By Frank E. Vaerewijck, “The Firehouse Foodie”
“911, What’s your emergency?!” “Yeah WE need the fire Ddpartment for [fill in the blank].
That is the reality of the job. Who do you call when you’re not sure who to call? You call the fire department! Cat stuck in a tree? Call the fire department! Car in a ditch? Call the fire department! Toothache at 3 a.m. in the morning? Call the fire department! House on fire? Definitely call the fire department!
Now, I’m not being salty; it’s just something I was told along time ago by a very wise-in-the-years officer. He said “kid, never forget that you will need to learn as much as you can about everything because, one day, you might need to know something about something.” At the time, I thought, “Maybe he missed his meds that day,” but as I grew in my career, I realized what the old man was talking about. You can take as many training and certification classes as you want, but sometimes, you can’t learn what you need to know for your current situation in any of those classes.
Why are we even called the “fire department” or “firefighters” when so little of what we do involves actual fire? It would make more sense to call us just the “everything and emergency medical services [EMS] department.” We are a very versatile profession made up of a wide array of people, steeped in our roots and traditions. My best answer is that, back when a majority of what we did was fire, that’s what we were called, and the name stuck. Although actual fire may only be a small part of what we do, fire prevention, along with other tasks for which we are responsible essentially is fighting fires that have yet to happen or never will because of our efforts. Nonetheless, “fire-put’er-outer,” “car-crash-get-you-outer,” “animal untangler,” “hazardous chemical container,” “EMS and everything the police department doesn’t want to deal with” won’t fit on the side of the trucks. We’ll just keep it at “fire” or “fire rescue” department. Include EMS, and everybody’s happy.
Besides, have you ever seen a cat skeleton in a tree? They will come down, eventually, and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”
There are not many meals out there where you can add just about anything in the fridge and it comes out amazing. Pizza is a great go-to meal that reflects the “everything” concept. Often called a supreme, I like to call it an Everything Pizza. The best part, it’s ready in less than 15 minutes!
- 1 13.8 oz canned pizza dough
- 2 tablespoons pizza sauce
- 10 slices pepperoni
- 1 cup cooked and crumbled sausage
- ½ cup cooked and crumbled bacon
- 2 large mushrooms sliced
- 1/2 onion sliced
- 1/4 bell pepper sliced
- 1 tablespoon sliced black olives
- 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend
- Pizza seasoning to taste
- Anything, and I mean anything else you like. If you like pineapple, put it on there. Avocado? Pile it on. Anchovies? No don’t ruin it….just kidding! Load it up. Whatever makes you happy.
- Preheat the oven to 475°.
- Spray pizza pan with nonstick cooking or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out dough and place on the pizza pan.
- Spread pizza sauce over the dough.
- Layer the toppings over the dough in the order listed.
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the crust is crisp and the cheese melted and lightly browned.
Be mindful of how many veggies you add. Fresh veggies give off water when cooked. Too many will make your pizza soggy and affect the texture of the finished pizza. You can offset this a bit if you top your pizza with sautéed vegetables from which the water has already been cooked off.
Top your pie off with some crushed red pepper, and don’t forget to share your creation. Who are we kidding, eat up, and enjoy every crumb!
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. Learn more by visiting www.thefirehousefoodie.com.