By Frank E. Vaerewyck, "The Firehouse Foodie"
I started getting Rolling Stone magazine in the mail, and it took me back to my youth. My mother subscribed to the magazine, and I remember being spellbound be the articles and people in it. My grandparents received The National Geographic, and I would spend hours lying on the floor looking at the maps inserted and the award-winning pictures that graced the pages of this amazing publication. Now when I'm at the doctor’s office and I see a stack of the magazines, I will thumb through them, remembering days gone by and the people who made them so special that years later I am able to recall these fond vivid memories.
Someone recently posted on Facebook a picture of Captain Kangaroo and the caption read “Like this if you know who this is; comment if he changed your life in some way.” I shared the post and my mother commented on my share that he (Captain Kangaroo) was the one who taught her to put vanilla extract in her french toast batter. This is something she passed down to me and something we both do still to this day. It’s funny how a kids’ show and a guy playing a character can change your life, even if it is only just a little.
Recently we laid to rest a retired member of our department, and though I have heard many stories, I never did get to see Firefighter Ricky Ratcliff in action. From what I understand listening to others and him, he was one hell of a firefighter who loved our department and was active in it until the day the cancer claimed him. It's great to sit around and listen to the old-timers talk and paint those vivid pictures in your mind. I have always wanted to be a firefighter for as long as I can remember. I just hope that one day when people look back and think about me they are able to paint such a picture.
This recipe is dedicated to Captain Kangaroo, Rolling Stone, National Geographic and, most of all, Manassas Volunteer Fire Company Firefighter Ricky Ratcliff. This is one great recipe, and “That's Bringing the Firehouse Home!” RIP Brother. We have it from here 5-5-5.
Vanilla French Toast
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon butter
8 slices bread
- Whisk eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
- Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Dip bread slices in egg mixture and brown each side in skillet. Serve with maple syrup and enjoy.
Frank Vaerewyck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with the Manassas (VA) Volunteer Fire Company. He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program.
- As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters, but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.