On Sol 27 we were so busy we forgot to go for an EVA! It was raining heavily in the morning, and I was busy in the kitchen and Ryan was in his workshop and later on we just forgot. We did make it outside for an EVA on Sol 28, and I tried to capture the wonderful afternoon light through these new maple leaves and flowers.

Food System Update

I planned a cooking day for Sol 27 and choose a couple of new recipes to try from the Guardian. I decided to make Allegra McEvedy’s Moroccan Carrot Soup, and use Tom Hunt’s formula for store-cupboard soda bread. The canny-eyed among you will notice that I am not linking to the recipes. Whilst the soup was edible, it was uninspiring, and I wouldn’t bother making it again. I would go for a more traditional carrot & coriander (or I used to do carrot & cumin, but couldn’t find my original recipe). It was lunch on Sol 27 & 28, and will be lunch again today. The soda bread, however, was basically inedible. It was way too salty, even though I added less salt than it called for. Reading the comments that have accumulated on the recipe, I am not the only one to feel that way; plenty of people bemoaned the waste of ingredients that are hard to come by in Lockdown. The culinary failures did put a bit of a damper on the day.

For Sol 28 I made flatbreads (I use the breadmachine to make the dough based on the Moro flatbread recipe) to go with the soup. We have two leftover for today, which I will lightly toast before serving. 

I found an out-of-date jar of zhoug in the pantry, which is basically a spicy Yemeni pesto-style paste made from coriander and parsley. I added some to the soup, and then we used it in place of pesto on the pizza dough for our evening meal. We used the defrosted pizza dough to make a calzone with some leftover smoked meat, steamed greens from the garden and a bit of grated cheese. We rarely use tomato sauce on our pizzas these days, preferring a smear of pesto. The zhoug makes a nice change, so I will get another jar! It won’t keep though, so I am going to use the rest in everything this week. First up, a dollop on top of the salmon fillets I’ll bake in the oven for dinner. We normally use pesto, so this will change things up a bit.

For the evening meal on Sol 28 we had battered fish from the freezer with hash browns and some spring veg from the garden.

Our scheduled food delivery from Earth arrived in the evening of Sol 28. We got everything we asked for except bread flour. They had no flour (or yeast) of any kind. We have some in stock, so there’s no panic there yet. We even managed to get some tinned tomatoes, which are likely to be in short supply going forward. Isonaut Ryan whisked some fresh groceries off to his parents straightaway. 

Astrobotany update

NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre is where a lot of the astrobotany magic happens. During the Lockdown, they’ve come up with an idea for junior astrobotanists – the Popcorn Challenge. All you need is some popcorn kernels, and you can design your own experiment to see what plants like and don’t like. More details via Twitter:

Teachers may want to get their students involved in the Leguminaut Challenge. Magnitude.io want some help deciding which legume (pea and bean) species would be the best for a space garden. The winning species will be blasted into space on their next mission to the ISS in February 2021.

(Sadly I can’t see a way for those of us outside the education system to get involved, but the videos are all available via YouTube.

Green-Hab update

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Rainy day games. Wanna guess?

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Inspired by NASA’s popcorn challenge (although they are suggesting their budding astrobotanists don’t eat their plants!) I decided to do some sprouting on Sol 27. I had some seeds sold for sweetcorn shoots, so I sowed those along with some coriander for microgreens. I was always a bit meh about coriander, but recently I made a Lebanese potato and tomato stew and the coriander really made it very special and now I am worried about running out of coriander!

I have two sprouting jars (they have plastic mesh lids for easy drainage), so one has a handful of mung beans for beansprouts, and the other peas for peashoots. I tend to sprout my pea shoots in a jar, and then plant them up. These pea seeds are truly ancient, though (I had them when we moved in here, and that was 2014) so they may not sprout. I have fresher ones if they don’t! 

I also had a small packet of wheat seeds for sprouting, which I bought way back when. It suggested a third method, so the wheat seeds are sprouting on damp kitchen paper.

On Sol 28 I decided it was time to sow the April seeds for the Green-Hab: watermelon, climbing beans, climbing squash, sweetcorn, a second batch of sprouting broccoli, parsley, more sweet peppers and coriander for outdoor plants. I don’t tend to grow tomatoes, as no one in this Hab likes eating them fresh. But if tinned tomatoes are going to be in short supply…. Of course, this is Panic Planting. I only have seeds for cherry tomatoes, which are not the best sort for cooking. And by the time mine are ripe, the Italian tomato harvest will be in and a new batch of tinned tomatoes will be on the way. But I figured we can always roast ours and use them like that. Worst-case scenario: the in-laws get fresh tomatoes!

I also sowed some mizuna and kale seeds in the hydroponic seedling tray, which are destined for the Hydroponicum.

Entertainment and morale

We found a film called Yesterday on one of the streaming services. It’s not the kind of thing we would normally watch, but we thought we would give it a go, and thoroughly enjoyed it! It’s a Richard Curtis film and involves Ed Sheeran as himself. The basic idea is that a really unsuccessful musician wakes up following a road accident to discover that no one’s heard of The Beatles. The film follows what happens when he decides to reintroduce their music to the world.