Monday 31 August 2020

Thank You for All the Coffees

Thank you to all those of you have donated to the Ration Challenge.  

By sponsoring me to take this food Challenge on 13th - 19th September eating the same food for one week that the refugees in the Syrian camps eat week in week out we have between us managed to raise the amazing amount of £1,322.57 as of this morning.

Once again we have burst through the target I had set myself, that of feeding eight refugees for an entire year, indeed we are less than £70 away from feeding yet another person for a whole year.  The figures humble me, both the amount we are raising AND the amount of money that is spent on food to feed a person for a whole year.  After Saturdays post you 'took me out for so many coffees' that once again the total amount rose and rose.  I am all coffee'd and cake'd out ... thank you 😃

As someone well used to doing Challenges where I feed myself for a week for the price of seven cups of filter coffee, or Challenges where I live on just £1 a day for a week or a month, or as I once did for almost a year, I know that living on half this amount would just not be healthy in any shape or form, and  I should imagine it is only through the resourcefulness of these amazing people that they and their families survive at all.  A fact I learned the other week is that the average length of time spent in the Syrian refugees camps is a shocking 17 years.  Seventeen years!!

I am humbled to be taking part once again in the Ration Challenge and even more humbled at your continued support of me and I really do not have the words to thank you enough.

So just for one minute let's let someone else speak.

Thank you for your support.

Sue xx

Saturday 29 August 2020

For the Price of a Coffee

Remember my Challenge in October of last year the 'For the Price of a Coffee' challenge.  

If you hadn't found me or didn't read this blog back then  HERE  is the start of it, and you can read through by clicking on Newer Post at the bottom of each days post.

Well anyway to carry on, Nikki a participant on the Ration Challenge mentioned on someone's query about fundraising that the weekly amount of food for an average refugee costs £3.25 ... virtually the same as lots of people would spend on one fancy Costa Coffee.

And it got me thinking ... if by any chance you haven't sponsored me yet and were waiting until nearer the Challenge week, why not pretend you are taking me out for Costa Coffee this Bank Holiday Weekend ... it's looking like it going to be a traditional British weather bank holiday anyway, so we might as well spend it drinking coffee and having a chat.

So if you are going out for a coffee with family or friends over the weekend have a look on the price list at your local coffee shop and notice the amount it would cost if I were there with you ... I would be good honest  ... I really would ... and  just sit quietly in the corner gently blowing and then slurping at my coffee ... then either pull out your phone then and there or be a tad more polite and wait until you get home ... and send the cost of my coffee straight onto 

Looking at the UK Costa Coffee price list on their website my drink of choice, a medium Americano is £2.20.  There, I'm a cheap date ... no top of the range marshmallow floaty cream topped concoctions for me  😆😃  

But if you do want to treat me to one of those ... go ahead  😃

It's thought provoking and very humbling to think though isn't it, that the cost of that one fancy coffee could keep someone fed for an entire week!!

If you go over to my page for a little look you will notice that I have just updated my target.  

My new Ration Challenge target is £1,256.00.  

Which is enough to money astonishingly to feed 8, yes EIGHT refugees for an entire year ... and I am just over £75 away from it!! This is the last time I am increasing my target, if it goes over, it goes over.  I simply wanted to round it up to an amount that really means something to me, and that it's you lovely lot and my family and other friends that have raised this magnificent amount of money to feed these very deserving people, warms my heart and makes me feel so very grateful.

Have a wonderful Bank Holiday Weekend ... it's the last little splurge of a Summer we've barely had, it's almost our duty to enjoy it the best way we can.  And then for me the Ration Challenge Week is just two weeks away and I am itching to get started  💖

Sue xx

Friday 28 August 2020

The Ration Challenge - Playing with Ingredients - Flour

So, I know for Ration Challenge week my 400g flour ration will mostly be used to make me flatbreads as they are just so easy to do and great for accompanying meals or just dipping in hummus for a snack.  But I wanted to try a couple of other things to try to vary what I can make with my limited ingredients and, well just to make it feel like I'm cooking and eating different things.

I have already tried pastry and that was quite successful, well maybe it wasn't the prettiest to look at it but boy was it tasty.  Then I read on the Facebook group page about Parathas.

On the BBC Food website it says:

A paratha is a deliciously flaky flatbread, made by brushing ghee on the dough and folding it over itself before re-rolling and frying in a dry frying pan.

My basic recipe copied from someone's post on the Facebook group is this, so I thought I would give it a go yesterday while the rain poured down outside.

I decided to make one large paratha for my lunch, so I used 50g of flour ... well as you can see just a smidge over!  I added a pinch of salt and enough water to bring it together to a nice workable dough.  

After a good kneading I left it to rest for a just over half an hour.

Then I rolled it out nice and thin, brushed it with oil and then sprinkled it with some garlic powder and a pinch of salt and started to roll it up.

The next stage is to coil it up, then cover and leave to rest again for another 30 minutes.

Then roll it out thinly again into a large circle ... and once again brush with oil and roll up.

This time you can roll it out straight away, the slight squelching noise as the oil is pushed into dough is brilliant. 

Then after brushing both sides of the paratha with oil you fry it in a very hot dry pan until both sides are slightly browned.

I cut mine into quarters and had two of them spread with hummus and the other two just as they were so I could really understand the flavour and texture of them.

They taste like an amazing cross between a flatbread and a slice of lightly cooked flaky pastry, and with mine having garlic powder added mine were very reminiscent of a delightfully light and crisp garlic bread.

It might seem like a lot of work for a simple snack or meal, but I can assure you the end result is more than worth it.  They actually taste the nicest when they are still warm, fresh from the pan as like anything made with oil they do tend to get a bit stodgier as they cool.  

You can also incorporate other things into the parathas, such a tomato or curry paste, or some dahl or herbs.  Really it's something I intend to play with a lot in the future as I already have at the back of my mind a future Challenge using minimal ingredients and very little money. 

Sue xx

Thursday 27 August 2020

The Ration Challenge - Playing with Ingredients - Chickpeas 2

So the one thing left from my chickpeas for me to play with was the aquafaba, the chickpea cooking water. 

I followed the recipe that someone had shared on the Ration Challenge Facebook Group:   a few tablespoons of aquafaba, 4 or five cooked chickpeas, some oil and spices. 

I put the aquafaba into my jug added the chickpeas, the spices and a bit of salt and started whizzing with my stick blender, then I started to drizzle in some oil and carried on whizzing and whizzing and whizzing, far too much whizzing ... my stick blender was turning into a firestick in my hand and I was getting a bit worried about over heating, it's only a cheapo thing from Tesco!!

After about ten minutes the 'mayo' started to thicken, and suddenly it thickened properly, just one more whizz I thought ... wrong.  It thinned out again as soon as I started another whizz.

So it appears the secret is to watch it like a hawk and the second it starts to thicken stop whizzing and leave it well alone.

Thanks to my over-whizzing I was left with a very thin, oily not very nice tasting mayo.  I don't think I will bother with this during the actual Ration Week, so I am very glad that I took the time to have a practice now.  I have a much better use for my oil that I will tell you about tomorrow,  and instead of mayo on my burgers I think I will just use a smear of my hummus.

Some things are worth persevering with, for me with my limited Challenge week ingredients this isn't.

Sue xx

Monday 24 August 2020

The Ration Challenge - Playing with Ingredients - Chickpeas

I knew I would have to do something to keep myself busy and thinking about something/anything today (if you read my other blog you'll know what I mean), so last night I put 85g of dried chickpeas to soak in a bowl of water.

Eighty five grams is the Ration Challenge weekly allowance, so I thought I would have a little play with the recipes I have and practice what I think I'll make during Ration Challenge Week and see how many meals I would get out of this small amount.

When I got up I rinsed them a few times and then put them in a pan covered by lots of water.  I brought them to the boil and then left them simmering while I had a drink, a shower and then took Suky for a riverside walk.  I must have cooked them for about 90 minutes in total, but they were fine, and nice and soft by the time I drained them.

 This year I kept back some of the aquafaba, the chickpea cooking water, as there have been a few ideas for how to use it during Challenge week on the Facebook Group.

While they cooled I put the chickpeas back into the cooking water that I had saved.  The more chickpea -y it is the better the aquafaba is.

These were the notes I made last week, using the measurements I had last year as a guideline.

This time though my chickpeas weighed in as 200g once cooked ... ooh extra 😁

I halved the amount ...

 ... and set to to make myself some Hummus using my own recipe from last year, as once again I have enough donations to earn me some protein in the form of Peanut Butter.

So I added a tablespoonful of peanut butter, a teaspoon of Cumin, half a teaspoon of Garlic Powder and some salt, oil and water to the Nutribullet cup and whizzed it all up, stopping halfway through to add a touch more oil, water and salt to get the texture and the flavour just right.

It turned out lovely, and as you can see I managed to get 225g of Hummus from my 100g  of Chickpeas.  Which I think will be enough for one or maybe even two dippy lunches with flatbreads and the rest will be used as a spread on my Burger days.

Then without washing out the blender cup ... it would be such a shame to wash away flavour ...I then set to making my Falafels. 

Again using my recipe from last year.

I added all but six of the remaining Chickpeas to the cup ...

... then added 22g of red onion, which I chopped up quite finely.

Whizzed up with a spoonful of flour and a smidge of water, this mix made enough for four Falafels.  I decided to make them flat as I wanted to eat them like burgers on a flatbread rather than as rounds on rice. 

They cooked up lovely  😃

Then I decided to go the whole hog and make myself some flatbreads using 100g of plain flour so that I could try out the Falafel Burger idea.  A flatbread, a good spread of hummus, topped with two of the falafel burgers and then another flatbread on top.

All it's crying out for is an onion ring or two and a nice crunchy lettuce leaf.  I will remember to save a slice of onion for this on Challenge Week ... but there's no chance of lettuce!!

It worked a treat, and it was very tasty ... and very filling.  

So that is a definite lunch idea for Ration Challenge Week.

Left over from my lunch I have two falafels, most of the hummus and two flatbreads.  I also still have six chickpeas and the aquafaba, which I intend to try and make into some mayonnaise.  This would also be lovely spread on the bread pretending to be a burger bum.

So during the Challenge week I could either do an action replay and have the same meal on another day or I could make half of the falafel mix into six smaller balls and have these with rice for one of my evening meals.  The hummus will be used for at least two dippy lunches with flatbreads and be used on the day I make the other sort of burgers I have made up my mind to try.

It was good to have a bit of a play with the chickpeas, it took my mind off other things, created lots of washing up ... why do I make so much mess when I experiment ... and reiterated to myself that I do not need to go without flavour or substance during ration Challenge Week.

I need to get back to do more cooking with such basic ingredients and maybe this challenge will set me back on the right path, as well as doing a good thing raising so much money for people who really need our help.

Thank you so much for all your continued support.

Sue xx

Friday 21 August 2020

Challenge One 2020 - The One Hundred Books Challenge - Update

Some of you might remember that right at the start of this year I set myself a year long Challenge to read 100 books in a year.  The link above will take you to that post.

  Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy I thought to myself, that's just one 'readable book' and one recipe book a week ... I can do that no problem.


And THIS LINK will take you to the regularly updated list of books that I have read.

I am not doing that well am I  ... I am up to book number 29!

I thought I would be reading more, especially when lockdown hit, but it seems not.  I can't explain it, I used to always be found with my nose in a book.  Now I can pick up a book meaning to read for a while and get distracted far too easily.  It seems I need to relearn to focus more intently, perhaps read more books that really call out to me or are recommended.

At the moment I am reading this, and it's a nice easy read so it will be one more ticked off my list by the end of the weekend.

Only 71 to go then!!

*** *** *** *** ***

In Ration Challenge News 

I got an email the other day from Eric , see it below.   They announced a Flash Fundraising Award thingy on Facebook and luckily for me some of my donations came in just at the right time to earn me the choice of two teaspoons of coffee or sugar to be used at any time during Ration Challenge Week.

Of course I chose coffee  😁

What a lovely treat that will be at some time, I think I will save it for when I really need it.  And of course I will say it again, THANK YOU so very much for the amazing amount of money you have donated up to now.

Here is my Fundraising Page


My Team Fundraising Page

Sue xx

Hi Sue,

Thank you so much for your amazing fundraising efforts!  

This is just a quick email to confirm that your fundraising during the flash reward has earned you 2 tsp of instant coffee OR sugar that you can enjoy during your Ration Challenge, and to say thank you for really going above and beyond. 

And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to thank everyone who helped you earn this reward.

Thanks again!

The Ration Challenge Team

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Amazing People, Amazing Food

You have all been absolutely amazing ... yes YOU are the AMAZING PEOPLE.

You and my family and my other friends that don't necessarily read my ramblings on here.  People from my youth, my past, my present and hopefully people that will remain friends for the future, you have all come together and raised an amazing amount of money.

My total currently stands at £1,153.87 ... and I am so thankful.

I will not keep begging for more as it doesn't seem appropriate, but I will try to share My Fundraising Page on here when I blog and it's always accessible for you to nip on over and have a look at the current total at the top of the right-hand sidebar.  There you can also read a sort of mini blog that I update quite sporadically, have a look at the messages that I have been getting along with the donations and you can also have a peek at the team page - Vegan Squad if you go HERE.

If you would like to donate it would of course be very welcome, but I am going to stop asking every time I post now.  It seems only right.

I might start to annoy my friends on Facebook instead  🤣🤣

So what is the amazing food then I hear you ask.

Well it's funny ... like I mentioned on my last post ... every time I have anything to eat at the moment I ask myself  'Could this be replicated during Ration Challenge Week with the Ration Challenge ingredients? '.

The top photo is of my breakfast the other day, lovely unctuous Coconut Collaborative Coconut Yoghurt, with fresh Blueberries and Deliciously Ella's Nutty Granola, the answer was NO - not a hope in hell. 

This pizza although at first it seems hard to replicate, if you break it down a bit I could do this.  By using a part cooked flatbread with a topping of hummus and a few onion rings finished off under the grill so it doesn't overcook I think it would make a semi-reasonable pizza.

I may try this one!! 

My lunch the other day.

A baked potato with vegan coleslaw from Aldi (highly recommended by the way), some spread and a few cherry tomatoes.

Unfortunately - another NO.  🙁

My tea last night.

Brown rice with peppers, cucumber, tomato, celery and mayonnaise.

I could definintely make a  poor man's version of this with white rice, chopped onion, some spices and perhaps have a go at the mayonnaise recipe that someone shared on the Facebook page the other day.  It wouldn't be as colourful but it would be a sort of salady dish ... perhaps.

Ration Challenge Week Vegan Mayo

3tbs Aquafaba (the cooking water from the Chickpeas)
4 or 5 cooked Chickpeas

Blend together the aquafaba, chickpeas and spices whilst slowly drizzling in enough oil to make it emulsify.

It's worth a go, but perhaps I should have a try at it before I waste any precious Ration Challenge Pack ingredients during the actual week, to see if it works.

I'll let you know if I do of course  😃

Sue xx

Tuesday 18 August 2020

A Massive Thank You

Yesterday I picked up my phone while I was eating some lunch, beans on toast ... something I won't be eating on the Ration Challenge ... it's funny how every meal makes me think now.  Food is suddenly important!!

Anyway my phone had pinged that I had an email and I opened it expecting the usual Monday morning drivel, but no, not this time.  It was from the Ration Challenge to tell me I had a donation.  Brilliant I thought, and then wow it's £15 ... then I had a closer look. 

 I know I said that I  wouldn't say figures on here but it was for £157 .

It takes me way over my target of being able to feed a whole family or six individual refugees for the next year.  I am a mess as I type this, I don't have any idea how I can possibly thank you enough or  give you your monies worth with pictures of rice, lentils and my moaning drivel when I get hungry, hangry or just plain fed up.

I really don't know what I can say except THANK YOU.

My family, friends and the blogging community of bloggers, followers and readers have all pulled together to make this happen.  The small donations, the large donations, the well wishers and the folk cheering me on already on the side-lines, we are all part of this success together and I thank each and every one of you.

 💖💖💖    Sue xx   💖💖💖

Minutes later it pinged again and there was another email from Eric the  Ration Challenge - 

Hi Sue,

Wow! You’ve done it! You have reached your target.  Thank you for doing so much to bring emergency food, hygiene kits and life-saving support to the people who need it most. And thanks for showing refugees we really are in this together.


Monday 17 August 2020

Oh WOW ....

I had a real shock last night.

 I try not to be on social media much at weekends and when I turned my just recharged phone back on I found an email from  Concern Worldwide and the Ration Challenge Team informing me that I had just surpassed the £850 level and had thus earnt myself the luxury of a £3 'treat' to be eaten or drunk within the Ration Challenge Week.

I scrolled down and found a very large donation from a long term blog reader, thank you Sue.  You made my heart swell.  What a wonderful bunch of people I have around me.  I am still feeling emotional today and have no idea what to post about other than my thanks and my gratitude to each and every one of you for your support both monetary and emotionally in the build up to this Challenge.

I have no idea what  I am going to spend my £3 on ... what would you spend yours on if you were given such an important amount of money during a week of such hardship?  

To quote Eric from the email: 

What can you choose? It’s up to you. But it can only be one item, and it has to be used in just one sitting. Last year our team chose things like cheese, a chocolate bar, a bag of chips, an apple, and a barista made coffee (oh the caffeine)!

 Last year I didn't manage to get to this level so I can't replicate this at all.  My mind is currently a blank, so your help would be really appreciated.

And even more importantly between us we have now raised enough money to feed FIVE refugees for an entire year.  And we are less than £61 short of making that six refugees.  What an amazing achievement.


A very humble and thankful

Sue xx

Saturday 15 August 2020

Time to Start my Decaffeination

Giving up coffee for the week of the Ration Challenge is something I'm not altogether looking forward to, it's not so much the lack of hot drinks it's the regular injection of caffeine into my system and I have to admit that is a regular thing from around 10am in the morning until my last coffee of the day at around nine at night.

So I have come up with a plan to help me decaffeinate.

I had a smaller 200g sized Nescafe jar here at the Van, so as I tipped the last of it into the coffee cannister on the worktop I quarter re-filled it with my usual Nescafe from one of the larger 300g jars and then topped this up with the same measurement of decaf coffee.

So now I have a half and half mix, when this goes down to about half of it's volume I will once again top up with the same amount of decaf which should make it a quarter/three quarters mix.  When this is all gone I will use decaf until the start of the Ration Challenge Week.

Hopefully this will stop me getting the caffeine withdrawal headaches that plagued so many of us Ration Challengers last year.  Although you are allowed to take paracetamol I would rather not ... and of course this is a good opportunity to try and curtail my coffee drinking habit just a little bit.

With this in mind I had a re-think about what my rewards drink of choice will be this year now that I have passed the £600 level of donations.

Last year I saved this reward and treated myself to a large Americano at the garden centre when I went with my Mum half way through the Challenge.  If I am being careful to wean myself off caffeine and coffee, to do this again would be a bit silly.  So I have decided that this year I will make myself a 330ml smoothie, it's far better to have a drink of healthy vitamins than a mug of coffee anyway.

Although I have now passed the next level I am no longer really looking at my fundraising as helping to get me added ingredients or treats, instead this year I am really focussing my mind on how many refugees we can feed for an entire year, that's me, my family and friends ... which includes everyone that reads this blog  🙂

Between us ... at the time of writing this ... we are just £10.10 away from being able to feed FIVE people for a WHOLE YEAR, and that is also almost the same as we raised last year.  If you can spare any change my fundraising page is linked to below, and is always accessible by clicking on the Ration Challenge picture the top of the righthand sidebar.

EDITED TO ADD:  Within an hour or so of this post publishing, a donation from a lovely reader brought my fundraising total to over the next level.  Thank you Debbie 💖

Sue xx