Charting life's circuitous path


My 100 – Homemade Hamburger Buns

Salt Sugar FatRecently, I’ve been reading Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss – a book that dives head first into the processed food industry and why we “can’t just eat one”.  As expected, I was shocked by how much of the trinity we consumed as a nation and how each affected our bodies.  I wasn’t quite so surprised by the marketing tactics by the big companies, but hearing regular consumers being called “heavy users” by said companies definitely put my eating into perspective.  It was an intriguing read that reminded me that my own claim of voiding my kitchen of processed foods wasn’t completely true.

There is, right this instant, a half-eaten box of Joe-Joe Chocolate Sandwich cookies, a bag of Whole Foods Multigrain tortilla chips and at least five opened boxes of cereal in my guilty cabinets (sure, they’re cereals like Weetabix and GoLean, but they’re still processed).  Even though I’ve ditched pre-made meals, most canned food (like soups and baked beans), and a vast majority of convenience snacks, I still find myself relying on a lot of processed foods for convenience and time. Bread, buns, soup broth, pita pockets, and salad dressing are just a few offenders that show up regularly on my grocery list.

Getting rid of all processed food is admirable and certainly a dream of mine.  If you’re able to do it, and do it honestly with no bags of dry pasta tucked into the dark corners of your cabinets, then I definitely envy you and applaud your one-ness with your kitchen.  Unfortunately, I think I’ll have to kick the worst offenders out and keep a close eye on the remainder if I want to have time to do other things in my life, like eating said food with my hubby.  It’s all about time and priorities, and while I’m willing to bow to both for certain foods, I’m ashamed to say that I’ve yet to reach that point where my kitchen is pure.

An item that regularly makes its way into my cart every week is bread.   We eat a lot of it and usually in the form of toast and sandwich buns -the hubby eats at least 3 buns a week for his work lunches.  I had gotten into the habit of buying him the store brand white buns (you know, the ones that are almost always a dollar no matter what :oops:), after a few failed attempts at buying the more expensive, fancier kind (because my hubby likes what he likes and it’s cheap!).  But after reading Moss’s book on sugars and their addictive properties (and remembering Pollan’s blast against high fructose corn syrup in The Omnivore’s Dilemma), I took a look at the ingredient list and balked.  Not only was the bun high in sugar (and of the HFC variety), but it contained more unreadable ingredients than my floor cleaner.  Moss’s description of the store as a minefield was right.  I had failed in the label reading front and therefore feeding my hubby and myself something that was probably doing us more harm than good.  Definitely something had to change and I resolved to find an alternate bun the next time I went shopping.

Except, I didn’t.  I got it into my head that I could make a darn good bun, if I only tried.  Surely they weren’t that hard – they just looked like glorified bread rolls.  I had always wanted to make my own hamburger buns, but I had always skipped it when the time necessary for the dough to rise conflicted with my tummy’s insistence on dinner, now!  So I went digging through my cookbooks and found a recipe in my Pillsbury The Complete Book of Baking book (ah, the irony! :lol:).  The recipe had 6 ingredients and a relatively short list of instructions.  I had time on Saturday, so I got my hands warmed up to do some bread making!


I now regret not having made them before!  Gone were the sweet, tasteless buns that squished down to a gooey nothingness.  What had come out of my oven was golden, airy yet slightly chewy and with a flavor that perfectly melded with the (in my case, veggie) burger.  The batch made 8 – 9 good sized buns and they froze beautifully.  They were quick to put together and to bake.

Hubby approved!

Hubby approved!

If you’ve been wanting to make your own buns, but time has been an issue, take a tip from me: make them ahead of time!  Don’t wait until the big cookout, or when you’re so hungry that waiting an extra couple of hours makes even McDonald’s look good.  Instead, pick a day where you can spend an hour max of hands-on mixing, shaping and dishing up hot buns, and store them for future use.  Trust me, it’s worth it! I’m definitely making this a part of my homemade routine. 🙂

(This post is a part of the My 100 recipes to conquer list.  You can view my other attempts here.)

Delicious White Bread Hamburger Buns

(Note: Recipe is from Pillsbury’s The Complete Book of Baking.  I halved the original recipe to make about 8 buns and I used olive oil instead of vegetable.)hambun2


  •  2.5 – 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1.5 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 pkg active dry yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/8 cup olive oil


1.       In a large bowl, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast. Mix.

2.       In a small bowl, combine very warm water (120 – 130F) and oil. Add liquids to dry ingredients.  Blend at low speed until moistened.

3.       Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

4.       With a spoon, stir in 1.5 – 2 cups of flour (start off small and add more until dough cleanly pulls away from the sides of the bowl).

5.       On a floured surface, knead an additional .5 cup to 1 cup of flour until dough is smooth and elastic (again, start off small and add as you knead – ha! Knead, get it?).  Knead for about 5 minutes.  Place dough into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm spot for 45 – 60 minutes.

6.       Split dough into 8 equal parts and shape into circles. Place on lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly.  Let rise in  warm place on the cookie sheet for an additional 30 minutes (no need to cover unless you have drafts).

7.       Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool completely on wire racks.

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Little keys open big locks


The morning greeted us with snow coated limbs and pillowy piles.  The winter storm of the night before was more like a lamb and left us with a lot of fluff and little in the way of a roar. These kinds of storms I can file away in my slim folder of “good winters”.  Storms that bring long calls with insurance companies and rental car employees are less worth filing, but are somehow, unfortunately, more “memorable”.

A year has fluttered past with little heed to my own desire that it stay a bit and have a cup of tea.  Instead, it’s packed up, shuffled on and in sweeps a new year for all of us to get used to, again.  I’ve been thinking about the passing year, like most, and had come to the conclusion that, well, not much had happened.  The previous year seemed full of excitement – my health improved, I reached weight goals I didn’t know were possible for me, and I was finally getting a handle on what made my life live.

So, in a way, this year felt a bit ho-hum.

Until I came across this list that I had made sometime earlier this year pinned to my refrigerator underneath other clippings.


I made that list because I had begun to slid.  Just a little.  Perhaps around our vacation in April, or earlier.  Whenever it was, I wanted to keep on the path, so I came up with a list that, looking at it now, seems a bit stark.  Note the huge “NO” at the top.  It reads more like a prescriptive plan from my doctor than anything I could really follow or want to.

These kinds of lists are designed for failure.  Telling yourself “NO” will only make it worse when you ultimately cave and sneak a donut for breakfast on Wednesday.  Setting allowances is a good step, but setting absolutes can lead to guilt, avoidance, and an unhealthy relationship with food and with your own desires.  Perhaps that’s why this list was all but forgotten under other bits and bobs.

If taken verbatim, yes, I failed this list.

If I looked at how I’ve incorporated this list into my own life, then I won.  I don’t eat donuts except for special occasions, and I only buy them from our favorite donut shop.  I have stopped eating cereal from the soup bowl and instead, I’ve easily transitioned to the smaller dessert bowls.  I don’t eat snacks at work, but apple slices and half a homemade granola bar, if hungry.  I eat only one slice of pizza and no more.

I do, however, drink my mochas and I thoroughly enjoy them.  Especially when they’re paired with a chewy cookie or a slice of cake and topped with marshmallows.  Yes, I do eat baked goods during the week, but I’ve learned this year to portion size – our cakes and pies provide 12 slices rather than 8 and we eat a couple cookies rather than half the batch.  I’ve embraced sugar as my drug of choice, but I want to keep it recreational. 😉

In a lot of ways, I’ve been successful with the resolutions I set for myself last year. I’ve found a bit more balance with diet, exercise and life.  I’ve discovered that I can do things I’ve never dreamed I could, and that success isn’t always dependent on what happens at the end.  I’ve been less hateful of myself – to the point where whole days or even weeks will go by without me hating some body part.

I’ve yet to discover my career path.  I know that my current career is more of a pit-stop and I really need to face my fears.  I’ve yet to shrug off the anxiety that the weight will all come back (and then some).  I also need to focus more on the now and less on the emotions driving me through my days.  So much is lost as I allow myself to be swept along by my feelings.

So, here’s to 2013.  May you be bright.  May you be happy.  And may you be fulfilling.

myyear(image from Pinterest)

(quote in post title from here)

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Living with no regrets.

By Saturday, we’ll be in Europe.  Days are filled with chores, preparations and general day-to-day activities.  Soon, we’ll be indulging in wonderful food and sweets.

 I’m not as nervous about my food and health choices as I thought I’d be – I was more out of sorts on Sunday for Easter dinner than about next week’s potential smorgasbord of choices.

 Vacations are a time for decadence and relaxation. That’s how I’ve always viewed trips.  When I was little, I voiced dismay at packed lunches.  I now appreciate how my parents were trying to make the trip more affordable, but I still take the attitude that vacations should indulge all of your senses.  They aren’t a time to feel stressed about food and exercise.  I don’t plan to go crazy, but I also promise myself a good time.  If I see a croissant that I want in Paris, by golly I’ll buy it and eat it.  I don’t want to leave with regrets about choices that can be righted after I get home.

 In a lot of ways, there’s some security in knowing that I’m strong enough not to let the vacation rule my life after the two week period.  Before, I might have been tempted to let the health focus slip completely.  Now, I plan to work in some exercise (walking, maybe even some running) and a dash of restraint (I don’t plan to stuff myself silly).

 We’re even carrying our exercise pants and running shoes!  I might be munching on a pain au chocolat, but at least we’ll be walking it off at the same time.

 The biggest “sacrifice” is actually not health related but bird related.


The little prince

We dropped off Eddy at my parents’ house this Sunday and it’s left a big gap in our home.

 No whistles as you brush your teeth.  No “peekabos” as you wash the dishes.  No dust bombs (vigorous flapping) as you sort through the fridge.

 No cute, fluffy bird when you get home.

 Is it bad that in some ways, I can’t wait until vacation is over?

 Here are a few promises I will make to myself:

  •  I promise to have fun and not to worry.
  • I promise to consider my health.
  • I promise to walk whenever and wherever possible (within reason).
  • I promise to get back on track right when I get home.
  • I promise to make every single calorie count.  I won’t eat “empty” calories just for the sake of it.

Source: via iscribbler on Pinterest


Au revoir, my friends!  When I return, I’ll be bringing you pics of the trip (most of which will be of food!).

Oh, yes.  GO PENS!!!

Source: via Consuela on Pinterest