Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Six Categories of Blog Commenters, and a Categorically Delicious White Bean Quinoa Salad

I have a weird fascination with the comments that people leave on blogs.

Other blogs, naturally - the ones with audiences so large and devoted they could colonize an entire country. The Republic of Smitten Kitchen. The United States of Cupcakes & Cashmere. The Land of Orangette. (Which I imagine is filled with banana bread, bottomless jars of granola and cheese.)

While I gravitate to these sites and others of their ilk for the content - the vivid pictures, the engaging prose, the recipes that I want to make and eat every day of my life - more times than not, I also find myself compulsively reading the comments that follow, feeling oddly like I did back in the days when I used to sneak into my brothers' rooms to read what their classmates wrote in their high school yearbooks. Which is, you know, a totally normal thing to do when you're thirteen and your brothers don't tell you about the secret girlfriend they took to the prom.

The difference, of course, being that the comments on these blogs are public, which makes their content all the more fascinating, particularly when patterns begin emerging. While there are the outliers who post sincere, personalized notes, those that lie between often seem to fall into the same categories. Categories that I immediately feel compelled to pinpoint, as though I'm playing some sort of digital iteration of Guess Who? with myself.

There's "The Justin Bieber Fan" - the person who comments (first) on every single post, always declaring how much they love and adore the writer. Exclamation point, exclamation point.
Oh my gosh, this is so amazing!! You're so amazing!! I love glittery pens too!! I just ordered one in every color with a case too which I'm going to monogram with your initials!! You're the best!! P.S. I'm sharing this on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, and my refrigerator door right now!!

There's "The Grammar Nazi" - the person who fastidiously reads every single word of prose, searching for the one time the author accidentally writes "your" instead of "you're," or leaves the "e" of the fourth "the" in the seventh paragraph.
I think you meant to say, 'My mouth was figuratively on fire.' If it was 'literally' on fire, you'd probably be dead right now. Judging by the published state of this post, I'd surmise that you are not, indeed, dead.

Which brings us to "The Misanthrope," or the troll who reads blogs for the sole purpose of leaving scathing, inflammatory commentary about how stupid, ugly, gross, and terrible the author, post or subject matter is.
You have the fashion sense of an amoeba. That outfit is repulsive - I wouldn't wear it if I was living in a cardboard box in 10 degree weather, and it was the only thing I had to shield myself against the elements aside from a garbage bag. I'd rather freeze to death. Also, you have a unibrow.

On the other side of the spectrum is "The Self-Promoter" - the person who only leaves a comment so the site's author will visit their blog in return.
Love this! So cute! I have a blog too!  Here's a link to the sweater I knitted out of rubber bands, and here's a link to the diamond-encrusted pot-holders that I made my mother-in-law for Christmas last year. What do you think? Leave me a comment! Here's the link again, in case you missed it!

The lesser of these two evils is "The Skimmer" - the person who clearly didn't read a single word of the piece, but for whatever reason wants to pretend that they did by leaving a nonsequitor or one line declaration of approval.
Yum - definitely making this one! (In response to a post about a dish that the blogger admits was actually terrible.)

Finally, we arrive at my personal favorite - "Sally Substituter," found exclusively on recipe blogs where he or she will ask, in rapid succession, if they can completely change the recipe and still achieve the same outcome.

This looks great!  Question - can I substitute the sour cream for Greek yogurt? Gotta watch the waistline - have my high school reunion next month! Also, my astrology forecast told me that I should avoid gluten this month (hello, IBS!), so do you think I can use almond meal instead of flour?  Oh and I really don't like apples or walnuts, so I'm thinking of using mango and the leftover peanuts I have in the back of my fridge - will that work?  Do you know how long peanuts are good for?  Wondering now if maybe they've gone bad… let me know!  Can't wait to make this recipe!!

The different variations that people come up with never cease to amuse me - particularly when it reaches a point where the recipe turns into a completely different dish. A peanut shell of its former self.

While I laugh in the moment, chuckling at the absurdity of leaving the chocolate out of a chocolate cake, I'd be lying if I were to say that I'm not guilty of the same. Not begging permission to make a pizza without the crust, but making minor tweaks here and there when tackling a new recipe - adding quinoa, replacing one ingredient with another that I just happen to have idling in the pantry, altering the preparation as I deem appropriate, and then suddenly wondering whether I've reached the point where the original recipe ceases to exist.

Most recently, I found myself considering as much with this dish - a bean salad that originally came to me via the aforementioned Republic of Smitten Kitchen. Or, more accurately, her cookbook, the roadmap to that country of supreme deliciousness. What began as one thing, a fresh cranberry bean salad, simply adorned with celery, red onion, feta, walnuts, and a vinaigrette, ultimately became the inspiration for something entirely different. A white bean and quinoa salad, punctuated with radishes in addition to the celery and red onion, avocado in place of the feta, and a vinaigrette composed of walnut oil and sherry vinegar in lieu of Deb's perfectly wonderful-as-written red wine vinegar and olive oil dressing.

So, literally not the same thing at all.

But still the the best thing to happen EVER since glittery pens. Exclamation point. Exclamation point.

White Bean and Quinoa Salad

Inspired by the Cranberry Bean Salad in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
Serve 3-4

1 1/2 cups cooked white beans (preferably prepared from scratch - it makes a difference, I pinky swear!)
3/4 cup quinoa
4-5 radishes, sliced into thin pieces, then chopped into little nubs
1 stalk celery, minced
1/4 red onion, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon walnut oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt, pepper
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/2 avocado, sliced and cut into small chunks

Thoroughly rinse the quinoa. Heat a large, nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the quinoa, and toast, shaking the pan frequently, until lightly brown, but not burned.

Bring just shy of 1 1/2 cups of salted water to boil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Add the toasted quinoa, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Fluff quinoa with a fork and let cool to room temperature.

While quinoa is cooking, soak minced red onion in bowl of cool water for at least 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Whisk together the walnut oil and sherry vinegar.

In a large bowl, combine quinoa, white beans, radish, celery, parsley, salt and pepper. Toss with sherry-walnut vinaigrette.  Top with walnuts and avocado just before serving.


Unknown said...
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Gastronomer said...

Can I substitute the beans for pork blood and the quinoa for bone marrow? I can't wait to make this recipe!

Lynn @ said...

I have no idea how to comment. Love you, byeeee!

Diana said...

Cathy - Only if you replace the avocado with crisco!

Lynn - Hehe - your comments are always the best! Uncategorizable!

Banana Wonder said...

Which commenter am I? In all seriousness, you have some of the most creative topics on DTB. Boo yah, rock that TALFness.