Profile for Aileen Mitchell Stewart > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Aileen Mitchel...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 7,735
Helpful Votes: 111

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Aileen Mitchell Stewart (N.W. Sutherland, Scotland)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3
Nong Shim Oolongmen Seafood Flavour Noodle Soup - 12 Cups
Nong Shim Oolongmen Seafood Flavour Noodle Soup - 12 Cups
Offered by Marky's Gifts & Gadgets
Price: 12.80

5.0 out of 5 stars The last thing I expected! (I'm so glad I was wrong.), 6 July 2014
What's the very last thing you expect to find a seafood-flavour noodle pot?

Well, if you're like me the last thing you expect is seafood of any kind. You expect to see noodles, maybe the odd bit of dried vegetable, a packet of flavouring to stir in, and that's about it.

So I was astonished when the first thing I saw when I opened one of these little pots was a couple of those dried shrimp you find in Chinese and other Asian grocers. And several little films of real sea veg. And some small pieces of dried bonito.

The next huge surprise was the flavour. The label said seafood flavour so I expected some sort of largely artificial fishy taste bolstered by all sorts of flavour enhancers. But after I stirred the little flavouring pack into the noodles and waited a few minutes for it all to rehydrate and tasted the liquid -- the soup -- I was flabbergasted. It didn't taste just vaguely fishy but clearly, cleanly and definitively of stock made with crustaceans.

The flavours introduced themselves without any kind of muddle, each making it's own clear introduction on my taste buds. It tasted like the sort of stock base a good chef would use for lobster or crab bisque; the tastes were definitely in the lobster, crab, langoustine flavour range. And when I looked at the ingredients list it was obvious I was not wrong.

The noodles were also something of a revelation.

It was only after I'd had a few tastes that I looked at the label where I saw that one of the ingredients was mussels. Instant panic! I am rather spectacularly allergic to mussels. I instantly stopped eating and waited for four hours to see if the usual symptoms appeared. Thankfully they did not. I can only think that after a couple of decades of avoiding bivalves (including scallops, after a very unpleasant experience with them) my allergy has just faded away, of maybe the amount used in the product is too little to have an effect. Phew!

So I went back, curious to see if the noodles had disintegrated into the kind of slush that results if you leave British supermarkets uneaten for that length of time. Not a bit if it. The noodles were, of course, slightly softer but not that different from a fresh pot that you would refuse at a glance to eat them, unlike like those supermarkets pots of mush. They were simply slightly less al dente, if I can use the term for Asian noodles. But I should have expected this given that they had an excellent firm bite, with a still very crinkled, almost chewy texture when freshly made, and no raw floury taste at all.

These, then, became my daily brunch for severals days in a row.

The only tiny criticism I have, and it is tiny, is that, for my taste they are just on the edge of being too (hot) spicy. But that's a matter of personal choice and how frequently you eat spicy food, as the palate definitely becomes more accepting of hot foods if you eat a lot. Since I live over 50 miles from the nearest Asian restaurant or even small supermarket now I seem to have lost the ability to enjoy the very hot dishes I used to enjoy as a student when I do get to eat any.

On the other hand this spicy 'hit' comes from black pepper, a much more traditional choice than the now ubiquitous chilli, and I found myself thoroughly like the way the pepper added a gentle zing that really worked with the flavours. In fact, I always find by the time I'm nearly finished eating I'd really miss that zing if it weren't there. Anyone who prefers a hotter version could always add more pepper, or even a finely chopped chilli. but you may prefer not to.

After a couple of goes at eating it just as it comes I tried adding some very finely shredded spring cabbage, just a little, plus an equally finely chopped piece of red pepper (capsicum) and some chopped spring onions just to add a few more vitamins really, and to test the effect.

And is was an interesting effect too. It still tasted delicious, but in a different way. I simply wilted added vegetables with a little boiling water in the bottom of a bowl before adding the noodles plus more boiling water to cover all. The result was a very pleasant, well-flavoured soup that I did enjoy just for a change. But the additions had smoothed out and melded together all the flavours so that the clean, distinctive taste of crustaceans was harder to detect. But I might still do this sometimes just to ring the changes. Slivers of mini sweet corn and slender slices of sugar snap peas might be worth trying too.

Lastly the little bag of flavouring is more than enough to give a rich savour to the quantity of water you can get into the card cup the noodles come in. So another day I tipped the contents of the cup into a much larger bowl where I could add more water and despite being slightly more diluted the flavours still sang out loud and clear on my taste buds. So I'm now thinking that one pot, opened into a larger serving bowl with extra water would still be than enough for a well-flavoured snack noodle soup for two, every bit as good as a wet noodle dish for one.

One final suggestion. These would be great for camping trips or staying anywhere such as those inexpensive lodge-style hotels where there are no catering facilities, just a room with a kettle. One of the room's teaspoons, the kettle and one of these pots would soon provide a great hot meal, night or morning (if, like me, you find the Asian habit of slightly spicy noodles or rice a perfectly understandable and delicious way to kick-start the day).

I just wish they had been available in the UK many years ago when I was a student and all there was available were those awful Vesta things. But these would be great in the same situation today. I believe such things are also helping a generation of public schoolboys stave of night starvation too. But anyone who ever needs a quick really flavourful and satisfying meal when the only cooking facility they have is the kettle that is the only means of cooking in some workplaces, or you just want a speedy meal at your desk when under heavy time pressure will find these ideal. (Just don't slurp up your noodles too noisily if your colleagues are still around.)

Turning to delivery, that too was astonishing.

I ordered very late one evening and within thirty-six hours they had arrived here at the very northernmost part of the Highlands of Scotland.

All-in-all I can see I'm going to be buying this product from this supplier regularly from now on. I can heartily advise you to do the same.

Write Ambition - For Successful Writing
Write Ambition - For Successful Writing
Offered by Warby 4 Games & Gifts
Price: 9.95

1.0 out of 5 stars That's an hour of my life I'll never get back., 27 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you are an absolute raw beginner who has no idea at all of how to start, with little experience of even using a basic word processing program, and you need the confidence of following instructions step-by-step and, furthermore, don't mind listening to a very dull American voice reading from a prepared script as if he's just learned the language, then you may find this is okay, Even then I think you're likely to find the peculiar (in both senses) program confusing in both the way it works and the terms it uses. Worse, there are elements a complete beginner is likely to want help with that are not covered. Most beginners (to judge from writing groups I've belonged to) find the idea of writing a synopsis worrying, and often don't understand quite what one is, or what it's for. This is where a beginners' program with step-by-step, hand-holding could be very helpful, but all this offers is a blank page and vague suggestions.

Overall, even as a program for beginners it's flawed and unnecessarily complex, yet a the same time weak. The "Timeline" feature is just a very clunky outliner that is far less useable than the ones in most word processing programs and has none of the visual element that its name suggests. The "Questionnaires" made much of in the instructions are just an extremely short list of the kinds of questions even a beginner would think of for themselves. Given the prominence this aspect of the software is given in the instructions I'd expected at least a couple of dozen stimulating probes rather than the less than a dozen obvious ones included.

As a program for anyone who has even the slightest experience of planning a simple story this is only likely to exasperate. At the price I thought there might just be one or two ideas or feature I could use, but there are none, and I found the peculiar terminology used for otherwise quite simple concepts such as a paragraph (!) infuriating.
Even a beginner who has just started trying to write a simple story would be better spending their time learning how to use the outlining facility in their word processor program, perhaps investing in one of the excellent mind mapping programs available, and maybe some sort of simple project planning software if seeing a visual timeline of story events would be useful.

Alternatively I can thoroughly recommend excellent and inexpensive 'Writer's Cafe' program (currently unavailable here as I write but well worth hunting down) which is very feature-rich but can also be used quite simply until you want to use the more sophisticate feature, of which it has plenty. And at least it's fun and interesting, unlike this tedious, rather self-regarding failed attempt at writers' software. (I've used Writer's Cafe, on and off, for years, alongside outlining and mind mapping both of which I find invaluable in planning and structuring any writing from a chapter to and entire book, fiction or non-fiction.)

Lastly, for the price, a complete beginner would do better to spend the same sort of cash on one or two of the many 'how to write' books available either in print or ebook format, many of which have been extensively reviewed here so it is easy to choose one (or, in my own experience, dozens!) to suit any particular needs from dialogue to formatting, including that striking omission in this program: how to write a synopsis.

Amscan International Field Cones, Pack of 4
Amscan International Field Cones, Pack of 4
Price: 5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected., 26 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I was a little wary of ordering these as the picture makes them look (I think) much flimsier than they really are. Of course they're not the large, heavy rubbery ones for school use, but they seem sturdy enough to withstand many years of robust play, and having brought up five children I know just how robust play can get. For family games in the garden or on the beach they look ideal, though I'll know better once my grandchildren have come to stay and subjected them to their intensive, full-scale beach and garden trials.

Each cone has a small hole on every corner so I imagine they could be pinned into the sand or lawn if necessary, which seems a good idea. I bought them partly to go with a traditional rounders set and they seem ideal for marking bases. But I can also imagine using them as relay race markers, marking slalom courses for bikes or trikes, or even using them as targets for throwing games, including the old-fashioned rubber throwing rings I have also bought in preference to many of the quoits games which many reviewers find too flimsy.

Overall they are colourful, well-made and just waiting for people's imagination to work out lots of ways to us them. And at this price it's hard to imagine what else you could buy with such wide potential for fun, and for all age groups too.

Smallbone Deceased
Smallbone Deceased
by Michael Gilbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.74

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Genuine Jewel of the Genre, 22 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Smallbone Deceased (Paperback)
When all around writers and publishers seem to be clumsily cranking out poor pastiches of 'Golden Age' crime writing it's a great pity that one of the cleverest craftsmen of the time should be relatively unknown, and, in particular, for this jewel of the genre to lie largely undiscovered amid the general dross.

Each tiny piece of the plot is placed so subtly yet so securely that it is not until the final few pages that the reader sees why each one, so apparently insignificant in themselves, was inserted with such a deft hand just precisely where and when necessary to support the whole design.

These are not generally red herrings as such, though there are enough of these to keep all armchair readers guessing, each highly plausible and only one resolved somewhat less convincingly by a too-obvious authorial hand seeming perhaps just a little desperate finally to dispose of it. Even then, it could hardly be said to stink.

Nor is it one of those books in which the reader sees the solution long before the detective and, irritated by the sleuth's imbecility, spends much of the book mentally prodding the investigators along while silently muttering, "Yes, yes, get on with it!" as they wait for the story to catch up with the obvious direction of the plot. Far from it. It's only at the end when the seasoned reader of the genre surveys the book as a whole, looking for any authorial trickery concealing flaws or left-over scraps not properly worked into the entirety that the cleverness and thorough tidiness of the construction becomes satisfyingly clear.

But this is not to suggest any kind of mechanical sterility. Certainly, as was common at the time, there is little of the depth of character expected of modern crime writers, but there are deft touches to each of the characters creating a feeling of glimpsing a whole, and although the Scotland Yard detective makes further appearances in later books the amateur sleuth does not which seems a pity. I was sorry to to have to say goodbye to him, and to his office-sharing colleague with a fine line in mid-century banter of the kind modern pastiche writers seem to envy but can rarely reproduce. (As an aside, the barely-concealed, calculating snobbery of introducing characters such as Lord This and Colonel That so calculatingly and, often, so clumsily and unconvincingly, by such writers — is there anything harder for a British writer than to write outside his or her own social realm? — who apparently believe that in doing so they are replicating classic cosy crime books and pandering to what they imagine to be the fantasy (or class envy) of fans of the genre, is here quite absent, and the many little asides referring to the illustrious clients of a fashionable legal practice of the time, and probably still now, are handled with warm but satiric humour which clearly relates to the author's own experience of working in such an environment.)

Altogether this is indeed what H.R.F. Keating is said in the back notes of my edition to have called "a classic of the genre" and one which will be hugely enjoyed by anyone who is a fan of detective novels of that era. The edition I have does not have the map referred to by another reviewer here, which, although quite unnecessary to enjoyment of the book, I would have liked: I am a huge fan of classic crime books that include a map, and my joy is complete when such books also include a 'Cast of Characters'. (I am less of a fan of American editions, such as mine, changing spellings to pander to US readers — are we really to suppose that Americans would be dumbfounded by words such as 'cheque' or 'grey' spelled in the UK way? — to say nothing of the typos scattered throughout. But these, though annoying, shouldn't detract from the book itself.)

In summary, this is a book for fans of "Golden Age" detective stories to savour and would be an excellent introduction and exemplar for those tempted away from the harshness of modern crime fiction (excellent though its more famous writers and books are) to a time when unravelling and savouring a clever puzzle was, if not all, then certainly a major appeal for its readers and a gentle, pleasant break, then — with war-time memories still painfully clear for so many —no less than now, from the tougher realities of life.

bag shopping Giorgia, genuine leather colore marianne e oro, dimensions in cm: 53 L x 34 H x 23 p
bag shopping Giorgia, genuine leather colore marianne e oro, dimensions in cm: 53 L x 34 H x 23 p

5.0 out of 5 stars I'm in love!, 17 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Gorgeous bag, exactly like the photograph, only better: it came with a (blue) shoulder strap to match the blue and yellow bag that's not shown in the pic or mentioned in any description. (I was concerned about this before it arrived because only a very skinny arm could get through the handles to shoulder carry.) And the quality is excellent for the price. It's perfect for casual days out, or shop browsing too: substantial and well-made but not so heavy you'd think twice about taking it. (I've had — still have — posh bags costing three and four times this that are very beautiful, but too heavy to lug around for a whole day, especially as I don't feel right unless I'm carrying the full panoply of stuff to deal with any emergency sartorial, medical, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, diet-related, skin care — you name it, I'm prepared for every conceivable disaster up to and including civil ear and envoronmental catastrophe, plus a really big umpteen function Swiss Army Knife as well. Fortunately there'll be enough room in this for all if that: there's a phone pocket and a zipped pocket inside, and, BTW if you were wondering if it could possibly be lined at this price, yes, it is. Altogether it's a great casual bag whose quality exceeds it's remarkably low price. I'm now fighting the insane and quite irrational desire to buy another one (or two) in different colours. Hold me back someone!

iPad Retina Display Fast Charger 2.1 amp High Quality Light Weight USB Mains Charger Includes USB 2.0 cable for the iPad Retina Display and your other devices with the lightning connector, CE certified
iPad Retina Display Fast Charger 2.1 amp High Quality Light Weight USB Mains Charger Includes USB 2.0 cable for the iPad Retina Display and your other devices with the lightning connector, CE certified
Offered by iQualTech
Price: 19.50

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the original, 17 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
My iPad Retina suddenly refused to charge, well under a year since I bought it. (Though I am a heavy user I still thinks that's not great quality.) In desperation, and wishful thinking, really, I ordered the first replacement charger that sounded trustworthy. Then I left the blasted machine still plugged into the charger overnight in the hope that — somehow — the computer elves might fix it. And they did! Almost. But it had gone from 8% charged and me frantically backing up everything I could think of, expecting sudden death, to 52%. Meanwhile my husband had searched the net for help or even ideas. Turns out I was not alone. As far as I can make out, when, for some so far unspecified reason, your charger is no longer working at a proper speed the iPad fibs and tells you that it's not charging, when actually it is . Just v e r y s l o w l y. I also discovered that almost every web site offering advice claimed you should only ever use a real iPad charger because replacements can't match the transfer speed of the original. But by this time I'd already placed my order for this one so there was nothing much to be done about it, especially when you live some 400 miles and a seven hour drive from the nearest Apple store. As for trying to order online from Apple — are you insane? Apple seem only second to Microsoft in the ingenious ways they can think up *not* to give relevant answers, let alone helpful ones. ("Has this answered your question?" No. "Please click on … " the place you first started from a few centuries ago.) So I waited a couple of days for this gizmo to arrive, in neither hope nor expectation. It arrived today. I plugged it in. Lo! and Behold! It worked! Instantly! And my trusty (hmm …) iPad is now charging at the rate of a battalion of the Highland Light Infantry after three cups of NAAFI coffee. Brilliant! Clearly these guys know what they're doing and, unlike others, are not trying to scam desperate eejits into buying iPhone chargers for their iPads when they simply can't work at the speed necessary for the considerably larger needs of the iPad. Fast delivery. Product works. That's all you need really. And I'd certainly trust them again if I needed to buy any other computer peripherals too.

Nicky Elite Pure Luxury 3 Ply Toilet Rolls (x72 Rolls)
Nicky Elite Pure Luxury 3 Ply Toilet Rolls (x72 Rolls)
Offered by Bargain Warehouse
Price: 27.42

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily as good as — or better than — big name brands, 18 April 2014
Thick, soft, quilt-embossed paper: if that's what you want, that's what you get here. Don't be put off by not knowing the brand name. I happily buy this in preference to the top price brand, and I'm very, very fussy about loo roll. I only like one make of top price brand and this compares very well indeed (and is way better than the top price brand I don't like).

Umiwe(TM) Hot Women Underwear Bra Washing Aid Laundry Saver Lingerie Mesh Wash Basket Bag-Random Color With Umiwe Accessory Peeler
Umiwe(TM) Hot Women Underwear Bra Washing Aid Laundry Saver Lingerie Mesh Wash Basket Bag-Random Color With Umiwe Accessory Peeler
Offered by Umiwe-Direct
Price: 1.79

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good product, quick delivery, items as described., 17 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The item arrived without much delay from China and seems to be very sturdily made. As for size, I wouldn't be put off too much by the description. It is certainly large enough for almost all, certainly up to about a DD I'd say. Even larger sizes would probably fit one at a time at an angle.

Unlike some mesh wash barges this included a plastic insert within the mesh at either end which should, I think, help to avoid the dreaded 'wire sticking out from the middle of my chest' look, which has never been a good look, but which tends to happen when underwired bras are bashed around in a washing machine.

As for the little folding apple peeler included I gave it no thought when I placed my order, but now it's here it will certainly have a place in my handbags from now on so I can happily buy and eat apples or pears straight from the shop when I'm out without worrying about not being able to wash them. (And, yes, I carry hand gel too. And I don't catch colds anymore.)

So I'm pleased to have this little extra too.

Overall, excellent product, excellent delivery. I'm guessing my two daughters will each be ordering one too.

Kenco Wholebean Millicano Tin 100g
Kenco Wholebean Millicano Tin 100g
Offered by NISA DEALS
Price: 7.59

5.0 out of 5 stars I hate instant coffee - but I love this!, 10 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have always loathed any kind of instant coffee, and have never had the slightest difficulty in telling it from 'real' coffee. I dislike it so much that I find it hard to understand how anyone could drink it, let alone see it as an acceptable substitute for the real thing. Just one sniff of that burnt caramel odour that all instants seemed to me to have is all it would take for me to recognise it as instant. Until now. I originally bought it for my husband who did sometimes drink instant on the grounds (sorry!) ;-) that if you didn't think of it as coffee but just another kind of hot drink it wasn't too bad. (I was never convinced.) So when this arrived I immediately opened it to find out if it smelled any better than the top-of-the-range instant he normally uses. It smelled like a rich blend of coffee. But I still wasn't convinced: I've known instants that smell great, until you pour water on them. So then I made a cup for him, the first thing I noticed was that it still smelled like coffee! So, obviously, I had to taste it. It tasted like proper coffee! I was so impressed I made a cup for myself too! Now we both use it daily, and rarely use our cafetière any more. I like to make mine with just a slighky mounded teaspoonful in a mug whereas my husband prefers a more robust flavour so uses a heaped teaspoonful, but it tastes equally good either way. One tip: I think it does taste better if you follow the instructions and avoid using freshly boiling water, just as you would with grounds in a cafetière. It just means waiting a short while after the kettle has boiled before using it. Now, here's the bit that astonished me: most of the jar's contents are just instant coffee, with a small amount of finely ground coffee beans added. But that small amount makes a huge difference. Finally, the old dinner party test. Could you serve this to guests as real coffee? I actually think you could, unless your guests were coffee brokers or real coffee aficionados with highly discerning palates. Even then I think they might still enjoy it. I certainly think they'd be surprised when you tell them - and you would tell them, wouldn't you? (If only to see their surprise!)
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2013 3:49 PM GMT

Figs & Rouge 100% Natural Wild Cherry Balm
Figs & Rouge 100% Natural Wild Cherry Balm
Price: 4.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Natural & Highly Effective, 10 Dec 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I've just set up a regular monthly order for this as I don't ever want to be without any. (I also use their lip balms tubes which are every bit as good.) I've had extra-dry lips (and skin) since I was a small child when my mother used to slather Astral creme (where has that gone, I wonder?) on my face every morning before I went to school, with another layer before going back after lunch. As an adult I think I can safely say I've tried every kind of lip salve from those cheap white sticks to high-end luxury skin care products, but I've never found one I could truly recommend - until now. I was attracted immediately by the 'All natural' claim. I've been concerned for years about using products either containing petrochemicals, i.e. those white sticks, or made entirely as a by-product of the oil industry, meaning those pots of semi-transparent gloop. These 'gloop' pots aren't even moisturising; they simply act as a barrier and, in my case, made the problem worse as well as being unpleasant to use and having who knows what effect on my body as it gets into my mouth when eating or drinking. I really didn't like the idea of putting stuff on my mouth that I really would not like to eat. But there was little choice. I no longer have that worry. And I no longer have dry, flaky bits of skin constantly on my lips. Unlike the white sticks and the 'gloop' the ingredients here don't merely act as a moisture barrier but actually feed moisture into the skin. I like to use the tube versions from this same brand during the day, to give a hint of colour or shimmer, but at night, I prefer to use one of these tins as they have a slightly thicker consistency. I put on a generous layer last thing and then - for the first time in my life - wake up with smooth lips, and not dry uncomfortable lips needing an urgent grab for my old lip salves that has been my waking routine until now. Are this brand's products perfect? Well, it depends. If you are looking for a strong colour tint or a very obvious scent or flavour you won't find it in these products. But I'll heartily go without these for a product that just plain works, and without any petrochemical 'nasties'. I'm so happy to have found this brand, as are my two (adult) daughters who've both switched to it. It just occurs to me that these would be ideal products for children who suffer, as I did, from chapped lips, precisely because they don't have strong colours or smells, so wouldn't embarrass boys, or get girls ticked off for wearing make-up. What's more you wouldn't be coating children's delicate skin with Petrochemicals, or having to worry about their possible effect on growing bodies. I'm going to get some for my granddaughter and grandson now too!

Page: 1 | 2 | 3