Making The Rounds - Ken Brown

Reopening the door

Last weekend brought the Cost of Freedom Tribute to Sonoma. The Valley owes a big thank you to Dan Parker, Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Bear Flag Post 1943. A commander in the full meaning of the word, he marshaled a small army of folks to create and produce the event.

As a Viet Nam veteran, I am still digesting the powerful emotions triggered by my own memories of the war. I did realize that the Viet Nam experienced was a part of everyone’s life, our troops, parents and families, our neighbors and country. So many lessons still to be learned and not repeated. I am still in an ongoing process of sifting through it all, but the sifting through is important. This event for me reopened a door I had tried to close but never really could. As I progress, I will share with you all.

Sunday night at the community center I was a guest at an event supporting a film by Colin Blackshear on the adventures in France of our very own Mike the Bejkr. It was a stellar event on multiple levels. The music — with Sean Carscadden & Marty O’Reilly, The Penny Hens and Arann Harris and the Farm Band — was just as ‘Farm to Table’ local as could possibly be. The menu and food from Charlene Nicholson (local chef formerly of Chez Panisse) was only to dream of, and all locally sourced. Paul’s Produce, Oak Hill Farm, Lagunitas Brewing Company and Coturri wines provided as well. It would be difficult to pull one menu item out of the whole but for me, Oak Hill Farm’s Cauliflower Soup with Romanesco Sauce and Curry Oil was beyond compare. The major theme throughout was Mike the Bejkr’s flatbreads and breads. There was even a gift tree with breads hanging as presents for those who attended.

It was indeed a memorable event highlighting local food, art and Sonoma culture. More funds are needed to complete the film project so there is still the opportunity to donate at Here is a quote from event volunteer Taylor Colvey, M.A., PPSC, who works as a College Advisor-Sonoma County for 10,000 Degrees: “Last night’s event was one of the many reasons I live in Sonoma. As a volunteer, I can show up in my flannel shirt and start serving farm-fresh gourmet food to happy guests. No one minds if they are served in perfect order or if people push a table aside to make a dance floor. There is a genuine respect for the culinary arts and the excerpt of the film based on the life cycle of bread was met with a sincere applause. I love how excited people are here to promote the good life!”Amen to that, and I booked Taylor onto the Mornings In Sonoma radio show, too!
Coming up is a opportunity to volunteer as a guest waiter for Dining Out For Life, which raises much-needed funds for Food For Thought, the Sonoma County AIDS Food Bank. Step into the shoes of the waiters and waitresses who serve you on a daily basis. Last year I did a shift at Sonoma Hopmonk and it was enlightening and total fun (for one shift). You can go to or call 887.1647 for more information. Here’s the list of Sonoma retaurants that are participating: Centre du Vin at the Ledson Hotel, El Dorado Kitchen, Maya Restaurant, Murphy’s Iris Pub and Saddle’s Steakhouse.

Holiday Pies can be ordered from the Sonoma Valley Teen Center this year. Is it Thanksgiving already? It must be. Pumpkin, Apple and Carmel Nut are available for $8 per pie by calling Cristin Lawrence at 939.1452. Order now for pick up before 6 p.m. on Wednesday November 21. Sonoma Valley Teen Center is located at 17440 Sonoma Highway. Support the teens and get a super yummy pie as well. 

Make sure you attend the Friends of the Sonoma Valley Library Book Sale, now through Nov. 17. It’s a amazing shopping local trip and the library is located at 755 West Napa Street and you can call 996-5217 for more information. 

Start looking for the large cans set out by Sonoma American Legion Post 489 around the Valley. Place your donated items in the cans and they will be packed and shipped directly to our troops by the members and friends of the post. Each can will have a list of the proper items needed and you can go to for more information.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving and please remember, no one prays harder for peace than a veteran.

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