By Frank E. Vaerewijck, “The Firehouse Foodie”
October is Fire Prevention Month. That is probably not news to anyone, but how is our message getting to the masses? Every October, we load up the trucks with plastic fire hats, coloring books, and cool giveaways and head out to schools all over this great land. We invest the time to expound our message to young minds that absorb it like a sponge. Then, after the attention span diminishes, we allow them to do what we love doing best, go play on the truck!
Each visit is different and geared to the age group the information is intended for. We always cover the classics and old favorites, Stop Drop & Roll, call 911, and know your address, but with the older kids, we will talk about the science of fire and how important it is to stay in school. Engaging them to answer questions outside of the normal ones helps the information sink in. The giveaways tend to be items like activity books that we encourage them to take home and do with their family members.
Are we reaching who we really need to reach though? What do we forget about after we leave the schoolhouse, or how much has the information changed? My department does community outreach events like a farmers’ market at least once a month, weather permitting. It was astonishing to learn just how many adults weren’t sure how often you needed to replace the batteries in your smoke detector or how often the smoke detector itself needed to be replaced.
Not many adults knew that there were 10-year batteries out there, or that a safe meeting place in the front of the home was highly recommended, even though most of them have a meeting place and accountability requirements that they practice at work. Are we reaching who we really need to reach in our efforts, or do we need to do more to reacquaint the masses with our message? Thanks to the advent of Facebook and other social media platforms, the information is more readily available if the end user it’s meant for sees it. Keep delivering the message to the kiddoes as usual; just try and find creative ways to expand that message to the masses. Now “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”
Bacon Bourbon Beef Tips
1.5 lbs Beef Tip
1 cup Bourbon
¾ cup Brown Sugar
½ cup Molasses
½ cup Apple Cider Vinegar
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Ground Mustard
1 tsp Liquid Smoke
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Lemon Juice
¾ cup Diced Cooked Bacon (about 8 slices of thick-cut bacon)
¼ cup Sweet Onion (diced)
- Combine all ingredients except the meat in a medium sauce pan and stir until thoroughly mixed.
- Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
- Cook meat in a skillet until meat is at desired tenderness.*
- Add ½ of sauce batch to meat, once meat is close to being done and allow sauce to cook with the meat.
- After plating, drizzle desired amount of remaining sauce over meat, complementing the dish.
- Serve meat by itself or over mashed potatoes or rice.
No matter how you serve it, enjoy!
* The USDA recommends steaks and roasts be cooked to 145°F (medium) and then rested for at least 3 minutes. Be sure to check with a thermometer, as color alone is not a foolproof indicator.
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 Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department (yes, where the bacon comes from, THAT Smithfield). 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.