Month: March 2016

Local chef cookbook series continues with Birchwood & Spoonriver


This winter youth interns had the opportunity to participate in work and activities that spanned all three of our programs.  Interns worked on crop planning & produce vendor meetings for furthering our entrepreneurial ventures in the Market Garden.  For Conservation efforts they led puppet building workshops for Phalen Freeze Fest to encourage community members to get outside and be active in the winter months and took on pollinator garden design & drafting plans to be implemented this spring.

For the last of the winter program sessions, we decided to dip into the local food scene by testing recipes created by restauranteurs that we have worked with.  The first cooking session featured in our last blog post was from Chef Lenny Russo’s Heartland cookbook.  This book was just released this winter and features beautiful, inventive dishes developed in our “heartland”.  Urban Roots has worked with Chef Russo on a number of events and projects, he has been such a great partner that with the publishing company has named Urban Roots as the non-profit recipient of the sales proceeds.  We will be tabling with Chef Russo at a couple of events to help promote the book, do check it out!


Our second session was inspired by The Birchwood Cafe Cookbook by Tracy Singleton and Marshall Paulsen.  The cookbooks’ emphasis on local, seasonal, made from scratch dishes really give any amateur cook the idea of what “Good Real Food” is really all about.  Youth interns selected two classic Birchwood recipes to make and started off in the kitchen with the ‘Birchwood Broccoli Salad’, which is a great marriage of the sweet, the savory and the crunchy! It also could prove to be a great way to get all young people to eat their broccoli! It was a hit with the interns and they decided immediately that this salad should be included in our summer lunch program so that all 60 interns will get the chance to discover their love for broccoli and ‘good real food’.  The second dish the interns took on was the Apple Turnip Quiche, another blend of sweet & savory for this classic breakfast dish.  Youth interns prepped the crust with Birchwood’s classic pastry crust recipe, and intern Mai was very excited when she saw we had extra pastry to make a huckleberry fruit pie for dessert as well.  We will be working on a few awesome events with the Birchwood this season so stay tuned for more information to come!

To wrap up the chef series we had to feature a wonderful dessert from The Spoonriver Cookbook by Brenda Langton.  As the founder of the Mill City Farmers Market, Brenda has always been committed to promoting and incorporating food and products made by local producers. Our Market Garden Program has had a fall market booth since the establishment of the Mill City Farmers Market and have been lucky to work with Brenda, Spoonriver and the market staff in various ways.  The dessert of our choice from the cookbook was the Banana Coconut Cake with cream cheese frosting.  This was a simple, moist cake recipe that combined some of the interns favorite ingredients all in one dessert!  The cake batter included bananas, coconut, raisins and walnuts and the frosting delivered another dose of coconut with some lemon zest, all of the staff and interns were eager to request to second slice of this delicious cake!


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Heartland Cookbook enters the Urban Roots Kitchen


Tri-Colored Ukrainian Borscht Soup was simmering away in the Urban Roots kitchen this Monday afternoon. The vibrant, savory recipe was from Lenny Russo’s cookbook, Heartland: Farm Forward Dishes from the Great Midwest. The gorgeous new cookbook features artwork from Minnesota Ojibwe artist, George Morrison and food photos by Tom Thulen, as presented by Heartland’s former sous chef Alan Bergo. Lenny Russo, chef/owner at Heartland is generously donating proceeds to from the book to Urban Roots! Look for us at Costco later this spring when we join Lenny at the signing for this stunning cookbook!


Our youth interns were excited to attempt the tricky tri-colored presentation. Two teams began peeling and chopping root vegetables for the heart of the dish, the Red and Golden Borscht, while two teams diced herbs for the two garnishes, the Green Borscht and Dill Crème Fresh. Our food processor was well used as “Team Green” first blended spinach, basil, onion, and garlic for the Green Borscht, later pureeing the Red and Golden Borscht. Youth learned that food presentation is a true art and gained much respect for skilled chefs! After photos and clean-up, youth enjoyed the perfect blend of earthy, buttery, and tangy soups in our taste test. Thank you Heartland!


Throughout this month Urban Roots youth interns will continue to explore the Twin Cities’ culinary scene by recreating recipes from more of our fantastic local restaurant partners including Birchwood and Spoon River. Look for more cookbook posts and get your copy of Heartland’s scrumptious cookbook soon!  To hear more about Heartland and other great cookbooks check out this link on epicurious: 4 New Cookbooks to Spring Clean Your Routine.


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Urban Roots goes “Top Chef”: Roots for the Home Team Salad Creations

Last Saturday (3/5/16) Urban Roots youth interns got out of bed early to celebrate their salad creations with Twin Cities chefs and Roots for the Home Team. Roots for the Home Team is a made-fresh urban-grown salad stand at Target Field, that partners with youth programs, including Urban Roots, Youth Farm, Appetite for Change, and Dream of Wild Health. Founder Sue Moore organized Saturday’s event to prepare for this year’s baseball season.IMG_2287

Youth arrived at St. Paul College’s culinary arts kitchen and scattered to their cooking stations, prepped with chopping knives, cutting boards, bowls and grocery bags filled with ingredients. Before the event, students researched and created salad recipes to test. After introductions, the youth were given an hour and a half to create, plate, name and be ready to share their salad.

IMG_2286Each team was privileged to work with an experienced Twin Cities chef. Our students said they learned some great tips from the chefs like, “if you dip a spoon in olive oil before you fill it with honey, the honey comes right off!” The salad creating began. Students showed off their expert chopping skills and honed taste buds, as they sampled salad dressings and made critical decisions, such as “this needs a little more spice, I taste too much peanut butter.”IMG_2294

By mornings end seven gorgeous salads were created with names like the “Spiced Curry Puckett,” “French Roasted,” and the “Spicy Thai Breaker.” The students presented the salads and the tasting began! This summer the salads will be made with vegetables grown by our youth and served over greens. Come out and support us and Roots for the Home Team at TargetField this baseball season!IMG_2304

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Urban Roots Welcomes New Leadership Team!

The Board of Directors of Urban Roots is pleased to announce the selection of its new leadership team of Lori Arnold, our new Executive Director, and Patsy Noble as Executive Program Director.

Lori Arnold comes to Urban Roots with a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management and experience with several Minnesota nonprofits where she showed talented leadership and made significant contributions to both the organizations and the community. In addition to her leadership and management skills, she has a great interest in promoting healthy living and sustainable communities.

Patsy Noble has over 15 years experience with Urban Roots in several capacities including Program Manager and Interim Executive Director.  She has extensive skills in program design, youth development, and community engagement as well as direct experience in all three of Urban Roots program areas.

The Board of Directors looks forward to the vibrant and meaningful work that these two excellent leaders will contribute to the mission of Urban Roots in youth development through gardening, cooking, wellness and conservation.

Lori has already begun working. She has spent the last week getting to know the lay of the land in our offices on Maria Avenue.

The Board is immensely grateful to Glen Hill for bringing Lori up-to-speed and for his work as Interim Director. We also want to express gratitude for the staff at Urban Roots who provide inspiring dedication to the organization each day.

 If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the Board at

Thank you,

Melany Birdsong, JD, MPH – Sr. Attorney, Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Jim Ducker, CPA, CIA (Vice-President/Secretary) – Senior Auditor, AgriBank.

Anna Kincannon, MBA – Sr. Treasury Analyst, Bremer Bank.

Leif Masrud (President) – Education and Planning Consulting.

Trudy Ohnsorg (Treasurer) – Sr. Consultant, Cincinnatus.

Jocelyn Pickreign – MPP student, Hubert H Humphrey Institute, UMN.

Julianne Seiber, MS, RD, LN (past President) – Saint Paul-Ramsey County Public Health (retired).

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