Homemade Hamburger Buns


You didn’t think I would make them, did you? That’s ok, neither did The Mister.

I didn’t need to make hamburger buns from scratch; I could have easily bought them at the store. But, somehow, making these make me a better mom.

I’m always thinking, and I get bored easily. Because of this I often take on too many projects and over commit myself. I check my emails constantly and carry the cordless phone in my pocket. When I am out, my cellphone is either in my hand or within reach. I’m not important. There is rarely a call or email that couldn’t wait a couple of hours, and, yet, I am always available.

But, am I available for my boys if I am already available for everyone else? I worry they pay the consequence of my frenetic personality, and I don’t want them to remember me as the mom who was always working. I’m not all about work! Case in point, I love to bake. I always have, and after so many years (my Kitchen Aid stand mixer is 16 years old) I’ve become proficient enough to tackle any recipe that strikes my fancy. I want them to know this about me, and remember it fondly later in life. And so, I choose to spend a day with Mikey and Nico and make in a couple of hours what I could have bought in 5 minutes.

Bread Maker

As a rule, it’s not easy to bake with a 3 year old. You lose track of ingredients. Flour ends up everywhere but the bowl. There is a constant threat of boo-boos and burns. Sometimes it seems easier to just bake for them rather than with them. But, today I persevered, kept my mouth shut, and was rewarded when I suddenly feel a light touch and looked down to see this:

Why I Bake

The Kitchen Aid can make all sorts of intimidating noises when kneading a large bread recipe, and sometimes you just need a hand to hold and a shoulder to lean on until all the commotion is over.


I was rewarded again when we pulled the dough from the mixer and a little voice beside me sighed, “Oh, mama. It’s just soooooo beautiful.”


And so we baked. And kneaded. And we rolled up our dough into balls and sprinkled them with sesame seeds. Lots of sesame seeds. Maybe one bun got a bit more sesame seeds than necessary when mom wasn’t looking.

Into the Oven

I hope the boys remember baking with me. I hope they know that when I look at them I am so filled with love that sometimes I can’t breathe. I hope they understand that I am just trying to be a good mom they can be proud of. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, one day many years from now when they are both on dates with some little tramp I don’t even like that they lean over and say, “You know, my mom bakes the best bread.”

And that’s why I made hamburger buns from scratch.

I Just Spent $44 on Baking Soda.

OK, maybe not just baking soda. But therein lies the problem! I found a recipe for orange cake and only noticed the missing baking soda after I had everything prepped. Figures. So, I packed up the boys and headed off to Trader Joe’s for some baking soda.

Ready to go shopping with me? Here we go.

I walked in, and remembered we were also out of granola bars.

I’ll get those once we get to the snack aisle. Mikey won’t let me forget.

It went downhill from here.

OK. I think I’ll make my grandmother’s recipe for panqueques* tonight. I need ground beef, but I think I have everything else. [*similar to crepes. These are stuffed with a ground beef mixture and baked in sauce, like cannelloni] Ah, here we are. Ground Beef. Should I use turkey? It would be healthier… Meh. Screw it.

Oh, with The Mister home today I should pick up some extra sandwich meat. Well, if we’re having sandwiches I better get bread, too. Oh. Look at that! Hamburger buns. I do have some hamburgers in the freezer for emergency meals. Maybe I’ll just pick up some buns, too. Let’s take a quick look at the ingredients. Hmm. Sweetened with honey. That’s not too bad. How much are they? WHAT?! Wait a minute. Don’t I have a recipe for hamburger buns in
that one book? How hard can it be to make buns? Back you go, buns. Hah! I just saved $5. God, I hope I make those buns. Otherwise my ass will have to come back and get those stupid things.

Would you looks at that! Trader Joe’s has that green casserole onion topping stuff that Frenchs’ sells and it’s not even the holiday’s! I should make that chicken-rice-casserole thing for dinner this week. Let’s look at the ingredients. Palm Oil?! Forget it.

OK. What did I need again? I have the meat. I have bread, sandwich fixings… I know there’s something I’m forgetting. I’ll just walk around the store and maybe it will come to me.

Oh, look! Here’s that Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken everyone raves about. I should buy one in case I don’t feel like cooking this week. Don’t look at the ingredients. Don’t look at the ingredients. Don’t look at the ingredients.

Frozen vegetables. Well, I could buy these if I were making that chicken-rice casserole thing, but then I would have to use the green-bean-casserole-onion-topping-things and they have palm oil. It is a fast meal and Mikey eats it every time. But the palm oil is so bad. I wonder how much better the Trader Joe’s version is than the Frenchs version? I never looked at the ingredients on the Frenchs can. So why be so hard on Trader Joe’s for a little palm oil? Oh, alright. Just this one time.

What am I forgetting?!

Oh, crap! If I’m going to make that chicken-rice-casserole thing I need to buy chicken!

OK. Here we go. Fresh chicken. Where are the bags? They were over here just last week. This stupid store! They’re always out of bags! Oh, bother. I’ll just pick some up and hope none of the packages are pierced.

GAH! Chicken juice! Chicken juice! Oh gross! Crap. This is just perfect. Is there a God damned paper towel in the house?! No? Oh, that’s ok! I’ll just use MY JEANS. Disgusting. Sigh. Back to frozen foods. I’ll get that big bag of frozen chicken.

One bag of frozen chicken. Check.

OK. Seriously what am I forgetting?

BAKING SODA! I NEED BAKING SODA! Whew. I almost forgot.

Rolling up to an empty check out line and what do I spy next to the register?

Oh, look! Granola bars. Whew. Almost forgot that, too.

And this, friends, is how I spent $44 on baking soda. Note, I didn’t even have said baking soda until the very end and could have very well left the store without it. Lists? Child’s play. I like to live on the edge. This is why I was so excited to read about Carrie’s 5 dinner challenge. Five dinners we haven’t made in a while to break us of our ruts and discover new recipes. Sounds fun, no? We’ll see how I do. Tonight might not go so well. I’m a little tuckered out from juicing 264 oranges over the last 3 days. And my heartburn is so bad–from the aforementioned oranges–that I wouldn’t be surprised if I opened my mouth and a red-hot stream of flames shot out like a fire breathing dragon.

Maybe I’ll just make hamburgers tonight. Crap. I don’t have any buns.

Orange Cake

(The orange cake I made with the $44 baking soda)

Feeling Tense

Raise your hand if you have an extremely overactive imagination and watch too many crime shows. Yeah, so do I. I’ve always been a supreme worrier, but something about becoming a mother really refines the paranoia. You go from worrying every now and then to staying up at night imagining all sorts of unspeakable horrors. I am especially famous for worrying when things are going too well. I tend to sniff out stress like a badger, and today was no different.

The Mister and I had a wonderful day yesterday exploring Los Angeles with the boys–so much so that we decided venture around our city’s downtown to window shop and take some pictures of local architecture. Mikey and The Mister were a bit behind me, so I decided to wait with Nico (strapped in the double stroller) under the portico of an antique store we planned on scouring.

I wasn’t really paying much attention, so all of a sudden I found a man and two women surrounding the stroller. The man started cooing at Nico in Spanish and–wait for it–started caressing his face and tickling him under his chin!

Back off my kid, pal.

He looked at me and said, in Spanish, “I love babies and he is the most beautiful little boy.”

Uh huh. That’s nice. I pulled the stroller closer to my body and the glanced at the women (one of them very pregnant) now fixated on Nico. The man then reached out to pick up Nico! He looked at me and said, “May I pick him up?”

“No. You may not.” I promptly start shitting 5,000 bricks. The Mister appeared out of nowhere. Knowing him, he saw everything from 20 yards away and came running.

One of the women looked at Mikey and said to The Mister, “He reminds me so much of my son. May I give him a hug?”

What the Hell is going on here?

The Mister told them no, and they thanked us all left. We walked into the antique store and I just stared at The Mister and my boys, who I am now convinced were almost kidnapped. Then The Mister told me that they had already approached him and Mikey and that the women were caressing Mikey’s head and trying to give him hugs. He had to tell them to take their hands off him.

Now the brick shitting is up to 10,350.


The rest of our outing was, essentially, ruined. I developed an instant migraine which has yet to leave. I kept imagining them blindsiding us from behind a corner and taking the boys. I told this all to The Mister who looked at me an said, “That wouldn’t happen. I’d take them all down– even the pregnant one. I’d roll her, too.”

I’m sitting here writing, trying to put into words what only a mother knows. That once you have children, there really is no greater love than the love you have for your child. But it’s not just love. It’s fear, too. This immeasurable love is mingled with the most intense fear you will ever experience. Fear that wraps around you like a cold snake when you watch the news, watch certain shows, or take walks with your family on an otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon.

I burnt the chicken, tonight. It was a recipe for an orange marinade I developed and planned to share with you next week. My mind was on other things, and I set the oven to 375. Not a high temperature, but with all the natural sugars in the marinade the chicken skin is now black as pitch. It’s perfectly edible, but certainly not appetizing. My parents should be here any minute, and all I have to offer is incinerated chicken. The Mister must have read my mind because he looked at me and simply said, “Look. Those people got to me, too.”

Thanks, The Mister. It helps to know daddies get scared, too.

Favorite Moment

I’ve had many this week.

The week started off well with a little visit of the newborn variety. Always a plus, especially when you’re not the one getting up at all hours.

Then again, I really did enjoy my brief foray in the wild animal kingdom.


Oh, but I did finally hang up our wedding invitation and portrait after two years in my parents’ garage. That felt quite lovely to accomplish.

Getting There

But what about dinner with The Mister? Alone? At a place with nary a chicken nugget on the menu? Could there be a more favorite moment? I didn’t think so.

That is, until today. I’ve been tired and feeling out of sorts. By the early afternoon, as a little vein on the left side of my head started to pound, the inexplicable exhaustion of the last week suddenly became very clear. Why, hello there, migraine. I haven’t seen you in a while. How thoughtful of you to return! I have been eating crap, after all.

I called The Mister and begged him for an early return. He could hear the boys tearing apart the house and made it home by 5:25, not sure what he would find. He was practically running through the door.

Jules: “Hello.” {Click} went the camera.
The Mister: “Hello. Am I your favorite moment?”

Jules: “Oh, yes.” {click} “Definitely.”

Hmmm. Or not.

(Drinky-poo by The Mister. An ex-bartender who can make anything– and well.)

Turkey Breast with Cranberry and Orange

The Crockpot recipe turned out well. The Mister loved it, which means nothing because he will happily eat anything he didn’t have to prepare. Like salt, gratitude brings out the flavor in anything.

The recipe is for Easy and Delicious Turkey from the ubiquitous Fix-it-and-Forget-it cook book. I changed the name so you could have at least some idea of the flavors involved. If you read yesterday’s post, you know to expect oranges. I normally try to cook from scratch, or at least use whole, unprocessed ingredients. I don’t like boxes, mixes, or packets for two reasons. First, they are full of crap and don’t have one redeeming health quality. Second, they are often relatively expensive and can be easily duplicated with natural ingredients you already have in you pantry, saving you both money and time spent at the oncologist’s office. That said, this recipe is full of cans and packets, but think I can duplicate the recipe and avoid some of the worst offenders (I’m talking to you, high fructose corn syrup). For now, though, I thought you might like to take a stab at the original. Ready? Here we go:

Turkey with Orange-Cranberry Sauce

Turkey Breast with Cranberry and Orange

1 fresh Turkey Breast, with bones
1 can Whole Cranberry Sauce
1 packet Dry Onion Soup mix
1 cup Orange Juice

Place washed turkey breast skin side up in Crockpot. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and pour over turkey breast. Set Crockpot on low and cook for 6-8 hours. When done, remove turkey (with tongs so it doesn’t fall apart) and place on cutting board. It should easily pull away from the bones. Slice into 1 inch slices.

You can then do as I did and dip the slices into the orange-cranberry au jus, plate, and then spoon cranberries on top. You can also plate the dry turkey and pour about a ladle’s worth of the sauce on top. The choice is yours, but I prefer the former method to keep the au jus from running all over the place.

This recipe is ridiculously simple and perfect for those days when you don’t want to cook. I threw this all together while Mikey ate lunch in about 5 or so minutes. Prepping the turkey took the longest, but those of you who like to play fast and loose with salmonella can always skip that part.

To accompany the turkey I roasted three potatoes (sliced into wedges), one quartered onion, and one yellow bell pepper (also sliced into wedges) with olive oil at 400 for about 30 minutes. I also tossed baby greens with olive oil, a squeeze of lime juice, salt, seasonings, and a sprinkle of freshly grated pecorino romano cheese (parmesean works fine, too).

That’s it! I hope you like it. Start to finish, I spent 15 minutes of actual prep time. I couldn’t have picked up take out any faster, so this has inspired me to look to my Crockpot more often.

I’ll be trying out a fistful of orange recipes. If you like, I’ll post the ones that turn out well.

¡Buen provecho!

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