Tue09162014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Native berries prove to be superfoods


Photos by Tanya Kucak/Special to the Town Crier
According to author Alicia Funk, native plants such as blue elderberries have a long history of traditional use for colds and flus, supported by recent research. To eat the berries, cook or dry them first.

If you’re eating blueberries or pomegranates for their chart-topping levels of antioxidants, you may be interested in a few native berries that nearly triple those values.

Plant-based medicine expert Alicia Funk sent samples to a lab and learned that elderberry, manzanita and madrone fruits easily bested those more common fruits. She published the data in her book, “Living Wild: Gardening, Cooking and Healing with Native Plants of California” (FlickerPress, 2010), co-authored with Karin Kaufman.

Funk discussed native foods and handed out samples at a recent local gathering. She encouraged people to grow these plants in their gardens rather than collecting them from somewhere else. Note that it’s illegal to collect plants from wildlands without a permit. In fact, get written permission before you collect plants from anywhere other than your own garden.

Native blue elderberries have a long history of use. They are best picked fully ripe and not eaten raw. The cooked or dried berries get sweeter, and compounds in the raw berries that might cause a reaction in sensitive people get detoxified. Elderberry syrup is an effective antiviral that has long been used for colds and flus, though most of the research has been done on European species.

Funk picks manzanita berries in the summer when they are ripe, a deep orange-red.

“Use whatever species is in abundance,” she said.

To separate the big seeds and the skins from the “sugar,” she grinds the berries in a blender or food processor on low for a couple of minutes. She pours it into a mesh strainer and pushes the “sugar” through with a wooden spoon. She sprinkles the strained product on cereal, adds it to baked goods as a gluten-free, antioxidant-rich flour, or uses it to flavor salad dressings. The whole berries or the manzanita sugar can be stored for a year, she said. Rather than discarding the seeds and skins, she simmers them in water for 20 minutes to make a refreshing beverage.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a mature Pacific Madrone, the berries keep well refrigerated or dried. Funk made a “Beyond Cranberry” sauce using madrone berries for Thanksgiving. She also recommends a delicious tea made from crumbled-off madrone bark. Pour hot water over some bark shreds, steep for 10 minutes and strain.

You can make a caffeine-free wake-up tea that has “the same catechins as green tea,” Funk said. She sent samples of her local Deer Brush, C. integerrimus, to a lab. Add a few fresh or dried Ceanothus leaves to a cup, pour hot water over them and steep no more than two or three minutes. Like green tea, Funk said, it gets bitter if it steeps too long.

Finally, toyon berries are available in the winter when not much else is, Funk said. The berries don’t taste good fresh, but they get sweeter when they’re dried. She grinds the dried berries into a powder and uses it as a condiment on cereal or in vegetable stir-fries. It adds tanginess and is a good source of antioxidants.

Tanya Kucak gardens organically. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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