Food for Thought: Microwave sponges to stop spread of bacteria

By Loretto J. Hulse, Herald staff writerNovember 7, 2012 

What's lurking in your kitchen?

Bacteria easily becomes fruitful and multiplies on dishcloths, towels and sponges. Countertops and sinks also are breeding grounds for microorganisms that cause food-borne illnesses.

With the holidays coming up, now is a good time to build some clean kitchen habits.

Use paper towels -- not a sponge or dishcloth -- to clean up items such as raw meat juices or dirt from veggies, dishes and other items placed on the counter.

Once a day, dampen kitchen sponges and microwave them for a minute on high or send them through the dishwasher's hot or sanitizing cycle.

Start each day with a clean dishcloth. When dirty, wash it in the hottest cycle of the washing machine too.

Clean countertops frequently with soap and water before preparing food.

Each day, sanitize the countertops with a mixture of one tablespoon unscented bleach mixed in a gallon of water. Wipe this generously over the countertops and let sit for a few minutes. Dry with paper towels or let them air-dry.

Disinfect the sink with that same bleach/water mixture.

Adopt these clean kitchen habits, and we'll all have happy holidays.

Healthy eating

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the best diet for preventing cancer is a predominantly plant-based diet that includes brightly colored vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts, such as walnuts. In fact, the AICR recommends that two-thirds of the plate be filled with these plant-based foods.

Kitchen helper

Next time you need an idea for dinner, want to research the latest food trends or save money at the grocery store, go to This website has almost everything -- great recipes and online menus, coupons, games, news and events from the food world, along with good-to-know facts for food safety.

Culinary trivia

Baklava, a dessert cake of Greece, Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries, is believed to have been created before the 16th century. It's made of 30 or more sheets of phyllo dough, generously brushed with melted butter and layered with finely chopped pistachios, walnuts or almonds.

After it's baked, a syrup of honey, lemon juice and rose water is poured over and allowed to soak in. Sometimes, the syrup is flavored with cinnamon, cardamom or cloves.

New read

The book: 200 Fast and Easy Artisan Breads by Judith Fertig.

Cost: $25

Best for: Beginners and experienced bakers will find these batter breads simple and delicious. They are no mess, can be made in just one bowl and each recipe takes just minutes to mix up. The author also includes a list of basic equipment, tips on how to make the dough days in advance and bake it later, and how to determine when the loaf is baked.

*Loretto J. Hulse:

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