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Aug 21, 2007 09:13 AM

North Pole, basic cooking ideas

My brother is going away to work for a year in the North Pole, leaving in a week. Since food there is limited, he's allowed to bring basic food items (pasta, olive oil, parmesan, etc) to help him make good food up there. His co-workers gave him a bread machine as a going away gift, which is a great idea.
Background note: he is not normally a cook, eats out a lot (but he'll have no choice there but to cook at home).

Which dry & canned foods would be good for him to bring?
What are some really basic recipes (using basic ingredients) that I can send him him? For instance, he needs a recipe for a simple spagetti sauce. Ideas? He is a pasta fan (& beef fan, but that will have to be limited.) I think he will have access to fish (but not too many fresh vegs/fruits at all).
I'll be able to mail him a box (food!) every other month or so, not sure of the weight limitations yet)
Any recipes and ideas, keeping limitations in mind would be great. Thanks!

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  1. Any idea what he'll be using to cook on? And besides the bread machine will he have any small kitchen appliances?

    1 Reply
    1. re: MobyRichard

      He'll have a fridge & elect.stove, small basic. He'll also take his microwave (and coffee maker, of course! Sending him with 2 large bags of coffee for starters.)

    2. Simple spaghetti sauce (can be used for any macaroni):

      1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      2 large cloves garlic, minced
      2 teaspoons dried basil
      2 teaspoons dried oregano
      1 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes (Pastene Kitchen Ready, or similar)
      1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

      Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the basil, oregano, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 18 to 20 minutes, stirring a few times during the cooking. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
      What an adventure he's going to have!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gio

        Thanks so much, Gio,this is exactly the kind of recipe he'll need! yes, quite the adventure - the only worrying thing, for me, is the food issue!!

        1. re: Gio

          I wonder if making something like this is much of an improvement over a decent bottled spaghetti sauce. For one thing, is he going to have olive oil, fresh garlic, the dried herbs, and good canned tomatoes? Once he makes the sauce, is he going have space to keep it in the fridge or freezer until he finishes it (one serving at a time)?

          Like it or not, he is going to have greater access to convenience foods than many basics.


        2. Take a look at what Knorr products are available in your area. They are generally reliably edible, they make soups and sauces and are dehydrated. You might also go to a camping supply store or website. They usually have large assortments of dehydrated or freeze dried foods which don't weigh alot and pack easily. Sending along some good seasonings and chili powders would be a plus. Don't forget to add some really good chocolate too. When it is dark and cold (and even when it isn't) chocolate can be a great mood elevator releasing endorphins. How about putting in some popcorn too? You might want to check out

          4 Replies
          1. re: Candy

            Quite right, have to select & pack the right seasonings! Yes, chocolate, what a great idea, and to think I would have forgotten that, and popcorn (great for easily making in the microwave)! Thanks so much, keep the ideas coming! Powdered milk or maybe the milk in packs that don't require refrigeration (can last in the cupboard forever)? Will go shopping with him on Sunday & will keep the dehydrated soups in mind too. Thanks, Candy.

            1. re: morebubbles

              See if you can find 'Milkman' powdered milk; it tastes significantly better, IMHO.

              1. re: MobyRichard

                From backpacking discussions, Milkman does not seem to be available in Canada. Mexican Nido (or Klim) whole dried milk may be available in Asian shops in Montreal. But I also suspect that dried milk or ulra pasteurized boxes of milk will be available in the local store.

                I'd focus on things he likes that you would not expect to find in a small town convenience store.


            2. re: Candy

              Just to add to Candy's excellent points: think dried veggies and peas and lentils too. Dried porcini mushrooms and dessicated onions will round out a tomato sauce and pull it in other directions. If he is not a cook already, all those individual spices may be daunting. How about the standard spice mixtures: Italian, poultry seasoning, curry, chili, garam masala and a good steak mixture (I like Hy's but I don't know if you can get it in the US)? Perhaps evaporated milk and also dried milk, especially for bread machine use.

            3. There is, in fact, an excellent cookbook about this: The Northern Cookbook by Eleanor Ellis. It is out of print but copies pop up regularly on used book websites such as Here is a sample of the book:

              Okay, that exerpt does tend to focus on some of the more exotic aspects of the book but there is a great deal of practical information that anyone, not just a hunter/adventurous chowhound can use.

              1. First, follow up on poster Candy's suggestions--she knows, always!)
                I would send Oreos, ginger snaps, dried apples, pistachios, sweetened condensed milk, caramels, dried mushrooms, seasoned dry bean soup mix, and maybe if you know some favorites from childhood or beyond? Citrus flavored bars/candy might hit the spot in a cold environment. Maybe meats like pepperoni/dried hams/smoked meats? Drink mixes--bloody Mary--limeade--eggnog? Don't send recipes without the ingredients to make them, that would be frustrating !

                2 Replies
                1. re: blue room

                  excellent suggestions above.

                  I would add that there are two basic categories of food to think about. The staples that he should take/have on hand and those that you can send.

                  For the former, I would add if he is not already a cook, dried or cured meats with flavor, dehydrated eggs, fire roasted canned tomatoes - because thye already have a lot of flavor, and spice mixes.

                  To send to him, think of things he wouldn't have had for awhile. I don't know what the shipping is like, but it would be nice to have cookies for instance. Pack with silicon packets if needed. Make up some new spice mixes, or send some premade sauces from TJs. When my now husband lived in France, he wanted Mexican food sent to him, because he was tired of white bean burritos with gruyere.