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!