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Not a Bad Day

By Frank E. Vaerewyck, The Firehouse Foodie

The side door of the house slammed shut, and the pounding footsteps of desperation echo through the house. As she entered the kitchen, she noticed her husband, a hard-looking rugged man, sitting at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

“Everything. It has been one of those days. It just seems like if it could have gone wrong, it did go wrong.”

"Care to explain?" he asked with a concerned tone.

"Well," she said, "it started out with the dog. I let him out this morning and he wouldn't come back, decided he wanted to do his own thing. So I just left him out there for a little while, then the kids didn't want to get out of bed, nobody wanted to come downstairs for their breakfast. When the dog finally did come back inside, he was all muddy and smelled really bad. So then on my way to work, all the damn potholes the city refuses to fix almost gave me a flat tire. And then, of course," she paused, thinking to herself, “I wonder how his shift was?”

Then, without hesitation, she looked him square in the face and said, "So how was your shift?" knowing deep down inside he would never answer her truthfully.

"Well, you know, same old, same old; nothing too eventful." You see, as a veteran firefighter, he knew that if he told her the truth she would just worry day in and day out when he was on duty. What she doesn't know, what she probably will never know, is that around 3:30 this morning, while she was snug in her bed and the children were in candy land, dreaming their sweet dreams, he fell through the ceiling while fighting a fire in an attic. After a short visit to the hospital, where they wrapped his bruised ribs and gave him some Tylenol for his pain, he went back to the fire station and slept off the rest of the shift uneventfully.

A bad day to you means one thing; a bad day in the fire service usually means that someone doesn't get to come home. We hate bad days. Even if the shift wasn't all that great, you always get the same answer, "It was so-so; you know, same stuff, different day."

After a bad day in the real world or a not-so-good shift, a great meal with family or the friends you work with is a great way to settle things down. This month’s recipe is one of those meals. Hawaiian Pork Chops are a sweet and tangy way to end a not-so-perfect day, and “That's Bringing the Firehouse Home!”


Hawaiian Pork Chops


10 thick pork chops

12 oz ketchup (½ a bottle)

½ cup water

½ cup sugar

½ cup apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

1 can crushed pineapple



  1. Brown chops in an extra virgin olive oil-lined skillet until brown on both sides.
  2. In separate pan, mix all ingredients except pineapple and bring to a boil.
  3. Place chops in a 9 x 13 casserole dish, and pour boiled mix over chops.
  4. Top dish with pineapple, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 275ºF for 2½ to 3 hours.
  5. Uncover and let rest 5 minutes; serve with your favorite side dishes and a salad. 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.


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