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March Mania

Nibbles and Notes

CHUM still seeks rhubarb recipes

The recipe contest that's part of the annual CHUM Rhubarb Festival at First Lutheran Church on June 28 still is seeking entries.

So if you got a great rhubarb recipe that people rave about, consider entering it.

Just print or type the recipe on 8½-by-11-inch paper and send it to Rhubarb Contest/CHUM center, 102 W. Second St., Duluth, MN, 55802. Include your name, address and whether the recipe is original, from a cookbook or adapted from one. The deadline is June 15.

The top three finishers will be asked to make their dishes and bring them the festival for final judging. The festival will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 28 at the church, at 1100 E. Superior St. in Duluth.

Here are keysto a better brew

How can Average Joes brew a better cup of coffee? These tips come from Jim Munson, vice president of the Dallis Coffee roasting company in New York:

* Use a French press. It's the coffee-maker of choice among professional tasters. You simply push the plunger down to stop the brewing process -- generally three to five minutes after pouring boiling water over coarse-ground coffee and stirring a bit. That's the flexible part, determining a light to strong cup.

* Go for quality beans. "If you really care about the beverage you are drinking, it should be fresh and it should be of high quality," Munson said. Find local roasters in the phone book or use an Internet search engine. A good indication that you have found a source that cares about freshness is a roaster who labels coffees with roasting dates or a "best before" date, Munson says. Then "educate your palette." Sample coffees from different growing regions and discover what you like.

* Be generous. Most people don't use enough coffee. The general rule: 1 ounce of ground coffee for every 16 ounces of water. (Munson equates that to roughly 3 level tablespoons.)

* Be nice to your beans. Munson has a few additional rules:

* Only grind what you need at the moment. "Coffee stales 10 times faster in a ground form than in a whole bean form," Munson says.

* Don't stock up with a several-month supply. "I recommend that people buy only as much coffee as they intend to drink that week -- the same way you buy milk and bread," Munson says.

* Keep beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry place -- but not in the fridge. If you want to keep coffee for an extended period of time (a month), put it in the freezer.

* Be nice to your machine. For those who use a drip coffee-maker, clean the spray head (where the water comes out) with a cloth to remove oils. Use filtered water in your machine to promote the life of yourcoffee-maker and improve the flavor of your coffee. And don't leave coffee sitting on the burner for longer than 15 minutes. Transfer extra coffee to a thermal carafe.