Recipe for a Recipe

By Frank E. Vaerewijck, “The Firehouse Foodie”

After completing my latest accomplishment of becoming a department of fire program instructor level 2, I realized there is so much more that goes into everything than what you see. For instance, when being the architect of a class, and starting from just a simple idea, not only is the research of the subject important, but the accumulation of information to deliver said subject is equally important. It should also be noted that once the subject is researched, developed, and formulated, then it must be evaluated. Much like building a recipe in the kitchen, we have a certain taste for something that constitutes an idea, then we must do the research to figure out what foods will satisfy that taste. This becomes the formulation phase, and now we must combine those foods in a manner that builds the exact taste we want.

The taste test to see if it does indeed taste like we wanted is the evaluation phase. If it does not taste good, it ultimately goes in the garbage, much like a bad lesson plan. If it looks good, smells good, and satisfies the appetite, then it goes to the table and everyone gets to enjoy it. If you’re lucky, a few people will want to duplicate it, and that duplication, depending on how good their artistry is, may expand tenfold. Much like your class, if it is well-designed, well-executed, and well-evaluated, not only are people going to feed their minds but they may want to duplicate it and feed other minds. So, therefore, a recipe for a recipe would be beneficial to all, and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”

Recipe for a Recipe


The Ingredient List:

  • All ingredients should be listed in order of use. Describe in step-by-step instructions.
  • List the most important ingredients first. Make the list consistent with order of use, if possible.
  • Abbreviate tablespoons, ounces, etc. with the standard abbreviations; don’t try and reinvent the wheel.
  • If the recipe has different components like in a pie, break up the ingredient list with headings such as “Crust” and “Filling.”
  • When several ingredients are used at the same time like in baking, often those dry ingredients are sifted or mixed together at once, so list them in descending order, according to volume. If there is an issue over preparation, list in order what someone making your creation will need to do. So, if you need the zest and juice of a lemon, list the zest first, then the juice, since that is the order you use in the preparation of the recipe.
  • Do not use two numerals together. Set off the second number in parenthesis, especially with sizes of packages. For example, “2 (8-ounce) packages of chocolate chips.”
  • If an ingredient begins with a letter instead of a number, like fresh Italian parsley, capitalize the first letter, like “Fresh Italian parsley.”
  • If the preparation of an ingredient is simple, place the technique in the ingredient list for ease of understanding, such as “2 eggs, whisked.”
  • If an ingredient is used more than once in a recipe, list the total amount in the ingredients list, and state “divided.” In the ingredients part of your recipe, indicate the amount used at each step, like “1 cup all-purpose flour, divided” then in the directions, or preparation method, state then how and how much needed “Sift 3/4 cup of the flour with the …” and then later in the recipe “Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of flour on top of ….”
  • Use common generic names of ingredients, unless they are paying you–then use the brand name. The exception to this step is if the common generic just doesn’t make it taste right, then it becomes an intricate part of the recipe (semi-sweet chocolate chips, not “Tollhouse chocolate chips”).


The Preparation Method:

  • Tell your reader what size bowls and cookware to use. “In a large mixing bowl” or “with a wooden spoon ….”
  • It’s not necessary to write complete sentences; make it as short and concise as possible.
  • Indicate heat levels, like “Simmer over low heat.”
  • Write exact or approximate cooking times, with descriptive hints for doneness. Remember, you have made this before, and you know what works, like “Sear for 3 minute on each side until browned,” or “Bake 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown.”
  • Just like the ingredient list, if there are different parts to the recipe, like with the “crust and filling of the pie” scenario, separate out each part in the directions or preparation method. Begin with the crust, note a header “For the Crust,” and then explain what goes into the preparation method; then note a header “For the Filling” and give the instructions.
  • Separate each step into different paragraphs. Use one paragraph for all the instructions for that step.
  • Don’t forget the serving instructions. Including how to plate, what temperature to serve, how to garnish. You must convey what you see when you make your creation so that your reader/culinary artist can duplicate it.
  • Sometimes it necessary to note instructions regarding storage. Like in a cookie recipe, “Cookies should be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for 3 to 4 days, if they last that long.”
  • Enjoy, and most of all, Have Fun!


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.

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