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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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