Every week, your challenge is to create an eye-opening dish within our capricious themes and parameters. Blog your submission on Open Salon under your real name by Monday 10 a.m. EST -- with photos and your story behind the dish -- and we'll republish the winners on Salon on Tuesday. (It takes only 30 seconds to start a blog.) And yes, mashed potato sculpture counts as a dish. Emphatically.
Writing about the weather for a national audience is always a bit of a weird endeavor. It can, of course, be gray-slush freezing where I sit in New York, and flip-flops-and-rum-punch time in Gulf Shores, Ala. But in any event, we'll all be out of the wintry woods soon, and so we propose a final hurrah to the cold weather.
The challenge this week is to heat up your favorite hot drink. Maybe your thing is hot chocolate, pudding-thick. Maybe you like to restore yourself with a spiced, mulled wine. Or maybe you like to get sloshed after the slush with hot toddies. (And has anyone actually tried the Flaming Red Hot Ale? I mean, not that I'm looking forward to getting sued, but ... it's awesome in every way.) Whatever your poison or pleasure, let's get one more steamy round in before it's time to put the mugs away.
Be sure to tag your post: SKC hot drinks
Scoring and winning
Scores will be very scientific, given for appealing photos, interesting stories behind your submissions, creativity, execution and steaminess.
AND NOW, LAST WEEK'S WINNER!
Mamie Chen! For creating Peking Duck Cassoulet, the best kind of "fusion" cuisine, the kind that comes naturally from memory, from travel, and from good old-fashioned making-do. (Recipes for Chinese roast duck cassoulet, duck and tofu soup, and moo shu duck wraps included.)
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AND HOW ABOUT A HAND FOR OUR CATEGORY WINNERS?
In the Smoky Butterbeans category:
Bellweather Vance, for a gorgeous memory of her grandmother's friends and a Southern/Latin feast in their honor. (Recipes for smoky butterbeans and rice, sweet potato "tostones," and brown sugar braised kale included.)
In the Pork, Beer and Chilies category:
Beth Fortune, with an awesome pressure-cooked stew that she has yet to try on her ever-honest Korean in-laws. (Recipe for black beans with pork, beer and three chilies included.)
In the Beans for Good Times and Bad category:
Constance Moylan, for a story of raising her children in much posher style than how she grew up and the challenge of teaching them that humble beans are good and noble. (Recipe for a foundational white bean soup included.)
In the Boston Baked Beans category:
Rebecca Farwell, for memories of hiding in trees with a cup of her mother's beans. But these are not her mother's beans. They're better. (Recipe for Boston baked beans with coffee and Cognac included.)
In the Inspired by Cassoulet category:
Kevin Weeks, for his delicious-sounding sausage-and-smoked turkey beans with Mediterranean herbs. Quick recipe note: Don't forget to bring the mixture up to a simmer on the stove before putting it in the oven! (Recipe included.)
In the category of Mexican Pork n' Beans:
Paul Hinrichs, for a serendipitous run-in with a beautiful Mexican bean pot that inspired him to create these luscious pink beans with Mexican herbs. (Recipe for pink beans with roasted ham hocks included.)
In the Cuban-Chinese Black Beans category:
Linda Shiue, for sharing her family's story of the larger tale of the Chinese diaspora, and sharing a feast in honor of her husband's uncle, who set sail from China and landed in Cuba. (Recipes for Cuban black beans, fried plantains and mojitos included.)
In the War Rations category:
HenryR, for combining one can of C rations with another can of C rations and heating them with C-4 plastic explosives. And for reminding me of how very, very easy my life has been.
In the Vegetarian category:
Lynn Schwadchuck, for honoring tradition with her "Beans, beans, the magical fruit" rhyme, and an all-red fiber-fest: red rice, red beans, red cabbage, red beets. OK, so the carrots are orange. It's kind of a nightmare for people who are afraid of healthy food, but having made similar soups myself, I can vouch for the tastiness of such a thing. Seriously. Honest. No kidding. (Recipe for beet and bean soup included.)
In the "Tasteful Jokes About Eating Too Many Beans" category:
Elizabeth Kirby, for a story that does not mince words on the subject of gas. It's only questionably tasteful, but the story of her father's memory is moving. (Recipe for Blue Danube bean soup included.)
In the category of Shelf Life:
Mumbletypeg, for breaking out beans she's been hoarding since Bill Clinton was president. (Recipe for Black Beans for the Apocalypse included.)
In the category of Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know about Garlic:
Fusun Atalay, for writing, well, everything you've ever wanted to know about garlic. (Recipes for Pilâki -- garlicky Turkish beans and potatoes -- and chicken with 40 cloves of garlic included.)
And finally, in the category of Bean Dessert:
Lucy Mercer, who apparently can't stop thinking about dessert, ever. Last week, we had our first-ever inter-Salon Kitchen Challenge battle, as two contestants rubbed each other's reputations in the dirt while writing about bourbon slushies. But this week, there's a sweeter turn, and Lucy Mercer's entry is the story of a friendship building week after week of Kitchen Challenge entries. Lovely.