Starting on Friday after work, we like to drag out our stack of well-greased grilling cookbooks for a couple of nights’ worth of sizzling entrees. Yep, puttin’ the pedal to the metal on the old barbecue pit and parking the radio on elevator music is about as fast as the Frantz family drives most Saturday and Sunday nights. A couple of our all-time family favorites are beer can chicken and a salmon dish with a glaze that is, just like Bette Midler, simply divine. We make these two recipes a lot. They are merely a couple of our favorite main courses that have stuck, but not in an annoying way, a lot like double bubble chewing gum on the bottom of our tennie runners. On Sunday, we often kick things up a tad, cooking up something we’ve never made before. I believe it was a couple of weeks ago that several cookbooks were sprawled across the kitchen counter when our oldest came across a recipe she thought sounded most enticing. I knew the look. Katie’s already large baby blues got wider then usual and her dark brows lifted ever so slightly. “Let’s make this duck recipe,” Katie drooled. It was entitled Crispy Asian Duck Breasts and Soft Polenta, and included a large glossy color photograph that, I had to admit, beckoned “eat me” from the page. But for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how the recipe made it into the recipe book. Personally, I thought it looked like somethin’ you’d find at one of the wacky restaurants Katie is always trying to take me to on her side of town for one of our lunch dates. Katie adamantly insists someday I’ll love curry so much, every morning it will be sprinkled liberally over my breakfast cereal. “Geez, I dunno dear. That duck dish is pretty wild and crazy for my tastes. Betcha nine dollars our local grocer is not going to be carrying duck this time of year,” I said, secretly wishing she would turn the page to something a little less exotic … like ground sirloin. Fortunately, I was right. After a bunch of phone calls, there wasn’t a duck to be found out here in the ‘burbs. Alas, it turned out to be only a Daffy Duck reprieve. Katie probably hasn’t heard about my run-in with a duck. It was several decades ago, before our three kidlets were born, but I remember it like it was last Tuesday. Hubby had just gotten back from his first, and last, duck hunting adventure with a couple of his buds from work. Rick had bagged several of the fowls. Just like a big hairy caveman dragging home his first felled mastodon, he totally expected we were going to eat the cute little quack-quacks that night for dinner. Unfortunately, our cooking partner, Betty Crocker, didn’t have a clue what to do with the fowl. Obviously, we were forced to wing it. I remember it took hours for the two of us to pluck thousands of feathers off the little, limp creatures. Then there was the matter of teeny buckshot pellets that had permeated the poultry. It didn’t help matters that I was several months pregnant with Katie. Lots of things made me queasy those first couple of months. It is the very reason I can’t even be in the same room with beef stroganoff to this day. The very first duck bite was on the chewy side, a sure sign of being undercooked. Don’t ask me why I took another. The second, well it was certainly the most memorable, as my mouth filled with savory buckshot. Then the waves of nausea began. Hubby and I both agreed we’d stick to store-bought chicken, at the very least, until the baby came. Fast forwarding several decades, the phone rings on Sunday in the early afternoon. It’s Katie. “Mom, I’m at Central Market on my side of town and guess what? They have a bunch of duck. How about I pick up several and we make that cool recipe?” a delighted Katie asked. As we were still in the midst of the season of Lent, I took a ginormous leap of faith. I told her to go for it. After dinner, I have to admit, Katie was right. The obviously domesticated duck lacked buckshot and tasted just like the photograph suggested. Still, I was the last one to leave the kitchen table that night, choosing to chew extra slowly … just in case. Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past 12 years. 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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