Tuesday, June 2, 2009


As I sat down to eat my piping hot teriyaki chicken stir fry that I made for What's For Dinner? Wednesday, I had a revelation. Being a parent to a three year old and being a firefighter have so much in common. Where's the connection you ask? What led me to this grand discovery? For those of you not familiar with the typical firefighting work schedule, most firefighters work 24 hours straight and then have 48 hours off. The fire station becomes a second home. In fact most fire stations are set up like homes; there is a kitchen, living room, and sleeping area. So where are the parallels to parenthood? For starters, throughout the 24 hours spent at the station on duty, firefighters try to accomplish tasks. These tasks may include: training exercises, station tours, cleaning the station, or even shopping for the days groceries. Inevitably, an emergency call comes in and you must drop everything you're doing and respond to the emergency. No big deal, after all that is what we get paid to do. As a father of a three year old, I often find myself trying to accomplish tasks at home. Do I really need to explain how that gets disrupted by a three year old? Sleep in the fire station is as good as gold. If, on the rare occasion, you manage to sleep through the night without being interrupted by two or three emergency calls, it is an amazing feeling. Sleep comes much easier at home but there are moments that require being up in the middle of the night tending to three year old "emergencies." Finally, what made me think of all this in the first place was my dinner. Food is a huge part of life in the fire station. In my department, in lieu of a pay raise twenty years ago, the city began providing a certain amount of money per person for food each day. We shop for groceries daily and eat lunch and dinner at the station during our shift. Meals at work are something to look forward to. However, I can not count how many times I've picked up a fork at work, ready to bite into a hot, perfectly cooked meal, only to have the bell ring, signalling an emergency call. After arriving back at the station 30-40 minutes later, all the food that has been sitting on the table is now cold, wilted, and lifeless. The microwave fails to rejuvenate it to it's previous splendor. Tonight, as I finished cooking and plating up this hot, fresh teriyaki chicken stir fry, I told my daughter it was time to come to the table for dinner and stop playing. What ensued was a full blown tantrum, with screaming, sobbing, and a time out for kicking at daddy while trying to pick her limp body up off the floor. Unfortunately, my chicken stir fry joined the countless meals eaten cold and half heartedly revived with a microwave.

Chicken Teriyaki Stir Fry:
4 chicken breasts -cubed
1/3 cup each of diced onion, celery, green bell pepper, carrots, and broccoli
2 cloves of garlic -minced
Teriyaki Sauce:
1/2 cup GF soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 Tbs plus 2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs Mirin - rice cooking wine
1-1/2 tsp minced garlic
1-1/2 tsp fresh ginger
Put all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat until sugars dissolve. Pour half the sauce in a skillet and add chicken and garlic. When chicken is nearly finished cooking, add the vegetables. Cook until tender. Pour over rice and add teriyaki sauce to taste.

My dinner in better times. Enjoy Hot!!!


  1. Oh, I don't miss those days. I like kids when they turn 5 or 6. Then you can have conversations and talk about the easy way or the hard way. I wouldn't engage in the melt downs but just let my boys know when they were done and ready to join us for dinner they could. Also, keep in mind once dinner was over the kitchen was closed. After going to bed hungry one night they got the hint. The hardest part was sending them to bed hungry, but you can't go back on your word or you're toast.

    Sorry you didn't get a warm meal. This looks really good. As the kids get older this will change. Now as for your job, well you might want to invest in plate warmers. Good luck!

  2. For some reason I don't understand, my family is not fond of stir fry with a sauce. :( I always wondered how to make a teriyaki sauce using gf soy sauce. Thanks for that info.

    My niece is a fire fighter. A faulty handle on the ambulance resulted in her being thrown out the door once. She really likes the job though.

  3. Ah, I love the fire life tales it brings back memories! I'm a "fire brat" as they called me. My Dad worked so often on holidays and b-day's my mom would just take us to the station so we had a lot of meals with the "rest" of the family! How goes the rest of the story? Did your little girl settle down? My oldest used to do that big time before going gluten free, not as bad after but man it's a hard age!

  4. Here is the rest of the story. After a time out for the kicking episode, my wife and I explained that there would be no food to eat until breakfast. My daughter calmed down and joined us at the table. She ate a decent amount and life was good again.

  5. Yep, I am so glad we are passed the witching hour at dinner time stage with kids. I have eaten lenty a cold meal. It seems it was always a diaper emergency right at dinner and then cold food. This dinner looks delish. I'd eat it cold and hot.

  6. I think we're just a little before that stage. My little guy is only 26 months and hasn't quite figured out the full blown tantrum yet. Although he does have little mini tantrums.

    I would eat stir fry much more often in my house, however it's not something my husband likes to eat all the time. He should decide otherwise methinks.