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In the News - Friday, September 3, 2010


—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

Filmmaker on location in 3R

   It’s not Hollywood, but the events of the past weekend certainly confirm what locals and Kaweah Country visitors already know. Three Rivers has some great scenery.
   Last Sunday, Aug. 29, Travis Cluff, director and independent filmmaker from Fresno, brought his crew to Three Rivers to shoot some scenes for his new feature film “Gold Fools.” According to location scout Scott Sargent, the crew was looking for riverfront locales and after checking out the South Fork, shot some footage in the vicinity of the Edison swimming hole along Kaweah River Drive.
   The crew was also spotted checking out the Three Rivers Post Office to film a scene but Sargent said that site wasn’t quite big enough for what Cluff had in mind. The crew hopes to return sometime after Labor Day weekend to shoot some more footage.
   Cluff said the plot of the story centers around a guy who loses his job and decides to go panning for gold near Sonora.

  “It’s an adventure film about a dream the main character has, but he’s been warned not to go to far off the beaten path in his search for gold,” Cluff said. “When he does, the story takes an unexpected twist.”
   Last year, Cluff appeared on an episode of Wipeout on ABC television. In addition to directing his new movie, he also wrote the screenplay, Sargent said.

Parks brace for summer’s last holiday

   By Friday evening, Sept. 3, every campsite, RV spot, and lodging room will be occupied or reserved for late arrivals as a throng of visitors descend on Kaweah Country for summer’s last holiday weekend. The focus of all this activity is a visit to nearby Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks so expect some lines at the entrance station but only a maximum of one-half hour delays for road construction on the Generals Highway.
   The Crescent Meadow Road will be closed to private vehicles for the holiday weekend, but shuttles, wilderness hikers, and those with disability placards will be permitted to drive to the popular attractions.
   To hear Karen Taylor-Goodrich, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, tell it, a little inconvenience goes with the territory.

  “I know the road construction delays are frustrating right now but an improved roadway will eventually be an attraction and bring additional visitors to these parks,” she said. “The recovery act money we are spending is an investment in our future and critical to ensuring the sustainability and longevity of the Generals Highway.”
   When Taylor-Goodrich assumed the top job at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in February among the first things she noticed was the deteriorating condition of the historic roadway. She’s made it a priority to get the highway fixed and the job completed.
   As to the current regulations that prohibit vehicles over 22 feet from entering the construction zone, Taylor-Goodrich said it’s the Federal Highway Administration’s decision and park rangers must enforce the regulations. She expects, she said, with the cooperation of the weather, the current phase of construction to be completed by November and give everyone a break from road construction and restore the “not advised” policy for vehicles over 22 feet.
   The superintendent has also made it a priority to get to know as many of the park employees as possible including the hundreds of seasonals who work from May to September.

  “Without the dedicated seasonal, we could not do the job,” Taylor-Goodrich said. “We have an incredibly diverse and committed group of people here.”
   One indicator of their collective performance, Taylor-Goodrich said, is that she gets to read every letter that is received by the local parks.

  “The compliments far outweigh the complaints, especially for our search-and-rescue teams,” Taylor-Goodrich said. “The best rangers in the service come here because they know they will get to use their full complement of skills. With 1,400 square miles that is nearly 97 percent wilderness, there is always something happening.”
   This Friday, while the mjority of travelers will be jostling for a site in the front country, Taylor-Goodrich will be making her way to Crabtree Ranger Station to visit with her backcountry staff at one of the parks’ prime places under the southwest flank of Mount Whitney.
“I want to get to know our East Side partners too,” Taylor-Goodrich said. “The tourism-friendly hubs for Mount Whitney, at Three Rivers, and along Hwy. 180 are all important to enhance the experience for our millions of visitors.”

3R man’s death ruled suicide

   Steven Meyers, 59, was found dead in Cinnamon Canyon near an access road north of South Fork Drive on Thursday, Aug. 26. A Tulare County Sheriff’s Department investigator from the Coroner’s Office determined that the victim died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
   According to an investigative report, the victim had been dead for several days before his body was discovered by two local residents who were visiting an area residence. Meyers had recently been a tenant at a South Fork apartment.

Sheep Fire surpasses 3,000 acres

   Infrared mapping earlier this week made confirmed the latest acreage totals of the Sheep Fire, which has been burning since mid-July after being ignited by lightning. The fire has now charred more than 3,000 acres and continues to show “slow fire growth and behavior,” fire managers say. The majority of that acreage is in Kings Canyon National Park south of Cedar Grove.

  “Truthfully, it’s been a little smoky for visitors to the Cedar Grove area,” reported Deb Schweizer, NPS fire education specialist. “The cooler temperatures helped slow the fire and our back-burning operations should improve conditions for the busy Labor Day weekend.”
   Schweizer said another small fire, dubbed the Marvin Fire, has burned 12 acres of rocky terrain near the Marvin Pass area of the Jennie Lakes Wilderness of Sequoia National Forest. That fire was started by lightning during July and is creeping along. It is also being managed as a resource burn.
   These managed lightning fires, Schweizer said, limit the size and severity of subsequent fires by reducing the amount of fuel on the forest floor.

  “It’s not if these areas are going to burn but when,” Schweizer said. “We [park fire managers] believe the short term impacts due to some smoky conditions are preferable to any wildfire disaster.”
   For Sheep Fire updates, visit www.inciweb.org/incident/2059.


Ballymaloe Cookery School

By Tina St. John

   I recently returned from a three-week escapade in Ireland, where I had the unique opportunity to work at a professional cooking school that my mother also attended 24 years ago. The school, Ballymaloe, is situated in East County Cork at the southern tip of Ireland, two miles from the Celtic Sea.
   Years ago, the owner of the school, Darina Allen, stayed with my parents when she was in the states and did a cooking demonstration at my mother’s school, Le Bonne Cuisine in Denver.
   That’s where my connection to this school began. I remember my mother talking often about Ballymaloe and how glorious it was. In fact, she thought it to be the most beautiful place she had seen.
   Not only did I believe my mom to have impeccable taste, she was Belgian and had traveled to many places in Europe and abroad. The South of France had always been a favorite of hers, particularly Nice and Provence.
   So that’s why I had always wondered, how beautiful can this place be? I have always wanted to travel to Ireland and see for myself.
   About a year ago, I wrote Darina Allen to ask if she would consider allowing me to come to Ballymaloe to work for room and board. The school is, as one might say in Ireland, “not scrappy.” In other words, my pocketbook at this particular time would not have been able to fund such a jaunt.
   Six months passed, and I’d figured Ms. Allen had not favored my request. However, shortly thereafter, I received a wonderful email from her, gladly welcoming me to Ballymaloe. Turns out she encourages people who are willing to come for “work experience” in trade for room and board.
   I might add, the accommodations are quite charming and the food is beyond expectation. A fair shake indeed, but as I found out, the work is not for the fainthearted.
   Without any idea of what was ahead, I took off on an adventure that I will say has given me an appreciation for a culture and people who take well to preparing and eating food along with the warmest of hospitality. At the school, which farms a 100-acre organic garden, the food is all fresh.
   Very few of the prepared dishes, if any, are refrigerated, because once food is refrigerated it begins to lose its taste and value. So everyday the produce, salad greens, herbs, vegetables, fruits, eggs, and milk are brought in fresh.
   Darina’s intent when starting the school in 1983 was to bring to Ireland a Slow Food Movement, just as Alice Waters has done in America. In fact, it was no surprise when I learned the two women are close friends.
   Along with the work that was expected of me to “earn my keep,” I was fortunate enough to attend some demonstrations. I’d like to share with you some favorite recipes that I prepared while at Ballymaloe.   Over the next several weeks, I will present a series of traditional Irish and international dishes and some cooking and presentation tips that are easy and loads of fun in the kitchen.
   With some of these recipes, keep in mind the Irish have very different eating habits than we Californians. The climate is much cooler, and the workload that most of the country folk engage in is long and labor intensive.
   If I were asked to describe Ireland in only two words it would be: butter and cream. So whether you decide to incorporate these recipes into your daily eating or use them for entertaining and special occasions, enjoy and then go for a long vigorous walk.
   If interested, you’re welcome to visit my blog, which I updated daily and where I posted pictures of Ballymaloe. The address is www.emeraldlight33.blogspot.com. The cooking school’s website is: www.ballymaloe.com.
   Bon Appetit!

Mummy’s Sweet White Scones

Makes 18-20 scones using a 3” cutter
8 cups plain white flour
1½ sticks butter
3 free-range eggs
Pinch of salt
¼ cup castor sugar or fine sugar
3 heaped teaspoons baking powder
2 cups milk
GLAZE: Egg wash and granulated sugar (Whisk 1 egg with a pinch of salt. This will help the scones brown nicely in the oven.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Sift dry ingredients together in a large wide bowl. Cut the butter into cubes, toss in the flour mixture, and rub in the butter. Make a well in the center. Whisk the eggs with the milk, add to the dry ingredients and mix to a soft dough.  DO NOT OVER MIX and mix in one direction with your hand in a claw position.   Turn out onto a floured board. Do not knead but shape just enough to make a round. Roll out to about 1” thick and cut into scones. The first cut scones are the best so get as many cut out as possible. Cut as close to the end as you can. No need to grease a baking pan. Put them on and brush with egg wash and dip the egg-washed end in sugar. Bake in a hot oven for 10-12 minutes. Serve with butter and jam or jam with whipped cream.

   FRUIT SCONES: Add ¾ cup plump golden or regular raisins or cranberries to the above mixture when the butter has been rubbed in.
   POPPY SEED SCONES: Add 5 tablespoons of poppy seeds to dry ingredients after the butter has been rubbed in.
   CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES: Add 4 ounces good quality chocolate chips to dry ingredients after the butter has been rubbed in.

Orange Butter for Scones

3 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
1¾ sticks butter
1¾ cups confectioner sugar, sifted

Cream the butter with the orange rind. Add the confectioner sugar until fluffy.

Lemon Curd
   The recipe states, “Tangy lemon curd can be made in a twinkling.” This is delicious smeared over scones. I added a garnish of real whipped cream on top, which was a nice contrast to the lemon.

½ stick of butter
½ cup baker’s sugar
Juice and rind of two lemons
2 eggs and 1 egg yolk

  On a very low heat, melt the butter, then add sugar, grated rind, and juice. Stir in well beaten eggs. Stir carefully over a gentle heat with a straight-ended wooden spoon until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Draw off the heat and pour into a bowl or sterilized jar (the mixture will thicken as it cools). Cover when cold and store in the refrigerator. Best eaten within a week.

THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
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