Tuesday, 28 April 2015

This blog has moved!

I've now migrated my blog over to my webpage!  Everything you see here has been exported there, and I will no longer be updating this site, so no need to hang around!  Click the link below to head on over there.


Hope to see you soon!

Catie x

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Recipe: The most epic dairy-free carrot cake recipe ever!

This recipe was given to me by a fellow non-milk drinker (I don't have anything against milk, it just doesn't agree with me!) and is so good you can feed it to your milky friends guilt-free!  I added walnuts and extra fruit to the recipe for extra epicness.  There's also the optional extra of the lactose-free cream cheese frosting which works really well!

You will need:

200 g (7 oz) soft dark brown sugar

150 g (5 oz) self-raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

160 ml (6 fl oz) vegetable oil (I used rapeseed oil for the simple reason that they didn't have a small bottle of vegetable oil in the shop - worked just as well!

2 eggs

250 g (9 oz) carrots, grated

75 g (3 oz) sultanas (I used 100g of pre-soaked mixed dried fruit - made the cake amazingly moist!)

100 g (3 1/2 oz) stem ginger, chopped (I couldn't find stem ginger so I used about 3cm grated ginger root - gave the cake a hint of ginger taste)

450 g (1 lb) loaf tin lined - use two pieces of greaseproof paper to line your tin (the foil backed stuff is best) one going one way, the other crossways - and make sure your tin will sit on the edges - otherwise the heat will curl it up and it may end up stuck in your cake (that's what happened to mine!)

As an extra ingredient I also added 100g walnut pieces, and sprinkled in an extra teaspoon of bicarb to account for the added weight

Preheat oven to 150 deg C, 300 deg F, Gas mark 2

Place sugar, flour, bicarbonate of soda, vegetable oil and eggs in a large bowl, and beat well

The batter should look like this once beaten:

Add grated carrot, sultanas (mixed fruit) and ginger (plus walnuts), mix well to form a runny batter.

Don't forget that extra spoon of bicarb if you've added extra ingredients!

Pour into 1lb loaf tin and bake until firm - about an hour (check firmness by pressing gently on the middle with your fingers at about the 45 minute point, you should then be able to guage whether it needs the full hour - mine did, but not all ovens are the same!)

Your batter will look like this (mmm appetizing!):

It will come out like this:

Turn the cake out onto a rack and peel off the greaseproof paper while it's still hot - otherwise it might stick! Then, refrain from stealing a piece and leave it to cool!

Optional extra: Lactose free cream cheese frosting

I'm sorry I don't have exact measurements for this because I kinda made it up!  I used that lactose free cream cheese stuff, which is made from real milk but with the lactose taken out - I'm not sure how I feel about this but I couldn't find any soy/tofu cream cheese so I decided to go for it.

Put one tub of cream cheese (lactose free, soy, tofu, or actual cream cheese, you choose) in a bowl. Add a big dollop of margerine, or butter (whatever you use for your sandwiches, just make sure it tastes nice - I used bertolli) to the bowl. By a big dollop, I mean like as much as you can lift out easily with the knife before it falls off.  Cream these two together with a whisk (electric or hand). Then add about half as much icing sugar as cream cheese and whisk. Taste it - is it sweet enough? No? Add more and repeat until you like the taste. Don't go overboard though! It should be a bit runny - pour over your cooled cake and spread it around and down the sides - there will be a bit of wastage so make sure there's a plate to catch it under your cake rack! Once the whole cake is nicely covered with an even layer, transfer it to a plate and pop it in the fridge to set.  You should end up with this:

Yummy huh? Then all you need to do is invite some friends round to eat it! (Come on... You can't eat it ALL yourself can you? Can you?)

I hope you enjoyed this!  I think it's yummy, so wanted to share it with the world!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

10 Reasons why you should join a local theatre group

In 2008 I joined YAT (Youth Action Theatre) - a local youth theatre group based in Teddington/Hampton Hill, Surrey.  The main reason was because one of my ambitions (an item on my Bucket List, if you like) was to perform in a play, so I Googled 'theatre groups in Teddington' and here I am!  I often tell people it's one of the best things I ever did, and here's why:

1 - I wasn't sure I could do it...

The first play I did with YAT was The Royal Hunt of the Sun and I bagged a great part - Miguel Estete the Royal Veedor - quite a few lines to learn, and I had to move like a man!  Going on stage in front of an audience for the first time and remembering all my lines and not screwing up was an amazing feeling!

2 - I made some amazing friends:

I've kept in touch with more people from YAT than I have with people from Uni!  Sometimes there's a break of 3 months or so in between plays, but when we see each other again it's always good fun!

3 - I've tested my skills to the limit (and beyond...):

When I was asked if I could paint a 16x20 foot painting of Carnaby Street at the back of the stage, I couldn't exactly say no... So I just did it, and now I've done loads of set painting!

4 - There's so much more to theatre than (just) acting:

Acting is fabulous fun - but maybe that's not for you? Depending on which group you join, you can get involved in all sorts, from sourcing props and scenery, painting sets, lighting and costume - and the great thing about amateur theatre is no-one expects you to have 2+ years experience with a known designer - you can just muck in and help, and build up your portfolio in the process!

5 - It's only as amateur/awesome [delete as applicable] as you allow it to be:

I think the words "Amateur Theatre" should be changed to "Low Budget Theatre" or "Hobby Theatre" as the word "Amateur" does put a few people off.  No matter what the budget, you can still put on a great production, you just have to know your limits.  If you have an amazing script and the cast and crew work really hard, there's no reason why you shouldn't move and inspire your audience.

6 - Release your inhibitions!

I've done things on stage I would never dream of doing in normal life - dancing, singing, prancing around like an idiot - being able to switch off the fear of looking stupid is such a useful skill, and can help you in real life situations, such as a job interview or a first date!  Plus, acting is such a confidence booster, because in learning how to be other people, you feel more at home with being yourself.

7 - You never know what it might lead to...

I got some storyboarding work through a friend from my YAT, and got some work experience through another!  Although this shouldn't be a reason for joining, it's definitely an added bonus!

8 - You could get to go somewhere amazing!

If you're lucky your group might go on Tour!  Two years ago YAT went to the Edinburgh Fringe with The Duchess of Malfi!  They're going again this year (although without me this time) and will undoubtedly have an amazing time again!

9 - You might win a shiny award!

Ok - obviously I can't promise anything, but most areas have arts council awards, and if you're very lucky and work very hard, you may get your own very lovely award!  YAT won the Swan Award last year for Best Design, and the Wild Swan.

10 - Watch out for those cast parties!

Now obviously I'm not condoning drinking vast amounts of alcohol, especially if you are under 18 (!), but when a group of people have worked very hard and had no social life or sleep for the past 3 months can finally let loose - well that's a very special time...

Ok - I didn't say it was our most beautiful time now did I?

All of these photos (except the storyboard frame) are from productions or of people in YAT.  If you would like to learn more about YAT or join, visit the website and click on the contact tab.