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What did you drag across the world?
December 7, 2005Standing outside the back door by the kitchen a minute ago I saw two squirrels playing in the trees. Running up and down and jumping from branch to branch they really seemed to be enjoying themselves. I should put some more nuts out for them. They must be hungry for there is very little for them to eat right now in the winter.It’s lovely to watch them stuffing their little cheeks full and then disappearing in the undergrowth to store it somewhere I suppose. A little while later they will reappear to start the whole process all over again.
We are a little like them, especially over the festive season. The only difference is that we don’t take it away to be stored. We store it in the ever-increasing waistline, which just seems to grow and grow as we draw closer to Christmas and the end of the year!
The little exercise I get at the moment does not help at all it seems. Just the other day I spent yet another day in the garden clearing away leaves and making it somehow a little presentable but the scale that night just did not want to cooperate!
I have just finished with the Christmas lights outside. Always quite a job but certainly worth it! They’re in the bushes and up the trees and along the gutter in the front. I’m quite proud actually. Sadly our neighbours are too lazy to do anything of the sort. In other towns people have really put in an effort and some houses look quite spectacular!
Driving around the little towns in Vlaanderen last night it was great to see all the trouble some people have gone to. I even saw a Father Christmas complete with reindeer on top of a roof, all done with rope lights!
It gets dark around 4.30 in the afternoon now so that’s when our lights come on and we sit inside, nice and warm, and enjoy them!
Christmas in Europe is so totally different from the Southern hemisphere. It is dark and cold outside and, with a bit of luck, you even have snow! But, everywhere you go it is warm and cozy with lots of candles and of course the Christmas tree!
Going into town is incredible to say the least. Everywhere you go there is an air of festivity. There are decorations everywhere. In the streets, on the squares, along the buildings and in the trees. It is just one big light show.
There are people everywhere either doing shopping or listening to one of the many little groups and choirs playing or singing Christmas carols. The bistros and cafes are chock and block with people enjoying a “pintje” or a glass of wine by a roaring fireplace. Many of them are open throughout the night and if you drive into town early in the morning you still find most places full to capacity. Funny enough there are no incidents of drunkenness or hooliganism. So much for 24 hour drinking in Europe!
And so it is almost Christmas and yet another year has gone by. A year that promised a lot at the start and kept itself to its word by and large. We must just try to get away a little more next year.
It’s always nice to look back on what you did during the year and to pick out the highlights.
Our trip to northern France, Reims and Paris with Penny and Skye was one of those highlights. Paris is great any time of the year as long as you don’t end up with a mad taxi driver like we did on our way to the Moulin Rouge.
Then there was our trip to the UK a couple of weeks ago
But, with the ferry we had a nice break. It takes about 2 hours all-in-all and you have a chance to walk about, have a nice breakfast or lunch and browse through the shops on board and you can see the white cliffs of Dover! We’ll certainly do that again!
Another highlight for me was an unexpected visit to Jake’s school where all the little children were waiting in the school hall to meet Sinterklaas. And sure enough there he came, just after nine in the morning, with his Zwarte Pieten in tow. The look of total awe and trepidation on those little ones faces was enough to bring a tear to the eye. It so reminded me of when I was that age and went through the same thing every December 5th, the birthday of the dear old man.
The children all sang songs and presented him with the presents they had been making especially for his birthday. One class even made a big pot of carrot soup for his horse!
Above, on the right you can see a picture of him and if you want to read the story of Sinterklaas just click on the newsletter for December 2004.
The worst news this year was when I heard that my best friend of 40 years, Kel Malherbe, had passed away suddenly on the 4th of November. Kel and I first met in May of 1966 and literally went through thick and thin together. It was Kel who originally developed the first Home Biltong Maker which he roughly based on an old cardboard box dryer he had from way back. The original 2kg Home Biltong Maker became what is now known as the Biltong Buddy and is used by thousands of people all over the world.
And so I will leave you for this year.
Sadly, although I totally agree with her, it somehow never works for me and I always end up doing exactly the opposite and suffer the consequences afterwards.
So, to all our friends and customers all over the world, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and may the New Year bring you all the happiness and health and the fulfillment of all your dreams!
Till next year,
Sometimes the way to move ahead faster is to slow down. Sometimes the way to get more done is to stop trying so hard.
When you’re relentlessly pushing yourself, then the pushing becomes your focus and you can lose sight of your true objective. When you’re constantly busy being constantly busy, it can be easy to forget what you seek to accomplish.Hurrying through a task can burn you out and create mistakes that you’ll have to spend more time fixing. Keep in mind that sprinting is not a workable strategy for winning a marathon.Slowing down to a sustainable pace can actually make the results come faster. Remember that your goal is not simply to be busy, but to accomplish something of value with your efforts.
Take a deep breath, calm your mind, and focus your thoughts on where you’re going. There is much power in moving thoughtfully and deliberately.
Time and steady persistence will achieve much more than frantic, hurried turmoil. Go fast enough to get it done, yet slow enough to get it right.
Henry Christmas has spent 50 years researching his surname. A team of scientists in Oxford is trying to prove whether families with the rare surname of “Christmas” all descend from a single male ancestor.
They want to compare the DNA of men from different Christmas clans to see if they are linked by a common genetic heritage as well as by their surnames.
This will be done by looking at similarities and differences in the male, or Y, chromosomes of volunteers.
The work is part of wider research on the links between surnames and DNA.
DNA analysis company Oxford Ancestors is currently appealing for volunteers to participate in the study and is being assisted in the effort by Henry Christmas, a former telecommunications engineer who has spent 50 years researching the origins and history of his own family name.
Professor Bryan Sykes, who is leading the study at Oxford Ancestors, told the BBC News website: “There are several interesting questions such as was there one original ‘father’ Christmas or were there several different ones?”
A bit of cheek
His team will be taking cheek swabs from those volunteers selected by Mr Christmas in order to extract their DNA.
Every male possesses a Y chromosome which can be inherited only from his father, so this package of genetic material represents a unique record of paternal inheritance.
“If it’s a single family with one original founder, then most of them will have the same Y chromosome fingerprint. If there’s more than one, we’ll identify that,” said Bryan Sykes.
“But generally this is the kind of name that, from experience, has one or very few founders.”
The work forms a small part of a wider project being conducted by Professor Sykes on the genetic history of Britain.
Surnames can be remarkably informative in reconstructing the genetic family tree of the British Isles, especially those of moderate frequency that can be tied closely to genealogical records.
“Generally speaking, the rarer the name, the more likely it is to have one founder. Most surnames are moderate frequency,” he explained.
“Many, even now, are clustered around the historical origin of the name.
“This gives you a way of measuring how much spreading and mixing and movement there has been over the last 800 years – because many English surnames started then.”
Professor Sykes found about 70% of the men he studied with his own surname had near-identical Y chromosomes. The 70% were all descended from one man who lived in Yorkshire in the 13th Century.
The Christmas family name is established widely through the home counties, but there are two significant geographical clusters; one in Essex and one in Sussex.
“We will select volunteers from those two branches,” said Professor Sykes.
“If you didn’t have that genealogical information, you wouldn’t have the first idea about those two branches or where they come from.”
Some genealogy books state that the origin of the surname derives from “one born at Christmas”. But Henry Christmas believes this is “too easy”.
“The original spelling was ‘Chrystmasse’, which perhaps indicates Norman origin. There were also Huguenots who came over [from France] with that name,” he told the BBC News website.
Professor Sykes said the study should also be able to show how people with the Christmas surname were linked by their genes to other lineages.
And it should connect the common male founder – if indeed there was one – with one of the major population groups that have settled in the British Isles over the ages.
But the technique can also reveal signs of female infidelity, turning up errant Y chromosomes that do not fit in the overall genetic tree for a particular
Did we not want to take everything, thinking that if we got rid of something we might not be able to replace it wherever we went to?
Then, once on “the other side”, we either realized how lucky we were to have taken all those “special” things or how stupid it really was.I for one remember that is was very difficult to part with all the things we had gathered over so many years.But some of the things …….really!!
I can just think of the SEVEN braais we took! There was our Cadac gas braai (with every conceivable attachment!), our Weber, spitbraai, large cast iron braai, another (smaller) Weber, our gas bottle with the large cast iron top……just to mention some!
In this part of our newsletter we are inviting you to write in telling us what YOU took with you when you left.
We will have a small Competition to see who writes in with the most unusual item that they dragged with them across the world!
We will be running this competition until the end of the year so submit your entries as soon as possible.
The person with the most unusual item (and we will want to see a picture of it!) will get one of Rockey’s 5kg Home Biltong Makers!
So, here we go!
This one is from Nico Botha in Australia
From Lorraine and Derek Austin in Brisbane
From Paddy Johnson in Australia
From Kerry Booysen-Finch in Holland
From Tanja Köhn in Dushanbe, Tajikistan
From John and Mel Berry from Loxahatchee, Florida, USA
From Jacki Martin in New Hampshire in the US of A
I love the newsletter – thanks for the great stories!!
From Gavin van Heusden in Durban, South Africa
After deciding it was time we go back to our roots in South Africa the BIG MOVE got under way in November 2004. After everything was moved and all our suitcases for the last two weeks stay were packed and booted I was walking out the door for the final time with Henry in my arms. He was to be given to my cousin for safe keeping. This I believe was preoccupying me, and low and behold my jacket got caught on the door handle as I was walking through. I stumbled, found the lip of the step, slipped and launched into the air……trying to get my balance meant letting go! Watching the pot tumble through the air in slow motion was sickening but at the same time it felt like a fitting end for my plant.
One smashed pot later, and a plant that had snapped at the root system and leaf system I was cleaning up the mess before the new owners moved in. I actually found a few leaves still joined together and thought I would drop them in some water and see what happens. Well, what did I expect, after a few days there were a few roots off the bottom of the leaves. On the day of leaving we wrapped him in wet cotton wool and stuffed him into my golf bag. Expectations of survival were highly based on past performance and as expected we now have Henry on our balcony looking healthier than ever before.
I dragged a doomed plant, which I have known longer than my wife all the way across the world!!
From Ansie and Tollie de Waal from Ireland
Strange it is, but it means a lot to us!
This is it! We cannot accept any more entries.
In January we will announce who we thought was the most original out of the above.
To see all the entries and to meet other South Africans in your area just visit our GuestMap!
Hi to all the other South Africans home away from home. Been here for 7 years now and still enjoying….however I do miss the good old SA wors and biltong……….so maybe I need to get myself one of the Biltong Makers.
The biltong maker is lekker…. and nice to see a few other SA faces…
Jade E Moore (JEM)
Great to see we all love our heritage still.
Billy and Noeline Nagel
This country is wonderful, but you still feel like going home sometimes, just to get the South African feeling. I miss the bushveld, Saturday braaivleis and friends
Great website – I never knew making biltong was that easy. It’s edible everytime!
You too could be making your own Biltong in a very short space of time.
Details on ROCKEY’S 5kg Home Biltong Maker can be found by clicking on this link.
You can have a look at the BILTONG BUDDY here.
Well, it is almost Christmas and I suppose that most people will have either bought or ordered their presents by now. But, we will still tempt you with some final special prices for the year.
Until the middle of January the following products will be on special:
Click here to go to our on-line shop.
The question was:
All the best, wherever you may be.
Here is some of the feedback we received
I was wondering what type of meat you use for the braai and frying?
Although vacuum packing is an option, you have to keep fresh meat vacuumed for at least 20 days for optimal results and this must be kept a constant temperature of 0-3 degrees which most kitchen fridges are not!
Here is a tip:
Meat is normally at its best if it has been dry-hanged for at least 20-30 days. Yes it will have fungus on the outside of the meat but trim this off and the meat internally will be tender. Also make sure that the product that you buy is A2 – A3. This is the ideal fat and conformation to buy. The markings are normally in purple, and I don’t think he would have a problem showing you the carcasses he sells, if he does beware.
Ask the butcher to cryvac it and leave for 3 weeks minimum. We leave ours for 6 weeks, but sometimes it has a slight bloody taste. Let it stand out of cryvac for a day and it will be as tender as fillet!
I had the same problem.
The following tip from Bruce Prescott in Johannesburg, was published last month as well. However, we received no feedback to it and wondered if anyone is really interested in pursuing this idea. We have published it again in the hope that there are some people out there who might have some thoughts on this.
Just a suggestion – in your newsletter you have a section where you ask subscribers to list odd/strange items that they took with them when they emigrated from SA.
With the benefit of hindsight, what should they have sold and what should they have bought before leaving SA?
Let’s see if between all of us we can come up with a list (for different countries perhaps?) of tips what to take and what not to take?
Please send your tips to the editor at the firstname.lastname@example.org.
As julle iemand daar raakloop wat Afrikaans wil leer, verwys hulle na www.afrikaans.us
It was brought to our notice that some people try to use a higher wattage and different shape globe than supplied with the Biltong Makers. They do this to try and decrease the drying time. Not only does this not work but it it also dangerous!
If we have not given an answer and you can help these people could you please mail them?
(Please copy us in on your mails @ email@example.com
so we can help other people who might have the same questions in the future)
Hi my name is Colleen.
I live in Kampala and have just started making biltong. I have also book marked your fabulous site!
Thank you for a wonderful site. It has certainly helped me a lot.
How do I know how to cut a whole carcass into the different cuts to make biltong from?
Esmé van der Merwe
Hi Lo, Probably a silly question for you, can you tell me the difference between the coated and uncoated Potjie?
That is a good question to which I did not know the exact answer. I called our suppliers in Johannesburg and was told the following:
There are three types of finishes to a Potjie.
The first one is a normal rough cast iron pot that has not been treated at all but just painted black after manufacture.
When Charlie shuffled and 60c was a lot
By James ClarkeSome older readers may recall the Phoenix Restaurant in Bree Street, Johannesburg, when the city was a real city and people came to town in the evenings to see a film or eat out, or simply to window shop.One could stroll about and one was hardly ever murdered.
The Phoenix, a very German restaurant, was across the road from the East Africa Pavilion. In the Pavilion the waiters wore red fezzes and white, floor-length robes and in the corner sat a punkah wallah – a man who pulled a string that caused a huge rectangular screen hanging from the ceiling (a punkah) to move back and forth creating a cooling draught.
The waiter at the Phoenix was named Charlie and he looked and shuffled about just like Manuel, the waiter from Barcelona in Fawlty Towers.
Charlie always had his thumb in the soup. It was expected of him. You took your friends there just to show them Charlie.
When we journalists were feeling flush in the 1960s we’d hotfoot it to the Phoenix and have an eisbein and chips washed down with a Hansa draught beer from “South West Africa”.
Charlie appeared humourless but that was a false impression. I remember us ordering four coffees and Peter Hawthorne (who later joined Time) saying, “Charlie! Make sure my cup is clean, hey?”
Later, Charlie shuffled back with the four cups of coffee and said, deadpan, “Now, which one of you wanted a clean cup?”
The maitre d’ at the Phoenix was a young fellow named Gerhard Maritzen and the other day I found myself in a restaurant called The Berliner in Coachman’s Crossing, in Peter Place, Bryanston. And who should own it but Gerhard himself. He is now 64.
And on the wall was a menu from the Phoenix in 1967.
An eisbein with sauerkraut was 60c. It was the most expensive thing on the menu. A mixed grill cost 40c.
The soup of the day was free and one wasn’t even charged for Charlie’s famous thumbprint.
A dozen oysters cost R1,25. Crayfish was 60c, the same as sole meunière.
These dishes were all way beyond our pockets of course because, as journalists, we had to take a vow of poverty.
A plate of a dozen LM prawns was certainly beyond our pockets – at R1,30.
For 45c you could order roast pork and apple sauce with vegetables; German pot roast and dumplings; braised ox tongue in Madeira sauce and a host of other dishes.
Cheese with bread and butter was 15c – unless it was fancy cheese. Then it was 17c.
A tankard of draught beer was 25c. A bottle of Chateau Libertas was 70c (32c in bottle stores). If you were seriously wealthy you could order a bottle of Zonnebloem Cabernet at R1,40.
At Gerhard’s Berliner I ordered roast duck, potatoes and vegetables and a tankard of draught beer. I then had coffee and a port. When the bill came Gerhard charged me 1967 prices – 70c for the duck, 20c for the beer, and 13c for the port and 7c for the coffee – R1,10.
We fell into conversation with Gulhan, the waiter at the Berliner, about “the good old days” and I recalled how, around 1968, I was cross with my wife because she had allowed the month’s grocery bill to hit R62.
“How can you spend R62 in a month for groceries for a family of four?” I asked angrily.
I think she replied, “Just watch me.”
Gulhan said how nice it would be to go back to those times, so when my bill arrived for R1,10 I gave him R1,20 and told him he could keep the change.
Love, as the old song has it, is a many splendoured thing. So, we daresay, is the leg of lamb. It comes donning many garbs assuming dozens of alluring names.
One of those names is Raan
Raan is a leg of lamb marinated in a yoghurt-based spice mixture and originally roasted on the spit or over a wood fire. We will do ours in the oven.
2.5 kg Leg of Lamb
Serves about 6 people
This dish of seasoned potatoes and cauliflower is one of the most popular accompaniments in Indian restaurants
I am an African…
I am an African
When Africa weeps for her children
I am an African
When the music of Africa beats in the wind
I am an African
You can visit Wayne’s site here
Dear Sir/Madam,I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated September, 12 in which for the third time you request that I pay the monies owed to you. I first want you to know that by no means do I dispute my debt and I intend to reimburse you as soon as possible.
However, I bring to your attention that I have many more creditors, quite as honourable as you, and whom I wish to reimburse too. That is why, each month, I throw all the names of my creditors into a hat and draw one randomly whom I hasten to refund immediately. I hope that yours will come out shortly.
PS: I have great regret in informing you that given the unceremonious tone of your last letter, you will not be taking part in the next three draws.
Chicken at a Chinese restaurant
A couple go for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and order the “Chicken Surprise”. The waiter brings the meal, served in a lidded cast iron pot.
It doesn’t hurt to take a hard look at yourself from time to time, and this should help get you started…
During a visit to the Mental Asylum, a visitor asked the Director what the criterion was which defined whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.
The curse of the big away games
White gives 2005 Boks 70% pass mark
SA to target Australia’s top order
Smith will give Aussies no quarter
-Where can you watch rugby on TV?-
Click here to find out where in most countries!
The winner of the November Competition!
Jenine Sjoblom from Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada.
Jenine found out via the new competition page that she was the winner before we even had a chance to mail her with the good news! Congratulations Jenine!
You certainly submitted enough entries!
Your camera is on its way and we would appreciate it if you would send us some pictures taken with it!
Dear BILTONG TEAM,
Wow…..I’m blown away. This is the first time I have ever won anything. I’m looking forward to receiving my MP3 Player.
The prize for the December Competition
Click here to see a picture of it on the competition page!
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.
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.
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 from the list.
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 the last month many people went to the trouble once again of submitting their friend’s and family’s names and we would like to thank all!
It is almost Christmas again and it would be nice to get some contributions for the December newsletter from all our readers.
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.
They would love to hear from you too!!
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.
Perhaps you have some advice to give?
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 is autumn in our part of the world and not many people will be going outside for a braai anymore.
We will be making our last batches for the year shortly and suggest that you place your orders for the winter timely to avoid disappointment.
You can contact us on +32 (16) 53.96.25 or mail us at Boerewors-Benelux.
The price is € 7.50 per kg
The Potjiekos season is over for this year. No more nice sunny days to stand around the Potjie, beer in hand just enjoying yourself.
We make our “Potjie” in our size 25 Pot (see left) and you can have a choice between Beef, Chicken and Lamb.
The Chicken “Potjie” is the most popular because it is a really inexpensive way to entertain.
To book please give us a call on +32 (16) 53.96.25
(Please note that our “Potjiekos” can only be done outside because we cook on gas or coals!)
As with the Potjiekos our Lamb-on-the-Spit is also somthing of the past this year (unless you want one in the snow!).
Lamb on the spit is a way of entertaining as only known by very few mainly because it is thought to be very expensive.
Together with the lamb we will treat you to a big pot of curried potatoes as well as a choice between a pasta salad or three-bean salad.
Booking early is essential and you can do so on
+32 (16) 53.96.25
-May and June 2006 are almost booked out-(As with our “Potjiekos” a Lamb on the Spit can only be done outside because we cook on coals!)
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