By Frank E. Vaerewijck, “The Firehouse Foodie”
The month of October is a busy time. Halloween is just around the corner, and this is the month that nationally we engage in fire prevention education. October is known for other things as well, but these two events can play on each other quite well. Countless kids every year dress up like firefighters and go door to door or to parties; adults tend to partake as well, but have you ever thought of the flip side? No I don’t mean that countless firefighters dress up as kids and go door to door.
Fire prevention week is a time that we, as firefighters, are able to educate young minds about the dangers of fire and the importance of fire safety. Small children take these lessons home and help inform family members by sharing what they learned. More importantly, it gives us a chance to take away a scary spin on an event that we hope no child ever has to go through. Halloween and scary ominous figures should be left for that night. Imagine, if you will, the smoke from a fire in your home is banking down, you can hear the crackles of the fire, the sirens, the muffled noises of neighbors, family, and firefighters. Children most often hide in what they feel is a safe spot. Then out of the darkness, a black figure appears, with lights shining off of it. A sound emanates from the figure, a sound very similar to Darth Vader in “Star Wars,” and we all know he was a bad guy. You, in your child mind, try to be very still and very quiet so that the monster will not find you, and then it happens: The monster’s big hand reaches under the bed and feels you.
This is the kind of thing we don’t want going through the head of a small child, so fire departments all over the country send firefighters to schools or open their doors to groups to teach what to do in case of a fire, what number to call, and what we look like in all that gear. The last thing we want is for anyone to be afraid of us. We are there to help, to get them out safely and hopefully to prevent fires from starting in the first place. I encourage you to stop by a fire station with your children or grandchildren and find out more about fire safety. Attend an open house at your local fire station, ask for a tour, and support public education projects in your community. Career and volunteer departments all over this country participate in these efforts, but they are only effective if the citizens take part. So, leave the scary monsters to Halloween, and as for Halloween, treats are always good, especially when they are sweet like Halloween Caramel Apples, and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home.”
Halloween Caramel Apples
• 6 medium apples
• 6 wooden sticks
• 1 package (14 ounces) caramel candies, unwrapped
• 1/4 cup Karo® Dark OR Light Corn Syrup
• Seasonal candy such as candy corn, candy coated chocolate pieces, candy coated peanut butter candies, etc.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper; set aside.
- Wash and dry apples; insert stick into stem end.
- Microwave caramels and corn syrup on HIGH (100%) in a small, deep microwave-safe bowl for 2 to 3 minutes or until caramels are melted, stirring once during cooking time. Cover bowl with napkin so as to not allow boiling caramel to escape the bowl.
- Dip apples in hot caramel mixture, turning to coat well. Allow caramel to drip from apples for a few seconds, then scrape excess caramel from bottoms of apples.
- Dip bottoms of apples into desired candies, turning to coat. Place dipped apples in prepared pan.
- Chill apples for 10 minutes or until caramel is set. Decorate and wrap apples individually if desired; store in refrigerator. Enjoy!
TIP: Use COLD apples when dipping so less caramel slides off.
Frank E. Vaerewijck 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.