Alaskan Recipes

In my new book, 365 Days to Alaska, the main character, Rigel, likes to drink hot Tang. A lot of people have never heard of hot Tang, but in Alaska (and other cold-climate states, especially in the western United States) it's not uncommon to drink it. (Tang is popular in other parts of the world too, like South America.) Why would anyone drink hot Tang? Yuck, some of my friends said.

Well, think about it. In bush Alaska, many products we take for granted in most of the United States aren't always available—things like fresh vegetables, fruit, eggs, milk, and orange juice. Plus, many people might not live that close to a store.

And, even if you had some orange juice, a cold drink might not be all that appealing when it's 30 degrees below zero outside. Outdoor temperatures that cold or colder aren't uncommon in parts of Alaska. For folks outside the United States, this would be -34.44 Celsius. Whether you follow the imperial or metric system of temperature measurement, I think we can all agree that this is pretty cold weather and a piping-hot drink might be welcome.

Common Sense Alert!
Before you make hot Tang, make sure you have an adult around if you're not used to cooking or dealing with hot water!

Read on to learn how to make hot Tang.

BASIC HOT TANG

– Put a large spoonful of Tang drink mix (or another powdered orange drink mix) into a mug.
– Fill the mug with boiling water.
– Stir.
– Wait for it to cool off a bit.
– Drink.

(I've heard that some people put a spoonful of condensed milk into this concoction and call the resulting drink "super-duper," but I haven't been able to verify that. It sounds pretty good, though. I'd try it.)

Here is a more elaborate hot Tang recipe. Many people would call this Russian tea. It's especially good to drink when you have a cold.

RUSSIAN TEA (FANCIER HOT TANG)

(makes four servings)

– 2 tablespoons Tang (or other powdered orange drink)
– 2 tablespoons powdered lemon drink (this would be the powdered lemonade mix you might use in the summer)
– A few pinches of spice (this could include cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg, or pretty much any other spice you might put in a cookie or cake. Please yourself and your own taste)
– A piece of lemon peel
– 1-2 tea bags (herbal, green, or black, the variety is up to you, but do remember that black tea has caffeine)

Combine all the ingredients in a heatproof container like a teapot or a saucepan, and pour over four cups or so of boiling water. Let it steep for a few minutes. Then fish out the teabags, give it a good stir, and serve it hot.

BLUEBERRIES AND CREAM

When I was doing the research for 365 Days to Alaska, one of the books I read was called Cooking Alaskan. Published in 1983, this cookbook is considered something of a classic, with over 1,400 recipes, many involving wild foods, many also involving the preparation of fish or game. (Warning: if you are upset by the idea of people hunting, cooking and/or eating wild animals, this is not the cookbook for you.) For the rest of us, it's a fascinating look into Alaskan life and cuisine. This is a version of one recipe from that cookbook.

– Fill a bowl with fresh ripe blueberries.
– Sprinkle with sugar, dried nonfat milk, and dried coffee creamer.
– Stir well.
– Enjoy.