Friday, December 21, 2012

My Advice

I don't give a lot of advice here.  I figure, it took me 30 years to figure a few things out, and I'll probably realize in another 10 that the thing I thought today was actually a bit idiotic anyway.  Besides, even if I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that something is true, the best way to convince people isn't yelling at them about it, generally.  Beyond that, even if I have hit upon an important and life-changing truth, the internet is hardly the place I'm going to go to share it.

But, I do have one piece of advice that I'm willing to share.  This may be the last advice I ever give online, besides the vague "don't worry so much, moms" statements I occasionally make.  Here it goes.  Are you ready for this?

Use Cast Iron.
Yup, that's it.  Use cast iron.  I guess I should give a few reasons, huh?

1.  Food tastes better.  It's actually true.  The problem with using non-stick is that because you can't use very high heat and because you don't have to use fat/oil to keep your food from sticking, you don't get a good sear on meat, or good browning on anything, and your food tastes bo-rang.  It's also nice to have a pan that goes from the stove to the oven, for browning and then roasting.  It makes life easy and food tasty.

2.  It's cheap.  Seriously, this pan is the pan I use, the Lodge Logic,  it's $20 at Walmart or Target or Amazon or anywhere.  Most pans you buy, in fact, pretty much everything you buy, you use with the understanding that they will eventually fall apart and you will have to buy a new one at some point.  This is one of the only things I know of that will actually improve the more you use it.  You won't ever have to buy a new one, and your food will just keep tasting better and better, and the "seasoning" on the bottom will get smoother and more non-stick over time.

3.  It's better for you.  I know, I know, the use of Teflon is controversial, and many people believe it's safe or the jury is still out, and I'm not here to argue, so I'm going to take this from the most non-argumentative stand-point I can.   Let's say that Teflon is 100% safe with proper use, don't go above "medium" heat, throw away if/when the non-stick coating starts to flake off into your food, etc.  Firstly, not everyone's stove heats the same...are you positive you're never going too hot?  I'm not.  Secondly, do you toss your pan every time it starts to get weird on the bottom?  I didn't, in the past I've cooked with it for quite a while until I could budget in a new pan.  Even if there's just a small chance of getting cancer from PFOA, wouldn't it be better to skip it than take that chance?

There are some things about cast iron that make people reluctant to use it.  Cleaning, for one.  My skillet almost never sticks (and with proper use, yours won't either), so it's very rare I have to scrub at it, or do more than rub it with salt for a few seconds, most often, all I have to do is run some hot water over it.  

The use of fat/oil in cooking is another problem people have, but with cast iron you actually use much less than you would with any other kind of non-nonstick pan.  Plus, I don't think the fat/oil we eat is the problem with our diets, but that's another story for another day.  All I'm saying is, embrace the butter, baby.

The other issue is that you really do have to do a little bit of research.  You have to know how to wash and dry and season your pan and what tools to use, and it does take a bit of prep work.  I don't think it adds much to my actual work at all, but I did have to learn how to do it in the first place.

The last issue I can think of is the weight...a cast iron skillet is heavy, it's true.  But, with that heaviness comes an amazingly even heat distribution and good food, so, it's worth it.  Plus, it's like a work out without having to work out, you know?  I'd rather incorporate things that make me stronger in my day-to-day life than to spend time doing nothing but working out.  I'd rather have more heavy household items, more stairs, more resistance.  I guess that makes me weird, though, most people would rather have a 2lb vacuum cleaner and a grocery cart that floats and work out for an hour a day.  There's nothing that I can do about that, except to say, in this case it's worth it.

Alright, I'm gonna wrap this up by making my first point tastes better!  Better food makes for a better life.  A better life, well, is better.  So, get a cheap cast iron skillet.  Or, get an expensive cast iron skillet.  Either way.
Having good tools means that you'll be able to enjoy the process of cooking as much as the food that results.  You'll eat better and enjoy a greater variety of food.  Your kids still won't, and you'll sort of resent them for hating the thing that you spent hours working on, but that's a story for another time.


  1. You know I have a cast iron skillet that my step dad gave to my husband but it really has just never occured to me to use it. The prep work I think is the thing that turns me off but I think I will give it a try knowing that food tastes better and hey if I don't have to actually srcub it that would be a plus too!

    1. You just have to remember to clean it pretty much right away. Don't soak it, ever.