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News

Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Police stress need for low speed in school zones


Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution whe...

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Schools

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center

Gardner Bullis School debuts new Grizzly Student Center


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Students line up to check books out of the library in the new Grizzly Student Center at Gardner Bullis School.

Gardner Bullis School opened its new Grizzly Student Center earlier this month, introducing a lea...

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Community

Home improvement workshop scheduled Wednesday (Oct. 29)

The County of Santa Clara is hosting a free informational workshop on 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Los Altos Hills Town Hall, 26379 Fremont Road.

The workshop will offer ways single-family homeowners can increase their homes’ energy efficiency. Eligible i...

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Comment

Off the fence: TC recommends 'yes' on N

The Town Crier initially offered no position on the controversial $150 million Measure N bond on Tuesday’s ballot. But some of the reasons we gave in our Oct. 15 editorial were, on reflection, overly critical and based on inaccurate information.

We ...

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Special Sections

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream

Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little e...

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Business

Local realtors scare up money for charity

Local realtors scare up money for charity


Photo courtesy of SILVAR
Realtors Gary Campi and Jordan Legge, from left, joined Nancy Domich, SILVAR President Dave Tonna and Joe Brown to raise funds for the Silicon Valley Realtors Charitable Foundation.

Los Altos and Mountain View realtors raise...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

DAVID S. NIVISON

DAVID S. NIVISON

David S. Nivison, 91 years old, and a resident of Los Altos, California since 1952, died Oct. 16, 2014 at home.  His neighbors had recently honored him as the “Mayor of Russell Ave., in recognition of 62 years of distinguished living” on that ...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

ECYS opens season Sunday

ECYS opens season Sunday


Ramya Krishna/Special to the Town Crier
The El Camino Youth Symphony rehearses for Sunday’s concert, above.

The El Camino Youth Symphony – under new conductor Jindong Cai – is scheduled to perform its season-opening concert 4 p.m....

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Spiritual Life

Christian Science Reading Room hosts webinar on prayer and healing

Christian Science practitioner and teacher Evan Mehlenbacher is scheduled to present a live Internet webinar lecture, “Prayer That Heals,” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14 in the Christian Science Reading Room, 60 Main St., Los Altos.

Those interested ...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Good starts: How to grow your own sourdough

Photo Erica Simmons/Special To The Town CrierSourdough bread and bagels harness the Bay Areas unique varietals of wild yeast.

Few Bay Area foods are as iconic as San Francisco sourdough. So popular was this style of bread during the California Gold Rush that veteran miners were dubbed “sourdoughs,” embodied by the San Francisco 49ers’ mascot, “Sourdough Sam.”

Although sourdough continues to hold a privileged place in the Bay Area, the advent of pure domesticated yeasts has mostly displaced wild yeast in home and commercial baking. However, with simple ingredients and a dash of patience, any home baker can start cultivating this distinctive local flavor.

All yeast breads harness the leavening power of the tiny fermenting fungus. The character of sourdough is due not to special ingredients, but to a greater variety of microbial baking partners.

The sour, fruity and complex flavors of wild yeast bread are the byproducts of a symbiotic relationship between the yeast and several strains of (human-friendly) bacteria. Naturally occurring yeast starters are never pure like their supermarket kin – each culture contains multiple strains of yeast as well as other microorganisms that contribute to the wild yeast bread’s complex flavor.

Geographic regions often have unique strains of bacteria that are incorporated in local breads – one especially tangy variety betrays its Bay Area roots: Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis.

To cultivate your own menagerie of microorganisms, you need little more than plain flour, water and a warm location – and a couple days of lead time. In a glass bowl, combine 1/2 cup water (preferably distilled) with 3/4 cup all-purpose white flour and stir well. Cover the bowl loosely with a towel and leave undisturbed in a warm (approximately 80 F) location for 24 hours. When you return, you may see a few bubbles and a slight rise to your mixture. If not, leave your culture in a warm spot for another 12 hours.

After your culture shows signs of life, you are ready for the first feeding. Remove 2/3 of your culture and discard. To the remaining 1/3, add 1/3 cup water and 1/2 cup flour. Stir, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spoon, and cover loosely before returning the starter to the warm spot for another 12 hours. Continue pouring off, feeding and resting the starter until it is able to double itself during the 12 hour intervals (approximately three to five days). Continue feeding the starter at room temperature each day or store a small container in the refrigerator to be fed once a week. Simply bring the starter to room temperature for one feeding cycle to reawaken the culture before use.

Once the starter is ready, the time is ripe to experiment. Sourdough starters are good for more than a mere clam chowder bread bowl. Sourdough starter can be incorporated in many baked goods, from basic soured breads to yeasty pancakes, waffles, doughnuts and bagels.

Some adventurous home bakers find inspiration among niche online baking communities and personal baking blogs. Baking enthusiast Susan Tenney of Sunnyvale started a food blog on wild yeast breads after taking a bread-baking course at the San Francisco Baking Institute.

Her Web site (wildyeastblog.com) lists favorite recipes, techniques for maintaining a starter and links to several baking Web sites. For nonbloggers looking for baking feedback, Tenney recommended the resource The Fresh Loaf (thefreshloaf.com), where novice bakers can get encouragement and where seasoned bakers trade tips and recipes.

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