Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Gugelhopf cake recipe

The Eurovision song contest is circled and underlined in my diary, twice. Going against all our tastes and better judgement, Frank and I can't resist the sparkly theatrics, oh-so-infuriating-yet-predictable voting patterns and relentless cheese that's served up year after year on our TV screens.

In honour of this year's Austrian hosting, a few weeks ago I decided to mark the event by making a traditional gugelhopf cake - a yeasty, bready, cakey concoction that's usually eaten with coffee (or in our case, wine).

Kugelhopf recipe

For 12 big wedges, you will need:

1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons warm water

1 cup milk

7 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tbsp pieces and softened

6 tbsp granulated sugar

3 3/4 cups plain flour

1 tsp salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups golden raisins

1 tsp finely grated fresh orange or lemon zest

About 20 whole blanched almonds

1 tbsp icing sugar

A standing electric mixer with paddle attachment (optional)

gugelhopf mould*

Kugelhopf recipe

Pour your yeast into a bowl.

Kugelhopf recipe

Add the water and let it stand for about 5-10 minutes until foamy (if the mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast).

Heat the milk with 6 tbsp butter and granulated sugar over a low heat, stirring until the mixture is warm, the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.

Sift together flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the flour and add the yeast mixture. Add the warm milk in a slow stream while mixing.

Kugelhopf recipe

Add the beaten eggs one at a time and mix.

Kugelhopf recipe

Kugelhopf recipe

Beat in the raisins and lemon zest.

Kugelhopf recipe

 Continue to beat until the dough is smooth, elastic and very sticky. Cover the dough with a teatowel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour.

Kugelhopf recipe

Butter the gugelhopf mould with the remaining tablespoon of butter.

Kugelhopf recipe

Put 1 almond in each depression in bottom of mould (the almonds are only decorative; you can skip them altogether if your mould has no depressions).

Kugelhopf recipe

Spoon the dough evenly into the mould. Cover with a teatowel and leave in a warm place for a further hour.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake the gugelhopf in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, then loosely cover the mould with foil and continue for 20 to 25 minutes more until golden and a tester inserted in centre comes out clean.

Kugelhopf recipe

Cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then invert the cake onto a rack to cool completely (about 1 hour). Place on your favourite cake stand (I love this RBV Birkmann stand* with glass domed cover*)

Dust with icing sugar and devour!

Kugelhopf recipe

Kugelhopf recipe

sally

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Thursday, 18 June 2015

A cup of tea and a catch up

I'm coming to the end of another long week having realised that I haven't had a day off since January. Thankfully I'm off on my holibobs from tomorrow. We're heading to France and Tuscany on Monday for my cousin's wedding and I'm really excited about seeing my mum and having some time away from the office. In the meantime you'll have to forgive this post for being a bit of a mishmash of different ramblings and pictures that have bee sitting untouched on my computer.

Wedding plans are ticking along slowly. Even with a low key wedding though it astonishes me how the costs are beginning to rack up. I've found myself trying to save pennies here and there, even asking for wedding bits for my birthday presents to stop us from feeling the pinch. Thankfully I've had a few favours along the way. Working with printers means that my invite printing was free and my bridesmaids are kindly paying for their shoes, but I really need to do some more freelance or play free bingo to fund some of the bells and whistles a wedding inevitably entails.

Last weekend Frank and I went out for dinner and a movie in Manchester. We saw West, an award-winning German film that was made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite feeling a little tired and not necessarily in the mood for something heavy going, my eyes were glued to the screen and I'd thoroughly recommend it.


I made a yummy chicken stirfry with thai sticky rice this week. It involved throwing some ginger, garlic, soy sauce, chilli flakes and oil into a pan with chicken and veg and taste delicious.

Stirfry

In theory Sundays are meant for lounging (although more often than not involve a bottle of bleach and a vacuum cleaner). Still, Frank and Stanley found some time to chill out on the sofa last weekend.

Stanley, May 2015

The garden is insanely overgrown but my radishes are coming up a treat. There's simply no comparison between store bought and home grown vegetables. I've been flexing my green fingers but wasn't quite prepared for how much hard work it would be, especially with the various ants, aphids, slugs and other creepy crawlies that are causing all kinds of mischief. I'm also having to restrain myself from digging up some of my potatoes. I can't wait to see how they're done.

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I hope you're all having fantastic weeks and that you have a fun weekend in store!

sally

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This site contains links to outside sources including paid affiliates. Queenie and the Dew is not responsible for the content of any third party website.

Monday, 15 June 2015

A geocaching adventure

I've always loved being outside. The smell of wet grass, the hiss of insects, the warmth of the sun on my face and the gentle babbling of running water never fail to calm and centre me. As a child I turned up my nose at the television and instead spent most of my spare time building dens, making 'barley angels' in the local crop fields and collecting mushrooms, wild flowers and shells along the seafront. I can only stay cooped up in the house for too long before I'm tugging on my walking boots and marching through the muddy undergrowth. Luckily for us the river Mersey runs along the back of our house, and there are plenty of woods, fields and parks to give us a dose of country life.

Having Stanley has also stepped up our walking game, giving us the perfect excuse to go on new adventures, so when my friend told me about geocaching, I knew it was right up our street. I'm usually one for being horribly behind on new trends, and apparently geocaching has been going on for donkey's years without me having any clue it existed. The basic premise is a bit like a treasure hunt - there are hundreds of thousands of 'geocaches' hidden around the world, and a network of people who try and hunt them down. They can be tiny or large, and include a log book that you sign and then pop back for the next person to find. It's all based on a phone app that helps navigate you towards the geocache, and you slowly tick them off one by one. So yesterday Frank, Stanley and I set out on our first ever geocaching adventure.

Three had very kindly sent me a Nokia Lumia 530 handset and sim, as they're keen to tell people about their sim-only plans, which incidentally work out oodles cheaper than the £40+ I pay on my monthly contract phone.

The phone itself is about the size of an iPhone, and while it's a budget smartphone is crammed with features and is very user friendly. The sim has all you can eat data, which was perfect for our geocaching adventure, so we downloaded the app and took a look at where our local geocaches were. We were surprised to see lots of local geocaches (the green marks on the map below), and sure enough all over the world they're dotted about for people to find.

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

They're also some handy videos that explain how it all works...


We set off along the Mersey with Stanley and his beloved squeaky tennis ball, using the Nokia Lumia GPS to navigate towards our first geocache.

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

As we got within 20 feet, Frank side stepped this way and that to find the rough location of the geocache. After a while (because GPS is never 100% reliable) we put the phone aside and started hunting around, knowing it could be teeny tiny or huge, and wondering where on earth it could be.

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

After a bit of head scratching and a few wrong turns, Frank suddenly let out an excited shout as he spotted the geocache hiding in a tree.

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

Inside was a log book with the names of people who had previously found it, dating back to 2008. We added our names, popped the log book back and hid the geocache back in its spot.

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

Later that day we came across another geocache, called 'Far From Home'. This one had a little history behind it as some New Zealanders had placed it there to mark the marriage of their son to an English girl in the local area. This one was a little bit bigger and contained lots of trinkets that people had left, like a whistle, bracelets and playing cards.

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

We also found a 'travel bug'. These are official geocache items that you remove and take to another geocache in an effort to move it around the world. This one is trying to make its way back to Canada and we're looking forward to helping it back on its way.

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

It's strange to think that these little items are hidden all over the world, and there's a movement of people hunting them down. The geek in me loved the excitement and satisfaction of finding one, and I think geocaching is the kind of hobby that will take you on adventures to places you never thought of going. The Nokia Lumia was brilliant for marking off our geocaches, and much more durable than our larger, slimmer smartphones. I definite contender for marching around in the countryside!

Geocaching with the Nokia Lumia

Have you ever been geocaching?
sally

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This site contains links to outside sources including paid affiliates. Queenie and the Dew is not responsible for the content of any third party website.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Quick and easy Sunday night meals

If you follow me on Instagram you may have noticed that things have been getting a bit on top of me at work recently. I'm caught in that strange no man's land between loving my new job and feeling utterly overwhelmed and stressed with the workload. Arriving home at 10pm each evening, exhausted and hungry is not really conducive to concocting yummy healthy recipes, let alone keeping on top of the housework, dog walking, gardening and social activities. Poor Frank has taken up the mantle on many counts, but on those evenings when he plays football I've found myself gobbling down scrambled eggs on toast and crawling straight into bed because it's quick, simple and easy.

While I've been making a bit more of an effort at the weekends, I'm still feeling pretty shattered and a little unwilling to spend Sunday evenings slaving over the cooker while also juggling the usual hum drum of washing, cleaning, changing the bed sheets and cramming in just a few minutes of 'me' time in between. I've been getting a little bit protective over my Sunday evenings as a result of my manic weekdays, wanting to sit down with some good grub (and maybe some chocolate...), a movie, cuddling up with Frank and the dog on the sofa.

It's all too easy for my Sunday evenings to run away with me, so recently I've been collating some quick and easy recipes that pack a decent punch but don't take hours of chopping, frying, stirring and general supervision.

This prawn and sweetcorn chowder has become a solid staple in the Mavin-Hamilton household and is the ultimate comfort food on a tough day or a cosy Sunday night. It's so easy to put together. The crispy bacon, creamy mashed potato and fresh spring onions are just delicious. I could eat this all year round.

Recipes

My pea and spinach risotto is also a firm favourite because it barely needs any work. I love risotto but hate standing next to the pan for hours on end ladling in liquid (while inevitably checking my phone and feeling bored). This is a baked risotto recipe, so you just throw in the ingredients and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes. I'm keen to try the same method with different flavours as I think it could be my new cheat's way of making risotto on a regular basis.

Easy pea and spinach baked risotto

On those evenings when only cheese will help, my cheesy baked camembert is always a winner. Stuffed with fresh garlic and fresh thyme from the garden, the 15-minute wait armed with fistfuls of crusty bread is always a struggle. But oh it's so worth it.

Baked camembert

For Christmas Frank was given the Hairy Bikers' Great Curries cook book, which we've been slowly working our way through (who can avoid a curry on a Sunday night?) I love a good homemade curry recipe but sometimes the list of ingredients can feel a little bit daunting. So we've been making curry pastes and keeping portions in the freezer to whip out and mix with lots of veg and chicken, which makes for a surprisingly quick and easy Sunday night feast.

I've also been making the effort to use the slow cooker more. While it does take 8 or 9 hours to cook, you literally just throw in the ingredients and leave it to stew. Chilli, sausage casserole, pot roast....YUM.

What is your Sunday night dinner routine?

sally

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This site contains links to outside sources including paid affiliates. Queenie and the Dew is not responsible for the content of any third party website.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Girly time cravings

Now that I've moved oop north and left my girl gang back in London, I've really noticed the lack of girly time in my weekly schedule. Coffee dates, movie nights and picnics in the park have made way for cosy nights in with the fella and beer in the garden. I love my new, more relaxed (and cheaper!) routine, but I desperately miss sitting on the sofa in my pjs with my besties, gossiping about boys and clothes until the wee hours of the morning.

In two weeks's time a couple of my bridesmaids are coming to stay (eep!) so I'm looking forward to planning a cosy night in with the girls and banishing poor old Frank to the pub with one of my colleagues. Lots of chats will almost certainly be on the menu, but I've also been concocting some other exciting ideas to make the most of our fleeting weekend together.

Foodwise one or all of the following will almost certainly be on the menu. I am very strategic about selecting my friends - foodies are an absolute must! We'll probably hit town for a burger and cocktails in the evening, but I have some other tricks up my sleeve that I'm looking forward to sharing with the girls.

Oozy baked camembert

Baked camembert

Duffins

Duffins

Poached eggs with spinach and mushrooms

Poached egg with spinach and mushrooms

As for what we'll be getting up to, I wanted to arrange some kind of activity, and fingers crossed if the weather is good it will be nice to get out in the sunshine and go on an adventure. A colleague recently told me about Geocaching, a treasure hunt app that apparently everyone bar me seems to love (I know, I know, I'm always the last to the party). Knowing my ladies all too well, I think a treasure hunt would be right up their (and my) geeky little streets). I can't wait!

Naturally a movie of some kind will be in order, and we'll no doubt hop online to Uptown Aces and try and win some pennies to pay for our cocktails on Saturday night. Once we've spruced ourselves up I'm looking forward to taking them into Manchester for some drinks. Sunday will probably consist of a lazy dog walk followed by brunch before we go our separate ways.

I'm always on the lookout for ways to entertain my friends when they come to stay, so if you have any tips and tricks I'm all ears. I hope you're all having a fab start to the new week and have lots of adventures of your own in store!

sally

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This site contains links to outside sources including paid affiliates. Queenie and the Dew is not responsible for the content of any third party website. Partnered post.