By Frank E. Vaerewijck, The Firehouse Foodie
Living at a fire station 10 days a month is a unique experience, but doing so with another family that you are not maternally related to is a whole other story.
While we are all different and share varying opinions, knowledge base, and skill sets, due to our similar training, we collectively bring it together to work as one.
Much like cooking, we use a recipe for success to achieve the desired result. Also, like cooking, a recipe is nothing more than a guideline to get you there. There is nothing saying you can’t alter the recipe to satisfy your palate. Just as there is no universally defined standard of training, or incident completion that must be stringently adhered to, thinking outside the box is encouraged. We all learn differently, and I, for one, am a more hands-on active learner, where as a guy on my shift can recite the book he just read as if he wrote it. That same guy has a hard time putting two and two together if he is just shown how to do something vs. giving him time to read and study the manual or training material prior to the practical application portion of the training. We both get there, just different ways.
I am the main cook on my shift, go figure, but I’m not the only cook, and we eat good. The thing is, none of us cook the same. Our time management skills in the kitchen are different, the way we prep is different, and the way we present and serve is often uniquely different too. The best thing about all of this is, in our own way, we get to the end result, and that’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!
When is a Brownie NOT a Brownie, but still thinks it’s a Brownie and IS INCREDIBLY DELICIOUS? When it’s a Banana Bread Brownie, and these things are unbelievable! Think Outside the Box. Enjoy.
1 c. sour cream
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 3/4 (3 or 4) ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
Brown Butter Frosting:
1/2 c. butter
4 c. powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 Tbs. milk
- Heat oven to 375°F. Grease and flour a 15- x 10-inch jelly roll pan.
- For the brownies, in a large bowl, beat together sugar, sour cream, butter, and eggs until creamy.
- Blend in bananas and vanilla extract.
- Add flour, baking soda, and salt and blend for 1 minute. Stir in walnuts.
- Spread batter evenly into pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, for frosting, heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until boiling. Let the butter turn a delicate brown and remove from heat immediately.
- Add powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and milk. Whisk together until smooth (it should be thicker than a glaze but thinner than frosting).
- Using a spatula, spread the brown butter frosting over the warm bars (the frosting will be easier to spread while the brownies are still warm).
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.