Tag Archives: Buddha

Sisterly Grub

July 15, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sisters Cafe is your typical small-town eatery—with a delightful globe-trotting twist.

Sisters2As diners approach the restaurant on historic downtown Plattsmouth’s Main Street, they’re greeted with whimsical signage featuring a pair of flitting butterflies, one decorated like the national flag of Thailand and the other mimicking the German flag.       

Inside, sisters Jit Kunkel and Noopin Hammerich flutter about, seamlessly combining the cuisine of Thailand and Deutschland on one diverse, delectable menu. Sisters does not create Thai-German fusion, rather, the restaurant offers Thai and German dishes side by side—just as the sisterly duo stands together in the kitchen.     

“The Thai side evolves from Jit’s background and experience owning Jit’s Thai Cafe in Omaha,” says Greg Kunkel, Jit’s husband and a third owner alongside the sisters. “Noopin brings the German component from her training and work experience in Hamburg, Germany—so the combination is natural for us.”

Sisters3The sisters grew up in Northeast Thailand before Jit immigrated to the U.S. and Noopin immigrated to Germany. After 40 years, during which time Noopin attended culinary school and worked in catering, she joined Jit stateside to launch their joint endeavor.

Jit creates amazing housemade Thai sauces, perfecting the flavors of their homeland, while Noopin oversees the German side. Noopin also contributes the standout baked goods, including homemade bread and desserts: apple strudel, special cakes, and tortes. Sisters’ homegrown vibe is partially provided by fresh organic vegetables and herbs that come from the garden at Greg and Jit’s Bellevue home. Greg’s part in this venture is tending
that garden.

Between my German last name and a pronounced penchant for pad thai, I felt completely in my element at Sisters. However, neither characteristic is necessary to appreciate Sisters’ emphasis on freshness and friendly service. From wienerschnitzel and sauerbraten to panang curry and drunken noodles, Sisters’ commitment to authenticity and homemade provisions makes this place special.   

Sisters4On a recent visit, the pad thai was, predictably, a favorite. Sisters’ solid version of the classic dish boasts a homemade sauce so well-balanced between sour, salty, spicy, and sweet that Buddha himself would be pleased. The dish achieved a harmonious texture through expertly cooked rice noodles and egg mingled with garden-fresh green onion and bean sprouts, a crushed-peanut finish, shredded carrot, and a juicy lime wedge. We opted for chicken, but the dish is also available with beef, pork, tofu, or langostino.       

Sisters’ take on the German classic rinderrouladen presented a tender beef filet stuffed with bacon, pickle, and onion, then topped with a rich, savory gravy. Soft, eggy spaetzle with a crisp exterior and pickled red cabbage, sweet with apple flavor, accompanied the dish. German dishes are served with a small salad and Noopin’s noticeably homemade bread.   

The cafe’s ambiance is cozy and unassuming, with a front door beset by two large windows that allow a pleasant supply of natural light. A small front patio provides a nice perch from which to experience quaint, downtown Plattsmouth while dining. Sisters offers beer and wine alongside Thai tea to quench
your thirst.

Sisters bustles with business and is clearly popular with local regulars, but Omahans and those from other nearby communities will find it worthwhile to make the short trip to Plattsmouth, and, from there, be transported to far-off Thailand and Germany. 

Visit sisterscafe.biz for more information.


Walk Like a Buddha

April 30, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

On any given Monday evening or Saturday morning in the heart of Dundee, you might find a small group of people, hands folded, heads slightly downward, walking barefoot in slow and deliberate circles on a small patch of grass, seemingly undisturbed by the city noise surrounding them. Leading these barefoot walkers is silver-haired Dan Weidner, mental health practitioner, professional counselor, and mindfulness meditation guru.

The barefoot walkers are learning the walking meditation in Weidner’s Basic Mindfulness workshop.

Weidner, who has studied and practiced mindfulness for over 30 years, has been leading basic mindfulness meditation classes at The Center, formerly The Center for Mindful Living, for five years. Weidner believes that people are tired of feeling stressed out and anxious. “We’re on this roller coaster, rushing to get things done, and it wears people down,” Weidner explains. “I think people are seeking meaning to their lives, and that’s what mindfulness is all about.”

Mindfulness, the ancient Buddhist practice referring to a state of active attention on the present, dates back over 2,500 years. Now, the practice has been rapidly gaining mainstream attention. Mindfulness programs have been incorporated into schools, the military, and professional sports teams, such as Super Bowl champs Seattle Seahawks. Major corporations like General Mills, Intel, and Target now have mindfulness programs for their employees.

“Most people that come to the workshops are looking for a way to manage and deal with emotions, to change their relationship to suffering, both physical and mental. Meditation and a practice of mindfulness can do that,” Weidner says.

Research seems to back this up. Study after study has shown that mindfulness meditation is more effective for anxiety and depression than drugs. Recent research has shown it can even change the chemistry of the brain. “We’ve had anecdotal evidence for over 2,500 years; now we have empirical evidence that it works,” Weidner says. Even Time magazine devoted a recent cover story to “The Mindfulness Revolution.” It seems to be a revolution that’s here to stay.

Though mindfulness meditation sounds simple, it’s not always easy, and it’s not a quick fix. “Changes are subtle and gradual,” Weidner explains. “Hopefully, even just creating an awareness and learning how to observe your own life, learning the value of respecting your own opinion as opposed to always seeking the opinion of others, is a huge benefit.”

The one thing Weidner says most people take away from the class is what he refers to as equanimity—a balance of emotions. “It’s not that you don’t have good days and bad days, but the bad days don’t seem so bad; there is more of a balance and a calmer approach to life.”

“There is what happens to you, and there is what you do with what happens to you,” Weidner says. “What your mind does with what happens to you is often actually worse than what happens. Mindfulness can teach us to let be and let go.”