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*Click here to start reading from the beginning of my food journey.

I don’t think pork is supposed to look gooey and pink in the middle. But it’s been in the oven for over 3 hours…” said my friend Valerie as we peered at our roast inquisitively, slowly pulling it apart with a fork and knife.

“Should we eat it anyways? I know you can eat beef a bit pink sometimes, maybe pork works the same way?” I asked.

We turned to our laptop and looked at the recipe for the millionth time:

Place pork loin in preheated oven at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 1 hour”

“It’s set to 350 degrees F right?” I asked.

“Yes, wait, let me double check…um no, it’s set to 175…” she replied.

We looked at each other confused, standing in a sea of dirty dishes and bits of food everywhere at 10:30 pm on a Friday night. How did we get Fahrenheit and Celsius mixed up?!

At this point, the best our meat could get would be a bit of a tan.

I was trying to move past my hoarding cans of ravioli days as a graduate student and decided that it was time to learn how to cook. I think the exact moment was when I was sitting in a lecture and my friend Valerie told me that she made a mutton stew for dinner the previous night.

First, I was confused to what was mutton exactly (turns out a mutton is just the name for an older sheep).

Second, my friend didn’t seem to know her way around the kitchen much more than I did, so how did she manage to pull this off? If she could do it, I definitely could do it too!

And so a partnership began.

We met up one night every week for 2 months and picked out a new recipe each time, from lasagna to chicken pot pie, to noodle stirfry. Together, we gained confidence in our cooking skills as we trialed and errored our way through Betty Crocker. Here were a few kitchen basics and do not dos we learned along the way.

Cooking 101:

  1. Using a butter knife to chop an onion is not the way to go.
  2. Linguine does not need to be boiled for 30 minutes.  
  3. If you fry something on maximum heat for too long, it will turn black.
  4. A pinch of salt is not the same as a handful of salt.
  5. It’s hard to cut tomatoes in a bowl.
  6. Burnt garlic will not taste the same as roasted garlic.
  7. If you are baking something, use a timer. Otherwise, you will discover it the next day and wonder how you are still alive.
  8. Taste everything while you cook, just not raw meat.
  9. 1 tbsp is very different from 1 tsp
  10. If you add something frozen to a pan of oil on high heat, chaos will ensue.

Most importantly, cooked pork and beef are not the same things: you definitely cannot eat pork medium rare.

*Names have been changed to respect the privacy of individuals.

Comment below about how you learned how to cook or are still learning!

Check out part 4 of the series here!


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