Lunch Table and Rhyme Time!

What a week we have in store here at Casserole HQ! We hope some of you got to enjoy a Doorstep Cake on friday, and are revved up for the week to come. We are in the crux of getting everything set and ready to go for this wednesday’s Lunch Table in Redhill town centre (we’ve just gotten the menu through from Munch in Marylebone and it’s a good’un! I’m getting hungry already….). Our fingers are crossed for the weather to stay in our favour, but we will be out, rain or shine, in the centre of town with tables borrowed from the brilliant Furnistore and bread donated by the Reigate’s own Chalk Hills Bakery, offering up a free lunch from 11:30 to 1:30. So, when your stomach starts to rumble, come on out and join us for a bite and a chat about Casserole.

It'll look a bit like this, but outside...

Also in the works this week is a fun little collaboration with Redhill Library this Friday, 20 April, from 10:30-11! Casserole has infiltrated the regular friday Rhyme Time, making this week’s food themed. Expect ‘Patty Cakes’, ‘Oranges and Lemons’ and plenty more rhymes to make you hungry, while hearing a bit about Casserole and hopefully getting local Redhill families signed up and sharing meals in no time.

So stop by our Lunch Table on wednesday or come along to sing some food songs at the library on friday and don’t forget to sign up to cook and eat local, homemade food with Casserole!

Doorstep Cakes and a FREE Lunch Table

Today was another day spent hitting the streets of Redhill, spreading the word and food-filled goodness that Casserole can bring.The reason for all this pavement hitting? Apart from spreading the message about Casserole in general, we are getting the word out about something rather exciting! This Wednesday, 18th of April from 11:30 to about 1:30, smack dab in the middle of Redhill’s town centre, we are setting up a Lunch Table feast for anyone and everyone to come along for a free meal and a chat about the project!

We’re setting up three dining room tables, generously on loan from Redhill’s very own Furnistore, set and ready for people to take a seat and dig into some delicious food prepared by Munch in Marylebone, and complimented with freshly made bread donated by Reigate’s top notch Chalk Hills Bakery – its sure to be quite the feast! We have 50 meals on offer, so if you are around in Redhill on wednesday, drop on by for a free tasty meal on us before they run out!

Right, back to today’s action filled day. After picking out the perfect tables from Furnistore, we hot-tailed it around Redhill’s office buildings, knowing they make up much of the lunchtime contingent in the town centre, chatting to receptionists and office managers, letting them know about the free lunch that’s on offer next week (on a side note, did you know that the guys who make all the crossword and sudoku books are based in Redhill??).

The wall of puzzles!

Next up was the highlight of the day, a little activity I’m going to dub Doorstep Cakes. Remember last week’s Cake to Door? Well, this week we were back in the neighbourhood, leaving little “Sorry we missed you” cake packages, letting people know about the upcoming Lunch Table and to remind them to check what we are up to on the site.

The story of cakes from drawing to doorstep!

We “caked” 70 homes today, and hope to do many more in the future – we think its a nice little surprise and brings about a bit more curiosity and interest than your typical flyer, not to mention it means people get to eat cake! As another bonus, during our neighbourhood wanderings, we met a man named George. At 88, he served in the Navy in WWII, worked as a printer, taught printing, design, and woodworking in prison and schools, travelled the world, and now spends his days building wheelbarrows from pallets, tending to his beautiful garden, and most importantly, baking and cooking like a fiend! We had a brilliant chat with him and hope he’ll soon be cooking up some of his favourite pies for his nearby neighbours.

Listening to George's amazing tales and cider fruit bread recipe

So if you live in Redhill and found a cake on your doorstep, let us know either in the comments below, or on our twitter or facebook, and don’t forget to stop by for a free meal and a chat with the Casserole crew this wednesday!

Cake to Door

Have you ever opened your door to a pair of people asking, “Would you like some free cake?” Well if you live in certain neighbourhoods of Redhill, you may have experienced just that yesterday, as the Casserole Crew took to the streets, spreading the word and some free cake love to the people of Redhill.

Baskets of cakes (unfortunately not homemade…. THIS time…) and flyers in hand, two pairs of us wandered up and down neighbourhood lanes, knocking on doors, offering up cake and the opportunity to join a community-centred food project being born in their very own area.

While most of us might dread the knocking of a “door-to-door salesman,” we tried to approach things a bit differently, and that difference payed off. Expecting doors to be shut in our faces more often than not, our plot to lure people with free cakes turned out to be a brilliant way to break the initial barrier between strangers. Upon offering free cakes, people were so amused, bemused, and curious, that they couldn’t help but wonder “What’s the catch?” Even more brilliantly, when they discovered the catch wasn’t something we were selling, but in fact a plan to get ‘neighbours cooking for neighbours,” intrigue turned into nods of understanding and appreciation. Granted there was still a

handful of door slams and “Thanks but no thanks,” but in general, people we far more endeared rather than off put by our proposition (after all, how annoyed can you be with people offering free cake?), and because we targeted areas where there are already Casserole members present, as soon as our new recruits sign up, they’ll be able to get cooking and eating straight away!

Our Cake-to-Door experiment was a great test in just how meaningful person-to-person interaction is when you are trying to start something new. Taking that extra bit of time to talk to someone, offer them a little something nice, and show them just what the ethos of Casserole is all about. This was also the start of a whole string of community activities we’ve been plotting for the month of April, which I’ll go into more in the next post (HINT: rhymetime and free lunch are involved!), to continue to see how we can best spread to word and grow the Casserole community.

One final note, we had another top secret mission during our Cake-to-Door time. Katie Smith, quite possibly our most enthusiastic and supportive Casseroler, has been right along side us from the very beginning – spreading the word, cooking meals and referring members. As a thank you, we left her a little token of appreciation for believing in us from the very start.

Thanks for everything Katie!

An Interview with Redhill Radio

Hanging out with Irwyn Davies, our favourite Welsh radio personality

Yesterday, Murtz and I headed over to East Surrey Hospital to chat with Irwyn Davies, the host of Radio Redhill‘s ‘Out and About’ programme, to help get the word out about Casserole. For those of you who don’t know, Radio Redhill is East Surrey Hospital’s internal radio station, broadcasting music and programming 24/7 for patients and staff, and they even won an award from HBA (Hospital Broadcasting Association) for their stellar work!

Irwyn (who has one of the best radio voices we’ve ever heard by the way) was brilliant at asking just the right questions to help us get across the ethos of Casserole and how people can get involved, and we can’t thank them enough for taking the time to speak to us and help get the word out.

But how can I listen if its an internal radio station? Have no fear! Radio Redhill have an AM station as well, allowing anyone and everyone to tune in and have a listen online. Our interview will be aired this Sunday, 26 February, sometime between 2-3pm, so if you are by a computer, tune in and have a listen (its worth it just to hear Irwyn speak!).

Reporting back from – Lunch and Learn

Last Saturday was Casserole’s first ever Lunch and Learn event in Redhill! It was a chance for the community to come together and share some delicious dishes, hear about the latest Casserole news, and give everyone an opportunity to feedback with opinions and suggestions for the project.

To start off the day, we premiered our brand new Casserole film, which was put together just before Christmas with the help of markthreemedia. The film follows Pam and Betty, two of the first members of the Casserole community, through the Casserole process, from cooking to eating, seasoned throughout with some truly lovely words about their experience.

After the film, we shared a presentation on what we learned from the first stage of the project, followed by a great and lively discussion where people shared their opinions on Casserole and what we should do next. From this insight, we will be looking at key things that stood out in the conversation, starting with how we can develop the Casserole community further with stuff like regular events and get togethers just like Lunch and Learn.

"Heaven and Earth Pie"

From our trial in December, we discovered that a big part of Casserole is the cooking community it creates – from sharing and learning new recipes, to tips and tricks for mastering the mid-week meal. So, one of our ‘stations’ at Lunch and Learn was all about sharing a recipe by writing it on a plate and sticking it on the wall. We had some interesting suggestions including an amazing recipe called “Heaven and Earth Pie” (can’t wait to try it!). We’re now testing how we can keep the momentum of recipe exchanges going, beginning by putting them up on our facebook page (so make sure you join up and add in a recipe of your own!).

Thanks to those who attended, we also managed to get some great new contacts at Ravens Housing Trustlocal Redhill Councillors and East Surrey College who we’re looking forward to visiting over the next two weeks to talk more about Casserole and how we can get even more people involved.

There were plenty of things on the menu for the day, but we must admit, the most exciting of all was our big crowd-sourced lunch, which went down an absolute treat. We had everything from a goats cheese, tomato and basil tart to broad bean salad and homemade bread – it was quite a feast!

Look at the flaky pastry on that goats cheese, tomato and basil tart

Lovely homemade dishes at Lunch and Learn

We learnt a great deal from our first Lunch and Learn event and we’re going to make sure we make them a regular occurrence in Redhill over the next few months, so keep your eyes and ears open for the latest news on what we are planning.

We’re also working on some new sign up forms based on what we’ve learned so far, making it even easier to get involved in Casserole, so watch this space!

A New Year

Happy New Year!

What do you get when you take six people in the community who are keen to cook a bit extra now and again, stir in three people who could benefit from some delicious home made food and infuse with a few texts and calls to help them mingle?…

Casserole of course!

A Casserole Cook, preparing a delicious Casserole

The last couple of weeks of our trial went down scrumptiously – by the end of 2011, we had 4 Diners and 22 Cooks signed up, out of which 3 Diners and 6 Cooks (chosen based on location) took part in our live trial.

In just 14 days, our brilliant participants managed to share seven delectable meals, and helped spark 5 new relationships with people in the community who didn’t previously know one another – one pair are even planning to meet up again for tea!

Thanks to everyone who has taken part in the trial, as well as everyone we’ve spoken to so far, we’re learning a whole lot about how Casserole can best work as it continues to grow and what we need to do to make it a true success.

With that in mind, our next couple of blogs will be all about sharing what we have learnt so far and how this is helping us to shape and build Casserole over the next few months. The trial in December was done without much technology, with just one person coordinating everything (from introducing Diners and Cooks to signing people up and matching them), but we think that the miracles of well designed technology will help to improve the Casserole experience further.

With the community at the heart of Casserole’s development, we want to make sure you stay involved and up to date with everything going on at Casserole HQ, and with that in mind, we also invite you to Casserole’s Lunch and Learn event at Warwick School in Redhill on Saturday 28th January, 2012 where we will be sharing the latest news about the future of Casserole, premiering the latest Casserole video, and hearing from the Cooks and Diners who took part in the trial about how Casserole could benefit them. Bring along your favourite recipe to trade at our Recipe Exchange, learn a trick or two for a tasty and fast weeknight meal at a Cooking Demonstration and finally, bring along a dish to share for a great big communal lunch! Let us know if you are coming along to the event by signing up here

To help promote the event, we will be showing up at Redhill Market on Saturday 21 January, 2012 – once again bringing along some tasty treats and telling more and more people about Casserole (if any of you handy bakers are interested in making anything for the market stall, please get in touch!).

So keep watching this space for more details about exciting upcoming plans, our lessons learnt so far, and to find out what the future of Casserole might look like. And don’t forget to sign up and come along to our Lunch and Learn event in Redhill. 

A Day at the Redhill Markets

Bag full of homemade treats….check, plenty of warm clothes…check, 6am start…check this could only mean one thing…. Casserole was hitting the markets in Redhill. 

After a long drive through South London we were finally up and about in Redhill to chat to local residents about the Casserole project and the trial we are starting next week. We thought what better way then to cook up some tasty treats and set up a stall in the Redhill Market (thanks to the lovely folks at Hughmark International who helped us get the stall and also to Rachel and Kirsty for cooking up some delicious treats). Check out the great little video Joe’s put together of the day.

Mmmmm... FOOD!

With a big bag full of banana bread cake, rocky road, marshmallow lollipops and choco cinnamon muffins we got loads of interesting people across to our stall to talk about Casserole. Using our simple COOK and EAT cards we signed up 16 new Casserole COOK’s as well as one new DINER and by the sounds of it they can cook some delicious dishes.

Some of the complete Cook and Eat cards, yum!

The cards asked cooks to jot down what they’re great at cooking and how far they wouldn’t mind travelling to share a meal and for diners they asked what they loved to eat and what they hated to eat as well as a bit of info on their dietary requirements. Loads of people shared their thoughts on the project and for those who wanted to sign up online as promised here are the links to the online forms.

To sign up as a Casserole Diner click through to this link and to sign up up as Casserole Cook it’s this link. We really quickly realised that loads of people mentioned that they would love to refer Casserole to someone that they knew and so we’ve made some little adjustments on the forms so that you can do that.

Signing up at the Casserole stall

We were overwhelmed by the amount of support from passersby and were thrilled to catch up with Sarah Finch Green Councillor for Redhill East who came to visit the stall and show support. The stall helped us to chat to people about what Casserole is and ways they can be involved but also helped us to get more of an insight into how the Casserole service could be developed and run in the future.

Cllr Sarah Finch visiting the Casserole stall

We are really excited to move forward into the trial period which should start next week (Monday 5th December), we already have three Diners signed up and by the looks of things they each have a couple of people interested in cooking quite close to them. Amazingly we even found that when flicking through the cards we had a “Diner” and a “Cook” who are essentially next door neighbours living on the same road. We had to double check we hadn’t made a mistake but true enough two people living next door to each (and don’t yet know each other) have signed up!

The trial is all about observing and learning as much as possible around how people found cooking, sharing, eating and organising around the service and rest assured we’ll be sharing our insights through the blog to let you know how it’s going so stay tuned!

Eat, Cook, Share: Casserole hits the markets

Roll up, roll up! Casserole is hitting the markets. This Saturday 26th November we’ll be running a Casserole stall at the Redhill market where we want to talk to all sorts of people about what we are doing. We want to spread the word about Casserole in Redhill and we’ll be on high street from 9.30 onwards so if you are passing by make sure you say hi. We’ll be explaining everything about Casserole and asking people what they think as well as trying to get more people on board with the pilot that we are running in the coming weeks.

Casserole will be at the market in Redhill, on Saturday 26 November

If you are out and about in Redhill or know someone who lives close by make sure you tell them to visit our stall, we’ll have tea and coffee and maybe even a little snack! If you are interested in knowing more about the trial then feel free to get in touch with Murtz ([email protected]) and if you are interested in signing up for the 2 week pilot then simply fill in the online form so we can get in touch with you.

The trial itself is simple as pie, all we want to do is ask a few people to cook 2 meals in 2 weeks and share this with someone we match them up with in their area. We’ll introduce everyone first and also make sure that everyone is cooking and eating things that they like.

If you are interested in being a “Cook” the form is here or if you are more interested in being a “Diner” the form is here.  If you are unable to access these forms from work and can’t get them at home either, drop Murtz a line a [email protected] and he’ll hook you up to cook or eat.