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Louisiana Firefighters Give Thanks



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Louisiana Firefighters Give Thanks

It was my intention to write something about the uniqueness of this particular Thanksgiving, 2001, and the fact that our gratitude would be more profound as
our families gathered to share the traditional feast. Now I find there is very little
I can add.  The following thoughts and sentiments speak for themselves . 


Thanks for the memories

"Known for their cooking, firefighters share their thoughts and
recipes on this special Thanksgiving."
 The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, LA, 2001
By Dale Curry, Food Editor

" 'Thank you, God, for firemen' is a blessing likely to pass many lips at
Thanksgiving tables this year.
And, firefighters, so many of them great cooks, are pausing to remember
lost compatriots as they give an extra squeeze to their loved ones.
'It's going to be a different kind of Thanksgiving,' said Wayne Rau of the
David Crockett Volunteer Fire Co. in Gretna. 'We've all suffered a tragedy
that's never going to be forgotten.'
'My heart's pretty heavy,' said Richard "Ricky" Heyd, captain of the Aycock
fire station in St. Bernard Parish. 'Family is more important this year.'
Still, the ever-cooking firefighters will lend their services at fire stations
throughout the city as well as on the homefront, cooking for their families.
Rau, who is off duty Thanksgiving, will go to the station early and oversee a
holiday meal for several on-duty firefighters and their families.
'We're cooking the traditional turkey dinner -- turkey, macaroni and cheese,
sweet potatoes, cornbread dressing, dirty rice and green beans with potatoes
and ham,' said Rau, known as head chef at the station. Then it's back home
to have dinner with his family. 'I'll be cooking that too,' he said.
Rau was at the Christmas Day fire of 1971 in which three local firemen
perished in a blaze in the 1300 block of Dryades Street.
'Every Christmas when I say the blessings at my Christmas table, I remember
them,' he said. Now, the hundreds of firemen lost Sept. 11 in New York will be
on the minds of firefighters everywhere. 'I think our firemen will be saying an
extra prayer.'
Heyd said he is scaling back this year and focusing on family.
'You hold your kids a little closer,' he said. At the station in Aycock, news-
paper pictures of the firefighters killed in New York hang on the wall as
a reminder.
'We want to let them know they're not going to leave our hearts,' he said.
'Everybody realizes how fragile life is. Sometimes you might leave a fire
station and you don't know whether you'll come back, but it's something
we choose to do.'
And, 70 percent of U.S. firefighters are volunteers, Rau said.
Why do they do it?
'It's a brotherhood,' Rau said. 'I think it's the spirit of community and desire
to do something for your fellow man.'
Serving as a firefighter means spending a lot of time waiting, which is one
reason cooking is a popular pastime.
At the Harvey Volunteer Fire Co. No. 2, Michael McAuliffe will be on duty Thanksgiving Day and is helping to plan a menu of turkey, baked macaroni,
stuffing, green beans and corn.
'We all pitch in,' he said. 'I'm thankful for our dedication and spirit. The
recent public gratitude has made a difference on our staff.' Since the New
York tragedy, he said, 'people approach us and tell us they appreciate our
services. We've had people bring cakes, posters and even one time we
were out in the field and had some ladies come up and tell us they're
thankful for firefighters in their community.'
Meanwhile in Delacroix, Michael Moolekamp of Engine Co. No. 12 says,
'This year's Thanksgiving holds a much greater meaning for me, in large
part because of all that has happened in New York. I find myself reflecting
on and putting into practice something my mother-in-law lived by and passed
on to us. Her motto was ‘make memories.' In light of all that has happened
and the profession I have chosen, I feel one of the best ways to honor those
who have gone before us is to make as many memories as we possibly can
with our loved ones. If something were to happen to me or my brother
firemen, the legacy of memories we leave behind will comfort our loved
ones, keeping us alive in their hearts forever.
'With this recipe, I share a part of me that I hope you use to create a great
memory with your family.'
Following is Moolekamp's recipe for rice dressing and others that local
firefighters will cook on Thanksgiving:


Michael Moolekamp's Rice Dressing

Serves a crowd

2 cups white, long grain rice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt, to taste
3 cups water

Heat a large pot, containing the olive oil, over high heat. When oil is
hot, add the rice. Stir constantly until the rice turns white. You don't
want to over-fry the rice until it is brown; you only want a nice, opaque
white. Add the onion and cook, still stirring constantly, until the onion
is clear. Add the water and salt. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid
and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat
and let the rice sit for five minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2 pounds ground chuck
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, finely chopped
3 toes garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

While rice is cooking start cooking the meat. In a large pot, over medium-
high heat, brown the ground meat. Remove the ground meat, leaving the
drippings in the pot, and set aside. To the drippings, add onion, bell pep-
per, celery, garlic and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat
medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until the vegetables are tender.
Replace the cooked ground meat and stir, thoroughly mixing the meat
and vegetables. Cook for about 15 more minutes over low heat.

2 tablespoons butter
1 pound peeled shrimp, raw
1/4 teaspoon liquid crab boil
Salt and pepper to taste

When the meat is cooking the last few minutes, start the shrimp.
In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter until most of the liquid
is gone (the butter stops bubbling). Add the shrimp, then the liquid crab
boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp turn pink, about 7 to 8 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Mix all the ingredients in the pot used to cook the rice. I usually add
about a cup of gravy from the last pork roast I cooked (I always save
the leftover gravy in small tubs in the freezer). The pork roast juice
adds a little moisture and another layer of flavor.


Richard "Ricky" Heyd's Cajun Fried Turkey

Serves 6 to 8

5/8 cup Tabasco sauce
5/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 1/2 tablespoons onion juice
3 tablespoons garlic juice
4 tablespoons liquid crab boil
(optional, if you like it spicy)
3 1/4 cups water
5 tablespoons Louisiana spice seasoning
1 10- to 12-pound turkey
2 gallons peanut oil

Place all ingredients except oil and turkey into saucepan. Heat over medium heat until boiling, stirring often. Turn off and cool. Place into an injection syringe and inject into turkey. Stick the needle all the way into meat. As
you inject the turkey draw back on the needle so that mixture is distributed
through all meat areas. Be careful not to draw out too far as this mixture
burns if it gets into eyes. (Trust me on this one.) Make sure that all areas
of turkey are injected with seasoning. Allow turkey to stay in refrigerator overnight to marinate.
When ready to cook, heat oil to 350 degrees [F.]. Before lowering turkey
into the oil, coat the outside with an additional small amount of Tabasco
sauce and Louisiana spice. Be extremely careful, especially when the oil
goes into the cavity, and slowly lower turkey into oil. Cook turkey for
4 minutes per pound. Watch and adjust temperature if needed. Remove
turkey and place into pan with paper towels to drain.

Note: NEVER deep-fry a turkey indoors or under a carport. Be careful
not to slosh the oil onto the fire.

Terrytown's 5th District Volunteer Fire Department got a jump on Thanks-
giving. Its 72 firefighters gathered at the station on Heritage Avenue earlier
this month and enjoyed two turkeys, jambalaya, sweet potatoes, vegetables
and Walter DiFranco's frequently requested shrimp and bell pepper dressing.

Walter DiFranco's Shrimp and
Bell Pepper Dressing

Serves 40

1/2 cup olive oil, plus enough
to sprinkle top
5 pounds onions, chopped
6 bell peppers, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
4 pounds peeled shrimp
(weight after peeling)
3 to 4 eggs
4 to 5 cups Italian bread crumbs
plus 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top
1 cup chopped parsley
1 tablespoon sage
Parmesan cheese, grated, enough
to cover top well
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy pot, sauté vegetables in olive oil. Drop in shrimp and
sauté briefly. Add a little water for moisture and eggs; mix well. Stir in
bread crumbs, parsley and sage, and add water if necessary. Consistency should not be thin or sticky. Place in large baking pans and sprinkle with
one-half cup bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Sprinkle lightly with
olive oil. Bake until puffy and slightly brown on top at 350 degrees [F.],
about 30 minutes.


Wayne Rau's Sweet Potato Casserole
with Praline Crust

Serves a crowd

This recipe was given to Rau by Annie Guillot, a founding member of the
David Crockett Volunteer Fire Company's Ladies Auxiliary. She is still
active in the auxiliary and is the widow of Louis Guillot, who served the
fire department for almost 70 years.

Two 40-ounce cans sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
4 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 can evaporated milk

Mash potatoes with a potato masher, mix with all other ingredients
and place in a large baking pan.

Praline Crust:
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup flour
2 cups walnuts or pecans
3/4 cup butter

Mix sugar, flour and nuts together and spread over casserole evenly.
Cut the butter into one-fourth-inch pats and place it randomly on top
of the crust.
Bake at 350 degrees [F.] for 45 minutes.

© The Times-Picayune. Used with permission.
Copyright 2001 New OrleansNet LLC. All Rights Reserved.


 Happy Thanksgiving! Be well, stay safe, and express your love for
each other. God bless you all. And until next time, remember,

"If the only prayer you say in your life is 'Thank You'
that would be enough.

~ Meister Eckhart


"It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love,
are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think
of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I
am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the
love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and
fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one."

~ M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating icon icon



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