A hot weekend here on South Georgia. Saturday was calm and still - perfect for cooking with the kitchen door open. I've been trying to perfect recipes here for the base members who, in the normal run of work, cook each day for one another. So, having useful bread recipes which work given their kitchen/oven/tins etc is a bonus. There has been a good deal of interest with almost all of the base members attending bread classes with me since I have been here. It's enjoyable - teaching people the few bits and bobs that really make a difference. They are already adventurous - and most can already turn out a good loaf. But, one or two wanted to know how to shape a baguette - how to make a sourdough, how to get a perfect Focaccia. So, this is what we have been concentrating on, along with flatbreads, soda bread, oatcakes and danish pastries in variety.
As I leave later this week, I offered to make a Saturday night meal for the base and other people here - that is the museum staff and the builders who are working on the hydroelectric scheme. There were 26 in all. Not having many fresh foods makes it more of a challenge, but as I have been cooking in the Antarctic for 16 years or so, I have a pretty good idea of what is possible with the limited resources here. In fact, a lot IS possible. It just requires a bit of cunning at times....
So, we ate, in no particular order, a red pepper and bloody mary mousse, fillet of beef ( newly discovered in the freezer and labelled as something else...), lamb braised with smoked bacon and lentils, baguettes and stir fried squid with lemon and chilli with Aioli. Choux buns, by request, followed and much silliness. Lots of fun. There is a certain ritual to a Saturday night. A definite feel that separates it from the rest of the week, partly because we actually need to mark the passing of time in some way, and this is one of the ways we do. Sundays, by default, are then a day for resting, walking perhaps to see the penguins at Penguin River, which is what I did yesterday. Another super, sunny day with little breeze.
Walking around the bay, past the whaling station, one can travel around to the aforementioned river. Tucked behind the headland opposite the base here, it is a wide meandering stream with large flat banks of tussock grass on either side. Sheltered from the main swell of the bay, it affords a good spot for King penguin spotting - others too, as yesterday there were a few gentoo, macaroni and chinstrap penguins as well as the ubiquitous fur and elephant seals. There is little noise on a calm day, so the haunting cries of the fur seal pups and occasional mating calls of the penguins as they pair up is all that disturbs you as you walk. Sat by the river bank, I was able to record some fabulous audio of the seals playing and some video too of the general scenery. I will try to get this on line some how...eventually!
On the way back to base, I stopped off at the whaling station to take a closer look at some of the boats hauled out of the water there. One, the Dias, was built in Beverley as a north sea trawler before the first world war. She is partly out on land now to stop her sinking any further, as she has deteriorated here in recent years. After her service in the war, she was eventually brought down to South Georgia by the whalers and was used here until the station closed in the 1960's. Curiously, her bell was left behind in Norway and was found not long ago and restored in Hull. It's on loan here and I rang it yesterday - still sounding good.
We did indeed end the day with a BBQ on the help-deck of one of the cruise ships last evening. This was all made more bizarre but eh fact that it was already nearly dark when we arrived on board, the boat having arrived later than we expected. Still, the prospect of salad called and we managed to obtain a quantity of fresh fruit and some veg. Even if this only means an apple each for everyone, it is helpful.
A day of sorting now - as I get myself ready for the return journey home which begins on Thursday. Hopefully I'll get chance to blog a bit more before then - but for now take care and keep in touch! Gerard