Heading to cabin in ME w no electricity-propane stove & fridge avail but cleanups a chore. Looking for make ahead freezer dishes or low mess meals.

We head to an island in ME every summer on vacation for at least 2 weeks. There is no running water or electricity on the island. The cabins are set up with propane tanks so we do have a propane fridge and gas stove. The kitchen sink has a hand pump that pumps in collected rainwater from the roof. You can't drink it. But there is a freshwater spring with safe water. THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE, I know, but for some (like me), it's heaven. Cooking is wonderful on the island, but for some reason, everything tastes better there, but the cleanup is such a chore--boiling water, multiple buckets of soap and boiling safe water, etc.

I want to make food that I can make ahead in a tin and freeze, defrost day of, cook in the oven, serve on paper plates, then throw the whole thing away when we are done. OR easy, low mess, fresh food that comes together with as few pots, pans and utensils as possible.

Looking for fun, fresh ideas, more than just the run of the mill?

The pic is the view from our cabin. :)

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mainecook61 July 29, 2014
You are in Maine. Do you like chowder? An onion, some potatoes, fish, one pot...and the old timers used evaporated milk (shelf-stable). A crab roll? Picked Jonah crab, a bit of mayo, a touch of parsley or tarragon, a New-England style hot dog roll toasted in a pan. When I was a child my mother made chili at the campsite on a Coleman stove: can of tomatoes, ground beef, can of beans, and Durfee powdered chili seasoning, the kind in the foil packets. And ah, I remember a delicious dinner a few years ago while backpacking in the Cascade mountains: those Lipton one-dish noodle things with some canned salmon stirred in. DE-lectable. Everything tastes better by the sea. Hope the rainy deluges we've been having in Maine pass you by.
drbabs July 29, 2014
I was going to suggest pizza, too. I would also do a lot of baking ahead--make cookies, muffins, even pies. We stay in a beach house (that does have electricity and running water) every summer, and always bring lots of baked goods. (And we bake on rainy days, but I don't think that's very feasible for you.)
Pegeen July 29, 2014
Julia, it must be quite beautiful. I guess you could become a pretty good poker player after 2 weeks of no Netflix. :-) Hope you have a safe (and tasty!) vacation.
jamcook July 28, 2014
So glad you found the book Julia. The author, Linda, has been my friend since Kindergarten. She spends time each year in extremely remote places that probably make your cabin look the Hilton. She can also outrun a cougar! She prepares and dehydrates all the food that she and her husband eat when camping. I have sampled some, rehydrated, and it is great. Hope you have enough lead time to try some of her creations. She has another book called HIGH TRAIL COOKING. I have seen her books in camping and outdoor supply stores too. Good luck.
Liza's K. July 28, 2014
Hi Julia,
I've just added the recipes, the quiche recipe here: https://food52.com/recipes/30101-spinach-mushroom-and-jarlsberg-quiche and the risotto here: https://food52.com/recipes/30103-chicken-mushroom-and-green-pea-risotto and the veggie lasagne here: https://food52.com/recipes/30104-red-white-and-green-veggie-lasagne. Enjoy!
Pegeen July 28, 2014

And if you get tired of the no-electricity thing, just paddle on over to Martha's place on Mt. Desert Island. She'll have enough guest rooms to accommodate you. :-)
julia_formichella July 28, 2014
We do tend to need to hit the "reset" button and come off island after one week, go to the laundromat and restock. But alas, as of now, no invite from Martha. Thanks for all the links!
Liza's K. July 28, 2014
I'm big on making meals and freezing them. I work very long hours and sometimes don't feel like cooking when I get home. I always have a variety of home cooked meals pre-packaged in single serving ziplock bags in the freezer to choose from. Currently, I have beef stew, black bean & roasted corn soup with rice, risotto with mushrooms, peas, and chicken, baked ziti with meatballs, matzoh ball soup, butternut squash soup, quiche (multiple varieties), and vegetarian lasagne. All defrost easily in the microwave, on the stove, or in the oven. Let me know if you want any recipes!
julia_formichella July 28, 2014
Thanks Lisa! I would love your risotto recipe, quiche and veggie lasagne. My kids won't eat bean anything and the rest I've got goto recipes for!
jamcook July 28, 2014
Linda Frederick Yaffe has written a book called the BACKPACK GOURMET which has an astonishing variety of meals that you can make at home, dehydrate, and then reconstitute. There are chilis, stews , crab casserole all very good , but you need time to prepare and dehydrate .

What about cooking outdoors on a small grill? This expands your repertoire immediately with no pans to clean
julia_formichella July 28, 2014
Thank you jamcook! As mentioned before, the grill is a no no on the island. I did check out the cookbook you mention online on Amazon and then found this!!!


I think it's the whole thing! Will peruse this eve. Thanks again! Crab casserole?! Yum!
The who
julia_formichella July 28, 2014
Thank link didn't come through quite right. Trying again...

Pegeen July 28, 2014
Julia, I remember checking these three articles the last time I went camping. They all had useful tips.

How to Pack for Camping (thekitchn.com)

25 Camping Recipes (seriouseats.com)

What foods to pack for camping (seriouseats.com)

Have a great trip - looks beautiful!
kimhw July 27, 2014
I love packets with chicken and salmon. Homburgs, hotdogs and sausages. My grocery store has mini pie plates, make pot pies, beef stew and other such dishes.
Do you have a pizza stone? Pre cook your crust. Add toppings and freeze. Preheat to 475, bake 10-12. Yum.
Is there a grill? Salads with grilled chicken. Skewers can be frozen and then grilled.
julia_formichella July 28, 2014
Thanks Kimhw. Sadly, no grill... it's too much of a fire hazard. No electricity and running water also means no fire department or 911. I do love the pizza idea as I have little ones and pizza--especially homemade--is always a hit.
kimhw July 29, 2014
Not even a camp fire?! I cook everything on a campfire grill. Or we have this tiny weber camping grill that runs on propane. My husband takes it everywhere and just uses it far away from anything else. With little ones I would also suggest ore cooking lots of pancakes, easy to reheat in a warm oven. Pasta casseroles. Same little individual tins with whatever type of pasta, sauce, meats and veggies they like. Freeze. Sprinkle on cheese and bake when ready. Ratatouille. Freezes and reheats well. My sister makes this amazing casserole with chicken and a creamy cheesy sauce with corn and black beans. So good.
Pegeen July 27, 2014
I personally would starve my family for the two weeks or tell them to learn how to fish, fast. Eat bananas, granola and dried fruit. And squeeze fresh lime on everything to ward off scurvy. :-)

How much freezer space do you have?
julia_formichella July 28, 2014
Lol Pegeen! We do fish, however seem to never have much luck. :( We do have lots of lobstermen in the area though that are always willing to leave us lobsters on a buoy for fresh fresh lobster.

We only have small amount of freezer space in our cabin, but under the floor in the "Big House" kitchen (pictured; built in like 1875) has a storage area that will fit several coolers. This will keep foods frozen for quite a while. Blueberries and depending on the time of year, raspberries, are prevalent on the island so we cook with those as much as possible too.

Who knew all you need is lime to ward off scurvey??? The things we learn on F52!

Voted the Best Reply!

Sam1148 July 27, 2014
Do you have access to a food saver?
You could make some make ahead things like veggies, all spiced up and ready for boil in the bag. Even frozen cooked rice in the bag.
For first night. I've done Grilled steaks. Super sear them to char and then freeze.
Put in the food saver and use them as ice packs on the way up to camp. Then after they've defrosted..give them a bit of a boil in bag to finish cooking. Throw some herbs and frozen butter in the bag too before sealing. Think of it as a reserve sous vide.

I've also used snow peas with oil, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Sauteed and frozen then vac packed. And the Alidi brand frozen green beans (which are amazingly good and thin) vac pack while frozen with a bit of garlic and oil. Then boil in the bag and serve with shaved parmasean cheese (bread crumbs optional).

Go to mexican store and get some banana leaf...and make packets of veggies, fish (that is a lake there isn't it?) Wrap those up with seasoning and steam or grill them. Use some fresh lemon and limes in the packets and some root veggies that travel well.

.....humm you could probably freeze those packets with frozen fish and deploy them at the camp site in a steamer or grill.
Or cut some parchment paper and make little packets of fish, veggies, butter, spices, oil, seasoning, and a dash of white wine--or beer. Then bake for about 15min. Serve on paper plate.
julia_formichella July 28, 2014
I don't have a food saver, but want one! Already checked it out online and am going to check them out at BB&B. And I think I should then be able to justify the purchase of one (or two) extra freezers for the basement, right?! Your suggestions sound devine! Thank you.
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