Go a little wild

The Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council's annual "Get Wild With Wild Rice" recipe contest is looking for creative ways to use Minnesota's state grain. Up to 16 finalists will be chosen in a taste test by culinary specialists. They'll compete for a $500 prize awarded by Weekly Dish co-hosts Stephanie March and Stephanie Hansen. All finalists' recipes will be posted in September for an online vote for the people's choice winner, with a $250 prize. The deadline for recipe submission is June 15. For all the details, visit www.mnwildrice.org.

Move over, butterheads

We're a little speechless, but here goes: A sweepstakes contest sponsored by the newly formed Farmland Bacon Club offers one winner a life-size likeness of their head made out of bacon, plus a year's worth of free bacon. The online club, at www.FarmlandBaconClub.com, aims to be "a place where bacon lovers can connect, talk, taste, write, post, inspire, design, win, view, vote, like, upload, download, create, influence and share their passion." Fans who sign up for the club by June 15 will be eligible for the baconhead drawing.

A century of jolliness

One hundred years ago, Jolly Time popcorn was founded in Sioux City, Iowa, by Cloid Smith, who hand-shelled popcorn in his basement. The company since has sold more than 3 billion pounds around the world. To note its centennial, it's sponsoring a Jolly Time Kernels of Kindness program, which will award $1,000 to each of 100 people or organizations nominated for their charitable work in their communities. Everyone who nominates a do-gooder from their community will receive a free box of Jolly Time popcorn. Nominations are accepted through June 15 at www. jollytime.com/kernelsofkindness.

Eating the Mississippi

Among the more local cookbooks to have crossed the desk lately is the "Mississippi Current Cookbook: A Culinary Journey Down America's Greatest River" (Globe Pequot, $39.95.). Regina Charboneau, culinary director of the American Queen paddle wheel boat, developed and collected recipes inspired by the river, from Lake Itasca to New Orleans. Upper Minnesota led her to wild rice salad with dried apricots and walnuts, Mississippi Mud cookies and fry bread with rosemary hot-garlic hot pepper oil. Kramarczuk's in northeast Minneapolis prompted her to experiment with bacon-sweet potato pierogi, while the Bachelor Farmer restaurant prompted recipes for a Swedish crawfish party. The Hmong influence shows in sugar-and-spice rice and ginger-lychee martinis, while Laura Ingalls Wilder is represented by a smoked oyster chowder. It's a wide-ranging collection of recipes, arranged by occasion.