Finally! The weather and calender cooled down enough for us to go on a hike. And it was beautiful! Morgan Trail is located in the Cleveland National Forest, up the Ortega Highway, about 23 long and curvy miles. We combined the 2 hikes into one and feel fortunate that we started at the right trail head, which is of course, the trail head that made the hike predominately down hill. There were tons of oak and other trees providing beautiful cover to keep things comfortable. (It also helped that the temperature was in the mid to upper 60's.) Then there would be these amazing outcroppings of boulders, some intact, others with huge sections cracked off and laying next to its rock of origin. The flora was surprisingly green for this time of year with the sage being wonderfully aromatic. The Morgan trail dead ends into the Bear trail, so it was easy to find. This is where we were grateful to be heading in a south-westerly direction (thanks Martine's mom!). The trail was steep, rocky to boulder-y, and full of sharp switchbacks. I will admit, going down this trail was a blast! But I would not want to be heading up! We saw blue jays, and rabbits, and lizards. That's about it. There were warnings for our old friend the mountain lion, and for rattlesnakes, ugh. We did spot a very interesting foot print, I think bear, Martine thinks horse. Maybe it was the Yeti. You just never know what you will run into in the backwoods of Orange County. A first for us-signing in at the ranger box. Since Martine is a professional, I let her fill in the spaces. She did a very nice job. We were surprised by all the hikers that had put a "?" as their destination. Is there a secret hike spot we don't know about?
This hike makes it into our exclusive 'Greatest Hits' club. Five miles of undisturbed nature, without one soul in sight. Oh, how I missed being a trail tickler over the summer! I feel renewed and re-energized re-grateful!
Friends and soup! What could go better together? Thanks to a fun idea from Progressive Pioneer I am determined to try something new: Have a get together where you bring 6 quart jars of your favorite soup to swap with 6 friends that brought 6 quart jars of their favorite soup! Since not too many of my friends read this blog I will be calling them...so you aren't off the hook:] But really, I think this would be such a fun way to make a few of our mealtimes easier as we approach the holiday season. I can't wait!
Speaking of pasta...On the radio and in the paper this week were articles about Bruno Serato, the owner and chef at the White House in Anaheim. It is a very nice restaurant, serving Italian food to the elite of the area. More importantly is that Bruno, since 2005, while feeding those elite, has also been feeding local children who live in motels. These children receive free or very reduced priced breakfast and lunch at their schools, but went hungry until the next morning. Six nights a week, Bruno cooks pasta for 150 of the city's poorest youth. People Magazine has recognized Bruno and this week KFI, the LA radio station, did a fundraiser during the Bill Handel show, raising thousands of dollars for the cause. But I am sure the money won't last long. (I know first hand how much pasta kids can go through!) The last year's depressed economy saw the number of children needing help double. And after my experiences of the past few months trying to help a woman who is forced to live in a motel, my eyes have been opened to a few of the troubles, stresses, and feelings of hopelessness that are so pervasive among people who struggle at the brink for survival.
I hear us asking "But what can I do? The problem is so huge that making a difference seems impossible". May I suggest looking over Bruno's web-site at http://anaheimwhitehouse.com/about/caterina.php Watch the video, then click on the Caterina's Club link on the left.
It is inspiring to see how 1 man could start Caterina's Club and through it spread hope and love to so many children here in our own community. I'm sure there are other like minded groups- if you know about one, please let me know!
For today, I am going to take Bruno a few boxes of pasta.
Pesto Trapenese is my new favorite! It is fresh and textured and delicious with pasta. Since you will want to try it, here is the recipe.
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 large handful of fresh basil leaves
1-2 garlic cloves
6 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered (I used tomatoes from the garden-non plum type-and still great)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
In a large skillet, saute the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted. Let cool, then blend them in a food processor until they are in coarse pieces. Dump them out and set aside. Put the basil, garlic and a good pinch of salt into processor and pulse several times.Add tomatoes, cheese,almonds and oil. Pulse until nicely chopped. Season with pepper. Cook pasta until al dente, then reserving one cup of the pasta water, drain. Immediately toss the pasta with the pesto, adding reserved water if needed. Eat hot or room temp.
I am the seminary teacher of the greatest youth in the world. In our class we study the scriptures, doctrines, and principles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Our attendance helps us to put on the "Armor of God" and strengthen our testimony of the Lord, Jesus Christ and our part in Heavenly Father's plan of happiness.