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Thanksgiving aboard the International Space Station

Posted November 25, 2020 3:16 p.m. EST
Updated November 26, 2020 8:25 a.m. EST

SpaceX Dragon crew, from front left to right, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi stand with International Space Station crew Kate Rubins, from back left, Expedition 64 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. during a welcome ceremony early Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020. (via NASA/TV)

NASA's four astronauts aboard the International Space Station will celebrate Thanksgiving with their Russian Space Agency crewmates Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov as well as Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Astronauts Kathleen Rubins, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Shannon Walker recently shared greetings as well as a preview of what they'll be enjoying as they float around their Thanksgiving table. Dishes include cornbread dressing, smoked turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans.

“For me, Thanksgiving is all about family,” said Expedition 64 flight engineer and Air Force Col. Mike Hopkins in the video. “On this particular Thanksgiving, though, it’s going to be a little bit different because I’m spending it with my international family. We all feel very blessed to be up here, we’re also very thankful for everything that we have."

New for 2020, a seafood treat from Japan

Noguchi also brought Japanese dishes to share with his crew mates including curry rice, red bean rice and his favorite, a seafood dish prepared by Japanese high school students. Students at the Marine Studies department at Wakasa Senior High School in the western coastal town of Obama, Japan prepared and canned mackerel in soy sauce.

Japanese astronaut shares fish dish with his crewmates

A total of 30 students at Wakasa High School worked on the product over several years before JAXA certified it for use in space. According to JAXA, students made improvements to the product to make it more useful in space. The addition of kuzuko starch made sauces stickier to help keep it on the fish and not in delicate equipment. The flavor was also made stronger to accommodate the dulling of the sense of taste experienced by astronauts in orbit.

Out of this world cornbread dressing

NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory shared their recipe for the cornbread dressing enjoyed by astronauts, no freeze drying required.

Ingredients:

  • 12 cups crumbled cornbread
  • 3 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • 1 tsp. rubbed sage

Directions:

  • Preheat the over to 350° F (325° F for convection ovens)
  • Grease 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
  • Puree onions in a food processor. Place in bowl. Set aside.
  • Finely chop celery in food processor. Add to onion puree. Set aside.
  • Heat sauté pan over medium heat. Melt butter and sauté onion and celery mixture until soft (about 5 minutes).
  • Add to crumbled, prepared cornbread. Mix well. In a separate bowl, combine salt, poultry seasoning, black pepper, parsley, and sage.
  • Add to cornbread-sautéed vegetables mixture.
  • Add chicken broth. Mix well. Spoon dressing into prepared baking pan.
  • Bake for approximately 35 minutes

NASA’s Space Food Systems Laboratory takes the extra steps of transferring the baked cornbread to metal tray for freeze drying. Each serving goes from about 145 grams (about 5 ounces) to 50 grams (under 2 ounces) after freeze-drying.

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