Soul Food Saturdays and Tasty Thursdays

I went to Soul Food Saturday at Arlington House this past Saturday and loved every delicious minute of it. Pork wings and braised collards and perfect mac and cheese. Sweet tea and some chocolate cake made the visit complete.

Here’s some info from the home’s website:

Arlington is a fine example of Greek Revival architecture dating from the 1840s. Originally called “The Grove,” the house was built by Judge William S. Mudd, one of the ten founders of Birmingham, and is the only remaining antebellum mansion remaining in Birmingham.

Shortly before the end of the Civil War, General James Wilson arrived with over 13,000 troops and, using Arlington as his headquarters, planned the destruction of the Confederate iron furnaces and the military school at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The property went through several owners and in 1902 became the home of Robert S. Munger (who also had one of the first “motor cars” in Birmingham). Mr. Munger did many renovations including plumbing and electric lights. He had another structure moved behind the main house, and that was used for a kitchen, dining room, sun parlor and sleeping quarters.

Located on six acres in the heart of Old Elyton, Arlington is a center for historical, cultural, and civic activities.

And Soul Food on Saturdays … on August 10, 17 and 31. It’s $10 for a plate with $3 for dessert. This lunch is served from 11:30 to 3. So make plans now.

You also can get lunch (not necessarily soul food and by reservation only) at Arlington on Thursdays during August and beyond. During “Thursdays at Arlington,” guests will receive a salad, entrée, dessert and beverage for $20. The price of lunch also includes a tour of Arlington House. See the schedule here.

And the beautifully appointed historic home is available for weddings and other events.

Arlington House and Museum

331 Cotton Avenue, Southwest
Birmingham, Alabama 35211
Phone: 205-780-5656

$5.00 per adult
$3.00 per student 6 to 18 years
special rates available for groups

Art Alive!

AIDS Alabama brings together local artists to create art and opportunities through an art auction with a real-time twist.

AIDS Alabama does serious work, but the fundraisers this organization puts on tend to be lots of fun.

On the heels of April’s successful Dining Out for Life, when AIDS Alabama teamed up with local restaurants like Bottega Café and Chez Lulu for a day of giving, AIDS Alabama presents its 3rd Annual Art Alive!

Art Alive! is set for Saturday, July 27 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Canary Gallery  (2201 Second Ave. N. in downtown Birmingham). Guests can watch eight local artists create original artwork—ranging from abstracts to more realistic pieces—during the event. These works will be available that evening through a silent auction.

Tickets are $50 each. There will be foods from El Barrio Restaurante Y Bar, a friend to AIDS Alabama that also participated in Dining Out for Life; complimentary beer from Cahaba Brewing Company; and wine from International Wines & Craft Beer. Matthew Carroll Band will entertain the crowd.

The silent auction is an exciting focal point for this event, but people other than the winning bidders can go home with new art, too. Several previously completed works in the artists’ gallery will be available for immediate purchase.

Art Alive! featured artists include:

“We are so grateful to our talented and extremely generous featured artists,” says Caroline Bundy, director of development for AIDS Alabama. “To have the opportunity to actually watch these artists as they create their work is a thrill, especially considering the different methods each uses to create their own individual piece. You don’t want to miss this fun and unique event!”

Fundraising like Art Alive! allows AIDS Alabama to devote more of its energy and resources statewide, helping those with HIV/AIDS live healthy, independent lives and working to prevent the spread of HIV.

Right now, there are more than 14,000 Alabamians living with HIV/AIDS, Bundy says, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, Alabama ranks 11th in the nation for new HIV diagnoses.

AIDS Alabama works tirelessly to meet the needs of Alabama’s HIV-positive population, providing safe, affordable housing to low-income people living with HIV in Alabama. Additionally, AIDS Alabama’s prevention education and outreach efforts provide free and confidential HIV screening, accurate HIV information and links to care for thousands across the state

There have been many important medical advances that make HIV manageable as a chronic disease, Bundy says, but HIV rates in the South remain high and within epidemic proportions, making AIDS Alabama’s prevention, transportation, mental health and housing services more vital than ever.

For more information and to purchase tickets, click here, or go to

(Leftover) Barbecue and Sheep Milk Fresca Quesadillas

I was at the farmers’ market at Pepper Place on Saturday, wanting tomatoes and peaches and hesitating about buying anything with all the leftovers still in my fridge from our 4th of July family dinner.

Then Ana Kelly, owner of Dayspring Dairy suggested quesadillas made with our leftover Full Moon Bar-B-Que pulled chicken and sliced pork. “Try the Poblano Lime Fresca,” she said. “You can use that.”

So I did.

I bought a package of the fresh cheese (as well as some tomatoes and peaches). I stopped by the grocery for some flour tortillas, and we were set.

I made a salsa of peaches and tomatoes and serrano peppers with a few squeezes of fresh lime and some salt and pepper. I added a little mint from my kitchen garden because I didn’t want to go back to the store for cilantro. Cilantro would have been better. And I longed for one of those oblong red onions from BDA Farm, but maybe next time.

I heated up our Full Moon ‘que (both the chicken and the pork). Next, I generously slathered the Dayspring Dairy sheep milk fresca onto the tortillas, added a little leftover corn (cut from the cob and mixed with some finely chopped serrano), piled on the barbecued meats and cooked the quesadillas on the stovetop.

We served them with some angel hair slaw, dressed simply with fresh lime juice and salt and pepper. I put that fresh peach-tomato salsa on top.


And as a little something extra, here’s a link to a great Alabama NewsCenter story about Dayspring Dairy.

Fox 6 Books: July

Here’s what I brought to WBRC Fox 6  on July 2. These vacation-ready must-reads include a LOL trip around the world, a thriller from Down Under, an important story of self-invention and some easy-to-pick-up, easy-to-pick-up-later short stories.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer is laugh-out-loud funny and poignant and important all at the same time. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is about Arthur Less, a not-so-successful novelist about to turn 50 who is not at all happy with his life. He’s alone, but even worse, his boyfriend of nearly a decade is about to be married to someone else. When the wedding invitation arrives, Less realizes he needs to leave—for anywhere else. So he cobbles together a trip around the world—courtesy of a bunch of half-baked literary events and what little savings he has left. The jaunt takes the novelist to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India and Japan—all far, far away from the everyday life he doesn’t want to face. It’s a love story and a satire of an American abroad and a whole lot of fun to read.

The Van Apfel Girls are Gone is an impressive debut novel by Felicity McLean. Tikka Malloy remembers the hot summer of 1992 for two reasons:  all the ongoing debate about the exoneration of Lindy (“dingo took my baby”) Chamberlain, and that was when Tikka’s best friends disappeared. The Van Apfel sisters—Ruth, Hannah and Cordelia—simply vanished. Were they taken? Did they run away from their strict, evangelical parents? Their disappearance shook their small town and left lasting trauma. Tikka and her older sister know something of what happened, and when Tikka returns home years later, she’s confronted with questions. This is a thrilling, at times darkly comic, coming-of-age story about childhood memories, female friendships and unexpected consequences. It’s scary good and was named a Barnes & Noble Summer 2019 Discover Great New Writers Selection.

Educated by Tara Westover is one of the most moving memoirs I’ve ever read. Tara Westover was 17 years old before she ever set foot in a classroom. She grew up in the mountains of Idaho with a survivalist father and a mother who was a midwife and healer. Isolated from all of mainstream society, she never even saw a doctor and there was no one to intervene and protect her from family violence. When one of her brothers got himself into college and returned home talking about the outside world, Tara decided she wanted that life, too. So she taught herself enough math, grammar and science to take the ACT and was admitted to Brigham Young University. It opened her mind and her heart and her entire world. She learned for the first time about psychology and philosophy about the Civil Rights Movement and the Holocaust. Her self-invention and thirst for knowledge transformed her and took her to Harvard and to Cambridge University. This memoir is about truly finding oneself and the absolute pricelessness of an education. It’s also about family loyalty and the price of severing ties with those you love.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove is by Karen Russell, the bestselling author of Swamplandia! (yes, I’ve talked about this Pulitzer Prize finalist before). In this book, she offers a selection of short stories that I think are vacay-perfect for a couple of reasons:  They are highly entertaining, and they can be picked up and picked up again later as your day dictates. Summer is made for short stories! Russell writes beautiful prose with a definite dark edge. A group of boys finds a militated scarecrow that looks a lot like a missing classmate. A community of girls held captive in a Japanese silk factory transmute into silkworms and plot a revolution. And in the title story, two vampires in a lemon grove try to slake their thirst for blood as they consider their immortal relationship. You won’t soon forget any of these pieces.

I link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and BooksThe Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor Book Center, and I often visit my local library.