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whipmeupsomecream (England)

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Baby Knits For Beginners
Baby Knits For Beginners
by Debbie Bliss
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect for the rusty or uninitiated knitter!, 16 May 2009
I bought this a couple of years ago with good intentions to make all my friends' newborns something lovely. Babies were born but my knitting needles stayed in the drawer with this book. Then I decided that this year I really would try to get back into knitting and brought out this book again. I wish I had taken the time to have a proper look when I first bought it as I would have started using it straight away! It is fantastic!

I would describe myself as an 'advanced beginner' knitter. Years ago I was making sweaters and other types of clothing. But now, I feel like I'm almost back at the beginning after years of no knitting. But since rediscovering this book, in the past month I have made the garter stitch baby blanket, two simple hats and a pair of booties. All turned out really well (although my finishing is still absolutely shocking).

What I like about this book the most (and all Debbie bliss patterns) is that I find the instructions very easy to follow. Some pattern books have me running to the post office queue on pension day begging for assistance! But not this one. There are lots of wonderful patterns in here for babies and almost-toddlers.
If like me, you're a bit rusty and want to get your confidence back, this book is ideal. The projects are short and can be made up reasonably quickly and easily if you want to make a special gift for a baby.
If you're brand new to knitting (or have attempted only a scarf before) then this book is also great for you because the 'how to knit' instructions are easy to understand. It doesn't seem to get more complicated than moss stitch or a bit of ribbing.
Ideal for people who are easing into the joys of the old clickety click.

Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights
Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights
by Sophie Dahl
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.00

102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homely, earthy and realistic cooking, 16 May 2009
This is a great book for those that love home-style cooking.
So far I am impressed with the recipes that I have made which include: beetroot soup, poached eggs on portobello mushrooms with goats cheese, buttermilk chicken with smashed sweet potatoes and the monkfish with saffron sauce. You can tell the recipes are obviously well-worn favourites of hers, cooked - and tested - over and over again, because they were all a resounding success.

I found the recipes to be easy to follow and the ingredients were easy to find in my local supermarket and (small) village grocery shop! This book is particularly ideal if you are just learning to cook as there are no complicated techniques to master, just good simple recipes that really do taste great. There are a few veggie recipes too.

For those that might be worried about the 'model/celebrity factor', this book is as unpretentious as you can get. The book is written as a type of food memoir. Interspersed with the recipes, there are a few stories that Sophie has written about her background and what lead her to write a cookbook. If this puts you off, then please don't let it... her style of writing is warm, witty and self-deprecating.
Although there are no frills, the book is presented beautifully. The book is divided into seasons, plus a chapter at the back for puddings.
It reminds me of 'Jamie at home' in terms of pictures and style. The food photos are lovely but they don't make you think "Mine will never look like that!"
I would definitely give this as a gift and recommend it, as there are so many easy but delicious recipes in it that even someone who 'doesn't do cooking' would use it regularly!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2010 11:26 PM GMT

Blueberry Girl
Blueberry Girl
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover

19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect keepsake, 30 April 2009
This review is from: Blueberry Girl (Hardcover)
Before buying this, I did read reviews on other websites/fansites of Neil Gaiman just out of curiosity. The general consensus from die-hard Neil fans is that this is a little bit "fluffy" compared to his normal edgier style. As a life-long Gaiman fan myself, I would whole-heartedly agree, as this is indeed on a different level to his previous books. However, Blueberry girl is a children's book, so it's not going to be of the same ilk as something like Neverwhere. You just can't compare them.
But anyway, why pigeon-hole the guy?

This book is as whimsical as the synopsis states. It's dreamy, fantastical, innocent and hopeful. After all, it was written as a prayer/blessing/poem for Tori Amos' then unborn daughter. So one would hope that the message contains wishes of bright futures and desires fulfilled. This is the whole point.
But if you're worried that this might be just a sugar-coated book full of too many cliches, then don't panic. This is not your average fairy-tale, (nor is it the length of one). Blueberry girl represents strength, independence, courage and finding your own way in life. More Tatterhood than Cinderella.
In my opinion this book is absolutely perfect as a keepsake for a daughter. It's the type of book that I would want to keep as some sort of modern day heirloom, a message to be passed onto different generations of girls.
I have just bought two copies, one for each of my friends' new born baby daughters.

It's very short (I can now see why it was originally pinned up to a wall on one piece of paper). But this doesn't matter in the slightest. The illustrations by Charles Vess are incredibly beautiful and are (in my opinion) what turns this short verse into an actual book.
It is for children, but I would happily buy a copy for myself!

And if you can delight in the genius of Neil Gaiman whatever subject matter he writes about, then you will still enjoy the spirit of this book even if you don't have a little girl to buy for.

If you are looking for an unusual, original and beautiful gift for a little girl, then this is an absolute treasure.

The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
by Tarek Malouf
Edition: Hardcover

523 of 537 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DELICIOUS!!!, 16 Mar 2009
I bought this at my local bookshop a few days ago and I have since been on a baking frenzy!
Yes, there are indeed many good home-baking books out there. And yes, this does make you wonder exactly how many ways of making/icing a cupcake there can possibly be!!! But the Hummingbird bakery cookbook does fill a few gaps for those of us who are time pushed but want the satisfaction of making sweet treats ourselves.
The usual sections that one would expect apply: cupcakes, cakes, pies, brownies and bars, muffins and cookies. It's all packaged very beautifully with plenty of mouthwatering photographs.
On the face of it, there doesn't seem to be anything cutting-edge or new about it...but then it is about baking, not the latest feat in engineering. I like it because the recipes are easy to follow, simple, inspiring and above all, they taste great! Achieving those aspects alone in my opinion gives it 5 stars.
Inevitable comparisons are bound to be drawn between this and the Magnolia bakery book. After all, the author states that his inspiration came from the American style of baking. So I'll address this from the outset. I have both books and there are a couple of the same recipes in Hummingbird as there are in Magnolia. But that's it. What made me buy this book in particular (apart from being seduced by the stunning cover!!) is that the Hummingbird bakery makes THE most delicious cakes in London and I wanted to try and make mine taste as good!
Strawberry cheesecake cupcakes, green tea cupcakes, brooklyn blackout cake, blueberry cake, nutty apple loaf, mississippi mud pie, raspberry cheesecake brownie, carrot and courgette muffins. These are a few of the recipes in this book.

EDIT (01/06/09)
I am editing this review to try and give a bit more info about the recipes here. I have seen that the book has garnered a few 1 star reviews, so I would like to give a brief idea of how my recipes have actually turned out.
So far I have tried the following recipes....

**Nutty apple loaf (moist, dense and delicious)

**Blueberry cake (nice tangy texture and very moreish)

**Red velvet cupcakes. The second time round, I also made the batter into a red velvet cake, using just 2 tins and cooking it for longer.(I used red paste food colouring as that was all I had, and they turned out perfectly).

**Mississippi mud pie (WOW, my favourite so far! Easy to make even though pastry is my nemesis).

**Raspberry cheesecake brownies (Another favourite of mine, great flavour combination). Nice alternative to the regular recipe. I made these with my friend's daughter who is 5. And while I did most of the work, they were easy to make and even easier to eat!

**Lemon and poppy seed cake (simple and full of flavour).

**Hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes (Absolutely delicious. Again, easy to make).

**Marshmallow cupcakes (fluffy and light with a nice melted marshmallow filling).

So far, so good. All of the above recipes have turned out well and have tasted lovely. I am an "experienced" baker (20 years of cake eating and making!!) and my most used baking recipes are by Nigella. I'm not an expert on the subject but I have had a few years of practice and I was delighted with this book and I still maintain that it deserves the 5 stars I originally gave it.
For the majority of the recipes, I followed each one exactly as stated and the only time I came unstuck was with the blueberry cake when I used a ring tin that was much smaller than recommended. This made the batter overflow during cooking. So the next time I made the cake I had the correct size tin and again it turned out as good as the other recipes.
In terms of ingredient quantities and methods, the recipes are wildly different to what I'm used to (which doesn't matter to me). For the most part I have kept to what has been written and everything has so far turned out well.
And just for the record, I do not work for Hummingbird or the publisher and I am a keen home cook, not a professional caterer or chef!!!
I hope this helps.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 2, 2011 11:01 PM BST

Nigella Express
Nigella Express
by Nigella Lawson
Edition: Hardcover

83 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS!!!, 6 Sep 2007
This review is from: Nigella Express (Hardcover)
Yet another fantastic book from Nigella! Apart from the beautiful grey/pink presentation complete with retro pictures, the actual content is superb! It is different from her previous books in the way that the friendly chat she introduces each recipe with is cut down considerably. So although you still have a comforting narrative to guide you through each recipe, it's short and sweet and cuts to the chase. Also, in keeping with the 'express' theme, there is a recipe per page with bullet point methods. This makes it particularly easy to read when in a hurry. There are beautiful photos to drool over too!
I am very impressed with this latest book of Nigella's. I always thought 'Feast' would be incredibly hard to beat in all aspects. And although 'Express' deals with a different type of cooking, it is just as good and definitely up to the very high standard she has set for herself.

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