Butter: now with more fat

If you're reluctantly abstaining from butter, and are "buttering" your toast with the wateriest of "spreads," the idea of butter with extra saturated fat for extra creaminess might seem just plain mean. But there it is in the dairy case: Land O'Lakes European Style Super Premium Butter. Whereas a tablespoon of regular butter (from Land O'Lakes or anyone else) contains 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of which is saturated fat, a tablespoon of the new Land O'Lakes offering contains 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of which is saturated.

Of course, any product that could make your doctor that mad at you costs more. At one store, where regular Land O'Lakes butter is $4.59 a pound, a half-pound package of Land O'Lakes European Style butter is $2.99. That's $5.98 a pound, 30 percent more.

Looking for more luxury? At another store, where regular Land O'Lakes is $4.99 a pound, you can get Hope Creamery's extra-fat butter for $7.99 a pound.

Pastas without boiling

Two new timesaver pasta products have appeared. From Creamette, there's oven-ready macaroni elbows. The box proclaims "No boiling required" and "Saves 20 minutes." This would be time saved preparing oven-baked mac and cheese. Instead of boiling water, then cooking and draining the elbows, then baking the cooked elbows and cheese sauce, the new elbows go uncooked into the sauce, then into the oven. There's a recipe on the box.

And from Barilla comes Pronto, a line of several shapes of pasta featuring "one pan, no boil, no drain" stovetop preparation. You put the pasta in a skillet, add a measured amount of water and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the water is absorbed. Then you add sauce, and cook and stir until the sauce is thick.

Both the oven-ready Creamettes and the Barilla Pronto pastas sell for the same price as the regular version of each, but both boxes contain only 12 ounces of pasta, not the 16 ounces in the regular products. That's the usual price-increase disguise (the new products cost 33 percent more per ounce than the regular ones). But there's an additional problem: A 12-ounce box contains six servings of pasta, not the eight in the regular box. So you have to rejigger your recipe to make the sauce right for just six servings.

Al Sicherman