Ration Challenge 2019: Day 1

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No Father’s Day celebrations in our house this year…well, not involving food and drink at least. Sunday, June 16th was the first day of my Ration Challenge: a week of surviving on the same rations as a Syrian refugee in a camp in Jordan, to show solidarity with their plight and to raise much-needed funds to support them.

The first day of my challenge actually started the night before: I made a batch of flatbreads (just with plain flour, salt and oil) to last me the first two days. I ended up using slightly more flour than I wanted after adding too much water to the dough, so I’ll need to be more sparing for the rest of the week.

I also attempted rice milk, using a recipe we were given in our Ration Challenge booklets. It essentially involved soaking rice in hot water for 2-3 hours, draining, then blitzing with room temperature water before straining. It certainly looks like milk, but how it will look and taste in tea (which will already be weak – I only have two teabags to reuse throughout the week) will be another matter…

 

Ration Challenge Day 1 Prep - Flatbreads and Rice Milk

 

Day 1 arrived, and I was grateful for the prep I’d done. Breakfast was a few of those mini flatbreads I’d made, with a dip concocted from a quarter of a tin of kidney beans, a little oil, plus salt and paprika, all blitzed together. It wasn’t unpleasant – but the combination of flavours was an odd one at a time of day I normally reserve for fruit, yoghurt and a strong, milky coffee.

 

Ration Challenge Day 1 - Kidney Bean Dip and Flatbread

 

Later in the morning, I made a big batch of a simple mujadara, which I’d planned to last two days. I boiled up some red lentils, adding rice to the water once they were soft before cooking for another ten minutes. The final stage was to take them off the heat and cover, leaving to cool (and soak up the remaining water) for a further 15 minutes.

I’d liberally salted the water to add a bit of flavour, too – and sprinkled the mujadara with paprika – the single spice I’m allowed to use this week – to make it taste ok. And to ramp up the taste levels even more, I sliced a small amount of my week’s onion rations (by hitting £250 in sponsorship I’ve earned the “reward” of 170g of the vegetable of my choice to split throughout the week) and fried the slices off till crispy, to sprinkle over the top.

I divided it into two bowls – one to eat on day 1, one to save for day 2 – and the plan was to leave day 1’s bowl till as late as possible to enjoy.

 

Ration Challenge Day 1 - Mujadara

 

But after big meals the day before the challenge – and having to make beans on toast for the boys for lunch – I ended up scoffing it in the middle of the day.

And it was surprisingly tasty, too: something I’d consider making again after the challenge is over, but with additional ingredients. My worry, though, is that with almost 2kg of rice making up the majority of my week’s ration pack, I’ll be sick of it after a day or two…

It may have been a huge bowl of food, but it wasn’t enough to keep me going right through to the next day. So later on in the evening, I cooked up 40g of red lentils till mushy, stirring through finely chopped cooked onion and – you guessed it – salt and paprika – as a dip for two more of my flatbreads.

 

Ration Challenge Day 1 - Red Lentil Dip and Flatbreads

 

Drinks-wise, it was a struggle not having regular teas/coffees/squash/Diet Coke (a slight addiction…). Instead, I made do with five pints of tap water, and one incredibly weak tea with a splash of rice milk (which really isn’t great), saving the teabag to use again the following day.

 

Ration Challenge Day 1 - Tea

 

One of the biggest challenges on day 1 was having to consciously stop myself from picking: a slice of kiwi left over from the baby’s breakfast, a broken piece of cheese that normally never would have made it as far as the grater. We’re pretty damn lucky to have such easy access to such a variety of food, unlike those who’ve been forced to flee their homes and who have to make do with whatever rations fundraising efforts like these have been able to supply.

I was fully expecting this to be the easiest day of the seven – in terms of hunger, boredom, lethargy and caffeine/sugar withdrawal headaches, I’m predicting more of a struggle as the week goes on. Here goes…

There’s still time to sponsor my Ration Challenge efforts! All money raised through doing this challenge will be used to support displaced people across the globe – click here for more information, and to donate

 

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