By Frank E. Vaerewijck, the Firehouse Foodie
Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the Firehouse
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The bunker pants sat by the beds with care,
In hopes that no calls will let us sleep fair;
The Captain was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of promotion danced in his head
As the Medics back in, and I settled into the recliner,-
I was flipping through the channels, what could be finer?
When out on the front pad there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the chair to see what’s the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shades, and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects bestowed;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a decked out Chiefs sleigh, and not one reindeer,
With his jolly driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be Chief Nick.
More rapid than eagles his course was the same,
when he whistled, and shouted, and call’d them by name:
“Now! Truckies, Now! Engine, Now! Rescue and Support,
“On! Chauffer, On! Boss, On! Can Man and Sport;
“To the top of the porch! To the top of the walls!
“Now throw them ladders! Toss away! Toss away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When the flames met an obstacle, and lick the sky;
My imagination grew and flew,
With holes to cut—for ventilation too:
And then in my mind, I could feel as it shook
The bashing and crashing of each little hook.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Through the door Chief Nicholas came with a bound:
He was dress’d all in class A’s, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were not tarnish’d with ash or soot;
A bundle of years he carried on his back,
He look’d like a young lad, who had just opened some Jack:
His eyes—how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
No beard of his chin, but his stash was like snow;
The stump of a toothpick he held tight in his teeth,
If he had smoked it would encircle his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh’d, like a bowl full of jelly:
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old guy.
With a twist of his head, in a blink of an eye
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread,
I was approved this night for my vacation instead.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And fill’d all the papers; then turn’d with a jerk,
And laying his pen on the desk with glee
And giving a nod, back through the door he flee.
He sprung to his sleigh, to his driver gave a whistle,
And away they flew, like the down of a thistle:
But I heard him exclaim, as he lit up his lights—
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a SAFE night.”
As we celebrate the holidays with family and friends, please keep in your hearts a special prayer for the women and men who are watching over us, serving and protecting, defending our freedoms. Remember not only those working in the stations, precincts, and cars but the dispatchers, the nurses, the doctors, and all. Remember the Soldier, the Airman, the Marine, the Coastie, the Sailor, the Fallen, the loved ones gone but surely not forgotten. From all of here at the Firehouse Foodie, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
December is a joyful time of year, filled with holiday cheer and extra pounds galore. I came across a healthy, delicious Christmas Cookie that is not only easy to make but will definitely get you off the naughty list if you find yourself in such a predicament. Santa loves these White Chocolate Ginger Berry Christmas Cookies, and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home”!
Chocolate Ginger Berry Christmas Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies
- ½ cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats (not the instant kind)
- 2 ounces white chocolate, chopped
- ⅓ cup dried blueberries, cranberries, or cherries (I get the ones in the bag)
- ¼ cup crystallized ginger, chopped
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup wheat germ
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 375°F; place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven.
- Whisk flour, wheat germ, baking soda, salt, and ground ginger in a small bowl.
- Whisk egg, brown sugar, oil, and vanilla in a large bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients; stir to combine.
- Add oats, chocolate, blueberries, and crystallized ginger; stir just to combine.
- Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto two ungreased baking sheets, 1½ inches apart.
- Bake the cookies until puffed and barely golden around the edges, switching the pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Cool on the pans for two minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- You can find dried cranberries, blueberries, and cherries, along with crystallized ginger, in the baking, dried fruit, or produce sections of many supermarkets and natural-foods stores.
- Storage smarts: To extend the life of your baked goods, store them in an airtight container in a single layer or between layers of parchment paper to prevent sticking. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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.