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Howard's End: DIY Jerky For LOTR Country Fun

Summertime and the livin' is easy - well almost. You're about to go tramping with your mates in Lord of the Rings country, but which snappy and nutricious little nibble to take in your pack which is light and won't break the bank. What about your own home-made oven dried beef jerky? Maree Howard writes.

The Southern mountains are alive with new spring growth, the snow melt is starting to feed the miriad of beautiful rocky streams, the forest canopy is alive with bird-song and the nights filled with the mournful sound of calling morepork's - well, they're something else.

Crisp, cool, pure air, a mysterious pitch-black moonless sky dotted with millions, nay billions, of points of starlight - and just the odd satellite, or ten. Paradise, and not another person within coo-ee.

My mother used to say to me that stars were little holes in heaven to let you know that God was still there.

I have no greater joy in my life than sitting on the balcony of our house out in the country of Westland where there is no artificial light, listening to the call of morepork's and watching and waiting for God to weave the magic of the power of the night.

Lat night at 11 o'clock we even had a small southern aurora - brilliant shafts of coloured light wafting high in the crystal clear air. But, I digress.

I was in the supermarket yesterday and I lined-up at the checkout behind some American backpacker visitors who were buying some food snacks, including a commercial brand beef jerky, for their tramp into the mountains.

I thought hang-on, if they're buying this stuff, what about our Kiwi trampers. Sure enough it seems many of us buy commercially made beef jerky snacks.

So, in typical Kiwi-can-do, No. 8 fencing wire style, here is a recipe for oven dried home-made beef jerky in case you get the urge to make your own before you venture into the great outdoors on that tramping experience of a lifetime.

You will need;

* 1 kg of boneless lean beef

* 1 cup of water

* 1/4 tsp black pepper

* 2 tbsp salt ( sounds a lot, but it's not)

* 2 tbsp liquid smoke

* 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)

* 1 tsp onion powder (optional)

Trim all visible fat from the meat - cut into strips about 150mm long and between 15 to 50mm thick.

Mix all the ingredients together and marinate overnight in the refrigerator. Take out of the fridge in the morning and pat dry on paper towels.

Cover the bottom oven rack with foil. (this is just to stopping messing-up the bottom of your oven as the meat drips.)

Then hang or lay the beef strips on the top rack so they do not overlap.

Dry the meat at the lowest possible oven setting - usually about 100 degrees celsius - until the meat has turned brown, feels hard and is dry to the touch (between 4-7 hours)

Let them cool, then remove from racks and store in an air-tight container in the cupboard.

They keep indefinitely - but this oven-dried beef jerky is so delicious that there probably won't be any left when it's time to go tramping because your couch potato TV-watching mates will likely have pinched them all.

Indoor easy - outdoor delicious!

C'mon down - Lord of the Rings country is waiting to welcome you.

ENDS

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