We have five chickens in the backyard, two of which are laying eggs right now. I get asked a lot if it's possible to actually taste a difference between our eggs and the store-bought kind, and the answer is a resounding YES! Our chickens' eggs are creamier and less 'eggy' tasting. I firmly believe that happy, healthy animals lead to happy, healthy humans, and my mother's little backyard farm is a step in the right direction.

There's no "recipe" for this; it's more like a process. I lightly toasted a piece of sourdough bread from Companion, and then topped it with thinly sliced tomatoes from the garden and shredded parmesan cheese. I then broiled the toast for a few more minutes while I fried up the egg in some butter. Top it all off with some slivers of fresh basil, salt and pepper, and you have just started your morning off right. I promise.
 
 
I'm back from China, and that means I'm back in the kitchen . . . Baking. I'm trying not to go crazy and make every cookie, brownie, and cake recipe I've pinned on Pinterest, but it's tough knowing that come August, I won't have my own kitchen (much less oven). Life in Libo, China will be decidedly less sweet, but on the bright side, I will get to eat as many sea cucumbers and chicken feet as my little heart desires. Oh, no. Sad face.

So I've been back for a few weeks now, and I've only baked two things! (I think that means I get to bake more things soon! Maybe even today!)

We had six over-ripe bananas in our kitchen when I returned from China, and I know my mom was leaving them out (and not throwing them in the compost) as a hint for me to make something. Even if she denies it . . .

We also had half a bag of Ghiradelli mini chocolate chips in the pantry, and to prevent my younger brother from consuming the rest of the bag before I got to use them, I threw them in the muffins.

I doubled this recipe since we had six bananas, and it made a TON of batter--probably enough for 30 muffins. I only have two muffin trays, so I filled the cups up high and put the remaining batter in a ramekin, resulting in 24 regular muffins and one GIANT muffin.

Recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
From Keep Your Diet Real
Makes 12 regular sized muffins.

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder (I know, it seems like a lot!)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and place liners in a muffin pan.

In a large bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add the sugar, oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla; mix well.

In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir with a spatula just until combined. Do not overmix, or the muffins will be tough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill the muffin cups with batter and bake for about 20 minutes or until the tops of the muffins spring back (and do not sink) when pressed with a finger and a toothpick comes out clean.
 
 
If you've never been to China, then you've probably never had truly authentic Chinese food. For better or for worse, the next few posts will cover some of the dishes I've been served on my most recent trip to China.

This is the noodle stand in Libo that Big Mountain took us for breakfast each morning. This lady keeps the place clean, the broth hot, and the meat non-refrigerated. Mmm. Soup for breakfast isn't necessarily my thing, but I have to admit that it tasted pretty good!
The broth is kept at a constant boil in a huge pot (you can see it in the far righthand corner of the picture). For each serving, she ladles broth into one of the smaller pots and adds wide, flat rice noodles. Your choice of meat is then scooped (raw) into the mix--we always chose the ground pork. A few pieces of lettuce and a partially fried duck egg later, she's finished with her part in making your breakfast. The flavor is then up to you--a wide variety of "toppings" are available to choose from (see lower lefthand corner of picture). There are hot peppers in oil, chopped raw garlic, snipped chives, pickled herbs, and fresh mint. The final result is something like this:
Breakfast of champions!