Casserole Club Story: Vijaya and Tom

This Christmas, we’re asking our Cooks to share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour this Boxing Day. We’re calling it the #CasseroleChristmas campaign.

To inspire you, we’ll be sharing stories from current Casserolers, so you can get a feel for our community and find out the difference you can make through Casserole Club.

Inspired by Tom and Vijaya’s story? Sign up now to Casserole Club.

  • Casserolers: Vijaya (Cook) and Tom (Diner)
  • Location: Barnet, London
  • Dates: Matched in June 2013
  • Meals shared: Approximately 20
  • When: Every Sunday afternoon

Casserole Club's Tom and Vijaya

Vijaya’s Casserole Club Story

Vijaya is a Casserole Club Cook. She has cooked for Tom over twenty times now, having shared a wide variety of food from chicken curry, pumpkin soup to shepherds pie.

Not being content with just delivering one extra portion, Vijaya usually delivers two, so Tom is guaranteed to have at least two hot meals a week:

Vijaya joined Casserole Club after hearing about it from a work colleague:

“I think its fabulous, I’ve said that from the beginning. When I usually deliver his meal, I bring enough for two days. It’s nice to know I can give somebody a home cooked meal. To me that is important.”

After signing up, the Casserole Club matchmaking team introduced her to Tom. Even though Tom lives twenty minutes drive away from Vijaya, she has found the time since July to visit him once a week.

Since meeting Tom, Vijaya has got to know all about him, his family and his hobbies. When she goes over to deliver his meal, she usually stays for a cup of tea and they talk in detail about Tom’s family life and what he is getting up to over the week to come.

Having got to know Tom, Vijaya is concerned for his wellbeing. When she goes to visit him she not only asks about what is currently happening in his life, but also offers friendly advice on who to speak to in certain situations:

“There are probably a lot of people who don’t go out, so they’re not getting that hot meal and that’s the biggest problem. I will do Casserole Club until I can’t do it anymore.”

Although Vijaya has got to know Tom very well over the last five months, she would also like to meet new Diners in her area. She would like to meet other older people who would benefit from sharing one of her home cooked meals and getting to know a friendly neighbour.

Vijaya’s passion for the project is obvious. Although she is concerned about not being able to Cook for Tom forever, she trusts Casserole Club to locate new Cooks for Tom when she feels she is unable to share her food for him any longer.

Tom’s Casserole Club Story

Tom is a Casserole Club Diner. He lives alone in a flat in West Barnet where he shares a weekly meal with Vijaya, his current Casserole Club Cook.

Tom signed up to Casserole Club at a day centre he goes to twice a week. Although he likes to go to this centre, it’s opening hours have recently changed from five to two days a week. This means he spends more time in his flat than before:

Although he could go to another local day centre, he feels he may not fit in with people he doesn’t know. This means that his social group is getting smaller.

Tom has been sharing food with Vijaya since July and looks forward to his meal share every week. When she comes over they sit and chat about everything from his latest bingo game to what his family it up to over Christmas. Its clear to see that a friendship has started to grow though sharing a weekly meal:

“I rather like it. It’s just somebody to come over. It’s nice, it’s just what I wanted.”

Being an avid bingo player, Tom likes to keep Vijaya updated with the latest bingo politics. Knowing this Vijaya has even offered to go and play soon with him.

Although Tom and Vijaya’s friendship has grown, he is still very grateful every week when she comes to visit him. Every time the matchmaking team speak to him after a meal share, he always has good things to say about his Cook.

Although Tom is still amazed that people would bother cooking for him, he now is able to see that the project is growing . He can see that local people do want to meet and get to know him over a home cooked meal.

Thanks to Tom and Vijaya for sharing their thoughts with us.

Inspired by Tom and Vijaya’s story? Sign up now to Casserole Club.

5 Tips to Make the Most of Christmas Markets

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

As you may have noticed, Christmas has begun for Team Casserole. The #CasseroleChristmas campaign has seen loads of people from across the UK pledge to share their a portion of their Christmas food with an older neighbour this boxing day.

Last Sunday, to help spread the Christmas cheer, the Barnet community joined Team Casserole to sign up as new Cooks and get people sharing their Christmas leftovers. It was great to meet the people of Barnet and spread some Christmas cheer on a cold December day.

Because, you know what they say: it’s simply not Christmas time until you’ve been to the High Barnet Christmas Fayre!

So, we thought we’d share our top tips for making the most of Christmas markets if you’re running a stall this year and so you know what to expect if you spot us at a Christmas market near you.

1. Be Prepared: Bring along Santa’s Little Helpers

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

No, that’s not a real elf. But it can help to have some friendly helpers (ideally at least 3) to man your stall and encourage people to come over to find out more about Casserole Club. And we’ll definitely be watching Elf on Channel 4 this Christmas (a great British tradition).

2. Stand Out From the Crowd: Wear a stylish hat and a bright orange megaphone

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

Even an elf flown all the way in from the North Pole might not be enough to get people’s attention, especially in a busy Christmas market. That’s why it can be useful to have a helping hand in the form of a rather attractive chefs hat and orange megaphone.

3. Stickers Are Great: But understand you can’t make everyone happy

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

Despite wearing the very sought after Casserole Club sticker, this little one is not impressed with how easy it is to help out an older neighbour this Christmas through Casserole Club. Her mum looks like she’s having a great time though, so hopefully she’s signed up as a cook and will be sharing a portion of good, home cooked food with a neighbour in the next few weeks.

4. Try out different ways of approaching people to find one that works

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

We’ve experimented with different ways of getting people over to our stall. From a map of diners in the nearby area, to a “pin the nose on the reindeer” game, we tried out lots of different incentives for get people’s interest. And it worked! For example, this lovely lady is signing up to Casserole Club. We’ll be emailing her this week to match her with an older neighbour near her and she’ll be warming the heart of one of our diners very soon.

5. A smile is always welcome on a cold day

Casserole Club Christmas Markets

At the Christmas market,  125 Cooks signed up to Casserole Club, which is pretty amazing and why our team have big smiles on their faces. But we reckon we can smash that this week.

This Saturday we’ll be at East Finchley, and you have the chance to meet one of Santa’s ACTUAL REINDEER (they can’t tell us which one for security reasons, Blitzen is quite the celeb these days after the Justin Bieber episode).

So hope to see you on Saturday 7 December 2013 at the East Finchley Christmas market. But if you can’t make it along, make sure you find out more about the #CasseroleChristmas campaign and sign up to Casserole Club.

Casserole Club’s #CasseroleChristmas Campaign

Ah, Christmas.

Here at Casserole Club we love the feeling of preparing for the big Christmas dinner. Roast potatoes smothered in gravy. Stuffing the turkey until it’s full, then sitting down with family and friends to share food and stories.

In the last year our wonderful Casserole Cooks have been sharing extra portions of delicious home cooked food with older Diners in Barnet, Tower Hamlets, and Reigate & Banstead in Surrey.

Over the festive season we want to encourage people to think about their older neighbours who might be spending Christmas alone, and how you could help them by taking part in projects like the Casserole Club.

That’s why this year we’re asking our Cooks to share a portion of their Christmas dinner with an older neighbour this Boxing Day.

If you live in Barnet, Tower Hamlets or Reigate & Banstead, then sign up to Casserole Club and we can match you with an older neighbour this Christmas.

If Casserole Club isn’t currently in your area we’d still love you to sign up so we can let you know when we’re live in your area.

Throughout December we’ll be sharing 25 ways to help, including how to take part in Casserole Club if you live in one of our active areas, some of our Cooks’ favourite Christmas recipes and some heartwarming Casserole Club stories to get you in the festive mood.

You can follow along by liking the Casserole Club Facebook page, following @Casserole_Club on Twitter or checking back on this blog for the latest updates.

We’re calling it the #CasseroleChristmas campaign. Get involved here.

Recipe of the Month: Yummy Mummy Halloween Cake Balls

Are you looking for a scary (but cute) treat to make for your Halloween bash this year? Try these spooky mummy cake balls! At only 102 calories per cake ball (hardly anything when you think of all the yummy goodness that it incorporates) this Halloween treat will be a hit with the kids, as well as the Mums!


Ingredients:

16.5 oz package yellow cake mix

6 oz plain fat-free Greek yogurt

1 cup water

2 large egg whites

Baking spray

48 oz Baker’s white chocolate

Mini chocolate chips for the eyes

1 wooden skewer

Directions:

Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly spray a the cake pop pan with baking spray.

Combine the cake mix, yogurt, 1 cup water and egg whites in a large mixing bowl and beat until combined. Place the batter into a pastry bag or large ziplock bag with the tip cut off.

Pipe the batter into the prepared cake pop pan and bake about 18 minutes (I rotated the pan after 10 minutes to be sure they baked evenly). Let it rest 5 minutes before opening the pan.

Place the cake balls on a wire rack and repeat with remaining batter. Using a scissor, cut the seam off the balls.

Refrigerate the cake balls for about 45 minutes, this helps the chocolate stick to the cake.

Melt some of the chocolate in the microwave according to package directions, careful not to overheat the chocolate. If it’s too thick add a drop of oil to thin out. Use the wooden skewer and insert into the cake ball, then dip in melted chocolate. Let the excess drip off then place each ball on parchment paper.

Place remaining chocolate into a piping bag and drizzle onto the tops of the balls to make a criss-cross effect to resemble a mummy wrap.

Place the mini chocolate chips over the chocolate for eyes and set aside to dry.

Servings: 48

 

For more tasty treats, check out the Casserole Club Pintrest!  And join Casserole Club to connect and share food with an older neighbour who would appreciate tasting your mini mummies!


Recipe courtesy of SkinnyTaste.com

Did the Great British Bake Off Finale Inspire YOU to Start Baking?

An estimated 8 million viewers tuned in to the Great British Bake Off (GBBO) Finale last night on BBC 2, where Frances Quinn, 31, was announced the winner of the 2013 series of the popular show.

Quinn wowed the judges and audiences across the country with some of the most creative and intricately designed baked goods the show has seen in all four series.  From her very first bake, a giant jam sandwich cake, to her final showstopper cake inspired by William Shakespeare’s “A Mid Winter Night’s Dream”, Quinn has proved that she is a deserved winner.

Watching all of those delicious cakes being presented each week has inspired loads of people, especially here at Casserole Club, to try their hand at baking. But what about you?

Are you suddenly confident you can create a five-tiered checkered cake decorated with passion fruit-infused chocolate butterflies and pineapple bumblebees? Or perhaps you just want to give the classic (yet delicious) Victorian sponge cake a whirl.

Either way, instead of going through all that effort to bake it, taking one bite (or slice) of it like GBBO judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry then casting it aside, try bringing some round to an older neighbour who would appreciate some homemade goodies!

Even GBBO runner-up, Kimberly Wilson thinks it’s a good idea! A few weeks ago she retweeted one of our posts, and we were so starstruck we just had to tweet back:

If you have some GBBO-inspired cake going spare, try sharing your tasty hard work.

Why not give Casserole Club a try?

You only have to do it once, after that no pressure.  Even one meal means so much to our Diners. Find out more and sign up here.

Happy World Food Day!

“Healthy People Depend on Healthy Food Systems”


68 years ago today the Food and Agriculture Organization was founded, and since then, every 16 October marks World Food Day.  World Food Day is organized by the United Nations to raise awareness of the ongoing issues in food production and hunger.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) strives to inform people of the worldly problems with the quantity and quality of our foods, stating their objectives as the following:

Picture and information courtesy of http://www.fao.org/

  • to encourage attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end;

  • to encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries;

  • to encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions;

  • to heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world;

  • to promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and

  • to strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

A great way to help end hunger is by sharing a plate with someone in need, whether it be through Casserole by cooking and older neighbor a home cooked meal, or through donating food to Food Banks, such as our friends at Tower Hamlets Foodbank.  It can be a little or it can be a lot, but any help goes a long way in the aid to end hunger.

To learn more about what the FAO is doing to help secure better food systems, or to get involved, visit http://www.fao.org/getinvolved/worldfoodday/home/en/.

Warming up the Casserole Club Blog

Welcome back Casserolers!

We’re back in action with our brand spanking new, totally rebooted Casserole Club Blog!

We will be providing you with information on upcoming events, news from our future and currently active boroughs (Barnet, Tower Hamlets, and Reigate & Banstead), interesting case studies from our community Cooks and Diners, and even some of our favourite recipes.  You’re welcome!

A huge help to the success of Casserole Club is word of mouth. We need you to help us help you help the elderly people in your area. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of help to us!  We’re not asking for too much though, honestly.

You’ll be hearing from us more through this blog, so follow us on Twitter (@Casserole_Club) and like us on Facebook to keep updated.

Oh, and sign up to Casserole Club, too, if you want to get involved in the community!

Casserole expands to Tower Hamlets and Barnet, featured in Waitrose Magazine

At Casserole, the site that joins up people who like to cook with neighbours who could really benefit from a plate of delicious home cooked food, we believe that food should be something enjoyed and celebrated, and that nothing beats a fresh homemade meal.

After a six month pilot in Reigate and Banstead, we’ve learnt a lot and are now getting ready to launch the next phase in Tower Hamlets and Barnet, so even more people can join our growing community.

If you live in Tower Hamlets or Barnet and would like to Cook for an elderly neighbour who lives locally to you, please sign up as Cook at www.casseroleclub.com and we’ll be in touch soon with next steps.

We’d also still love for you to sign up even if you live outside of the current live areas, so we can gauge interest in new areas of the UK where Casserole might go next. Make sure to share Casserole Club with friends on Facebook and Twitter and get them to sign up too.

You might also have seen us in this months Waitrose magazine, which had an brilliant in-depth feature into what we’re up to with Casserole. Make sure to pop down to your local store for a copy, or take a look at the full article below.