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Monthly Archives: June 2015
  • Posted on June 30, 2015


    We love a weird and wonderful fact here at RPS and CICO Books towers. Rarely a day goes by when someone (ok, often me) says “Did you know…?” So, we were thrilled when one of our new Dog’n’Bone books, OMG! Can You Believe It?, landed on our desks last week. Chock-full of facts ranging from the hilarious to the bizarre to the downright grim, this book is very entertaining! Never again will you be stuck for something to say!

    Because it’s Tuesday and it’s sunny and that’s put us in a sharing kind of a mood, we thought we’d let you in on some of our favourite facts from the book…prepare to be amazed!

    • In Alaska, a local law makes it illegal to whisper in someone’s ear while they are hunting moose.
    • Your nose can remember one trillion different smells
    • Weirdly, nine-banded armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus) nearly always give birth to a set of identical quadruplets – of the same sex. Strangely, armadillos are also the only animals apart from humans that can get leprosy.
    • Cats are either right- or left-pawed – just like us!
    • Between 1725 and 1765 a Russian peasant woman gave birth to 69 children – her family included 16 sets of twins, seven sets of triplets and four sets of quadruplets. OMG!
    • In 1899, the weather was so cold that the Mississippi River froze over completely – for its entire length.
    • Russia has a larger surface area than Pluto.
    • Unlucky Roy C. Sullivan, a US park ranger, was struck by lightning seven times in his lifetime. The odds of this happening are 22 septillion to 1! Roy even got hit when he was inside a ranger station.
    • Charles VI of France (1368-1422) believed he was made of glass. So, he refused to travel by coach – just in case he shattered into pieces. He wasn’t called “Charles the Mad” for nothing.
    • A Roman method of execution involved the unfortunate victim being sewn into a sack containing a live dog, monkey, cockerel and snake.

    If you enjoyed this Top Ten, there’s plenty more to be discovered in OMG! Can You Believe It? by Caroline West & Mark Latter, available for pre-order here! And if you can't wait for some weird and wonderful facts, Caroline and Mark's last book, Last Suppers is available here, and should keep you going until September!

    This post was posted in Featured, UK, What's new and was tagged with gift, summer holidays, humour, 2015, top ten tuesday

  • Posted on June 26, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    Happy Friday! We’re getting very excited for the start of Wimbledon next week: The sun is out, strawberries are everywhere and Murray Worry hasn’t quite kicked in yet…So, whilst the players limber up and work on their second serve, we’re practising for our main role in the whole affair: drinking Pimm’s. In Boozy Shakes, Victoria Glass has pimped our favourite summer drink and this will make the perfect Wimbledon accompaniment! Enjoy!

    Let England Shake

    What is more quintessentially English than a Pimm’s and lemonade? I’ve shaken up this summer-time classic and turned it into a float, complete with strawberry, cucumber and mint sorbet, and named it after PJ Harvey’s prize winning 2011 album.

    300 ml fizzy lemonade

    100 ml summer fruit cup, such as Pimm’s

    4 scoops Strawberry Sorbet (see below)

    2 sprigs of fresh mint, to serve

    Strawberry Sorbet

    175 g caster sugar

    500 g fresh strawberries, hulled

    1⁄4 large cucumber, chopped

    2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

    a handful of fresh mint, finely chopped

    an ice cream maker (optional)

    2 highball tumblers

    Makes 600 ml and serves 2

    Begin by making the strawberry sorbet. Put the sugar and 175 ml of water in a saucepan or pot set over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Put the strawberries, cucumber and lemon juice into the blender with the cold sugar syrup and blitz until liquidized. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a jug and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. If using an ice cream maker, pour the liquid into the machine and once it begins to set, add the chopped mint and continue to churn until fully set. Transfer the sorbet to an airtight container and store in the freezer until needed. If making by hand, simply stir in the mint straight away and pour the liquid into an airtight container and freeze for about 4 hours, or until set, giving the mixture a vigorous whisk every 30 minutes to prevent crystals forming.

    Place the glasses in the freezer to chill for a few minutes.

    Mix the lemonade and Pimm’s together in a jug. Put 2 scoops of sorbet into each glass and top up with the Pimm’s and lemonade. It will fizz up and the more you stir it the more quickly the sorbet will melt. Garnish each glass with a sprig of mint and serve, preferably in a pretty garden in early summer.

    Boozy Shakes by Victoria Glass is available here.

    Go Murray!

    This post was posted in Featured, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with drinks, summer holidays, recipe for the weekend, cocktail, sweet, Victoria Glass, 2015, ice cream

  • Posted on June 25, 2015


    Have you seen Jurassic World yet? We LOVED it and our favourite was the T-Rex (obviously). So, we came home and decided we'd have a go at making a T-Rex of our very own. And just look how cute he is!

    Make A T-Rex

    Dinogami by Mari Ono & Hiroaki Takai is available here. The book comes with patterned paper for each dino-pal but you could use plain, coloured paper and decorate it yourself!

    If you want to see Rex come alive, check out our little video here!

    Origami T-Rex Video

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK and was tagged with kids, origami, paper crafts, dinosaur, 2012

  • Posted on June 22, 2015

    Win two tickets to the The Country Brocante Summer Fair!

    We are thrilled to have two early bird tickets to giveaway this week for THE COUNTRY BROCANTE Decorative Country Homes & Garden Show at Petworth Park, Sussex on SATURDAY 4th JULY. The tickets will allow you early entrance to the show, where you can browse and buy an exciting range of antiques and vintage finds for your home and garden, as well as free entry into the beautiful Petworth House. You can also visit our stand where we will have 20% off a gorgeous range of interiors, food and drink books!

    Ticket for The Country Brocante

    It's bound to be a lovely day out and all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning tickets for you and a friend is...

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    This is what Love Lane Vintage have to say about their fantastic range of exhibitors:

    Just weeks away now our Country Brocante Summer Fair is set to be an amazing day. We have The Capability Brown Tent filled with beautiful stands & pop up shops, the Tented Gallery filled with beautiful antiques, vintage and garden stands, The Sussex Tent will showcase wonderful artisan makers, vintage stands and antiques textiles, The Brocante Garden will be a village of gazebos, in here find an collection of French finds, garden treasures, plants and more vintage stands. Enjoy a glass of fizz with the Wiston Estate Winery and lunch in our Food Tent. Come and meet the Country Homes & Interiors Magazine team and get amazing discounts on the subscriptions, they will have goodie bags and more ! Ryland Peters & Small will be bringing along all their beautiful interiors books offering a 20% discount on all their titles.

    RPS & CICO Books at The Country Brocante

    We really hope to see you there! Good luck in the competition - the winner will be announced on Friday 26th June.

    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, News, UK and was tagged with interiors, event, 2015

  • Posted on June 19, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend: Father's Day Fries

    This weekend in the UK we're looking forward to some time with our dads... If you want to treat your old man to something special on Sunday (and we don't just mean a cold beer and the TV remote!), then why not cook him these delicious looking Father's Day Fries? This recipe is taken from the tempting new book by Laura Washburn, simply titled Fries and filled with all sorts of tasty tricks to pimp up the potato, sweet potato, parsnip, pumpkin and celeriac into the ultimate comfort food.

    I'm travelling back up north to visit my dad this weekend, so just happen to be in the mood for this British (and mostly northern!) favourite; chip shop chips and curry sauce! We'd love to see your chips chaps (curry sauce or not!), so tag us in your photos on Twitter or Instagram using #fathersdayfries and our favourite fries will win a copy of the book on Monday!

    Curry Fries

    classic fries

    3–4 large floury potatoes, all roughly the same size

    vegetable or sunflower oil

    sea salt flakes


    Peel the potatoes and trim on all sides to get a block. Cut the block into slices about 1-cm/3⁄8-in. thick, then cut the slices again to get chips.

    Put the potatoes into a bowl of iced water for at least 5 minutes, to remove excess starch and prevent sticking when frying.

    Fill a large saucepan one-third full with the oil or, if using a deep-fat fryer, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

    Heat the oil to 190°C (375°F) or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds.

    Drain the potatoes and dry very well. Working in batches, fry about a handful of potatoes at a time. Place the potatoes in a frying basket (or use a slotted metal spoon) and lower into the hot oil carefully. Fry for 4 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the potatoes have been fried.

    Just before serving, skim any debris off the top of the cooking oil and reheat to the same temperature. Fry as before, working in batches, but only cook until crisp and golden, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all of the potatoes have been fried.

    Sprinkle with the salt flakes and serve.

    Classic Fries

    curry fries

    This is a British chip-shop staple that’s hugely popular. The sauce is usually a powdered mix but, when made from scratch, it does elevate this well above the average. Depending on how hot you like your curry, adjust the curry-powder heat in the recipe and if lots of fiery chilli is desired, add a good pinch of chilli flakes as well. Great with an ice-cold lager.

    Classic Fries (see recipe above)


    2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    1 onion, grated

    1 apple, peeled and grated

    1 garlic clove, crushed

    2-cm/ ¾-in. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

    2 tablespoons medium-hot curry powder

    1 teaspoon turmeric

    1 teaspoon paprika

    2 teaspoons ground cumin

    ½ teaspoon ground coriander

    1 tablespoon plain/all-purpose flour

    500 ml/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

    1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

    1 tablespoon tomato purée/paste

    freshly squeezed lemon juice and/or sugar, to taste

    SERVES 4

    Prepare the curry sauce. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan/skillet with the onion. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, until aromatic, 3–5 minutes.

    Add the apple, garlic, ginger, curry powder, turmeric, paprika, ground cumin and ground coriander and cook, stirring for about 1 minute.

    Add the flour, add a splash more oil if it is very dry, and cook, stirring continuously for another 1 minute.

    While stirring, gradually pour in the stock and stir until well blended. Bring just to the boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée/paste and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste. Depending on preference, add some lemon juice for more acidity or a pinch of sugar to sweeten, or both.

    Transfer to a blender and whizz until smooth. Set aside while you prepare the fries, according to the recipe above.

    To serve, reheat the curry sauce. Mound the fries on a platter and pour over the sauce. Serve immediately.

    Fries by Laura Washburn

    For more fantastic fries recipes, check out the new book Fries by Laura Washburn, available here.

    Happy Father's Day Dads!

    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, News, Recipes, UK, What's new and was tagged with Comfort Food, Laura Washburn, fries

  • Posted on June 18, 2015

    Celebrate Midsummer!

    The festival of Midsummer is just around the corner. Celebrated nowhere more heartily than in Scandinavia, we’ve been catching up on how to Midsommar properly thanks to this hilarious piece from Bronte, author of our upcoming book, The Scandi Kitchen. Thanks to Bronte we now know that we need strawberries, flowers for our hair and to learn a rather difficult drinking song… Well, with this lovely recipe from Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink at least we’ve got the first part covered!

    Tartlets with berries and cream

    The tartlet cases for this recipe can be made in advance and they keep well in an airtight container for a few days. After filling, the tartlets are best eaten on the same day. Traditionally they are topped with small, wild, forest berries, but for this recipe we have used storebought strawberries and blueberries.

    150 g plain flour

    50 g icing sugar

    a pinch of salt

    50 g unsalted butter, chilled and diced

    1 egg, lightly beaten


    300 ml whipping cream

    2 tablespoons caster sugar

    1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    300 g strawberries, hulled and quartered if large

    150 g blueberries

    icing sugar, for dusting

    a 12-hole muffin pan

    baking beans

    Makes about 12

    Sift the flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

    Make a well in the middle and pour the egg into it. Using a spoon, mix the egg quickly into the mixture to form a dough. Roll into a ball, then wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

    Take the pastry out of the refrigerator and remove the clingfilm. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface, with a rolling pin, until about 2 mm thick.

    Use a cookie cutter or thin glass to cut out rounds slightly larger than the base of the muffin pan holes. Gather up the offcuts of pastry and roll out and cut out more rounds. Press the pastry rounds into the holes of the muffin pan, then refrigerate the pan for 15 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas 4.

    Line the tartlet cases with small pieces of baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake blind in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 3–4 minutes.

    Pop the baked tartlet cases gently out of the muffin pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

    To make the filling, whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Fill the tartlet cases with a spoonful of the whipped cream, top with the berries and dust with icing sugar.

    Delicious! This recipe and loads more breads, savoury and sweet pastries as well as cakes and buns can be found in Nordic Bakery Cookbook. The book is available here. The Scandi Kitchen by Bronte Aurell is available here.

    Glad midsommar!




    This post was posted in Competitions, Featured, News, Recipes, UK and was tagged with baking, recipe for the weekend, sweet, strawberry, 2015, Nordic Bakery, Scandinavian, Midsummer

  • Posted on June 17, 2015

    Bee Treats in Your Garden!

    We’re big bee fans in the office. When we visited The Midnight Apothecary, one of our favourite things about the wild garden (apart from the excellent Wild Cocktails Lottie makes with the produce of course!) was the abundance of bumble bees. Sadly there have been no end of reports lately regarding the decline of bees and as we head into warmer months it gets ever more important to look after our bumbly friends. Number one on loads of Things To Help Bees lists is making your garden bee-friendly with plants and flowers. So we’ve got some tips here from Emma Hardy, author of The Urban Wildlife Gardener. Plus, you get to enjoy an abundance of pretty flowers and tasty herbs. It’s Win-Win!

     Plant a bee-friendly container

    For a bee-friendly container that will flower throughout the summer, choose a range of plants to attract as many bees as possible.

    If possible, select a large tub so that you can pack in as many nectar- and pollen-rich plants as you can. Prepare the tub, and try some of the following plants:

    Common Mint or Spearmint (Mentha spicata): flowers in summer

    Foxglove (Digitalis species): flowers from late spring to midsummer

    Globe Thistle (Echinops species): flowers from early summer onward

    Ice Plant (Sedum spectabile): flowers from summer through to fall

    Lavender (Lavandula species): flowers in summer

    Macedonian Scabious (Knautia macedonica): flowers from early summer

    Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense): flowers in early summer

    Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea): flowers from summer through to fall

    Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum): flowers in summer through to fall

    Thyme (Thymus vulgaris): flowers from spring through to fall left


    Make a bee-friendly herb tub

    Make a bee-friendly pot that will provide beautiful herbs for the kitchen as well. Here, an old metal wok has been repurposed to make an attractive planter that is perfect for a collection of fragrant thyme plants that will captivate any number of bees and butterflies. Thyme is quite low-growing and does not need deep soil, so this container works well.


    Large metal wok (or a similar shallow pan)



    Potting compost

    A varied selection of thyme plants

    1 Drill holes in the base of the wok for drainage, and add enough gravel to cover the base of the wok as thyme likes very well drained soil.

    2 Mix a few handfuls of sand with the potting compost to mimic the soil that thyme would naturally grow in. Pour the sand and potting compost mixture into the wok and spread it out.

    3 Soak the thyme plants in water so that the roots are thoroughly wet and take them out of their pots.

    4 Gently pull the roots out to encourage them to spread in their new surroundings, and plant them in the wok, scooping holes in the potting compost and pushing the plants into them.

    5 If necessary, add more potting compost to even the surface, and flatten it off.

    6 Place some gravel and a few larger stones over the surface of the potting compost. This gives a decorative touch, but it will also help to retain moisture and heat.

    The Urban Wildlife Gardener by Emma Hardy is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with Emma Hardy, plants, nature, 2015, gardening, wildlife, bees, herbs, home

  • Posted on June 12, 2015

    Recipe for the Weekend

    We’ve had a fun Friday today. We’ve posted the first in a new series of videos on our Youtube channel, The Pantry, called Jen and Polly Chat… (although our Rights Assistant has just pointed out, we really missed a trick by not calling them Jolly Chats!) We’ll be posting one a month, talking about new books, and recipes we’re excited for. This month we’re all about Summer Recipes. You can watch the video here, and to celebrate we’re sharing a recipe from one of the books we talk about: The Salad Bowl by Nicola Graimes.

    If you have any comments, advice or ideas about what you'd like to see in future Jen and Polly Chat... videos, please let us know by commenting on the video, or on Facebook or Twitter.

    Puy lentils, grapefruit & feta cheese with harissa dressing

    Harissa, the fiery North African spice paste, adds both colour and flavour to the dressing for this substantial Puy lentil salad. Oranges can be substituted for the grapefruit, if you prefer a slightly sweeter fruit. Serve with warm flatbreads on the side.

    250 g/9 oz. dried Puy lentils

    60 g/2 oz. watercress, tough stalks removed, separated into small sprigs

    60 g/2 oz. baby spinach leaves, tough stalks trimmed

    1 pink or red grapefruit, peeled, pith removed and segmented

    1 small red onion, diced a handful of mixed sprouted beans

    200 g/7 oz. feta cheese, cubed


    5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

    1 teaspoon harissa paste

    sea salt and freshly

    ground black pepper

    Serves 4

    Put the lentils in a pan and cover with plenty of water.

    Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, part-covered, for 25 minutes or until tender. Drain and transfer the lentils to a serving bowl.

    Meanwhile, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing, season and set aside.

    Add the watercress and spinach to the serving bowl.

    Remove the membrane from the grapefruit segments over a dish and add the segments to the salad. Pour any juice from the grapefruit into the dressing.

    Add the onion and mixed bean sprouts and pour the dressing over. Toss the salad until thoroughly combined and sprinkle the feta over before serving.


    The French Puy lentil with its dusky, blue-grey marbled skin is ideal for salads as it keeps its shape after cooking.

    Adding lentils to a salad is an easy way to add substance, turning it into a complete meal, especially when  partnered with oily fish, lamb, poultry, eggs or cheese.

    The Salad Bowl by Nicola Graimes is available here.

    This post was posted in Featured, News, UK, Videos, What's new and was tagged with lentils, salad, savoury, recipe for the weekend, cheese, vegetarian, video, Nicola Graimes, 2015, healthy

  • Posted on June 10, 2015

    Summer Crafting!

    The summer seems to be tip-toeing in with days where you definitely could spend all day in the garden soaking up some vitamin D, and then just in case you’re getting too complacent, a horrible grey one thrown in for good measure! We’re going optimistic this week, and thought we’d share a lovely sewing project for the garden, taken from Torie Jayne’s Stylish Home Sewing! Torie’s signature pastel style is sure to brighten up even the greyest June day.

    Deckchair sling

    If, like me, you have an old deckchair that has seen better days, why not replace the sling with a pretty, new one to give it a fresh lease on life? This deckchair sling has slots at either end to slide wooden dowels through, and it should fit most regular collapsible wooden frames. If in doubt, measure your old sling and adjust as necessary.

    You will need

    One 18 ½ x 49 ½ in (47 x 126cm) piece of cotton canvas fabric
    Two 18 ½ in (47cm) lengths of ½ in- (15mm-)wide bias tape (bias binding)
    Matching sewing thread
    Two 49 ½ in (126cm) lengths of 1in- (25mm-) wide eyelet (broderie anglaise) trim
    Two 49 ½ in (126cm) lengths of narrow rickrack

    The finished deckchair sling is 17 ¼ in (44cm) wide, excluding trim, and 45in (114cm) long

    1 Bind the two shorter edges of the canvas rectangle. Turn 5/8 in (1/5cm) to the wrong side on each of the two long edges, and press.

    2 Pin a length of eyelet (broderie anglais) trim under each pressed edge so that the decorative edge projects beyond the hemmed edge. Stitch 3/8in (1cm) from the edge. For extra strength, stitch again ¼ in (5mm) from the edge.

    3 On the right side, pin rickrack over the double row of stitching, and either stitch in place or hand sew it in place using a decorative stitch.

    4 Turn under 2 ¼ in (6cm) on each of the bound edges; press. Pin in place. Stitch as close to each bound edge as you can, and then stitch again 3/8in (1cm) from each edge, creating a double row of stitching.

    And that's it! Couldn't be simpler! Torie Jayne’s Stylish Home Sewing is available here.

    The British Sewing Awards are back with categories ranging from Best Thread Brand to Best Exhibition and Best Pattern House to, of course, Best Sewing Book! The awards are open for reader nominations, so head over to their site to pick your favourites today!

    This post was posted in Craft Projects, Featured, News, UK, What's new and was tagged with homemade, interiors, handmade, quick, sewing, keep busy this summer, 2015, Torie Jayne, sewing awards

  • Posted on June 5, 2015

    WIN The Curious Bartender Book Bundle

    We're in the mood for truly excellent cocktails here at RPS and CICO Books, so we have a great giveaway for you this week with a chance to win both The Curious Bartender (the original) and The Curious Bartender: An Odyssey of Whiskies by Tristan Stephenson. Both books are packed full of expert knowledge and information, as well as a creative collection of drinks recipes that you just have to try!

    The Curious Bartender Book Bundle Giveaway

    These two books will make the perfect gift for dad on Father's Day or your key to a brilliant bartender-wanna-be summer... good luck!

    To enter, simply sign up to our food and drink community below and follow or tweet us for an extra chance of winning! The competition ends Monday 15th June when one lucky winner will be announced.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    This post was posted in Competitions, UK and was tagged with drinks, Curious Bartender, 2015

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