Mikado resident creates dish for Mars mission

MIKADO – An Alcona County woman got top honors for a side-dish recipe she put together for a crew simulating a four-month trip to Mars.

“It was all made with dried ingredients because they don’t have fresh in outer space,” Diana Zeiman of Mikado said.

The 60-year-old learned earlier this week that a crew simulating a space trip to Mars loved her recipe for a pasta salad made out of dehydrated vegetables and pepperoni and awarded her first place.

Researchers with the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, also known as HI-SEAS, wanted to explore what it would take to keep crews healthy and fit during long periods of space travel. They also wanted to examine ways to keep food from becoming boring. So on a desolate spot 8,200 thousand feet above sea level on Manoa Loa, a crew of six was cut off from the rest of the world for 118 days and had to survive on food, most of which was dehydrated. To kill time, they cooked up and sampled recipes that had been submitted through an Internet contest.

Over the years, Zeiman has become an expert on dehydrating fruits and vegetables as a way to preserve food so that is doesn’t take up a lot of space. These days, she uses those skills to create entrees, such as dehydrated potato mushroom with carmelized onions soup out of farm fresh ingredients. She also makes baking mixes out of home ground grains, as well as dips and dressing mixes, which she sells at farmers markets.

“The best part about this recipe is that it’s easy and yet flexible,” crew member Sian Proctor said. “Diana recommended some veggies to put in our pasta salad but we switched it up based on our available supply and the crews preferences.”

Among them were dried tomatoes, bell peppers, carrots, leeks and broccoli.

Zeiman also suggested pepperoni, which was on the crew’s food list.

“It was one of the few meats they had that could keep without being refrigerated and would give them a little protein boost,” Zeiman said.

When a friend suggested Zeiman check the web site to see if she had won, she was elated to see her name.

“I played on my strengths knowing about dehydration,” she said.

Her prize is bragging rights and a T-shirt. But Zeiman said she was happy.

“I love to cook,” she said. “But it’s more accurate to say I love to feed people.”

To learn more, check out the research group’s website at www.hi-seas.org

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.