Monday, November 16, 2009

Moms on Mountains

If you're the parent of a school-aged child, you know most schools in the Bay Area have educational funds to supplement both public and private school revenues. At the public Menlo-Atherton High School where my son Jacob is a senior, the annual fund raising online auction lets parents and teachers offer items for bid, with proceeds donated to the school. For two years now a pair of enterprising moms, Kathy Jackson and Kevyn Allard, have hosted a fun and creative Moms on Mountains hike. This year fifteen moms went on a rigorous and scenic five mile hike through the Skyline Ridge Preserve, led by two expert guides, Van Whitis and Tom Taber. Tom has even written a book called 'The Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Book', and acts as a docent at Filoli.

We hiked up to panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and Butano Ridge, the largest ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We could see the flat top of the Loma Prieta Mountains in the distance, the peak of the 1989 earthquake epicenter (it's hard to believe that was twenty years ago). We learned about the flora and the fauna, and saw grinding stones that Ohlone Indian women used to use as a mortar and pestle to crush acorns and other foods that grow in the area. I relished exploring this part of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, a protected greenbelt system of over 57,000 acres and 26 open space preserves.

At the end of our hike, we arrived at Horseshoe Lake where we enjoyed a rustic, Italian style lunch graciously created and presented by Kevyn. A savvy shopper and cook, Kevyn used both store-bought and homemade items to assemble the perfect meal to enjoy after our invigorating morning hike. My favorite items were the fresh mozzarella and pesto bruschetta, the Marcona almonds, and the walnut butter cake with mixed berries. The food tasted even better after the energizing hike with fellow moms, surrounded by the natural beauty we're so fortunate to have here in the Bay Area.

Moms on Mountains Lunch Menu:

Assorted Bruschetta:
Ricotta Fresca with Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Roast Beef and Caramelized Onions
Fresh Mozzarella and Pesto

Fresh Organic Fruit & Nuts:
California Grapes
Black Amber Plums
Marcona Almonds

Walnut Butter Cake
Mixed Berries
Sangiovese Wine

Kevyn, like many moms, is a huge fan of Trader's Joe's. One of her tips is to buy the Trader Joe's frozen croissants instead of the much more expensive Williams Sonoma brand. The reason? Both buttery concoctions were created by the same chef! We've tried the chocolate filled croissants, and everyone in our family loved the buttery, chocolatey goodness. They must be thawed for several hours, rising in the process. As they cook in the oven, the smell starts to permeate throughout the house, like you've just walked in to a French bakery. By the time the croissants are ready, hungry kids and adults alike will automatically appear, ready to eat.

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