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February 1, 2004
Well, first of all a sincere apology to those people who did not receive the newsletter for January 2004. We believe there were many.
The reason was simply that, with the revamping of the newsletter format, things went wrong!
Those people who mailed us and asked us if we had forgotten about them - and there were many - were told about this already. To those who did not we hope they will enjoy the new monthly edition of the Biltongmakers.Com newsletter.
It is February already. How times fly. Just the other day we were sitting around the Christmas tree unwrapping presents and now it is February already!
As I sit writing here it is snowing hard outside. The snowflakes are huge and thick and soon everything will be white.
I am thinking of June who is in Brussels and will have to drive home through all this.
It will be her first experience driving in the snow!
I like it though. I can sit in the car for hours and drive through all this whiteness.
It gives one a sense of peace.
The other day I was driving along the E34 near Turnhout when I decided to get off the main road and have a look . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Just down the offramp, close to the little town of Kasterlee you will find a windmill, right next to the Geelse baan.
As you walk along, past a little chapel, the houses will disappear from your view and you will find yourself in between the huge pine trees of "Het Gestelsch Bos". As you follow the rabbit paths you will soon get to "Het Kabouter Bos" where all the trees stand on their toes.
That's how it looks anyway with those big roots looking like stilts.
It is very quiet in amongst the trees, almost like you are all alone in the world.
As you walk along, past little streams and looking out over the Nete Valley on your right, you can almost imagine the Kabouters playing there at night.
That's when I thought of looking up where these little creatures actually came from.
Who are they, and what do they do. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .?
The word Gnome probably comes from the Greek word "gnosis", meaning knowledge. It was probably applied to these creatures because of their knowledge of finding and working with precious metals and stones.
But we will call them Kabouters because that's what they really are . . . . . . . .
Kabouters are dwarf fairies who appear to be quite old because they mature very early, though their average life span is around a thousand years. They reach maturity in about a hundred years, at which time they stand about 12 inches tall and look well past middle age.
They look like funny little old men, as they belong to a race coming from the beginning of times. Their feet are somewhat pigeon toed which gives them an extra edge on speed and agility through the wood and grass.
The male Kabouters wear small pointed hats of red, their clothing is mostly green or blue in colour, with either felt boots, birch shoes, or wooden clogs. Around his waist is a belt with a tool kit attached, holding a knife, hammer, etc. They are fair of face, with rosy red cheeks. Long beards adorn their faces and turn grey far sooner than their hair. Their dimpled faces are merry and kind. They like to wear rainbow-coloured stockings, which they weave themselves.
In general they are very smart and clever.
The female Kabouter wears grey or khaki clothing, consisting of a blouse and skirt (to ankles). She also has black-grey knee socks and high shoes or slippers.
Kabouters live deep in ancient forests (like the one I was in), and these tiny creatures build their homes under aging oak trees and in between the roots of pine trees. It's said they live in three trees, the house itself, with a hidden entrance from another tree, and then a third is the supply room, with grains, beans, potatoes and everything else the Kabouters may need during the winter.
They share their woodland homes with the animals they love and with whom they have a relationship of mutual trust and affection. They speak their language and protect them from danger. Their principal occupation is the protection and healing of wildlife, and working the soil and tree roots, to which they grant power, though they may occasionally help a human along on his or her spiritual quest. They only go out at night and their home is lively after sunset. The best feasts are when the freezing winds and snow blow over the woods. Dancing and playing, they start to run and some prefer rain for their dances.
They have rather a "Gypsy" nature and gather festively at times in lovely hidden valleys covered with wildflowers and secret sunlit meadows. Most Kabouters are 7 times stronger than a man, can run at speeds of 50 kilometers per hour, and have better sight than a hawk.
These abilities help the Kabouters to do many things, such as find wounded, dying animals for which they feel they are responsible. Because of their love for animals, all the animals of the forest are the Kabouter's friends and are willing to help him at any time. Many people say that Kabouters have elevated practical jokes to an art form.
But most especially they love gems and jewellery and are considered by many to be the best gem cutters and jewellers in existence.
It is said that you can only see Kabouters if you really believe in them. That's why so many people don't see them at all.
I saw lots of them that day.
Till next month,
Bagpipes were invented in Scotland.
Wrong on two accounts!
For a start, bagpipe, in the singular, is the correct name of this wind instrument.
Bagpipes, in the plural is wrong!
Secondly, though the bagpipe is closely identified with Scotland - especially the Highlands - it is found in places as far away as Scandinavia and Iraq the old Persia).
Its history goes back to the earliest times. It was depicted in the Hittite carvings in the Near East, proving that it existed before 100BC and was probably introduced to Europe in the 1st century AD.
Even the Roman armies used it.
As expected, we had an massive run on both models of Biltong Makers during December of last year.
So much so that our stock all but dried up completely!
Most businesses in South Africa closed their doors for the summer holidays on 12-12-2003. In the end we did the same, we had no option really with everything shut down.
When everybody re-opened on 12-01-2004 there was the usual mad scramble to get organized again, order new stock and generally get things up and running.
This has caused a delay in production especially for the Kb050-2kg model. But, don't despair! New stock is expected to start flowing in again during the second week of February. So, all outstanding orders should have been shipped by the middle of the month.
It does not matter how well prepared one is it is still the same story every year. Anyway, at least it teaches all of us (especially us !) to place orders in good time and to plan as well as possible for those unknown and unforeseen happenings.
Details of the Traditional 2kg Biltong Maker can be found here.
Details on the RNA-5kg machine can be found by clicking on this link.
To make up for our failings in predicting our loyal customer's demands we feel we had to do something special this month.
So, with effect from 10-02-2004 until 20-02-2004 the RNA-5kg Home Biltong Maker will be priced at
That is a massive R 175.00 discount off the normal retail price.
This special pricing will close exactly on 00h00 on 21-02-2004(GMT) and no late orders can be entertained.
So, start planning for this now. We expect all systems to be extremely busy so if you can't get through or if the systems are slow, just keep on trying!
We have planned well in advance this time but, if unexpected large numbers of orders come in we might have a lead time of around three weeks. Please bear with us in that case.
A lot of people keep on asking general questions about making Biltong.
The general guidelines below may help.
It is wise to bear in mind that when you buy a stove you do not automatically qualify to be a chef, nor do you automatically qualify as a barbecue master when you purchase a new barbecue.
These appliances merely provide heat and flame. It is up to the skill of the individual to use these appliances in order to create their masterpieces.
The same principle applies to your Biltong Maker. It is an appliance that dries meat rapidly and hygienically. The quality of the Biltong, at the end of the day, will depend on the care and the flair that you, the individual, put into the process.
Traditionally, either a dry spice mix can be used to sprinkle over the meat, or it can be soaked in brine for a period of time before hanging.
The following are some pointers to ensure that, no matter which process you use, a perfect batch of Biltong is forthcoming every time.
All the recipes on our web site cater for 2kg batches except for the QUICK BILTONG recipe where only one kilogram is used. The reason for this is that the less meat you hang per batch, the quicker it dries.
Bear this in mind when you want your Biltong to dry faster.
For larger batches simply multiply the quantities. It is of critical importance NOT to hang wet, dripping meat. Neither in a Biltong maker or any other place. It will make a mess and definitely attract insects such as flies. In certain types of Biltong Makers it may also drip onto critical electrical parts. ALWAYS dry the meat thoroughly with kitchen paper towel before hanging it.
The second critical point is never to crowd your machine with too much meat. Each piece MUST hang freely, not touching each other nor the sides of the machine. Meat not hanging freely will not dry properly and, worse still, can become mouldy, especially in humid areas.
Every month we receive many questions from people all over the world. These questions may be about making Biltong or Boerewors but can also be totally unrelated to these subjects.
Sometimes we don't know the answers and ask our readers to help............
This is one of those months that we would like a second opinion on some of the issues.
Can anyone out there help us??
Dear Biltong Team,
I came across your site while looking for some Boerewors recipes.
I live in Israel and my husband is desperate for boerewors. My question lies with the casing. I managed to get casing (intestine) from the butcher, but find this very tough. How can I soften it. I've soaked this skin for a couple of hours, and even added some bicarb to the water, but it does not seem to have helped. Could one use a kitchen mallet and bang it as one does for certain meat cuts.
P.s. Have added you to my list of favourites
We have replied to Suzanne and made our suggestions. We also find than the casings here in Belgium are much tougher that the ones we used in South Africa.
Funny enough, when we asked the supplier/importer in South Africa where they got their casings from we were told from Belgium!! Apparently the South African casings are too porous to be used for sausage making!
Our question is:
Does anyone out there perhaps have a solution to Suzanne's problem?
Is there a substitute for salt in the biltong making process?
I want to avoid high intake of salt cause of high blood pressure?
We suggested to Tertius to use a salt substitute. However, since the salt is also used as part of the preservation process the question remains if salt can be omitted completely.
Does anyone have any thoughts on this?
Whenever I make Biltong you need a set of false teeth to get through the first bite.
What to do?
The secret of soft and succulent Biltong lies in the quality of the meat.
The better the quality of the meat, the better the Biltong!
And, don't let it dry until it becomes rubber of course!
To the "Biltong Manne"
How much weight does meat lose before it becomes Biltong?
This is a difficult question to answer with any accuracy.
During the drying process meat loses weight as it loses moisture. The amount of weight loss depends entirely on how "wet" or "dry" the Biltong Lover prefers the end product.
Those people who prefer Biltong so dry that it flakes into dust when breaking it into portions will experience much greater loss of weight than those preferring it "wet and fatty".
A rule of thumb guestimate is a loss of about 35%+.
We are very grateful to Wendy Don of Johannesburg for sharing her Lamb Potjie recipe with us.
So many of our readers keep asking for Lambpot Potjie recipes.
Here is Wendy's;
Secretary: Back-office Finance Finance Department Gauteng Shared Service Centre
Tel. (011) 689 8262 Fax. (011) 689 6740 E-mail: email@example.com
(Thank you so much for sharing this with us Wendy. We will be looking forward to more of this! -Ed-)
Just to let you know that my last lot of "billies" went down like a house on fire!
I have subsequently received orders from at least 6 friends and each wants 2 kilos!!!
Dear Biltong Team
Thanks for the prompt delivery of my Biltongmaker to Ireland; It was here within one week!
There is one problem you cannot help me with and that is every time I go into the kitchen and smell that delicious biltong in the Biltongmaker, I am like Homer Simpson and find it hard to wait for three days.
Would it not be great if you could invent a microwave version of the Biltongmaker that takes only a few seconds!
Even that may be too long!
Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland
Just a quick note to say that I am an ex-pat from South Africa now residing in Devon, England.
I have always missed Biltong and as such have always spent quite a lot of cash on buying Biltong whenever available. As soon as I saw your web site I had to order the Biltong Maker!
I have just made my first batch and am munching on it right now while I work, absolutely superb! What an excellent invention!
It's like having a taste of the Motherland at a fraction of the cost!!
I work in I.T. and find your web site well presented with useful information on all aspects of biltong making. It's a class site that makes me feel a bit closer to South Africa.
So I just wanted to say MANY THANKS!!
I wish your business all the success it deserves.
Exeter Service Desk Analyst
Computing Partners BT Affinitis
Tel: +44-8702-405060 Option 1 Ext 5244
Fax: +44-1392- 250808
THE SAFFIES-DOWN-UNDER COLUMN
Well the New Year has come and gone and so has the Rugby World Cup trials and tribulations.
Fortunately for the mad sports followers, the cricket season took over from where the rugby left off.
India are currently touring Australia and drew the 4 Test Series 1-1. Hence they retained the Gavaskar Trophy much to the annoyance of the local press and population - one has to understand that according to Australian's there are no other sides worthy of note around the world.
The Zimbabweans are also here for a triangular One Day Series, but unfortunately it is a two horse race between the Aussies and India. So it is with much frustration that I delve, on a daily basis, to find any news of Graeme Smith's boys and the Proteas as they play the West Indies back home.
The Australian Tennis Open is also being played in Melbourne - pronounced Melbin - over the next two weeks. Will watch to see if Amanda and Wayne can create some upsets in their matches.
On the domestic front, this time last year, extensive parts of the East Coast of Australia, were being devastated by bush fires. Fortunately the hot weather has remained away and there has been some rain. But that does not stop the idiotic "fire-bugs" from setting the bush alight.
Apart from the spectacular New Years Eve fireworks around the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House, the "Festival of Lights" has just ended. This happens every evening around the city for about two weeks when various historic, new and interesting buildings are lit up in a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns.
The Harbour bridge is also lit up every evening, but the colours are continually changing - quite vivid actually.
Schools will get back next week Tuesday 27th January, so the roads will be fairly busy on the next coming week-end and, hold on - the road death toll for Australia might reach 100 (time frame: 1 December 2003 and 27th January 2004).
I recall the road death toll in RSA is around 41 per day.
So from a very summery, sunny and hot, 30 deg C in Sydney - I know all you Northern ex Pats are freezing to death, let me sign off and wish all a super year.
Immediate plans are to wallow around the Braai - sorry Barby - this coming week-end, swigging a great South Australian Barossa Valley Shiraz and nibble on some home grown Billies, thanks to Lo and the team.
I might even slap on a wheel of Boeries from Riaan's North Lane Cove "Springbok Butchery".
Regards from Sydney
Craig and Jenny Rudolph
(Thanks Craig and Jenny, we hope to hear a lot more from you! -Ed-)
The winner of the January Competition
After a slow start entries started pouring in toward the end of the month. However, lots of people still seem to be in the holiday spirit and it was overall a quiet competition month.
Not bad for us though!
It gave us a bit of a break!
The winner of the January competition is Margaret Segers from Budapest in Hungary! This is the first time we have had a winner from that part of the world!
Congratulations Margaret, your Rockey New Age Home Biltong Maker will be on its way shortly and you will be able to make Biltong for all those people who have been pestering you to make more of the stuff!
(We found out that Margaret already has a 2kg machine but can't keep up with the demand!)
Remember the following:
The prize for the February Competition
The winner for the competition for February will receive the famous Cadac Skottel Braai.
This braai is an indepensable tool for those people who want a quick and clean outside meal under virtually any weather conditions.
Please remember that the gas bottle is not included in the prize.
To enter the competition all you have to do is to visit our home page at www.biltongmakers.com and click on one of the two competition links.
The winners of the February competition will be notified by email.
Some of the other prizes for the year
So, don't wait!
You can enter right now by clicking on the competition link on our home page.
It's easy to earn a free Biltong Maker!
As a South African orientated web site we are constantly looking to contact more and more South Africans across the world.
Not only to tell them about how they can make their own Biltong but also to give them a chance to share their stories with other South Africans the world over.
So, here is your chance to help us.
If you know about a South African family or friend living near you or perhaps somewhere far away, why not tell them about us and then us about them.
Perhaps you can send us their email address so that we can mail them a copy of the newsletter.
If they like it they can stay on the mailing list, if not they can just let us know and we will remove them.
If the response we receive is large enough and directly due to your efforts you could be rewarded by receiving one of our products totally free of charge.
What an easy way to perhaps get your own Home Biltong Maker without having to pay a cent for it!
You can mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are really aching for a nice piece of Billies and the funds are a bit tight don't despair!
With our new secure on-line payment facility through WorldPay (Bank of Scotland) you can also order your very own Home Biltong maker on your budget account.
You can then pay over 12 or 24 months as you wish.
With a bit of entrepreneurship you could start making Biltong and sell it to meet the monthly repayments!
So, if you hesitated in the past you can now go to www.biltongmakers.com and follow the shopping mall link. It's as easy as that!
If you have something interesting to tell, a nice recipe to part with or perhaps a question to ask, it would be nice to hear from you!
Perhaps you have some advice to give?
You never know how you could help somebody else with your own hints and tips.
Of course it does not have to be about Biltong or food. Anything that is of interest is welcome! Share it with other people around the world!
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