Experience Greece at the 45th Annual Greek Festival

Experience Greece at the 45th Annual Greek Festival

Experience Greece without the Airfare!

The 45th Annual Birmingham Greek Festival will take place at 307 19th Street South, 35233. Visit www.BhamGreekFestival.com for a detailed schedule of festival activities including live Greek music.

45 years ago, the Ladies Philoptochos Society hosted the first annual Holy Trinity-Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Cathedral Greek Food Festival which has blossomed into one of the Southeast’s premier annual cultural events. The 45th Annual Greek Festival is set for September 21-23, 2017 from 10:30am-10:00pm in downtown Birmingham. Enjoy delicious Greek cuisine, indoor and outdoor dining, live Greek music, authentic Greek dancing performances, and a Greek Market Place. While at the festival, be sure to take a free guided tour of the church which is one of the oldest Greek Orthodox parishes in the United States and offers a breathtaking example of Cathedral Byzantine architecture. Admission to the festival is free and food plates are individually priced. Free festival parking is available one block away from the church in the former Liberty National building on 3rd Avenue and 20th Street South and if you don’t have time to attend the festival, Drive-Thru Service is available all three days from 10:30am-7pm, www.BhamGreekFestival.com, 205-716-3088.


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2,000 Pieces of Falafel & SO MUCH MORE!

2,000 Pieces of Falafel & SO MUCH MORE!

City Scene

Saint George’s 36th Annual Middle Eastern Food Festival takes place September 15-16, 425 16th Ave. S., www.saintgeorgeonline.org. (Courtesy: John B. Manos)

It’s no exaggeration that the parish community of Saint George Melkite Catholic Church prepares tons of food for its annual Middle Eastern Food Festival set for September 14, 15 and 16. For thirty-six years Saint George parishioners have prepared and served homemade Middle Eastern food to thousands of visitors from Birmingham and its surrounding areas. The festival’s ever popular spicy vegetarian delicacy, Falafels, is made with a family recipe. “We use 100 pounds of dry chick peas for the falafel,” explains Falafel Chair Hilweh Shunnarah adding, “We have to have 80 pounds of onion, 15 pounds of garlic, 5 boxes of fresh parsley and hot peppers too!” Other popular menu items include Kibbee, a meat entrée made with ground round of beef, onions, cracked wheat and special spices. And don’t forget desserts like baklawa, a delicate pastry filled with nuts, and Zalabieh, a homemade fried doughnut prepared freshly on sight. Festival activities include live entertainment on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Saturday evening as well as shopping which includes a variety of handmade crafts, Byzantine icons, and olive wood artifacts from the Holy Land.

The free admission festival takes place near UAB at 425 16th Avenue South. Festival hours of operation are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and church tours are offered each day until 8 p.m. The festival also has convenient drive through service (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) and lunch orders of $75 or more can be delivered to the downtown area on Thursday and Friday. For takeout and delivery orders call 205-492-9621 or visit foodorders@saintgeorgeonline.org.

Proceeds will benefit local charities including, Three Hots and A Cot, Pathways of Birmingham, and Habitat for Humanity. The Food Festival also enables the parish to feed the homeless, prepare hot meals for women in shelters, provide diapers and other paper products to local charities, and sponsor an “Angel Tree” at Christmas. For further information, visit www.saintgeorgeonline.org.


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Bob Sykes BBQ & Blues Festival Helps Ady’s Army

Bob Sykes BBQ & Blues Festival Helps Ady’s Army

Music Notes

Van Sykes the 2nd generation owner and pit master of Bob Sykes Bbq Restaurant, says “We’re excited to celebrate the 60th birthday of Bob Sykes Bbq at our yearly Bbq & Blues Festival!”

Bob Sykes Bbq will celebrate its 60th Anniversary while hosting its 8th Annual Bob Sykes Bbq and Blues Festival on Saturday, May 20 from Noon-8pm. The event combines the music of award winning local and national blues musicians with great bbq at DeBardeleben Park in historic downtown Bessemer. The blues musicians set to perform include Chris Simmons, Albert White and the MusicMaker Revue, Eight O’Five Jive, Markey Blue, The Norman Jackson Band and Joe Louis Walker. There is something to do for the entire family including a large kids corner with activities and games, arts and crafts, outdoor exhibits, and legendary Bob Sykes Bbq.

A portion of the festival proceeds will benefit the Birmingham based non-profit, Ady’s Army (www.adysarmy.org) whose mission is “serving God by serving special needs families.” Money raised will be used to support programs like “Fins,” which teaches special needs children how to swim and “Paws,” which helps families secure service dogs for children with severe autism. “This is massive for us. We are thrilled and honored,” says Brian Shubert who founded Ady’s Army with his wife Chrissy. The organization is named after their daughter Ady, who has autism. “We are a literally a mom and pop non-profit. This is huge for us.” The organization’s goal is to “defeat the financial stress and loneliness caused by autism, providing resources one ‘piece’ and one family at a time.”

The festival will also be honoring National Armed Forces Day by offering Military Discounts to all active and retired military. Simply present your Military ID at the gate to receive $10 off your general admission ticket. General admission and VIP Tickets can also be purchased at www.bobsykesblues.com or at Bob Sykes Bar B Q Restaurant. Children twelve and under are free with a ticketed adult. †

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City Scene: Vulcan Park and Museum

City Scene: Vulcan Park and Museum

Birmingham Revealed

As a part of its Birmingham Revealed cultural series, Vulcan Park and Museum will host two great events this month that tell the stories of people and events that helped shape our city’s history and culture.

A Talk with Frank Stitt & Friends. Birmingham was recently listed on Zagat’s prestigious rankings of the “26 Hottest Food Cities of 2016.” The backbone of the culinary industry in Birmingham that supports that ranking is James Beard award winner Chef Frank Stitt, among many other culinary talents in the area. Many of those chefs, including Stitt, call Five Points South home to their well-recognized culinary establishments. Join Chef Stitt, owner and executive chef of Highlands Bar & Grill, Chez Fon, and Bottega, and friends George Reis (Ocean and 5 Point Public House & Oyster Bar), and others April 19 at 6pm at Vulcan to hear their intriguing stories: how obstacles became realities, why they chose Five Points South, and why this neighborhood thrives as a hub of all things “foodie” in the Birmingham area.

Alvin Vogtle Escapes. This one act drama commissioned by Vulcan Park and Museum highlights the adventurous life of Birmingham resident, Alvin Vogtle, whose story influenced the 1963 film “The Great Escape” starring Steve McQueen. During World War II, Vogtle attempted to escape German POW camps four times before succeeding on his fifth attempt in 1945. After the war, Vogtle returned to Birmingham and worked as an attorney, and, in 1970, became the CEO of Southern Company. The play begins at 6pm April 26 at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

Admission to each of these events is $10 ($8 for Vulcan® Park and Museum members). Learn more and purchase tickets at visitvulcan.com/events.

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Ashley Mac’s

Ashley Mac’s

Ashley Mac’s Super Spring Sandwich: Turkey Avocado with Lemon Basil Aioli

Homemade Lemon Basil Aioli and fresh avocado make a simple turkey sandwich into something extra delicious and perfect for spring and summer! You can also make these in wraps and slice into pinwheels or create on small rolls and serve them as an appetizer

Ingredients per Sandwich

  • 2 slices wheat brea
  • 3 slices fresh turkey breast
  • Handful of fresh mixed greens
  • 4 slices cucumber
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1 half of an avocado, sliced
  • 1 Tbs. Lemon Basil Aioli

Lemon Basil Aioli

  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl and let chill for 30 minutes before using.

Don’t have time to spend in the kitchen? Stop by Ashley Mac’s and pick up one of her delicious sandwiches- served with a side and chips. Three Birmingham locations, www.ashleymacs.com. †

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Dining out with Comedienne Joy

Make Dining In Like Dining Out with Edolyn’s Homemade Pies!

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-20-30-pmChristmas time is the best time ever for a big ole piece of delicious, homemade sweet potato pie. So wow your family this year, by ordering and serving up one or more of Edolyn’s Homemade Pies. Dr. Angelyn Ramsey created this Birmingham start up using her 30 plus year family recipe and a dream of someday carrying on her family legacy of baking pies as a full time career. Let me tell you, Edolyn’s raw sweet potato mix is just as good as her cooked pies! I couldn’t resist licking the spoon and the bowl! Once her sweet potato pie cooled, it was heavenly from the first bite to the last. It had just the right amount of sweetness inside a perfect pie crust. Her ingredients are simple, but taste gourmet.


Comedienne Joy gives a thumbs up for Edolyn’s Homemade Pies! Made with love in Birmingham, Ala., place your pie order today at www.edolynspies.com.

If you prefer a little bit of zest, go all out this year with Edolyn’s Lemon Chess Pie. It has the same consistency as the Sweet Potato Pie, but is full of fresh squeezed lemon flavor with a buttery crunch. America’s favorite is obviously sweet potato, but I’m very partial to pecan pie during the holidays and Edolyn’s Pecan Pie made me do my happy dance! Chopped pecans laying in thepie filling made each bite of the pie taste like heaven on earth. I almost felt guilty for inhaling the entire 4 inch pie by myself, but I remembered pecans are in the nut/protein category and we cannot have too much protein- right!?  

Edolyn’s Homemade Pies come in two sizes: 4 inch and 9 inch and are easy to order on line at www.edolynspies.com or email edolynspies@gmail.com. Let Angelyn Ramsey and her team at Edolyn’s help you enjoy more time with your family and less time in the kitchen this Christmas. Your family is sure to be pleased with this holiday treat!

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-20-16-pm -Comedienne Joy

If you would like to be featured on “Dining Out with Comedienne Joy” email comediennejoy@gmail.com

Catch “Dining Out With Comedienne Joy” every Saturday 8:30 a.m. on WABM My 68.

                                                  Visit www.diningoutwithcomediennejoy.com.

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City Scene

Bud’s Best Inducted into Baking Hall of Fame

February 27, 2017 founder of Birmingham based Bud’s Best Cookies, Bud Cason, will be inducted into the prestigious Baking Hall of Fame

Bud Cason, Founder and Chairman of Birmingham-based Bud’s Best Cookies, will soon be inducted into the Baking Hall of Fame by the American Society of Baking (A.S.B.). The award recognizes industry innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. Individuals are selected for their achievements in organizational growth and development, equipment design and innovation, advancements in ingredient technology and processing or related service to the commercial baking industry. “The lives and careers of these individuals provide wonderful examples of excellence and leadership,” said John Del Campo, chair of the A.S.B. Baking Hall of Fame Evaluation Committee. “They represent the best qualities of compassion, forward thinking and personal judgment. The committee feels honored to have looked at their accomplishments. They inspire our future by their experience.”

Cason practically invented the category of mini-cookies by being the first to master the mass production of these bite-size treats, now found at convenience stores all around the country and

unnamed-2on Amazon.com. Later, he added full-size cookies and, most recently, wafer products to the product line of his business. He is also very active in his community and church and generously supports their causes, charities and initiatives. “Since I was 12-years-old working in my aunt’s bakery, I always knew that I wanted to own my own cookie factory,” said Cason. “Being inducted into the Bakers Hall of Fame is such an honor and makes me realize all of my dreams have come to fruition.”
unnamedSince its launch in 2006, the Baking Hall of Fame will have enshrined 76 individuals with the 2017 class. They come from all walks of life in the baking industry — from bakeries, allied equipment and ingredient suppliers, schools, service organizations and publishers. Their accomplishments can be read at www.asbe.org/hall-of-fame/baking-hall-fame-inductees-year.
Learn more about Bud’s Best at www.budsbestcookies.com.†

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Special Feature

Phyllis Hoffman DePiano & Her Southern Ladies


“It really has been a journey—a real journey of faith and stepping out,” Phyllis Hoffman DePiano says of growing Hoffman Media since 1983. The company offers titles in both print and digital editions but the majority of her subscribers prefer print. “Our readers are twofold: those who love the experience of turning pages and those escaping from screens,” she says. “The tactical experience of reading printed pages brings such joy and satisfaction.”

In 1983 Phyllis Hoffman toted a pillowcase full of checks into a Birmingham bank to open a business account. The act spoke of her unconventionality as a business woman in the 80s starting her own company and publishing a magazine. Retired from public accounting and parenting twins, she decided to launch Just CrossStitch with her sister and two friends. They needed 3,500 subscribers to break even on publishing costs each month, and she had 3,500 subscribers, paid up front, before the first issue even went to press. Since then, Hoffman Media has grown to 12 women’s interest and lifestyle magazines including Southern Lady and Cooking with Paula Deen and Phyllis’ life has become permanently woven into a community of talented Southern women whose stories often hinge on faith.


“She always says God has a sense of humor,” Birmingham publisher Phyllis Hoffman DePiano says of friend Paula Deen.

Her Southern Ladies. As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Hoffman Media, Phyllis has developed relationships with some of the South’s most talented and reputable women. She has sung “Amazing Grace” on stage with Designing Women actress Dixie Carter and has been a prayer partner with television journalist and legal analyst Nancy Grace, who went to law school to become a felony prosecutor after her fiancée was murdered in 1979. However, Phyllis is perhaps best known for her relationship with Paula Deen. She featured the celebrity chef and television personality in Southern Lady as “Southern Lady of the Year” in 2004 then worked alongside Deen to launch the magazine Cooking with Paula Deen in 2005. In one of their earliest photo shoots, Phyllis recalls a disaster with a slippery bubble bath that still makes them giggle to this day. “Paula wanted to do a photo shoot of her in the bathtub, which cracked me up. But I said we’ve got to have a lot of bubbles because it’s got to come up to your neck,” she remembers. “When Paula got in the tub, she sank to the bottom. All I could see was her blue eyes peeking out of the bubbles. She couldn’t sit up because it was so slick, so I had to drag her out. She’ll tell you today I tried to drown her, which is so funny.”


DePiano’s twin sons serve as co-presidents at Hoffman Media. Eric (left) is also Chief Operations Officer, and Brian is Chief Creative Officer. They are both graduates of Briarwood High School.

Her Strength in God. Raised in a Christian home, Phyllis attended Lakeside Baptist Church with her parents and became a church organist and pianist in the 8th grade. She still plays today, as a substitute organist for Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood, and says while there is a danger of complacency when growing up in the church, faith often becomes more personal when saddled with a major life change. For Phyllis, change came in the form of divorce from her first husband in 2008. “You don’t grow up planning to be divorced. You don’t grow up planning that you have a broken home. No one ever thinks, ‘I am going to have a major problem in my life,’” she says. “The beauty is God forgives us and wipes the slate clean, and we have an opportunity to start over. The foot of the cross is level. There’s not a pyramid of better than thou, holier than thou. We are all sinners, and we are all forgiven by the blood of Jesus, and that’s where I find my strength.”

It was Phyllis’ work on Cooking with Paula Deen that led her to her second husband, Neal DePiano, who is a Battalion Chief with the Hoover Fire Department and worked as a contractor on Deen’s kitchen remodels in his off time. “We had worked together for years on a professional level where he would handle the construction and working with the designers,” Phyllis remembers. “He had gone through a divorce and then when I did, we started dating. It was like wow, dating one of your friends… then we realized we were in love and God had brought us together.” The couple married at Neal’s ranch on Dec. 23, 2009.


The DePianos will celebrate their 7th wedding anniversary December 23. Neal met Phyllis while working as a contractor for Cooking with Paula Deen. He is currently doing a total restoration on an English stone home in Birmingham that will be featured in Cottage Journal and Southern Home next year.

Her Message for Women. People love to try new things, Phyllis says, and that’s part of what has solidified the success of her magazines and Birmingham’s success as a publishing town in general. Women with beautiful gardens are willing to try their hand at turning their flowers into a beautiful centerpiece. They want to learn to bake fresh bread. They want to decorate for the holidays in new ways. And when Phyllis’ readers take a new skill or hobby and turn it into a business, it makes her proud. It’s reminiscent of her segway into business ownership in the crafting sector more than 30 years ago. Besides encouragement to take a chance on creativity and entrepreneurship, Phyllis says the greatest message women need to hear from friends and mentors is that nothing can separate them from the love of God. “My life is a testimony of grace and mercy and forgiveness and love. All Christians struggle at some point in time with something. And that’s where your faith has to come in as restorative,” she says, noting that older Christian women need to realize the impact they can have by sharing this reassurance with the younger women in their lives. “If there’s something that’s happened in your life that has kind of shaken you from your roots, you [may] realize at the end of the day all you have and all you need is the Lord. Everywhere in the Bible when people encountered Jesus and were touched by the Master, their lives started over. You can’t relive your life—it’s not a do-over—but it always is a start over. Whenever you need that forgiveness and starting over in your life, God is faithful. Everyone has that same opportunity.”

– Camille Platt


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Perfect Holiday Dessert: Lucy’s Pumpkin Cheesecake


  1. 9 whole honey maid chocolate graham cracker
  2. 20 whole gingersnapunnamed
  3. 1 stick butter
  4. 1⁄4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  5. 32 oz cream cheese, softened
  6. 15 oz pumpkin pureed pie filling
  7. 1 1⁄4 cup sugar
  8. 4 whole eggs
  9. 1 1⁄4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  10. 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  11. 2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place graham crackers and ginger snaps in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until cookies become crumbs. Add pumpkin pie spice and melted butter. Continue to pulse until well combined. Spread mixture in a 8-9 inch spring form pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Firmly press crust in the pan and up the sides 1/4-1/2 inch. Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract in a mixer until fluffy and smooth. Add eggs one at a time, allowing one to incorporate before adding the next. Remove two cups of batter to a bowl. Add pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, and salt to the remaining batter in the bowl. Combine well. Pour half of the pumpkin batter over the crust in the pan. Spread evenly. Dollop half of the plain batter over the top of the pumpkin batter in crust. Pour the remaining pumpkin batter over the top. Dollop the second half of the plain batter over the top of the second layer of pumpkin batter in crust. Using a knife, create a swirl design by making long strokes through the pumpkin and plain batters. Bake for one hour until center set. If using a water bath- wrap the pan in two layers of aluminum foil leaving the top exposed. Place wrapped pan in a baking dish or roasting pan and fill pan with water to the half way level of the cheesecake pan. After cheesecake is baked, immediately remove wrapped cheesecake out of the water bath. Remove foil, and allow cheesecake to cool.

– Chef Lucy Greer, Greer’s Market & Cateringunnamed-1

For more recipes from Lucy visit www.greers.com

SEND US ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE RECIPES to share with Birmingham Christian Family readers!

Email to: laurie@christianfamilypublications.com, Subject Line: Potluck

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