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KSRO wants your tamales 

Cooking contest season kicks off locally.

Just in time for the holidays, the recipe contests are rolling in. And here at the Bohemian, we're not wasting your time with the simple stuff (cookies, cakes, pies). Oh no, they're too easy. Stretch your culinary muscles with these two skill-testers, and plan your time accordingly; if these recipes are done properly (every bit from scratch), they're achingly labor-intensive. Suffering, er celebrating, in the kitchen—isn't that what the season is all about?

Calling All Tamales KSRO 1350-AM is hosting its 21st Annual Good Food Hour Recipe Contest and this year they want your masa masterpieces. According to Sonoma top chef and Food Hour co-host John Ash, "Unwrapping a beautifully made tamale is like opening a Christmas present. Colorful banana leaves or corn husks peel away to reveal a delectable corn dough followed by the aroma of the steamed filling and an explosion of flavors." Indeed.

Making a tamale, though, can easily be a two-day affair, from fashioning the dense dough with homemade stock, roasting the highly seasoned meat and/or veggie filling, rolling the layers into lovingly soaked fresh husks, then slow-steaming the little bundles for several hours with a careful eye so they don't dry out.

Rules: Pretty much none. Tamales can be savory or sweet dessert style. Add a sauce if you want. Bonus points for "tamales with personality."

What to do: Recipes must be received by Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2007. Mail, fax or e-mail recipe entries to NEWSTALK 1350 KSRO Tamale Contest, P.O. Box 2158, Santa Rosa, CA 95405. Fax: 707.571.1097. E-mail:

Fourth Annual Gingerbread House Extravaganza Contest Got a flair for confectionary construction? Your winning entry can win you some serious dough, and the respect of über–pastry chef/contest judge Gunter Heiland, a multi-time gold medal winner of the West German Culinary Olympics. Just toss together some fresh-baked gingerbread, craft it into an architectural fantasia (hmmm, a mini Quixote or trellised Hall Winery, perhaps?) and walk away with prizes from host Cedar Gables Inn in Napa.

Rules: There's a whole packet of 'em, including a contract, exhibit-space rental agreement, measurement criteria and material restrictions (think "edible"). Check it all out at

What to do: Read the rules on the website and pay your $10 nonrefundable sign-up fee by Nov. 1. Judging takes place at the Inn on December 1.

How to do it: Need we repeat? Go to

Why do it: Slapping together gingerbread siding is usually fun, and the Inn is an inspiration for any lover of elaborate architecture. A 10,000 square-foot mansion built in 1892 in the Shakespearean style by Ernest Coxhead, it's a virtual Disneyland of intriguing rooms, winding staircases, an old English Tavern and secret passageways. Guest rooms are replete with luxury known to few in the late 1800s, however, such as two-person whirlpool tubs.


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