I will also share a few general tips of things I've learned during the last few years. But really - there are a few things that drive me up the wall when I see people repeat the lies, damned lies, and statistics about food.
165 Degrees is closer to jerky than good chicken.
This one gets repeated in almost every recipe ever and then people scratch their head as to why their chicken is always dry. It's dry because you overcooked it. Your margin of error for 165 degrees is tiny.
Here is a chart from Michigan State showing what REALLY happens. Killing bacteria is a function of time and temperature and 165 is the temperature where it's near instant. But let's peak at 150 - where it takes 2.7 minutes. Or 155 where it takes 44 seconds. It is going to take more than 2 minutes to get from 150 to 155. Plus your time resting and the carry over. Just grab your meat thermometer and pull your chicken off whenever you catch it above 150.
People who hate instant read thermometers are dumb
There is no chest pounding needing that you are "a real man" because you can cook a (medium-well you swear is medium) steak by feel and that sous vide is "boiling meat" or that anybody who uses a thermometer needs to "learn how to cook".
Look bud - everybody is just out here trying to make good food, reliably. But if you want to scoff at using technology to make that easier, then I have an alternative for you - open fire only. You have to smith any metal you use and forge pans yourself. Can't use a lighter or matches to get your fire going. Go raise the cow, and raise whatever you want to put in your rub. Churn some butter to put on top as well.
Technology makes our lives easier. If you want to gloat about not using it, go be Amish.
You won't go to hell if use soap on your cast iron
Don't soak it. That'll leave a mess of rust. And don't run it through the dishwasher, are you crazy?
This one I will categorize as a half truth - it used to be true, but not really anymore. Lye will strip the seasoning, but soap these days has little to no lye left in the the final product.
Searing meat "locks in juices"
No. It doesn't. Either sous vide or reverse sear and you will get it perfect 100% of the time. Getting a crust on the outside of whatever your cooking hard enough to hold in all the water content of the meat would make it a brick.
And a few tips
- Nitrile gloves are your friend - no need to hand wash.
- Your knives will stay sharp longer and non-stick will stay non-stick long if they skip the dishwasher and get a hand wash
- Buy a Zojirushi or similar rice cooker. 100% worth it. The Keep Warm setting will serve perfect bowls up for 3-4 days after you make the batch.
- Plan to Eat is worth every penny - the grocery shopping integration cuts our weekly trip to a 10 minute planning session and scheduling a Walmart delivery.
- Cookies are easy to overmix, put your chocolate chips in when you can barely still see flecks of flour.
- Speaking of cookies - if you want big chewy cookies, put cold dough on a cold pan.
If you don't enjoy cooking, try changing how you think about it
We eat every day. Cooking should be fun. Find things you like to eat and get to work.
In my real life job, there's a lot of days when I spend 8+ hours trying to fix a problem or design a solution and feel nowhere closer to solving it when I finish than when I started. There seems to be a very large overlap between engineers and enjoying cooking and as I've thought about that, I think I've realized it:
If you like to build things, cooking is near instant feedback. You have pieces that you put together to make something new. The payoff is quicker than a multi-day DIY project or a six-month long project at work.
The best part about weeknight cooking is that after a long day of pounding your head against the wall at work, you can crank out something that tastes good and check the "something went right today feeling".
And if it didn't go your way - there's always pizza and ice cream.