The Not-So Starving Student—Cast Iron Primer

I had another moment recently that called for kitchen inspiration.  Specifically, in the spring and summer, grilling on an outdoor barbeque can be a headache (literally, for those with pollen allergies).  While browsing the shelves at HomeSense, I picked up a cast iron grill that has opened up endless possibilities for summer meal preparations.  Whether you have spring allergies or are just reluctant to prepare the outdoor barbecue for grilling, the cast iron stove top grill can be an excellent option to create authentic, smoky, and delicious dinner items.

Prior to using:

Unlike other cookware, cast iron requires the added step of “seasoning” or coating the surface of the pan or grill with a thin layer of vegetable oil.  The process may be a turn-off for many beginner chefs looking for a ready-to-use tool.  However, the coating is quick and simple with only thick paper towel and vegetable oil required.  “Seasoning” will help with long-term preservation of the tool from rusting.

While using:

Have you ever ordered hot plate dinners at your favorite Asian restaurant? Ever wonder why the food seemed to taste better even if it was the simplest two-item stir fry? Cast iron (or hot plate) is known for its incredible ability to fortify foods with iron and for changing the inherent flavor of the ingredients.  Hence, not only does it taste more impressive, but for those with iron-deficiency, such as menstruating women, cooking your dinners with this tool can be healthier too.

Another benefit of using cast iron is that the even temperature cooks food thoroughly and keeps the dinner warm even after leaving the food on the hot plate for lengthier periods of time.  The hefty weight of the iron helps distribute heat evenly and cooks protein quickly.

After using:

Cleaning this tool requires a bit of patience.  After my first use, I was distraught to find small pieces of protein cemented to the bottom of the grill.  Especially for a cast iron grill, the uneven surface may trap some of the grill ingredients.  While frantically using a scrub to remove these might seem like a good idea, the most efficient way to eliminate the burnt content is to boil small amounts of water on the cast iron.  The boiled water helps remove the trapped material almost effortlessly.


For amateur chefs who are hoping to spice up their meals with some creativity, the stove-top cast iron grill can be exciting to learn and use.  The cost is relatively low compared to other cooking equipment and the grill itself can last you a lifetime; the iron is nearly indestructible.  Compared to Teflon coated non-stick pans, this option is healthier and less damage-prone, making it an easy alternative for preparing sumptuous protein meals.