I received a Panini maker for my birthday last year. It is a clever little sandwich press that was invented, I am almost certain, by George Foreman. It smushes and toasts, extra crispy, a couple of pieces of bread super thin with multiple fixings in the middle. The secret is to spread a little olive oil on the outside of each slice of bread for maximum crispiness. Who would have guessed a birthday present would also be the birth of Panini night at the Frantz abode? Let’s face it, panini night sounds way more fun than “Hey kids, it is Tuesday so it must be sandwich night again.” Oh, and did I mention the smushed cuisine is way more palatable when I put on my tall white chef hat and fake mustache? Reminded me of when I was a kid and we’d have special menu nights. My dad traveled during the week so it was just mom and us five chickens scratching around the kitchen table in the evening. My dad, like most I venture to say, was not the type that would get all excited and jump up and down shouting “yippy Skippy” over boiled hot dogs or tuna surprise night. He was pretty much a meat-and-potato kind of guy so that is what we consumed on the weekends. Hands down my favorite theme dinner during the week was probably pot pie night. Mom would always purchase a variety of the pies for us to choose from. Seems to me sometimes the stores even ran them as a special – four pot pies – one buck. Having not had a pot pie in decades, I don’t even have a clue how many nickels, dimes and quarters you have to shell out for one. I’d be just like my husband if I went to purchase one today, seriously clueless. Rick still thinks a loaf of bread cost a quarter from his days helping his mom at the day old bakery. And my mom, bless her heart, she didn’t buy us just any pot pies either. We got the good stuff, with a bottom crust I might add. It was Swanson, Banquet or nothin’. Oh, and they came, just like ice cream, in a variety of fun flavors: turkey, beef and chicken. I know, not exactly Blue Bell’s newest flavors Summer Berries or Happy Tracks, but hey. Chicken was my favorite pot pie flavor which included a minimum amount of carrots and peas. There was usually a mad scuffle among the kids at our house over the last chicken pot pie left standing. I tried to stay clear of the drama. Just made sure I kept my left ear tuned into when the oven timer was scheduled to go off and ran for the oven with a plate. Turns out my husband also had pot pie night at his house when he was a youngster. Geez, growing up in the middle of nine sisters and a brother sounded like an awful lot of pot pies to me. Rick told me he was partial to the beef pot pies, but his favorite part of the night was batting cleanup duty helping his mom clear the table. “The fun thing about that night was all the leftovers,” said hubby. His large family all sat around a huge stained picnic table with benches in their breakfast room. Coming from such a huge family he told me they usually couldn’t afford pot pies with a bottom crust. No Swanson or Banquet for them, although if my memory serves me correctly the bottom crust was eventually abandoned by Swanson and/or Banquet about the time I hit high school. “My mom always gave me two. My sisters each got one and my little brother, Gary, he got a half since he was born a preemie,” Rick laughed. “And the pot pies we ate were more generic with a brand name like Fred or Smithy Pot Pies. Actually, we never knew what kind of pot pie we were getting. Sometimes we called it our mystery meal night. It all depended on if my dad worked overtime or not if we got crust on the bottom,” said Rick. Yep, I remember those were the days when we survived the weekdays just fine, but we lived for the weekends, when our dad would come home. Dixie Frantz is a long-time Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist since 1996. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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