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December 1, 2004
It's late in the evening. June has gone to bed and I am sitting here finishing off the last newsletter for this year. Outside it is cold and dark. We have even had some snow already!
The last couple of weekends I have busied myself putting up some Christmas lights on the outside of the house and in the garden. I have almost finished and, even though I say this myself, it looks lovely!
We decided not have a Christmas tree inside this year but to do the outside. Less mess and it really looks nice.
Looking back on the year all I can say is that it has been a fun year. With all my travels I have seen so much and have had so many new experiences that is is quite awesome!
It's just the little things in life that makes it all worthwhile.
The beautiful forests with all those incredible colours in the Autumn.
And so I could carry on and on.
One of the nicest and most rewarding experiences has been the many nice reactions to our monthly newsletter. It has been a pleasure to do it every month.
My thanks go out to all those people sending such nice mails every month!
It makes me want to carry on!
So it's December and the festive season is upon us.
We still have to get used to the fact that there is no big holiday in December. I remember from our years in South Africa that we would close the business down on the 16th of December every year and open again the second or third week in January.
Not so here. Life carries on as normal and not even Boxing Day is a holiday!
Our big summer holidays are in July/August. That's when everything closes down and everybody goes away!
But in December it's business as usual. It was strange to think that the the business year here starts in September and not in January so in December you have only just started!
Last Sunday it was Sinterklaas again. We always look forward to that! It's always such a lot of fun to see the little ones a little scared that they were not all that good during the year and that Sinterklaas will have a couple of notes about that in his big red book!
In most towns Sinterklaas and all his "Zwarte Pieten" will arrive either by train, or for the lucky ones, by boat.
Everyone knows that he arrives by boat from Spain every year so to see him arriving that way is very special.
All the schools have time off for the visit by Sinterklaas and for the little ones this is the highlight of the year!
Father Christmas does not really feature in the low-lands. That is of course a bonus for children brought up in countries where he is the highlight of every December. Now they have Sinterklaas AND Father Christmas! (and Mummy and Daddy are out of pocket twice!)
This will be particularly true for Luke and Jake this year because they will be spending their Christmas in South Africa with Derek and Jeanine.
June and I will have Carol and Peter visiting from the UK for a week or so. They have never been to Belgium and it will be nice to show them a little of the country. After Christmas we will take them back to Worthing so we will also have a couple of days off.
On Christmas day we will have Tony and Catherine with the two little ones, Jessie and Caitlyn for the day. It promises to be a nice day and we are very much looking forward to it!
The other day I found a meat wholesaler at the "Early morning market" in Brussels who sells Argentinian Beef! This is probably the best beef we have ever come across in Belgium. Brilliant! And not expensive either!
For Christmas we will get a beef fillet and June will do a Beef Wellington. She is so good at it that it just cannot fail!
So, it's the end of the year (almost) and the end of this last bit from me.
Both June and I wish you a very special Christmas and a very good, healthy and peaceful New Year!
Until next year!
What's Wrong with Gossip?
A Very Special Man!
Then, a couple of days ago it was “Sinterklaas”!
Now, “Sinterklaas” is a typically Dutch institution and you will of course find it in Belgium as well. Where the rest of the world has “Christmas Father” the Dutch and the Belgians have “Sinterklaas”.
Of course some of the Father Christmas (Santa Klaus) has blown over here as well with all the people living here from all over the world. But, Sinterklaas is the real original thing over here.
The story is fascinating.
It so happens that the legend of St. Nicholas is based on historical fact. He did actually exist. He lived from 271 A.D. to December 6th, 342 or 343.
His 4th century tomb in the town of Myra, near the city of Anatolia in present-day Turkey, has even been dug up by archaeologists.
This is his story:
Born of a wealthy family, Nicholas was brought up as a devout Christian. When his parents died of an epidemic, he distributed his wealth among the poor and became a priest.
Later he became Archbishop of Myra, and it is from here that the fame of his good deeds began to spread across the Mediterranean. Desperate sailors who called upon the Good Bishop to calm stormy seas were heard; prison walls crumbled when victims of persecution prayed to him. He saved young children from the butcher's knife and dropped dowries into the shoes of penniless maidens. Over time, St. Nicholas became the patron saint of sailors and merchants, and especially of children.
After his death, the cult of St. Nicholas spread rapidly via southern Italy throughout the rest of the Mediterranean and eventually to coastal towns along the Atlantic and the North Sea. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Holland built no fewer than 23 churches dedicated to St. Nicholas, many of which are still standing. Amsterdam adopted St. Nicholas as its patron saint, and Rome decreed that December 6th, the anniversary of his death, should be his official Feast Day.
St. Nicholas' strong influence in the Low Countries - an area heavily engaged in trade and navigation - was primarily due to his role as patron of sailors and merchants.
However, his fame as protector of children soon took precedence.
In the 14th century, choirboys of St. Nicholas churches were given some money and the day off on December 6th.
Somewhat later, the pupils of convent schools would be rewarded or punished by a monk dressed up as the Good Bishop, with his long white beard, his red mantle and mitre (bishop's hat) and his golden crosier (bishop's staff) - just as he is still presented today.
shoulder, and the three of them board a steamship headed for the Netherlands. Around mid-November they arrive in a harbour town - a different one every year - where they are formally greeted by the Mayor and a delegation of citizens. Their parade through town is watched live on television by the whole country and marks the beginning of the "Sinterklaas season"
The old bishop and his helpmate are suddenly everywhere at once. At night they ride across Holland's' rooftops and Sinterklaas listens through the chimneys to check on the children's behaviour. Piet jumps down the chimney flues and makes sure that the carrot or hay the children have left for the horse in their shoes by the fireplace is exchanged for a small gift or some candy. During the day, Sinterklaas and Piet are even busier, visiting schools, hospitals, department stores, restaurants, offices and many private homes. Piet rings doorbells, scatters sweets through the slightly opened doors and leaves basketfuls of presents by the front door.
The Dutch are busy too - shopping for, and more importantly, making presents. Tradition demands that all packages be camouflaged in some imaginative way, and that every gift be accompanied by a fitting poem. This is the essence of Sinterklaas: lots of fun on a day when people are not only allowed, but expected, to make fun of each other in a friendly way. Children, parents, teachers, employers and employees, friends and co-workers tease each other and make fun of each other’s habits and mannerisms.
Another part of the fun is how presents are hidden or disguised. Recipients often have to go on a hunt all over the house, aided by hints, to look for them. They must be prepared to dig their gifts out of the potato bin, to find them in a pudding, in a glove filled with wet sand, in some crazy dummy or doll. Working hard for your presents and working even harder to think up other peoples' presents and get them ready is what the fun is all about.
The real giver is supposed to remain anonymous because all presents technically come from Sinterklaas, and recipients say out loud "Thank you, Sinterklaas!", even if they no longer believe in him. Towards December 5th, St. Nicholas poems pop up everywhere in the Netherlands: in the press, in school, at work and in both Houses of Parliament.
On the day of the 5th, most places of business close a bit earlier than normal. The Dutch head home to a table laden with the same traditional sweets and baked goods eaten for St. Nicholas as shown in the 17th-century paintings of the Old Masters.
Large chocolate letters - the first initial of each person present - serve as place settings. They share the table along with large gingerbread men and women. A basket filled with mysterious packages stands close by and scissors are at hand. Early in the evening sweets are eaten while those gathered take turns unwrapping their gifts and reading their poems out loud so that everyone can enjoy the impact of the surprise. The emphasis is on originality and personal effort rather than the commercial value of the gift, which is one reason why Sinterklaas is such a delightful event for young and old alike.
Sinterklaas is also celebrated in many other countries. Here is an example from Carol Eisler of how this is done in in Austria.
One can see how many of the Christmas traditions are linked to Sinterklaas. Here is Austria he is known as Nikolo and is celebrated in pretty much the same way.
Lots of Nikolo chocolates and apples - always in a red bags - any other gifts given on this day are usually something red.
One will also find lots of costumed Nikolos all around town distributing Nikolo shaped chocolates. It is a much loved fest by the kids who only receive the "Nikolosacker" only once they have recited the poems learned at school or kindergarten.
Do you also celebrate a form of Sinterklaas or Nikolo? Why not drop us a line and tell us about it?
The greatest stuff on Earth!!
Greetings from Iowa, the “Heartland” of the U.S.
My name is Charlie and 6 months ago I had never heard of Biltong, then I found your web site. I was cruising the net for barbeque (braai) sites and stumbled across Biltongmakers.Com!
I make about 3 or 4 pounds at a time and am on my 5th batch in 8 weeks! My biggest concern is does my Biltong taste authentic?
I am a Chiropractor and a few days ago a young man walked into my office. He is a student attending a college here in my hometown.
I heard his accent and asked where he was from, he said, South Africa! So I asked him what the first thing that comes to mind is, when I say Biltong?
His eyes got real big and he said, “The greatest stuff on Earth!”
And how do you know what Biltong is?
As it turned out his family was in the meat business and produced Biltong before they left South Africa.
I now have someone to experiment on. I want to get it right!
All that, to say this, Great Website!
Keep up the good work and thank you for introducing me to Biltong.
“The Greatest stuff on Earth!”
I am proud to say that making biltong seemed a daunting task - but after purchasing the 2kg biltong maker, it's a breeze!
Milnerton, Cape Town
You can order the new BILTONG BUDDY now by going to our order page or you can have a look at it first by clicking on the link below.
Details of the New "BILTONG BUDDY" can be found here.
More and more people like Charlie, are making larger batches of Biltong at one time. Rockey's New Age 5kg Biltong maker is just ideal for that purpose!
Details on Rockey's machine can be found by clicking on this link.
Let's do it again!
Our special offers last month proved to be very popular so, as promised, we'll do it again!
From now until the 15th of January 2005 (or until present stocks last) the following pricing will apply:
And.....all people placing an order for one of our Biltong Makers will receive TWO FREE packets from our Nice 'n Spicy range.
Here is a general tip for this month
For those people who are using Rockey's 5kg Home Biltong Maker the following advice:
Only use a 40 watt pear shaped globe!
Some people have been using a 60 or even a 100 watt globe in the hope that the meat will dry quicker. Not only does it not dry the meat evenly and too quickly but it also causes the driptray to burn and crack.
We spent a lot of time on the design of this Biltong Maker and found that the 40 watt globe dries the meat evenly in 3-5 days.
It is a fallacy that using a higher wattage globe will result in quicker and faster biltong production. Not so!
A higher wattage globe will dry the outside of the meat quicker resulting in a hard crust and wet meat on the inside.
THAT'S NOT BILTONG!
If you have an answer for these people please mail them?
Dear Biltong Team
I recently bought a biltong maker from you.
My first batch of biltong came out great, it only took 3 days and it was dry and spicy just the way the family likes it!
I on the other hand like it a bit wet but when I try to do that the outside of the meat is dry and the inside still wet.
Please can you tell me how I can do this evenly.
I am thinking of purchasing a biltong maker and spices. Are you aware of whether Australian Customs permits the spices in to Australia.
Have you successfully sent to Perth before?
The Australian Customs department is very wary of any foodstuffs brought in to Australia. In fact there is very little you can import in the line of food and associated products.
However, our spices are not classified as food and we ship to Australia every single day! That does not mean that there are never any problems. Sometimes a customs official gets suspicious because he/she does not know what it is.
But, after an explanation, they let it go through without a problem.
In the almost 10 year that we have been operating we have had only one case where a customs official insisted on a letter from us stating the content of the spices. After receiving this the spices were released.
I am desperately searching for Skaapwors recipes..
We are a couple of guys here in California who have been making our own Boerewors for 3 years or so and would now like to try some skaapwors.
Thanks a lot
(When replying to people asking questions please copy us in on the mail. We could use your advice and recipes to help other people. -Ed)
Real South African Christmas Fare!
WHOLE STUFFED TURKEY
WRAPPED IN SALT CRUST DOUGH
AND BAKED IN THE GROUND
To make the dough:
Squeeze the top together and make sure it is firmly sealed.
Low Cholestrol Christmas Cake
From the far Outback
(somewhere near the entrance to the Great Barrier Reef)
By Nico Botha
Here in the land very far Down Under, I as the President of the Boerewors Empire, have taken our culture a BIG step forward!
I am now teaching the Aussies the secret of "What is important at a Braai!
Below on the right is a photo of Mick, my butcher mate. He has just completed a course in the Art of Boerewors making!
I used a recipe of a dear good friend which you will find below. Werna is a Jeffriesbay girl and her wors is tops on my list!
Remember our motto
"We have been scattered around the world to teach the less fortunate, the African Culture of Boerewors, to enlighten them on what is important at a Braai!"
Mick, my butcher can be found at Proserpine in Far North Queensland , working at the Meat Guru Butchery near the Metropole Hotel.
Werna van Jefferies baai se wors resep
Nou-ja, hier is die resep vir die wors.
Ek het daar bygesê dat ek nog n botteltjie braaivleis speserye bygooi.
Here is my suggestion for Christmas lunch!
Skaapkop for the Nation!
Ask your butcher for a whole sheep's head scraped clean of wool.
At home clean it some more to get rid of all the wool, use hubby's razor! Scrape the inside of the ears with a sharp knife to clean them properly. Open the mouth and rinse the inside properly, let the water run out the throat.
Fill a bucket full of water and place a handful of salt in, stir to dissolve.
Place the head in the water and ensure that it's completely covered.
Soak for an hour, then remove from water and rinse.
Dry the head with paper towels (Lots of free towels at the toilets at Heathrow airport)!
Put some salt in the mouth and salt the whole head on the outside as well.
Wrap tin foil around the ears to stop them from burning.
Place the head in the oven in your baking saucepan at 120C.
Leave in the oven for a good few hours, overnight if necessary. A bit of water will ensure that the meat will not dry out.
We know when the head is baked, the eyes must pop out! and hang down, the cheeks must lift up, the tong must hang out of the mouth and the skin must be brown and crispy!
Now, take the head out of the oven and place it on a baking bag.
On the table you must have a large bottle of Mrs. Balls Chutney!
Have a big bowl for all the bones, save the eye balls for last, and feel the excitement when you bite them, and they explode in your mouth!
Pity a sheep has only two eyes!
SHARE IT WITH A LOVED ONE!
Now you have to have someone with whom to share the sheep's head. It can't just be anybody, it must be someone that you love, someone who will not freak if the head appears on the table with a mouth full of grinning teeth, because eating a sheep's head is an intimate affair……
You and your loved one sit down with the head between you.
You have the knife. First you cut off a piece of lip and eat it, then she cuts off another piece and gives it to you.
Then you cut a piece of the cheek off and eat it, then she cuts a piece of cheek off and shares it with you.
The dog gets the nose.
And so you work your way through the whole head.
But it's when you get to the brain that your love is really tested, because a sheep has a small brain and it has to be shared. It also has only one tongue and that has to be shared as well!
Don't be sad, this will be a feast to be remembered!
Never, ever prepare a sheep's head if you are not sure of your love!!
Real African Food!
I know that at the RFU Vrystaat, every year they have a charity banquet and they serve Skaapkop as the main meal!
A short story about the developing cricket in Rishon Le-Zion, Israel
By: Yonni Sidelsky
Is that the game that you have to get the ball to go under little bridge thingies?
No, that's croquet.
Oh, so is that the one on horses?
No, that's polo.
Oh, so what's cricket?
Six months ago, if you had to ask me to explain cricket to one more person I would have gone nuts, but now it seems I am paving the way together with a devoted Indian man to establish a cricket club in Rishon Le-Zion and getting local children very interested and, most importantly, involved.
It all started a while ago, when I was told by my grandmother that there is an Indian man that plays cricket with his sons at the parking lot of the supermarket up the street.
So I picked up a practice ball, went over to the parking lot on the weekend when there were no cars, and bowled against the wall.
No one came.
I kept on doing this for a couple of weeks, when on one of the occasions, I took a friend with me. As my friend was bowling to me, I kept on hitting the ball past him, only to have the ball returned all the time by some twelve year old playing soccer at the other end of the parking lot.
It got to the point where I had them standing at long on and long off areas catching the ball!
Needless to say that I eventually got them batting and bowling. The next day (Saturday) I went by myself again but this time in the morning.
To my surprise I saw four people playing cricket there. As I walked up to them with a cricket bat, the even more surprised Roiy (the middle son) came up to me excited. I joined Roiy, his two brothers Idan and Vikki and their father Yossi, in a good old street cricket game, where they were using a half sized bat, an old tennis ball and two old supermarket baskets as wickets.
We changed the ball for my ball, and some of us batted with my bat. We made a habit out of this. Every Saturday at 11am we would meet there to play. We started using a real wicket, which we stuck into some sand in a box, and they made a wicket for the other end.
At the same time, on Fridays, I was getting more and more kids involved showing them the basics and getting the older ones to come on Saturday's too.
Now we have adults, teenagers and kids playing! We have equipment from India including pads, practice balls, real balls, gloves, more than five bats and even one helmet.
On occasion we use a carpet that we found in the area as a pitch. It was an old carpet obviously thrown away by people who were unaware of the sporting leisure that this matting supplied to a bunch of people on the weekends.
So we play our growing cricket in a parking lot of a supermarket, where the leg-side has a tin wall, a fence front at about the mid-on/mid-off area, and a very long boundary on the off-side.
We work hard on getting more people involved, including an article in the local edition of the Maariv newspaper that will be published on the weekend of the 26th of November.
Cricket may be small in this country, practically non existent in our city, but it is growing, especially in our hearts.
Please join us in our games, to watch, play, umpire and support.
Contact Yonni Sidelsky at email@example.com
A true story
The medal winning Olympic runner, Picabo (pronounced Peek-A-Boo), is not just an athlete, she is a nurse.
She currently works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of large South African metropolitan hospital.
She is not permitted to answer the telephone while she is at work. It simply caused too much confusion when she would answer the phone and say: "Picabo, ICU"
(A good clean story is hard to find these days! - Ed)
National rugby coaching body to be formed
November 30 2004
Twenty coaching managers from all 14 SA Rugby Provinces will convene for a two-day workshop in Cape Town starting on Wednesday to discuss ways to improve coaching skills at various levels around the country.
Under the auspices of the National Coaching Co-ordinators Forum, the representatives will discuss ways to incorporate coaches' training into the Outcome Based Education system, registration of rugby coaches, course content and recognition of prior learning, among other topics.
SA Rugby Manager for Coaching, Hilton Adonis, says the meeting is a follow-up to previous discussions, and is geared towards meeting the challenges of the future.
"The professionalisation and promotion of the coach is critical to the successful development of the game of rugby," says Adonis. "In the highly competitive and demanding world of international sport, we need to explore all possible means to keep abreast with latest techniques and developments. These challenges could best be addressed through a co-ordinated national coaching structure."
The following coaching managers have been invited:
Johan Schoeman (Blue Bulls), Alridge Mercuur (Boland), Dumisani Mhani (Border),Denver Wannies (Eastern Province), Mark Donato (Falcons), Derrick Sampson (Falcons), Selvyn Colby (Free State) Dick Jansen (Free State), Wimpie Vermeulen (Golden Lions), Deon Swanepoel (Griffons), Michael Herbert (Griffons), Marius Johnson (Griqualand West), Eugene Hare (Leopards), Gerald McPherson (Leopards), Chris Buitendach (Mpumalanga), Garth Giles (KwaZulu-Natal), Colin Heard (Kwa-Zulu Natal), Willie Beukes (South Western Districts), Geoff Crowster (Western Province) and Hilton Adonis (SA Rugby). - Sapa
-Where can you watch rugby on TV?-
Click here to find out where in most countries!
The winner of the November Competition
The winner of the November competition is Hannah Solomons from Tel Aviv!
Congratulations Hannah, your Biltong Cutter is on its way to you!!
Remember the following:
The prizes for the December
You read it right!
There is more than one prize this month. In fact there are three prizes!
The winners for the competition for December 2004 will receive their prizes as follows:
Or go straight to our competition page!
To enter the competition all you have to do is to visit our home page at and click on one of the two competition links.
The winners of all competitions are notified by email.
Some of the prizes for next 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 this 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 people place orders with us, 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
During August many people went to the trouble once again of submitting their friend's and family's names and we would like to thank all!
Help us to make it even better!
Many people are subscribing to this newsletter every day. Mostly they do so because they enjoy reading it and like to hear from people in other parts of the world.
If you are one of our subscribers why don't you write something yourself?
Just like you enjoy reading about what other people are up to, they might enjoy reading about you and your family.
Why not put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard!), and tell us about anything interesting. About life in your part of the world, what you do and how you live. Perhaps something that happened to you.
You might have a nice recipe to part with or perhaps a question to ask.
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!
It would be so nice to hear from you!
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