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A. Miles (Al Khor, Qatar)
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Chinese Unchopped
Chinese Unchopped
by Jeremy Pang
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent guide to basic techniques., 15 July 2015
This review is from: Chinese Unchopped (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My wife's never been into cooking, but will occasionally have a go at something from one of my collection of cookbooks. She often gets frustrated quite quickly, however, as so many of the terms and skills enthusiastic home cooks and professional chefs absorb over the years are foreign to her.

I have a lot of sympathy, as I'm exactly the same with Asian cuisines: I can't even do a decent stir-fry. I just can't get those deep flavours, bright colours and clean, non-oily textures that even modest takeaways can: As above, the basic skills and knowledge needed are lacking, and most Asian cookbooks I've owned concentrate more on recipes than techniques or the properties of ingredients.

So this book is really welcome: Taken from a Chinese cooking course run by author Jeremy Pangs' School Of Wok, it really starts off with the basics - which utensils to get, the properties of common ingredients(Most larger towns and cities have a wholesaler to the restaurant trade where you can pick this stuff up at very reasonable prices) , information about various prep. work , and a set of recipes divided into various techniques (stir-frying, steaming, poaching, etc)

Altogether, it's a comprehensive guide to preparing and serving Chinese food that a would enable a complete beginner to become confident in preparing and serving Chinese food very quickly. Highly recommended.


Cesar Senior  Deliciously Fresh Selection in Jelly 8 x100g, Pack of 6,48 pouches
Cesar Senior Deliciously Fresh Selection in Jelly 8 x100g, Pack of 6,48 pouches
Price: £20.94

4.0 out of 5 stars Tasty treat or supplement to your dogs diet., 15 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
My elderly Yorkie Mollie does love this, - you can tell she knows she's being treated - and it's actually quite appetising looking and smelling. However, the titchy 100g pouches work out at more than 50p a shot, so it's better kept as an occasional indulgence, or as the manufacturers recommend, mixed with dry food. It's really best as a supplement to your dogs existing diet then, than as a replacement for it.


Oral-B Stages Power Kids Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Featuring Disney Mickey Mouse for Kids
Oral-B Stages Power Kids Electric Rechargeable Toothbrush Featuring Disney Mickey Mouse for Kids
Price: £22.50

5.0 out of 5 stars Makes brushing a game., 14 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Cleverly, this toothbrush has used toy design as a starting point, using bright colours, kid-friendly ergonomics, and an interactive aspect - encouraging kids to brush through a two-minute musical timing. It's more then, than a generic product with a licensed cartoon character slapped on it. My son isn't too keen on brushing, but thinks of this as a game and can often be found in the bathroom at odd hours of the day having another go.

It is a tidy price of course, but it's well made, and as you can get replacement heads for about 30p now might even last through several childhoods. Recommended.


Men Rock Sicilian Lime and Caffeine Awakening Beard Balm
Men Rock Sicilian Lime and Caffeine Awakening Beard Balm
Price: £14.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Classy smelling beard conditioner/after-shave substitute, 14 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
If we ignore the dubious idea that caffeine can be absorbed into the bloodstream transdermally, this product emerges as a bit of a winner.

My beard gets horribly dry in parts - it feels like spiderwebs - and I usually use almond oil to soften it, which works but doesn't really absorb, and if it's a hot day there'll be some stains on my collar, so not ideal.

This is really good though. It's described as a 'balm' but I'm imagining it's more akin to a leave-in conditioner which is absorbed into the hairs. It works really well at softening the beard, leaving it easier to groom and nicer to the touch

The scent is quite long-lasting, but isn't really a lemony scent, more like the earthy, slightly musky smell that some tropical citrus fruits have. It's a decent alternative to wearing an aftershave.

A nice container that comes in a printed cotton bag, so it's a nice idea for a gift. Each squeeze of the pump gives a penny-sized serving, so it should last a good few months. Really like it.


BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier WE
BABYBJÖRN Baby Carrier WE
Price: £84.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Especially recommended for Dads., 14 July 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A 3-position baby carrier that allows you to carry your child high against your chest, on your tummy or on your back. Until His Nibs was 18 months old, I used a fabric sling-style, baby-in-front carrier with him. This was only unsatisfactory in two ways - a) it took at least two, and preferably 3, people to put it on - unless you were capable of doing up velcro straps in the small of your back whilst your heir was simultaneously pulling your glasses off and minimising any chances of a sibling via some well-placed kicks - and b), carrying around 12kg on your front on top of your beergut is hard on the base of the spine.

So this one, with it's more framelike construction and the option to carry H.N. on one's back seemed a good bet, and apart from a few minor issues I'm very happy with it. It's extremely well made and has an excellent finish, it's machine washable, and it packs into a small space in a corner of his daybag. The only little niggles are that the process of inserting your offspring and then getting him round the back is a tad more of a faff than the the advertising suggests, (nothing compared to the aforesaid sling, though) and that the back position carries the child low so they can't have a good look round. Howerver, the big plus point for me is that I'm quite capable of carting the boy around for a long time on my back using this, whilst carrying him around on my front leads to back pain after 10 minutes or so. This might be some sort of physical gender difference, do you think? Or maybe I'm just old.


Igenix IG8012 Stainless Steel Mini Fryer, 1.2 Litre
Igenix IG8012 Stainless Steel Mini Fryer, 1.2 Litre
Price: £27.97

5.0 out of 5 stars Stylish fryer for the smaller household., 9 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A temperature- controlled deep fat fryer is a handy thing for a cook to own, as stuff like tempura and such needs to be cooked at a precise setting. This neat, retro-styled fryer then, with it's small footprint would be suitable for everyday use in a smaller household, as the capacity is about right for two portions of chips etc. Those with a larger household or wanting to cook an entire fish, say, will need a larger capacity model. It's easy to clean - the basket and reservoir come out and go in the dishwasher, and the exterior wipes down - and the only niggle is the way the handle is a bit of a pain to clip in and out of the basket. However, it's very well made and great value at it's current price.


Sony HT-XT3 Sound Base Speaker
Sony HT-XT3 Sound Base Speaker
Price: £417.68

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blown away., 9 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A state-of -the -art digital amplifier and speaker system, this unit successfully fulfills its aim of being a complete solution for home listening: As well as being a soundbar for your TV, it will play music from almost any source you can imagine - it has 3 HDMI inputs for your DVD, CD and games players, (or whatever) an analog input, a USB input, and an ethernet input to connect it to your home system., as well as bluetooth reception and transmission so that you can lay music wirelessly from your phone or tablet: As well as all that, it comes with built in streaming from Spotify and Google Cast.

All that is played back through the unit and as many wireless bluetooth speakers as your home needs (not supplied!) and controlled, as well as by the standard remote, by an app which allows you, among other things, to direct the sound through various speakers as you move about the house.

The sound, using a technology called DSEE HX which I'm not going to pretend I understand, 'fills in' the detail lost on MP3 files, and another technology, LDAC, improves the bluetooth signal in the same way

The result is an astonishing sound, completely different from anything I've heard before. I already own a very good amplifier and floor standing speakers, but this something else, hard, driving, crystal clear and full of detail, whether through the unit or various wireless speakers. It actually takes a bit of getting used to after the traditional 'warm bath' sound I'm used to on my present set up, and I've spent the last week hunting through my CDs and listening to old folk and krautrock records in a completely different way.

Thoroughly recommended then.It's a good chunk of change, sure, but it'll look great in your living room and is so far ahead of the curve technologically that it won't need updating for many years.

Now, before I sign off, I have an amplifier, floor standing speakers, some PC speakers. a digital radio and several portable CD players I won't be needing anymore, and the kitchen, bathroom and second bedroom will be needing wireless speakers pretty soon. Best offer secures.


Zero Zero Zero
Zero Zero Zero
by Roberto Saviano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

5.0 out of 5 stars The War On Drugs, (which we're losing.), 9 Jun. 2015
This review is from: Zero Zero Zero (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Roberto Saviano is a folk hero in Italy due to his investigation into the Naples Mafia, 'Gomorrah' , which uncovered so much dirty laundry he's been under 24 hour armed guard for almost a decade. They'll probably have to double the watch when 'Zero Zero Zero' is published, an unflinching, in depth examination of the global cocaine industry: Travelling between Columbia and London, New York and Mexico, Miami and Mumbai, The book looks at the many dark corners of narcoterrorism and is ultimately an indictment of a first world economy which ultimately condones horrific violence and oppression, either by the tacit acceptance of users, the willingness of high-street banks to knowledgably launder drug money, or the hypocrisies of foreign policy and The War On Drugs.

Ultimately, Saviano argues that some form of legalisation is the only way to tackle the problem: With the amount of profit to be had, the cocaine gangs will do whatever it takes to stay in business. A heavy read, and an unpleasant one, but a very important book.


Philips DVT4000 Voice Tracer Digital Recorder with AutoAdjust+
Philips DVT4000 Voice Tracer Digital Recorder with AutoAdjust+
Price: £64.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good mid-range voice recorder., 9 Jun. 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
A mid- range digital voice recorder. What you get for your extra 20 quid over the basic models are a metal casing, a rechargeable battery and AutoAdjust+, an automatic EQ system that optimises the recording for different environments - I would imagine, then that this might be more suitable for use in recording lectures, etc, than the basic models.

Despite the complex,1980's style design , this is actually easy to use, and the MP3 recordings can be transferred to a PC via the USB cord or a micro SD card. Recordings are clear even when recorded from across the room, and playback through the built in speaker is audible, though you're better off using headphones or linking to a separate speaker/playing the files through a PC. The software dates the recordings so they are logically archived.

Whilst it's inarguable that these devices are increasingly seen as irrelevant when there are smartphone apps that do the same thing, my wife and I still use these in school, as they have two main advantages over using an app - the very long battery life means you don't have to worry about charging them up very often, and their archaic styling means nobody ever tries to steal them, two things you can't say about a smartphone. (I would imagine, in fact, that the clunky design is on purpose, to stop office workers being tempted to take them home)

So, this is fine for what it is: Models above this one are for recording musicas well as speech. so this is pretty much at the top end for a voice-only recorder.


Philips GC4521/87 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 200g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Philips GC4521/87 Azur Performer Steam Iron - 200g Steam Boost, 2600 Watt
Price: £57.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent iron, except for short cord., 24 May 2015
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Things to like about this iron:

1. it's extremely good looking, with a bit of a posh sports-car influence going on - shiny black with yellow and red accents and multi-coloured lights. They make black ironing boards too now, so if you've got one of those modernist monochrome kitchens, you'll be all set.

2. It's very solid technically, with a full surface steam on the plate, anti-stick surface and a reassuringly solid click when the dials put to a new setting. Takes two minutes to heat up.

3. Lots of handy ironing options, like being able to steam clothes hanging up and a steam boost.

4. Clever little design innovations - the calcium build up falls into a little container which can be emptied (sort of on the principle of a toaster's crumb tray), It comes with a little device to clip the cord to the ironing board to keep it out of the way, , and the cap for the water reservoir opens sideways rather than vertically, which for some reason makes it seem easier to fill.

Things not to like about this iron:

1. The cords a metre shorter than my last one, so you have to iron next to a socket. In my kitchen's case, that means ironing while facing the wall. - ironing not being the most interesting activity at the best of times. I have to use an extension cord, which when used in the kitchen always makes me paranoid water will spill into it and I'll burn the house down.

So there you go - good iron apart from that assumed cost-cutting exercise on the power cord.


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