Habit-forming dinnerware

We know the cues for healthy portion sizes: meat the size of a deck of cards, a mound of rice the size of half a baseball. Helpful, to a point. Now Minneapolis designer Tim Foss has helped develop a line of dinnerware that makes it easier to gauge portion sizes without appearing preachy. Livliga, based in Boulder, Colo., features plates with circular designs in blues or neutrals that subtly indicate the healthiest portions. The plates also are slightly smaller than the average dinnerware sold today, which makes the portions look more satisfying. Livliga, from Swedish words meaning lively, vibrant or vivid, soon will have glasses etched with lines indicating ounces, as well. To see their products and to order online, visit www.livligahome.com.

Baking classes at North House

The North House Folk School in Grand Marais, Minn., always has an eclectic roster of classes, including this winner: Baker David Bauer, formerly of Lucia's Bakery and Corner Table, went on to start Farm & Sparrow Bakery in Asheville, N.C. — which gets a nice shout-out in the February issue of Food & Wine. He'll be teaching a two-day class in rustic pastries that will be baked in the school's brick oven. Students will learn the basics of making croissants, puff pastry and flaky tart dough by hand, as well as how to use alternative whole-grain flours in these pastries, and make seasonal variations. The March 8-9 class is open to beginning bakers as well as advanced. Cost is $160, with $30 for materials. To register, visit bit.ly/ZstCTH or www.northhouse.org. Bauer also will teach a homemade pasta class on March 10.

Vegan cook-off

Vegans can show their casserole skills at the first Twin Cities Vegan Hotdish Cook-Off on Feb. 9, a contest sponsored by the Animal Rights Coalition. The event, at Fuller Park, 48th St. and Grand Av. S. in Minneapolis, will have two categories: audience favorite and judges' pick. Judges include cookbook author Robin Asbell, vegan proponent Florence Brammer and State Fair judge Susanne Mattison. Contestants should bring two casseroles of their original hot-dish recipe — a small one for the judges and a larger one from which samples will be sold to the audience for $1. Registration is limited to 10 cooks, so don't dawdle. Contact Dallas at dallas@animalrightscoalition.com or call her at 612-822-6161 to register. A $20 deposit will be returned on contest day.