By Frank E. Vaerewijck, The Firehouse Foodie
It is often said that the future is in our youth, and this statement can’t be any further from the truth in the fire service. Little kids love firefighters, and most want to be one from a young age. As we grow older, other things tend to get in the way like sports, academics, friends, relationships, and the such.
Scouting has become a cornerstone of growing up in America, and we all know someone who is involved with either Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, and the cookies the Girl Scouts use as an annual fundraiser have become an International sensation. From these organizations have sprouted other interest-based programs like Sea Scouts, a specialized program organized to address a youth member’s boating skills and promote knowledge of our maritime heritage, and Fire Explorer, a hands-on career-based program of Learning for Life. The program is open to young men and women ages 14 (and completed the 8th grade) to 20 with an interest in learning more about a career in the field of fire and emergency services.
I was recently asked to join a local Fire Explorers Post as an advisor, and after some research and thought, I realized what a great opportunity this is for young people and how incredible important programs like these are to the future of the fire service. Programs like these help in developing the minds of young people to have the desire to serve their communities with pride and the skills needed to do so. Advisors assist youth in developing leadership skills, respect for firefighters and the fire service, new personal skills, emergency protocols, volunteer opportunities, team building skills and learning proper equipment usage and care. The future of the fire service is these young people, and programs like these secure that future, and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”
Firehouse-Friendly No-Bake Thin Mints
** Makes 15 cookies
15 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
8 oz. Baker’s Semi Sweet Baking Chocolate (8 squares)
¼ to 1/2 tsp peppermint extract or oil (Do not use flavoring; it may contain water that will cause problems with your chocolate)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
- Place chopped chocolate into a small microwave-safe glass measuring cup. Measuring cups are a good shape for dipping the cookies later. (Do not use water or moisture to assist in melting the chocolate for best results).
- Microwave on high for 60 seconds, stir and microwave again 15 second, and stir and microwave again 15 seconds until most of the chocolate is melted. Remaining lumps will melt as you stir. Don’t overheat the chocolate.
- Stir in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract to taste.
- Using a fork, dip the cookies very gently in the chocolate to coat on both sides. Let the excess chocolate drip off before setting the cookies on the parchment or waxed paper baking sheet. (Be careful, these wafers can be brittle and may break while dipping; if so, lay the wafer on the fork and dip or drizzle the chocolate over the wafer without dipping it.)
- Let set at room temperature, and then store in the refrigerator. ENJOY!
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.