30,000 Pounds of Bananas (and Carrots, and Plums, and Salad Greens, and…)

As I write this, I am eating an avocado sliced over mixed spring greens, drizzled with Ranch dressing. In between bites of my little salad, I’m eating strawberries. I have a plum for later. Earlier today, I had some cherry tomatoes, an orange, and three bananas. Oh yeah, that’s right: FRESHIES ARE HERE!!

Let me back up a little bit – on Monday the 11th, I saw that my friend Asad, another physicist with a project at LDB, had posted on Facebook that he would be flying out today on the very first C-17 of the year. This meant that it had at least taken off from Christchurch, bound for McMurdo. While this was certainly a hopeful sign that C-17 flights were resuming, it was by no means fool-proof: it could still boomerang. Fortunately it didn’t, and Asad came by the galley just before lunch to give me a quick hug goodbye.

I was really sad to see Asad go – I’d gotten to know him through the guys from the Super-Tiger project and we had become fast friends; he reminded me a LOT of KC (they even overlapped at Princeton a little bit) and while it made me miss KC and Tiffany even more, it was also nice to have someone down there with that same sense of humor with whom I could joke around; someone who also might want to try launching a satellite in his backyard or consider misappropriating lab equipment to use in the kitchen. But I also knew that Asad hadn’t had much to do over the last few weeks while he and his group waited for their balloon to reach a suitable termination site over the continent and then waited for the weather to clear to go get their payload. In fact, as “naturally lazy” as he claimed to be, he had to admit he was going out of his mind with boredom so I had suggested he come volunteer in the kitchen – which he did, although he ended up working more in the bakery since we didn’t have any vegetables to prep. It was definitely time for him to go home. Fortunately, while he and his wife live in Minnesota, he’s originally from the Bay Area and makes trips back there quite regularly and he’s promised to call in. I just hope I’m there when he does!

Of course, the upside to the farewell was the fact that it meant C-17 flights had indeed resumed! It was time to start getting the Freshies Box ready to receive a shipment! Of course, it wouldn’t come in for a few days as there was 80,000 lbs of cargo that needed to come down before we’d get our 30,000 lbs of Freshies but it was still very exciting!

On Tuesday, Sarah and I scrubbed the Freshies Box shelves, swept and mopped the floors, re-organized the hotel pans of composed salads, Jell-O, and canned fruit to maximize space for the delivery, and crossed our fingers that tomorrow’s flight would go as planned.

Sparkly clean but very empty!

Sparkly clean but very empty!

The composed salads, Jell-O, and canned fruit section of the walk-in is the only part we've been using!

The composed salads, Jell-O, and canned fruit section of the walk-in is the only part we’ve been using!

All day today, I’ve been singing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and trying to rush through all my prep so that when the cargo pallets showed up, we’d be ready to focus on getting stuff processed and out into the service area ASAP. Sarah and I also took turns checking the progress of the flight on the intranet – the plane could still always boomerang. But again, it didn’t, and the pallets showed up around 4pm. We had a huge group of volunteers to help unload and Sarah and I couldn’t stop grinning and laughing and spontaneously dancing around – it was better than Christmas.

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Even as we were unloading the pallets, we were hauling boxes of fruit into the Salad Room to be washed immediately and put out for dinner. Unfortunately there was no way we’d be able to get the Salad Bar prepped in time so the station would just have to deal with composed salads for one more day.

Then once dinner was out, Sarah and I weighed the merits of staying late to start cutting lettuce and salad toppers for the salad bar versus coming in early to do it. We decided to come in early tomorrow and then went “shopping” in our now fully loaded Freshies Box for our dinners, which is how we got salads before anyone else – hey, there have to be SOME perqs to working in the galley!

So I’m going to enjoy my greens and head for bed – tomorrow will be a busy day but it’s the last day of my week and we have Freshies so all is right with the world!

Freshieless Lentil Salad for One More Day

  • 12 cups of lentils
  • 6 cups of bulgur wheat
  • 1 quart of chopped frozen onions
  • 2 bags of frozen brussel sprouts
  • 2 cups of dried cranberries
  • 1 cup of capers, rinsed

Cook the lentils, until just tender, then chill. Cook the bulgur wheat, then chill. Saute the frozen onions with olive oil and salt and pepper and chill. Steam the frozen brussel sprouts until just hot through, then cut into quarters, and chill. Combine all in a big mixing bowl. In the bowl of a robocoupe (food processor), combine the following:

  • 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup cumin
  • 2 tablespoons each of ground turmeric, ground coriander, ground cardamom
  • 1 tablespoon each of ground cayenne, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, ground cinnamon.

Blend it together well, then slowly begin adding salad oil – olive, rapeseed, or some blend of the two – to emulsify. Taste regularly for potency – you may find you need to add more vinegar to thin it or more maple syrup to sweeten it. Then add it to the large mixing bowl and combine well, then serve. This is the kind of “salad” that is better the next day.

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