September leaves me breathless. As a working mom, I watch the to-do list grow like a zucchini vine as each day of school and activities goes by.
And so does the list of food-related events. Luckily, these are great chances to feed the kiddies quickly and fairly cheaply, if you're so on the run that you don't have time to cook.
It's also a great way (really) to combine a little geography and history with dinner.
Most of the ethnic churches and organizations that hold food festivals take great care in presenting information about their home countries' culture, with church tours, music and talks. I adore these festivals and admire the work and dedication that goes into keeping them authentic in these times of fast food.
St. Andrew Romanian Orthodox Church will have its festival from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, 56 Glenn Way, McKees Rocks. Details at standrewpitt.org. Stuffed grape leaves, stuffed cabbage, sour beer soup and cheese pastries are among the offerings.
So is bors, a "fermented, soured bran used to make sour soups (tchorba), rich in B vitamins," says Virgil Simplaceanu, secretary to the parish council. "It is actually pronounced borsch.
"Romanian cooking includes many acidified soups, both purely vegetarian as well as meat-and-vegetables based," he says. "They are made sour with bors or lemon juice, less frequently with vinegar, sometimes with the juice of sauerkraut. Although people drink [bors] straight, its purpose is for cooking."
Ciorba de vacuta -- Romanian Sour Beef Soup -- is on the festival menu.
On Saturday, the Bulgarian-Macedonian National Education and Cultural Center, 449-451 W. Eighth Ave., West Homestead, begins its 10th annual Soup Sega. Fourteen gourmet Bulgarian soups will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Phone orders: 412-461-6188; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. Details: bmnecc.org. Prices range from $2.50 to $6, depending on kind and quantity. Six are gluten-free; three contain meat. Soups include Potato Leek, Spicy Pheasant Wheat, White Bean and Balkan Bean. Pastries, beef stew, stuffed peppers and lamb will also be available. The sale continues until May.
Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, 123 Gilkeson Road, Mt. Lebanon, will hold its fall Greek Food Fair and bake sale Oct. 7 through 9. Food will be served from 11:30 a.m. until 8 p.m. Have moussaka, tiropita, spanakopita, pastitio, Greek pastries and shop at Yiayia's Attic. More information: 412-835-3355.
St. Vladimir Ukrainian Church, 73 S. 18th St., South Side, will hold its food festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 4 and 5. Ethnic breads, nut rolls and other sweets join ethnic mainstays such as stuffed cabbage, pierogies and halushki on the menu. Also a ticket auction and raffle; contact Stephen Perdziola for more information, 412-854-4124.
Sample Bellevue restaurants and help the Northeastern Boxer Rescue from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Oct. 2. If you register before Sept. 30, the fee is $20 to visit six restaurants, taste their fare and that of other Bellevue establishments and enjoy wine pairings by Palate Partners/Dreadnought Wines, Strip District. The fee is $25 afterward. Only 150 reservations will be accepted. Phone 412-761-5773 or go to enjoybellevue.org.
Triple B Farms begins its Family Pumpkin Festival on Sept. 27. It runs through Oct. 31 at the farm near Monongahela. There are hayrides, a Storybook Pumpkinland, a tube slide, farm animals, corn maze -- and food, of course, from fresh farm produce to pork barbecue and pies. Times are 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Triple B's farm market is open seven days a week. Call 724-258-3557 or visit triplebfarms.com.
Gullifity's, 1922 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill, has reopened following a fire this summer and has put Oktoberfest on the menu. Monday through Oct. 7, the restaurant will offer specials, including Wiener and Jaeger Schnitzel, Chicken Paprika and German Chocolate and Black Forest cakes (412-521-8222; gulliftysrestaurant.com).
• Next Thursday, Cold Stone Creamery's Pittsburgh locations will give away two confections from 5 to 8 p.m. to entice donations to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Emily's Creation features Nutter Butter ice cream, yellow cake, Kit Kat pieces and white chocolate chips; Jack's Creation is marshmallow ice cream mixed with Oreos, chocolate chips and fudge. The event is part of a monthlong fund-raiser for Make-A-Wish, which assists children with life-threatening illnesses.
• Buy a V8 juice product or Campbell's V8 Soup and support the company's donation of $1 million to provide fresh produce to the needy. Beneficiaries of the Make Every Serving Count campaign, conducted with the Feeding America's National Produce Program, include the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank Go to v8counts.com for more information.
"Official Cupcake Day" in the city will be Wednesday. An incorrect date was given in last week's Sauce. On Cupcake Day, cupcakes will be $1, one per customer, at Dozen Cupcakes, Squirrel Hill, and Dozen Bake Shop, Squirrel Hill. Have one!
Margi Shrum can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-3027.