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News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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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

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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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

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

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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