Dill Pickle Food Co-op | 3039 W. Fullerton, Chicago, IL

The Brine

The Local Roast

Coffee Ambassadors Tell Their Story

By Beth Ulion


“The best coffee tells stories,” says Tim Taylor, who doesn’t drink much, but takes it black. He’s the founder of Coffee Ambassador, making responsibly sourced and locally roasted coffee sold at select shops in Chicago . Taylor’s coffee obsession began five years ago when he started roasting his own beans in a popcorn popper. Then he started traveling to Honduras to take coffee seriously.

Taylor’s passion isn’t just coffee, but helping coffee bean growers. Through agronomy lessons, roasting demonstrations, and tastings, he’s helped Honduran growers develop coffee into a high quality product. They can now ask buyers for a higher price. Taylor pays just 30 cents above market price. 

With coffee prices rising, Taylor got creative. Instead of raising rates, he began to offer coffee classes at Ipsento. Like Coffee 101, an in-depth exploration of the history, selection and brewing of coffee, which quickly sold out. 

“The challenge is staying alive and staying profitable” Taylor said. But it’s about cultivating relationships between businesses so that everyone thrives. His profits also fund the Ranchos Ebenezer orphanage that provides urban street kids a rural retreat and an education. 

Taylor knows the story behind each bag of beans he sells--and the small scale farmers from Honduras to Brazil that produced it. 



Meet Your Meat

Nate and Lou Ann Robinson Raise Hogs As Their Forefathers Did

By Matt Nardella



About 40 years ago, hogs and their stomachs, which evolved over centuries to eat and digest grasses, were transitioned to a diet of corn and grain. This wasn’t for health, land management, economic or any other rational reason, but because there was an abundance of corn laying around and nothing to do with it. 

Those forty years of agricultural trends largely passed by Nate and Lou Ann Robinson of Jake’s Country Meats who have raised their hogs on fresh pasture for 38 years. Nate is part of a long line of farmers-- six generations--that have cultivated the fertile fields of Central Michigan for over one hundred years. And it doesn’t seem like he would rather be doing anything else.

The Robinson’s lovingly raise between 1200-1500 hogs per year on their 176 acres of rolling, green pastures.  The hogs spend most of their lives out on the pasture munching on timothy, alfalfa, and clover, only scurrying into the barn during inclement weather. 

Since 2002, the Robinsons have raised their hogs without antibiotics.  Lou Ann says, “the transition was a lot of work, but we think the farm is better for it.”  Indeed. When their animals graze on pasture they are doing their part to create a productive and integrated component of a greater sustainable habitat. 

The permanent pasture helps to prevent stormwater runoff, retain fertile soil, and create a functional and productive ecosystem. Even better, the hogs innately act as a fertilization system for the entire farm, since their waste becomes a habitat for beneficial insects, like the dung beetle.  One of the dung beetles jobs is to roll the, uh, dung back into the soil, creating a natural fertilizer. 

The Robinson’s also keep forty acres of woodlands. The natural woodland, also known as ‘hog holiday haven’ provides a pleasant respite during the summer for any overheated hogs. 

In stark contrast, feedlot animals live out their days, nights, and months in confined, overstuffed feedlots. These close quarters and squalor conditions cause great stress on the animals causing numerous health issues, which is why farmers pump the animals with antibiotics. 

Lou Ann believes, as anyone who has tried Jake’s Meats knows, their pride in the land and care for their animals are qualities that you can taste. 

Her favorite recipe? Pork Shoulder:



1  Jake’s Country Meats, bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder (6 to 7 lb.)

1  head garlic

1  tablespoon coarse salt

1 1/2  teaspoons oregano

1  teaspoon  thyme

1/2  teaspoons ground pepper

1  sliced onion

1  sliced carrot

1/2 cup cream sherry

4  cups chicken broth

1/4  teaspoon dried hot chile flakes

1 1/2  teaspoons sherry vinegar



1. Rinse pork and pat dry. Score skin in a crisscross diamond pattern, making 1/8-inch-deep cuts about 1 inch apart. Crush garlic, salt, oregano, thyme, and pepper into a coarse paste. Rub garlic paste all over roast. Set roast, skin side up, on a rack in an oiled 9- by 13-inch roasting pan.

2. Roast in a 450° oven until deep golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

3. Remove pan from oven and scatter onion and carrot slices around pork. Pour 1/4 cup sherry and 2 cups broth into pan. Add chile flakes. Baste pork with some of the pan juices. Reduce oven temperature to 225° and bake until a thermometer inserted through the center of thickest part at bone reads 170° to 175°, 8 to 9 hours.

4. About 30 minutes before serving, transfer pork to a carving board.  Cover pork loosely and set in a warm place. Pour the remaining 1/4 cup sherry and 2 cups broth into the roasting pan (drippings will be dark) and set on a burner over high heat. Bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan. Boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by about half, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour through a wire strainer set over a bowl, pressing on vegetables (discard vegetables); you should have 1 to 1 1/3 cups drippings. Skim off and discard fat. Stir in vinegar.

5. Lift skin off pork and cut it into bite-sized chunks or strips; pile on a platter. Drizzle about a fourth of the pan juices over the meat. Serve with remainder for added flavor. Best served with mashed potatoes.



Hand to Mouth

The Dill Pickle Partners with Humboldt Park Social Services to Feed the Whole Community

By Erica Hawkinson


Ever wondered what happens when Dill Pickle receives new goods, when the stuff in the shelves or in the refrigerators is still fresh?  In line with the co-op’s mission to building a vibrant community and more sustainable world, the Dill Pickle donates those groceries to Humboldt Park Social Services (HPSS), a local community organization that, among other services, operates a soup kitchen. 

According to Sharon Hoyer, the Dill Pickle's Assistant Store Manager, “It’s primarily produce and sometimes milk or other dairy items or the occasional shelf-stable packaged item.”  The goods are used either for HPSS’ soup kitchen or to stock their food pantry, which offers families food packages and personal care items that could last for up to a month.  

Humboldt Park Social Services aims to transform the lives of Logan Square or Humboldt Park residents who are experiencing homelessness or housing instability so that they may obtain and maintain permanent housing.  “The soup kitchen is a recruitment point for our other services,” says Jennie Dye, HPSS’ Volunteer Development Coordinator, 

Every day, Humboldt Park Social Services offers the residents in its interim housing program a hot breakfast and bagged lunch, then opens its doors to the community for dinner.  The soup kitchen offers a hot dinner and serves about 100 people each evening.  While “the heart of what we do is to ensure that the most vulnerable people in our community can obtain and maintain housing,” says Dye, the soup kitchen is an excellent way for people in need to learn about our life skills training, employment counseling, and interim housing.

As a community partner of HPSS, the Dill Pickle it proud to contribute to an organization that provides opportunities for residents of Logan Square and Humboldt Park to thrive.  



Your Co-op Needs You

Would you like to support the work of HPSS? In addition to monetary donations, HPSS is always in need of pillows, blankets or clothing, especially shoes. HPSS is also looking for people with a background in journalism willing to take down oral histories of HPSS residents. Contact Jennie Dye at jdye@hpsschanginglives.org to learn ways you can help! Not only will you enrich the lives of the people in your community, but the Dill Pickle offers the HOO discount to members who volunteer at HPSS.  


A Trio of Seasonal Dishes

By Christopher Fagnant


Breakfast: Crepe Melanges Fruit avec de la Creme

This recipe features crepes with fruit, layered like lasagna.  It can be slightly labor intensive but absolutely worth it when cooking for parties or large amounts of people.


4 Mint Creek Farm fresh Eggs

1 ½ cups Soy Dream Soy Milk

1 ½ cups King Arthurs all purpose Flour

¼ cup water

6 Tbls melted butter

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.  While the crepes are cooling you can prep and cook the fruit that will fill the dish.

To cook crepes, heat a medium sized non-stick skillet with a small amount of Smart Balance shortening in the pan.  Pour ¼ cup of batter into pan and tip pan in a circular motion to spread the batter as thin as possible.  Cook for about 30-45 second and flip, finish in another 15-20 seconds.  Batter should yield 16+ crepes. 

Fruit Filling

Cook all four types of fruit in the same way and let cool completely after cooking.


    2 10 oz. bags of Snow Pac Blueberries

    2 10 oz. bags of Snow Pac Strawberries

    5 Green Bananas

    4 Fuji Apples

    ¼ Cup Fair Trade Sugar (1 tbls per fruit)

    ¼ Cup Smart Balance shortening (1 tbls per fruit)

    2 10oz. packages Soyatoo Soy Whip

Cook each fruit individually. For each: Heat medium skillet with 1 tbls shortening and 1 tbls sugar and add chopped fruit.  Cook until fruit is tender but not mushy.  Remove from heat and cool completely while cooking crepes.

Whip Soy Whip in a bowl until you have soft peaks.

Build dish with one layer of crepes on the bottom of a casserole dish.  In order to cover entire square surface it is best to split 2 of the crepes in half and lie the straight edge along the long side of the dish, then place 2 whole crepes across the center. 

Spread cooked Bananas on top of crepes.  Layer crepes on top of bananas in the same fashion as layer 1.  Add Apples – Crepes – Srawberries – Crepes – Blueberries.  

Lastly, spread soy whip over the entire dish. 

Wrap and cool until ready to serve. 


Lunch: Gourmet Your Frozen Pizza

For a quick and easy lunch with fresh, seasonal veggies, spruce up your frozen pizza with arugula and oyster mushrooms.

    1 Home Run Inn cheese pizza*  

    1 large handful of fresh Baby Arugula approx. 2 cups chopped

    ¼ Lb. Oyster Mushrooms (sliced ¼ in.)

    3 Garlic stuffed Green Olives

    Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Pinch of…

    Sea Salt

    Cracked Black Pepper

     Dried or Fresh Oregano

     Dried or Fresh Basil


Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

Keep pizza frozen according to package instructions.

Begin by roughly chopping Arugula, once chopped there should be enough Arugula to cover the whole pizza. (It will reduce significantly during the cooking process) Spread Arugula directly on top of the frozen pizza.  

Next, slice mushrooms and spread evenly across the top of the Arugula.  I prefer trimming the stems of the Oyster mushrooms because they can get chewy when baked.  Finely chop garlic stuffed olives and sprinkle over entire pizza.  Season with salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and olive oil.

Place pizza directly on rack in the middle of the oven.

Cook for 20 min.  (22-24min for crispier crust)

Let cool for 5 min.



Dinner: Shephard's Pie with Mint Creek Lamb

Pie Crust--The hardest part, but worth it.

1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour

2 Tsp granulated sugar

¾ Tsp table salt

6 Tbls cold unsalted butter, small dice

1/4 Cup Earth Balance shortening

7 to 8 Tbls ice water


In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, and sugar until combined.  Add butter and toss until just coated. Rub butter into flour until flour has almost entirely absorbed the butter. Add shortening, toss until just coated in flour, then rub into flour mixture until it forms pea-size pieces and comes together in fist-sized clumps when squeezed, about 1 minute. 

Drizzle in ice water 2 Tbls at a time and rake through mixture until just moistened. It will go from being tiny pieces to coming together. Dough is moist enough when  moistened through but not wet when pressed. (Do not overwork the dough or it will become tough.) While rotating the bowl with 1 hand, push dough between other palm and side of bowl to gather into a ball. Turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper; press into a flat disk, and then close in wrap. Place in coldest part of refrigerator at least 30 minutes before rolling out and forming into a crust.

Mashed Potatoes 


        2 lbs of organic yellow potatoes

2/3 Cup soymilk

1 Tbls Kosher Salt

¼ Cup Butter/vegetable shortening

1 Tsp Cracked Black Pepper

Pinch of White Pepper

Pinch of Oregano

Pinch of Coriander

Dice potatoes to about 1 in. chunks and place in water to soak.  Once all are cut bring water to a rolling boil and cook for about 20 min or until fork tender.  Remove from heat and drain water.  Add all ingredients and mash until evenly incorporated.  

Ground Lamb 

       1 lb. Mint Creek Farms ground Lamb

Season to taste with Salt/Pepper/Herbs


Sauté over medium heat until meat is cooked medium rare, try not to over cook because it will dry out during baking process.  

Mixed Vegetables

       ¾ Cup of SnoPac frozen corn 

¾ Cup cut green beans

¾ Cup Broccoli

1 Tsp. Kosher Salt

½ Tsp. cracked black pepper

Mix together and set aside, vegetables do not need to be thawed before baking. 

Assemble Your Pie

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Grease 12in Pie form with butter or vegetable shortening.  Roll out cooled pie dough onto wax paper to prevent sticking.  Turn dough into pie form and press into place, even out edges and make sure there are no air bubbles under the dough.  

Add the ground lamb first making an even layer across the bottom.  Add vegetable mixture on top of the lamb.  Add mashed potatoes last spreading evenly over the top as if icing a cake – the potatoes will likely mound up taller than pie form.  

Bake for 1 hour.

Garnish with fresh carrot slices 



Produce Report

Ramping Up For Spring

By Sharon Hoyer


Spring is often used as a metaphor for the fleeting nature of youth, innocence and first love. The comparison holds true with produce as it does with romance; spring is the season of wild-harvested delicacies, impossible to cultivate in a controlled environment and vanishing all too soon. Take for instance our city’s namesake, the ramp: the pungent, flavorful wild leek native to the Illinois shores of Lake Michigan. Ramp season is short (that is, right now) and allium lovers are advised to buy them by the bushel and sauté, stew, sear and pickle them while they may, then enjoy them with cheese or in cocktails the summer long. Fiddlehead ferns, beautiful and equally fleeting, will be on our shelves the few weeks before they unfurl. Blanched, sautéed or pickled, fiddleheads are not only a visual and palatal treat, but high in Omega-3 fatty acids and potassium—a good source of the nutrient while fair trade bananas are hard to come by. We’ll see some wild mushrooms too: trumpets and, with any luck, morels that, seared or sauced and served with their fellow wild edibles, taste like the very excitement that accompanies the first warm, sunny days.

Of course not all tasty spring produce will disappear before the equinox; we’re already seeing the first locally grown staple vegetables. The hoop houses at Chicago-based Green Youth Farm and Growing Home are turning out salad greens, spinach and baby arugula; Tempel Farms Organics has been bringing us gorgeous, sweet carrot bunches along with our weekly egg delivery; and we were fortunate to get the first of the City Farm green kale. The coming weeks will yield more and more greens—chard, kale, spicy mustards and braising greens, more fresh lettuces and Asian greens like tatsoi and bok choi—along with the first city-grown radishes: the sweet, peppery watermelon variety and the milder French breakfast radishes—refreshing raw, sublime pickled. Pickling…what better way to preserve the magic of the season?



Board Report 

More Improvements on the Way

By Gajus Miknaitis


It's a little hard to believe, but our little neighborhood grocery has been open for 16 months.  And, somewhat to our pleasant surprise, sales continue to grow, reflecting the hunger for good food in our community, not to mention the hard work of our staff, who continue to find ways to wedge more products into our cozy space.

We're still working to get the books closed on the first full year of operations.  But it looks as though, when the dust settles, our store will have turned a profit.  That's pretty remarkable for any start-up retail operation, not to mention one that opened its doors near the peak of the worst economic climate in generations.  Since we're a cooperative, any surplus may be returned to its owners. However, we've got significant expenses coming up and the board has decided to err on the side of safety, the coop will be retaining its surplus this year.

As you may have noticed, the flooring in our store is looking a bit worse for wear.  And you may remember that the temperatures inside the store last summer were, well, toasty.  So we're going to be upgrading our HVAC system and repairing the floor.  In order to make both improvements, we'll likely need to temporarily shutdown the store for a little while, which will also impact sales. 

The board has been busy lately too. We've recently completed training workshops. We're trying to make sure that we create a strong and effective board culture so that we can do a good job as the custodians of your investment.  

Our finance committee has also begun research into opportunities for the Dill Pickle to grow. We've compiled research from other co-ops that expanded and are moving forward with putting together some estimates about what this might look like for us.  Member feedback and listening sessions are guiding our thinking  and we'll continue to engage and inform our members along the way.  

We’ve begun recently begun the first steps in an exciting community learning program. We’ll be exchanging ideas and experiences and getting input on how the co-op can help improve food access on Chicago’s west side.  The Outreach committee has been busy creating presentations about the co-op's values for eco, health, and food fairs and is organizing a number of summer field-trips for co-op members. 




Wheeling and Dealing 

Cheat Sheet to Local and Seasonal Foods 

By Monique Gilbert


Farmers’ market season is just around the corner. So, enter The Local Foods Wheel, an  “in season now” cheat sheet to carry anywhere. Wow friends as you schmooze with farmers about tart cherries in July or those coveted fresh morel mushrooms in spring. 

The food wheel was born when chef Jessica Prentice (co-creator of the Local Foods Wheel with Sarah Klein and Maggie Gosselin) toured the Midwest. She was impressed with how vibrant the local food scene was, especially the network of co-ops. Gosselin shared similar enthusiasm for delicious and uniquely Midwestern foods such as popcorn, wild rice, rye, wheat and barley. 

The Brine caught up with Maggie Gosselin for a Q&A:

Favorite spring dish?

Nettle melt (a nutritious herb.)  I boil the nettle. Then  sauté it with garlic and oil, put it on hearty bread and melt cheese over it. Nettles have a very earthy green flavor, you have to be careful handling them. It’s usually local and rarely transported. Delicious!

Favorite source for recipes?

Jessica’s book (Soul Moon Feast) has some great recipes. Also 101cookbooks.com and smittenkitchen.com.

Why is it important to consume local and seasonal food?

It’s better for the environment. The food doesn’t travel as far, and it’s usually grown with fewer chemicals. Plus, there’s a community aspect. You shop at your neighborhood co-ops and farmers’ markets and get to know the people who grow your food. The food is fresher and generally tastes a lot better. There are interesting varieties locally and sometimes you discover tasty foods you just can’t get--except locally.

You can purchase your very own Local Foods Wheel: Upper Midwest for $12.95 plus shipping at www.localfoodswheel.com/upper-midwest.




Finance Committee Update



On behalf of the Dill Pickle's Board of Directors,  a very hearty thanks to Jason Guthartz, Noah Stein, and others who have contributed to the co-op's Legal Committee prior to and shortly after the opening of our lovely storefront. They provided information and advice that was absolutely essential to making our dream of a community-owned grocery store in Logan Square a reality.

The Board has recently determined that the co-op will again be in need of legal advice for a number of important (but non-emergency--no need to worry!) issues, and we are hoping to form a new Legal Committee to address them. If you have an education or experience in law (preferably in the state of Illinois) and have a little bit of spare time to lend, please get in touch with me at billy.burdett@dillpickle.coop

Folks who have contributed at one time or another to the Legal Committee in the past are of course welcome to get in touch as well!

Thanks, and happy Spring!

Billy Burdett


Thanks to the following contributors, who made this issue of the Brine possible:

Rachel Rabbit White, Christopher Fagnant, Monique Gilbert, Gajus Miknaitis, Erika Hawkinson, Sharon Hoyer, Beth Ulion, Matt Nardella.

To get involved with the Brine, please direct content suggestions or questions to a board member or by email to sharon.hoyer@dillpickle.coop.