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Friday, 20 September 2013

St. Paul Island

We anchored here at 0700 to allow a gale to pass by us, and also to position ourselves to exit the Bering Sea through Unimak Pass at the proper time to minimize issues with the currents. It's now 0830 and just beginning to show the grey light of dawn. The rain has not stopped, and the wind is making a low moaning sound … the season up here is definitely OVER and the North country is closing the door on us.

With lots of anxiety about the next few weeks of passage-making, I'm again turning my thoughts to food issues. Today I'll be using up the fresh peppers on some tortillas for our lunch. Now that our refrigerator is broken and the sea temperature is a 'warm' 9C (49F) we're becoming more concerned to keep food (and especially meat) at a safe temperature. We were able to split a large frozen pork tenderloin in half … thawing it in the 'fridge lowered the temperature thus keeping our remaining fresh veggies cooler. The meat was turned into two really good meals. First we had a Pork with Olive dinner - floured pork is browned in some olive oil - add 1/3 cup of dry vermouth with some chicken broth … reduce to make a sauce … and then add the olives. I picked up a Special Double-Issue Chatelaine (Canadian Women's magazine) in Tuktoyaktuk and used the Balsamic Pork with Noodles recipe on page 88 (that's in the Recipes half). The meat is marinated in a mustard/white balsamic vinegar sauce and the dish is sprinkled with fresh (in my case frozen) basil leaves.

Along with our concern about refrigeration, I've been checking products to see whether they need to be kept cold or not. It's quite astonishing how many products have a "best before" stamp and date on them and it's surprising the foods which require refrigeration these days. I thought the reason many cuisines in hot tropical places use hot spices was to preserve food when there is no refrigeration … to keep away parasites and discourage disease-carrying flies. I've seen the salamis hanging in the butcher shops in Mexico - the flies buzz around but don't land. So to me it seems weird that piri-piri peppers bear the label: "once open keep refrigerated and use within 15 days". A small bottle of Hot chili peppers had a similar label PLUS a 'bubble' top to warn you if some varmint had broached the vacuum barrier. Green jalapeno peppers: "refrigerate after opening and use within 15 days".

I then looked at vinegar. I had imagined it was used FOR preserving foods and was thus itself invulnerable to nasty changes … I remember the good old days when every British pub had a jar of pickled eggs on the bar … they could sit there for a lengthy period of time. I never heard of any Britons being struck dead by eating a pickled egg or from using the old Stilton stored in the cold pantry (before most folks had refrigerators). I was wrong again: Waitrose cider vinegar had a Best Before warning and a date (now missing) on the label neck. The balsamic vinegar (from Italy) was dated. I hoped this zealousness for our health did not extend to Denmark … but sure enough the vinegar from Greenland (labelled 'klar lagerddike') also bore the forbidding message: Mindst Holbar til: 0910 2015.

What about tinned goods? The Franklin Expedition lessons should have insured that lead or other poisoning was not possible with British canned goods. Basically - an unopened can should last forever (unless dented or compromised in some way). Not so … all the UK purchased vegetables and fruit have a Best Before date.

I guess the British public must be taking these warnings to heart … as we were leaving Scotland the press came out with the story that British consumers are throwing out good food in record volumes.

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At 20/09/2013 23:53 (utc) our position was 57°08.63'N 170°18.30'W

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