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  • Interim Kitchen Report Day 06 TasMars2013
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Interim kitchen report

General comments

Overall the crew is happy with the food, although there have been a few concerned comments about weight gain. I’m not sure whether anyone has actually put on weight though, as we are quite active and have had some reasonably demanding EVAs.
 
I have tidied most of the drawers and cupboards, although there are still some to do. Once we worked out how to light the oven, it has been working fine. The most frustrating thing is the kettle. Since we have no coffee machine, we have to boil water for both coffee and tea in the kettle, and this is quite slow. The kettle only makes enough for 3 if we fill the cups. However we have a tolerant crew and are coping fine.

Specific comments

I decided to try the popcorn butter on the quartermaster’s advice, and that has turned out to be a good fat for making curry. We have been using a half-open pottle that was in the fridge. At the back of the pantry there was a nearly empty pottle of popcorn butter, and although it isn’t supposed to go rancid, it did have a rather rancid smell that the other pottle didn’t have. I suspect it may have been in the pantry for some time, and I threw that away. 
 
We have about 4 unopened pottles too? Is there a specific allocation for each crew? I was thinking of testing out a few other uses, but don’t want to exceed our allocation.
 
There is still plenty of olive oil, I finished one of the open bottles, there is another open bottle I'm not using and one unopened 500 ml bottle. 

I'll probably leave most of the instant/ just add water food for crews who are less experimental or don't want to spend as much time cooking.

I've gone through all the large cans and labelled the open cans so it is a bit more obvious. There are a fair few other opened packets as well -  and I'm trying to work my way through some of these. I've finished the two opened Cheerios bags (there was about one bowl in each bag).
 
I’ve made yoghurt from my yoghurt kit (Easiyo), and it has worked well. There is no need to keep a live culture, it is dehydrated in with the milk powder.
 
The dried and diced tomato is a favourite, as are the green beans, which rehydrate with a recognisable “bean” structure. I also really like the diced onion, but I’m using it sparingly as there is probably only half a cup left. All other dehydrated vegetables are plentiful, especially spinach. I hope that my saag aloo recipe encourages future crews to recognise the virtues of dehydrated spinach.
 
For yesterday’s EVA (out of sim) we were out at lunchtime, and took a selection of granola bars, chocolate bars and cookies in packets, as well as a ziplock bag of freeze-dried and dried fruit and nuts, and water. This worked well.
 
Morale is helped by keeping a bowl of dried fruit and nuts on the table for snacking.
 
I’ve made two loaves of wholemeal bread (by hand, not with the breadmaker). I’m making cinnamon scrolls today.

Mars food recipes

Here are four of my recipes, tested and approved by the crew. I’m a bit vague about quantities, since it usually just cook by taste and judgement, but I’ve attempted to provide quantities to assist future space travellers.

Saag aloo (potato in a spinach curry

This is a traditional Indian curry, especially in the north. The spice combination isn’t an authentic one, it’s a combination of what I had and what I like. Feel free to experiment!


 
¼ cup dehydrated diced onion
 
Whole spices:

  • 4 whole cloves
  • ¼ - ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp whole coriander seeds
  • a pinch of fennel seeds

 
1 tbsp popcorn butter
 
Ground spices

  • ½ - 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • pinch ground cardamom (no more than ¼ tsp)
  • salt (to taste)
  • Indian chili powder (to taste)

 
2 cups dehydrated sliced potatoes
1 ½ cups dehydrated spinach
 
½ cup yoghurt
1 tsp flour
 
Lots of water! I honestly don’t know exactly how much because I just add as needed.
 
Soak onions in ¼ cup boiling or very hot water.
 
Melt butter in large pot or high-sided pan. Add whole spices and heat until they begin to sizzle or brown. Add onion and fry for a few minutes.
 
Pour in two cups of water, and add ground spices. Add potato and another cup of water and bring to the boil. Once it boils, add the spinach and another cup or two of water. Simmer until the potato is cooked/ rehydrated. Stir so that it doesn’t stick and add water if needed. Check seasoning and add salt and chili as needed.
 
When the potato is cooked, stir the flour into the yoghurt and then stir the yoghurt into the curry. Turn off the heat. Served with rice and topped with spicy sprouts.
 
Serves about 6

Leek and potato soup

 1 tbsp popcorn butter

2 tsp parsley flakes
ground black pepper
1 cup dehydrated potato slices
½ cup dehydrated leeks
¼ cup dehydrated celery
¼ - ½ tsp beef stock/ boullion
¼ cup potato granules (I’m not sure of the quantity)
½ cup sour cream (made by from sour cream powder and water)
 
Lots of water.
 
Melt butter and add half the parsley flakes and pepper. Add about 3 cups of water, potato, leek, celery and stock powder and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and add potato granules. Simmer until the the sliced potato is cooked, stirring to stop it sticking and adding more water as necessary. Stir in sour cream. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the rest of the parsley flakes just before serving.
 
Serves about 6.

Tomato and vegetable soup

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp parsley flakes
ground black pepper
¼ cup tomato powder
½ cup dehydrated diced tomato
¼ cup celery
½ cup dehydrated vegetable soup mix
salt to taste
 
Lots of water.
 
Melt butter and add half the parsley flakes and pepper. Add about 3 cups of water, tomato powder, diced tomato, celery, soup mix and salt, and bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, adding more water as necessary. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the rest of the parsley flakes just before serving.
 
Serves about 6.

Moong dal (split mung bean curry)

 4-6 hours before cooking, pour boiling water over the dal. This will speed up the cooking process.

 
¼ cup dehydrated diced onion
 
Whole spices:

  • ¼ - ½ tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp whole coriander seeds
  • ¼ - ½ tsp whole cumin seeds

 
1 tbsp popcorn butter
 
Ground spices

  • ½ - 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt (to taste)
  • Indian chili powder (to taste)

 
1 ½ cups dal (I used Moong dal, but Masoor dal – red split lentils will cook a bit faster)
¼ cup powdered tomato (this is an approximate quantity)
½ cup diced tomato (this is an approximate quantity)
½ cup dehydrated green beans
¼ cup dehydrated bell peppers
 
Lots of water.
 
Soak onions in ¼ cup boiling or very hot water.
 
Melt butter in large pot or high-sided pan. Add whole spices and heat until they begin to sizzle or brown. Add onion and fry for a few minutes. Add about half a cup of water and add powdered and diced tomato, and the ground spices. Simmer for about 5 minutes to make a thick paste. Add water if necessary.
 
Rinse soaked dal and add to the pot with about 3 cups of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary.
 
Add beans and peppers and continue simmering until the dal is cooked (may require more water). Check seasoning and add more salt and chili as needed. This recipe really needs a little sourness and was missing ginger or tamarind, but I found that adding more tomato powder worked as a substitute.
 
Serve with rice and a spoon of yoghurt on the side if you have it.
 
Serves about 6.
 
[I found the moong dal pretty slow to cook, in my experience the fastest cooking dal is Masoor dal or split red lentils, so they might be worth a go. I’m also planning to try the dehydrated quick-cooking beans at some stage.]

 

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