Marie Porter inherited her mother's skill as a professional cake baker and decorator, but also completed bartending school. So it's logical that Porter's first cookbook combines those worlds. "The Spirited Baker" (Celebration Generation, $16.99) is subtitled "Intoxicating Desserts and Potent Potables," which pretty much sums up recipes such as Mango Mojito Upside-Down Cake or Jalapeño Beer Baklava. Porter, of Plymouth, came to the baking biz after careers as a fashion designer, graphic artist and florist, which explains her award-winning cakes showered with meringue flowers, or the bold (dare we say whacked-out?) cakes made to look like R2D2 or a Coach handbag. Even more: She has a line of "highly caffeinated" baking mixes, Jacked Up Java brownie and cookie mixes, and a Cranked Up Chai blondie mix. To see her cakes, order her mixes or the cookbook with more than 160 recipes, visit

Funds for French biz

The French American Chamber of Commerce's annual fund-raiser on Nov. 19 returns to "Village du Beaujolais" with even more food and wine. Last year's degustation, or array of samples, goes a soupçon further with a full meal prepared by 10 local chefs. The event, at Windows on Minnesota on the 50th floor of the IDS Tower, enables the FACC to help state businesses develop trade exchanges with France. Tickets are $75 for members, $90 for nonmembers if ordered before Nov. 17. For more information, visit

Munch on Mississippi Market meats

To herald its new full-service meat counter, Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op, 1500 W. 7th St. in St. Paul, hosts a sample event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 6. Ryan Jepson from Grass Run Farms will be sharing samples of the co-op's brats (made in-house with his pork) and his Grass Run Farm beef. The deli will also be handing out samples of its roasted chicken, with recipes.

Hoppin' at Midtown Market

Lots going on this month at the Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis. On Nov. 7, the Consulate of Mexico in St. Paul hosts the Taste of Mexico festival from 2 to 5 p.m., with free appetizers, beverages and entertainment. On Nov. 13, the market hosts its fourth annual Chili Cookoff from noon to 2 p.m. with the public sampling and voting for their fave among chilis created by MGM chefs using ingredients found at the market. A $3 donation is suggested. And on Nov. 20, the popular Do It Green! Green Gifts Fair sets up shop from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than 70 local, eco-friendly artists and businesses offer wares and tips for the holiday season.