. He is also happy to answer any questions that you may have. He can be contacted via email at wormsandjigs@gmail.com. Benson Plant Rescue is located at 7230 Maple Street, and is open during the winter on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm. You can follow it on Facebook at Benson Plant Rescue, on Twitter and on the web at BensonPlantRescue.org.



A lifelong cook who loves entertaining has launched Omaha’s only consignment store that caters to those who love to cook and entertain. MJ Zaremba, former owner of the Chatty Squirrel Caf., is a selfdescribed jack-of-all-trades. She believes that memories are made from having guests relax around a table enjoying good food and the company of others. For MJ, The Pot & Ladle creates a chance to connect and share her love of cooking and entertaining. While MJ insists that there isn’t a typical consignor, a large majority are looking to de-clutter and downsize later in life. They have fond   their treasured pieces will be purchased by others who will cherish them and build new memories of their own. On the other side of the equation, those purchasing these items are looking for good-quality kitchenware, but can’t afford to buy new. And they are interested in items that have history. MJ provides the link between consignor and buyer by telling the consignors’ stories about the items to the purchaser and vice versa. At The Pot & Ladle, you will find an ever-changing variety of kitchenware, bakeware, dishes and table linens, all in excellent condition. The comfortable showroom makes for an enjoyable browsing experience. The Pot & Ladle is located at 8264 Hascall Street, and is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30am to 5:30pm and Saturday from 10am to 3pm. You can follow it on Facebook at ThePotAndLadle.


Vibrant and historic Benson now has a short-order eatery, the recently opened Baxter’s. According to co-owner Scott Stephens, the restaurant is named after his grandfather, Johnny Baxter. Johnny, of Baxter Chrysler car dealership fame, opened his first dealership across the street from Baxter’s in 1956, where Jake’s Cigar Bar and The Waiting Room Lounge are now located. Baxter’s features straightforward options, including pizza by the slice or pie, classic sandwiches and salads. Gluten-free options are available. Weekly specials keep things interesting, and locally sourced ingredients are used when possible. Baxter’s uses Le Quartier Bakery bread for sandwiches, and will soon be serving handcrafted amber ale. Jason Jones, a Metropolitan Community College Institute of Culinary Arts graduate and 10-year veteran of the kitchen at La Casa Pizzaria, is chef and kitchen manager. Joel Mahr, executive chef at Lot 2 Restaurant and Wine Bar, developed the menu and recipes including the pizza dough and sauce. Brad and Johanna Marr of Lot 2 are Baxter’s co-owners with Scott, with whom they have enjoyed a friendship of more than 10 years. The freshly renovated space boasts wood floors, brick walls, the original tin ceiling and a full-height wall covered in charcoal tile that features large black and white photos of the various Baxter car dealership locations throughout the years. Baxter’s, located at 6113 Maple Street in Omaha, is open Monday through Thursday from 11am to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 11am to 2:30am and Sunday from 5pm to 10pm. It is closed on Monday. Place your takeout order by calling 402.614.0870. Follow them on Facebook at Baxter’s.