Saturday, April 30, 2011

Critique: Banquet’s Chicken Pasta Marinara

OK, maybe critique is too big a word for me to be using. A critique actually refers to an article that criticizes something, as in fault finding and that’s not always the case with the way I write my ‘critiques’. Why I remember only a few weeks back where I actually gave a TV dinner pretty good marks! I think that was the Charbroiled Patty Meal. It got a six rating. Not very stellar, I’ll admit, but still better than most of the other meals I’ve tried from the folks at Banquet. My principal objection to these ‘dollar meals’ is their salt content. Most, if not all, are very high in sodium (as much as 20-30% of a person’s recommended daily requirements). The manufacturer’s use salt to make up for lack of taste in almost all cases. (So, you might say that the folks at facilities like ConAgra lack very much taste)!

That said, what about this one? Well, you do get 280 calories for your money which is not bad. Then, things go downhill a bit with a high fat content of 14 grams and a sodium reading of 550 milligrams (23% of the recommended daily allowance). So not good, not bad, just so so.

The other nice thing about these meals are how easy the preparation is assuming you have a microwave, of course. Just a couple minutes on high, a quick stir and then another minute on high to eliminate any cold spots. Voila, you’re ready to chow down on yet another meal that didn't cost very much and it quick to make!

First, as to quantity. This meal went down very fast, so it’s definitely not of the ‘Hungry Man’ lineage.  Just a couple of mouthfuls and it was time to zip up your fly and say goodbye. In the area of taste, I noticed that the chicken portion was breaded (disguised?) and just a teensy bit mushy-ushy texture-wise, while the pasta in contrast was actually quite good. (The marinara sauce helped out big time). Overall then, a good meal to dig into if you’ve been working late, doing chores or looking for ways to get rid of pesky relatives (just kidding). I gave this deal a stripped down 6 on a scale of 10. As in the earlier Charbroiled Patty rating, this is a meal that works for those times when speed is of the essence.

In closing, I do wish I could figure out what to do with the plastic tray when you get done eating. I hate throwing them out, but have never figured out a use for one after it has fulfilled its primary function. Any suggestions out there?

Random Thoughts

Either the general public is getting smarter or this countries leadership is rapidly getting dumber. The latest example is the poorly thought out move by Congress when it attempted to force Boeing not to relocate to a more profitable state. Huh? And this action was due to Union demands no less. A clearer case of intrusion by the government into the private affairs of a corporation if there ever was one. A move that is illegal, unconstitutional and downright stupid.

Surprisingly, the general public picked right up on this and have demanded the government butt out. Score one for the rise in the average American's IQ. (Come 2012, let's vote these morons out of office. You just can't cure stupid).

Thirty days, six hundred tornadoes and three hundred plus dead!

Call me skeptical, but when the climate experts dubbed this month of April ‘normal’ and within 'acceptable limits', I just had to scratch my head. I also live in a state (Missouri) that saw over seventeen inches of rain when the ‘normal’ rainfall amount for the month would have been four inches. Call be naive, but I now wonder what the experts will have to say after we get through May? Let's all hope that month is within 'acceptable limits'.

Scary Movie 2012

Just imagine, if you would, Obama winning re-election in 2012! Makes your skin crawl doesn't it? That would beat the heck out of any horror flick I’ve ever seen!

Should the worst happen, I wonder what he would call that regime? The really, really Big Change? Not sure, and don’t want to find out neither!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Infrastructural blues!

With all the problems going on in America these days, it's a wonder how everything still works. Rural service providers in the area in which I live seem hard pressed, as of late, to keep it all together. Outages in the form of loss of power, cable TV and internet services have become increasingly common and raise some interesting questions.

Recently, the company that provides power to parts of southwest Missouri, Empire Electric, has suffered a series of outages that resulted when an entire substation went down for no apparent reason. Was it due to antiquated equipment I'm not sure. Calling such companies and talking to a real person is rare. Calling such companies and talking to an informed real person is rarer still!

Our local cable provider, Mediacom, also seems to have difficulty providing service on a consistent basis with outages occurring with increasing regularity. Both utilities seem especially hard pressed whenever an electrical storm passes through the area, which is often. I went through a day this week when communications were disrupted twice in one day and the power flickered during an electrical storm. That it stayed on was a minor surprise.

The point I'm making is that services, which I used to take for granted and which were provided with only rare disruptions, are now becoming increasingly sporadic and unsure. I can't help but wonder if this is the start of a trend in a country that has seen it's best days and which is now sliding towards darker days. A country that is broke and which will be increasingly unable to provide even the most basic of services to the population at large.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Critique: Del Pino’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

I love reading the ingredients on some of the canned products that appear on grocery shelves these days. Take a can of Spaghetti and meatballs I recently brought home, for instance. This product, made by a company called Del Pino’s, shows a picture on the can of five meatballs nestled in a bed of pasta and what appears to be some sort of tomato sauce. So let’s take a close look shall we?

Turns out the tomatoes actually consist of a mix of tomato puree and water. OOOK. The pasta is wheat gluten and the meatballs were made from a combination of beef, pork, water and crackermeal (whatever that is). The can cost .79 cents and for that amount of money you get a total of 418 grams or about 15 ounces of product. There is a best by stamp of January 24, 2013 on one end of the can so this stuff can hang out on a shelf for quite a while before you have to eat it. I’m guessing there are more preservatives than you’d really want to know about in each can. So, let’s see how the stuff tastes…

Since there are only 280 calories in the entire can, I elected to do just that. Eat the entire can. Part of the effect of doing so will insure a not so healthy does of salt to the tune of 1050 milligrams or about half the average daily adult allowance. Carbohydrates came in at 34 grams which is about a quarter of the daily allowance and it is relatively high in saturated fats at 5 grams. But, I digress. After nuking the contents for a couple of minutes in the microwave, I shot a picture of the meal which shows the meatballs covered with a thick sauce. Those meatballs tasted pretty good and what really makes this meal is the thick and savory sauce that was delicious. My overall opinion is that we have a winner here. I give this one a solid 8 on a scale of 10.

Del Pino’s is distributed by Save A Lot stores of Earth City Missouri.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Burka now banned in France!

Well, they’ve gone ahead and done it! The wearing of a full face veil in public is now subject to a 150 euro fine if she is discovered with her face covered on the streets of France. Not only that, any man who forces a women to wear such garb is subject to a 30,000 euro dollar fine with a possible jail sentence! Now, movements to ban the garments have gained ground across Europe. Polls in Italy, Spain, Germany and Britain have indicated widespread support.

What the hell is going on here? Everyone knows this ban is directed solely at Muslims and especially at Muslim men whose religion teaches them that women are mere property and nothing more. I say if a man wants to ‘cover up’ his property, then he should be afforded that right!

Thank God, we here in America are much more tolerant of other peoples religions. I also personally find Muslim women to be offensive in appearance and fully understand and support the desire of their men to keep them covered much the way Americans keep lids on their garbage cans. I call on Progressives everywhere to take a stand and insist that more laws be created to force people living here to fully tolerate that which some find intolerable. God bless Obama, Reid and Pelosi and the fine vision they have of a new and changed American Socialist State. Maybe Harry and Nancy could even get together and co-sponsor a new bill that would create a new 'Department of Tolerance'. A new governmental layer who purpose would be to enact new and sweeping regulations that would cover the proper conduct of all Americans with regards to how they may or may not respond to other Americans. Anyone failing to respond properly, as the state shall see fit, will be shot!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Critique: Homestyle Charbroiled Patty Meal

I think I have this charbroiled meat thing pretty much figured out. (I’ve seen it on a few Banquet dinners now). You take a chunk of meat like material (this package lists the meat patty as seasoned cooked beef, pork and turkey); pour some gravy over it, add a few noodles and voila, you have a charbroiled whatever. Hint: Sometimes they use different sides in an effort to confuse you. It’s important to note that this meal is also ‘a good source of protein’. (I will sleep better tonight knowing that)!

When you eat this meal, you are getting 310 calories, 950 mg of sodium and about 50 mg of cholesterol. I found the patty to be the consistency of congealed mush, but it did have a rather pleasant taste. The noodles were al dente, thank God, and went well with the gravy. This is another meal I gave relatively good marks to. A good six on a scale of ten. I did not expect any of these buck a meal deals to rank very high and a six is pretty much at the top of that scale.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Critique: Banquet’s Turkey Meal

Gobble gobble! It’s turkey dinner time and I thought I'd do yet another cheap TV dinner critique of a meal from our friends at Con Agra. Sometimes I get the feeling that they put out a new TV dinner every day cause I'm losing track here!  I'll also admit I’ve become somewhat of a sucker for the fast salt-high that these one buck meals give me. I'll just bet you all that Con Agra’s secret motto is something like, “When in doubt, salt the crap out of it”! But, I digress...

While this 250 calorie mini-meal comes in at a mind boggling 1,060 milligrams of sodium, it really shouldn't be a concern as long as hypertension isn't a problem in your life.( Although if you eat this sort of stuff on a regular basis, it will be)!  And, even though there's not much turkey meat in this meal, the salty gravy was outstanding and made up for it to a great extent. (This was real turkey meat wasn't it Con Agra, you're not sticking a little bit of horse meat in there are you)? I also liked the potatoes and even the peas. Maybe I’m just becoming Banquet-brain-washed. Not sure…

This is one dinner that I would have no problem keeping stashed in the back of the freezer for those occasions when I didn’t feel like cooking something up, which is most of the time. Overall, I would give this repast a solid 7 on a scale of ten.

Update: This meal deal was on sale at .89 cents in Feb 2015 in my small town of Forsyth MO. It's still a great way to get some moderate calories that taste pretty good for cheap money! Ate this again in March and my heart is still pushing the blood through my aging body! Just in case you think I'm a shill for products from Banquet, please check out my review of their pasta and popcorn chicken!

Update: By 2016 (Feb), this meal cost $1.25! And, was now edging closer into the 'Don't Bother' category.