According to local meteorologist Paul Douglas, Minnesota has one of the most extreme climates on earth. A couple of days ago it was close to 90ºF, yesterday our rain gauge registered 4.5 inches of rain for the day, and this afternoon it’s 54ºF with gale-force winds. My 4-month old babes are confused and suffering. I just looked out the window and saw all four girls huddling together under an evergreen tree. The older hens have dealt with our temperature fluctuations before, but today even they’re looking a little crazed. Happily for them, they’ve discovered a way not only to deal with the weather but also their otherwise annoying young companions: use the little ones as windbreaks.
Roxanne and Cleo position themselves near the center of the evergreen tree, forcing Coco and Ruby to cover their rears. Coco Chanel, third in the pecking order, has squeezed herself to the inside, leaving poor Ruby on the outside. My tiny girl sits in the wind hunched in a round ball with her head buried under her wing. As I glance out my kitchen window she looks up, but quickly nuzzles her face back into her down coat. I don’t have the heart to tell her this is only the start. And it’s not even winter….
Why don’t the chicks go into their protected run or the warm, draft-free coop? God only knows. Their question to me would probably be “Why do we live in Minnesota?” or better yet, “Why does anyone live in Minnesota?”
Well, before I ended up posting this blog the weather changed again. It’s now sunny, calm and gorgeous. In fact we grilled outside enjoying the last of the summer corn and tomatoes! That’s why we live in Minnesota.
Grilled Herb Pork Tenderloin with Toasted Corn Relish
Print this Recipe
1 (1 lb.) pork tenderloin
1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
3 to 4 tablespoons mixed chopped fresh herbs (I used marjoram, oregano, sage, and parsley)
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Toasted Corn Relish
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 ears corn, kernels removed (generous 1 cup)
1 small onion, halved, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped (1 cup)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Brush pork tenderloin with olive oil and rub minced garlic over pork. Pat herbs over both sides of pork and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Grill pork over medium heat or coals 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 145ºF to 150ºF (pork will be pale pink in the center).
While the pork is grilling, make the corn relish. Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil and heat until hot. Cook the onion and corn 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pan to scrape up the browned bits, reducing the heat to medium if necessary to avoid burning. Stir in the tomato, lemon juice, salt and pepper and heat until warm. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Serve at room temperature.
Serves 3 to 4
I had a great time touring several of the St. Paul coops on Saturday at the Twin Cities Parade of Coops. Judging by the online chatter this week, there was a great turnout across the cities. In fact, hundreds of people strolled through the 28 coops on display during a beautiful fall day.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE SIGHTINGS:
LOVE THAT COLOR AND RUN DOOR
GENTLE BARRED ROCK LADY
ELEGANT APPENZELLER SPITZHAUBEN
RECYCLED WINDOWS FROM THE REUSE CENTER
If you missed the tour this time, watch for announcements next spring, a perfect time to introduce yourself to the joys of backyard chickens.
Grab some friends and head out to the Twin Cities Coop Tournext Saturday, September 11th from 10 AM to 4 PM. It’s the largest tour ever with 28 coops on the tour!!! Visit all of the coops or just a couple in your area and find out how easy and fun it is to keep backyard chickens.
Click on Twin Cities Coop Tour to find a Google map with all the locations listed. Printed maps will also be available the day of the tour at Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply, 1771 Selby Ave. in St. Paul, starting at 10 am. Centrally located for easy access from Minneapolis and St. Paul, Egg|Plant also carries chicken feed and supplies, books on coop-building and chicken-keeping, as well as coop and chicken tractor kits. New this year, Coop Tour T-Shirts!
To order call 612-751-5478 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the home front, my four girls are finally getting along and bunking together in the Pleasure Palace Coop. It took awhile, and Cleo did not adapt easily, but she’s finally realized the babes are here to stay and there’s nothing she can do about it. Come nighttime I find all four chicks in the coop with the two babies on the window sill or roost, Roxanne on the chicken door and Cleo pacing the floor or in the nest box. Not quite Kumbaya but we’re on the way.
Fried Eggs over Buttered Leeks and Croutons
You have to love a friend who calls and asks if you want some freshly picked grapes and then delivers home-grown leeks and Siberian garlic too. My friend Joni recently dropped off these goodies and I was blown away. I once helped plant leeks at the Eastside Children’s Garden, it’s a backbreaking endeavor as you try to separate the teeny tiny plants and tuck each one upright into the soil. Then you have to mound them as they grow to keep the root end tender and white. I once tried to grow garlic and ended up with small bulbs that weren’t worth the effort. I admire real gardeners.
Garden Fresh Leeks
This was a precious gift that called for a special recipe. I wanted to serve the leeks in a simple way so I could taste their unique flavor. So this morning I decided to saute the leeks in Hope Creamery butter and serve them over toasted bread topped with Cleo’s eggs. Perfection!
Fried Eggs over Buttered Leeks and Croutons
Print This Recipe
3 tablespoons butter
1½ cups halved and sliced leeks*
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices artisan bread, toasted and buttered
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in leeks until coated with butter; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Crack eggs into individual cups and gently pour into skillet. Cover and cook 3 minutes or until the whites are firm and the yolks are soft or until desired doneness. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. To serve, place toasted bread on plates, top with leeks and place one egg over each slice of toast.
* To trim leeks, cut away the dark green tops and root ends leaving the white and light green tender stalks. Half the leeks lengthwise and wash well under water making sure all of the dirt is removed. Pat dry and slice.