The Firehouse Foodie: Family

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By Frank E. Vaerewijck

As we begin the holiday season, we look forward to spending time with family. But who is family? What makes up family? Why is being a part of a family so important to us?

Other than the typical definitions presented by Merriam-Webster, the dictionary includes a more favorable, deeper, fire friendly definition. Right there among the definitions referencing parents, children, ancestry and such, is the one definition that applies the most to us in the fire service: “a group or people united by certain convictions or a common affiliation: FELLOWSHIP.” Our common affiliation is cemented in our passion for the fire service and the desire to serve the citizens we protect.

For most, family is just as the primary definition dictates. It’s the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children. Or it could be any of various social units regarded as equivalent to the traditional family, such as a single parent household. For many of us in the fire service, family not only includes our loved ones and relatives, but our brothers and sisters on the job too.

A good firefighter doesn’t just pay attention to his officer cadre, but listens and learns from those at or slightly higher than his or her level too. They absorb the experiences, the knowledge, the passion of all firefighters on the job, and, when the need arises, put that experience and knowledge to good use.

You can attend many great trainings and lectures on how to do this job, and as long as you keep your ears and mind open, you will take something from them.  But you will get so much more from your family. Just as our parental units have shaped us during our formative years, our leaders, brothers, and sisters guide us, and, since you are a product of your environment, influence us. Good or bad, the effect they have our psyche has a lot to do with who we are, or what we become. So this holiday season, make sure that every member of your family, related in blood or in common affiliation, knows how much you appreciate them.

What better way to let your family know you appreciate them than with food and this non traditional take on Mac and Cheese. My Lieutenant likes to make a complicated layered version. Sometimes, though, you just have to go with easy. After a few slight modification that make it easier to make, we came up with this scrumptious side dish, born out of the firehouse – and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home!”

Almost LT’s Mac and Cheese


  1. 1 8 oz. pkg of elbow pasta
  2. 1 stick of butter (Don’t use margarine; trust me!)
  3. 2 Cups milk
  4. 1 lb. block of Velveeta cheese cut into 1″-2″ cubes
  5. 8 oz. Claw Crab Meat
  6. 6-8 crumbled Bacon slices, ½ Bread Crumbs or ½ Ritz Crackers


  1. Boil the pasta as directed on the package.
  2. Drain the water but keep ¼ cup or so in the bottom of the pot.
  3. In a separate medium sauce pan, add 1 stick of butter, milk and Velveeta cheese cubes. Heat the pot on medium until the cheese is completely melted. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a glass baking dish, blend Claw Crab Meat and cheese melt with pasta. Top with your choice topping of Bacon, Bread Crumbs or Ritz Crackers  (or try all three, just make sure that you reduce your portion to cover the desired area)
  5. Place in oven at 350°F for 15 minutes.

Don’t worry if it looks too gooey. It will get thicker the longer it sits. Enjoy!



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