Living far away from friends and family on another planet, isolated from all the comforts of home, dealing with easily handled problems on Earth in a Martian environment can all be frustrating and draining on one’s energy level.
One of the ways to uplift spirits, besides a good game of Guesstures, is cooking or baking treats that remind us of home. When we arrived at our desolate location, we expected to have such staples as flour and sugar, but unfortunately were left with almost nothing in the pantry to prepare meals and desserts with. It has been my challenge this mission to put meals together out of what seems like just the Martian dirt and rocks.
Back home, I particularly enjoy baking cookies and cakes. What to do here without much flour or sugar… what to do… My first attempts were to use Bisquick and different powders, such as cheddar powder, to make biscuits like cheddar garlic or tomato and herb. Mike’s 21st birthday was on the first Monday we were here, and I made a chocolate cake using egg white powder, vinegar, some sugar, and very little flour. As you’ve read in previous blogs, it was a “flaming” success.
Each day I look in the pantry hoping for more ingredients to magically appear. I want my crew to be happy. A few days ago, I found an unopend can of pumpkin pie puree (hiding behind some nasty science experiment in the refridgerator) and whipped up a cake, throwing in some raisins and a box of graham flour that I found behind all the spices in our cabinet. Edible, and boy did the cinnamon pumpkin spices make the Hab smell almost like Thanksgiving time at home. Such a nice change from the smell of stinky toilet water that repulsed us the first day, but we’ve gradually become accustomed to.Monday was my toughest challenge. How to make oatmeal cookies without butter or applesauce, with only 1/3 cup sugar and ½ cup flour. I decided to rehydrate some chopped up pears and do a makeshift “applesauce” to help pull the batter into a recognizable form. And, after a few hours of baking in this very tiny, easy-bake oven, we had edible oatmeal craisin cookies. Today, I took on the daunting task of cleaning out and organizing our pantry and spice shelves in the kitchen, and also the attic catch-all for our larger pantry type items. Crouching low under the loft ceiling, I rearranged boxes and labeled them as Kiri took note of the inventory. We hope this will help the next crew, and it certainly looks a lot cleaner! Although this was a dirty task, I was rewarded with a large treasure….. a can of condensed milk! What a find! After the sorting and cleaning was done, I whipped up Fudgy Mocha Brownies with the highly valuable condensed milk and some coconut thrown on top. I hope the team likes it, as it will be tonight’s dessert.
I have definitely earned a degree in the art of Martian cooking on this mission, substituting egg white powder, Ghee butter, rehydrated fruits, and just having to be creative in general on the ingredients at hand. I’m just happy that I can produce something that puts a smile on my crew members’ faces after a long day of engineering checks, spacewalks, and endless cleaning of the Hab of Martian dirt.