A lot of things come from experience. I'd rather see someone doing the touchy thing with steaks rather than cutting a notch. Strangely enough, ive known intuitively how long to cook a steak before learning the touch trick. As for cutting with/against the grain with meat, one only has to eat a dodgy casserole or even look at one to know if it is any good. Ever tried to eat a chicken wet dish with badly cut meat?. With regards to beans, the only beans i been told to soak are red kidney beans, especially if they are canned.
My take on the lid on a pot thing, is that you wouldnt be able to time blanching properly if you cant see the product inside, likewise, how hard the water is boiling.
The addition of salt to water increases the relative gravity of the water, and that affects the boiling temperature. One very good example of this is making a caramel. A boiling caramel holds heat well over the boiling point of water, and this is due to density of the liquid.
I have found a good wipedown with vanilla essence and water in a fridge tends to dispell most smells.
I have to admit, Warba, that you are on the money, in terms of timing how the steak is when it goes out. It also maybe linked to resting. Anyway,,,,.