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Kathleen Hill: Salmon update, Sister Cities, Buckingham Palace and daffodils

Chinook are back in a big way -- and so is the smell of decomposing male salmon.

KATHLEEN HILL,

Fish stories: Salmon everywhere

The Golden Gate Salmon Association gave a super dinner at the Tyge William barn at Cornerstone recently, raising $60,000, of which $30,000 goes to fire relief.

The event honored the Mulas family for all of their longstanding firefighting dedication, leadership and prowess as well as their farming water policy and practice.

Meanwhile, Chinook salmon are apparently returning to the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in record numbers to spawn, raising hopes of a great salmon season after several years of not showing up and breeding, and the hoped-for lowering of salmon prices.

Having attended the big natural salmon spawning weekend on the Gold River in Gold River Provincial Park on northern Vancouver Island, it’s almost hard to believe that male salmon will return from three to five years growing up in the Pacific Ocean just to fertilize eggs left in the rocks by the lady salmon, and then promptly die. Hence, the stench of decomposing salmon at such sites is natural and horrible, which the television news bidding everyone to attend forgets to mention.

The hawks come to get the remains, followed by the bears, who nibble away at the skeletons and then drop them at the base of trees in the forest – hence heavy forest land. Which is why some of us fertilize plants with fish emulsion.

Sister Cities celebration

Sonoma’s Sister Cities Committee holds a big celebration of “the vibrancy of our community” at Vintage House tonight, Friday, Dec. 1, free and complete with belly dancer courtesy of the Aswan, Egypt committee.

Enjoy a true selection of foods from seven countries, right here at home in Sonoma.

Sample fresh beet borscht from Kaniv, Ukraine; Koshary, the national dish of Egypt made with pasta, lentils, rice and spicy tomato sauce, plus meatballs from Aswan, Egypt; a cheese spread, small cheese biscuits (resemble gougères), cream cheese pastries with fruit filling, and Gerbaud cake from Budapest, Hungarian salamis, hot mulled wine and beigli rolls filled with nuts and poppy seeds from Tokaj, Hungary; fresh tamales and Mexican pastries from Patzcauro, Mexico; fresh bao buns and more from Penglai, China; homemade biscotti from Greve in Chianti, Italy; and homemade gougères from Chambolle Musigny, France.

Plus wines from some of those countries as well as Cline and Jacuzzi wineries. Any donations will benefit the SCCA treasurer, Cheri Burgi, who lost her home and belongings in Glen Ellen during the October fires. $20 raffle tickets can win three-day stay at Lake Tahoe, Chinese dinner for six, or a $100 restaurant certificate to the Girl & the Fig. Free. 6 to 8 p.m. 264 First St. E., Sonoma. Just show up. Call 939-3523 for raffle tickets.

Glen Ellen dinner needs volunteers

Glen Ellen needs help to cook 30 donated turkeys for a community dinner on Sunday, Dec. 3.

Leslie Vaughn, a co-founder and coordinator of the Glen Ellen Forum and super active Glen Ellen Village Fair volunteer, is pulling the dinner together based on the 30 turkeys.

Dave MacDonald, general manager of Valley of the Moon Winery, offered the winery as a location saying, “If you can find a way to cook 30 turkeys, we are in.” Vaughn even has a commitment from Weber grill company to donate 30 barbecue kettle grills, along with “all the charcoal we need.”

Vaughn needs volunteers with culinary experience to help prep Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3. She needs other volunteers to help set up, break down, bus plates and help with parking. If you can help, call Leslie Vaughn at 494-6197 or email her at leslie_vaughn@att.net.

Buckingham Palace toasts Thanksgiving?

A couple of days before the palace announced on Monday that Prince Harry will marry “bi-racial American divorcee” actress Meghan Markle in May, I came across my email from the Buckingham Palace Shop titled “Happy Thanksgiving! Dine Like Royalty,” a rather odd greeting since we were giving thanks for our independence from royal control.

The message was, “Thanksgiving is the expression of gratitude, a national holiday to mark the beginning of the festive season, a time to celebrate, to gather with dearest family, and to indulge in traditional lavish feasts... May you enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving, and a joyous holiday season.” And for that you can spend hundreds of dollars on lovely tea sets and cake plates, and a few smaller trinkets. Not sure if the British are celebrating. Are they glad we left?

Dunbar blooming

A swarm of 50 volunteers, including Dunbar School graduates, parents and neighbors, recently planted 20,000 daffodil bulbs. Sonoma Mission Gardens obtained and sold below wholesale to help beautify the blackened terrain along Highway 12. Next spring and for many springs to come, we will all smile at the beauty of daffodils and the spirit that brought them to brighten the lives of those who lost everything, and in fact all of us.

To brighten everyone’s spirits, John and Catherine Venturini Burdick volunteered to prepare lunch for all of the volunteers. As Catherine emailed me, “Bonnie Barnes told me about that heartfelt event coming and since that is where my kids grew up along with Olive & Vine, (formerly at Jack London Village), that whole area means so much to me. John and I volunteered lunch of course because they have to eat!

“An event with such love and grateful hearts and smiles. Made my heart sing... can you imagine how it will look in the spring with tens of thousands of daffodils and wildflowers. It all inspired me to do that in my front yard on Highway 12 in Kenwood.”

Nibs & Sips

Kiwanis of Sonoma Plaza has donated $5,000 to Sonoma Overnight Support and the Haven for new commercial or professional refrigerator and freezer units to give them more food storage capacity. As the nonprofit parent to the Brown Baggers, the new appliances will enable SOS to store Facebook food donations as well as other foods prepared by local volunteers.

Kiwanis president Liz Treacy and SOS leader Kathy King agreed that since they are feeding more people who were displaced by our October fires, they needed help. As Kathy King said, “We really needed them. Our fridge was tiny.”

Pizzeria Capri

Owner Jacob Begorgis says he is completely updating and renovating Pizzeria Capri to code with all new electrical, and wants to praise the City of Sonoma staff for helping him and “being wonderful to me.” His real problem now is to find workers who are in great demand after the fires. Will have more info in a couple of weeks.

Cooking for fire relief

Catherine Venturini Burdick of Cuvee Catering & Events, Ari Weisswasser of Glen Ellen Star, and Sondra Bernstein and John Toulze of the Girl & the Fig will all make appetizers for “A Night of Friendship and Neighbors” at St. Helena’s Culinary Institute of America on Dec. 2 to benefit fire relief in both Sonoma and Napa counties. Other chefs will include Thomas Keller and Charlie Palmer among many. The event is organized by Alexis and Trevor Traina, Carlo Mondavi, Laura Cunningham, and Festival Napa Valley CEO Rick Walter, all to hopefully benefit restaurant and vineyard workers who lost everything.

Of course the ultimate giving chef is José Andres, an immigrant from Spain and now owner of 30 restaurants, who left for Puerto Rico right after the hurricanes, and has amassed a huge crew of paid and volunteer helpers who serves thousands of people a day. And, yes, he is the same man whom Donald Trump sued for millions after Andres pulled his restaurant plans out of Trump’s Washington, D.C. post office hotel when Trump disgusted him by saying Mexicans are rapists and criminals. Andres sued Trump back and they settled it all with an undisclosed result.

Andres World Central Kitchen makes 30,000 sandwiches a day, “without red tape and 100 meetings,” said Andres in apparent disgust with the slow and inadequate federal government response. He said on many networks over last weekend that, “When you are hungry, it’s today, not two months from now, that you need food.”

Santa’s Brunch at Ramekins

The big event coming up soon at Ramekins is its Santa’s Brunch on Sunday, Dec. 10, complete with a big brunch buffet, a kids’ Christmas workshop with cookie decorating and crafts, and photos with Santa. Expect pumpkin and gingerbread waffles with berries and whipped cream, farm fresh omelets with local meats and cheeses, Snake River pork roast, brined Diestel turkey breast, panzella salad with Delicata squash, mini bagels, smoked salmon and capers, wild mushroom and spinach bread pudding, and 5th Street Farm potato hash with Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and Rosemary. Fun for everyone. $65 age 16 and up, $25 children 6 to 16, and kids five and under are free. 450 W. Spain St., Sonoma. 933-0450. Ramekins.com.

Ramekins cooking classes

Here is a quick summary of what is available this month.

Check out Holiday Baking with Michael Kalanty on Dec. 2, Holiday Cookies and Confections with Maria Capedeville on Dec. 16, A Spanish Holiday with Camila Loew Dec. 17, and a Take Home Bûche de Noël (a.k.a. “Yule Log”) with Ramekins pastry chef Ben Howley. 450 W. Napa St., Sonoma. ramekins.com.