D.I.Y Biltong

I really love biltong, and being a fitness junky, the extra protein does come in handy. Ready-made bilton20150909_175905g costs in the region of R130 – R150 p/kg, whereas fresh silverside meat is in the region of R70 p/kg. So you can almost make it yourself for half the price (I said almost).

20150911_201916First off you need to get a hot, dry and ventilated place to dry the biltong. I don’t have a place like that in my house, so I rather built a dryer using left-over pieces of wood, a computer fan, a 12v transformer and a light bulb. For me this was the fun part, I really love D.I.Y and I had a buddy over to help me with the assembly, so it went rather quick. Just make sure there is enough ventilation and that your fan extracts all the moisture from the lamp heating the meat. Take care to put flyscreen material or any other porous material over any opening you might have in your dryer. Trust me, you don’t want any nasty flies sitting on your precious biltong meat, it will spoil all of it.
Once you have your dryer assembled, you can move on to the meat of the task (bad pun, excuse me). Go buy yourself some A-grade quality silverside meat from your local butcher, I bought mine at Checkers and it was R70 p/kg, but I’ve spoken to other people who said that their local butcher sells it for far less. Shop around see where you can get the best meat for the cheapest price.

You’re going to need the following ingredients:

  • Brown vinegar
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Red wine (optional)
  • Brown sugar
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Coriander seeds
  • Whole pepper corns

20150914_171657The first thing you do is pour two dessert spoons of Worcestershire sauce together with equal amounts of brown vinegar and red wine into a large dish big enough to put all your meat in and cover it with the fluid. You’re going to want to be able to cover this dish and leave it in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, take equal amounts of coriander seeds and pepper corns and blitz them briefly (about less than 5 seconds) in a food processor, just to open up all the flavour. Mix that with two desert spoons of brown sugar and coarse sea salt.

Drain your meat from the vinegar and wine mixture20150911_173546 and lay it flat on a tray. Sprinkle your spice mixture generously over both sides of the meat, taking care to rub it in as much as you can. After this, you’re going to want to let this marinate for another 8 hours or until the following day, whichever comes first.

The last step in this process is to hang your meat in your dryer and let the curing process begin. My dryer does such a good job that I can usually start eating after about 3 days. On the 4th or 5th day all the meat is completely dry.

#DellLove

My work laptop is a little Dell Inspirion 3537images. It’s not a high spec machine, but it gets the job done.

One of the really cool features of this laptop is the “Dell Extended Batterly Life” feature. When you leave your laptop plugged in most of the time, this functionality will only charge your battery between 50 and 100% (this usually hovers around the 80%), thus resting and protecting your battery when not in use.

I’ve had this little gem for almost 10 months now and the battery is still good as new. Yesterday afternoon after a 9 hour day, I realised I never plugged in the power cord and I used the machine to it’s full potential throughout the day.

I tweeted at @Dell to tell them about the awesome battery performance in this tweet.

I never expected any form of reply, but Dell surprised me with this.  

Pretty cool of their social media department!

WordPress plugins you need on your site

I try and do a lot of regular optimizing on my other blog. Over the years I’ve found a few WordPress plugins I cannot go without. I thought I’d share them with you.

 

CloudFlare/Incapsula

CloudFlare and Incapsula are the two best CDN‘s around, and both have a free version. I use both, on different sites, for various reasons. Many articles have been written on the differences between the two, so I’m not going to spend much time on the subject. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which is best for you.

W3TC

If there is one plugin you cannot go without, it would be this one. You can speed up your blog/website so much by using W3TC. The options for caching content are endless and once again, many articles about this plugin have already been written such as this one from Tuts+

SEO Friendly Images

If you’re anything like me, super lazy and you don’t add ALT text to your images, then you’re going to need this plugin. We all know how important it is for SEO to have ALT text on all your images. This plugin conveniently adds it for you, using the name of the post, or whatever other option you have enabled in the settings area.

Widget Logic

This is another one of my favourites. Sometimes you only need a certain plugin to appear on a certain post/category. With this plugin you can do that. You do need a bit of brains to figure out the ‘logic’ part, but other than that, this plugin works great.

WordPress SEO

Your blog cannot go without this plugin. Besides all the normal SEO stuff like providing you a place to add meta tags for Google Webmaster Tools or adding meta tags for a category/page, this plugin also generates your XML sitemap.

WP Smush.it

Another one for the lazy folk. If you upload images that aren’t web optimized, this plugin will do that for you. In the free version, you can only optimize images that are less than 1Mb, but if you upgrade to PRO, you can optimize images up to 5Mb.

Total Security

Total Security saved my butt a few times already. When you’re done with a clean install of WordPress, there are a few things you can do to harden WordPress against attackers. Total Security scans your WordPress installation and gives you a nice report of all the things you can do to improve security. In addition to this, they also compare your WordPress core files against a known safe version and shows you any differences, meaning modifications to your core code that could have been caused by exploits in some of your installed plugins.

One year wiser today

Time is a precious commodity, of which we have a limited supply. So many people fall into the trap of merely existing and not living to their full potential. Wow, I’ve heard that phrase a lot throughout my life. At some point in your existence, you’ll start to understand what that means, and start living.I love martial arts, any form of it. Personally, I practice Brazillian Jiu-jitsu and you learn so many valuable life lessons from it.

Here are a few that I’ve learned, that apply to your life, as well as the mat.

Time – more specifically, timing. There is a time and a place for everything. Just because something does not work right now, does not mean it will never work.

Seize opportunities. You only get one chance at it. Life works pretty much the same, you’ll be given an opportunity, what you do with it, is up to you. Let it pass you by, and you might never be so lucky again.

Grow some balls. Life is tough and unfair, deal with it. Some days the new kids who are younger, more athletic, but less experienced, will kick your ass. Don’t go sit in the corner and cry, acknowledge the fact that in that specific situation they were better than you, learn from it, and move on.

Confidence is the key to much success in life. People can smell confidence, it’s like a powerful fragrance. Once you have it, nothing can stop you.

Get comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Put yourself in situations where you think you’ll fail. The more you practice / think of worst case scenarios, the more prepared you’ll be if it happens one day.

Learn from other people’s mistakes. I like having conversations with elderly people, they have so much wisdom and life experience. They can give you advice on mistakes that they’ve made, that you haven’t even thought of yet.

Appreciate the relationships you form. Meeting good people nowadays is rare, making friends with good people is a privilege.

Get all posts for custom taxonomy in WordPress

I’ve been doing a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff over at UltimateVelocity and I want to share one thing that caught me out quite a bit recently.

When getting all the posts associated with a custom taxonomy, you should use this codex example.

<?php
$args = array(
	 'posts_per_page' => 8,
	 'orderby' => 'rand',
	 'post_type' => 'albums',
	 'genre' => 'jazz',
	 'post_status' => 'publish'
);
$show_albums = get_posts( $args );
?>

If you want to return all the posts, simply replace

'posts_per_page' => 8

with

'posts_per_page' => -1

Also, by default, the function only returns 5 posts, if if you omit to specify ‘posts_per_page’, you will see just 5 posts returned and you will be puzzled as to why.