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Dishes such as roasted quail breast and truffle lobster pie rise a few notches above the standard cakes and cookies that beginners made with the oven. There are original recipes, too, and all can be cooked in the plastic toy that heats food with a lightbulb.

There are benefits to this kind of cooking, says Mary Sue Milliken. Batches of cookies are small. "You get four, and that's it. There aren't any leftovers to tempt you into nibbling all night."

Better Homes and Gardens New Decorating Book

Thorough, colorful and packed with ideas, the "Better Homes and Gardens New Decorating Book" (Meredith Books, $34.95) is a classic for anyone who dreams of creating a perfect interior. Perfect in this case doesn't mean unattainable. It means personal style, creative solutions, and adaptable ideas for every scenario from country casual to uptown loft. Plentiful photographs make this an attractive primer on interior design with an emphasis on realistic applications.

Readers can use the book to stimulate their own ideas, and then apply their design concepts in the workbook and room planner sections. Special features include room makeovers, decorating do's and don'ts, do-it-yourself projects, and guides for rearranging furniture and adding seasonal twists.

At 432 pages, the book covers every room in the house as well as outdoor living spaces in a comprehensive, utilitarian format. Principles of good design are explained and illustrated, and readers are encouraged to develop their own look. "Don't forget to set priorities, put your plan on paper, take your time, mix in some character, shop smartly, and invest in some pieces that will last a lifetime," editor Denise Caringer suggests. "But truly the best advice is know yourself. Getting personal is the best path to beautiful rooms."