The Thing About Bones

This post made me think about something I hadn’t thought of in a long while.

When I was growing up, I was poor. No, wait. Let me amend that. I think we were poor. Maybe we weren’t “poor” but we were definitely monetarily challenged. There were certainly people with more money, and a few with a lot less. I knew this growing up because I didn’t have the toys that my friends had. We also didn’t go on vacations that required airplane travel. My mother made us wear second-hand clothes. Lucky me, since I was the oldest, I started the clothes out.

We had a big family: six kids within an eighteen year span. That’s eight people in a small three bedroom house.

My father was a career military man, and back then, they would give soldiers a ration (extra money) for each dependent. This did nothing to encourage the use of birth control. Even though my father was away most of the time, he and my mother managed to attain pregnancy during every leave and stateside tour.

To be in a large family was rather commonplace back then. But, as with soldiers today, they aren’t paid very much. My father grew up in the great north Tundra (even farther north than where I am now) and his mother (my grandma) was good at conjuring meals out of very little. She always had a garden, practically holding the soil at gunpoint to force it to produce tomatoes and green beans. Plus, she knew how to shoot a gun and could kill her own meat.

So, my father took away with him all these skills when he started his own family. Before my two baby sisters were born, the six of us would have one chicken for a meal. (My son could eat a whole chicken by himself.) Or we would share pork chops.

My mother would split up meat in this way: one person would get a slightly bigger piece, but no bone. The other person would get the slightly smaller piece and the bone.

I loved getting the bone. I could clean off a bone better than anyone I know. I went into withdrawals when I had braces. Even now, with my front teeth in relative disarray, I can still clean a bone. When I’m done with the bone, you might as well throw it away. There isn’t a single sinew of meat left, and there sure as heck aren’t any juices left. My leftover bones are calcium deposits and nothing else.

Bigger bones are also good. I never fail to make bean soup from a ham bone, or chicken or turkey soup from the carcass. Just because the meat is gone doesn’t mean it’s the end. The bones hold all the flavor. They have a purpose beyond the carving of the roast. They have a life beyond Thanksgiving dinner.

I think about that when I see things wasted. When I go to a restaurant and see people leaving a pile of food left, only to be thrown away, I want to shout, “Take the bone home, you bonehead!”

Thanks, Little Fluffy Cat.


11 Responses

  1. You’re welcome, Pan! 🙂

  2. 😛

  3. I always give my bones to the dogs.

  4. Bones make the best stock.

  5. Shawn, is there a security with the name BONES that one can invest in? Is it traded on the NYSE or the NASDAQ? Has it done well over the last decade?


    We were a bit monetarily challenged as children in my family. I can identify with the sentiments of the post and remember somewhat similar feelings and bone gnawing as a child.

  6. LOL It’s a pretty hot “stock” around here, until I freeze it anyway, and mine has improved a lot over the past decade. 😉

  7. 🙂 Thanks, Shawn, for the smile!

  8. This post made me hungry. But I can’t have anything because I’m going in for my second root canal today. That’s 2 root canals in less than 10 days! I want my mommy…or a nice, juicy bone.

  9. I still remember the looks, the first Thanksgiving with my husband’s family, when I insisted on carving all the meat off the turkey carcass and boiling up stock. They thought I was nuts!

    When I added various leftovers and seasonings and whatnot to make a first-class soup, my husband’s brother demanded to know why his wife (a good country girl, and better cook than I’ll ever be, she makes my german chocolate cake birthday cakes from scratch) had never done that before. Now it’s a tradition. 🙂

  10. Waste not, want not, LFC.

  11. […] chipped off as I was clenching my teeth. The very last time, I had been chewing on a bone (see this post) and another large bit of enamel came off with the pork […]

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