Icefield Cooking (Blogging From the Field #45)

No Comments

Post by Kristin Timm, photos by Kristin Timm and Chip Duncan

[This post is part of a series of real-time communication from participants in the 2012 Juneau Icefield Research Program.  The program begins June 23rd and concludes August 18th.]

Throughout the field season, we have had anywhere from approximately 20 to 30 people in camp at any given time. Each day, two people are assigned with cooking duty, which entails making three meals, and doing all the associated dishes and cleanup. This is a pretty big job, and generally these people cannot really do any additional fieldwork on these days. Although it’s a bummer to have to stay in camp all day, it usually is a good time to get in laundry, shower, or the much-deserved afternoon nap.

The assorted pantries at each camp are stocked well and generally when a helicopter arrives we receive “freshies” (the perishable food). The staples of our freshies generally include lettuce, carrots, celery, apples, cheese, hamburger, butter, and bread. The pantry at each camp has been well stocked and each is a little different from the last, but generally includes canned fruits and vegetables, dried potatoes and milk, and many more eccentric items. A staple of all JIRP camps has traditionally been SPAM, pilot bread, peanut butter, and jelly, and this year is no different.

Peanut butter, jelly, and pilot bread—the snack bar that is available to people for snacks during the day. Pilot bread is an uniquely Alaska food it seems – its is kind of like a cracker-type-item that never goes bad. (Photo by Kristin Timm)


The pantry at Camp 18 has a wide variety of items, and a reminder to “rotate the old stock to the front”. For the most part the food is up to date, minus a few items that are kept around for historical value and laughs, like the whole chicken in a can.

Cooking for camp is always a creative endeavor. Like a cooking TV show, you are often constrained by time, utensils, and the ingredients available. Having cooks of various expertise, the incoming cooking knowledge and recipe interpretation leads to interesting results. We have been fortunate to have some pretty tasty meals on the icefield, but I must be honest that there have been a couple instances of burnt oatmeal. There is no better way to learn cooking than experimenting though!

Chef Dave makes some sweet potatoes. Yum! (Photo by Chip Duncan)


The lineup for dinner, and I’m getting some salad. (Photo by Chip Duncan)

With the helicopter support, we are fortunate to have the occasional food surprise, which has been awesome. Jeff treated us to a huge tub of ice cream a week or so ago, and often individual care packages are filled with candy and baked goods that we generally all share with each other.

In about 2 weeks we will be back in Juneau, and after eating many of the same things all summer we are excited to have things that we cannot get on the icefield, such as sushi, Thai food, lattes, halibut, and beer (for those of us over 21!).


Archive of all “Blogging From the Field:  JIRP 2012″ Posts

JIRP on Facebook

JIRP on Twitter




Leave a comment: