atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2817: Hamburger Helper does not freeze well.

Particularly not for six months.

...the flavor is fine; it's the texture that's the problem. The pasta is only holding its shape through habit and sheer inertia. End result: it feels like oatmeal as I chew it.

I had gotten up from my Xanax coma intending to make a batch of the stuff. I even went to the store and bought a box of it since I had the hamburger iself but no "helper". But then, as I was preparing to defrost the hamburger, I realized, "Crap, I have some in the freezer, don't I? I should try that first before making a new batch."

Well, it's edible; more I shall not say. In the interests of economy I'm eating it despite the oatmeal-with-meat texture. Besides, it's wrong to waste food. As long as I occupy my brain with other things as I eat it, I won't hardly notice it, anyway.

* * *

And with news like this, believe me I'm not going to notice that my Hamburger Helper is less than perfect. Shit.

The economists still believe that GDP growth is going to accelerate. So come the end of the second quarter we're going to be hearing stories about how GDP growth was "less than expected".

The same basic story we've been hearing every three months since 2008: "unexpected", "unexpected", "unexpected". At what point do we stop listening to these idiots?

* * *

The above link, and the following link, are only the choicest plums from this Ace of Spades "DOOM" post. It's chock-full of seriously bad economic news, and I refuse to cut-and-paste the entirety of someone's hard work. If you are really in need of dire predictions of economic catastrophe, I invite you to go overe there and have a gander.

* * *

"Get ready for a 70% marginal tax rate." That's the headline of that WSJ piece, and that is very, very bad news indeed.

As it stands now, the typical family of four which owns its own home relinquishes half its income to the government in various taxes and fees: income tax, sales tax, property tax, energy tax, communication tax, SSI, FICA, license fees, and the horse they rode in on. (Any time you earn or spend money--any time--it is taxed, one way or another.)

Right now "half" is simple shorthand for "nearly fifty percent":
Take a teacher in California earning $60,000. A current federal rate of 25%, a 9.5% California rate, and 15.3% payroll tax yield a combined income tax rate of 45%. The income tax increases to cover the CBO's projected federal deficit in 2016 raises that to 52%.
That's income taxes alone, without taking all the other taxes he pays into consideration.

EDIT: Unless I misunderstand, his math is wrong. 25+15+9=49%, not 45./EDIT

Yeah, but California's "worst case", right? It's better in other states.

"Payroll tax" consists of things like SSI, Medicare, FICA, etc. Here in Illinois the income tax was just recently raised (by Democrats) to 6%; so here in IL that teacher would be paying out about 46% of his annual income to income and payroll taxes alone. 40% of that 46% goes straight to Washington, D.C.

This is right now. This isn't next year or even next week; that's with the tax rates which are set right now.

There is the occasional article here and there about "tax freedom day" when it comes around; it's usually in April or May that we see these articles--but in fact that day takes place closer to July or August. "Tax freedom day" only takes into account income taxes, not everything.

So if the writer's dire prediction comes to pass and the middle class ends up paying 71% in income taxes--what about the rest of the taxes they pay? "Sales tax, property tax, energy tax, communication tax, SSI, FICA, license fees, and the horse they rode in on"? How much of a bite does that end up taking?

Then people wonder why the economy is in the shitter.

* * *

Besides the frozen Hamburger Helper (now eaten) there's a container of chicken-and-shrimp gumbo in the freezer of approximately the same vintage as the Hamburger Helper. But it should be in better shape, as it's mainly rice and meat frozen in a gumbo-cicle. I'll either eat that later, or tomorrow, I think.

Mainly it's a desire not to heat the house up by cooking things. Inevitably, using the stove dumps waste heat into the house, and besides that I get too hot myself when I'm cooking. (In winter, when I cook yakisoba, I end up having to put on shorts even though the house is at 68°.) Reheating leftovers in the microwave does none of this.

And of course the oven is even worse. When you heat that sucker up, all the heat in it has to go somewhere, and eventually it all ends up warming the inside of the house. It's fine in winter; it's counterproductive in summer. This is why I'm not baking any snacks for my Bible study group this week, even though I'd thought to; I'll go buy a box of cookies, and maybe a bag of chips, and bring that.

* * *

Several years ago--2000, in fact--I overloaded on cheese-flavored snacks.

I used to really like them. One favorite--which I haven't seen for a very long time--was the Planters snacks in cans; their cheese balls were great. I also would buy Cape Cod white cheddar popcorn and have to struggle not to eat the entire bag at one sitting.

But one day around mid-2000 it hit me that the vending machines at Rockwell-Collins were chock-full of snacks covered in cheese flavoring: Cheetos, nacho Doritos, cheese crackers, cheese popcorn, cheese potato chips, cheese pretzels, cheese cheese. It was a struggle to figure out what to buy from the vending machines because it was all cheese-flavored except for the candy and mints. So I'd end up eating potato chips, or pretzels--assuming there were non-cheese varieties available--or else I'd get weird things like the Andy Capp "fries" (which have some cheese flavoring in them, but it wasn't the dominant flavor). I had actually gotten tired of cheese-flavored snacks before this, and hadn't realized it until my only choices were cheese, or cheese, or cheese with cheese.

I avoided cheese snacks for a very long time because of this. When I'd try cheese-flavored snacks, they just tasted nasty to me. ...but while inside the psych ward, one night our "hour of sleep" snack was Cheetos...and they tasted good. They actually tasted good again.

So I bought a bag of Cheetos in early June, and ended up eating the entire thing over the course of a week.

I think that's why I don't really like cheddar any more. I used to love it; but since "it's the single most popular cheese in the world!" cheddar flavor gets used in everything.

I think of all this because I--when I was at the supermarket--I really looked at the lineup of Hamburger Helper.

Cheesy taco! Cheesy enchilada! Cheesy potato! Cheesy cheesy goo!

People like cheese. Cheese is primarily a way of storing milk so that it doesn't go bad; we pre-spoil the milk, carefully, to ensure that it remains edible. That's what cheese is: it's milk with a longer unrefrigerated shelf-life. We have a myriad of ways of making it, so there are thousands of flavors and varieties, because we've been making it for thousands of years.

But the stuff in Hamburger Helper isn't cheese.

That's where I run into a problem: the stuff in most processed foods isn't really cheese any more. Even if it started life as real cheese, it's been dehydrated and processed and--basically--wrecked. The flavor is basically gone. The texture is gone. You have something left which (when reconstituted) approximates cheese--and some varieties reconstitute fairly well!--but it really isn't cheese.

I can scarf down a box of Mac and Cheese with the best of them, but it's not really cheese; it's cheese-flavored sauce, and if you read the fine print on the box you learn that description is not far off the mark.

My problem is that the older I get, the less inclined I am to put up with imitations. If I'm going to have a ham-and-cheese sandwich, I want it to be real cheese, not "pasteurized process cheese food". ("American" cheese is usually labeled such.) I might make exceptions for certain flavors, such as the bacon and cheddar "cheese food" I had a few months ago, but for the sake of clarity I have to add that I only ended up using about half the package of that stuff. The rest remains in the cheese drawer in the fridge.

So I--at the supermarket this afternoon--picked up a box of "cheesy potato" Hamburger Helper, considered it, and then put it back on the shelf; I grabbed the usual box of "beef pasta" flavor instead.

* * *

So I've been reading Rosario+Vampire over on, and I feel the same way about it that I felt from the beginning of watching the anime.

Vampires are predators who prey upon humans. The thing that Tsukune Aono (the hapless protagonist of the series) does not get about the whole thing is that Moka (the eponymous vampire) is a predator and that he is food to her.

She says she loves him, and she's (probably) telling the truth; but at every possible opportunity she's drinking his blood, even over his protests.

There's a reason female vampires are always hot: sex is a lure. It's why male vampires always give off a really strong "alpha" vibe, too. Vampires use mating signals to attract their prey.

(Larry Niven took this to an extreme for a scene in Ringworld: Louis Wu ran into vampires which emitted phermones that took the conscious brain out of the whole thing. Speaker-to-Animals had to pull him off a vampiress who was sucking his blood.) whenever I see Moka (in either of her forms) I don't find her irresistably attractive. Her good looks are the same as claws on a cat or venomous fangs on a snake: it's just a way to capture prey.

The same goes for Koromo, actually; she's a freakin' succubus. And Mizore is an ice woman; kiss her and you'll freeze solid. None of them is exactly a safe date, if you know what I mean.

Which is yet another reason to love Yuki Nagato instead:

Not only won't she eat you, drink your blood, freeze you to death, enslave you, or drain your life energy; she'll actually protect you from harmful things that are beyond your ability to deal with.

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