Columbus Greek Festival enjoyed

Over Labor Day and for many years the Greek Orthodox Church in Columbus, Ohio, holds their annual Greek Festival that lasts for four days and attended by thousands every year.

If you have never been to a Greek Festival, I would advise you to attend one if it ever becomes possible, with keeping in mind that most large Orthodox churches in the bigger cities especially sponsor a festival yearly.

These festival require months of preparation and hard work by the church members and even outsiders to make it possible .. (it is usually the churches’ largest fund raiser of the year).

Every year, our entire family tries to attend the Columbus festival to support them and also for good food and an enjoyable and entertaining experience. To me, it is unbelievable how they prepare so much food for the thousands of people that attend the event for the four days. Not only foods for consumption, but also all kinds of Greek foods and pastries for sale to buy and take home. (The church was also open and with a person explaining the Christian Orthodox religion).

This year we started the weekend off by going to the Cross Country Meet in Barboursville, where Parkersburg High School’s Cross Country and Parkersburg South, along with many other schools, were taking part, plus also our grandson’s first high school meet. The triple A schools ran last and the race started at 10:30 p.m. believe it or not, with the course being lighted. We heard there were more than 1600 runners taking part in the day’s event, and unbelievable the number of spectators attending the function to watch their children, friends and school’s outcome. I am not sure which is worse — the long drive to get there, the long wait, or the stress at the finish line to see how your school came out.

We got to our hotel around midnight and then up the next day to head to the festival in Columbus, arriving in time to eat and watch the Greek Folk Dancers preform and the live Greek Kakias band playing all day, plus afterwards Vicky Constantinidis (who is the Greek Folk Dance instructor) and the dancers helped teach people Greek dancing. When each of our three children got married, we had hired the Kakias 5 piece Greek band and also the male and female Greek dance groups to each wedding to play and preform — so we have known several of them for many years.

All 16 members of our family attended, along with Dr Vasilakis’s family and children and upon arrival, all were heading to the stand that was selling their favorite foods and pastries, which was fun to watch and see what they wanted.

I forgot to mention when I was telling you about our recent trip to Jerusalem, when we stopped at the Jordan River, there was one souvenir stand where we stopped and were asked “where are you from” and I replied “USA” and they asked “What state” and I told them West Virginia, and two of the workers started singing, “Almost Heaven West Virginia.” So you see our song is famous everywhere it seems.

REMINDER: I hope you have sent your recipes in for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Cookbook!

Until next week!

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Amaretto Plums

1/2 cup amaretto

2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate

6 whole cloves

6 ride plums, quartered

1 8-ounce container mascarpone, softened

1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

For the plums, in a large zip-top bag, combine amaretto, orange juice concentrate and cloves; reserve 2 tablespoons. Squeeze out air and seal. Gently massage bag to combine ingredients. Add plums; set aside. Marinate in the refrigerator 1-4 hours. For the almond mascarpone, in small bowl, combine the mascarpone, 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade and 1/4 cup almonds. Refrigerate until ready to use. Set up grill for direct grilling over medium heat. Oil grate when ready to start cooking. Remove plums from zip-top bag; discard marinade. Place plums on hot oiled grill. Grill for 3-4 minutes per side or until grill marks appear and plums begin to soften. Serve warm plums with almond mascarpone. Garnish with remaining toasted almonds.

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Tapioca Corn Cobbler

4 cups corn chips

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 16-ounce bags frozen mango chunks, thawed

1 7-ounce can diced green chile peppers

2-3 red jalapenos, stemmed and seeded

2 tablespoons instant tapioca

Spray a 4-5 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl, crumble corn chips into small pieces. Add melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar; stir. In a large bowl, combine mango, chile peppers, jalapenos, tapioca and remaining 1 1/4 cups brown sugar. Transfer to a 4-5-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with corn chip mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours.

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Bahama Mama

Cobbler

1 16-ounce bag frozen mango chunks, thawed

1 28-ounce can pineapple chunks, drained

2 large bananas, sliced 1-inch thick

2 tablespoons instant tapioca

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/4 cup dark rum

1/2 cup papaya nectar

2 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 12-ounce package coconut meringues

Spray a 4-5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine mango, pineapple, bananas, tapioca and cinnamon. In a small bowl, stir together dark rum, nectar and syrup. Pour over fruit mixture. Stir to combine. Transfer to the slow cooker. Crumble meringues on top of fruit mixture. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 3-4 hours. Serve warm.

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Lemon Alfredo Pasta

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 10-ounce bag sweet peas

5 slices prosciutto, chopped

1 packet Alfredo sauce mix

1 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup cream

1 lemon, zested and finely chopped

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano cheese

1 16-ounce box fettuccine, cooked according to package directions

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, cook and stir onion in hot oil for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add peas and prosciutto and cook for 5 more minutes. In a small bowl, combine the sauce mix, milk and cream; mix well. Add to skillet. Bring to a boil; simmer for 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly. Add the lemon zest and cheese. Toss sauce with the cooked pasta. Sprinkle each serving with parsley.

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Kiki Angelos is a longtime columnist for the Parkersburg News and Sentinel.

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