Thursday, March 13, 2008

Bacon-Wrapped Scallops, and a Lit Review

One of the first things you learn in grad school is how to write a "literature review." The process involves searching out as many articles, books, book chapters, paragraphs, unpublished theses/dissertations, conference papers and hand-scrawled notes on napkins that show up in microfilm, as one can find about the particular topic of interest. For example, when I studied TVA, my lit review consisted of official TVA documents that are hidden away in the National Archives, congressional acts that commissioned the TVA, TVA annual reports, and a plethora of books, articles, and propaganda that were published from the 1930s until today. The lit review is a painful process that tends to suck the life out of whatever project for which you once felt a great deal of enthusiasm. Something about reading what everybody else has already written about your at first seemingly original idea is exhausting, time-consuming, boring, no fun, and insanely necessary. "They" say that your lit review is done when your new sources have published in their bibliographies the sources that you have already found. Eventually, you find out that the trail you've been following doesn't lead you to a castle, a one-up, or bad guy you get to fight for the princess; the trail is a mobius strip that leads you right back where you started. Once you begin, it never really ends.

So here I am, studying for quals, wondering if I've reached my saturation point because I'm connecting dots between my feminist theory, media effects, and critical/cultural sources? How in the world has Lazarsfeld led to Morley led to McRobbie? How has Hall managed to find his way into my book on feminism & pop culture? Am I studying the same thing, with three different names? Qualifying exams, my friends, will make one crazy. So will sitting inside forcing yourself to study, like I'm doing on this gorgeous day.

In the interest of preserving my mental health, let me tell you what I made for dinner last night. One of Dave's favorite things to order out in restaurants is bacon-wrapped scallops. I have never tried to cook the little mollusks before, and last night's attempt was a success! It was so easy, elegant and delicious. Here is what I did:

8 jumbo scallops
8 slices of applewood smoked bacon
salt & pepper
cooking spray

Preheat broiler. In a nonstick pan, give the bacon a head start on cooking, by cooking for about 2 minutes, flipping once. Remove from heat, cool slightly. Salt & pepper each side of each scallop. Wrap the scallops in a piece of bacon, securing with a toothpick through the center. Place on a baking sheet/roasting pan/whatever fits under your broiler sprayed with cooking spray, and go ahead and pour all that bacon grease leftover in the other pan, just for good measure. Arrange scallops on the pan, and place under the broiler for 5 minutes. Flip them over, and broil for another 5 minutes. Eat immediately.

Let me tell you, however, 8 jumbo scallops were way too many for me and Dave. These guys were huge! I could only eat 2. Dave ate 3. And at Harry's yesterday, they were quite expensive. Next time, I'm only getting 4-6 jumbo scallops, which will be plenty for average eaters. 10 minutes was perfect for these guys, but if your scallops are smaller, you may need to adjust the cooking time. I served them with my leftover red-wine risotto from the night before, and a small salad. And, we had our drunk strawberry shortcake again for dessert. This meal will impress just about anyone, and the house smells amazing, thanks to the use of bacon and fresh seafood.

1 comment:

veganne said...

I've been doing a lot of soul searching lately- what do I want in life? Am I happy now? What else could I be doing? And I'm drawn back to my blog. Not that I expect to quit my job and blog full-time, but I feel like I'm not working at it as hard as I should. Then I come over and read yours...and I'm inspired.

My posts have turned into "mix x, y, and z together, cook, and eat." No fun. I might need Dave to make me a website so I can take my blogging/web activities to a whole new level.

Is there a post-quals meal in the works?