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Food & Wine

Chocolaty character of stout beers blends spicy, sweet ingredients

Chocolaty character of stout beers blends spicy, sweet ingredients


photo Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Aged coffee beans join beer in Modern Times’ bourbon barrel stout.

Dark beers like stout highlight flavors reminiscent of coffee and chocolate, resulting in a great canvas for brewers to blend nontraditional in...

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Your Health

El Camino Hospital expands mental health treatment options

El Camino Hospital expands mental health treatment options


Asher Kohn/Town Crier
Shovels in hand, Dr. Peter Fung, from left, El Camino Healthcare District board chairman; Russ Satake, El Camino Hospital Foundation board chairman; donors Donna and John Shoemaker; State Sen. Jerry Hill; and Assemblyman Rich ...

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Your Home

Holidays by design: Los Altos company provides  seasonal decorating service

Holidays by design: Los Altos company provides seasonal decorating service


Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Amy Fischer of Spectrum Interior Design decorated Los Altos resident Katie Beers’ living room for the holidays last week.

Don’t worry if you have no time to shop for unique holiday decor, decorate Christma...

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On The Road

Matt goes full throttle to fix BMW

In November 2015, one of my newer customers brought in his 2011 BMW Z4 35i because the service-engine-soon light went on.

He explained that the car did not idle well and was low on power. We connected the car to the Integrated Service Technical Appl...

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Senior Lifestyles

Making beautiful music together: Foothill Symphonic Winds inspires members of all ages

Making beautiful music together: Foothill Symphonic Winds inspires members of all ages


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Members of the ensemble rehearse at Blach Intermediate School.

Something special happens Wednesday nights at Blach Intermediate School. Seventy or so people ranging in age from 18 to 85, of varied backgroun...

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Wedding To Remember

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night


Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accuratel...

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Reap benefits of growing your own food

Spring has sprung and Earth Day is upon us Friday. If you want to go green this year, don’t stop at planting a tree, attending a rally or donating to your favorite conservation fund. Make 2011 the year you move beyond symbolic gestures and engage with the Earth in the most primal, profound and productive way possible: Learn to grow your own food.

People labor to acquire the skills to make a living, yet many neglect the most basic and valuable skill – the ability to feed ourselves. We depend almost completely on others to provide the nourishment that keeps us alive.

When you ponder the implications in an economy that seems to be hanging by a thread, it doesn’t make sense. For this reason among others, people should commemorate Earth Day by vowing to experience firsthand the miracle of growing food.

A survey by the Garden Writers Association revealed that 38 percent of Americans, an increasing percentage under 40, grew some of their own vegetables in 2009. Many coaxed their children to get down and dirty, also. Approximately 37 percent of gardeners plan to expand their gardens this year.

While these numbers are positive, we should reverse the 38 percent to 83 percent. Growing your own food brings a variety of benefits.

• It’s a source of fresh, delicious and wholesome food. Most list the food itself as their primary reason for gardening. Homegrown food is fresher, healthier and tastier, especially if it’s grown organically. It’s closer to what food is supposed to be about. It doesn’t merely keep you alive – it makes life worth living.

• More satisfaction. Seventy-one percent of young people, and at least that many older gardeners, spend hours on hands and knees near earthworms and ants to grow tasty food and earn bragging rights. The urge originates from an ancient, bred-in-the-bone sense of competence and self-reliance that comes from providing something that everyone needs.

Since becoming dependent on supermarkets, Americans have lost these innate feelings – their connection with the first humans who figured out that a little dirt over an apple seed, water and light would produce an apple tree.

• We’re up for downtime, and digging in the dirt supplies it in spades. Gardening’s hard work, but artificial lighting and air, sitting at a computer, multitasking, constant interruptions and other demands have created a stressful way of life.

The Garden Writers’ survey found that 60 percent of young gardeners said yard work relaxed them. Gardeners work on plant-, wind-, sun- and rain-time, not clock-time. Caring for a garden keeps people attuned to life’s leisurely time frames, not frenetic schedules.

• It’s a spiritual thing. The sacred texts of many traditions refer to gardens. Spiritual leaders teach life lessons using gardening metaphors and parables.

Gardening makes us partners in an ongoing creation. And while gardening can be accomplished alone, its pleasures are amplified when shared.

• It keeps us fit. No doubt, gardening is a great way to get fit. Muscle groups you didn’t know you had become toned in the process of digging, turning, hoeing, raking, sowing and weeding.

• Gardening could save your life. Dwindling global resources, climate instability, skyrocketing prices and other red flags point to a future where inexpensive, plentiful and readily accessible food may no longer be available. If store shelves are bare, the ability to grow food becomes a survival skill.

A society connected to its food production is healthier. Considering the relative ease of growing fruits and vegetables in backyards, vacant lots, community gardens and patio containers, there’s no reason not to get your hands dirty.

Gardening takes some skill, but the seeds, soil, earthworms, microbes, rain and sun do most of the work.

Ellen LaConte is author of “Life Rules” (Green Horizon, 2010). For more information, visit www.ellenlaconte.com.

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