Call me loco, but I love it when ironies pile up like gunk in an old kitchen oven. And like a homemade birthday cake, the bigger the irony the better. So when a grocery freezer case - that reliable window onto our crazy modern world - recently showed me an overload of ironies wrapped up in a single bag, I knew exactly what I'd be eating later that night. -G.A. Benton

Call me loco, but I love it when ironies pile up like gunk in an old kitchen oven. And like a homemade birthday cake, the bigger the irony the better. So when a grocery freezer case - that reliable window onto our crazy modern world - recently showed me an overload of ironies wrapped up in a single bag, I knew exactly what I'd be eating later that night. -G.A. Benton

What I tried: Joy of Cooking Roasted Herb Chicken ($8)

Joy to the world: In 1931, the first Joy of Cooking cookbook was privately published as the hopeful project of a family going through hard times. Five years later, a commercial company got involved and the rest is cookbook history.

Published continuously since that '36 edition, the Joy of Cooking books have been responsible for many first brave forays into home kitchens as well as lifelong infatuations with the culinary arts. Now the company that bears the joyous name is encouraging unskilled cooks to stop trying so hard and just grab a bag of frozen stuff for dinner.

A sack of bits: Since the preparation was such a no-brainer, I chose the recommended skillet method over the Plan B microwaving heat-up. I only had to dump the frozen clumps out of the bag straight into a dry pan, cover it and stir occasionally for eight to 10 minutes over medium to high heat.

As the individual chunks tumbled like hail from the plastic sack, I chuckled at the blister-marked little frozen "fire-roasted" carrots and the frosty brown-toasty-spotted potato wedges.

The proof is in the thawing: After 10 minutes I tasted the results. Overall, I'd say the constituent bits in this were pretty dull, kind of salty but really not that bad.

If there were any chemically off flavors (as is often the case with frozen dinners) they were effectively masked by the surfeit of thick "pan sauce" - which reminded me of gravy from old-school American Chinese food, only this one had a pseudo Southern French herby background to it.

No, my main problem was with texture - the snap peas had lost all their snap and the potatoes and chicken chunks were soft and even on the mushy side, but the carrots had a near-raw bite to them.

Would I eat it again?: No, I think I'll just stick with the joy of eating out.

Spot a new product you'd like Taste Test to try? E-mail gbenton@columbusalive.com