On life without the had-boughtens

P1010804Pick me!

Driving back from Minnesota last week, my husband and I were discussing some of our old friends and acquaintances.  I had a neighbor, for instance, who spoke an odd form of the American English language, and we were wondering if her verbal tics were particular to the neighbor or particular to Minneapolis.   (We agreed it might be both.)  One thing she would always say was “borrow me” when she meant “lend me.”  Another thing, and this is the one that sticks with me, is she’d say “had boughten” instead of “bought.”

Had Boughten!

I say this all the time, in its negative:  “This salad is so much better than any I had boughten.”  “My gah, this roast chicken is fantastic, better than anything I had boughten in a restaurant.”  “Okay I am going to die quite happy, this cider vinegar dressing I made is out of this world, much better than any bottle I had boughten.”  I say all these things to myself, of course, in my head:  saying such things aloud could bring some strange looks.  (Okay, I could have said them out loud to my old neighbor.)

But here’s my point:  there’s no contest between the home-grown and the had-boughten.

Why don’t people see this, know this?  Why do people settle for convenience?  Is a supermarket salad really that much more convenient than a home-grown one?  Unless it’s salad-in-a-bag (horrors), you still need to wash and separate and mix and dress it.  The time it takes me to come home, grab the salad spinner, trade work shoes for garden shoes, harvest the salad, rinse it, bowl it and dress it is STILL much shorter than me swinging by the grocery store and had-boughening the salad fixings.  I can even poach an egg for the top and still come out ahead on the clock.

And the chicken.  Granted, not everyone either wants to or can raise chickens for eggs or for meat.  But home-grown eggs are a separate kingdom altogether, might as well be from different species of animal…same with the meat of those home-grown chickens.  As is doing little things like making your own salad dressing:  clipping your own herbs, mincing your own shallot, shaking it all in your own little jar with your had-boughten olive oil and salt.

Okay, okay; so there are very few things that I get around to had-boughtening.  That olive oil, that salt, in bulk.  Boxes of pasta (in a pinch).  Butter, sugar.  Selected seafood, and not from the grocery store.  Wine.  Everything else, though, really, everything, is grown here or are things that I had boughten through local farmers:  wheat, oats, corn, cow, pig, all in bulk, all purchased and stored for the year.

I get a lot of questions, mainly because people assume I don’t work and doing all this MUST take the hours of a day job just to keep on top of it all.  “How is it that you have time to can things?  I certainly don’t have the time to garden, much less can,” was a statement (how can this be a question) from a mother at our daughter’s school.  How am I to answer that?  That I spend wonderful time daily with my daughter in the garden, in the kitchen?  That my life with her is not spent in a minivan, getting drive-through food between soccer and ballet?  That eating breakfast and dinner, seated at the table with cloth napkins and candles with my family every flipping day is the best kind of quality of life that I can imagine?  That it is a choice to live this way, to eat this way, to be this way?

To just say no to the had boughtens?  Because that is what this is: saying nonono, while greedily saying yesyesyes to the best food money can’t buy.  And I’m having the best time making it all happen: much better than anything I could have had boughten.

27 responses to “On life without the had-boughtens

  1. I wonder if people realize how patronizing they are being or at least sounding when they say things like — I wish i had time to do those nice but essentially unnecessary things that you take pleasure in, like putting thought and labor into the food you eat.

    Ninety percent, nay one hundred percent, of our time used to be spent in making sure we had enough to eat to survive, and not that long ago. In my lifetime it has gone to a resentful few minutes.

    But industrial farming, environmental catastrophe, our increasing ill-health, and even the economic … downturn… are changing all that back.

    Thanks for another excellent post.

  2. Very well said, thank you.

  3. This is an inspirational post, and I shared it with my friends in my RSS reader. Over the last year I’ve increased my consumption of home-cooked meals. Most of these aren’t from food grown myself (the gardening-in-full starts in the spring for me), they’re store bought ingredients then prepared at home. And even that is worlds different in taste and satisfaction from pre-prepared or restaurant-prepared food. The few times I’ve eaten something that’s been grown at home, it’s another step up in amazing taste. I know it will get better and better when the gardening, canning, and adding home-grown meat gets into full swing.

  4. I love this post. I was so surprised when we first got chickens at how much better the eggs were compared to the expensive “organic” ones we had previously boughten. I didn’t know that organic doesn’t really mean all that much from a nutritional standpoint at that time…I do now.

    And salads in any form from the grocer are down right frightening anymore…yikes. I know that, lord willing, I’ll never go back to store boughten wares if I can possibly grow our raise them myself.

    My parents are both from Minneapolis Minnesota and my dad talks just like your neighbor…it must be a Minnesota thing. Geeze, perhaps I talk that way as well, I’m not really sure.

  5. I get variations of this from other people, and I’m not as far along as you are. It’s hard for everyone to realize that we all have the same hours, and people make choices.

    A mother at my child’s school sniffed, “I wish I had time to make bread,” when I said my child complained about “everything homemade,” and I thought, but didn’t say, “You do! You’re just doing something else.”

    Lessons learned, and to learn. I know I need to take care when I judge others. “Had boughten” is a great phrase, though.

  6. I agree, we all make time for what we want to make time for, be it a lot of time or a snippet of time.

  7. Well said. I often find myself biting my lip when people ask how I have time to garden, can, cook and source the local ingredients we don’t produce ourselves. They think it’s all I do aside from work. Well, no. I also ride my horse and bike, go out of town here and there, hang out with friends and enjoy my life. I’m just choosing to spend the time “you” might spend at happy hour, in front of the TV or driving your kids around doing this instead. Argh!

    Of course when they show up for dinner here and realized that only 6 main ingredients just made that entire fantastic dinner then they want to know if I sell my extra produce…

    El, this is why I always wish you would join the Dark Days Challenge so that other people could get a glimpse into what you can do in the winter even if you don’t live somewhere temperate.

  8. I’ve gotten to the point where going out to restaurants is an expensive disappointment nearly every time because I’ve been putting care and effort in to the quality and sustainability of what I put on my table.

    I think the phrase, “This is better than any thing I had boughten” will be used quite frequently around our dinner table!

    I appreciate that there are others out there with the same food ideologies as me. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Things I have discovered are way better home grown than boughten:
    beef, pork, eggs, milk, cheese.
    tomatoes,potatoes,broccoli,cabbage,carrots… but honestly, some things are not. My salad greens are always bitter. I like lettuce from the store.
    Also, I realize we are just talking about food here, but… I can’t sew. Or make shoes. My clothes will always be better boughten (tho boughten from a secondhand store).

  10. The only times I buy lettuce are in the heat of the summer for about a month when it bolts and gets bitter (although I’m going to try transplanting in a super shady area next summer) and in the winter when it gets too cold to keep growing, although I do cloche it. Oh, to have a hoop house!

    And, certainly, one should still wash one’s salad-in-a-bag, so is this convenience food really convenient?

  11. Dearest El…old gal sending you my priceless homegrown love! Boughten, indeed!

  12. That was really an eloquent statement, El. We are slowly moving in the “had boughten” direction ourselves. It’s an adventure – both in the growing and procuring of food and in learning what to do with new, real foods. By the way, I picked up an interesting recipe for zucchini quesadillas from Eddie Gehan Kohan over at the Obama Foodorama web site. Take a look at it – looks good!

  13. The only thing I’m really home growing right now is eggs, and they are worlds away from what we used to buy! I used to put so much stuff in my eggs to make them taste good, but now a fresh lightly cooked egg over rice with a pinch of salt is heaven.

    I’m surprised fewer people don’t realize that keeping chickens for eggs is even easier than gardening. They pretty much keep themselves.

  14. yes, Le Monde est fou. (People are crazy.)

    I wonder also why and sadden when I realize that many people have never taste home-grown in its glory.

  15. We just had a “special” dinner out last night at a new restaurant in town that is sourcing some local ingredients. It was a good meal, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to say great. I think the biggest problem is that we source/grow such wonderful ingredients ourselves that everything else pales in comparison – even when cooked by a skilled professional chef.

    Give me fresh greens and a poached egg any day.

  16. I spent one cycle of my life in Had Boughten land, and having left it, I am far happier with most of my existence. My eggs are like a prize that I have been given in the fridge, and nothing compares to the satisfaction of growing, harvesting, preparing, and eating food that I have grown. The taste is far superior, and these days I find myself feeling sorry for those Had Boughtens who don’t know the kind of life I am blessed to live.

    My family has been hit hard by this economy, and there are some things that give rise to abundant frustration, but I take comfort in my home, my chickens, my food, and my family.

  17. One of the little farm stands I stopped at last week had eggs from their chickens for sale.So I bought a dozen on the way to my friends cottage and we had them next morning.What a taste difference than other eggs.

  18. The southern side of my family uses “storebought” the same way your friend uses “had boughten.” There can be no greater shame in my family than a “storebought” birthday cake! No matter what else comes from the supermarket, all birthday cakes must be made from scratch. Our oven went out on my youngest daughter’s fourth birthday, twenty three yrs ago (!), and I still feel a flush of shame over that “storebought” cake!

  19. I’ve been enjoying your blog (found it thanks tohttp://theurbanhomesteader.blogspot.com/ ), and this post REALLY hit the spot. My husband and I both have full time jobs, but still make and eat dinner as a family (often graced by the company of friends) together, using a lot of local foods, every night. Oh cloth napkins and candle light: what a difference the little things make. My napkins not disposable, nor is my life with my family. My co-workers are often surprised to find we made dinner, from the garden, again. It’s empowering to know we’re not alone…

    Thank you.

  20. I love the term not-boughten and think I will add it to my outloud vocabulary.
    We got baby chicks born June 8 and are just now getting eggs. It’s so fun to share not-boughten eggs with family and friends. I love it.
    Great post.

  21. Sharon, gosh, we lost something along the way when we accepted the time-saver that’s industrially produced food, didn’t we? Pleasure in what we eat. Though I suppose a meal of some processed microwaved such-and-such isn’t bound to bring anyone a ton of pleasure. I could be wrong about that (but kind of doubt it too). Here’s my question: has eating gone the way of cooking, as something to be done as you say for “a resentful few minutes”?

    Leon, thank YOU.

    Issa, thanks for sharing the post. It sounds like you’ve been on your own culinary journey too: and congrats on buying your house! Gardening is definitely a life-changer. But look what you have done: even biting it off little bits at a time, getting more confident in your cooking…it will only get better from here! And: here’s a secret: everyone will think you’re a fabulous cook when you know it’s just that you’ve got great home-grown food to work with…

    Mike, you can claim you’re a Minnesotan if, when you’re lifting something heavy or are falling into a comfy chair you say “Uff da.” Yeah, I won’t even touch on how nutritionally better my salad, etc., is from the had-boughten. Definite upside though! But: don’t you just love your chickens?

    Stef, I think the phrase should be “to judge is human.” It was a TOUGH nut to crack for Muffin Day (Wednesday’s snack) to become a not-had-boughten undertaking: one child per classroom is responsible for muffins the next day and we were getting Krispy Kreme donuts (no shit) brought in instead. So now the kids go home with a pre-made bag of ingredients we assemble; they add eggs and water. They can add any kind of fruit to it, the kids enjoy making it…it’s our one real outreach to each household. Are we doing any good? Well, we think the kids are the best ambassadors…and when they talk that evening about making soup or pressing tortillas to their parents, maybe something will sink in. But: you’re well on your way, especially with that winter garden!

    Liz, indeed. I guess the hurdle for those of us into it is to tell folks that canning, growing a garden, keeping chickens, etc. is not a resentful time-suck but is really entirely enjoyable!

    Laura, I would just say you have a very enjoyable life of your own making. I know BOTH of you have entirely loved moving to the country: especially when the man of the house gets to drive big tractors 😉 But yeah, working with the best food possible: makes us all absolute Thomas Kellers or something, isn’t it funny? At first I just thought it was my superlative skill! I am contemplating your Dark Days request: I always worry about themes hijacking the blog content, but you’re right, I would have something to say considering I live where it snows a lot. I’ve missed a couple of weeks, though, haven’t I?

    Sarah, now you know you’re just spoiled 🙂 I’m quite glad to lend the term to you though! It just makes more sense if it’s got a label. And yes, the blogosphere is a wonderful place for finding people who do what you do: when I started (about 5 years ago, with my husband, on a now-defunct blog) there were nearly no homestead/homecooking/gardening blogs per se (or whatever it is this blog is) and then I found one, then two…and now, voila! LOTS of great sites, lots of good information, and yes, the satisfaction that you’re not alone!

    Ah Aimee; what can I do to help? Sounds like you need to change up your lettuce varieties to get some that don’t bolt so easily. They get bitter only when they’re about to go to seed: it’s the lettuce family’s way of getting creatures not to eat them so they can produce the next generation…sounds like it’s working at your house, hwah! Actually I adore your goat-y posts, and am so jealous…we’ll have milkers one day or I will eat my hat.

    Alison, great point about washing the bagged salad. Yipes. And yeah, we branch out during the months you mention too: in the heat of summer we eat a lot of weeds (hey, if they’re stupid enough to grow in my garden and are edible then it’s just fair game, right?)…mainly purslane and lamb’s quarters, and in the winter we eat a lot of sprouts and a lot of apple, carrot, or cabbage-based salads. Keeps things interesting, but, yeah, we’re always glad when salad lettuces come back on the menu. See my post about the way I keep the sun off my lettuces, it gives me another 2-3 weeks.

    Randi! Smoochie!

    Dennis, that recipe sounds fabulous! I think we all look for new ways to eat up zucchini, hah. But you are exactly right: it’s an adventure, a culinary adventure. How fun for you, and I take it you’re enjoying it, its highs and lows.

    Lyssa, you’re right! And what holds true for sexing-up store-bought eggs holds true for the rest of the garden fare: not much is needed. That’s time-saving, certainly. But I agree. Now that we’ve been down the path of ducks, geese, turkeys, guineas and chickens, the chooks win hand’s down as far as ratio of inputs to outputs. And I *love* them all. But…I still like gardening 🙂

    Sylvie, I like the literal translation better: the WORLD is crazy! I suppose we just need to show people, one meal at a time, how great food can be. It can be entirely intimidating for people to go to the farmer’s market and come home with armloads of greenery then get home and have no clue what to do with it all. Who knows how many bags of the stuff never get fully eaten, all because people have lost the ability to COOK too. We’ve got a lot of work to do!!

    Andrea, exactamundo. It’s tough going on vacation, too, goodness knows. I suppose this is the tradeoff! But indeed, there’s nothing better than salad with an egg for simplicity’s sake.

    Sinclair, I feel you. The economy has totally sucked for this household too and yet we eat better than anyone else I know, for far less money…there’s immense satisfaction to be found in that, the financial world be damned. But I am with you: it’s pity I feel for everyone else trolling the supermarket, filling their (gigantic!) carts with food with unpronounceable ingredients and questionable provenance: you pay MONEY for that, I think, and then you eat it?

    John, sounds like you had a great trip! Any of that cheddar make it back with you? But yeah, the simple things.

    Kelly, hi! Hwah that you’re still “ashamed” about your daughter’s cake! Times have certainly changed in those 23 years as I have YET to be to a kid’s birthday party (except my own child’s of course) where the cake was homemade, even storebought homemade…it’s one of the reasons I politely decline these invites. Love means eating crappy cake with blue Crisco frosting? Yipes, not in my world.

    Bridgit: nail on the head time: your life is certainly not disposable. I am not entirely sure if what I am doing is because I think we only go around once, but…the good china and crystal and silver comes out NOT just for holidays. And cloth napkins and candles make sense to me: I worked really flipping hard to make that meal. I hope one day there are a lot more of us out there, educating our co-workers and world, that life’s better if the food you eat is prepared with love.

    Kimberly! Congrats on those eggs! Wasn’t it a surprise when you first found them? Any kooky ones in there, like double yolks and the like? We’re getting such strange batches of them now and it just makes me laugh, old girls and new girls. Life’s better with the daily home-grown egg!

  22. Hey El, the challenge starts next Sunday the 15th. So no, you have missed anything! Hope you join us. And yes, we’re both just loving life up here!

  23. I had to laugh when the church bulletin today said what to bring for donation to the Thanksgiving food bank.

    There were many other items, but this was the one…

    Pies: boughten

  24. Me again. You’ll have to go to my website
    to see the weirdest drop so far in the egg category.

    We’ve gotten ones that appear to be folded in on themselves, tiny ones, huge ones, rubbery ones, and many with a double yolk, but I’ve never seen the likes of the one in the picture we got a week or so ago.
    Everyday is Christmas around here. My little gramerlings love to hunt them, then cook them for themselves and eat it right up.
    I just got some adorable brightly colored small cups and saucers that will be there egg cups when they visit.

  25. El,No extra extra sharp cheddar made it back.Your top of the page pic though of the grapes brought to mind another thing sold in the Naples area of the Finger Lakes at Farm Stands and that is pure Grape Juice.It looks thicker and has a little bite at the end but it is an acquired taste much like unfiltered Cider which in NY state now has to be pasturised(sp).

  26. Great stuff, El. This is why we love the internet: It brings great thoughts, arfully told, into the light where we can all see them. I wonder sometimes how much we garden/food bloggers are actually influencing others to start growing their own. I hope we are.

  27. Pingback: tomcook.net » Blog Archive » The leaves color, fall and are raked. Apples are on the table.

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