Sunday, April 15, 2012

Challenges and Pan Seared Scallops

I think that this post is all about challenges.

I have faced quite a few at this point. There are the obvious challenges or the things that are expected to be challenging such as homework or other assignments.  Right now, I have to create a 3 week unit lesson plan for a math class.  This isn't too terrible, but the thing is, the unit has to be about a book.  The book is about girls with eating disorders and other challenges that some teenagers face.  The unit has to address these themes as well as math goals.  This is a challenge.  My group and I really had to stretch our imaginations and get creative to make this happen.  This assignment has been especially stressful because of how impractical it seems.  While it would be super cool to address all sorts of issues in all different subject areas, sometimes it is just not genuine.  I guess at this point in my teacher-prep program, I am wondering if what I am learning is actually going to help me when I am in a real school with real students.

Then, there are also the challenges that sneak up on you.  The things that you don't expect to be challenging, but all of sudden stress you out and make your life super difficult.  I feel as though these are the challenges that cause you to question who you are and what your purpose is.  Last night, I had dinner with my friend Max and we debated many different issues, namely education in this country.  Why are there so many problems?  We fumed over paying too much for college and alienating certain people from the college experience.  We talked about grading and why we actually grade the way we do.  We discussed honors and AP classes and why they exist.  Why can't every class be honors?  Why do we even have those labels?  All these questions don't have answers.  It made me wonder what I can actually do as a teacher.  I feel as though I have all these thoughts and all these ideas for being the best teacher and really inspiring kids to do the most that they can with their lives, but there are so many obstacles.  It is wildly frustrating to think that this is what I am going to be dealing with forever and I found myself wondering what I can do and what I should do.  Again, there does not seem to be a concrete answer.

My current education experience has taught me to be a critical thinker and be an inspiring reformer, but it has also showed me what I am up against.  I know that other teachers out there are dealing with the same feelings and frustrations.  I wonder how many are able to actually motivate change.  I wonder how many get so frustrated that they give up.  I wonder how I will be.

I think that all we can do right now, is do what we feel is right.  We can't sit back and take the easy way out; we have to constantly try to improve.  I know that for myself, I am going to need all the support I can get.  What I mean by this, is that I am going to need to surround myself with people who care about me and activities that I love.  When I am with my family and friends and when I am engaging in activities that make me feel happy, I am better able to remember who I am and who I want to be.

Cooking and baking are ways that I remember who I am and how to be happy.  In this long, vague, and possibly boring post, I bring you a new recipe that was also a challenge.  I apologize if this post is dense or confusing, but I think it is something that I needed to write for me.  Hopefully, if you were not entertained, you skimmed through to this part and just checked out the recipe.  It is a good one, I promise.

I was craving a challenge in my cooking life: scallops.  I had heard they were difficult because they are hard to get just right.  I don't think mine were perfect, but they were super tasty and it was a good experience.  Cooking scallops made me nervous and excited and it was really fun! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did.

Sesame Seared Scallops with Brown Rice Noodles (adapted from the Food Network)

8 oz brown rice noodles
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. bay scallops
1 package mini wanton cups (optional)

1. Cook brown rice noodles according to directions.  Strain and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, garlic, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, cornstarch, and red pepper flakes.
3. In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the scallops, season with the pepper, and cook for 2 minutes.  Flip the scallops and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the soy sauce mixture and cook until the scallops turn opaque and the sauce thickens, about another 3-4 minutes.
4.  Serve in the mini wanton cups with the noodles, or just with the noodles.
Enjoy :) 


  1. I think you will be a very good teacher. And if you follow your own advice and surround yourself with positive people and activities in your life, you wont go far wrong. And this blog is most definitely a positive activity. :-)

    1. Aw! Thank you. The supportive comments I get from readers like you just make my day!

  2. In reading this I completely understand your frustration. When I was working in the corporate world I told myself things are the way they are because someone wants them that way. Based on that I can only work inside that realm as best I could, even though I knew that there was a lot that could be improved upon.
    Blogging and creating in the kitchen are a great outlet when you feel inhibited by the daily grind. It is definitely a therapy for me. I am glad you stepped up to the challenge and made this scallop dish. It is well executed and has some great flavor ingredients. Enjoy your Tuesday!

    1. Thank you! I completely agree. Blogging has been such a great experience and it has been awesome finding others who share the same passions. Cooking is such a fun way to de-stress and connect with others!

  3. It is very hard when you are given assignments that demand both skills and imagination. But I am sure the end result of the assignment would be as good as
    Sesame Seared Scallops with Brown Rice Noodles