23 March 2007

Position:  73-11N/145-55W

Temperature:  -13ºF


Greetings from APLIS, adrift in the Arctic Ocean. 


Yesterday, Doc DeMers talked about some of the considerations for keeping us all healthy and well here in sub-zero temperatures.  Arctic survival manuals tell us that just keeping yourself warm uses up about 5,000 calories per day.  This requires that each of us ensure we eat at least three good meals each day.  You might think that, in a remote site like this, large amounts of palatable food might be difficult to find.  NOT TRUE!  We eat exceptionally well, thanks to our cooks Victoria Simms and Stephanie Rowatt.  With camp population exploding in the next couple days, they have been joined today by Trina Litchendorf.  As part of our “meet the campers” series, here’s Victoria:


I have sailed as a Merchant Marine since 1998, working as a Cook and Baker on oceanographic research ships around the world, and as a caterer ashore for seven years.  Here at APLIS, I have my first custom galley, well-built and tended by a talented crew of carpenters, plumbers, and electricians who can design, build, or repair anything I want.


Ice camp is similar to ships in that stores come from far away and must be ordered well in advance.  Since we don’t always get what we need when we need it, I have to be creative and flexible with my menu plans.  Frequently we can count on the Prudhoe Bay Hotel to supply us with emergency items such as coffee, eggs, flour, and chocolate chips.  Since paper plates are on back-order, we’re eating from hinged Styrofoam takeout containers cut in half.  No one seems to mind.  In fact, this is one of the most courteous groups for whom I’ve cooked.


My camp has hot and cold running water, supplied by Arctic ice, mined faithfully and daily by my crew (the other campers).  Also handled by camp inhabitants are the KP duties … what a luxury to have a friendly individual to handle clean up after every meal.  And yes, Mrs. Hasell, your husband DOES know how to wash dishes.



The APLIS Freezer


I have the biggest freezer imaginable - right outside my kitchen.  The freezer works so well that defrosting take a little longer than other locations.  My biggest challenge is keeping cool foods cool and not frozen.  Normally, setting food on the floor keeps them refrigerated.  Any time food arrives, a human chain forms promptly and produce is hustled into the Mess.


I have a spacious barbeque grill; a dependable and supportive baker and right arm; and plenty of compadres for a game of cribbage, a laugh, or a chat.  When cooking for upwards of 50 or 60 people, the meals may not be haute cuisine, but it pleases me to have happy repeat customers.  Bon Apetit!



Victoria Simms


Victoria is being modest about the quality of the food.  It IS haute cuisine.  Take the photo below as an example.  For breakfast a couple days ago, we had freshly baked scones (flaky and delicious), freshly baked bagels, lemon pancakes, regular scrambled eggs, and scrambled eggs with smoked salmon (indescribable).  We’ve had prime rib (twice), scampi, curried soups, cod, tilapia, and salmon prepared just about every way you can imagine.  Victoria even braved the cold a couple days ago to stand outside and barbeque burgers.



Stephanie and the Breakfast Buffet


We’ll be leaving in about a week.  If you ever get a chance to talk to an APLIS resident or visitor about their time here, one of the first things they’ll tell you is how fantastic the food was.  Believe them.




Jeff Gossett

Arctic Submarine Laboratory