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Scandinavian Baking: Loving Baking at Home
Scandinavian Baking: Loving Baking at Home
by Trine Hahnemann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential - and gorgeous!, 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This has got to be a contender for most gorgeous cookbook of the year. Yes, it's beautifully put together, from its feel to photos, paper quality and layout - but, oh my golly, this book made me want to move into a flat above a Scandinavian bakers.

Front-loaded with cakes and pastries, before moving onto breads and savouries, if you're thinking 'what do I need a book on Scandinavian baking for?', I'd beg you to think again, because Scandi baking is just British baking nudged left-field. The flavours are bold (spelt orange cake? yes please!) but the concoctions are quite basic and seasonally inspired - and yet there's something deeply appealing about how they pimp them for the table. (Autumn apple and hazelnut layer cake? Go on, then...)

Section-wise, first there's 'cream cakes and layer cakes', which kicks off with a one-two of Walnut Macaroon Layer Cake followed by some chocolate covered choux pastries (called, solely for their shape, 'potato cakes') that had me hooked. Yes, there's plenty of cream and choux in here; but that's only because they're so gosh-darn gorgeous. (Raspberry eclairs? How could you not?)

Inevitably there's a section called 'danish pastries' - but here you begin to see the similarities between our two national tastes. Spiced or cinnamon buns are the kind of simple pleasures that make stopping for tea or coffee something beyond - and throw in some redcurrants, maybe a honey glaze or, as the book shifts across into breads, get with some rye or sprinkles of poppy seeds, and everyday foods suddenly transcend.

The latter sections cover bread, then dips into festive treats. (Almond cookies? Yum... Little spiced apple pies, which are like mince pies, but done with apple and, well, spices... Can I have another?) And if (like me) you've toyed with idea of getting into baking bread, but worried (like me) that it might be a complicated affair, then I promise you, these Scandinavian breads (rye rolls...or spelt and anise crispbreads) will have you abandon all fear.

I can't recall a time when I've read every word of a cookbook so slavishly - or felt my heart beat quite so ecstatically, as I flicked through the pages. Moreover (and to me, this is the sign of a good and valuable cookbook) never have I been so motivated to get off the couch and into the kitchen. Quadrille are, to me, the dons of the cookbook world, and design-wise they can't be beat. But this, for packed flavours, has to be one of their best. (And no, I don't work for them - I'm just a book junkie, and can't say no to a beautifully made tome.)

Whether you're a doer, a trier or simply a Bake-off fan with pending aspirations, this book is essential.


Delicious. Love to Cook: 140 Irresistible Recipes to Revitalise Your Cooking
Delicious. Love to Cook: 140 Irresistible Recipes to Revitalise Your Cooking
by Valli Little
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.91

3.0 out of 5 stars Broad collection of recipes / good not groundbreaking..., 26 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Breaking from the convention for single-theme or celebrity cookbooks, Delicious: Love To Cook is essentially a book full of, to quote the cover, "delicious recipes to share". So, if you're just looking for some new ideas to pep up your general repertoire, this would be great. If there's any kind of theme, it's of an Eastern tinge (but only mildly - and only where the mains and meat dishes are concerned; the bakes and desserts are closer to British mainstream). But if you're up for something a little different (think: spice), then it's a great all-in-one.

Delicious, as you'll probably know, is a mainstream magazine - so this does have the feeling of a compendium about it. And what it lacks in focus it makes up for in scope; which you'll either like or you won't.

That said, it's the kind of book that a busy young family would get a lot out of - because it really is something that can be dipped into time and again, for inspiration and new ideas.

There's plenty of scope, with suggestions for amongst others, side-dishes, soups, pasta and noodle and rice dishes, vegetables, salads, desserts, cake and bakes and festive servings. The page layouts are large and spacious, making for ease of reading - and with a single page photo to every recipe, you'll know exactly what you're aiming for.

Peppered between the key sections, there are one-offs - like how to make the perfect meringue, or the ultimate chips -- so there's life-long tips going on too. But not all of the ingredients are common - so Love To Cook will either tempt your adventurous streak or might leave you cold.

All in, if you're up for a swerve away from the mainstream trend for celebrity cookbooks along a theme, then you'd get a lot of out of this.


Corsair CMFAIR-VA2-1000-EU Voyager Air 2 1TB USB 3.0 Portable Wireless Hard Drive - Black
Corsair CMFAIR-VA2-1000-EU Voyager Air 2 1TB USB 3.0 Portable Wireless Hard Drive - Black
Price: £112.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mysterious - and not in a good way, 19 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
As good as the idea is behind this product - (a) wireless storage for the tablet age, provided (b) on a hard-drive that's rechargeable, enabling on-the-go portability -- any device is only as good as its useability. And based on the dreadful instructions given with this hard-drive, I think Corsair has failed not only itself, but consumers.

Personally, I feel like I've ended up with a very expensive paperweight, the inner logic of which reminds me of the monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 2001 movie.

I'm so-so computer literate, and can generally work most things out given time and a few google seaches for info. But this item, well, even now I've no idea as to its full potential. And that's because there are no real instructions. Sure, I could spend hours trawling the internet, reading through chat-room testimonies and working out what people are saying about it. But how effective is that going to be, really? Moreover, how difficult would it be for a company to provide some background info on the item, along with some user instructions?

First problem: I gather UK buyers don't get a mains adapter with this product. Which, given this item is run on a rechargeable battery, is a fundamental issue. Not least because, you'll have to charge it via a USB cable (included). However, what you might not know - and I certainly didn't realise, is that the relay charge on a USB is so low that it takes a very long time to charge a battery of this size. Moreover, rechargeable items like this have to, by law, have an auto-cut off that cuts the power after 6 hours, to avoid overheating or fire. Therefore, if you - like me -- plug this item in once you get it out of the box, but after a day see that it's not even 20% charged, you might - like me -- assume there's a problem with the product and almost send it back.

And I did so very nearly return this to Amazon for being faulty. I'd made numerous attempts to google information up, assuming there was a common fault - but found nothing. So, giving it one last shot before walking down to the post office, I had one last ditch trawl around the internet. And while I didn't find the answer immediately, I did, eventually and by chance, stray across a chat-room comment that clued me in.

So: first hurdle crossed. I've managed to charge this £100+ item. But even now, I have so little understanding of this product's true potential... because, as with the above, Corsair don't include any literature with the product. Nothing. Not even some candyfloss marketing copy on the box, the kind that might just tell you something. Anything.

Instead, I've had to go back around chat-rooms trying to glean knowledge of apps and hard-drive partitions, worrying about whether the fact I'm on a PC is going to penalise me from some of its greater functions - and even now, limited as my tech jargon is, I'm still not entirely sure about this hard-drive.

Which makes me wonder why I even bothered in the first place. Is anything worth this much time-investment, when I'm quite happy with my bog-standard desk-top external hard-drive?

So, all in - this product is only as useful as your technical knowledge is extensive. If you are just a passing tablet user, with little or no understanding of partitioning hard-drives or amps or USBs or EEC consumer electrical regulations, I would say this really isn't for you.

I'd wait a year, until this kind of tech goes mainstream (as I hope it does, because it's otherwise a very good idea), because then, hopefully, for us average computer users, companies like Corsair might deem to share their knowledge with us via instructions and useful copy in manuals.


Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store/ Lemonade Stand
Melissa & Doug Deluxe Grocery Store/ Lemonade Stand
Price: £84.31

4.0 out of 5 stars Fab, fab, fab..., 5 Sep 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Don't know who was the more excited - me, finding this, or the five year old who got it for her birthday. What's not in doubt is how fab this is for any child who loves playing shops. The box says for '3 years +' but in terms of actual height, the grocery store will last for years. (In fact, I'd say the child in the photo is probably about seven or eight.)

As mentioned in another review on here, once built from its flat-pack arrival, the grocery store is very sturdy - and while it's not cheap, for its size and the many years of play it will service, I reckon this is a good investment. I particularly like the little blackboards attached to each bucket on the store front: as kids take to numbers, you'll be able to write prices up and test their adding skills.

There's a fair bit of construction to do. Nothing complicated, just a lot of bolts to slot in and secure. And my only criticism is that some of the drilled holes weren't aligned, and the bolts provided are soft, to the extent that they began to strip as we worked the misaligned holes and bolts together. That said, once its built, it really will survive any amount of rough and tumble.

Note to parents: the store doesn't come with any of the fruit shown in the picture, so be prepared to buy some separates. However, if you shop around there are some cheap wooden groceries, fruit and vegetables to be found online.

All in all, a great plaything. I wish I'd had one of these when I was a kid.


Philips GC4511/20 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 180 g Steam Boost, 300 ml, 2400 Watt, Blue
Philips GC4511/20 Azur Performer Steam Iron with 180 g Steam Boost, 300 ml, 2400 Watt, Blue
Price: £65.00

5.0 out of 5 stars My new favourite iron!, 31 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
There's only so many bells and whistles you can hang on a classic invention - but I'd say this iron warrants five-stars for its quirks.

Something I noticed straightaway was the tapering of the iron's tip. It may seem like a little thing, but by giving this model a sharper, tapered tip, allows for greater precision ironing shirt details. The weight is fairly standard (not heavy), but the glide is excellent - and (selling point, ahoy) this model has a removable plug to help remove calcium build-ups.

So many times I've almost ironed a full shirt, only to have a dirty calcium build-up spit out onto (yes, it's always the front of) the garment. And no matter how conscientious I am, these calcium build-ups keep happening once an iron has been in use for six months or so.

A problem which this Philips, thanks to (how simple was this to solve?) a removable plug at the back of the iron - which allows for the inner tank to be swilled out and cleaned.

This is my new favourite iron, for sure - and believe me, I'm fussy about my ironing.

Highly recommended.


My Salinger Year
My Salinger Year
by Joanna Smith Rakoff
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A luminous, evergreen tale..., 31 Aug 2014
This review is from: My Salinger Year (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Gorgeous. Wouldn't call myself a Salinger fan - nor young, wanting tips on how to get into publishing or become a writer. But I loved this nevertheless - simply because there's something otherworldly about this tale of a young woman's post-Masters deviation into full-time employment. It's certainly not of this age: reads more like a Fifties novella, with all the romance and attention to detail that era suggests.

Granted, being set in the Nineties, the tale refreshingly excludes contemporary obsessions (with self-esteem through social media and/or technology) but, still, there's a luminous, evergreen quality to Smith Rakoff's memoir that I found truly endearing. There's naivety, albeit balanced with keen-eyed observations of everyday grace - and the author's crisp prose style bears just the right tang of melancholia.

In fact, while this is a memoir, it actually reads more like fiction, it's that evocative.

Beautiful.


Philips GC8616/30 PerfectCare Aqua Iron Steam Generator with One Perfect Temperature and 240 g Steam Boost, 2500 ml, 2400 Watt, 5 Bar, Lilac
Philips GC8616/30 PerfectCare Aqua Iron Steam Generator with One Perfect Temperature and 240 g Steam Boost, 2500 ml, 2400 Watt, 5 Bar, Lilac
Price: £129.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Make's life easy..., 28 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This iron has some fantastic features. It heats up in 2 minutes, to a heat that allows you to iron quickly and efficiently. It glides easily over clothes, and the iron itself is lightweight and small, idea for delicate materials.

The drawback, however - slight but fundamental -- is that the base (containing the water) is heavy; and if sat on the ironing board, makes things unstable. Likewise, the hose isn't quite long enough to have it on the floor. Therefore, like me, you'll probably want to stand it on a handy chair.

That said, it iron makes quick work of a family of five's ironing. And that can't be bad!


Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery
by Antonio Carluccio
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly scrumptious!, 21 Aug 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Quite possibly the best pasta cookbook I've read. You'd expect it from Caluccio, but the book is nevertheless gorgeous. Walk into a bargain bookstore, and you'll see oodles of pasta recipe books. But this, well, this is creme. Broken down into two parts: 'All About' and 'Recipes', the various chapters cover just about everything you'll ever need to know.

There's an excellent section on making (and identifying), the many different pastas, sauces, crucial Italian ingredients (and their roots), and with recipes broken down into... 'pastas in soup', '... with sauces', 'baked...', 'pasta salads and leftovers' and '...as deserts' it's certainly thorough.

A great touch is how each recipe bears a small map, highlighting which region of Italy it came from. There's a paragraph from Carluccio himself on why it's a necessary part of the book - and the recipes are excellently laid out and clear.

Most of all, this is a beautiful book to look at. Quadrille are the Michelin star of cook books, and their designs, photography and layouts are, in my opinion, the best on the shelf today.

Truly scrumptious - and highly recommended.


AmazonBasics 10-Inch Black Sleeve for iPad Air / Kindle 8.9 Inch Tablet
AmazonBasics 10-Inch Black Sleeve for iPad Air / Kindle 8.9 Inch Tablet
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic for the iPad Air, 9 July 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Great, great protection for the iPad. I've a few Amazon Basics, and they've all been excellent quality - but this iPad sleeve is the best so far. Made out of what feels like a diver's dry-suit type material, the sleeve is really well padded. The fit is snug but not tight, and if you're someone who takes theirs out of the house a lot, this has got to be the perfect sleeve for protection in bags.

And while it might be labelled a basic, in terms of look, the sleeve - in my opinion -- is far cooler than those bright, and rather fussy, coloured ones you can get.

Highly recommended.


Ultrasport Men's T-Shirt V-Neck  - Black, Small
Ultrasport Men's T-Shirt V-Neck - Black, Small
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Cool; keeps its shape!, 19 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Not up on the special processes used to make this t-shirt, but I was nevertheless surprised how cool it is to wear. I've only worn it during the day, not on a sports field, but I'd recommend this as a great, breathing t-shirt, that won't have you clammy.

Just as importantly, it washes well and retains its shape. So, for the money, this is a great buy.


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