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Hartleys Best Strawberry Jam
******* update on another way to use it half way down the review *************
Simply the best.
I was pleasantly surprised to see this newest favourite of my family's on this weeks Product of the Week. I picked this up during my last shop at Tesco because I had heard it was really tasty and thought I'd give it a go. Hartleys are a well know and established manufactor that have produced many conserves over just as many years.
I first brought a 250g jar for £1.35 in Tesco. However, I did the following week; pick up 2 of the 340g jars for £2.50. These 340g jars are normally £1.49 each, so knowing I was baking jam tarts thought the 2 jars would be a bargain.
Hartleys have presented this 'Best Strawberry Jam' in a clear, 'pear'-shaped jar that shows off the fruit-packed conserve inside brilliantly. Just looking at the thick, dark red colour of this jam had my sweet tooth crying out.
The front, strawberry shaped, label was simple but effect without overloading the purchaser with stacks of information and silly puns. The little star winking at you in the corner, I felt, was a bit corny but my little grand-daughter smiled at it. The nutrition information is clearly given, on the back, for those interested in ensuring they are purchasing healthy products.
I will give this at the end of the review simply to inform those who wish to read it but don't feel a review should be a list of what's on the product's label. I would rather give facts and opinions that will help some-one in deciding whether they want to go and purchase the product.
~~~ Ingredients ~~~~
Strawberries (45g of fruit per 100g), glucose, fructose syrup, sugar, geling agent (pectin), citric acid, acidity regulator (sodium citrates).
~~~Appearance & Aroma~~~
When opening the jar that evening I was immediately hit with a warm summery smell of sweet strawberries. It was a very sweet smell but had a little hint of freshness that made me think of that warm season called 'Summer Time' (seems like a very long time ago) so thank you Hartleys for bringing a little summer memory to my kitchen on this dark rainy evening.
As I plunged my knife into the thick dark jam you could feel the blade hitting lumps of fruits immediately. Oh good I thought a strawberry jam that does have chunks of strawberry in. I wasn't disappointed as I pulled a large chunk from the jar to spread across my hot buttery toast.
The jam held its shape well as I guided the knife across to the plate. I was pleased to see it holding its profile, as I have often lost cheaper, less dense jams to the floor or worktop.
Dropping the jam gently onto the toast I noticed how packed it was with chunks of real strawberries. They weren't tiny little pieces that didn't even resemble the fruit but good sized pieces that you could lift up and eat with your fingers (I couldn't resist trying a chunk and it was tasty). The array of colours ranged from soft to vibrant reds that tantalized my eyes as well as my nostrils.
The jam did spread well, however I found I used more jam than normal, but I think this may have been due to the fact I couldn't resist pinching a few bigger pieces of the fruit.
The smell and appearance of this jam on toast was inviting, warm and wonderful a good 10 out of 10 from my family and I.
When biting into the pieces of strawberries my tongue was hit with a sensational mixture of sugar and strawberries. I was pleased the sugar didn't overpower the fruitiness of the berry and there wasn't the artificial taste that you can sometimes get with cheaper brands.
I was also pleased that the strawberries didn't have that soggy washed out taste that can often be present in other brands. The fruit was tasty and delicious - the perfect balance between fruit and jam mixture.
~~~So other ways my family and I use it~~~
* Jam Tarts
This jam is great for making jam tarts as it brings an expensive look to the tarts due to the larger sizes of the strawberry pieces. I did need to cut a few of the larger pieces down to fit into the case. The jam cooked evenly in the tarts and gave them a rich, fruity taste for this tea time treat. Because the jam is nice and thick it was easy for my two year grand daughter to spoon the product into the little cases.
Jam on crumpets I hear you say ! Oh yes, a favourite with my son. He says the jam melts down into the holes very nicely while the fruit pieces stay nicely sitting on the top. I can't really comment because I prefer marmite on my crumpets but he loves it.
Well, what can I say ! A brilliant jam to have on scones. Its thick texture holds very well in shape keeping the jam firmly on top so your fingers don't end up covered in the sticky conserve. Its wonderful strawberry chunks compliment the cream well reminding you of that summer treat - strawberries and cream - a big hit with my mum.
So far several generations of the family pleased by this Best Strawberry Jam - nice one Hartleys, my hostess skills being praised.
Ok last little tip for using this jam;-
Yes in the Sunday roast beef gravy. I was told several months ago, by a chef, to add a teaspoon of jam to the gravy when stirring in the meat juices. I have often used the cheaper brands of jam when doing this but haven't really tasted a difference.
So this Sunday just passed, out came Hartley's Best Strawberry Jam and in went a large spoonful into the gravy. It did give a little boast of fullness to the flavour of the gravy - a bit like a port / sherry type taste. So give it a try you may be surprised.
***** A new new idea with this jam I have recently tried******
I just wanted to up-date this review with a new way of using the jam that worked really well - after the jam idea shared with a friend - he told me about using it to coat a chicken !
God the girls gone mad I hear you say ! It does actually work - by spreading a thin layer under the skin before you start roasting the bird it helps the breast stay moist and gives a sweet taste to the meat.
It reminded me of turkey and cranberry ! So will be trying it on the turkey too :)
************* update over and out *******************
Well I have been impressed with this fruit packed jam and think that the name certainly fits the product. I have used it in several ways as you can see and each time have not been disappointed with the out-come.
Well done Hartleys is simply the best.
~~~As Promised the Nutrition Information~~~
FSA Traffic Lights Labelling
Cal - 244 Kcals
Fat - nil
Sat Fat - N/A
Sugar - N/A
Salt - N/A
Energy kCal 244kcal
Energy kj 1,037KJ
Of which sugars N/A
Of which saturates N/A
I hope this review has been of interest and help to you.
Would I recommend Hartleys Best Strawberry Jam - absolutely
Thanks for reading x hev - also on ciao
Monopoly Here & Now Electronic Banking!
Yes yet another version of this family game.
My son appeared on one Sunday afternoon with this board game and I stiffled the groan. The last thing I wanted to do was sit for hours playing another game. However, I was attracted by the box and really couldn't ignore the excitement in my son's voice. So gave in and cleared the table.
The game comes in a bright, shiney, gold edged box with the traditional name and logo splattered across the top.
The 'Cards not Cash' sub heading catches your eye and draws you to the Monopoly Visa card and machine. (great no more endless counting of worn out paper money)
The age range is for 8 years plus, however a younger player with good understanding of board games and maths could be easily involved. You can have from 2-6 players.
I have recently used this in class when we add a My Money Week - and the children went into teams - so this can be adapted to play with more than 6 players. It was a great hit and I have taken it back into class for the children to play during wet playtimes.
The educational side was great - it supported adding and subtracting skills and more importantly - working co-operatively in teams to solve problems.
Batteries are required so be warned, they are not included.
The usual format of Monopoly board with the Chance & Comminity chest cards & spaces in centre of board.
The street / companies for sale around the board are the same colours found on most board, which will help younger players who are familiar with other versions of this game. However, there are 'apartments' to buy rather than houses and the prices are (HOW MUCH?!) God, this is like real life, wheres my 'flexible friend'.
Oh yeah, did I mentioned the London Airports are up for sale?!
The Big Difference with this game is the VISA CREDIT CARDS. 6 different colours but all the same info. These replace the paper money , that we all hate having to count at the end of each game.
The cards are used to top up and pay for items, fees etc as the players move around the board. A hand held Banker Unit charges the cards according to the information tapped in through the key pad.
The movers are silver modern day objects ( plane, racing car, skateboard, hamburger !! roller blade and mobile phone)
All very attractive but I do miss the little dog! (God wheres that bottle of Saturday Red gone)
Anyway, Title deeds, chance and community chest cards are pretty much the same as are 2 dice and easy to follow instructions.
The houses and tower blocks are a new modern version but are in keeping with the concept of this new sparkling edition to the Monopoly Family.
The game was fun and the rules easy to follow especially if you and your family have played any type of Monopoly.
I would recommend this as it is good clean family fun for all ages.
thanks for reading
Also on Ciao
~~~Tesco Value Milk Cooking Chocolate~~~
What a bargain buy I've just started using.
*** How I came to start using this product***
I have recently celebrated a birthday and had decided to help out the girlies coming to celebrate with the financial side of the evening.
Normally we would be out for a meal and then hit the bars until we've had enough. However, with the latest crunch hitting all our purses - I decided to cook a meal at mine then hit the bars - cutting the costs down considerably.
~~~So on the menu ~~~
Chilli - beef n veggie option with the usual side dishes.
Chocolate treats for desserts.
Here's where the Tesco value milk cooking chocolate bar came into play.
When shopping for the ingredients for the chocolate covered strawberries and banana slices - I noticed that the range of cooking chocolates were varied greatly in price. The most expensive being £1.99.
WOW - £1.99 per bar and I needed 3 - hmmm not that cheap.
So taking a gamble I picked up the Tesco value one for 49p a bar. When checking the ingredients and nutritional information this bar was pretty much the same as one of the more expensive brands.
At 49p for a 100g bar I could get all 3 bars needed for less then the price of one branded bar.
The Nutrition information is as follows:
17.0g sat fats
and a trace a salt.
*** cooking with the product***
As I mentioned before I was doing a very basic treat of chocolate covered strawberries and banana slices.
In the past I have always melted the chocolate bars in the microwave and have often over cooked and ruined the product, so I was very conscious that the bar needed to be easy to break into small even pieces.
This bar was soft and very easy to break into small, even pieces. It felt smooth and creamy in texture and the smell was not a cheapy chocolately smell you can sometimes can from the lower price ranged products.
The bar melted evenly and yeah I didn't over cook it.
I was really pleased with how it covered the half of the strawberries evenly and clung well to the fruit. The banana slices were just as easy to cover and the appearance of the milky chocolate was a good velvety brown complexion.
The chocolate did take a little longer to set around the fruit compared to other brands I have used, but by the time the chillis had been demolished they were ready - and looking very attractive.
*** What did the girls think ***
They loved the dish - all were very surprised when I revealed the cheapest of the chocolate coating and said (I have to agree) you wouldn't have thought it was such a cheap product.
So well done - again - Tescos for looking after my budget - I would recommend this bargain buy.
thanks for reading
x hev (also on ciao)
Dear John - DVD review
This DVD & Blu-Ray release date for this film was 23rd August 2010.
This film has been showing in cinemas all over the country however, I didn't get chance to see it because my friends were always interested in some other film showing at the time. When I saw it on DVD in my local video shop for £2.75 rental, I thought cheaper than the cinema ticket. So here I am reviewing the film to see if I had my £2.75's worth of entertainment.
It is available at Amazon, HMV & pretty much everywhere that sells DVDs for £11.99 - Tesco were a little more at £13.49.
Momentum Picture Home Entertainment
Director - Lasse Hallstrom
Screen Writer - Jamie Linden
Adapted from Nicholas Spark's novel
Running Time - 104 mins
Language - English
Genre - Drama (a love story type of drama)
Region 2 - so may not be viewable out side Europe
Aspect Ratio - 16.9 - 1.78:1 - I do like to view in 16.9 on my LG because it gives a crispier, undistorted view.
I will give some further info on the main actors and some of their other films because I do like to see how diverse an actor can be or do they tend to lean towards the same type of role. However, I am not going to list the whole cast as I don't feel it's necessary and completely relevant to reviewing the film itself.
***Channing Tatum*** - plays the character of John Tyree - a soldier on leave who falls in love with a very quite and hard working college student.
Previous roles have included Tyler Gage in Step Up 1 & 2 - which saw him as a loyal and supportive friend who shows empathy beyond duty - hmm, feeling a bit of type-casting here.
However, his role in GI Joe - The rise of the Cobra -as Captain Duke Hauser - sees him more of an action hero saving the day. Quite a different role.
He has also starred in She's the Man - however, I haven't seen this but have read mixed reviews on this one.
***Amanda Tatum*** - plays the character of Savannah Curtis - the fore mentioned conservation college student.
Previous roles have been too many to mention - her more recent films have included Letters from Juliet (a modern take on a version of Romeo & Juliet) which I did enjoy and loved so was keen to see the similarities here.
She has also starred in Chloe and Boogie Woogie - both films being of completely different roles as she is portrayed as a call girl, seducer and lesbian lover in one and gallery street wise women in the other.
*** Other Key Players ***
Richard Jenkins as Mr Tyree - I did love his roles in Burn After Reading, Cheaper by the Dozen and if you can remember the series Ally McBeal.
Henry Thomas as - Tim Wheddon - has often taken parts in a horror type genre of film or investigative matter such as CSI & Without A Trace. However, I do remember him (vaguely) in the classic Gangs of New York.
There are many other famous faces and very talented actors in this movie however you know my feelings on record information that takes up precious writing time on listing something you can go look up yourself.
~~~ So why this film and not some other loving dovey looking drama~~~
A few reasons here - It was my turn to host the monthly girlie night in so - yeah my choice of films. Since I had been subjected to a nasty horror last month that I hated with a passion - I decided a lighter drama was needed.
This film did have some good trailer footage for the cinema release that caught my eye - one in particular was the relationships between the characters. There seemed to be a raw emotion of pain that a separation of duty brings to a couple and their family.
Having a daughter ( who is very similar in looks to Seyfried - slim, tiny and very long blonde hair) who went through these emotions when her chap (a lot taller at 6 foot 10" than our Mr Tatum) was ;- first shipped out to Iraq for a tour of duty and then after only 6 months back being sent to Canada for nearly a year - On his return he had admitted that leaving her for the airport he had broken down in tears just like our hero in this film. I could relate to the feeling of depression that this type of separation brings, as I had seen and experienced it first hand..
I was also interested in the take this film would bring as it is set in the wake of the 11th September terrorist attacks.
Oh and the soundtrack sounded pretty fitting and emotional too. Any-one for a good cry then????!!!!
So bottles of wine and tissues at the ready the play button was hit - I did secretly have a bet on who of us girlies would be the first to reach for the tissues because I'm usually the one stretching for the wine first.
I would like to include the same spoiler warning as I did for my Robin Hood review basically because it will be helpful for those who haven't seen the film yet and want to.
I quote "During this review I will be talking about the film and parts of the characters roles with the odd quote, however, I won't give too much of the plot away. So you should be able to get good information and personal opinion about the movie."
~~~ Opening scenes~~~
A dramatic soundtrack opens our story with the scenes of a young soldier being shot and pulled up by his comrades. As he lies there we hear him reading a letter about his mind taking him back to when he was 8years old and gold coins. This first thought is followed by his last as he blacks out. We are then transported through his memories to a beautiful sunny beach scene and his first sightings of Savannah and how he comes to her rescue.
The underwater shots here are clear and blue with a dreamy effect as he rises to the surface of the blue ocean.
The chemistry between the leading actors as they first meet are intense and this is caught well by the camera through their eye-contact.
It's Spring 2001.
That evening by a beach bonfire our hero John tells her "Its doesn't matter where you are in the world - It's (he's referring to the moon) is never bigger than your thumb". This sets a thread that runs throughout the couples relationship and film.
Walking home alone John is offered a lift by Tim and his young autistic son. Tim is Savannah's friend who he had met briefly at the beach earlier. An interesting conversation is held between the men and a sense that they will become friends is felt.
On meeting john's father, played by Richard Jenkins, we see the relationship is polite although strained, as if something is stopping them being close. I couldn't put my finger on it but was struck by the obsessive nature Jenkin's role had.
The following day on their first date at a beach bar - we are given an insight to possible trouble ahead. However, this is soon pushed aside to the intensive eye contact that continues to develop the strength between John and Savannah.
When Savannah insists on meeting John's father the recognition of autism in Mr Tyree causes John to be slightly embarrassed but she warms to the old man instantly. The building harmony as they part flows into the following day as we see our couple back at the beach. This day show us the true extent of Savannah's loving and beautiful nature. I couldn't help feel that she couldn't be 'taken for a ride' because of this.
The colours and tones of the scenery really enhanced the conversations between characters especially when she says
"You don't scare he John" to which he relies
"Well you scare me"
The following scene becomes very passionate and is intensified by the acoustic soundtrack. This track takes us through the following few days of the couples relationship. I loved the effect from one snippet of these scenes where Savannah is playing a guitar and echos the lyrics being played.
The mood changes slightly as we return to the beach and the couple discussing the impending separation. His promises seem heartfelt and I was left wondering is they would be kept.
~~~ The Plot continues~~~
Friction between the couple and their first disagreement follows as Savannah's gives the correct naming to John on his father's condition.
The first letter is written by our leading man the following day and handy to Tim.
As the couple's relationship continues through the sharing of letters whilst we share the drama's of John's tour of duty. His letters re-assure her of his commitment to keep his promised to her. The honesty and feelings within the letters from bothe characters are reflective of their love but also carry practical thoughts.
Their relationship seems to grow and with letter 33 we are reminded of the line about the moon.
Savannah's relationship with John's father is beautiful and supportive with her patience and love gets him opening up about his coins and an interesting sub-plot emerges that majorly impacts the ending of the film. We are also given a detailed insight into John's relationship with his father as a child and the meaning behind the coin collection.
However, the memory is abruptly interrupted by the devastating news and film footage of the Twin Towers attack. This has a dramatic effect on our leading characters.
I'm going to draw this review to a conclusion as I don't want to give too much away as to what happens in the following section of the film.
What I will say is that the continuing scenes take on several twists and turn that I didn't expect . It also showed some intense scenes, that John's tour of duty hits the viewer with the realization that our soldiers (and other nation's troops) are constantly living with a cloud of death hanging over them.
~~~ Did I find myself thinking about variations in actor's roles from previous work? ~~~
*** Channing Tatum -similarities / variations in other roles - yes very much so - his role took on many of the troubles and emotions that a soldier experiences. He gave his character a vulnerability that some men wouldn't dare to show in case the weakness by mocked.
*** Amanda Seyfried - The softness and emotional role she brought to Savannah's character was enhanced by her body language and facial expressions. Sometimes I thought her naivety was a little to sweet but then her character's upbringing could possible be reflective of this quality. 9/10.
Richard Jenkins plays an outstanding role as an austic man, highlighting the difficulties' and features this condition brings. His role in this movies is completely different to those he has played before and I was really impressed with the sensitivity in which he acted. A 9/10 from me Mr Jenkins.
I enjoyed the constant linking between the story and the sensitivity that was shown through the great acting.
Scenery - beautifully / hard hitting and certainly captured the story line through colours and tones.
A good combination of directing and acting. In particular the vulnerability yet emotional support of the leading characters for each others duty and desires was very well played out.
The soundtrack extremely well composed and reflective of the emotions being played during the movie.
I would recommend this film for people who just want to see a non-action, horror drama. It definitely one for the girls having a chill night in - however, I do think some guys would enjoy a lot of aspects to it - although they might not like to admit that infront of their mates.
All things considered I would give this film a 4 stars just based on the actors performances, stunning scenery and delivery of some emotional charged lines.
I hope you have enjoyed the review and found the detail interesting.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the information and personal opinions.
X hev (on dooyoo and ciao)
Simon Allen - Hundreds & Thousands
~~~Why this album blew me away~~~
Attending a recent festival at Nunney I found myself chilling to a couple of local bands and thinking 'hmm, some of these bands are pretty cool.' However, just as I was thinking about topping up the cider, a local songwriter / singer was introduced. Simon Allen. He had a great stage presence that was calm and chilling - just want was needed under the blazing sun. So I settled back down to hear what he had to offer - and wasn't disappointed.
His set comprised of several tracks from his new album 'Hundreds & Thousands' - they were in a nut-shell - brilliant. One in particular was named after his daughter Edie and brought tears to several festival goers around me.
I was able to buy the album from Simon himself, but have also found out you can download it from Amazon. I would recommend you go and check it out.
**** Style ****
The tracks are all written by Simon who is also the soul singer and lead guitarist.
His style is according to Amazon Rock / singer -songwriter, I would say however, it is a soft, acoustic rock. Although there are many singer / songwriters worthy of great accolade in this style of music I believe Simon's tracks reach to the stars of high praise due to the depth and meaning behind every word he sings.
So what do you get for you money? Well bear in mind you can download the whole album for £4.99 I think that the 10 tracks on this album are worth every penny. Each track can be previewed and bought individually, although track 10 - Black Eye is only available with the album.
Track 1 - I Got Wings
Running time 3:15
The introduction starts up beat and has a summery melody that gets you thinking of a great sunny day with a lot of friends about, laughing and chilling. This style continues with the catching introduction and was the prefect track to remind me of the festival and fun that came with it. The lyrics are a good remainder of how life can seem hard to be yourself and finding a way to continue, but then a gentle reminder of something can 'give you wings' (and I don't mean grab a Red Bull). A really great track to play for a bar-b-que or party in the garden as the chorus is easily remembered and you find yourself singing it out loud.
Track 2 - Deceiving Light
Running time 3:12
This second track has a slightly melancholy feel about it, without being depressive. This is due to the beautiful guitar solo snippets that compliment the soft vocal harmonies. It is a moving piece that is softer and deeper that the first track.
Track 3 - Super Star
Running time 3:59
A powerful strumming and drum beat starts immediately as this track begins. Combined with the echoing vocals, visions are conjured up in your mind that reflects the beautifully illustrated solar system on the album cover. The lyrics are a wonderful mixture of similes and metaphors connecting relationships to the solar system. I really liked the echoing effect of the solo vocals being accompanied by chime bar just before the building of all instruments to complete the track.
Track 4 - Loves Song
Running time 3:06
The lingering vocals give a drifting pace throughout this track. This, I feel, really compliments the faster, continous beat of a banjo-style beat becoming the tracks on the album but its length doesn't lose any of the powerfulness of the lyrics and harmony.
Track 5 - Great & Small-
Running time 3:36
I love the strong solo voice of Simon as he begins with the opening line of this track. "I keep my faith in my pocket so it's within easy reach..."
The lyrics of this track are wonderfully combined with a haunting tone from guitar and drums. As the song unfolds a heavier drum beat and fast, racing rythmn kicks in and the vocals take on a slightly metallically tone. This track moves into an even heavier, faster instrumental section (with an almost 'rave' feel) to bring the track a strong conclusion.
Track 6 - Edie -
Running time 3:12
Now this is my favourite track of the album and I dare any father or mother not feel a little warm around the eyes, when listening to this and thinking of the first time they held their baby.
Simon's solo voice whilst playing acoustic guitar is perfomed with so much gentleness and emotion it's on the same par as Robin Williams Angels. One line stands out for me in particular and that is "I don't need the sun for my day to shine..." the vocals are very powerful and reflect the meaningful lyrics so well. I believe this track is such a prevailing and expressively number that has been achieved through the skillful manipulation of the acoustic guitar, Simon's belief in his lyrics and his obvious love of his role as a father,
Track 7 - Shadows -
Running time 3:08
This track has a Celtic feel of guitar and clarinet mix. The solo vocals to start are powerful but are then combined with soft harmonizing the increases the fullness of the lyrics. In between the verses the clarinet takes control again to join the lyrics with a drifting melody.
Track 8 - Talking With The Toys -
Running time 5:27
This is the 2nd longest track on the album and begins with a fairly longer guitar intro. The strong lyrics tell of a story of a man's memories of his child-hood. The rhythm and beat are consistent bringing a strong mood to the whole track.
Track 9 - Tiny Frame -
Running time 2.55
This track is a little more up-beat in rhythm and style. It's one of those songs that you can play in several settings. The lyrics and feel is easy listening yet the rhythm is catching enough to have playing during bar-b-ques or having your friends around.
Track 10 - Black Eye -
Running time 11:28
The longest track of the album. It has a distinctive style of its own. The vocal pitches vary greatly to echo the feelings of the lyrics. The track is a very gentle one that tells of a powerful story. It also has 2 sections to it that is separated by a long pause, well listening carefully because there are background sounds that continue the story. The change in style commences with the vocals taking on a slight difference in tone to draw the song to a close.
*** Conclusion / recommended ***
Well for those of you that haven't got the gist of this review - I would truly recommend this chilling and soul uplifting album. A 10/10 from me and a really good price for the tracks both individually and for the album.
*** Other info ***
Label: Eyes Wide Shut Recordings - www.eyeswideshutrecordings.com
Simon Allen downloads available on - www.Amazon.co.uk
Total playing time - 43:18 min
Although you don't get the album sleeve with the MP3 download, you can see the creative illustrations that Simon designed at 'thegrapicaltree.com'. This sleeve design reflects many of the tracks lyrics and complements the whole ambience of the album.
Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed the info
X hev (on ciao and dodyoo)
~~Tesco's Breaded Scampi~~~
While waiting for Dooyoo to add my latest suggestion I thought I would quickly pop a review on about the tea I've just whipped up for my son and his mate.
I'm not a great lover of Scampi but my son adores it. I've always been a bit reluctant to pay over the top prices for food I don't but have often picked up scampi for him from the local Co-op, usually priced at £2.50 - £3.00. However when I was shopping in Tesco'c the other day I saw their own value brand of breaded scampi at £1.89 for a 300g bag and thought this was a bargain.
The thin plastic packet was light weight and small in size so didn't take up too much room in the trolley. The bag did however, feel pretty full to the brim so I knew I wasn't getting half a bag. I judged would be able to get 2 meals for him from this bag.
The design carries their basic blue stripes telling you quickly it was from their own value range.
On the back there are the cooking instructions and freezing guidlines.
I was pleased to see you could choose from 3 cooking methods for this scampi they are:
Oven - 16-18 mins - gas mark 8 / 230 degrees c / 450 degrees f
Grill - 12 -14 mins - under pre-heated grill
Deep fry - 4 mins - I'm not a lover of deep fry but it is a very quick method if your in a hurry.
~~~ Nutritional Info ~~~
Since joining Weight watchers I do tend to check the cals and fat content of packets.
kcal - 200
protein - 9.3g
saturated fat 0.7g
salt equivalent 0.8g
~~~ Appearance & smell ~~~
I was glad to see there was a generous portion of 18 pieces when I emptied the bag onto a baking tray. 2 pieces looked as if they were actually 2 smaller ones stuck together. There was also 1 tiny piece that I thought I might have a go at tasting. Each piece had a golden colour to it that looked very appetitizing.
The smell was - obviously - quite fishy but not an over-powering one that makes your nostrils disappear inside themselves. ( you know - they smell you get from a the fish market at lunch-time!)
~~~ Taste ~~~
After a short time of 18 mins I pulled out the tray and served onto the boys plates along with chips and sweetcorn - bit of a yellow theme to tonight meal I thought - but thats what they wanted !!!
Well did I have a go and try the tiny piece?! Yes I was a brave 'soul' and went for it - hmm not bad - I'm not completely converted to the life of scampi but was repelled by the taste.
My son and his friends however, absolutley loved it. The plates were cleaned (unfortunately not washed and dried) within minutes.
Both boys said it tasted exactly the same as the CO-OP version I usually buy for twice as much. Result - 2 happy boys with happy tummies and 1 happy mum who's saved herself some pennies.
Absolutely - I am certainly putting these on the shopping list from now on. A bargain price and quality not compromised - well done tesco's
Thanks for reading
also on ciao
Dell Classic Nylon Large Carrying Case
Having a recent up-date to the schools IT accessories (thanks to the schools PTA and numerous fund raising events - not any government or local council grants !!) we have all been given new laptop / notebook carrying cases.
This is a more serious review for me, so sorry for the lack of puns and jokes to those who have enjoyed them in the my past reviews.
The new cases were from Dell, simply because all our notebooks (apparently we can't call them laptops any-more not PC, excuse the pun) are Dell. When I was handed the box it was wrapped well, in a strong cardboard box, and not too heavy. On opening, the carrying case was wrapped in a thin plastic bag with several layers of protective sheets of polyethylene in and around the carrying case itself. All layers were sealed with minimum amount of sellotape so no need for silly time wasting trying to get the packaging off. So the product's packaging in my opinion - very well done and easy to open.
As I mentioned the PTA raised that money for the teachers to have these but I have found out that they usually cost around £28 or less as I have seen a few on ebay. There is also another slightly smaller case available prices do vary.
~~~The Carrying Case ~~~
** Material - black nylon
** shoulder strip with padded section for comfort and can be adjusted for all heights of carriers.
** 2 padded hand grips enclosing 2 main openings for the notebook and another for files.
The bag is jet black with a round, silver Dell logo badge on the front of the case (approx 1" in diameter). At first I did think it was quite large and wide for just carrying the notebook home in the evenings. However, on closer inspection I found there were 5 separate sections.
All the sections are lined with a waterproof dark grey nylon which keeps the contents clean and dry - always a good aspect when carrying electrical goods I think!
** Front opening section - zipped front (with the silver logo positioned just below the zip). This section is approx 7.5" x 14.5" and is ideal for storing the battery charger and any connection cable, such as UBS leads for cameras. I like to put these cables here rather than the back opening as the plugs aren't positioned next to your hip or thighs when carrying.
This section is also larger enough to hold small diaries or notebooks.
**Section 2 on the front of the carrying case - zipped opening that runs around the sides and top so you can open this section out further.
Inside this area there is a netted side (outer area) that is sectioned into two storage parts. This is ideal for keeping discs, I have put up to 8 discs in and they fit comfortable, and a selection of highlighters, pens, rulers and even a small calculator.
The opposite side has some really handy pockets positioned on a sturdy partition. These pockets comprise of 2 sections that have Velcro sealed flaps. One is the perfect size for a mobile phone and the other slightly larger pocket could be used for a blackberry size gadget or calculator. Next to these are two areas that will hold onto your more precious pens - to finish this section there are 3 horizontally placed pockets similar to the credit cards holders you have inside your purse / wallet. The partitioned section will carry an A4 size file / folder easily, although you could only fit one or two that are not too full.
** Main sections - The 2 main section are again both zipped and open vertically down into the carrying case.
The area nearest the front of the bag is for the notebook / laptop and has a stronger padding on each end for extra protection of your machine. There is another Velcro strip to attach over you notebook which holds it firmly in place.
My school notebook is a Dell D520 15" screen that fits perfectly inside however my home notebook is a Dell Inspiron 1525 - this also fits nicely into the carrying case. Because I don't often take the chargers home I can often fit many of my files and books into the bag.
** The second main area, positioned parallel to the notebook section is the same size but has 2 parts to it - is great for storing files, folders and books.
It doesn't quite fit the 30-90 books in that I usually have to mark each night, but than that isn't what its designed for !!!
What I have noticed is that - if I'm only having to take files and notebooks home with my school laptop this is ideal. When I've attended courses and had to take my own notebook I don't need to carry another bag. I can fit the notebook and necessary files as they can all be stored into these 2 areas of the bag.
**final section of the bag - this area is not as large than the first one on the front of the bag. It is slightly smaller than an A4 file height wise but longer in length. I have used this to put in letters or smaller notepad books for meetings and have also found it useful for (dare I say it - snacks!) Well - a girl needs to eat when on the move!
~~~ Overall Opinnion~~~
I must admit this has been an extremely handy bag for many reasons. The main reason being that the various pockets allowed you to carry what's important in one bag - and we all know how that is a bonus within its self.
I have been told that when our new notebooks arrive, hopefully before Christmas, that they will be compatibility with this carrying case. I hope so because I have come to rely on this so much more than the small carrying case that I have at home that only has 2 sections small enough to carry a notebook and 1 file.
~~~Would I recommend this carrying case~~~
Yes I would.
The only disadvantage is my son has been eyeing it up for his year 10 schooling that starts soon!
He has seen the benefits for me and had already seen which pocket his Macbook will fit into - hands off son, it belongs to school not me.
Thanks for reading and I hope this information has been of great use to you.
X hev (on ciao and dooyoo)
Tesco - Crunchy Peanut Butter
What a great snack onto toast and sandwich filler for only a £1.
I have recently brought the Tesco range of peanut butter simple because my son loves the stuff and goes through one jar in a few days. With the price of Sunpat's brand at £2.09 I thought I would save myself £1.09 and try this own brand. There is a cheaper value one at 69p but we have already tried this and it wasn't that brilliant.
The crunchy version comes in a red lidded topped glass jar that holds 349g. The label is mainly red with yellow peanuts dotted across the front of the label. The jar is sealed underneath the red lid with a white, easy to peel off plastic cover.
The nutritional value information is listed on the right hand side of the front of the jar as is as follows;
** calories - 95
** sugar - 0.8g
** fat - 7.5g
**Saturates - 1.3g
** Salt - 0.1g
I always smile to myself when I see the ALLERY ADVICE on peanut products - yes you've guessed it- Recipe : contains Peanuts - No, really!!!
This Peanut Butter brand is suitable for vegetarians.
There is also some ueful information about storing - which lets you know that if stored incorrectly - oil separation may occur - so remember to store your jar of peanut butter in a cool, dry place.
~~~Aroma & Appearance~~~
When opening the jar and peeling off the lid, you are instantly hit with a smooth, warm nutty smell. I was pleased that there wasn't a high salty smell that the cheaper value brand had. You could detect a hint of salt being present but only just. If you love peanuts you will love this smell - it is truly inviting and did get the taste buds watering.
Before plunging my knife in I did notice the presence of a few air bubbles on the top of the mixture but this was dominated by the many peanut pieces. Oh a good sign there wouldn't be a shortage of nuts in this cheaper version. The knife slid smoothly into the peanut butter catching the bits of nuts as it went. These pieces of peanuts were slightly lighter in colour than the golden creamy butter mixture. There are a lot of pieces right through to the bottom of the jar, which I think makes this product a very good buy for the price. It seems to have just the same amount of nuts as the Sunpat version.
It was very easy to spread on the toast and didn't clump very much - which can often be frustrating when in a hurry. Again the smell of warm peanuts seemed to become stronger as the mixture hits the hot toast.
Both my son and I agreed the taste was just as good as the more expensive brand.
The peanuts were many and held their crunchiness in the buttery spread. Because the pieces were small in size they gave a real crunch to the taste that made it tasty on your tongue yet easy to chew and swallow. Your whole mouth is filled with a warm, satisfying taste that didn't become overly sweet. There is a salty hint of the salt sea that is used in the ingredients but it wasn't overpowering.
I was also pleased that there wasn't an oily taste that often can destroy the tantalizing flavour of peanut butter.
As I mentioned earlier on toast this brand was brilliant - it didn't clump or drag when spreading over the hot toast and the warmth of the toast complemented the nutty taste.
So would this brand of peanut butter be just as good in a sandwich?
In a nut shell (sorry couldn't resist) a big YES - My son loves peanut butter sandwiches when he gets in from school to keep him going until the evening meal. After being out all day we decided a round of these favourites would keep us both going until we had time to unpack and cook a proper meal.
He likes a small spread of butter on the bread first and I must admit this did make the spreading of the peanut butter onto the bread easier.
Because I don't have butter on my bread I did notice that if you tried to spread too much peanut butter onto the dry bread it did drag a little making it hard to make the sandwich. This does happen with the more expensive version so I wasn't that bothered.
The taste was just as lovely. The mixture of creamy butter and crunchy peanuts made our sandwich snack wonderfully tasty and most satisfying.
Would I recommend this cheaper version of peanut butter - Yes definitely!
5 out of 5 from both of us here - taste, smell, texture and price - just as good as any more expensive brand.
Thanks for reading
X hev (on ciao and dooyoo)
Robin Hood 2010 - FILM ONLY REVIEW - CINEMA SHOWING
This hasn't been released on dvd yet !!! So only cinema / film reviews can be covered on this Movie at present, just a note to bear in mind before you hit the unhelpful in wrong category mode! I will also let you know this is a very long review (my longest yet and taken nearly 2 days to write -so I hope you don't get bored and do find it interesting)
DVD & Blu-Ray release date for this film is 23rd September 2010.
There may be some confusion with another Robin Hood film (Beyond Sherwood Forest) that was released recently and is available at Amazon now.
So confusion over and ensuring all reading this review know it is just a film / cinema based review - lets begin.
This film isn't showing in every cinema in the country - I heard that Vue Cinemas however, were showing the film. Choosing the 21:05 showing on Fri night my friend and I set off with our £7.80 for tickets in the hope that we were going to be entertained for the evening.
Producer - Ridley Scott (director of Gladiator)
Running Time - 140 mins
Language - English
Genre - Action & Adventure
Through the (shortened) cast list - I shall give some further info on the actors and why their part in this film influenced my decision to travel to a cinema 15 miles from my home to see the film.
***Russell Crowe*** - Robin Longstride (AKA Robin Hood) - His role in the Gladiator was good but in my opinion over-rated. I have really enjoyed his role in A Good Year so wanted to see which aspect of these 2 very different roles (if any) would be reflected in this new film.
***Cate Blanchett*** - Marion Loxley - Cate's roles in Elizabeth and Lord of the Rings were both very regal and extremely well played so I really thought the casting here was a good one and wanted to see if I was right.
***Mark Strong*** - Godfrey - I was bowled over by his performance in Guy Ritchie's - RocknRolla. He had such a powerful presence on screen so I really wanted to find out whether this presence would be with him in Robin Hood.
***William Hurt*** - William Marshal - Hurt's role as President Aston in Vantage Point was I believe a brilliantly played role that added a calm but strong aura to his scenes - would the same be of his role in this one was what I wanted to see.
*** Mark Addy*** - Friar Tuck - well who better than him to play this part?! Those of you who have seen Addy play Roland in a Knight's Tale or his brilliant role in The Full Monty will probably agree with me - he is one of the funniest British actors about who could carry this part off well.
*** Max Von Sydow*** - Sir Walter Loxley - I haven't seen many of his films but as soon as I saw him face I remembered him from my favourite child hood film Heidi, he played Uncle Alp. I just wanted to see how he would come over in a movie that was extremely different to his role in Heidi. He has also starred in Shutter Island.
There are many other famous faces and very talented actors in this newest Robin Hood version of the famous leg end - sorry legend - but I'm not going to use up precious writing time on listing something you can go look up yourself.
~~~ So why this 2010 Robin Hood version and not the 'Beyond Sherwood Forest' adaptation? ~~~
The Robin Hood 2010 had a trailer that attracted me more than the sci-fi version because of the historical references. History has always been of a great interest to me - especially when based on legends or historical facts. The thought of the Sheriff of Nottingham releasing a flying beast to find his enemy didn't appeal to me one bit!
When looking at the facts about this film, however, I do want to include these following observations that you will need to over-look when watching the 2010 movie.
~~~ The History facts / fiction bit ~~~
FACT - The Normans did invade our shores on the 28th September 1066 (date ring a bell any-one?) on the shores of Pevensey to be exact.
The film is strongly linked to this invasion - however there a bit of a time difference - 89 years to be precise - so when I first saw our 'hero' thought he's looking hot for his age.
FACT - King Richard was not a legend he ruled England for 10years (1189-1199) however he only spent 6 months of his reign in England. So some time differences with the movie here (hey that's Hollywood for you)
FACT - King Richard was known as Richard the Lion Heart - the film refers to him as Coeur de Lion and famous for his escapades during the crusades - well done Universal for getting the translation correct and his part in battles abroad.
So conclusion of the facts & fiction - An Historical fact based movie don't sell big at the box office honey!! Therefore enter the big movie stars and script that makes everything look like a down-trodden England.
Ok I've put down my history tutor hat and put on my 'entertain me' hat - Quiet please and turn off your mobile the feature film is about to start. (why do I always get the bloody 'know-it all with the rustling sweet wrapper', seating in front of me?)
During this review I will be talking about the film and parts of the characters roles with the odd quote, however, I won't give too much of the plot away. So you should be able to get good information and personal opinion about the movie.
~~~ Opening scenes~~~
Ancient scrolls giving a basic introduction to setting our scene are quickly followed by a dark forest with men running and horses riding through the mist towards an old English village. We catch our first glimpse of our Lady Loxley within minutes of this event as she orders a flaming arrow shot towards intruders., followed by a not so 'lady-like' "I see you - you little bastards". Not the regal performance of Elizabeth but a fitting and strong message leaving me thinking - she's a girl not to be messed with.
Back to France for our introduction of Robin and a battle in full swing. Robin and his men enter a clearing with a castle under siege in the background. Handing over their kill from a hunt, the men join King Richards's army in the battle. I was impressed with the realism of weapons and shields. The following battles scenes are dramatic and bloody and I believe enhanced by the soundtrack of violins building in volume to reflect the advancing soldiers, descending tar and explosive attacks.
We leave this scene to enter a bedroom, the camera angles following the Queen to give the effect of being next to her, as she approaches the bed finding her son in a position that mum's shouldn't find their offspring in !!! The conversation mother and son engage in sets the sub-plot on its way and gives us a brilliant insight into the devious nature of the prince.
Back to Robin and his evening entertainment with friends - drinking and dancing with a bit of fisty cuffs - broken up by the King you throws them into the stocks.
One of Mark Strong's first appearances was impressive. A quiet evening by a lake talking battle tactics. All seems normal and he gives the impression of being a regular type of soldier until the building tension created through the soundtrack leaves you feeling every-thing is not all it seems. His dark eyes and bald head accompanied with a cold stare sent a shiver down my spine.
During the continuing battle at the castle the king receives a fatal wound and dies.
The film seems to be a constant journey of battles at the moment with the odd interruption of conversations between characters that take the story into yet another battle. I wouldn't normally sit through a movie with such a high content of fighting scenes, however the inter-twinning of sub plots and film style kept my bum in the seat.
There is a really good scene when Robin finding Lord Loxley's son dieing and promises to carry out the dieing man's last request of "Take this sword to my father..." Think we can all predict how that's going to end up, can't we.
The soundtrack changes to an upbeat heavy drumming with an almost Chinese style as we are taken to a church with Friar Tuck and Lady Loxley.
My first glimpse of Mark Addy as Friar Tuck - funny how he seems to suit the costume not too sure about the haircut though!! He has a quiet role at first but I loved his line about the questioning of his bee keeping "I keep them and they keep me" - a very plain statement that has a glint of tongue in cheek feel. This comes to light later in the film when meeting the tired soldiers of Richard's army when he asks "Have you tried honey liquored mead?" Let the festivities begin.
We then see him 'dancing' and enjoying the feast with not quite the finesse as a Full Monty strip but just as funny. So in the space of a few scenes my opinion of Addy's role is a positive one. He acts very well in this fairly small role I would give him a 7/10.
When hero and heroine first meet the sound track moves into a complete contrast to anything heard so far. The haunting yet gentle female solo gives an evocative sense of the meeting of two soul mates. Their eye contact brief but striking. Nice scene for the ladies here whist our Lady Loxley relieves Robin of his battle gear in order to bathe - hmm nice body.
The scenes inside the castle looked authentic with the wooden furniture, abundance of candles and huge roaring fire. The somber brown colours of the rooms and costumes compliment each other very well.
I really liked the manner in which Robin's conversations about his father with Lord Loxley provoked child-hood flash backs. It gave a really good insight into the passion that was driving him.
~~~ The Plot Thickens~~~
So the arrival of Godfrey and his dark conversation with Sir Walter Loxley made me sit up and listen - wow the lines impact a hard and cold message. Quote
GODFREY "I've come looking for Robert Loxley"
SIR LOXLEY " My son has not returned".
GODFREY " That is the truth because he's lying in a French ditch".
A worried looking LOXLEY ask " Who are you? "
The deadly reply "I'm the one who killed him"
Loxley looks and acts brilliantly as he blindly tries to slay the murder before him.
I'm not going to go into to much detail here because it will spoil it for readers wanting to see the film.
As the final battle approaches and men are being persuaded by the King to join forces against the French - I couldn't help but think there is one line that our earlier members of parliament and bankers could have listened to and adhered to - "WITHOUT LOYALTY THERE IS NO KINGDOM" maybe our kingdom wouldn't be on its knees if they had been more loyal to their tax payers.
The final battle on the beaches reminded me of recent footage I've seen about Dunkirk and the Normandy landings. The filming was brilliant and the actors great. The lines were short and meaningful - I was pleased we didn't have the long drawn out over-played finale that is often present in Hollywood blockbusters.
~~~ Were my questions answered?~~~
*** Russell Crow - Gladiator similarities? A few yes but the character's mannerism and way Crow deliveries his personality very different. I was impressed with his performance. He didn't seem to dominate the set as one may have thought. He seemed to carry a dignified and respectful attitude towards all cast members. 9/10.
*** Cate Blanchett - A Regal performance? Absolutely! Her role and performance was subtle and powerful. Her acting very good enhanced by her body language and facial expressions. 9/10.
*** Mark Strong - A powerful presence? Hmm his bald head was a bit of a shock to see after being so use to seeing him with a full head of thick dark locks - but yes I have to say I was really impressed with his screen presence. He gave the character of Godfrey a deadly charisma that should be honored with an Oscar. The lack of locks worked so well and heightened his character's role. His whole performance oozed betrayal and evilness through his unnerving eye contact and cold tone of voice.
One quote that sums up Strong's character in this movie is when he's asked "Your English?!" His reply "When it suits me!" Wow what a hot baddie. 10/10
*** William Hurt - calm but strong aura? His role of William Marshal is very well cast. This was reflected through his facial expressions and body language. His lines were delivered with a professionalism that only a truly talented actor could achieve. 8/10
*** Mark Addy - comedy side-kick? His costume and haircut did him proud (haha) in true keeping of a friar. His wit and lines within the role were unleashed onto soldiers when under attack he throws his beloved bee hives accompanied with occupants - listen out for the line - is it good. 8/10
***Max Von Sydow - a far cry from the alps of my child-hood memories. His performance was mind-blowing. He held a proud and powerful presence even with the disability he suffered. 8/10
There are some stunning views that dominate some opening scenes. One of my favourites is the view across the cliff tops as the invaders ships approach the shores of England. The panoramic shot is so clear and detailed - and shot from a horse riders angle - that you feel as if you are there, on a horse sitting next to Robin. Stunningly beautiful.
I was also really impressed with the authentic looking scenes of the medieval looking village, with thatched roofs, situated in the foreground of the towering majestic castle. The whole scene looked as if you had stepped back in time. This scene was shot at the Hampton Estate near Guildford.
The film looks as if it has been shot in some really good locations around Britain (and some in France) and was a major plus for me.
The sound track to this film was very good - there was a great combination of tracks that really added to the suspense of the building action scenes and haunting songs that reflected the emotions of characters. This really added to how the characters were reacting to their surroundings and events as they unfolded before them. I was impressed with how the deep orchestral movements exploded as key points highlighting the drama and tension.
For example as Robin and his army race to the landing invaders the soundtrack builds with every hoof beat then descends quickly into an almost deafening silence as they stop and first see the ships over the cliff tops. Brilliant.
~~~ Conclusion ~~~
A pretty good, explosive combination of directing and acting - a new take on an old legend. Although it was a great movie that had me engrossed at many points I do think that you should wait until the DVD comes out if your not really a Hood or American-based take on an English legend fan. There were a few aspects that reminded me of Gladiator but not enough to say that this film should stand on its own as a very good movie.
Yes the fight scenes were good, effects and lighting very well produced. I did slightly feel at one point the plot didn't completely live up to my expectations but not enough to spoil it. There were some brilliant lines between main characters and many from the side-kicks.
I would recommend this version of the legend of Robin Hood over Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Simply because the plot has more meat to get your teeth into and satisfy an 'entertain me' need.
All things considered I would give this film a 4 stars just based on the actors performances, stunning scenery and delivery of some mouth-dropping lines.
I hope you have enjoyed the review and found the detail interesting.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the information and personal opinions.
X hev (on dooyou and ciao)
ManufacturerCow & Gate frutapura
These great little pouches are perfect for your toddlers whether out on the road or at home as a healthy snack.
My grand-daughter went through a stage a few months ago of not wanting her fruit snack mid-morning or afternoon. This was due to the fact her back teeth were making her little gums so sore she just didn't want to eat anything. So my daughter brought the Apple and banana frutapura pouches to try.
The boxes contain 4 x 90g pouches that have a green twist top revealing a small opening, which was perfect for my 16 month grand-daughter who often squeezes cartoons too quickly, spilling half the contents before reaching her mouth.
~~~ The box~~~
The box that the 4 pouches come in is a brightly coloured, light weight container with the red Cow & Gate name in the top left hand corner. Below this are clear photos of bananas and apples and to the side a cartoon character (in the shape of a yellow heart) smiling and holding out one of the pouches. Very attractive advertising that certainly caught my grand-daughter's eye.
The back of the box contains a good informational overview about the product plus Nutritional info about the fruit puree.
~~~ Nutritional Information~~~
Per pouch (90g)
Energy - 183kjl / 43 kcal
Protein - 0.4g
Carbohydrate of which sugars - 9.3g
Fat - trace
of which saturates - trace ( good too know its not high)
Fibre - 1.7g
Sodium - <0.01g
Vitamin C - min 9mg
Vitamin C ~(%LRV) - 36
The LRV is the labeling reference value that is a guide to the amount of vitamins or minerals needed per day to meet the requirements of infants and young children.
As a guide 1 portion of fruit for a 12month old = 40-80g - so these pouches are a great source of their daily needs of vitamins.
If your little won't touch fruit this is a brilliant way to ensure they needs are being addressed.
Because the pouches are completely sealed they don't need to be kept in a fridge which makes them ideal for when you are out shopping, park playing or visiting family & friends.
Once you have opened the pouches it will however need to be stored in a fridge and used within 24hours. They can be re-sealed with the green cap.
These apple and banana flavours contain 76% of a small apple and 24% of ¼ of a small banana.
As I mentioned before they are sealed and closed with a green screw cap. The pouches are light in weight and small in size. This makes them easy for little hands to hold. The pouches are a soft, flexible plastic that increases as the puree is sucked.
~~~ Smell & Appearance~~~
When I first saw the puree resting on the top of the lid, I was surprised to see how bland it look. However, the aroma was really soft and fruity. You could smell the banana first although it wasn't overpowering and a slight freshness of apple could be detected.
My grand-daughter (bless her ) likes to 'feed others' so I was offered a 'bit-bit' as she calls it. Noticing my raised eyebrow and suspicious look, my daughter laughed and re-assured my it was really nice. So not wanting to offend my little sweethearts are sip carefully not taking too much of this treat.
To my delight to taste was good. It had a very smooth texture and gentle taste. It was very similar to an unsweetened smoothie. However, the natural sweetness of the banana gave it a delicious flavour dismissing the blandness I thought it would have.
Great absolutely great - I can see why my little pride and joy loves them so much - a good smooth texture, a soft fruity taste and a packaging that her little hands can manipulate without adult help.
The nutritional value supports her daily vitamin and mineral needs and they are so versatile in storage. - A winner.
There are several other varieties in this range, they are:
Apple & Pear
Pear & Pineapple
Peach & Strawberry
All of the products have the same type of Nutritional value and each flavour contains a very good percentage of real fruit.
Cow and Gate have been making baby products for many years and are a trusted brand that produce great baby milk and foods from weaning onwards. So this product is coming from a trusted and respected company.
My daughter paid £1.45 for 4 pouches but she has said that they were slightly cheaper in Asda. I feel this is a good price for the product especially due to the goodness they are providing.
Cow & Gate,
White Horse Business Park,
Thanks for reading
X hev (also on ciao)
~~~ The new toy in my life is called TOM~~~
Why have I finally caved into my son's (AKA Gadget Boy) pleas for a Satnav? Well apart from the fact I am constantly getting lost on long journeys ( I tell the kids I like to take the scenic route), daughter number 2 had now moved to Northampton and I want to be able to get from mine to hers after work on a Friday without getting lost.
The journey is approximately 2 hrs, unless you 'take the scenic route'.
So after much deliberately and checking out some reviews - I decided on the TomTom ONE IQ Routes Edition. The reason for choosing this model - price for one and two, many reviews explained how easy the model was to use. I really didn't want anything top of the range that I wouldn't really use the all the features of. This model seemed to have features that I will use and was a reasonable price.
~~~ Price & Availability~~~
I bought my TomTom for £129.00 from my catalogue with interest free conditions.
Halfords are selling it at the moment for £129.99 so I have saved 99p.
However, I have just seen that Amazon have it on sell for £114.49 reduced from £132.81.
~~~So what have I got for my money~~~
Inside my little orange TomTom box I have:
3.5" TomTom One IQ Routes edition satnav
Documentation - 1 User Guide booklet & 1 Services and Accessories booklet
On opening the box everything was neatly packed with the TomTom's screen covered by a protective coloured sticker showing how the system will look when guiding you to your destination.
~~~ USB Cable~~~
This black, lightweight cable measures approx 90cm in length and fits into any PC or laptop that has a USB port. It then plugs into the bottom of the TomTom allowing you to connect to the internet and download many updated maps and other services.
A word of warning - always set your TomTom up inside your car so it can go through the initial start up first. It needs to be able to get a signal of where you are first. My sister had brought the same one as me and didn't do this. She plugged hers straight into her PC to upload and it kept telling her no maps could be found. She had to re-set the TomTom back to master settings then go out and start again in the car.
We did have fun downloading some new voices and it was so easy using this cable. When first connecting to www.tomtom.com - you need to create an account which took me 3 mins. There is a whole section on the site that you can choose many different areas to get help, support or buy accessories. We scanned through their list of voices - many are free and some for sell (prices range from £3 to £7.95)
~~~Other Services we were able to download (for free)~~~
Whilst having the Tomtom connected - we also downloaded the following sites within a couple of minutes:
Points of interests - theme parks, historical sites, petrol stations, hospitals, large supermarkets (are they points of interest??) anything that may be of help while on a long journey
My Bank positions all over the country - this will be helpful as I have often needed to find a branch while away
PremierInn sites - if you have read my review on the PremierInn you will know that these places are great in havens to stay - so this will be a hand link to have installed onto my Tom for when I go on one of our 'day-trips' in the summer.
So as you can see within minutes of using this USB
Pictures of TomTom One IQ Routes Edition Europe Traffic
monitor display screen Cable it has proved its worth.
We selected a fun voice and had it downloaded onto the Tomtom in approx 4 mins. It was so easy and the voice installed straight onto the memory of the Tomtom in the set up section.
~~~ Car Charger~~~
This cable is approx 180cm in length and very soft and flexible. Again like the USB cable it was very light in weight. This cable plugs into the same port as the USB cable on Tom's bottom (sorry couldn't resist it) - the charger plug then fixes into the cigarette socket so the Tomtom can be charged during your journey.
My model had some charge in it when I did first turn it on - however, it is recommended to charge for up to 2 hrs.
I was a little concerned about this lead getting in the way of the gear stick whilst travelling, however I found that the excess lead could easily be wound up and tucked into a small shelf situated under the radio.
~~~ EasyPort Mount~~~
I have been particularly impressed with this mounting system. My daughter has a satnav that I have used in the past and it drove me mad because the sucker pad wouldn't stick securely. As soon as the screen was cold it would drop off.
The EasyPort mount with my Tom is brilliant. It has a locking system positioned at the back of the plastic suction pad that looks like a wheel. You place the mount on the windscreen in the position you want and turn the wheel. This locks the pad into place and it stays locked until you turn the wheel back into the unlock position. This was a real plus for me and I was very impressed with this feature.
The hinge that attaches the pad to the durable, plastic circular holder has a ball joint feature that allows the TomTom to be moved up and down through about 120 degree angle range and then from left to right through a range of about 90 degree. I felt this range was maneuverability better than my daughter's - so again very pleased with this feature.
There are 2 booklets with the system; a Services & Accessories booklet and The User Guide - Both come in Eng, NL & FR & many other european languages.
*** Services & Accessories
This useful little booklet gives you lots of information on the following;
Make the most of you TomTom - this chapter is a brief welcome and information on how to get money off accessories or services through their website.
Most reliable maps - this explains about IQ routes and how you can update the map service through 'Map Share' (this service can be done through the website which is detailed on this page)
The clever way to beat traffic - the TomTom has a RDS-TMC Traffic feature that allows you to find out about any congestion on your planned route to enable you to avoid it. This has a charge of £7.99 a month which I haven't downloaded because for the small journeys I do daily it wouldn't be worth my while - for reps and couriers I could see this may be of benefit.
Be Aware with Safety Cameras - this is a fab feature and I wish I had this last year when I got caught doing 32 in a 30 zone!!!!!! This aspect of Tom sends out a little sound that warns you of approaching speed cameras - it worked very well when we were driving up to my daughters in Northampton on Saturday. However, I'm not sure if it detects the mobile cameras that lay in wait. I will have to be aware of this until I can confirm this.
Show You TomTom device you love it - this section is self explanatory - general care of the items.
Even More Performance from you device - information about how to plug your Tom into other gadgets such as your ipod or car stereo
This last section is information about the TomTom Home feature that allows you to access a free site that has all their services online.
This guide starts with a pictorial explanation on how to install your new toy into your car - this is important to follow for the reasons I mentioned earlier. Following this step by step instruction there is a page on written advice and tips on the view display.
I found the next page really helpful - there is a colour picture of the view you will see as you are travelling. surrounding the picture are alphabetical labels that explain each function on the TomTom's monitor. I would suggest you get really familiar with these as they will stop you getting flustered when travelling and trying to navigate around the monitor - however, I do not suggest that you drive and try to change any settings etc t the same time.
The following 8 pages take you through a really easy to follow guide of ;
making your first journey
how to use the `traffic message channel` - the symbols used in this feature are clearly explained and easy to remember
introducing TomTom HOME - this is a free application that keeps your new toy updated
Discover more - this feature is for quick access to contact emergency services & gives First Aid advice and car maintenance tips
Preferences - this is where you can change the set up of voices, sound & other features ( my son managed to change the direction arrow to `an old-timers car` - hmm think he may be trying to tell me something
The guide finishes with advice on TomTom Map Share (changing the layout of a street if you find it has altered for example if a street has been changed to one-way and the satnav hasn't shown this).
And finally the TomTom Services - a service that will show you fuel prices, traffic & safety cameras on your planned route.
~~~ Tom - so what are you really like? ~~~
Size - (yes it really does matter !) 9.2cm x 2.5cm x 7.8 cm
Weight - 148g
- Built in speakers and a sleek black surround with silver TomTom name and strip around the display screen.
The features on this model are numerous and if I talked about each one in detail we would be here for a very long time - so I will talk about what I have used so far and how I found them.
As I mentioned earlier setting up my Tom was so easy - I was up and running (well ready to drive) within minutes.
~~~ Planning My first Journey~~~
After going through the start up screen - setting country, language, time and date - all of which were really easy step by step instructions - I was instructed to bring up the Main Menu.
From here I tapped the Navigate to.. option and then Address. I then entered the street and house number of my daughter's place. Then simple tap Done and it is - I did then use the option to add this to my Favourites and labelled it under my daughter's name.
How easy is that?!
You will be asked if you need to arrive by a certain time - a handy feature is you're a rep I suppose but I didn't need to use this feature at this moment so tapped No and my Tom proceeded to calculate my route.
When starting off on my journey the first screen gives you a Drive Safely message regarding using the Tom whilst driving.
I wasn't driving today - not often I get to be co-driver?!
The screen starts up with the 'Navigate to...' menu which gives you a choice of ;
Point of interest or another option pointing to the next screen
As I had already entered my daughter's address into the system and saved it under favourites -I just touched the Favourites star icon and then her name. Within seconds the screen showed 'my little blue old-timers car' sitting in my car park waiting to go. The soft, husky (yet firm) vocal tones asked me (well my driver - who was at this point looking at me with raised eyebrows - I don't think he was impressed with my choice of voices!! hehe) to turn left and follow the road to the junction.
Oh just one more thing about the voice - when several hours later, we arrived at my daughter's the 'gentleman' said "after 300m, hi we're here, you did it baby" the expression and look I received from 'my driver' was brilliant - even my grand-daughter chuckled.
Throughout the journey we were clear instructions that gave any driver (confident or not) enough time to check mirrors and make safe maneuvers. I was very impressed with the warning signals that sounded as we approached speed cameras - it gave you enough time to check you speed and make any appropriate adjustments.
Another speed warning feature is the 'speed limit' warning aspect that tells you what speed you are traveling at and the speed of the road you are on. If you are driving more then 10 mph over the road speed a signal will sound - my turn to give the raised eye-brow look.
We had already decided to stop at a designated service station for little one to have a break but hadn't put this information into the TomTom - you can do this however and I have edited my journey planner to allow for this. The system noticed our change off the motorway and immediately started re-calculating the route and time destination.
This time of arrival to destination is a handy little feature that appears at the bottom right hand side of the monitor. When you start your journey the time left and time of arrival appears. The arrival time changes throughout the journey giving you an exact time you will reach your destination. This was spot on for us and allowed my daughter to change timings of the meal she was cooking.
There is a quick touch feature on the bottom left side of the monitor that allows you to turn the volume of the voice up or down in a split second - we found this really helpful when the little munchkin started to protest about not being able to get out of her seat. This happened just as we were approaching a set of double roundabouts so being able to quickly flick the volume up was perfect - it also made her stop for a few minutes as she suddenly realised some-one else was talking. That, however, didn't last the rest of the journey.
Another feature my driver was really impressed with was the 'Navigation Instruction for the road ahead' aspect - this gives you information about any changes ahead in the road layout, such as roundabouts or junctions and the distance in meters. This is really good for when you are traveling in unfamiliar areas. You can also tap this area of the monitor if you missed the instruction and the voice will repeat the last message - again a great feature if little ones in the back are trying to voice their grievances.
The 3.5" monitor gives a really clear coloured view (320x240 resolution) of the streets, roads, rivers, rail tracks and surrounding features of your journey.
Maps can be displayed in 2D or 3D perspective.
Roads are clearly named or numbered giving you great details of where you are and what is coming up. There is a night-time mode feature that darkens the images slightly so the monitor doesn't dazzle or distract your attention from the road. I haven't used this feature whilst driving yet but have seen the effect and can really see the benefits of this aspect to the system.
Battery life - as i mentioned earlier my Tom already had some battery life - some system may need up to 2 hours to charge. The battery will then last up to 3 hours.
On the return journey we decided to leave the motorway earlier and take a prettier route home that we knew although not too well. We made a point of not changing the route on the Satnat to see how it would cope with an unexpected change in direction.
Well it performed brilliantly - when first leaving the motorway it asked us twice to turned back onto the route but when realising we couldn't it recalculated an alternative route and gave us instructions through the next few villages. We tested it again wondering if it would be able to direct us through a small hamlet about 20 miles away from my home. Within seconds it had successfully navigated us through the hamlet and onto the main A road leading into out town.
Both driver and I suitably impressed with the speed and clearness of the recalculating and delivery of instructions - well done Tom - go to the top of the class.
When turning off there are 2 symbols that appear - a picture of a burglar sneaking off with a swag bag and a very large exclamation mark - great reminders never to leave your system in the car - I would suggest you also remove any leads or mounts connected to the satnav - take them with you.
Well what more can I say - a fantastic piece of driving technology that is so easy to use, looks fab and won't shout at you (unless you program it to) for taking the wrong turning.
I would highly recommend this TomTom to any-one - well actually I did and she brought one to.
I hope you've enjoyed the read.
x hev (on ciao and dooyoo)
The Weightwatchers Bible - as my daughter and I call it - has kept our weigh loss on track and fun.
~~~~ WHY AM I REVIEWING THIS COOKBOOK?~~~~
I joined weightwatchers 12 weeks ago with my daughter who was desperate to get rid of her baby weight. I was happy to tag along as I needed to shift a 'few pounds' - well 12 weeks later I've lost 1 stone and 2lbs and she has lost 1 stone 10lbs. The weightwatcher Fabulous and fillings book has been a major factor in keeping us both on track because of the fantastic recipes and ideas.
~~~~Price & Availability ~~~~
If you are a Weightwatcher then you can buy this at your meetings. If you're not you can go to the weightwatcher.co.uk website and order it for £9.95.
I have also noticed several copies appearing on ebay from as little as £1.00. What a bargain - even if you are not on the weightwatchers (WW) plan but would just like some healthy eating recipes that are tasty and filling this book is a must.
The front cover shows a tasty 'Rosemary Roast Chicken' dish that has a points value of 6 and will fed 4 people. The photograph is colourful and clear showing the dish on a deep red table. The Weightwatchers name/logo stands out in white with the title Fabulous & Filling in bright pink and bright lime underneath.
The back cover has the same deep red background with 4 photos showing the following recipes;
* Sweetcorn Fritters with Spicy Tomatoes (points value 3 - serves 4)
* Teriyaki Beef Udon (points value 6 - serves 1)
* Spinach, Mushroom & Chestnut Torte (points value 3 - serves 6)
* Fig & Raspberrry Clafoutis (points value 2 - serves 6)
I expect some of you are wondering what the heck this 'points value rating is' - I will explain that further on.
The Book itself is A4 size and has fantastic full page coloured photos of the recipes on every other page, giving you the finish product next to the recipe.
I must admit I have found this really helpful to inspire me when looking through the book to plan the meals in advance. The quality of these photos are unbelieveable.
Above these wonderful snaps shots of tasty dishes there is detailed information about the contents of the book.
The Inside front flap hits your senses with bright pink pages and delightful photo of Hot Chocolate Pudding (points value 4 - serves 6)
The Inside back flap shows the WW points kitchen scales and info on how to buy them. Above this there is a paragraph about the author and her career. Tamsin Burnett-Hall has written 6 books in total for WW after her own successful weight loss.
Before I go onto review the book itself, let me take 2 mins to explain the points system. When joining WW your daily food intake is based around how many points you are allowed. These points are worked out through a little quiz -
Female: score 3 - Male:score 9 (bit unfair but there you go)
Age: 16-20 score 5. 21-35 score 4. 36-50 score 3 etc..
How many stones you are: score for each stone - so 11 stone score 11 etc
Height: under 5ft 4 score 1 - over score 2
Daily life style - sitting down most of day 0. Occasionally sittin but mainly standing 2, walking mostly 4 or hyscially hard work 6.
So you add up your score and that's your daily points allowance - you do have to remember when you drop down to the next stone (eg I've just gone from 11 to 10) you must take off a point.
There is the option to do a fast start of 18 points that you can do through the diet however you shouldn't remain on it for more than 2 weeks.
You can save up to 4 points a day - then use these at the weekend or if you are going out anywhere for a meal or drinks.
So as you can see the points system is vital and this book gives you points value of every recipe next to the title of the dish plus vegetarian options and had this reduces the points of the meal.
~~~~ The contents of the Book~~~~
Opposite the actual contents page there is a great selection of information about the points system, 'filling foods' and how to find them (they are highlighted in green), the V vegetarian ssymbol, which dishes can by frozen (highlighted by a little blue snowflake and recipe notes that give good advice on standard definitions used throughout the books.
~~~~ Contents Page~~~~
This page lists the sections found of course and this is - I believe- one of the reasons this book is such a success - the various chapters will apply to every reader. Let me tell you how;
Introduction - Whole page photo displaying the Cheese & Tomato Bread Pudding (points 5 - serves 4) just incase the previous full colour shots had got your taste buds going - opposite page gives you information about what to look for when planning your meals and where in the book you can find easy advice on the recipes.
~~~Chapter 1 - Breakfast~~~ -
7 pages of wonderful breakfast recipes
with full colour photos on the opposite page giving you a fab idea of what the meal will look like.
The breakfast contained in this book have been chosen to suit all - even if you're like me 'you don't do breakfast' there is something that will appeal.
Favourite from this section - and I have them on a regular basis especially when having no time in the morning to prepare a brekkie - is the Banana Power Bar.
The bars can be made up in a batch of 10 then frozen - they take 1 min to defrost in the micro so make a great breakfast with my coffee. They have a points value of 3 ½ and as I said the recipe will make 10 bars. They take 10 mins to prepare & 25 mins to cook. The ingredients consist of low fat spread, golden syrup, demerara sugar, flour, porridge oats, dried cranberries, pumpkin seeds, banana & an egg.
Other dishes in this section range from Cinnamon & Sultana Porridge (points 4), Apricot & Yoghurt crunch (points 3), Peach & Mango smoothie (P2) - I will refer to points as P from now on, One dish baked breakfast (P3) Scrambled egg & smoked salmon muffin (P4 ½) this is another amazing dish to start a day with - I have prepare this one often on a Sunday as it goes down a treat with everyone. Potato cakes with ham & eggs is another fav although does take 35mins to prepare, so again one for the weekend when you're not rushing off to work, (P3 ½). For those who like a bite with their morning start the Sweetcorn fritters with spicy tomatoes would be right up your tongue taste buds - (P3) serves 4 and only takes 20mins to do. The Sunshine breakfast egg is another quick recipe taking only 10 mins and has a points value of 3. Fancy a bit of sausage? Then the sausage & potato sauté (P3) will be a great little number for you.
To finish the breakfast chapter WW have added a little something for the sweet tooths amongst you. The Apple & Raspberry muffins are unbelievable - however I will warn you this recipe makes 12 and they are 2 ½ P each - you will not be able to have just one - so take the advice in the book and freeze them as soon as they cool, only take 1 out at a time.
So as you can see the suggestions in this section will cover all types of breakfast or 'I don't do breakfast' eaters.
~~~Chapter 2 - Lunches and light bites~~~
This section consists of a variety of soups, salads, toasties, wraps & a bagel option.
I often prepare the Carrot, squash & pepper soup at the weekend and then freeze it into 6 servings. I can then take them to work straight from the freezer and find they have just about defrosted by lunchtime. The recipe is really easy to follow - taking 10 mins to prepare and 20 mins to cook. The soup is a smooth, thick, orange soup that has a lovely sweet taste with a subtle hint of paprika. The best bit - it's a 0 yes ZERO points value - so I can have 2 slices of WW bread and a WW roasted peanut bar - which leaves me completely full for only 2 ½ points - This is a great lunch option if you know you are going out or having friends around for drinks - you can save on your points for the drinks!!
There is also a Mediterranean vegetable soup with 0 points and it is full of chunky bright veg. For those of you who like a spiced soup the Curried Sweet Potato & lentil (2 ½ P) would be a tasty option.
The final 2 soups are Courgette, pea & mint (P2) and a Tomato, Celery & Apple soup (P ½).
As you can see these soups are great filling ways of saving points and staying satisfied at lunch time.
If you prefer sandwiches you will love the French Toasties recipe (P4 ½ )- the Dijon mustard brings out the taste of the smoked ham beautifully and compliments the egg coating that you fry the sandwiches in. (this is also a fab supper if you have spare points and feel puckish during the evening)
A Salsa Beef wrap or Lime & Coriander Chicken Bagel give a new twist to a lunch idea both having P5 ½ .
There a 3 salads that are all very different ingredients - Spiced Couscous (P5),Tricolore Pasta (P4 ½) , Chicken, grape & Potato (P4) and last the Rice Noodle salad with prawns (P ½).
What I really like about the format of the recipes is the handy hints of optional ingredients you can add to suit your taste, the veggie option and the highlighting in green of all Filling Foods (foods that keep you satisfied for longer).
~~~ Chapter 3 - Midweek meals in minutes ~~~
This whole section contains meals that can be ready in 30mins or less and is one of the most used sections I've used, especially being a full-time working mum. The most popular dish from this section, with my family is the Quick Herby Chicken Curry (P3) - I make 2 servings - each one serving 2 people- but one serving I use quorn chicken pieces for my veggie daughter - each serving is only P3 so you can add side dishes from chapter 9 - my son usually wants the oven sauteed spiced potatoes and they do work a treat together.
So what else can you do in 30mins - there are 2 pasta dishes both taking 15mins - a Gnocchi with tomato & bacon (P6), Herb-crusted Plaice with tomatoes again both take 15 mins (P4) a Honeyed duck noodle bowl (5 ½ P) which is amazing is you're a duck lover and goes very well with the spiced potatoes mentioned earlier.
Fancy Lamb ? - try the Mango Masala Lamb steaks - this was a real hit with a friend who wasn't a great lover of lamb but did fall for this dish. There are several other lamb dishes throughout this book and all have very unique flavours and different styles.
My granddaughter has a particular favourite in this section - the Beef Fajitas (P6 ½) she loves the tastes and way she can hold them in her hand. Because they are made from lean beef, fresh peppers mushrooms and 0% fat Greek yoghurt all the ingredients are really healthy.
Other recipes in this section are Smoked Salmon linguine P5 (that my non-veggie daughter has written down and tried at her house - apparently is 'totally gorgeous ').
Minted lamb pittas with tzatziki (a mint & cucumber, greek yoghurt dressing)P5.
Spiced Salmon with pea puree (P6) although I'm not a great lover of salmon the photo of this dish looks very good so may give it a try when the BBQ comes out.
Pan-fried Turkey & Ham Escalopes (P4) -these look like a good dish for buffets and only take 15 mins to cook.
The Tangy Chicken with crushed potatoes (P4) is this one dish my son really wants me to do when he gets back from camp - the sugar snap peas suggestion will compliment the poultry well.
This chapter finishes with a good old Pork & rosemary dish with lemon rice (P7 ½ ) it looks wonderful so will try this when I have 4 for tea.
~~~Chapter 4 - Cooking for One~~~
Up until this week I hadn't really looked at this section - however, with my son on camp and me not working this week I thought I delve into these pages. Here are several of the dishes that jumped out at me;
Indian Omelette (P2 ½ ) takes 10mins. Cider & mustard chicken with brown rice (P3 ½ ) or the mushroom & chick pea gratin (4 ½ P).
I went for the Cider & mustard chicken but used a Quorn chicken fillet, knocking off ½ point in doing so.
The meal only took me 20mins to cook and it was wonderful - the cider and course grain mustard worked so well together given the dish a sweet, spicy and warming taste. I have a feeling you could try using a sweet, white wine instead of the cider or a non-alcoholic wine if you don't drink. My daughter said she replaced the rice with a large green leaf salad & Sweetcorn and it was great too.
I am not going to list every dish in the following sections because - if you are still reading at this point- are probably feeling very hungry and want to sign off to go eat or you may just be getting bored of reading about recipes.
The Next Few chapters - I will review quickly and pick out just one favourite that I have tried.
~~~Chapter 5 - Vegetarian~~~
This chapter is obviously my eldest daughter's favourite section of the book - however I have found that I have become a frequent visitor to these recipes myself.
Her favourite - Potato, Spinach & Cauliflower Curry - (P1 ½) 25 mins to prepare and serves 4. We have it as a main dish and the boys usually have it with a slab of meat of some kind - both ways are fantastic and the dish is extremely filling.
My Favourite - Sausage & Apple Toad in the hole with onion gravy- (P4 ½ ) - I make the batter mix as one but cook 2 types of sausages - the Cumberland Quorn for us girls and Irish recipe ones for the boys and cook in 2 separate dishes. I usually a pile of vegetables to this dish to add colour and ensure everyone is full.
There are various rice dishes, a gnocchi recipe, tasty mushroom burger, bean moussaka & several bakes that will delight both veggies and non-veggies.
~~~Chapter 6- Family Favourites~~~
This section is a fantastic selection of family dinners that will really help the Weightwatcher who is cantering for a hungry family whilst trying to stick to the points system.
There is a version of a cottage pie that is a wonderful dish that can be made as a veggie option too. The only tricky bit I found when making this was grating the potatoes and carrots for the topping. But the final dish was well worth it.
Traditional Roast Beef is here - on yes you can still have your beef and eat it (sorry that's cake isn't it?)
There is also the gammon joint covered with a cranberry glaze for those little porky lovers.
The Roast Chicken dish from the front cover appears in this section and is certainly worth following - especially the tip amount how to keep the breast moist.
For the veggie there are some more great ideas for large family dishes such as the Cheese and Tomato bread pudding that looks very similar to a cheesy lasagna.
I really love the final dish of stuffed mushrooms in this section that can be made as a side dish or great starter.
~~~Chapter 7 -Comfort Food ~~~
These meals do take a lot longer to prepare but they are really satisfying and some just like the good old pub favourites.
They range from chicken stew & turkey casseroles to beef and dumplings, spicy meatballs to sauage & potato hotpot.
These dishes range from 2 ½ points to 7 points - they vary in prep & cooking time from 30 mins to 60 mins but every recipe will warm and fill the coldest of tummys.
My favourite - the Sausage & potato hotpot (P4 ½ ) cooking time 20 to prep, 60 mins to cook - and certainly worth the wait. The smell you get wafting from the oven is so good.
~~~Chapter 8 - Celebrate~~~
This chapter is fantastic if you are entertaining, with inspiring starters to impressive main courses. Many of the dishes can be prepared before hand to save you precious time on the day.
The Tequila Chicken has been a hit in my house - my guest didn't even know they were eating WW food.
For the red meat lovers then the Peppered steak with mushroom sauce (P3 ½ ) is a massive hit. My daughter's partner couldn't believe his eyes when she cooked this for him. I couldn't believe she had cooked meat.
There is a fab Honey mustard Quorn fillet with baby veg for your veggie dinner guests - I have had this one several times because the mustard & honey works brilliantly together - you can exchange the quorn for skinless chicken breast just add ½ point.
~~~Chapter 9 - Something on the side ~~~
The side dishes here are great to compliment all the main dishes - they vary from vegetable bakes to roast potato dishes to gratins.
Some of the gratins and bakes I have actually had as a lunch the following day - if on the odd occasion there has been a portion left over.
They heat up well and don't lose their flavours.
The Cornbread Muffins make 12 each one being 1 ½ P - and didn't take long to cook - these work really well with the soups and make a great change from a slice of bread. They can be frozen - to stop you eating more than 1 !!
~~~ Chapter 10 - Desserts and Bakes~~~
See you can have your cake and eat it - well with Weightwatchers you can. There are 14 amazing recipes here that sweet tooth lovers will die for.
Cheesecakes, fruity salsa, strudels, sponge & chocolate puddings, brownies, drizzle cakes & a great favourite of ours - Crispy Chocolate moments.
The Chocolate Orange Brownies (P1 ½ each) I have now perfected. They take 10 mins to prepare, 15 mins to cook and 1 hr to chill - if there aren't any little hungry fingers around)
~~~ What Else Makes This Book Good?~~~
At the back of this book every recipe is listed under an ascending points value chart - this makes choosing and planning menus easy and quick to do. It helps vary your meals so that boredom doesn't set in and willingness to stick at it wanes.
The alphabetical index that completes the final pages shows which dishes are veggie so again easy to plan menus and stay on top of the game.
Recommend it - without a doubt - not just for WW but for all who wish to inspire healthy eating and varied dishes that look tasty and delicious.
This is a book full of 192 mouth-watering recipes that we call our Kitchen Bible.
Thanks for reading and hope you have enjoyed.
X hev (on ciao & dooyoo)
A Tasty little dish ready in a under 10 mins.
Since joining WeightWacthers I have tried many new recipes from their new Fabulouf & Filling Book (I have a review on this book waiting to go on as soon as the suggest is accepted)
However, there have been the odd day when I have needed to ensure I have a hot meal at work without going over my points.
I picked this Beef Hotpot up from my local Co-op store when they were doing a deal on the WW'S meals (2 meals for £3) so this dish worked out to be £1.50 - bargain considering a decent sandwich would cost this.
Anyway - the Beef Hotpot is only 3 1/2 points, has less than 3% fat and now down to 209 calories.
There are no artificial colours or hydrogenated fats that have been added to the ingredients so you know you are eating healthy.
The hotpot comes in its own little black dish with a film lid - so cooking at work in the mirco is easy.
The outer box is mainly coloured dark pink with the Weightwatchers name on the left hand side.
There is a clear detailed photo of the meal on the right of the box, showing a good view of the ingredients withing the meal.
You can cook the Hotpot in an oven - although it does takes 40-45mins.
I have always used the micro cooking method which on a 750w micro takes 7mins 30secs plus 1 min standing.
The first time I cooked this little number - I was pleasantly surprised at the really good smell that hit my nostrils as I took the plate from the micro. The gravy was bubbling slightly so you must let it stand for 1 min.
The pototoes that covered the top where evenly sliced and made you feel as if you weren't really eating 'diet' food.
The gravy was a rich, red wine gravy (there's only 3% wine- so don't panick you won't get drunk from this lunch!!) and was lovely.
There was a good amount of peas and carrots to balance out the minced beef.
I am not usually a fan of minced beef - hate the fatty/grizzly bit - however, this mince was extremely lean with no fat or grizzly present.
The onions weren't overpowering and a good tasty of tomatoes complimented the rich gravy.
The only thing I would say is that I do tend to add more black pepper to give it a bit more kick.
Yes I certainly do - not just for Weightwatchers but for those you need a hot meal quickly ut want to eat healthly. I have also had this as en evening meal and added a side dish of cauliflower gratin from the Weightwatchers books. So give it a try for a quick, hot and satisfying little dish.
This product gets a 10 out of 10 from me
Thanks for reading
x hev (on dooyoo and ciao)
~~~~ Felix Kitten food ~~~~
My kitten, Bobbie, is now 11 weeks old and full of beans. When he first arrived at my house, unexpectedly, he looked as if he had been dragged through a hedge backwards. His eyes were infected and he had terrible diarrhoea. I wont go into the curricumstances of how he came to be with me but lets just say I'm glad my partner has a soft spot for animals and will step in if he sees cruelty towards our little friends. After advice and a lot of TLC he pulled through the weekend and is now a very healthy and happy little chap.
At first I had been feeding him on another famous brand of kitten food and he seemed to enjoy it. However, over the past 2 weeks we changed to Felix kitten food simple because the other brand had sold out. The box of 12 pouches cost me £3.17 - 80p cheaper than another leading brand.
~~~~What you get for your money~~~~
There were 2 differenct boxes both containing 12 pouches. One box contained four varities which included; Plaice, lamb, cod & chicken. The other has; beef, poultry, trout and tuna.
This box will last him about 10 days as his tummy is still little and he needs to be fed small amounts but often. My vet also suggested dry food to be used as part of a mixed diet with his pouches to help his teeth.
~~~~ Inner Pouches / Packaging ~~~~
The 12 pouches weigh 100g each and are sorted into 4 different colours each one representing the flavour inside. On the front of the pouches a mini kitten version of the Felix cat (you see in the adverts)sits on a rug that represt the same colour as the flavour. The word kitten, Katzchen,Chaton & Junior is displayed across the top of the packet - a good idea as my sister pointed out when you have an adult cat and kitten together and the pouches get mixed up.
On the back of each pouch there is the bag weight and the sentence ' Complete Pet Food For Kittens' repeated in 7 other languages - so not much information there.
Open the small bags is very simple - situated at the top of each one is a tear that stops just before the middle section containing the food begins. There are very easy to rip and do tear directly across in a straight line. This makes pushing the required amount out simple. (Although what I measure out and Bobbie would like to see in his bowl seems to be 2 different amounts)
The pouches are made from a shiny light weight plastic that is easy to wipe and waterproof (unless opened of course) Also great to have them so water-tight when you kitten has the co-ordination of a drunk monkey and continuously knocks objects over his boxes of food!!
I have found the easy opening really helpful as I often suffer from numb fingers so open small packages can be really difficult.
The cardboard box that contains these pouches is a standard size box for cat / kitten food with dimensions of approx. 7 ½ " x 5 ½ " x 3 ½ ". The weight is just over well - 12 x 100g - so not heavy too carry. The box is sturdy, mainly blue coloured card with a lot of information about the product, feeding tables & guides and their website. On the front we have our cheeky little kitten peering up at you with his paws on his bowl (that displays an image of the food that does look like the product). On the left hand side under the Purina Felix Kitten title the flavours are listed with a coloured paw next to each one.
On one side panel (and on the bottom of the box) there is a useful feeding guide. However, the feeding table on the bottom of the box didn't tie in with the advice I had been given from my vet, so I would recommend you check - according to the table on the box Bobbie should be having 4 pouches per day!! Although I'm sure he would like this, the vet has said this would be overfeeding.
There are freephone numbers and website details listed on the bottom of the box with information about opening hours.
There are also details of ingredients on each variety - it seems to be each recipe contains meat and animal derivatives, fish and fish derivatives, minerals various sugars and then a 4% addition of the specific flavour (e.g. plaice, lamb, cod or chicken).
On the left side panel there are tokens you can save and then spend on their website - details all listed on the box.
~~~~ The Food itself ~~~
The food comes as small chunks of meat wrapped in a jelly. The jelly is a translucent orangey colour that is quiet thick but very easy to break down with a fork. The food slips out of the pouch as one thin block so chopping the jelly and food down does help small kittens to eat the food with ease - Bobbie has for some reason always had the ability to wolf the whole lot down whether I've had chance to get the fork in before his head appears. The chunks of meat, fish, animal derivatives are small blocks about the size of a thumb nail and of a light brown colour that vary very slightly in shade with the different varieties. They are very soft in texture so again very easy for kittens to eat.
Some cat foods have a really strong smell, Felix Kitten food however, doesn't have an overpowering odour about it. Although Bobbie can smell a sachet being opened from 3 rooms away!!
Oh and before you ask - no I'm not going to talk about how this product tastes - I will take the fact that Bobbie seems very excited when he sees me reaching for his sachets and he never leaves a spot (which he has done with a cheaper own brand Kitten food) as evidence that it tastes good.
The food does contain vitamins A, D3, and E along with protein (10.2%), Oil (4.5%) Ash - (ash??!! - 2.5%) Fibre (0.5%) Moisture (am guess this to be water- 82.3%) Copper - as copper sulphate - 3mg/kg.
~~~~ So who makes this Kitten Food ~~~~
Purina is the company who are responsible for this product both the Kitten and adult varities. They have done in exists for over 80 years. The beginnings of the company was set up in 1829 by Joel Spiller but over the years have incoporated 2 other companies - Ralston Purnia & Friskies - to now by known as one of the world's leading Pet Food companies. Their website offers many services and show how committed they are to their products and pet owners.
~~~~ Conclusion ~~~~
So to sum up - With the cost of this product being cheaper than other leading brands and the 'wolf' factor in the disappearance of it from my kitten's bowl - I do consider this to be a great buy. One last thought - with a cheaper own brand that Bobbie didn't show much interest in, he also had wind. For those of you that have ever sat next to a cat with wind you will know this isn't good. With Felix,however, no windy spells from the rear end.
A good product all around so yes I would highly recommend it.
Thanks for reading
X hev (on ciao and dooyoo)
So how have I come to be listening to these CD's?
I wasn't a really a great fan of alot of the 80's stuff, so really wouldn't have gone out to buy this set of tracks of my own accord - My daughter had been given this last month for her birthday and having fab CD player in her car decided to keep it in there for listening to, on her journeys home.
I was being treated by her to a mother's day lunch out (wow I'M NOT DRIVING HER - SHE'S DRIVING ME!! )and before I knew it she had slipped a disc into her player and the magical sounds of The Bangles - Walk like an Egyptians start pelting out.
Prices and availablity
As I mentioned earlier, my daughter had this for a present but I have looked on the net and here's where & how much you can get it.
Amazon are selling it £8.99 at the mo with free delivery and the set is usually despatched within 24hours.
Not bad. However,
ASDA direct have slashed the price down to £6.93 with free delivery.
Play.com are also selling the set from used copies starting at £6.48 to new ones at £6.99.
So for you 80's fans a bargain considering there are 5 discs with 100 tracks in total.
The 5 discs come in a compact CD plastic case that holds all 5 discs. This is contained within a flexible cardboard sleeve cover that is sealed at one end so the case doesn't slide straight out. A good feature if you are leaving them in a side section of the car that can cause 'sliding' of objects as you turn a corner.
The graphics of the covers are simple with white backgrounds and basic black / grey bold printing displaying the title. I did smile when looking at the 8 artists, the advertising company have chosen as the 'highlighted artists' for the selling point of the front cover.
They are :
Rick Astley (a one hit wonder)
The Pretenders ( yeah ok can see they are a good choice),
Haircut 100 (hmm cut out please),
Bananarama ( fab bring on the girls)
Dollar ( oh no - please not them!)
Fairground Atrraction (!!!!),
Wham (yeah ok, not my cuppa tea but they did have some major hits) and finally -
The Bangles ( they were ok actually - not around for long but some pretty good tracks and videos to accompany the hits.
Well for those of you old enough to remember these guys would you seriously buy this set based on these 8 artists being the top guys in the set - not me!
So after watching my daughter singing her head off, to stuff I used to run from the dance floor from, I grabbed the cover to search the back listings for something I could possibly reminisce fondly on. Well, quite frankly I was struggling - but then as I said earlier wasn't a fan of this era.
Of the 100 tracks on here I could only find these I liked and they were on separate discs so my daughter wasn't impressed with me wanted to change and skip through her disc - hmm how the tables have turned - used to be me grinding my teeth as she would keep taking my 'tapes' out of the player whilst I was driving.
The Pretenders - Don't get me wrong. (Brilliant as is all their stuff)
Bananarama - Robert De Niro's waiting (classic)
Terence Trent D'Arby - Wishing Well (fab, bril, one to listen to)
Bad Manners - Special Brew (oh at last a great one)
Bananaraman - Shy Boy (not their best but ok)
Howard Jones - What is Love? (hmm, had forgotten about this one - worth remember because the beat is fast yet smooth)
The Pointer Sisters - Jump for my love (and if you've read my Running Songs review - you will know why I like this one)
The Four Tops - Loco In Acapuloc ( from the classic movie Buster and a great hit)
The Beat - Mirror in the Bathroom (fast and fab reminder of my days as a Ska girl)
Bad Manners - Lip Up Fatty ( as above and just loved these guys)
Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy ( I have a couple of their albums and love them)
This was my first introduction to the set with...
The Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian (the video to this was bril, the track catchy and one for the karaoke night.
The Stranglers - Skin Deep (Have always been a big fan so was impressed to see this here although not their biggest hit)
Echo & The Bunnymen - The Cutter (really surprised this track was chosen for this and as they had some far better hits that could have been selected)
Stray Cats - Stray Cat Strut - (I think this track was the only bit hit the band had - it is a good one and was a different sound for the time - very swing/ rockabilly)
Fine Young Cannibals - Johnny Come Home ( another hit from the FYC)
The Beat - Hands Off...She's Mine. (A good track, but maybe not to everyone's taste)
Pretenders - Back On The Chain Gang ( fab one to finish with)
So what tracks you get for your dosh? Here are the full track listings...
1. A-Ha - Take On Me
2. Bucks Fizz - The Land Of Make Believe
3. Men At Work - Down Under
4. The Pretenders - Don't Get Me Wrong
5. Bananarama - Robert De Niro's Waiting
6. Aztec Camera - Somewhere In My Heart
7. The Belle Stars - Sign Of The Times
8. Terence Trent D'Arby - Wishing Well
9. Rick Astley - Whenever You Need Somebody
10. Spagna - Call Me
11. Thompson Twins - Hold Me Now
12. The Bluebells - Young At Heart
13. Altered Images - Don't Talk To Me About Love
14. Boy Meets Girl - Waiting For A Star To Fall
15. Howard Jones - Like To Get To Know You Well
16. Eighth Wonder - I'm Not Scared
17. Dollar - Hand Held In Black And White
18. Aneka - Japanese Boy
19. Blancmange - Living On The Ceiling
20. Haysi Fantayzee - John Wayne Is Big Leggy
1. Wham! - Wham Rap!
2. Fairground Attraction - Perfect
3. Dollar - Mirror Mirror
4. Bad Manners - Special Brew
5. A-Ha - The Sun Always Shine's On T.V.
6. Bananarama - Shy Boy
7. Fiction Factory - (Feels Like) Heaven
8. Bros - When Will I Be Famous?
9. Haircut 100 - Fantastic Day
10. Hollywood Beyond - What's The Colour Of Money?
11. Howard Jones - What Is Love?
12. Owen Paul - My Favourite Waste Of Time
13. Nick Kamen - Each Time You Break My Heart
14. Landscape - Einstein A Go-Go
15. Martika - Toy Soldiers
16. Kiki Dee - Star
17. Lotus Eaters - The First Picture Of You
18. Matt Bianco - Half A Minute
19. Paul Young - Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)
20. Rah Band - Clouds Across The Moon
1. Nena - 99 Red Balloons
2. Taylor Dayne - Tell It To My Heart
3. The Belle Stars - Iko Iko
4. The Pointer Sisters - Jump For My Love
5. The Four Tops - Loco In Acapulco
6. The Beat - Mirror In The Bathroom
7. Michael McDonald - Sweet Freedom
8. Lisa Lisa - I Wonder If I Take You Home
9. Kon Kan - I Beg Your Pardon
10. Farley 'Jackmaster' Funk - Love Can't Turn Around
11. Communards - You Are My World
12. Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy
13. Dead Or Alive - That's The Way (I Like It)
14. Bad Manners - Lip Up Fatty
15. Debbie Gibson - Shake Your Love
16. Bomb The Bass - Beat Dis
17. Fine Young Cannibals - She Drives Me Crazy
18. Timex Social Club - Rumors
19. Yes - Owner Of A Lonely Heart
20. Los Lobos - La Bamba
1. Bangles - Walk Like An Egyptian
2. John Oates - I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)
3. Kenny Loggins - Footloose
4. John Farnham - You're The Voice
5. Freiheit - Keeping The Dream Alive
6. Dream Academy - Life In A Northern Town
7. The Cars - Drive
8. King - Love And Pride
9. The Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra
10. Hothouse Flowers - Don't Go
11. The Stranglers - Skin Deep
12. Jesus And Mary Chain - Some Candy Talking
13. Echo And The Bunnymen - The Cutter
14. The Range - The Way It Is
15. Deacon Blue - Real Gone Kid
16. Christopher Cross - Ride Like The Ride
17. Stray Cats - Stray Cat Strut
18. Matchbox - When You Ask About Love
19. Department S - Is Vic There?
20. Chas And Dave - Rabbit
1. Aztec Camera - Oblivious
2. Blow Monkeys - Digging Your Scene
3. Furniture - Brilliant Mind
4. Fine Young Cannibals - Johnny Come Home
5. The Psychedelic Furs - Pretty In Pink
6. Dee C Lee - See The Day
7. Bow Wow Wow - I Want Candy
8. Japan - Quiet Life
9. Blancmange - Don't Tell Me
10. The Primitives - Crash
11. The Beat - Hands Off...She's Mine
12. Bluebells - I'm Falling
13. The Pogues - Dirty Old Town
14. Susan Fassbender - Twilight Cafe
15. Pretenders - Back On The Chain Gang
16. Latin Quarter - Radio Africa
17. Jo Boxers - Boxerbeat
18. Everything But The Girl - I Don't Want To Talk About It
19. Carmel - Bad Day
20. Westworld - Sonic Boom Boy
As you can see I not a huge fan of this box set of 80's tracks - although
my daughter is. Of the 100 tracks on here I would only really have listened to 18 maybe 20 of the whole listing. So for me not something I would go out and buy.
Have just seen 'Push It' advertised - sounds abit more like it so will be looking out for that one. This was a little disappointing for me but then so were the 80's.
If you were a massive fan of this era then, you will probably sing your head off to this whole set - if however, you're not then steer clear.
Thanks for reading
X hev (also on ciao)