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Honor, Comfort & Warmth

As you all know, last week 4 Lakewood police officers were ambushed and executed by, for lack of a better word, a psychopath. We have all seen the anguish of the community and the incomprehensible grief of the families. We have seen the police family rally and encase the families and community in love and support. We have even heard about the trauma of the employees and other customers who were at the Forza Coffee Co that morning. What we have not seen is the communications staff who was behind the scenes of this event. I imagine this so clearly, after having done that job for 15 years in King County. There was at least one 9-1-1 operator who took a call about the shootings while it was happening. She probably stood up and called out to the dispatcher to check on her officers who were at Forza just before she wrote the call into the system. Adrenaline was kicking in, though denial was at the forefront to begin with. The dispatcher probably called for her officers on the air. I am sure the radio silence made her blood run cold with terror. All she could do was stare at the radio and try willing them to answer; willing backup to GET THERE NOW and say it was ok. Willing someone, or something, to fix this and let it not be true. Not on her watch. Not 4 of them. She had to remain calm and professional so that she could reassure the other officers out there that she was there for them. These are the stories we will not hear and I can only hope and pray that those call receivers and dispatchers are getting as much help and support from admin as they can possibly stand.

Mark and I were honored to be offered a ride in the funeral procession by a King County detective who I used to work with and remain friends with. It felt important to be able to show our support and quietly honor all those involved in This Inconceivable Loss. This was not my first police funeral procession, though it was certainly the biggest. The biggest any of us have ever heard of. We rode in honor of the fallen, their families, and certainly I rode to honor the valor of those communications specialists who go to work every day hoping for the best. You can see some pictures that Mark took, including car shields from many of the different agencies there, though I bet he didn’t even get half of them. Some of my friends who are still on the job went down to the Pierce County communications center and worked for the call receivers and dispatchers so they could attend the services. (Sidenote: When I learned they were doing that, it was the only time since I quit 5 years ago that I actually wished I was still certified so that I could help.) Law enforcement communications specialists go in each day to be there for the community and to be there for the cops who need them, whether they know it or not. In my experience there is no where near the level of administrative support for communications, as there is for the officers, even though they are a part of every call. Yet they continue on. It is a call to duty no less strong than any other, and we are very lucky that they show up to fulfill that call every day. May blessings shower upon every one of them, and may they never know the terror of that radio silence when they call one of their units.

Mark and I did not go in to the funeral, as we knew space was limited and we did not want to take up 2 seats that could go to officers who traveled across the country to be there. Instead, we hopped on the LINK train with the intention of catching a bus back to the park and ride where we left our car. We ended up near the Pacific Grill and we went in to enjoy a happy hour. We could see the King County helicopter circling the Tacoma Dome and it somehow felt right to stay nearby during the service. We were able to relax a little and get distracted by some fabulous food while we processed the day’s emotions. Pacific Grill has a phenomenal happy hour (as do a few of the downtown Tacoma restaurants) as nearly everything on their extensive bar menu is 50% off, and they have drink specials as well.

What we had was all really great, though we did not have much. Gorgonzola tater tots are awesome! I loved them more than Mark did and he thinks it is because they were hush-puppy like, and I love those. I think it was the gorgonzola sauce that got me. We shared the cheeseburger sliders-which sound so simple and yet were the best little burgers I have ever had. Remember, I don’t love beef unless it is grass fed and even then only in small amounts. Whatever this was it was tender and had excellent flavor. They came with ‘fries’… very thinly sliced and heavily seasoned (just the way I LOVE them!) and then tossed with roasted garlic cloves and fried sage and rosemary. Oh man were those awesome! We also shared the Vietnamese “Bahn Mi” pork sandwich and coleslaw. It was the best coleslaw I have ever had and possibly the favorite thing I ate that day. The sandwich was tangy and zingy and flavorful, and just a little messy which is always a good sign. I enjoyed a glass of house red wine which turned out to be something worth looking for in the stores. The waitress said it was ‘Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon’ and the only thing I am finding that might be it is Cycles Gladiator. We are going to check out the wine shops to see if they have it as we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

We felt a little better, or at least a little calmer and fortified, after sharing that food, and I know that the comfort comes from both the sharing, and the excellent food. We watched the helicopter make protective circles over the dome, until the bus came to take us out to Purdy, wishing peace upon every soul in and near that arena. When we got home we watched it on the news channels and I cried some more. I hope that as you watched the proceedings you had someone to share your thoughts and emotions with, or at least to hold hands with while you watched. Business was slow all day and I have a feeling many of you were glued to your tv’s and radios, showing your support the only way you could. Now it is time for all of us to move forward a little bit and breathe together a sigh of determination. We must be determined to support each other and let pettiness pass. We must be determined to make the best of what we have, and share it whenever we can, with everyone that we can. We must be determined to work through our grievances and to show respect for ourselves, as well as those we come into contact with, even when they annoy us. And when we are not able to resist a burst of anger or frustration, we must be determined to take responsibility for it and do what we can to make it right. We do need each other, and we all need a little help now and then, no matter how much alone time we might cherish.

We are working on lots of catering and special orders this month, which we are abundantly grateful for, as well as some extra goodies that we hope are appealing to all of you as great Hanukkah, Solstice and Christmas gifts. Next month, which is next year by the way, we are going to start a new tradition of once a month offering diner classic comfort meals. Things like chicken and dumplings, corned beef brisket and braised cabbage, lamb shanks, and so on. We will make our own fabulous version of these dishes and offer them as a special until they are gone, then move on to the next item. I am hoping the comfort of ‘down home goodness’ will work its magic and help bring us together in ways that only great food can. We want to be a cornerstone for our community and in feeding and nourishing your bodies, we hope to be feeding and nourishing your hearts and minds, as well.

It has been so icy cold outside that soup seems to be the recipe I should share this week. I have had a lovely head cold and so I am thinking something to boost our immune systems would be nice. How about some Spanish spicy garlic soup? mmmm…

Sopa da Ajo (about 10 servings)

olive oil
10 garlic cloves
1 large onion, chopped
10 slices of day old, peasant style bread (1/4 inch thick) OR even better would be our croutons
2 TBS smoked paprika (I use the piquant, or spicier version)
12 cups water or broth (at home I use chicken broth; at the cafe I would use our veg broth)
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted in a pan and then crushed in a spice grinder (or 1/2 tsp ground cumin)
salt & pepper
chopped parsley
1 egg per serving if you want to do this part

Put a good amount of oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium high. Drop in the garlic cloves and saute, stirring frequently, until they are a lovely, golden brown. Keep them moving so they do not burn or they will get bitter. They will be soft and puffy and a rich golden color, then you will remove them with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

If you are using bread lay in the slices and toast them on both sides in the oil. Left them out and set them aside.

Add a little oil if you need to and get it hot, then drop in the onions and saute them until they begin to caramelize. Reduce the heat a bit so you can take them as far as you like, of course the more you cook them the sweeter they will get.

Stir in the paprika, which will absorb the oil and become sort of a paste. Pour in the water or broth, and add the cumin. Crush the garlic cloves with a fork and add them to the soup. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for about 8-10 minutes total.

You can stop here and serve the soup with the bread placed in each bowl, or garnish with the croutons instead. This is a very brothy, comforting soup, a little sweet from the onions and garlic, and a little spice from the paprika and cumin.
OR
You can do the egg thing. There are a few different ways to do this, you get to choose. You can dish the soup into oven proof bowls, then break an egg into each bowl. Place the bread or croutons over the top (gently so as not to break the egg) and bake in the oven for about 4 minutes, until the egg is set.

You can use the casserole you cooked the soup in and ‘poach’ the eggs in the soup on the stove top.

You can use the casserole and place one egg per person on top, then top it all with the bread/croutons, and bake it all at once in the oven for about 4 minutes until the eggs are set.
No matter which of those methods you use the egg yolk should be soft, so as to blend with the soup when it is stirred in.

You can beat the eggs (use 1 egg for every 2 servings) and cover the top of the soup with them, then place it under the broiler until it is set.

Any of these ways would be super yummy and you can make this soup for me any time!