A few hours later, I wake up. It’s the late afternoon. I could try to make dinner with the rabbit I hunted today. I go to the shuttle and get the meat from the fridge and bring it to the kitchen. The kitchen has an oven and a stove made from stone on one side, on the other side the wooden cupboards and drawers are lined. In the centre of the room is a big table with several chairs.
Bob and Dohal helped me a lot by disassembling it for me. I could try and grill it with Xiu berry powder, but I don’t have any. Come think of things I don’t have, I check the drawers and cupboards. I can’t find any utensils in this kitchen at all! There are only some bowls, plates and cutlery.
I go back to the shuttle.
“Mittens, I need some kitchen utensils.”
“I understand, I shall replicate some for you.”
Several minutes later, some pots and pans appear in the replicator. From their silver-white colour on the outside, I believe those are made from Aluminum. The inside surface is nonmetallic white.
“Why Aluminum, Mittens?” I ask, “I thought pots and pans are usually made from copper.”
“Aluminum is not that bad in terms of thermal conductivity. Copper, which are known to far better with thermal conductivity, are also known to cause problems with some organisms, e. g., on earth, people that are not immune to copper have died out in the Bronze Age.”
“I see. So what’s that white layer on the inside?”`
“That is ceramic non-stick coating. It is possible something like is not known on this planet yet, but having it makes cooking at lot easier.”
“I will have to believe you.”
I bring the pots and pans to the kitchen. Just as a put the items on the table in the centre, I hear some noise coming from the door. The door opens and Rowan and Nell enter.
“How was the hunt?” Rowan asks.
“Quite bountiful,” I answer, “we hunted another boar.”
“That’s something special!” Nell says, “I wonder why I haven’t heard about it…”
I explain to him how and why it’s stored in the shuttle. Nell hands me a jar of red powder.
“This is a housewarming gift. I’ll be right back.”
Nell runs off and leaves Rowan and me alone in the kitchen.
“What’s gotten into him?” I ask.
“Possibly, it’s the fact you’re storing the boar meat. I remember faintly him saying something about him wanting to try something different with boar meat.”
A few minutes later, we hear knocking on the door. Rowan opens the door, Nell stands there holding several jars.
“I forgot to ask you if we could prepare the boar meat now. I wanted to try using a different spice mixture, Unlike Xiu powder which tastes fine when you just rub it on the surface, this has to seep in.”
“Since you’re already here, I’m not going to say no. Besides, I could use some pointers about cooking this rabbit.”
“Sure, what kind of tools do you have?”
“Almost nothing, I just got some pots from the flying home.”
“Titanium? Isn’t that a bit extravagant?”
“No, they are made from a different metal. I know it as Aluminum. It’s whiter.”
Nell takes a pan and looks at it.
“It’s lighter than even Titanium. What’s this on the inside?”
“That’s a coating that makes it so close to nothing sticks to the pan.”
“Can I try cooking with this?”
“Of course, if you need something I might be able to have it made in the flying home.”
“Some kitchen knives would be a good start.”
“Mittens?” I ask.
I hear knocking on the door. I open to see who it is. It’s Nescha and Tom.
“Hello,” Nescha greets me, “I’ve brought a housewarming gift.”
She hands me a block of knives and a cutting board.
“Hi,” I answer, “thanks.”
“Hello,” Tom greets me, “I’ve brought the finished window.”
“Hi,” I answer, “that was fast! Aren’t you working overtime?”
“Over time? What’s that?”
“I meant: aren’t you working too much?”
“Ah! No, I’m fine. It was simply very enjoyable.”
“That’s how he is,” Nesha says, “pardon me asking, but what’s with those pans and pots?”
I nod to Tom to signal him he can bring the window to the bedroom to install it. While he is at it, I explain to her what those are made of and about the coating. I also mention the thermal conductivity comparable to copper.
“Yes, I’ve heard some chefs prefer tools made from copper. I’ve never heard about people falling ill after eating food that’s been prepared in copper tools. But then, I’ve never even seen this metal before. I’ve seen something like it, but it’s much weaker…”
“Well, this is an alloy. It’s still mostly Aluminum, but there are tiny parts of other metals in it that give it a usable strength. Of course, it’s not a strong as Titanium, but we are talking about kitchen tools here.”
Tom enters the kitchen.
“It seems Tom is done with the window,” Nesha says as she sees Tom, “it’s about time for me to leave. I’ll ask you more about that metal at a later time. If you need something made, don’t hesitate to ask. Even though at this time, I feel the flying home can make you anything you need.”
“Actually, I can assure you it can’t. The Titanium knife you gave me has features of very high precision, the flying home doesn’t even come close to being able to recreate it.”
“That’s reassuring to hear. Bye!”
“I’ll be going as well, bye” Tom adds. Both he and Nescha leave.
“Let’s make something,” Nell says, “is what I like to say, but your fire is about to go out. You need to regularly add fuel to it!”
He shakes his head, “what kind of sheltered life did you live?” he mumbles. He puts some wood into the oven, quickly washes his hands and starts cutting two snow-white onions. The room fills with a distinct aroma, it’s slightly pungent. I don’t know why, but I think it’s a pleasant smell.
“These are Hau Onions,” he explains, “while they almost grow anywhere, they are better if you cultivate them. Just remember to cut off the flower off before its petals fall off. That way the onion tastes a lot better.”
He gives me a small bit to taste. It tastes pungent as its smell with a hint of sweetness. It would make a nice note on some dishes, so why has he so much of it?
“It doesn’t taste that great when it’s raw, but that changes when you cook it.”
After he’s done with cutting, he puts the cut onions into two small bowls. Then, he cuts the rabbit meat into small chunks. He takes a loot at the fire, put some oil into a pan. That pan he puts onto the stove. After a while, he put the meat and the onions into the pan. Upon touching the ingredients the oil sizzles and the pungent smell slowly turns mellow. Every minute or so, Nell stirs the contents of the pan. After a while, he puts in more onions, and stirs again. Half a minute later put pours everything onto three plates.
“You don’t need that second batch of onions,” he explains, “but if you put it in, you get a better mix of flavours.”
We eat. Each of us gets a plate of fried meat and some loaves of bread. As before, I’m overwhelmed by the flavours, but I’m getting used to it.
“But have to say, I really like this pan,” Nell claims, “can you make me a set as well?”
“Sure, I think we still have enough energy for it,” I answer, “if not, I have to ask Nescha for more Banum.”
“Just receiving it would feel wrong, so… is there any special meat or dish you want?”
“Hamburger…” I try to remember what Mittens said about it, “it’s a dish made from minced meat. You form it a sheet that goes into a cut bread bun.”
A real hamburger… what would it taste like?
“You seem to like eating.”
“I have told Rowan before, at home food usually artificially made. Compared to the cooked food here, it tastes rather bland.”
“I’m not so sure,” Rowan answers, “you’ve given me food from the replicator before. I don’t think it’s bland. Sure it’s different, but I wouldn’t say it’s bland.”
So is it just me? I’ll have to ask Mittens about it.
“Maybe it’s just me.”
I go to the shuttle.
“Mittens, did you listen?” I ask.
“Yes, the set is almost done. About you thinking food from the replicator tasting bland: it’s a rare condition. There are modified schematics for food, but we don’t have them, plus they take higher grade replicators to use. Usually people that experience that issue tend to take up cooking themselves.”
“So exactly what I’m doing.”