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Mouthing Off

As does a basket of dried soup mixes, salsa seasonings and chile and cornbread mixes from the Women's Bean Project, which has a store at 3201 Curtis Street. The Project employs women who have had a tough time of it, enabling them to stay off welfare and support their families. Shopping there is a nice opportunity to do some good in the true Christmas spirit.

Or go for spirits. My two favorite wine shops--City Wine, at 347 South Colorado Boulevard, and Wines Off Wynkoop, at 1610 16th Street--both have some great sale prices for holiday imbibing. City Wine has a fabulous selection hand-picked by owners Fuad Jezzini and Jack Vesey. Their motto: "We've tasted it. We sell it because we like it. If you don't, bring it back." Their collection covers all price ranges and wine-producing countries, and these guys can tell you everything about every wine in the place. Wines Off Wynkoop is simply a fun, laid-back store, with no pretentiousness and surprisingly good prices, especially considering the LoDo location. There's a tasting there every Wednesday, too.

Beer fanciers might be happier with a copy of Discovering Colorado's Brewpubs ($12.95), which I missed in last week's roundup of locally published cookbooks. Written by Tony Todd and Craig Jones, the guide features 59 brewpubs, their beers and their menus, plus directions on how to get to them. Also brought to my attention: Shalom on the Range ($21.95), a compilation of Jewish recipes and traditions from the friends of Shalom Park senior residences in Aurora. It's a beautiful book full of established and contemporary takes on Jewish food. And from a Boulderite comes Secrets of Fat-Free Chinese Cooking ($20), by Ying Chang Compestine, who has become nationally known for her healthy Chinese recipes.

Lastly, help your vegan friends start the New Year off right, with the Vegetarian Dining Guide Colorado, a free pamphlet that gives brief listings of local eateries that offer at least five vegetarian dishes on their menus, with special designations for vegan dishes. The guide can be obtained by writing to the Vegetarian Society of Colorado, P.O. Box 6773, Denver, CO 80206. Also, vegetarians looking for people with whom to veg can call 777-4828 for information on the society's monthly potluck.

Easy as pie: Pies are relatively cruelty-free, except maybe for the people who have to judge the Fourth Annual National Pie Championships, scheduled for January 17 and 18 at the Hotel Boulderado, 2115 13th Street in Boulder. Sponsored by the American Pie Council--the head of which is John Lehndorff, food writer for the Daily Camera in Boulder--the competition is open to amateurs and commercial pie makers across the U.S. The deadline for registration is January 17, and there's an entry fee for all contestants. Cash and prizes will be awarded to winners in each of the following categories: fruit/berry, cream/custard, traditional apple (two-crust), nut and open. Call Renee Paulen at the Boulder Convention & Visitors Bureau at 442-2911 for more information, or visit the Pie Council online at www.piecouncil.com.

People are always surprised to learn that there is a national council on pie, but there's another council in existence that I think proves we're about to run out of jobs for all the people crowding this planet. The USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council (yeah, you read it right) has a whole staff responsible for promoting the annual National Split Pea Week, which you probably didn't pause to honor back in November. The council--which also has a Web site, at pulse@ pea-lentil.com--sends out helpful four-color brochures titled "What is a lentil?" and is based in Idaho. I gather they're a little bored there.

--Wagner

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