Sunday Cook

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Summer 07
Winter 07


It's been another eventful week. Frances had her birthday which, like the Queen's, was celebrated twice. Once on the day itself with a few beers in the bar that turned into a night of musical exploration, and again on Friday in the guise of a Children's Birthday Party - complete with sweets, jelly, a clown and a magician with fantastic glasses.

Mostly the week has been dominated by the weather. To fill in the lonely void created the as Piggott was left empty while Julius went on his field trip I spent a bit of time learning a little of how the Met people fill their days and their log books. Frances took me through the basics of cloud spotting and let me help with an Ozone observation, using a Dobson photospectrometer not much different from the original hanging on the walls of the Atmospheric Physics lecture room back at Oxford. Andy walked me though a synoptic observation, done with more detail than my nighttime attempts a few weeks ago. I remain a bit baffled by the detail, but it's good to get involved in all the different things going on down here.

The weather itself took the lead for the rest of the week, with a jolly good wind getting up on Thursday night. This conspired with electrical faults to knock out almost every one of our experiments at one point or another, with all of the Piggott people taking walks out in the windy dark to fix broken bits of kit. Worst of all was the SHARE, a high power radar, which managed to knock out both itself and the power supply to three other experiments. In itself not the end of the world, but complicated as the circuit breakers live deep underground in tunnels that we cannot enter when the wind is above 25 knots. While it isn't windy in the tunnels, any incident down there would require any rescuers to stand on the cold surface for too long. This left things broken for a day or so until things calmed down a bit and let us put the power back on safely.

The wind is now back to a more sensible 20 knots and has also left a small dump of snow to smooth out the roughness left by the last scouring we got as the ship was leaving. Skiing is now much more pleasant. Hard work going into the wind -- especially when glasses steam up as warm, wet, breath is forced up into facemasks -- but most relaxing when moving downwind with a flowing motion. Low streams of skitting snow race past at ankle height, drawing me forward as the wind gently pushes with a chill hand on my back.

Today I cooked for the first time since leaving the UK back in November. Now that we're in winter one of us takes a turn in the kitchen on Sundays and Thursdays so that the cook, Nichola, can have her days off. I made the traditional fry up for lunch and a mild Morrocan chicken dish (Qdra) for dinner, served with couscous, rice and roasted vegetables. Thankfully the recipe learnt years ago from Claudia Rosen made it back out of my brain, and didn't mind the lack of saffron. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and some managed to eat seconds, which is satisfying.

Chopped in the kitchen
Chopped in the kitchen

Chicken Qdra

(Serves 16, with a bit spare for a field trip.)

  • 1/2 a lump of butter (150g)
  • 22 chicken breasts cut into six pieces each
  • about a kilo of chick peas
  • 6 onions
  • 2 pints of warm water
  • 2 lemons worth of lemon juice
  • 500g crushed almonds
  • 2 tbl sp cinnamon
  • 1 tea sp cumin
  • 2 tbl sp parseley

Chop up onions really small.

Fry 2/3 of them in the butter until soft.
Add cinnamon + cumin & mix to cover onions.
Once evenly mixed, add all chicken & chickpeas & two pints warm water (to cover ingredients).
Mix & bring to boil.
Simmer for two to three hours, make sure it doesn't burn on the bottom, add more water if it gets a bit dry.

About 15 mintues before serving, add rest of onions & parseley & lemon juice & almonds & stir in. Let onions get warm, but still slightly crunchy.
Add salt & pepper to taste (don't add salt until shortly before eating as chickpeas might crack).

Serve with:

Couscous w/ sultanas & turmeric
Put enough couscous in a bowl, mix in sultanas (5 handfuls) & generous amount (1 tbl spoon for ~ 2/3 kilo couscous) of turmeric.
Cover with just boiled water, leave for 5-10 minutes to absorb, fluff & serve.


Roasted veg (peppers, carrots) for colour.

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