DownToTheBone_color350The older I get, the more I hate to throw food away.

When I was a kid, I had no qualms about chucking an entire hunk of cheese if the end bit was brittle and dried out. I was skittish about eating a slice of bread that had been in the same bag as something moldy, and I had no interest in cutting the bruises off fruits and vegetables. These days, I’ve pulled a complete 180—nothing is trashward-bound unless it’s completely inedible. Just this morning, I spent 10 minutes washing, slicing, and salvaging semi-squishy peaches I found at the bottom of the crisper.

Before we started dating, one of the defining moments of my developing crush on my now-boyfriend Tony was the evening he brought Portuguese kale and sausage soup to a study group at my house (yup—study group—totally wild) because he had to get rid of some kale that “was really starting to go.”

Even better, when I told my family about the cute boy with the expiring kale—they completely understood the attraction. My mom, the self-professed Patron Saint of Lost Food, was obviously ecstatic. But even Maggy, who (like me) is still learning not to turn up her nose at over-the-hill food, thought it was meant to be.

Last week, at our annual Anderson Family Reunion, Tony pulled another awesome food-salvaging move that reminded me of that first, fateful kettle of soup. Maggy, Andy, Tony and I were on the roster to clean up after a big brunch. And after most of the washing, rinsing, and cleaning had been done, there was only one dish left: a roasting pan with two plump, juicy ham bones sitting in it, picked mostly clean of their meat. We were all set to throw them away, when Tony stopped us, grabbed a big Ziploc, threw them both in, and labeled it so no one would unwittingly toss them. I didn’t really think we’d remember to bring them with us, but somehow those two bones found their way into the cooler and into the car, and all the way back to my freezer in Connecticut.

Last night, when we had Mom and Dad over for dinner at the last minute, I could have kissed Tony for saving those bones! In fact, I think I did…twice. We sautéed up some aromatics, threw a ham bone into the pot with water, black beans, and spices. And in no time, we had the most amazing black bean soup I have ever had. Ever. Ask Mom, she’ll tell you.