Aareal’s Sour Pickles

Today I wanted to share a great pickling recipe that one of our Hawthorne youth tried out last week. Aareal Taylor has been working hard all year at our Nellie Stone Johnson Farm caring for the plants as part of her school classes, her after school activities and through our summer program. The other day as we were dropping off some delicious fruits of her labor of love, her grandmother Shirley let me know that Aareal had found a sour pickle recipe and had tried it out with the cucumbers we had delivered. I just got an update from Shirley today saying that they tried them this morning and that they tasted great! They both love sour pickles and hopefully you do too! Thanks Aareal for the inspiration, I can’t wait for ours to be done!

Sour Pickles (from Preserving Made Easy by Margaret Howard)


  • 1.5 cups distilled white vinegar or apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3 whole all spice berries
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 pound pickling cucumbers, trimmed and cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 8 sprigs dill
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled


Combine vinegar, ½ cup water, sugar, spices, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Fill clean containers tightly with vegetables. Add boiling brine to cover completely. Let cool completely. Cover, label and refrigerate at least 1 week before serving or up to 3 months. Makes 2 pints.




Is it Salad Season yet?

It’s at about this time of year when everyone gets hit with a little cabin fever and the need for something fresh to crunch on. Luckily, in Hawthorne and on the West Side we have started to get the creative juices flowing to create this year’s salads that will be sold by our LEAD at weekend Twins games at Target Field. Thanks to our partnership with Roots for the Hometeam, our LEAD will sell salads developed by our budding young chefs with veggies grown and packed by Youth Farmers. Here’s a teaser recipe from last year’s lineup to add a little freshness to your day.

Mela's Taterthorne Salad
Mela’s Taterthorne Salad


Sayma and Jama cook up Borscht with parent volunteer Adrienne lending a watchful eye
Sayma and Jama cook up Borscht with parent volunteer Adrienne lending a watchful eye

A couple years ago we had a glut of beets and were stuck with the question of what to do with them all. Enter borscht! Very few of our participants or staff were familiar with this purple-est of soups, but their skepticism soon turned to celebration upon sipping its sweet broth. Since then nearly every time we work on meal planning borscht pops up. Last week, Lyndale Elementary students had their turn.

Hanad and Ila prep green onions
Hanad and Ila prep green onions

We adapt our recipe with the season and what’s available, because we love to load up our borscht with more than just beets. It is originally based on our friends Lucia Watson and Beth Dooley’s recipe from Savoring the Seasons of the Northern Heartland.

  • 3-4 cups thinkly sliced beets
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced potatoes
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablepoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup cut string beans
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • sour cream for garnish

Toss the beets with salt and set aside. This sets the color, do not rinse them. In a large, deep saucepan, melt the butter and saute the beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic for about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and enough water to just cover the vegetables, and simmer until soft. Add the string beans, peas, and green onions, and simmer until just tender. Chill the soup. Add the herbs and serve garnished with sour cream. Delicious hot or cold. 


Let us know in the comments what you like to do with your beets!

Frogtown Neighborhood’s Super Easy Pho Recipe


The students at Jackson Elementary in Saint Paul helped create an Easy Pho Recipe for the days when we don’t have more than an hour to cook together. They gave this recipe the thumbs up last week in their Youth Farm after school program and we are sure you will too!


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 piece peeled ginger
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • pinch of salt
  • precooked rice noodles (about a handful for each bowl)


  • bean sprouts,
  • basil leaves,
  • thinly sliced jalepeño
  • siracha sauce
  • hoisin sauce
  • fish sauce


  • Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, cut side down, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden, 3–4 minutes.
  • Add 2 cups water, broth, star anise, and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 7–8 minutes.  simmer 2 minutes. Add scallion. Season with a pinch of salt.
  • Meanwhile, wash 1 cup bean sprouts, chop up basil, and one jalapeño pepper if you like spicy food (you can leave this out)
  • Put noodles in your bowl.
  • Take out the ginger, garlic, star anise, and cinnamon and throw them in your garbage bowl. Compost any veggie scraps and  ladle broth into bowls. Garnish with bean sprouts, basil and jalapeño . You can also add siracha (spicy), hoisin (sweet), and fish sauce (savory sauce).

*serves 4-5 people

SOCC Holiday Carrots & Cookies!

Hawthorne LEAD had a great time prepping and baking over 300 cookies for St. Olaf’s annual cookie bake! We made 7 different varieties of cookies, 2 of them featuring Hawthorne produce: carrots & zucchini. Those carrots were harvested on November 24th!

Holiday Carrots!

Our favorite cookie was the No Bake variety. Here’s our recipe:

Bring to a boil: 2 cups sugar, 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/2 cup butter (softened) and 1/2 cup milk.

In a bowl, get ready: 1/2 cup peanutbutter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 cups oats and 1/ teaspoon salt.

When the sugar/cocoa/butter/milk is at a good boil, dump in the bowl of the other stuff, quickly mix well and start dropping 1-2 Tablespoon sized cookies onto wax paper immediately. It gets hard kind of quick, so be ready. Let them set for 20-30 minutes, then refrigerate or eat. For style points, sprinkle with crushed peanuts, sea salt and/or powdered sugar. Makes a dozen or so…

All Star Cider at Annual SOCC Spaghetti Dinner

On Saturday, Hawthorne Youth Farm cooked for and hosted the annual St. Olaf Community Campus Spaghetti Dinner. We made deliciously veggie loaded pasta sauce from our well-stocked freezers, 2 types of salad, NSJ raspberry brownies and SOCC sweet potato pie. The produce list was extensive: tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant, summer squash, winter squash, broccoli, purple carrots, basil, kale, spinach, lettuce, radishes, beets, raspberries and sweet potatoes. It was over 100# of produce!!

What really stole the show though was Iyonna’s hot apple cider that she spiced up herself. It definitely helped everyone feel warm and toasty as the snow fell. Here’s her recipe:

2 gallons Apple Cider

6 Cinnamon Sticks

1.5 teaspoons grated Ginger

2 teaspoons All Spice (whole)

1 teaspoon Cloves (whole)

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

4 Tangerines or 2 Oranges

Boil the cider with the spices for about 10 minutes, then let simmer for about a half hour then strain out the oranges and spices. Serve warm!

Youth Farm Chili Recipe that works all year round

Like many of you, we are really excited for the snow to melt and get growing on our farms. Chili might seem like quintessential fall or winter meal, but we like to enjoy it all year round. This vegetarian chili is a great recipe for to utilize those extra vegetables you have laying around. We have adapted this recipe from our friend and chef, Lucia Watson. Note this recipe is for 20, so adjust accordingly.


  • 3 yellow onions chopped
  • 5-6 bell peppers chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 8-10 cups fresh tomatoes, blanched, peeled and chopped or 3 28oz cans of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups of beans, dry (kidney, white, black, garbanzo)
    • Spices:
    • Salt- to taste, several tablespoons
    • Chili Powder- 2-3 TB
    • Coriander 2 Tb
    • Cumin 3-2 Tb
    • Ancho pepper-ground hot pepper 1-2 Tb
    • And if desired,
    • Cinnamon 2 Tbsp
    • Cocoa 1-2 Tbsp
    • Cardamom 1 Tbsp


  1. Cook beans in water for 2-3 hours and drain.
  2. sauté onions and peppers and garlic with spices (not salt) in olive oil until tender (15 min or so) in a large sauté pan.
  3. Add sautéd vegetables to cooked beans in a large stock pot.
  4. Add tomatoes.
  5. Add 2-4 cups water or vegetable stock if desired.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes-1 hour, add salt to taste.


Tons of Youth Farm vegetables can be added to this including: carrots, zucchini, and eggplant.  Add browned, ground beef to pot after adding vegetables if you want a non-vegetarian version. This also goes well with the Kale Salad that we posted a few months ago.

We hope you enjoy.

Youth Farm Salad recipe featured in Minneapolis School Lunch

Youth Farm is proud to have had our Kale salad with Ginger Dressing featured yesterday in the Minneapolis School Lunch!  Kale is a Youth Farm prize crop: it grows in abundance in all five neighborhoods and our youth love it!  Check out the recipe and test it for yourself!


Kale Salad with Ginger Dressing

Serves 20
This salad is perfect in the fall when kale is thriving and hearty greens are local


  • 1 1/2 lbs Kale
  • 4 small mandarin oranges peeled and segmented
  • 1/2 cup red onion thinly sliced
  • Dried cranberries (to garnish)Dressing:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger grated
  • 1 clove garlic grated
  • salt to taste

Wash and chop kale leaving out the middle segment.  Gently message the kale with a bit of olive oil and salt to soften

Mix kale, oranges, and onion in a large bowl

In a separate bowl mix dressing ingredients

Pour the dressing over the salad and gently mix

Serve with dried cranberries as a garnish

Hawthorne All Stars prepare kale salad for dinner in cooking class.
Youth Farmers examine their thriving kale plants.
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Youth Farm Kale Salad ready to serve during Minneapolis School Lunch!
Youth Farmers prepare kale salad for dinner in an after school cooking class