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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Beef Jerky, Book Reviews and a Seedling Scramble

Last Thursday we had another exciting, informative and abundant meet up of the "Living Better With Less" group. Here is what you missed....
One of our group is from Zimbabwe and comes from a family who loved to cook. Her father taught her how to make biltong, also known in other areas as beef jerky and is a way of preserving meat using dehydration and salt. Traditionally it is dried in a biltong box but you can also do this in an electric dehydrator.
Not only did we get a taste test and a recipe sheet but everyone also went home with a generous scoop of the spice mix and a take home piece of biltong. Thanks Cindy for your generous sharing and family secret recipe.

Spice Mix
 150g Coriander seeds
100g ground coriander
50g milled black pepper
1 tabs black pepper powder
1/4 teas ground cloves
25g ground nutmeg
2 oxo/bullion stock cubes

This amount of spice mix is enough to do about 10kg meat which when dry will yield about 5kg of biltong.

10kg of silverside/rump (or any cheap cut of meat trimmed)
1 cup salt
1-1 1/2 cups of malt vinegar

Trim all excess fat off the meat
Slice the meat thickly across the grain (so the slivers have short fibres)
Slice these into long strips
Place the strips into a non-metallic dish or bowl in layers sprinkling the spice mix, salt and vinegar between each layer.
Mix together until well combined and all the meat is covered in the mixture
Leave for at least 12-24 hours in the fridge turning every so often
Place in the dehydrator or drying box. It will take 12-48hrs in the dehydrator and 3-4 days in a biltong cupboard.

Traditionally biltong is made from the African game meats like springbok, wildebeest, antelope etc by the Boers during the Boer War. Here in Tasmania venison and wallaby are readily available and this method would be especially good for these meats too.

Cindy also brought in the above book for us to peruse too. It is called "Odd Bits" by Jennifer McLagan and has information and recipes for using other parts of the animals besides the traditional muscle cuts. It is a beautiful book and quite comprehensive, if I had a criticism it would only be that I would have loved more photos but it is a sizeable book as is. Beautifully produced and recommended.

We also extended our talks on bread and sour doughs with some quick cheater/simple starters. Thsi book is called "The Universal Loaf" by Tamara Milstein 

This book "World Breads" by Paul Gayler totally stole my heart though with it's simple format that methodically covered all the different types of bread from many cultures.

Here is a snap of the contents page which belies the breadth and depth of range the book covers and the photography is superb and beguiling. 

Recently this order arrived at my house and this book had everyone just a little excited. It is a simple sharing of ideas and I say this with absolute respect, a backyarder of a book with naive drawings and short anecdotes.

For instance, how to make simple seed packets....

Strawberry growing for common gardens (not an imitation of commercial mono-cropping farms)

Keeping alive the art of home made fertilisers and soil conditions rather than chemical band-aids.

The text is conversational and full of common sense and old fashioned labour saving devices. The author, Herrick Kimball, has a blog called "The Deliberate Agrarian" and you can get to know him better here
He has coined the phrase "Whizbang" for his many inventions and this segues nicely to the next book that got everyone excited....also by Herrick....

And if this book doesn't make your toes tingle then you have obviously never plucked a quantity of chickens before. The last bird processing Craig and I did was seven between us and we were well and truly over it simply because the plucking is such a time taker. Brad who also attends our group admitted that he more often than not just skins his fowls simply because of the time it takes. Here is a video of the machine in action and you have got to see this...

So after pouring over books and learning about meat drying we talked about artichoke recipes and seasonal plantings. We were lucky to have David with us again from Inspiration Seeds 

He had a packet of free seeds for everyone and Asian Greens were certainly flavour of the month.
Next month we will have as our guest Lee from Killiecrankie Farm Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm and ahead of her visit she sent along a taster of the lesser known seedlings that you won't find in the chain store nurseries. We had punnets of  senposai, kai lan, khol rabi and a type of perpetual spinach.
Martin also had seedlings to give away that he had started. He had the lovely "Santa" tomatoes that David had brought along for us to taste test at the end of last summer. They are a perfectly round tomato the size of about a large walnut and they have that old fashioned tomatoey-tomato flavour.
Brad and Elisha brought in excess lemons which also added to the take home piles.

Katherine had done some bread recipes out for us also so with our spice mix, biltong, seedlings, seeds and lemons......
It was a very exciting, informative and abundant meeting indeed.
It's free and we do it on the last Thursday of every month except December from 7-9 upstairs at the Launceston Workers Club and everyone is welcome.
On the 28th of November as I said we will welcome the knowledge of Lee from Killiecrankie Farm as she takes us on the next step of herbs beyond the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme....
January is not booked yet but in February we have a naturopath Inge Kaiser coming along to talk about alternative therapies and home remedies.
Are you still with me? It was a long post and I wish you could have been with us but I hope this was the next best thing for you.
Till next time, take care


  1. Oh I wish I was local!

  2. Oh gosh how i would love to live somewhere that had gatherings like this. Thanks so much for sharing it all so we could also learn from it. I grew up in South Africa and we make our own biltong in a biltong box. So yummy. Just wanted to also mention that I love my micro grater - I dont know how i lived without it!

    1. Ah yes you would have loved our meet up and I’ll bet you would have had a lot to contribute to the know how too. So glad you are loving the microplane – it’s a bit like that isn’t it!

  3. WOW - what an awesome meet you all had...

    Those books all sound amazing and that beef jerky looks delicious!

    I love perpetual spinach and just made a lot of pesto up with it - YUM O!!!

    Take Care :)

  4. Many years ago my Aunt used to rear turkeys for Christmas, and having helped with the plucking (only once - never again!) I know what a tedious job it is. Why oh why didn't she have a mechanical chicken plucker like that! It's absolutely fantastic!


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