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The Big Lunch - an Eden Project

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Turkey Satay Kebabs

January 15, 2016
Author: Grainne McCloskey

Healthy Turkey Kebab recipe

This recipe is perfect for sharing at your next Big Lunch.

It would work for chicken too, simply purchase the required meat locally.

Takes about 25 minutes to make.

Makes six skewers (multiply up the ingredients for a larger batch)

tukey satay kebab


  • 500g turkey, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 deseeded, finely chopped red chilli
  • zest and juice of a lime
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon honey
  • 30g grated ginger
  • 1 tin light coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • a red onion quartered and separated into slices



Steep skewers in water for at least 10 minutes before use (or overnight), this prevents them burning.

Take the turkey and onions and thread them turn about onto the skewer.

Do this until all are used up and then brush with a tablespoon of the oil.

Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add chilli and ginger.

Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the remaining ingredients.

Continue to simmer for 10 minutes.

Heat a grill or pan until it is hot and add the kebabs for 2 minutes each side.

Remove and pour the warm satay sauce over the kebab and serve with a wedge of lime.


These are delicious as a sharing party food or with salad, rice or noodles.

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Ideas, Recipes
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Get together in a Shed!

November 27, 2015
Author: Emily Watts

Earlier this week, I was sat in a room at the launch of the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association. It was possibly one of the more bizarre and moving experiences of my Big Lunch career yet (and there have been a few…).  So here’s the concept, basically a Men’s Shed is a place where men gather across the age spectrum, with tools (and tea, and sometimes soup or spaghetti, though I don’t think that’s a pre-requisite) to blether, make stuff, pass on their skills and knowledge. Basically, Sheds are places to pass the time in a thoroughly enjoyable men focussed environment.


Now, the key thing for me is that, as a woman, I don’t feel apart from this movement. In fact, I’m a fully signed up member of the SMSA. Just as I believe in equality, I believe in providing spaces where people can be with other folk of their preferred gender. I’m a Brownie Leader, and that’s all about the girls, quite purposefully. The research has different things to say about whether the physical structure of the brains of men and women differ. Generally though, there are differences in the way we act as we age. Women are more likely to stay socially active after retirement, whereas men are more likely to see less of their peers.

We could debate the whys and wherefores, but what Men’s Sheds do, and have been doing world-wide for the last ten or more years, is provide a friendly space where men can feel comfortable, purposeful and engaged.  And where those who are retired can pass on their ideas and experience to younger men who might need to hear from someone who’s been there and done that

Check out the video from SMSA for some real stories.
We wanted to say a big ‘Hello and Welcome’ to the Scottish Men’s Shed’s Association, but also to pass this idea on to all you Big Lunchers.
We’re all about getting folk together with a common purpose and creating community, and if that happens in a shed, well, why not?

Scottish Men’s Shed Association is on tour from 7 – 11th December. You can get your tickets here

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Charity, Community, Friends, Scotland
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How to Make Giant Bubbles

November 24, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey

Bubbles are a fun and eye catching activity at any party and they are a great way to break the ice between different ages and abilities. So why not make GIANT bubbles for your next street party or community event!

Giant bubble fun in Fermanagh

Giant bubble fun in Fermanagh

Make your bubble wand

  • Two sticks of a similar size, garden bamboo sticks, dowels or just sticks from a tree
  • Two screw eyes (any size),
  • One washer for a weight (note: some people don’t use a washer)
  • Cotton string

Plan how big your bubble wand will to be.


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Asda, Games, How to, Ideas, Northern Ireland, Recipes
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Spicy Pumpkin Soup

October 23, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey


1kg Pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1-2cm cubed pieces

1 onion

2 tea spoons of garlic

2 red peppers

2 tablespoons red curry paste

1 tin of coconut cream

1 handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves

orangey colourful pumpkin curried soup with green corriander leaves sprinkled on top


Heat a large saucepan over a gentle heat.

Add pumpkin, note: if you are following this recipe and have been carving pumpkins do not worry about your pumpkin not being cubed, it just needs to be cut small and thin so that it softens quickly when cooking.

Add chopped onion, garlic and red peppers

Add the curry paste.

Cook gently and keep stirring, for a few minutes until the  mixture starts to stick to bottom of pan.

Add coconut cream and continue stirring for a minute.

Add a pint glass of cold water and bring gradually to the boil.

Reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until pumpkin has softened.

Let it cool so that the stream is not intense.

The next step depends on what you have available. If you have a food processor or blender use it until the soup is smooth and if you don’t have these let the soup cool a little and mash up  until fairly smooth.

Season with salt and pepper. Top with fresh coriander or coriander pesto and serve.

This is lovely with home made soda bread


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How to, Recipes
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Halloween party food ideas

October 22, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey

We know lots of our Big Lunch neighbourhoods have happy Halloween street parties and buying themed sweets and treats can be pricey! So we quickly pulled together a few ideas to help you theme your  Halloween party on a budget.

life like jelly worms on a bed of cookies

Trick or Treat Recipe by Marisa Churchill

Wiggly Worms

If you want to recreate this in a hurry, buy your jelly worms and chocolate cookies and simply mash up the cookies and sprinkle the worms over the top. There is lots of different recipes online on how to make jelly worms including Marisa Churchill’s but the easiest way is to buy low cost jelly powder. Then tie a bunch of drinking straws together at the bottom with an elastic band. Pour warm jelly into the straws and leave to cool and harden in a pint glass or jug. Then pour warm water around the outside so the jelly seperates from the inside of the straw and simply tip or squeeze up the straw and out. (Note if you add a little milk to the jelly mix in half the straws it provides good contrast.)

Photo from Tipjunkie

Photo from Tipjunkie

Halloween Homemade drink labels

Make a scary juice container by simply decorating an apple and blackberry or grape juice carton or a 2 litre soft drink bottle with spooky imagery you can also visit TipJunkie for more ideas. We like this plan as it will save you money too as the bottle can be refilled  with diluted juice and features on the table through out the party

healthy pumkin party idea

snack a jack

Pumpkin snacks

Place baby or sliced carrots into a pumpkin shape and use small ramekins with dips as eyes and nose and cucumber as a mouth, if you want to be naughty swap the carrots for cheese puffs.

Lots of us will be carving pumpkins but if you are too busy to use the pumpkin left overs simply put the slices in freezer bags and store them up for another day. We have a few recipes you can try out.

Other tips and ideas

Supermarket websites have a collection of ideas and our Pinterest board is a mine of information, so have a great party and please post a comment or photo if you give any of these a go!





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Asda, Decorations, How to, Ideas, Recipes, Top tips
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Twitter challenge for the #autumn!

October 20, 2015
Author: Emily Watts

As Autumn and it’s fire festivals hot up, (think Hallowe’en and Bonfire Night) I’ve been handed the Twitter mantle. To keep my eye firmly on the flames and away from the nights ever drawing in, I’ve decided to issue myself a challenge, which I hope will keep the Twitter feed bright, and also provide some interesting stuff for all you lovely folk out there to read.


I’m going to choose a theme a week and Tweet interesting stories/idea or projects that relate to it.

You can retweet, follow along, or play yourself, if you fancy!

So the weekly themes, in hashtag form, are:

  • W/C 20th October (we’re starting a day late): Autumn colours and fun #autumnjoy
  • W/C 26th October: Spooky goings on, myths and stories #tellatale
  • W/c 2nd November: Fire festivals and light ideas #fireandlight
  • W/C 9th November: Brighten up your community #brightideas

You can check out our Twitter feed over to your right to see what we’ve been up to already!

Have fun, and remember to wrap up warm.

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Ideas, Planning, Spreading the word
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Lantern Parades in the Belfast soup mix

October 19, 2015
Author: admin

Parades in Belfast are not generally considered as a way to unite people but when volunteers in South Belfast pulled together last year to make a lantern Parade happen in Botanic gardens it was a magical moment of unified community spirit. This year faced with the need to find funding to keep it going Eileen Chan-Hu tells us of her experience at the recently formed Belfast Soup.

Written by Eileen Chan-Hu

A lantern parade brings all ages together over the wintry dark months both in preparing for it and participating in the event.

I’m a volunteer of this wee organic group, South Belfast Lantern Parade. I got involved when last year  I responded to a tweet from a guy called  Barton who shared a Big Lunch Extras idea.


I became volunteer organiser and we went on to run a very successful lantern parade, we had hoped for 100 but 300 people came along and enjoyed the magic together lighting up the dark!

Last night I pitched at Belfast Soup for this year’s parade. Belfast Soup is a monthly Crowdfunding meet up, you come for the soup and stay for the chat with the profits of the soup going to the community idea that wins the pitch. One of its organisers took part in a recent Big Lunch Extras network event in Fermanagh and I liked what she told me so I decided to give it a go.

Before the pitch I got whisked away for an interview for Radio 4,  Invisible Northern Ireland. Then I had some yummy soup and water and before I knew it the pitches began! There were four in all.

I went up second after Dave pulled my heartstrings with his community idea to bring kids from different religious and cultural backgrounds in his boxing club on the Ormeau Rd to Dublin.

a group of people at a belfast crowdfunding event belfast soup

At Belfast Soup pitching the lantern parade for funding.

I was next and 4 minutes went fast! I was followed by pitches by View Digital and Reclaim the Night. Both excellent community projects.

We didn’t win the funds towards the battery operated candles, which is the most expensive element of the parade. We might not have won, but we didn’t leave empty handed.  We got valuable friends and new volunteers!  We built connections over this Soup experience and our lanterns could also feature for Reclaim the Night a few weeks before the lantern parade. ‪#‎maytheforcebewithus‬

South Belfast lantern parade is growing, we can feel it in the wintry air, so if you feel you can help in any way get in touch and please share too.

I highly recommend anyone with a great idea for the community to pitch at Belfast Soup and get in touch with them and if you are inspired to do your own lantern parade here are the tips to get started.

Just like with The Big Lunch, when people sit down to share food and conversation it can lead to so much more!


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Community, How to, Northern Ireland Case Study
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Vote for wild flowers in Northern Ireland

October 6, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey

two little girls in wild flower meadowNorthern Irish public to decide who receives £120,000 funding to help communities bloom


Grow Wild announced their funding for the year ahead by hosting a Big Lunch bringing everyone interested together in Belfast and now they have launched a huge voting campaign to find a flagship site in Northern Ireland which will receive £120,000 of funding to create an inspiring wild flower haven full of colour and wildlife for everyone to enjoy – and now it’s up to the public to decide who wins.

Three sites have been shortlisted in Belfast, Coleraine and Derry/Londonderry for the chance to transform local spaces with native wild flowers and inspire their communities.

Help your favourite project realise its vision to become Grow Wild’s Northern Ireland flagship by going online at or vote by telephone for free on the numbers listed beside each project below.

Grow Wild is supported by the Big Lottery Fund and led by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. The campaign aims to bring colour to local spaces and drive community spirit through providing opportunities to engage with wild flowers, particularly for young people.

Choose your favourite Grow Wild flagship project. Voting runs to midnight 1 November.

girl falls over hay bale

City of Wildflowers, Belfast

City of Wildflowers aims to bring wild flowers to all corners of Belfast for everyone to enjoy. The project will improve biodiversity across the city, give “wildflower makeovers” to well-known sites across Belfast and create a seed hub and the skills to address Northern Ireland’s need for a variety of wild flowers. The project is led by Belfast City Council. To vote for City of Wildflowers, call 0808 228 7701

Flowers of Foyle, Creggan, Derry/Londonderry

Flowers of Foyle will see a “river” of wild flowers flow from Creggan Country Park to the River Foyle and across the iconic Peace Bridge, with it bringing recreation, education, new skills and health benefits to the people of Derry/Londonderry. This project is led by Creggan Country Park. To vote for Flowers of Foyle, call 0808 228 7702

The Cornfield Project, Coleraine

The Cornfield Project will use wild flowers, natural colour and community activities to bring an underused area back to life. Located between two housing estates, the site will bring people together to enjoy wild flowers through sensory gardens, outdoor classrooms, allotments, youth areas and much more. The project is led by Focus on Family, nurturing and development centre. To vote for The Cornfield Project, call 0808 228 7703

The Northern Irish flagship project will run alongside a flagship project for Wales, following the successes of the English flagship in 2015 and Scottish flagship in 2014.

It’s up to you, the people of Northern Ireland, to make the decision on which project gets the £120,000 funding and the chance to provide local people with a range of benefits associated with growing and enjoying wild flowers.

So please VOTE!


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Charity, Environment, News, Northern Ireland
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Grow Wild Big Lunch

October 6, 2015
Author: Grainne McCloskey

“Sometimes all you need is food to bring people together to get a creative idea of the ground” says Stephanie, Northern Ireland representative of Grow Wild, Kew gardens’ lottery funded project.

In September community groups from across Northern Ireland got together in the Botanic Gardens Belfast thanks to a Big Lunch organised by Grow Wild.

Over the past couple of years dozens of groups in Northern Ireland have been awarded funding of between £1,000 and £4,000 to bring people together to transform a communal space by sowing and growing native plants. These projects are strengthening social bonds, raising awareness of wildflowers and also improving our natural surroundings.

This Big Lunch brought community groups that are currently funded together with those that are thinking of applying in order to exchange ideas and consider working together to get the best projects for Northern Ireland. They not only shared ideas but picnics and cupcakes as the sun shone favourably upon them. Over tea and coffee new acquaintances became friends and chance meetings led to productivity.

grow wild big lunch cupcakes

The amazing wildflower cupcakes, made by local baker Beth Thompson went down a treat , and the Big Lunch ended in a tour of the amazing Wildflower Alley  based in a lane behind some of the houses of the Holylands district of Belfast, Wildflower Alley residents have taken up paintbrushes and shovels to rejuvenate the boozy back streets to become blooming lovely and this all started with a lot of enthusiasm and hard work from the Alley’s residents and a few free seed kits from Grow Wild.

If you want to know more visit Grow Wild


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Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland Case Study
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Take part in Zero Waste Week and start reusing!

September 4, 2015
Author: Lorna Whitton

Into its eighth year, Zero Waste Week is back from the 7th – 13th of September to celebrate all things reusable!

Reuse is a wonderful topic for this year’s theme as it is such an important issue; it is so valuable to take the time to think about what small changes you could make. With just a few adjustments to your daily life you will soon be on to helping save the planet and saving yourself money with these simple ideas.

Zero Waste Week

So, what can you do to reuse?

Reuse shopping bags as well as jars for storage

Reuse foil for zero waste lunches

Take unwanted clothes to a textile bank or charity shop

Offer any items you no longer need/want to Freecycle and give them to a good home!

Reuse blank paper for taking notes

Use a refillable bottle to avoid buying many disposable plastic bottles

Hold a swishing party to swap clothes with people in your local area – get a new look for you and your neighbour!

Why is it important?

Being environmentally friendly may be more important to some than others; but anyone can take just one week to reflect on the impact of their daily habits. People who have taken part in Zero Waste Week previously have said the best thing about it was that it was fun! You might even find that these small changes are easy to continue after the week is up!

How can you keep motivated?

Zero Waste Week sends out daily emails over the 7 days to keep you inspired and full of ideas – sign up to receive the newsletter here. As well as this daily boost, join the online communities to share ideas with other people taking part – a great way to find resolutions to your reuse thoughts!

If you are holding an event over the week, make sure to get in touch with Zero Waste Week here so they can spread the word.

And, if you need a bit of local support call on your neighbours and get them involved, Big Lunch style!


Community, Environment, Spreading the word
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