St. Thomas Orthodox Church Syrian-Lebanese dinner preparations

Barbara and Paul Lammers make baklawa at St. Thomas Orthodox Church in Sioux City on Oct. 22. The church has hosted Syrian-Lebanese dinners since the 1930s. 

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal file

SIOUX CITY | In the spring and fall, Barbara Lammers, 78, will help prepare more than 60 trays of baklawa.

The Lebanese cousin of the Greek baklava, baklawa is made up of sugar and chopped walnuts rolled up in layers of crisp and buttery phyllo dough.

"The Greeks pour a honey syrup over their baklava," Lammers said last month in the kitchen of St. Thomas Orthodox Church, 1100 Jones St. The Lebanese "pour a lemony syrup called attayr on top of our baklawa."

The church twice a year holds a Syrian-Lebanese dinner, a tradition that dates to the 1930s. It's an important outreach tool for church members. 

The menu consists of kibbee (a baked meat dish made with Bulgar wheat); yabrah (a cabbage roll filled with meat, rice and tomatoes); ruz (a Syrian rice dish that contained buttery white rice accented with tiny orzo); and a Syrian salad made with a homemade Mediterranean salad dressing. 

Lammers said many recipes have been handed down from generations. Food preparation can take days to complete and requires the help of most of the church's members.

"When I make baklawa, I think of my family," Lammers said during a visit last month. "I can't wait to share my family recipes with the community."

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Food and Lifestyles reporter

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