Thursday 27 June 2019

My Biggest Challenge ...

My biggest Challenge is ... ME.

And so for a while this blog is going to hibernate.  I'm not going to close it down, or say 'no more'.  But it is going to have a little rest while I concentrate on the changes that I am currently documenting over on my other blog.  I feel that they fit in better over there.

Because in so many ways I really am moving slowly and surely over to ...

A Smaller Life.

I am going to do just that  😀

Sue xx

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Thank You

I wanted to quickly pop on to share this lovely little film with you.

It's a THANK YOU from Concern Worldwide UK to all of the Ration Challengers and their supporters.


Thank you.

Sue xx  

Monday 24 June 2019

Ration Challenge - End of Challenge

It's over, my Ration Challenge is done and dusted although there are people all over the country starting late and still doing theirs now.  I think this Challenge and it's way of fundraising goes on until August  ... but for me that's it.


My basket above contains ALL of the food I have left except for a half portion of Dhal that I have just discovered in the fridge.  I'll have that for lunch ... with some rice.  

Nope, the excessive consumption of rice last week has not put me off one bit, I thought it might but I'm fine.

The salt cellar in the top photo started the week full to the top, so it goes to show how salt was very necessary for flavour and cooking.

I ended the week in the caravan park clubhouse playing bingo and drinking soda water with ice and lemon.   It was a good night out although neither of us won anything, and I spent most of the evening thinking about food on Sunday morning 🤣

So ... what were the highlights of the week for me and what went well :

Simple foods.

Menu planned.

Helpful family and friends, no one tried to push foods on me that I couldn't have.

Minimal rubbish - there was nothing to throw away.  The cardboard box, the kidney bean tin and the oil bottle, once it's all used up, will all go into the recycling boxes at home and the little plastic bags and the grey delivery bag are all able to go into the supermarket carrier bag recycling boxes.

No food waste, although to be honest I very rarely have any!

I enjoyed the simple cooking.
Making up to days rice at a time worked well, and gave me the feel of ready meals when I had no energy left to think straight or cook from scratch.  I used up all my ingredients in one go ... for instance when the kidney beans were cooked with a little chopped onion, half were eaten with rice and the other half whizzed into a Kidney Bean Dip for future use.

The Gold Star of the week goes to Dhal. 
Using two thirds of my red lentil ration (including the 120g I was allowed for not having any sardines), my earned spice Cumin and one of my onions to make a large portion of Dhal was a genius idea of mine.  It added a pop of flavour, colour and perhaps most importantly protein to every bowl of rice.

So ... what were the low points :

Lack of choice. 


Rice Brain 
A fog of indecisiveness,  lethargy and complete bleugh that descended on the third day. 

Lack of caffeine 
The hit I got after my Wyevale coffee 'earned'  for getting to over £600 was amazing!

Struggling to blog
Definitely a sIde effect of Rice Brain - see above!

No spontaneity. 
I'm a very spontaneous sort of person, with food, outings and things that I do.  Not being able to grab a coffee whilst out and about, not having the ability to rummage through the cupboards or the fridge for a meal, or have the energy to simply get on with a job was VERY hard.

And finally ... THANK YOU.

Thank you to each and every one of you that contributed to my Ration Challenge sponsorship money:

7 Anonymous donors
a late donation from 
Margaret my hairdresser

I thank you all from the bottom of my heart and hope that I haven't missed any names off the list.  But please know that even if I have ... between us we have managed to raise the magnificent sum of:

£770. 90  


If this was to be used just for buying food rations we have raised enough money to feed FIVE refugees for A WHOLE YEAR.

The Ration Challenge UK total currently stands at £771,965, how absolutely wonderful that we are a part of this magnificent fund raising.  There is nothing else left to say except ... what a brilliant result,  and once again thank you.

Sue xx

Saturday 22 June 2019

Ration Challenge- Day Seven

Hot water before my Rice and Dhal breakfast ... I don't know why I put a spoon in and stir it but I have found myself doing this all week  😀😃🤣

Lunch was two of my remaining flatbreads with the last of the peanut butter ... it's all 'last ofs' now.  At last the finishing post is in sight.

My tea, eaten late was Rice and Dhal.  Making the dhal was a genius idea, even if I do say so myself. It's added flavour to my rice and made two rice meals a day so much more bearable.

Breakfast this morning, the last of my lentil soup, the last of the flatbreads and the last of the hummus.  Enjoyable and filling ... the last breakfast of the Ration Challenge.

The dogs rather sensibly keeping out of Mum's way 🤣🤣

Sue xx

Friday 21 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Day Six

Day Six sees me sat here fuzzy headed, eating rice and dhal for breakfast and drinking hot water.  Who knew hot water was nice ... not me for sure!

This basket of food, five ready-made flatbreads ...

... and this shelf of food in the fridge are my supplies for the final two days of the Challenge.  

Although as I took the photos last night there is already missing from my 'storecupboard'  two portions of rice, the one that I'm eating now and one for my tea tonight ... and the green lidded tub of dhal.

Breakfast yesterday was rice and dhal, lunch was a portion of my lentil soup and two flatbreads.

I was so happy with how my flatbreads turned out that straight after lunch I set to making some more.  Using up all of my flour.  It was only when I finished cooking them that I remembered I was going to make some pastry to have a Dhal Pasty ... oh well at least the flatbreads are delicious. 

For a late tea I cooked up my last three falafels.

I had them with two of the smaller flatbreads and most of my hummus.  I was going to eat it all but I was full, yes you read that right ...FULL.  Lots of chickpeas equals lots of protein and it really worked to fill me up.

If you been counting flatbreads, yes you're right there seems to be one unaccounted for!!  As I was bagging them up last night my hand brought one up into my mouth and I ate it ... my brain was barely involved 🤣🤔🙃

I have now done five days of eating rations,  tomorrow will be my last day eating like a Syrian refugee in the refugee camps in Jordan ... a total of seven days.   We've all been doing this to try to bring attention to and raise money to help them, but for refugees it has gone on and it goes on for MUCH much longer.

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me, including Sheila who sponsored me yesterday.  It means so much that you care as much as I do.  I will be listing all my sponsors on the final day, thank you to you all ❤

My Ration Challenge page.

Sue xx

Thursday 20 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Day Five

So, today is day five of the Ration Challenge for me, raising money and awareness for Syrian refugees by eating an almost identical diet to refugees for seven days and getting lots of my wonderful, caring friends and family to donate their hard earned cash.

 Today also happens to be World Refugee Day.

The top photo is my breakfast this morning, rice cooked last night with a good dollop of Dhal stirred through, washed down with iced tap water.  The rest of the photos are yesterdays food.   I had a photo of yesterday's breakfast but I've lost it somewhere ... this diet is befuddling my brain and my concentration has took a tumble.  Blogging about what I'm doing is taking twice as long as my usual posts do and on more than one occasion I've lost paragraphs of text, deleted photos by accident and had to start all over again.

Yesterday's lunch was a treat, a real hard earned treat.  For getting to £600 worth of donations I earned the right to treat myself to a 330ml drink ... so I saved it to have with Mum on this week's visit to the Wyevale garden centre.  A lovely large Americano  ... ooh the caffeine hit was wonderful 😃

To have with it I packed up a little box of my hummus and ... as I was running late and didn't have time to make the flatbreads I had intended to take with me ... I swapped 20g of my flour ration for four of the plainest little crackers I could find in Alan's cracker tin.

Instead of having a cooked meal Mum joined in with the idea of the Challenge and had a coffee and a scone ... she's lovely ❤

When I got home I cooked up my Kidney Beans.  Simply sauteed with the last of my onion and some of the liquid from the tin they cooked to a lovely soft consistency in the time it took me to make some more rice.

I had half of the mix stirred into rice for my tea ...

... and the other half was whizzed up with a stick blender to make some Kidney Bean Dip for another meal.

I don't usually like kidney beans, but this week the different flavours and textures they have brought have been very welcome.  I think I will work on incorporating them into my normal diet in the future.

Now it's way past my usual lunchtime and I really feel as though I am running on empty so I'll sign off and be back tomorrow with more.

Here is the link to my Ration Challenge Page ... just look at the fantastic total you have helped me raise up to now!!

Sue xx

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Day Four

Yay ... I'm over the halfway mark  😀

I won't lie this is hard.   It's hard to remember what your next meal is going to be unless you have a meal plan written down.  I've already had to alter mine once as I didn't make everything I should have made at the start, then I didn't have enough chickpeas or onions to make the chickpea curry I had promised myself.

Now the meal plan looks like this, not hugely dissimilar ...  how could it be with such limited ingredients ... but there's a couple of omissions and an addition, a spoonful of dhal added to the morning rice.  It's amazing the difference just a little bit of dhal stirred through the rice makes, and of course it adds a smidge more protein. 

I rinsed the chickpeas I'd remembered to soak overnight, and then brought them to the boil before leaving them to simmer away for an hour.  Next to them enough rice for three meals cooked away nicely while I went and had a shower. 

Once the rice was ready I added a spoonful of yesterday's prepared Dhal to my breakfast bowl and left the other two bowls of rice to cool down while I ate it.

Once I had walked Suky along the river and through the village I came back home and got stuck into preparing my 'ready meals'.


85g Chickpeas
20g finely chopped Onion
1 dessertspoon of Plain Flour

Whizz everything together.  I used my Nutribullet.   There was just enough water left on the Chickpeas to make it a relatively damp mix ... 

... which I then rolled into 6 little Falafels.

These will be cooked in a little oil.  Three falafels to be added to each of two evening meals of Rice and Dhal.

Using the remaining cooked chickpeas I quickly whizzed up some hummus.


85g Cooked Chickpeas
1 large tbs Peanut Butter 
Pinch of Salt


Simply whizz them altogether, adding as much water as you need to get to the texture you like.  Scrape down the sides of the processor at least once to make sure everything is incorporated. 

Put into a fridge tub and pour over a drizzle of oil and add a sprinkle of Cumin.

  I won't lie this really needs a bit of garlic as do the falafels ... but of course I don't have any.   I'm finding out that the only way to get any real flavour into the foods I'm making and eating this week is to use quite a bit of salt.  No wonder I'm drinking so much water!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Day Three

It's day three of the Ration Challenge and as you can see from this top photograph  my fridge  is looking a bit healthier now  In fact you could almost call what's on the shelf 'ready meals'.

Breakfast yesterday was plain rice and a cup of hot water.

Lunch was two little flatbreads spread with peanut butter ... one of my earned rewards ... with a glass of water.  It should have been twice as big as this but I burnt my first large flatbread.  So I split the dough that was left and cooked two smaller ones instead.

Recipe for Two Large or Four Small Flatbreads

50g Plain Flour
Pinch of Salt

Mix everything together.  Knead until no longer sticky, rest dough for ten minutes and then cook on both sides in a hot lightly oiled frying pan until ready.

After lunch I made Dhal ready for my tea.


190g Red Lentils
2tsp Cumin
50g Chopped Onion

Saute onion in a good glug of oil until soft, stir in the cumin.  Cook for a couple of minutes then add the washed red lentils.  Stir well and top up with lots of water.  Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook with the pan lid on for about an hour.   Remove lid and leave to cool in the pan.  It will thicken as it cools.

I split the mix between four tubs, leaving enough in the pan to have for my tea.

It was really tasty once I added salt.

Today I am busy making Falafels and Hummus, because YES I remembered to soak my chickpeas last night 😃

Sue xx

Ration Challenge - Why


Because refugees are just the same as us!

My Ration Challenge sponsorship page.

Thank you to EVERYONE that has sponsored me up to now, you've no idea how much this means to me.  I'll be back later with today's food photos. 

Sue xx

Monday 17 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Day Two

This is my breakfast ... rice and a second cup of hot water.  I must admit to liking hot water,  I never thought I would, but if I had the choice between it and a cup of coffee ... I think the coffee would still win.

This is going to be my new best friend this week.  It managed to make my breakfast while I had a shower and got dressed. With no shouts of "do you want one slice of toast or two" from Alan interrupting my precious me time.  Would I swap my rice cooker for Alan, well maybe just for this week 🤣😄😀

While I ate breakfast, my teatime portion of rice cooled down ready to be put into the fridge.  It all seems to be rice at the moment!!

Yesterday's lunch wasn't though. 

 I had a bowl of my Lentil and Cumin soup and three little freshly made flatbreads.  John Gray says it looks like 'mud water', unfortunately I have to agree, although the flavour isn't too bad.

I was supposed to be making some Dhal to go with my teatime rice but I ran out of energy and just ate it as it was before packing up my rations and heading off to the Van.

Once there I was supposed to be putting some chickpeas to soak ready to turn into hummus and falafel for today ... but I didn't do that either!!  So today I am making Dhal and tonight I'll be putting chickpeas to soak and I have a post-it to remind me 🙂

Sue xx

Sunday 16 June 2019

Ration Challenge - Day One

Over the last couple of days I finalised a menu plan to keep me on track with what I'm eating and what I'm doing over the course of the Ration Challenge week ... and it looks like this. 

 Even though I only have limited ingredients I wanted to use them each in a couple of different ways so that it should appear that my diet has a little bit of variation in it.

I have kept my breakfast each day to a bowl of rice as I don't like to eat a lot first thing in the morning.  Usually it's coffee and then another coffee with either porridge or toast an hour later, with an occasional foray into cereal or yoghurt.  But this week it will be rice, rice or perhaps some rice.

This mornings first drink of the day - hot water.

An hour later I thought it best to get some rice cooking.  I made a day's worth of rice in one go to save time later.  I think I'll do this every day, it will be a good routine to get into.

I had a bowlful for breakfast, and the rest was quickly cooled and then refrigerated for later.

While the rice was cooking I got all productive and made my Lentil Soup for the week.  I have planned for four lunches of lentil soup and flatbread.  To try and  make enough for my four portions of soup I used -

 100g of red lentils
40g chopped onion
1 litre of water
1 tbs of cumin
and 2 tbs of oil

To extract maximum flavour possible from the very small amount of onion, I cooked it slowly with a little salt sprinkled over and then put pan lid on for five minutes so it could steam in it's own juices.  Then I added the cumin and sauteed them together and then the lentils, stirred them well into the spice and onion mix and then finally stirred in the water.

This will be blitzed once it has cooked long and slow. 

Then while the soup was cooking I weighed out 50g of my plain flour, added a pinch of salt and enough water to make it into a dough.  This was very briefly worked before being rolled into three little balls, these are currently resting in the fridge until dinnertime when they will be flattened and cooked in a little of my oil to be served for dunking into my Lentil Soup.

I think I will write all my very basic recipes down as I do them to compile into my own little Ration Challenge recipe booklet for future reference.

While I was typing all this the soup was ready, so I quickly whizzed it up with my stick blender and divided it into four portions.  One in a dish for lunch today and the other three portions shared equally between jars to refridgerate and take to the Van with me later.  All I can say is thank goodness for my salt allowance as without any salt this would have tasted as beige as it looks!!

Here is the link to MY PAGE so you can see my current fundraising total and perhaps make a small donation yourself. 

I've done wonderfully well with the fundraising thanks to family, friends, blog readers and fellow bloggers, and I would like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the wonderful support you are showing me.

Sue xx

Friday 14 June 2019

Ration Challenge - The Added Extras, the Swaps and the Earned Foods

When your Ration Challenge box arrives it is a real eye opener.  The amount of food for one person for a week at first seems tiny.

Then you find your coupons and realise you have an additional 1.5kg of rice to add and 400g of plain flour.  This brings the ration pack inline with what a single refugee would receive for one weeks worth of food, although at the camps the boxes come as a large pack for six people for one month.

Refugee families receive similar coupons to the Challenge participants but they take theirs to a local shop on or just outside of the camp and swap them for a sack of rice and a bag of flour.  Obviously our shops wouldn't do this so participants in the Challenge either buy, or as I have done weigh out the amounts from stock at home ... this is therefore in keeping within the ethos of my ongoing Down To Basics Challenge.

 My 'coupon' rice.

My 'coupon' flour.

As the ration packs usually come with a tin of sardines, vegans and vegetarians have the option of asking for this to be omitted and are permitted instead to add an equivalent 120g of alternative protein to the ration pack.  As I think people who don't eat fish in the camps would swap their ration for foodstuffs readily available, I decided rather than to go down the suggested tofu route, to instead add an additional 120g of red lentils to my pack.

It doesn't look much though does it !!

 In the refugee camps refugees have the ability to volunteer to help with the many, many jobs that need doing to help the camps run efficiently, in return they qualify for some little extras to add to their rations.  In a similar way the Challenge has been set up with incentives for participants to fund-raise to the best of their ability.

It can be hard to ask for money but when it's for a cause close to your heart and there is a way of making a hard challenge just that little bit more tolerable you grit your teeth and do it.  As you can see from this photo there are quite a few tiers of earned foods available.

Most participants self-sponsor to get things rolling thus earning themselves a single spice of choice, I chose Cumin as mine.

  For every five or more named people you ask to sponsor you there's a teabag to be earned ( I don't drink tea as it makes me ill, so I was totally upfront with everyone I asked and said I would be converting every five teabags I earned into one cup of coffee).  I can now have one cup of coffee per day of the Challenge.

When you pass the £125 fundraising mark you qualify to be able to use unlimited amounts of salt in your cooking.

At £250 and above you are entitled to choose one vegetable up to 170g in weight - I chose onion.  They are red onions because that is what I had in the fridge.

For passing the £400 mark I am allowed to add an additional 120g of protein to my ration pack - I chose what was left from this jar of peanut butter, just under the allowed amount but it will do for me and at 25% protein it is a good addition to what will be a bland diet.

So these and my seven spoonfuls of coffee are my additions to the Ration Challenge pack I received through the post.  

My fund raising target is set at £600 ... if I achieved this I would be allowed to add another drink up to 330ml in volume to my supplies, and if I stormed past this to the dizzying heights of £850 I would qualify for a single food item up to the value of £3 ... now what would I buy,  there's been lots of debate on the Ration Challenge Facebook Group page about this one.  I really don't know ... but looking at the food I already have available I'm thinking something like a large piece of fruit ... a melon? A huge banana?

What would you buy if you had £3 to spend on a single item, it has to be a single thing and cannot be something with component parts like a packet of biscuits or a pack of six yoghurts.  It's a puzzle for sure.

My sponsorship page is HERE if you would like to sponsor me.

And many, many thanks to all those of you who already have.  💖

Sue xx