Sunday, September 9, 2012

Quick and Dirty Operating Systems

Back in the day (that would be the 80's for me), there was an operating system for computers that was called Q-DOS, which stood for "Quick and Dirty Operating System."  It was quick, efficient, and got the job done without a lot of fuss, muss, or computer programmers banging their heads against walls.  If you use keyboard shortcuts (a/k/a macros or sticky keys) you have Q-DOS to thank.  

Anyway, occasionally I get nostalgic for the good old days, and random memories from the past come back to haunt me.  This week it was Q-DOS.  This led to me looking around and thinking of things in my life now which would be considered Quick and Dirty Operating Systems.  

I can think of two:

One is quick and dirty tomato sauce (a/k/a gravy, pasta sauce, marina, etc.).  The other is a great little beauty product that I found in Walgreens that's cheap and effective and entirely inoffensive in every way.  

Q-DOS #1:  Walgreens Skin Oil

It's 4.8 oz., and its two ingredients are Safflower Oil and Tocopheryl Acetate, or Vitamin E.  It's like a beauty oil without the hefty price tag, tiny bottle or heavy fragrance.  My skin gets dry in summer, from too much sun, and dry itchy patches and sores are the result of this problem.  I was using The Body Shop's Vitamin E Moisturizing Creme, but it wasn't working.  I started looking around on for a beauty oil that wouldn't cost a lot of money and didn't have too many irritating ingredients, like fragrance or oils that would be bad for my sensitive skin.  

I found this.  It was on sale for $6.99 on the website, but there's a Walgreens that I visit in my travels, so I figured I would stop by and pick this up.  It was on sale in the store for $7.99.  Normally it costs a whopping ... get this ... $8.99!  So for under $10, I scored a really good "beauty oil"!  It's effective (cleared up those dry patches and sores in a week), cheap and doesn't have any irritating ingredients.  

I use it on my face, but you can use it anywhere you have dry, itchy skin.  Knocks out that itch immediately.  All you need is a few drops in the palm of your hand, work into the dry areas or any sores or scars you might have, from say, acne or other skin issues, and pat the remainder gently over your face or the effected area.  Leave it on overnight, or if you need, you can use it during the day under your sunscreen.  

I don't use makeup, as a rule.  I wouldn't recommend using it under makeup, because it is an oil, and oil and makeup don't tend to mix well, especially in the heat.  But other than that, you should be good to go!  It meets the Q-DOS criteria:  It's quick, efficient and gets the job done without any fuss or muss or headaches.

 Q-DOS #2:  Tomato Paste

I learned this trick from my friend Diane when she would come over my house and we'd have "cook-offs," which means that we worked together in the kitchen to make a meal which we'd share.  She's a vegan, but you would never know that she doesn't use any animal products whatsoever, because everything she makes is so flavorful and delicious, you don't miss anything.  

She used Stop & Shop Organic Tomato Paste for her recipe, but you can use any tomato paste.  I recommend the organic kind, because it has fewer unwanted ingredients (the tomato paste above has high-fructose corn syrup and other stuff I don't really want to be consuming, but it cost .88 cents a can, and since cost is my prime concern these days, well, there it is in my kitchen).  The organic quality tomato paste also has a fresher, more vibrant flavor.  

To make Quick and Dirty Pasta Sauce, get a small sauce pot.  Using a can opener, open the can at both ends.  Remove one end of the can, and use the other end to push the tomato paste into the small pot.  Don't forget to remove the lid of the can, because it will plop into the paste after you push it out into the pot.  Take care that you don't hurt your fingers.

Pour one cup of water into the pot.  Add seasoning - you can use basil, oregano, or Italian seasoning.  If you're using fresh herbs (see photo below), rinse them, cut them into small pieces, and add them in the final 2-3 minutes of cooking.  

You can set up the sauce before you start boiling the pasta.  After you add the pasta to the larger pot while the water is boiling, turn on the sauce and let it start cooking.  Make sure you stir it a few times to get the lumps out while it's cooking.  The sauce will be ready by the time the pasta is done cooking, about 9-11 minutes for most pasta.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  

I like to drain the pasta, return it to the pot, cover it with sauce and mix it up, so when I put the leftover pasta in the refrigerator, it doesn't get gummy and stick together. However, if you're cooking one package of pasta for yourself and other people, the sauce will cover the whole batch of pasta, and you probably won't have any leftovers.  Because, really, who doesn't like pasta???  

This fits the criteria of Quick and Dirty, because it's fast (ready in 10 minutes!), efficient (add water and herbs and seasoning) and it tastes really good when you're done!  

This is a recipe for when you need a quick, easy hot lunch or dinner on short notice.  Add some grated cheese for extra flavor.  Like I said, unless you're one person, or not everyone in your family likes pasta, you won't have leftovers.  

If you need a big batch of pasta sauce to last you over several meals, or you want a meat sauce, this isn't the way to go.  For that you need to cook a regular slave-over-a-hot-stove-for-2-hours sauce.  I hardly ever do this, except maybe on a cold winter's day when I have time and the inclination to cook, and some canned tomatoes I need to use before they expire.  

Mother Nature's Q-DOS:  Fresh Herbs

These are my fresh herbs.  From left to right:  sage, oregano, thyme, parsley and basil.  I bought the herbs from Rocco at the Bay Terrace Garden Center.  

The spider plant to the right is Georgina.  She was a gift from my sister, to bring some life into my apartment when I first moved in.  

I think I may have to harvest and dry or freeze the herbs soon, since they're showing signs of fall coming.  I use most of them in cooking, but I haven't used the sage yet ... I plan to use it to stuff a chicken I have in the freezer.  

There you have it ... Quick and Dirty Operating Systems for skin care and cooking.  I admit to being somewhat lazy, so I like anything that's quick, easy and efficient.  

Can you think of any products or tricks you have that would be considered Quick and Dirty shortcuts?