A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles

Ah brunch, society’s way of justifying lazing about, eating too much, doing too little and marrying salty, sweet and saucy (mimosas anyone?). 

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Brunch is my favorite meal of the day, but as farm duties kick into full swing, it’s a meal that no longer fits the schedule (not that the Urban Farmer is the 6 am sort by any means). To indulge in brunch while we still could, I whipped up a little celebration of spring to be enjoyed in the mid-morning hours.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

I first shared this brunch with the fine, fashionable folks at ModCloth, who asked me for some tips on supporting local agriculture, a topic I love to bring to the table! Since not everyone has the luxury of a fine fella who digs in the dirt all day and then comes home with fresh, flavorful greens, I’ll share some of those same tips here too. (This is also a good time to tell you I’m a ginger now!)

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

What’s your favorite part about farmers markets and other local food spaces?

Conversation + flavor. When people plant, grow, and harvest a vegetable, or milk a cow or goat to make cheese, they tend to be very enthusiastic about that product! Whether it be the quirky name of the heirloom seed or the temperament of the baby goats, this dialogue is such a far cry from asking the produce clerk at the grocery store for more details on the fennel. Plus, local purveyors can pick when the produce is ripe, since they aren’t shipping their product across the globe.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Do you have any tips on how to get the most out of a farmers market experience?

Shop with your taste buds and an open mind! Many farmers will give out samples, or offer up herbs and fruits to smell. Think of the farmers market like a cooking show challenge. Here’s what is available and flavorful at the moment, now be creative and turn it into tonight’s dinner! Also, don’t be afraid to stick to your food values! Ask the farmers if they grow organically or pesticide-free (even if they aren’t certified, which is often too expensive for small-scale producers). They risk more for their sustainable approach and should be rewarded accordingly.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Okay, so you’ve scored big at the farmers market…now what? Any tips for using your finds in a way that minimizes potential food waste?

Wasting less is a huge priority of mine, so much so that I added a “Waste Not, Want Not” category to my blog to share my experiments and pursuits. One of the biggest ways to mitigate food waste is to compost, so at least waste and scraps won’t be taking up space in a landfill, where they present a slew of problems. Some cities pick up compost with trash and recycling, but unfortunately, Pittsburgh is not yet one of those cities.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

If you don’t have your own yard, talk to a neighbor about sharing a bin or contact the managers of a local community garden to see if you can drop off a bin of approved compostables. Or, talk to my farmer and me!

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

As far as consuming food to waste less, it comes down to kitchen creativity and experimentation! Try a version of my Turnip Chips & Turnip Greens Dip as a way to use the entire vegetable. Use the end cuts of vegetables like carrots and celery to make a Homemade Stock. The homemade version is usually more flavorful, cheaper and healthier than even the organic store-bought varieties. Juicing is a great way to clean out the refrigerator, and there are quick pickling methods that are not intimidating at all.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

In the spirit of “Waste Not, Want Not,” I shared a recipe for a Rhubarb Simple Syrup with ModCloth readers. Rhubarb is so nostalgic, since my mom was one of the few neighbors who knew what to do with the stalky vegetable when most people thought it was a weed. This Simple Syrup is perfect for easy brunch cocktails or an afternoon homemade soda (just add sparkling water). 

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Rather than strain and pitch the fruit from the simple syrup infusion, use it to make a sweet and tart topping for waffles, which I made with local cornmeal and fresh, homegrown basil. I topped it off with Rose Water Whipped Cream for a truly fresh, spring flavor.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

And if you truly want to eat brunch like this part-time farmer, you DRENCH everything in PURE maple syrup! 

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Happy Brunching!

Quelcy Signature

p.s: Be sure to scroll to the bottom to see the #BTS with my trusty sidekick. 
p.p.s: This post was presented in collaboration with ModCloth, but all opinions are my own. 

Whole-Grain, Cornmeal, Basil Belgian Waffles with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote & Rose Water Whipped Cream

Yield: about 5 8-inch Belgian style waffles.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

“Why don’t you order me a decaf, and I’ll get us a table?” Her question was more of a directive, as she scanned the room of laptops to find the ideal spot. The sun was still shining, but it was clear they had already dined and were on their post-dinner treat. Date night! 

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com
Ingredients for Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

His large frame sauntered to the counter, with as much side-to-side motion as forward progress, and he followed her instructions. One decaf cappuccino coming right up- a modest indulgence for a weeknight romance. As the steamers steamed, they sat together and did that act we so rarely do these days- they conversed, he in his blazer, and she in her formal turtleneck.  The coffee order arrived on the counter, and the woman, whose jawline had long since eroded, emerged creakily from her place on the equally stiff, wooden church pew.

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com

She retrieved the mug and saucer with great care, the viscosity threatening to rupture with every small jostling. The distance between her and her love seemed to lengthen with every minuscule movement. She held the saucer with one hand, and the other palm outstretched, hovering over the cappuccino design as if her fingers held magical powers. Her eyebrows raised, as if to say “ta da,” and she began a little balancing waltz.

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com

She matched each shimmy forward with a little short-and-stout-teapot motion. Her eyes glanced at her husband, whose large frame commanded the trendy black metal chair on which he sat. The entire world had changed around them- wifi, latte art, email, twitter, OkCupid, GMOs, wars, president after president- and through it all, they still managed to look to each other, as if they were as young and in love as the day they first sipped after-dinner coffees together. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com
Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote- a way to waste less and enjoy more

“You know you are a ballerina,” he said in response to her waltz. In a room full of laptops, he only saw her. As she arrived at the table without spillage, she was exactly that- a young, lovely, graceful ballerina. From my corner of email and wifi and Instagram hearts and general nonsense, I melted, I completely MELTED! It was a fleeting, precious little glimpse, a cinematic romance masked by wrinkles. The truest sweetness is often buried beneath the overlooked, the outliers. 

Rhubarb may be the stalky mystery the neighbors mistake for a weed growing at the edge of their garage, but it’s the stalky growth my mom taught me to appreciate and savor for its surprise sweetness. With this recipe, it’s even easier to take advantage of rhubarb’s spring emergence.  

Here’s to the romantics and hidden sweetness!


Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Compote

yield: Makes about 16 ounces

About This Recipe: The simmered fruit leftover from infusing the simple syrup makes a sweet, tart compote, perfect for waffles or mixing into a parfait. You’ll waste less and enjoy more!

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