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I went into town this morning, and was in WHSmiths, trying to find a copy of the Good Food magazine, but they didn't have any in stock, to the left of the empty Good Food display rack were a pile of these BBC Easy Cook magazines, the pictures on the front encouraged me to buy it and see what it was like, as a change from the norm.
>>> First impressions
The title is bold, clear and easy to spot, if you were specifically looking for it. The subtitle REAL FOOD FOR BUSY PEOPLE, makes you feel that this could be a magazine worth looking at, with recipe ideas to help us all out. As we never seem to have the time to do anything nowadays!! There are some really tasty looking pictures of food on the cover, highlighting that the magazine has over 80 simple recipes inside, with some great ideas for chicken, solutions to fast family meals, homemade pizza toppings, toad in the hole with a twist, easy Victoria sandwich, It also has a back to school special, with ideas for your child's packed lunch. (Those of you who have seen and heard a lot from him recently, will be pleased to know Jamie Oliver is nowhere in sight!) Included in this magazine is a pull-out mini-mag headed up with the title Ready Steady Cook. (You can read more about this pull-out further in the review.) As it's produced by the BBC, I felt like I was buying a good quality magazine, from a well known company.
>>> Inside cover Information
When you open the cover you find a brief welcome from the Editor: Sarah Giles, who gives you a quick taster to what you can find inside. There is also information you may wish to know, should you need to contact the Easy Cook team. One thing I do like, is a box highlighting Easy Access; It shows you that the magazine is divided into everyday and weekend sections, which are colour coded, to help you find your way around the magazine. These section titles are then found on the next page with more detailed information about what recipes you can find and what pages they are on. The colour of the section is then printed all the way down the outside edge of the relevant page, like a border. It does mean that you can find exactly what you are looking for without going through the whole magazine.
(My thought about each part is in brackets)
~~~ 'What's for
Pictures of BBC Easy Cook
autumn 07 issue 15
supper' section (pink)This section includes ~ 10 different meals for busy families that could be prepared in 20 minutes or less, ~ 10 minute black forest trifle with an easy twist, (looks really yummy and fattening!) ~ 3 low-fat meals, which contain lots of flavours, (and are good enough for all the family to have.) ~ vegetarian quick noodle teriyaki (you don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy it)
~~~ 'Feeding the kids' (blue)
Includes ~ Family classic, Toad-in-the-hole (haven't had this since I was little) ~ Reader recipe swap - (where readers can send in our favourite recipe to share with other readers and win a prize) ~ Back to school special, ideas for what to give your kids, vitamins they need, and how to get them cooking. ~ Packed Lunch ideas (tempted to use these for an adult's lunch as well) ~ Taste Test - lunchbox suggestions tried and tested! ~ Home from School - 4 great healthy suppers that are quick to prepare and will fill them up after a long day.
~~~ 'From your store cupboard' (purple)
Includes ~ Something from nothing - easy potato tapas ~ Handy standby - making the most from a ready made pizza base (far better than your standard cheese and tomato) ~ Have you tried cooking with beer? - great for recipes as well as drinking! (another way to have alcohol! Yippee!) ~ Essential cooking equipment - our favourite products for the home cook. (range of products to make your job in the kitchen easier)
~~~ 'Family Meals' (light green)
Includes ~ Make the most of Chicken (what else can you make? 6 more ideas including advice on how to carve a roast chicken) ~ Weekend breakfast - enjoy a lie-in, (if only! Not with a toddler about) ~ Saturday snack - tuna bagel melt ~ Weekend main meals - lazy make-ahead meals ~ Weekend desserts - great recipes for autumn fruit (I never say no to dessert) ~ Speedy risotto
~~~ 'Cooking for friends' (dark green)
Includes ~ Menu for 6 - take your friends on a safari supper (don't worry, giraffe and elephant not included!) ~ Wine basics - suggestions to go with your meal (wine I never say no!) ~ New fish recipes - easy ideas to try. (I love fish, but need some good simple meal ideas)
~~~ 'Easy baking' (mustard yellow)
Includes ~ Step by step - Cheddar scones ~ Tasty chicken pasty ~ Recipe for the biscuit tin - perfect for afternoon tea. (Or in my case anytime you need something to snack on!) ~ Weekend bake - Delicious carrot cake ~ Step by step - Classic Victoria sandwich.
>>> Ready Steady Cook Pull-out Mini-Mag
This is a 16 page pull-out, brought to us by the 'Ready steady cook' team. This issue is a pudding special. Inside you will find information on the show, competitions to enter, information about the celebrity chefs and most important, lots of pudding recipes!! As I scan through to see what I could try, I find a recipe for Chocolate chilli cake! My husband is really into chillies at the moment, as this cake only takes 20 minutes to cook, I think I may well have a go at it, this weekend.
There is also an interview with a new chef, called Alex Mackay. 19 year old from New Zealand. It's a good quick read with your morning coffee. If you still have 10 minutes to spare you could do the puzzles on pages 14/15, these include 2 sudoku puzzles, a crossword and a wordsearch. The crossword and wordsearch are both food related, and not very challenging, I've already completed most of the crossword already! If you want the solutions you'll have to wait until the next magazine.
>>> Overall Opinion
I am really impressed with this magazine; there are so many recipes I would like to try out on my family. It has given me so many new ideas, some recipes are similar to what I've done before, but changing a few ingredients can make it so different and healthier too! Every recipe, is easy to read, in clear type, the recipe is supported with a photo of what the finished product should look like, we all know that photos in these types of magazines are always made to look more tempting, my meals never really look like the photo, but I do like to have some idea of what I should be serving up. Each recipe and photo also contains important information; such as, how many people the recipe serves, time it will take to make, cost per portion, kcals, fat and sat. fat per portion, and also whether it is suitable for home freezing. This information can be very useful, for those who are on diets, cooking on a budget or preparing food for a dinner party.
Although they have grouped the recipes into everyday food and weekend food, there is no harm in using the recipes when you want, my husband used to work at the weekend and sometimes needed something quick/light before he went on a night shift.
I also liked the idea of including a conversion chart on page 5; all the recipes in the magazine are written in mls, cms and grams. As this magazine may be used by people of all ages, some people prefer to measure out food/ingredients in ounces, pounds and inches.
The main magazine has 84 glossy pages, which are good quality, (some magazines can feel very cheap.) Only 6 pages are used to advertise food or products, which I like, I don't want to spend my money on something that uses most of it's pages as advertising, there is so much of it nowadays, it's nice not having it forced down our throats for a change! 6 pages are used to promote subscriptions to this magazine, reader offers and other subscriptions from the BBC. A staggering 66 pages are devoted to the recipes, which I feel is a great proportion of the overall product and value for money.
On the front it says 'issue 15 autumn 2007.' I've looked all the way through but can't seem to find, how often this magazine is issued, I'm assuming it's every season. If you know different then I'd love to know. What I do know is; the next issue is on sale Wednesday 7th November and is a 'special Christmas and New Year Issue. I'm making a note now in my diary to buy it.
>>> Cost (including subscription details)
This magazine cost me £2.50. Which I feel is a good price for a magazine that you will want to keep and use again and again. You can subscribe to this publication; they are currently offering you the opportunity to buy 6 issues for the price of 4, saving over 30% off the cover price. It will also be delivered to your door free of charge. If you want to you can pay for 6 issues to be sent to a friend or relative as a gift subscription. These are great for people who seem to have everything else and you never know what to buy them. I've done a few in the past and would be happy to do it again.
>>> Contact Details
BBC Easy cook, Woodlands Room AG170 80 Wood Lane London W12 OTT
~Subscription enquiries and back issues
BBC Easy cook Building 800 Guillat Avenue Kent Science Park Sittingbourne Kent ME9 8GU
I'm off to see what's in the cupboard for dinner tonight.
(note: please ignore frequency of publication criteria, had to choose something and 'unsure' was not available)
Brilliant review. Sounds like a great magazine with lots of useful ideas.
andrewfleminguk 13.10.2007 02:41
Impressive review, good pictures to support and probably just what I need with my cooking skills!
S.Bate 09.10.2007 07:51
Good review and congrats on your win. As a vegetarian, I kind of resent paying for a load of stuff I can't use - but that's very unfair of me and there are enough good ideas that you mention, which would make the magazine worth having. Well done.