11 Bad Kitchen Habits You Need To Stop Immediately

We are cooking in the kitchen these days probably now more than we ever have. With numerous people working or attending school from home, the kitchen has become a frequented room for many. While cooking in the kitchen can certainly be a joyful and therapeutic activity, if you’re not careful, you might pick up on a few bad kitchen habits that could ruin your recipes—or even make you sick!

In order to ensure that you’re making the most of your recipes, your appliances, and even the cleanliness of your kitchen, we rounded up a few important bad kitchen habits that you need to start avoiding. Once you have these down, you’re also going to like our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.

skillet heating
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If a recipe calls for you to cook something over medium or medium-low heat, you want to make sure that the skillet is actually at that proper temperature. Especially if you need to cook something for a particular time period—you don’t want undercooked food! Give your skillet a minute or two to heat up properly before starting your recipe.

If you’re a fan of skillet recipes, then you’re going to love our list of 35 Quick and Amazing Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes.

cooking high heat
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It’s good for the skillet to be heated before you start cooking, but you certainly don’t want it to be overheated. If you’re cooking something at a particular temperature and it starts to char, it’s likely the skillet is too hot (unless the recipe calls for you to char something). This is particularly important if you’re flipping pancakes! The skillet will likely heat up even more, so make sure to turn it down before pouring the second batch of pancakes on the pan.

cleaning skillet
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If you have a seasoned, non-stick cast-iron skillet, the last thing you want to do is ruin the seasoning with a lot of soap. While a small amount of soap is okay—especially if you’re trying to get some harder food bits from browning something—it’s not good for the skillet to be immersed in soap all the time. A true non-stick skillet will be able to wash fine with some warm water, and abrasive sponge, and good ol’ elbow grease.

Here are 13 Ways You’re Ruining Your Cast-Iron Skillet.

seasoning skillet
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To keep a nice non-stick coating on your cast-iron skillet, it’s important to season it between washes. After washing out your skillet (with as little soap as possible), rub a small amount of oil on your skillet and leave it to dry. Vegetable oil works well, especially if you grab a container of shortening. You can scoop out a small amount and wipe it around the surface of the skillet with a paper towel. Here’s How To Season a Cast-Iron Skillet So That It Lasts for a Lifetime.

steak and potatoes on a plate
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If you’re cutting into a steak immediately after pulling it off the grill, be warned! Your steak will likely become tough as you continue to eat it. That’s because

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The Kitchen Diva: Brussels sprouts shed their bad reputation | Cambridge News / Deerfield Independent

Long before Brussels sprouts became a trendy vegetable, my family, especially, my daughter, Deanna, were huge fans. My mother was raised on a farm and loved to grow all types of green vegetables. She was especially skilled with properly preparing Brussels sprouts and other typically stinky and slimy vegetables — I’m talking about you, cabbage and okra!

While Brussels sprouts have only recently become popular in America, sprouts have been a culinary mainstay in the southern Netherlands and Northern Europe since the 1600s. They may have been grown in Belgium as early as 1200, and are named for Brussels, its capital.

These tiny members of the cabbage and mustard family also have cancer-fighting phytochemicals, are high in vitamin C and are a reliable source of folate, vitamin A and potassium. Since Brussels sprouts are so good for you, why do so many people despise them?

In a web poll taken several years ago, more than 78,000 adults weighed in on the foods they hate. Brussels sprouts finished No. 8 on the list of most hated foods. The comments section overflowed with horror stories about being forced to eat the vegetable as a child.

One thing I noticed about the readers’ comments was that the Brussels sprouts they were served were muddy colored, overcooked and smelled bad. When Brussels sprouts are carefully selected, stored and cooked properly, they have a bright color, a crisp texture and a delicious flavor. When selecting the vegetable, look for small, young, vibrant green, tightly compacted sprouts.

Brussels sprouts are delicious boiled or steamed until tender, but still slightly crisp or roasted to bring out their natural sugars. Use sprouts that are all about the same size to ensure they will cook quickly and evenly. As a rule, Brussels sprouts cook in about 6 to 7 minutes. Be careful not to overcook Brussels sprouts because they will release sinigrin, a natural gas with a sulfur-like smell.

This recipe for Hashed Brussels Sprouts is flavorful and delicious. The quick cooking time and the addition of the garlic, onion and mustard complement the sprouts and showcase its flavors in a unique way. Try it, and you’re sure to become a Brussels sprouts lover, too!

HASHED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 pound Brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 medium purple onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable broth or low-sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon honey or sugar

1. Using a large bowl, pour in the lemon juice. Cut bottoms off the sprouts, and discard. Halve sprouts lengthwise. Thinly slice sprouts, cutting around and discarding the firm core. Immediately toss sprout slices with lemon juice to separate leaves and retain color.

2. Heat oil and butter over high heat in a skillet large enough to hold all the sprouts. When oil mixture is hot, but not smoking, add the sprouts,

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Ivy gets a bad rap, but it has more benefits for your home and garden than you think

Two years ago, when I started transforming my garden to make it better for wildlife, I planted Hedera helix (common ivy) along the base of the north-facing fence. It hasn’t grown much yet but I have visions of lush green walls alive with nesting birds, buzzing bees, flies and countless other insects, and of not being able to see the edges of the garden.

It will probably take five years before the fences are covered; another 10 before the ivy flowers. Still, the wait will be worth it. Because ivy is amazing.

Yet it’s almost universally hated by gardeners and homeowners alike. A self-clinging climber with a voracious growth habit once established, its reputation for damaging walls and fences is unparalleled. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told how awful ivy is, how it’s nothing but trouble and will destroy my house and fences.

How it’s an ugly weed, how it strangles trees, how it’s full of spiders, how it will form an easy-access ladder for burglars to climb into my home (really). It’s an ivy horror show out there. I’m amazed we allow it to grow anywhere at all.

Ivy is amazing. As a wildlife gardener, I couldn’t be without ivy as it’s used by so many species. On fences and walls it provides nesting habitats for birds and general shelter for anything else, including hibernating butterflies, pupating hoverflies and, yes – I won’t lie to you – spiders. Its autumn flowers provide a late source of nectar and pollen for pollinators – you can often hear the buzz of insects on ivy before you see it.

Its berries provide sustenance for birds right at the end of winter, when they need to get into shape for breeding. Its leaves are eaten by the caterpillars of the holly blue butterfly and moths including the double-striped pug and willow beauty. It’s versatile: grown vertically, ivy takes up little space and helps blend your garden with its surroundings. Grown as ground cover it suppresses weeds or bare soil where little else grows.

You can keep ivy closely trimmed so it looks lush and glossy or let it mature so it flowers and fruits. It’s easy to propagate and it’s cheap as chips.

And yet. It’s not just wildlife that benefits from ivy. More and more about this incredible climber is uncovered all the time.

A decade ago, scientists at Oxford University concluded that ivy actually protects buildings rather than damages them. That a thick layer of ivy leaves acts as a “thermal shield” on houses, insulating brickwork from temperature extremes and moisture that can cause cracks. Plant ivy against an already cracked wall and its adventitious roots will find them and cause problems.

But plant ivy against a good, sturdy wall and the wall will live longer as a result. Other studies show ivy reduces air pollution, with one Birmingham trial proving that metal trellises of ivy planted along a main road absorbed polluting particulates that might

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Researchers discover both good and bad kitchen habits in different European countries

Every year, 5,000 Europeans die from diseases contracted from food. Researchers visited people’s homes and discovered both good and bad kitchen habits in different European countries.

Most of us know that we have to be careful about hygiene when preparing raw chicken. We should wash the utensils and our hands after handling chicken, and we should wash or use a different chopping board before chopping the vegetables for the salad.

There is a lot happening at the same time in the kitchen, and it is not always easy to remember to follow good hygiene advice.

‘We have to remember that cooking is a complex social practice that is based more on routinised habits than on food safety advice’, says Researcher Silje Skuland at Consumption Research Norway (SIFO), OsloMet – Oslo Metropolitan University.

Together with researchers in Norway, the UK, France, Portugal and Romania, she has mapped the shopping, hygiene and cooking habits of 75 European households. This is part of the big European research project SafeConsume, which is concerned with reducing the risk of foodborne diseases in private kitchens.

Everything you want to know

The work has resulted in an 800-page-long report on ‘everything you want to know about how food safety is addressed in everyday lives’, down to the smallest details.

Some of the questions the report answers are:

How do we wash lettuce? How and how often do we wash our hands? How do we wash our knives, chopping boards and other utensils? How do we transport, store and prepare our food? How do culture, habits and access to goods determine what we buy and how we prepare our food?

Comparisons between the five countries give the researchers knowledge about what food habits lead to the spread of bacteria and parasites.

Not just up to the consumers

WHO has determined that 23 million Europeans become ill and 5,000 die each year as a result of bacteria, parasites, allergens or toxins in food. Food’s journey from retail to fork has not been the subject of much research.

Skuland emphasises that consumers are not the only ones responsible for this.

‘It’s not the consumers’ fault that the food they buy in the shop contains Campylobacter bacteria or listeria. There is a tendency these days for consumers to be given the responsibility for fixing both environmental problems and public health challenges,’ says Skuland.

Skuland believes the food should already be safe when it ends up in our shopping bags. However, after the point of purchase consumers can minimise the risk by avoiding contamination and cooking meat well. 40% of cases of foodborne illness are caused by in the domestic setting.

Multitasking and cooking

The researchers went along when people did their shopping and followed them home to their kitchen where they prepared a meal of chicken and fresh vegetables. The goal was to find out how food was handled on its way from the shop to the table, which has

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After a month of bad news, White House officials hype Trump’s Nobel Peace Prize nomination

“This is a big deal and it’s well-deserved,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Wednesday. “You cannot deny what has happened on President Trump’s watch.”

White House economic advisers Larry Kudlow and Peter Navarro even used the news to sidestep questions on other issues.

“One of the things I’d like to do before we get started though, is I’d really like to congratulate President Trump on being nominated for the peace price, the Nobel Peace Prize,” Navarro said Sunday after briefly discussing the Trump administration’s coronavirus response.

That White House officials touted the nomination is not surprising, especially given that much of Trump’s campaign rhetoric has failed to resonate with voters. But the context of the nomination is equally significant.

Trump was nominated by the same far-right Norwegian politician who nominated him in 2018, and the Nobel Committee accepts all nominations from politicians serving at a national level. In years past, this has meant former presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson have been nominated for (and won) the prize, but has also led to peace prize nominations for Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

On Sunday, Trump referenced his nomination:

“They nominated your president twice last week on two different subjects for a Nobel Prize, but the fake news media didn’t cover it,” Trump told rallygoers in Nevada.

This was the same Trump who more than six years before asked the Nobel Committee to retract the peace prize awarded to his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Source Article

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Lightning can be bad news for trees

According to the United States Precision Lightning Network (USPLN), Florida receives 33 lightning strikes per square mile each year. In the last two weeks we have gotten dozens of calls about lightning-struck trees at the Duval Extension Office. The recent storms seem more severe.

Just because your tree is struck by lightning does not mean it needs to be removed. However, patience will be needed.

Lightning is formed when negative-charged ions collect in a cloud. At the same time, positive-charged ions are forming on the ground under the cloud and following it. As the positive charges build under the cloud, they follow the contour of the ground. If they travel up a tree or another tall object, it may put them close enough for the electric charges to make contact. When that occurs, lightning is formed.

Lightning can injure a tree in many ways. Most ​of the time the damage is obvious. The heat from​ the lightning vaporizes the water in the tree, turning it into​ steam instantaneously. The resulting pressure from the rapidly expanding hot steam blows the wood of the tree apart. Most of the​ time this happens toward the outside of the tree​ and we see it as a streak down the bark. Sometimes​ the damage is not so obvious. We may not see the damage because it has affected​ the root system or the interior of the tree. ​The other thing to think about is that lightning is never the same. A tree can receive a minor strike, a major one, or hundreds of variations in between.  

Treating trees

Lightning strike treatment in trees comes in two phases.​ First, take care of any hazardous situations such as​ broken or hanging branches. Then comes the hard part. The true extent of damage to the tree is not immediately evident right after the strike because lightning comes in an infinite range of voltages and temperatures. We should wait a few months to do any major corrective work. By that time, most of the serious damage will​ be apparent and a decision can be made as to​ whether the tree can/should be salvaged. In the​ meantime, timely irrigation and light fertilization is​ helpful in helping the tree compartmentalize the​ damage.

It may be advisable to install lightning protection in a tree in certain situations — when a tree is a historic landmark, a specimen or in places where people congregate such as a golf course. Lightning protection systems use large copper cables that are installed high in the tree, down the trunk and into a trench in the ground away from the tree, where the cable is connected to a ground rod. This protects the tree and the people around it by giving the electrical charge a better conduit to the ground than through the tree.  Lightning protection systems can be installed by ISA certified arborists and must meet the standards of the Lightning Protection and Grounding Institute or the National Fire Protection

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Best Bad Credit Home Improvement Loans | Find the Best Loan for You

If you think you’re ready to tackle a major home improvement project, your first question may be how to pay for it. Whether you need to get a new roof or renovate your whole house, a home improvement loan can help you access the money to make it happen.

But qualifying for home improvement loans with bad credit can be a challenge. That doesn’t mean you’re completely out of luck, though. Here’s what you need to know.

The Best Bad Credit Home Improvement Loans of 2020

Bad Credit Home Equity Loans for Home Improvement

  • Bank of America: Best lender with no minimum loan amount.

  • loanDepot: Best lender for borrowers with FICO scores as low as 500.

  • Guild Mortgage: Best lender for financing up to 97% of your home’s appraised value.

  • SunTrust Bank: Best lender for online loan comparison, application and documentation.

Methodology: The best bad credit home improvement lenders are selected based on consumer ratings, minimum FICO credit scores and product availability.

Best lender with no minimum loan amount.

A major financial institution serving homeowners nationwide, Bank of America has good customer satisfaction ratings. The bank has an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and a J.D. Power rating of four, which is better than most.

Highlights:

  • Mortgage types offered: Conventional, VA, FHA, refinance, home equity
  • Minimum FICO score: 620
  • Maximum loan-to-value ratio: 100%
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 55%
  • Loan amounts: Up to $5,000,000
  • Total closing costs: Varies
  • J.D. Power overall satisfaction rating: Four out of five

Best Features

  • Bank of America has a wide variety of mortgage products.

  • The lender offers annual percentage rate or closing cost discounts for qualifying Bank of America and Merrill Lynch clients.

  • Home equity lines of credit have no annual, balance transfer or cash advance fees or closing costs.

See full profile

Best lender for borrowers with FICO scores as low as 500.

LoanDepot was established in 2010 and since then has financed more than $70 billion in mortgages. It offers FHA, conventional and other mortgage options. Borrowers may qualify for a loan with a FICO credit score as low as 580.

Highlights:

  • Mortgage types offered: Conventional, FHA, VA, ARM, Refinancing (conventional), Refinancing (FHA), Refinancing (VA), Home equity loans
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 500 with conditions
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 43% for FHA
  • Maximum combined loan-to-value ratio: 90%
  • J.D. Power satisfaction rating: Four out of five

Best Features

  • LoanDepot mortgages have a lifetime guarantee, which means if you ever decide to refinance an existing loanDepot loan, the company will waive the lender fees and reimburse appraisal fees.

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Best lender for financing up to 97% of your home’s appraised value.

Guild Mortgage, founded in 1960, specializes in home loans and serves borrowers nationwide. The lender’s full suite of products includes conventional and government-backed mortgages and home equity loans.

Before You Apply

  • Mortgage types: ARMs, conventional, FHA, jumbo, manufactured home, refinance, reverse, USDA and VA
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 600
  • Maximum loan amount: varies
  • Better Business Bureau rating: A+

Best Features

  • Receives

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