by Jane-Anne Hobbs (Struik) R260 ISBN 9781431702244


Creating memorable meals for the people you love is the author’s aim, and she writes about honest food, cooked with love, generosity and an open heart: beautiful words, but do they meet my expectation? Yes! This book has a wide range of recipes, from Thai and Middle Eastern to Italian and typically South African, with good vegetarian options.


Hobbs mixes old-fashioned recipes and gives them a modern twist, like onion soup with a mustard and cheese soufflé topping or lamb curry with coriander gremolata. Or she transforms a Caprese salad into a hot Caprese tart.


My favourite one is the white gazpacho with tomato granita. This cold soup is served in a bowl made of ice. Hobbs describes step by step how to make such a bowl. I have been looking for an unusual conversation piece at the dinner table and this will be the one.

She explains each recipe with precision: ‘one slice of lemon, no more’ and most of the ingredients are easily available. Hobbs started Scrumptious as a food blog and maybe that experience has made this cookbook so successful.


The photographs are also beautiful and inspiring. If only each recipe had a picture, the book would have been perfect.


Pauline Vijverberg



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Birkenhead Blooms - The floral art of Alyson Kessel

by Alyson Kessel (Struik Lifestyle) R180, 00 ISBN 978-1-770007-851-2


I was blown away by the detailed photography of each arrangement. The most useful thing about this book is that it is like an easy step by step recipe book for arranging flowers. You know exactly what you need from the shape of the vase, to the ribbon, to the scissors and coloured cellophane paper. 


Every arrangement large or small is a tribute to the artiste's perfection.  The simplicity of where each bloom is placed makes you wonder if you will achieve the same simple arrangement.  Blending of colours and types of blooms used, amazed me. Who would have thought to combine those specific flowers in that kind of vase? 


Simplicity is the name of the game. Even floating flowerheads of different sizes and hues makes for an appealing kind of art.  A lemon at the bottom of a vase adds sunshine to the arrangement. Reeds over a shallow bowl form a grid pattern, add a couple of slices of lemon and loose flowerheads and it is impossible to describe how this layered floral art can impress. Fill a narrow vase with frozen peas and add flowers of your own choice and you have a most unusual vase of lovely colours and textures. Using pared down proteas and roses you can use raffia strands or even narrow antique velvet ribbon for a really shabby-chic effect.  Even the "drowned rose look" is in a class of their own.  Make your serviettes pretty and festive with flowers and woven lavender (you are told how to do this)


Alyson Kessel spent 30 years in garment design. The past six years she had been the contract florist for the Birkenhead House and Villa in Hermanus. With no floral formal training she is not bogged down by rules. Her style is minimalistic yet luxurious, quirky and pretty stunning.


Dee Andrew


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