This is the last day of the challenge and looking back on what I anticipated it to be like I can now say: not having salt has influenced the flavours of the food (somewhat more tasteless) but not our health at all (for Jim, Ben and I who held to that restriction anyway); the sweet potatoes were not a staple part of our diet, they were too small and bitter, but bunya nuts loomed large as an easy, tasty, filling and versatile food; school lunches were more difficult in the absence of bread and crackers and the girls not being keen on salad (Ben doesn’t eat lunch); we have lost a bit of weight but didn’t go hungry. Ben was the adjudicator as to what was ‘allowed’, he’s the hard liner – I wasn’t allowed beetroot wine (sugar from elsewhere), he allowed Nora’s eggs and roadside mangoes (whew!).

Ben has suggested 2 weeks next time, but more preparation, which led to my suggestion he does some of the cooking (which he agreed to!). We’ll think about growing things that we’ll find useful: garlic, better sweet potatoes, more potatoes, maybe a milking goat??, beans, corn…. this depends on the time of year of course, but we may need to dry and store things like corn and beans?? We had some herbs – rosemary, basil, chilli – but more would be good – a curry plant? We’ll have to think about salt and oil – hope the olive trees are productive soon!

My thoughts went more often to our indigenous people than the West Papuans as we consumed copious quantities of bunya nuts! This was thankfully a bumper year, which occurs every few years. The abundance of them in the Bunya Mountains used to be the occasion for a big indigenous festival for Aboriginal people in the South east of Queensland, and Northern N.S.W.. They would gather there for months, swapping stories, sharing new dance perfomances, arranging marriages, having mock battles. It was noted by Tom Petrie as being central to local indigenous lifestyle and was given lawful protection by the Governor of the time, whereby colonial peoples were not allowed to interfere with it. As we had our own feast we often pondered what it would have been like for them, and how sad that white invasion created an end to it – we failed to protect it and it’s our loss too – the language, the songs and dances that sprang from this land and the living on it and with it.

Perhaps it’s natural for our thoughts to turn to the peoples we displaced as we attempt to live off the land around us, as they did. Hopefully we will keep trying, and learn our lessons and experience the thoughts that emerge from the attempt. I think it also created a more cohesive household as different people contributed to the food provision – we were more than living together, we were on a mission together too! We should involve the girls more in this next time, and hopefully they’ll develop a passion for the idea that sees them through to the end!

As far as blogging goes, it’s been good to have a reflective element to our week, that we can all contribute to. So till next time….. fare well 🙂

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Yes we’re almost there, and not even too sick of eating bunya nuts:). The girls have piked completely, but that makes lunches easier! Jim and I had some aching legs and back going on for a day, and some of us are feeling more tired (probably caffeine withdrawal) – but otherwise we’re feeling really good. I had a couple of minor ailments that have cleared up too!

We had friends visit on the weekend, and unwittingly bring beer! But that meant we could dole out the temptations to them too – the left over chocolate mud cake, the nuts and fruit from elsewhere etc. etc..

We appologise to all our visitors to the blog for some technical problems we’ve been having – but it’s all sorted now I think!

We gleaned some mangoes from our roadside tree and that’s kept us going too – as well as our neighbours free range chook eggs from her pampered pets (thanks Nora!). Lunch is getting more simple for those at home – mango, cucumber and bunya nuts today. We were too busy to bother trying for a more complicated fare!

The bunya nut breakfast porridge is getting more finess – Dave boiled and blended it and it became quite thick and creamy! I think this is a recipe we’ll be revisiting!

Dave is now experimenting with blending boiled sugar cane we’ve grown. Jim has made a quiche for dinner (now he’s a real man!) using flour made from bunya nuts – we’ll see how that goes….

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Day Three!

Well necessity is the mother of invention! Ben decided to cut up and soak some roasted bunya nuts overnight for breakfast. He cooked it up, we added honey and banana … and it was very nice! That’s breakfast sorted for the next four days! (Whew!) It was salad, boiled egg and bunya nuts for lunch. I’m feeling very indigenous at the moment with all our bunya consumption. Dinner was madagascar beans and vegies, salad, and boiled taro. Then Jim had cut some sugar cane, put it in the blender with boiling water, then strained it, added it to rubarb and cooked it up. Then we topped it with blended bunya nuts for a crumble dessert. Dave had three servings!

Teresa and Eleni have broken the fast – the cold cyclonic rain was too much for them – they just had to make some chocolate custard (at least they cooked it themselves I suppose).

Dave reckons God is on our side – walking back from collecting bunya nuts he and Jim found two dragon fruit! We didn’t even know the plant was there…it was interpreted immediately by us as a blessing on our efforts, of course.

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From top left, some of our culinary creations – scrambled egg and arrowroot breakfast; bunya nut porridge; salad lunch; and Ben with the bunya nut crushing fixture in our kitchen!

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Day ONE!!

Well we have had a somewhat successful start to our eating from the garden! Teresa wasn’t home till dinner time, so ate croissants, garlic bread, pesto etc. etc.!! (Shamefull!) However, the rest of us ate arrowroot, egg, banana, salad and roasted bunya nuts, to our hearts content – which wasn’t so bad! Dinner was pumpkin and potato soup, but without salt, and our usual sour creams or coconut milks, it wasn’t up there for flavour really. Eleni’s school lunch of bananas, bunya nuts, and arrowroot with egg and salad, came home mostly uneaten (nothing unusual about that, though, unless she had a chicken sandwich). She ate the bunya nuts. So…. tomorrow’s lunches have been made with cucumber slices between pumpkin patties, and bunya nuts…we’ll see how they go! At least we’re not going hungry yet! There has been some relaxing of the rules, and mangoes gleaned from a tree on the side of the road have been allowed into the diet, as well as our neighbours free range hens eggs. That’s a relief because from our 7 hens we’re only getting one egg a day at the moment!

I DID find a bit of bush pepper, and added some to my salad with a squeeze of lemon juice! I have no idea what we’ll manage for breakfast, though – Jim can worry about that! We’ve been drinking lemon myrtle, Vietnamese mint, and tarragon teas, and different combinations of them. When I work out how, I’ll post some photos!

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Day -1

So… while I was worrying and whingeing Dave got busy organizing for our week (shame on me)! He dug up some arrowroot, cleaned it up (a time consuming job), and boiled some for his Wednesday morning breakfast ( he and Jim won’t be home for the start of our week). He also roasted quite a few bunya nuts for high-protein snacking, and took a wheel barrow off to collect some more. Inspired, I started thinking about Wednesday morning breakfast for our fussy 11 year old. I just can’t see her eating mashed arrowroot at this stage! Poached egg (no oil or dairy is made here) with some garden vegies and bush pepper, maybe. I went for a search….no luck…the pepper I’d seen growing near the garage had died off and had no taste left. Luckily I’ve still got half a day to find some!

Now Jim has expressed some dissatisfaction with the idea of this blog (he mentioned the ‘n’ word), but as far as I’m concerned it’s only a week long and I like sharing stories – so I’m going ahead with it and judging what I think about blogging at the end :).

We have had our last pasta for the week, and cheese, and tea and coffee. I can still have Jim’s beetroot wine, though!

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Day -2

Well I WAS feeling adventurous – till my concerned cautious side kicked in and I started thinking about the kids doing sport and needing sustenance, and then I thought about salt – doing without could be a problem! Our household consists of my husband Jim, three of our children – Ben (15), Teresa (13), and Eleni (11), and our friend Dave and myself (Anne). The idea for this challenge came from Ben, and was quickly accepted by the blokes, and Eleni – who doesn’t understand what it means! Teresa and I had our doubts. When I mentioned the salt doubt, you know – would we still use salt – Jim said “I hope not!”. This illustrates the extremism I am dealing with, and how I feel I am a balancing personality in this mix of relationships!

So, then I was talking to our friend Greg who has just come back from West Papua, and he said he visited a village that mined their salt. The picture of us digging for salt flashed through my mind. Where would we find it? He also said they lived mostly on sweet potatoes and greens they grew – a likely scenario here! So we’ll be thinking of the West Papuans as we eat our mash! I asked if they fished – yes, they do – and they eat fish and fresh water yabbies. Mmmm wonder if there’s any of those in the puddle of a creek at the bottom paddock??

I mentioned the salt dilemma to my fellow school bus driver Barbara. She suggested I bury a bag of salt! Now she’s an ideas woman!

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The challenge we have set for ourselves

Our household of six is attempting to eat only what we produce on our property for seven days. It will be a challenge to make school lunches and have variety in our other meals. However lent is a time of fasting and we are starting this Wednesday (Ash Wednesday). Many people in the world only have the option of eating hand to mouth what is around them. This week we will be thinking of them. Living simply on the land is something we all need to do better. Instead of exploiting the earth from which we come and on which we rely, we want to simplify our tastes and connect with the environment around us. We are looking forward to the adventure!

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