Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche

If only it were possible to have conversations with myself, both past and future, without the burden of mental illness. When people utter the word “cool” in a sentence with my name (not a brag, more of a statement of disbelief), I wish I could bring young Quelcy into the fold, with her cumbersome backpack and pre-algebra stresses and general obsessive bookishness. “Hey you, LOOK! Someday, somehow, this will all pay off.” Similarly, I’d summon that Quelcy who worked a job she grew to abhor.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

That Quelcy found a solace and creative outlet in baking, in trying new recipes and techniques, all while tinkering with a new camera. That Quelcy would walk into my dining room, judging the updates with her eyes (as always), and say, “Oh, you’ve paired down the collections a bit. Good for us, but why aren’t you hosting a brunch today?”

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

Current me would justify past Quelcy’s poignant observation. I’ve managed to steer myself to this magical overlap, where people pay me to play with food and flowers and gatherings, but somewhere in that process of leaving the job I hated, and fuzzing the line between work and play, I forgot to slate days to bake just for me or to host friends in my home just for fun. In short, I forgot that weekends even existed.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

I was due for a reminder, so I treated myself to one of those expensive recipe compilation magazines, those textured pages just dripping with sweetness set against dark fabrics, etched slate and cold, crisp marble. Then I sank into my couch, nestled under the warmest of plaid blankets and made a weekend plan. In the simplest of approaches, I began with the first page, which just happened to boast many of my favorite flavors paired together: chocolate, pecan, bourbon and pie crust.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

As winter finally made herself known, and the darkness set in oh so early, I sequestered myself, by my own freewill, in my kitchen, where I embraced the full process of baking and playing with food… simply because that’s what I really love to do, and I needed the reminder.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com

Even if you don’t play with food and flowers and gatherings for a living, the holiday season can taint baking and cooking with a hint of stress. Dinners and holiday parties put schedules and deadlines on creative outlets, and in the process, they can suck some of the joy from kitchen escapes.

Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com
Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche for a Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart
Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche // www.WithTheGrains.com
You’ll want extra bourbon to serve with this Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart

Maybe there’s a future iteration of me, who could join current me and past me in the dining room, and hopefully tell us both that she figures it out, she finds more ways to balance paying bills with feeding our souls (after all, she will be the older, wiser one). In the meantime, I’m letting my inner crazy attempt to steer me toward more balance and simpler baking joys, and I hope you find the same outlets during the crazy of the holidays. 

Here’s to [some semblance of] sanity!


Whole Grain Chocolate Pecan Tart with Bourbon Whipped Crème Fraîche
Adapted from Bon Appétit

About this Recipe: By reducing the sugar in the crust, using raw cane sugar, maple instead of processed sugar and corn syrup, and an extra dark chocolate, my adapted version allows you to enjoy the winning trifecta that is pecan, chocolate and bourbon without that “I feel my teeth rotting” sensation. In my zeal, I accidentally skipped adding chopped pecans to the filling, but I left that part in the instructions, so do as Bon Appétit says and not as I do. I was also a little over zealous with the chocolate (as per my usual). The Bourbon Crème Fraîche has a thick and fluffy texture, almost like a non-melting ice cream- win win!

(more…)

2 Comments

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Spiked Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

He pushed his hands against the table, and his chair slid backward, as if the growing space between him and the table would somehow create more room in his stomach. “I guess it didn’t help that we started the day with champagne,” he said, explaining the slowed pace of his Thanksgiving consumption.

“Why did you have champagne?” his older brother asked.

“Because we don’t have kids.” 

Ohhhhhhhhhh, snap!

“We should drink champagne more,” he said to me, and I couldn’t have agreed more.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Yeah, we are that Uncle and Aunt- the childless kind who can still relish simple luxuries like sleeping in and toasting champagne for breakfast… if you call “noon” breakfast, and on Thanksgiving, we do! (The Urban Farmer is also the kind of uncle who believes someone has to torture the youngins, a role he fills diligently.)

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Our Thanksgiving morning was a very intentionally slow morning that eased into a brunch just for us… with champagne. Being that 2016 has kept me on my toes, when a sanctioned day-off hits me, I am all too happy to kick up my feet.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

As the sort of basket case that leans toward the side of “do, do, do, make, make, make, go, go, go… stress, stress, stress,” doing nothing is not my best skill. The Urban Farmer, however, has a very healthy attitude toward “couch days.” During the season of gratitude, I found myself truly relishing those times when man, pup and I can nestle into nothing.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

I try to push the bounds of my gratitude, to see beyond the obvious. Yes, I am grateful for the roof over my head, for creative work, for a family who loves me and an admirable partner, but I’m also grateful for hot showers at my fancy, for growing up routinely celebrating my birthday with parties, for having real options for my education even if money was tight. But sometimes, it’s really soul-warming just to sit on a couch, sip champagne, watch a creepy show and relish that guy who thinks I’m special, all while snuggling the furry bundle of love who holds no grudges and wants to please us all the time. Those little nothing moments are in fact everything moments.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

So we relished the morning and its lack of responsibilities. I played with flowers to gift his grandmother, and we brunched in our pajamas. Then I gladly sat at a table for which I had to do zero work. I ate way too much, then refilled my plate because gravy overrides reason.

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Then there was round two- another side of the family, more plates, more refills, still no responsibilities and in the end, a game of name-that-hummed-tune and charades that made my face hurt from laughing so hard. Have a grown man do a t-Rex impression and then hum “Ring My Bell” while you try to guess what on earth he could possibly be channeling. It makes for a night to remember!

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com 

Whole Grain Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Spice Whipped Cream // www.WithTheGrains.com

Thanksgiving put me into such a mellow state. Between that lingering food coma and the subsequent gray rainy days, I’m having a hard time bouncing back in full force. These crepes are not only a good way to use leftover stores from Thanksgiving (extra cans of pumpkin and cranberries?), but they offer a way to indulge in a weekend morning and extend that Thanksgiving laziness feeling. Eat brunch in your pajamas. Watch a creepy show. Cuddle your significant other and/or furry companion(s), and be grateful for the nothingness of it all.

Quelcy Signature


Pumpkin Crepes with Cranberry Sauce, Walnuts & Pumpkin Whipped Cream
Adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

About this Recipe: Holiday shopping surely left an extra scoop of pumpkin puree or a stockpile of cans of cranberries, so use them up in one seasonal inspired brunch. Add a dollop of the whipped cream to your coffee, and serve the whole brunch with a bottle of bubbly! It’s not pictured, but I also recommend a healthy slathering of Nocciolata on these crepes. Chocolate-hazelnut, pumpkin and cranberries are a seasonal match made in heaven.

(more…)

0 Comments

Rose Water Chocolate Chunk Layer Cake with Rose Water Frosting & Rose Macarons

I made this cake for two sweethearts, their love and youth as effortlessly balanced as her hand in his. Her champagne colored dress, a rare standout in the sea of white, sparkled and shined in contrast to his stately navy. They circled and swayed as the record player spun with just the right crackles and scratches. “Hold me close and hold me fast, the magic spell you cast. This is la vie en rose.”  

Rose Water Chocolate Chunk Layer Cake with Rose Water Frosting & Rose Macarons // www.WithTheGrains.com

The piano keys flickered with the candlelight, the brassy trumpet and raspy voice slowed time, and I felt purely at ease, for a moment, the high we makers chase was firmly in my grasp. Romance has that effect on me.   

Rose Water Chocolate Chunk Layer Cake with Rose Water Frosting & Rose Macarons // www.WithTheGrains.com

Inspired by young love, by their song, this is the Cake en Rose, or Le Gâteau en Rose, if you will. 

Rose Water Chocolate Chunk Layer Cake with Rose Water Frosting & Rose Macarons // www.WithTheGrains.com

“When you press me to your heart
I’m in a world apart
A world where roses bloom
And when you speak, angels sing from above
Everyday words seem to turn into love songs
Give your heart and soul to me
And life will always be la vie en rose.”

To all you hopeless romantics out there!

xoxo,

Quelcy Signature

p.s: Eventually, you’ll be able to see all the wedding details I created for Les and Brittni on my portfolio site, so stay tuned. 


Rose Water Chocolate Chunk Layer Cake with Rose Water Frosting & Rose Macarons

About this Recipe: Because I wanted a smaller layer cake, I baked a 9×13 pan and used a 5” biscuit cutter to create the round layers. Alternately, you could use 3 6×2-inch round springform pans. Split them in halves horizontally if you want even more layers. The cake layers are separated by thin spreads of red currant jam. Overall, the cake is light, floral, and fruity with bites of dark chocolate and a hint of fall flavors.  (more…)

6 Comments

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup

I felt as though I had found fall. 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

There she was! Peeking through the tall, green trees, her flames blazed against the bright, blue sky. I was far away from the city (as evidenced by the changes in political fervor), where the trees were still clinging to their youthful summer glow. My little red car, packed to the brim with Nordic sweaters, enamel plates and a menu fit for a cabin weekend, zipped along the winding roads to a shoot location. Yet at that moment, I inched along the road, leaning into my steering wheel and staring as high into my windshield as I could. There was fall! 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

My “day job(s)” have taken me farther and wider this season, to that cabin in the woods, to a magical old building with chipping paint, where I tossed a scavenged collection of branches and leaves, to the beach with a rosé dipped sunset. Each time, I tried to slow down enough to enjoy at least one little moment, in which I removed my head from the time checks and just inhaled the landscape, the season and the little journeys. It’s not easy, especially when the darkness begins to cloak the creaky trees, sending my imagination wildly into scenes from Stranger Things, but I tried then too.

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

It’s a time of year when we turn to spices, and pumpkins, and lattes that pretend to include both, in order to be in this season, to savor it slowly in the first hints of crisp fall air, but arguably, we should turn to honey. 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

Those mystifying, inspiring honey bees, who we as a society have taken for granted enough to push them to the verge of endangerment, are masters in capturing the essence of the season. From the same plot of land, their routines yield honeys so incomprehensibly different. This fall’s honey, is thicker, the sweetness intensifying as it rolls across the tongue ever so slowly, as if to say, savor the lingering golden light, the warmth and the bold colors. 

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

No matter the season, nothing puts me quite in the moment like the combination of sweet and savory, so these Honey Sage drenched Biscuits are just that- sweet, savory odes to fall.

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits with Honey Sage Syrup // www.WithTheGrains.com

If you’re feeling particularly neighborly or generous, make extra Honey Sage Syrup and give the gift of fall to someone dear. When the biscuits are but mere crumbs, add the syrup to your evening bourbon drink with a fresh sage leaf garnish and really sink into the early sunset. 

Quelcy Signature

Whole Grain Apple Butter Parmesan Biscuits
Yield: ~ 12 biscuits

About this Recipe: Sweet enough to eat with breakfast or tea, savory enough to pair with roasted root vegetables and meats or warm butternut squash soups.

(more…)

1 Comment

Sweet Potato Reuben Sandwiches (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option)

2.6 miles is what separates every conceivable expensive, organic product from my kitchen. If my beloved red Vibe were unable to traverse those 2.6 miles, there’s a flight of steep city steps that nearly extends from my curb to a busway, which offers one of the few direct, convenient routes in our public transit system. Since I hate waiting for transportation, I have also walked those 2.6 miles, but it makes returning with a significant stock of groceries a challenge. All that is to say, my path to healthy food is nearly a yellow brick road, and that’s a luxury. 

Sweet Potato Reuben (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option) // www.WIthTheGrains.com

A car and a mere 2.6 miles means we can run to the store when the kibble is but dust at the bottom of the bin. We can make dinner decisions well into the evening. We can be cooking dinner, discover we forgot something and still go to the store. We are fortunate, but others are not so lucky, nor do they have such easy access to wholesome foods. 

Sweet Potato Reuben (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option) // www.WIthTheGrains.com

When the Urban Farmer began his search for land, he sought the obvious factors for optimal growth (south facing, drainage, etc), but he also targeted communities he thought would benefit from an urban farm. The farm’s namesake neighborhood, Hazelwood, had a prime location and a need for fresh, healthy food. The neighborhood fit the “food desert” classification, but that’s changing due to several agricultural initiatives and thanks to one woman with a vision. 

Sweet Potato Reuben (Vegetarian w/ Vegan Option) // www.WIthTheGrains.com

Dianne Schenk turned what could have been lofty thesis research on food deserts into a very tangible, seasonal fruit & vegetable stand in a food desert. Then she turned that stand into a year-round brick-and-mortar. Today, she runs Dylamato’s Market, and at long last, the neighbors have easy access to fresh, healthy, affordable food, including the sweet potatoes you see here, in my retake on the classic reuben. It’s not a grocery store, but it is a means to fresh food versus processed or canned goods, and it’s a hard-earned step in the right direction. Here’s to you Dianne!

Quelcy Signature

P.S: That giant ass can of beer paired with the reuben? My fella, the Urban Farmer, designed that label for the fine folks at Round About Brewery. You’ll need a beer that size to keep up with this hearty sandwich!

Sweet Potato Reuben Sandwiches (Vegetarian)

About This Recipe: This isn’t a precise recipe, just a guide for an easy vegetarian reuben. Thousand Island Dressing is the traditional condiment for a reuben, but I broke the rules and mixed homemade ketchup and an organic mayo to create an easy, similar tasting sauce. If I’m not making my own mayo,  I recommend Sir Kensington’s Mayonnaise because it’s GMO free and uses a healthy oil (sunflower). If not using a homemade ketchup, be sure to use an organic variety to avoid corn syrup and excess sugar. The sandwich shown does not feature cheese, but I love a cheesy version. For a vegan option, use a non-gmo vegenaise

(more…)

1 Comment

Peach Whiskey Spelt Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches

Several years ago, I stood in awe, taking in the brand newness of Wigle Whiskey in its infancy. “Try this!” the owner said, as he stood in front of the shimmering new copper still.  I dipped my finger under the slow drip and eagerly plunged my finger into my mouth, expecting that caramel-like, oak-aged flavor.

Spelt Peach Whiskey Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches // www.WithTheGrains.com

The wrongness of my false assumption hit me immediately. I tried to regain the composure I had surely lost.  Today, that clear liquid has character, a deep amber color and the oak notes that tickle the nose and throat with a little heat. Today it is whiskey, but then, it tasted like I had licked a raw grain like a popsicleWhiskey takes time, so much time and care.

Spelt Peach Whiskey Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches // www.WithTheGrains.com

I imagine parenting to be something like the smack of wheat that hit me when I was expecting maturity. A man might look at a baby bundle of little girl and expect his daughter to carry his belief systems, not to challenge him on everything, to grow up, choose a career path, follow that path and maybe settle down. But then reality hits like a drip from a still, and it’s dreadlocks, a tattoo, a wandering spirit, what some might call a restlessness and others would call curiosity. She’s opinionated, stubborn, a dreamer and a risk taker. 

Spelt Peach Whiskey Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches // www.WithTheGrains.com

I imagine parenting to be something like the smack of wheat that hit me when I was expecting amber, oaky flavor. The process requires time, patience and a good deal of faith. I’m eternally grateful my parents put trust in the process, allowing me to carve my own path, supporting me along the way.  

Spelt Peach Whiskey Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches // www.WithTheGrains.com

My dad is not a whiskey drinker, but I am. It’s just one of our many differences. However, the spirit is symbolic of our relationship. I was the surprise smack of wheat, but he was the one who aged well, who changed the most. He opened up, made himself vulnerable and supported me fully. When people say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” I grab a frisbee because my dad has changed more than anyone I know, and I am immensely proud of him for that.  

Spelt Peach Whiskey Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’m far away and belated (as always), but this is my Father’s Day dedication to my dad. Here’s to the man who placed me in front of a bull and believed I could herd that bull where I wanted him to go. Here’s to the man who handed me big ol’ truck keys long before the state would allow. Here’s to the man who cheered for me from every sideline and from every awards ceremony and then hauled me to my dream school. 

Spelt Peach Whiskey Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches // www.WithTheGrains.com

Here’s to the man who reads my articles on glorified tea parties because they are my articles on glorified tea parties. But above all, here’s to the man who has wept with me when I needed him to, who shed stereotypes to be sensitive, who tells me he is proud of me and loves me. He made me tough, but he made me sensitive too.

Spelt Peach Whiskey Cake with Smoked Sea Salt Caramel & Caramelized Peaches // www.WithTheGrains.com

This whiskey cake was for the local dads- the one who raised my Urban Farmer and the one who made that father a grandfather. It’s a cake for the way they melt around the new grand baby, the way they rally to build deck steps, the way they show up and support everything farm related. Here’s a belated ode to my dad, my local dads and to those who act like dads everyday. It’s not an easy role. It’s full of smacks to the face, and not everyone steps up to the plate, but to those who do, I salute you in the only way I know how- through cake! 

Quelcy Signature


Peach Whiskey Spelt Cake

About this Recipe: The cake batter will be very wet, but it yields a moist cake with a rich molasses flavor and a hint of whiskey. While the cakes cool, prepare the caramelized peaches, then the caramel and then the whipped cream. The recipe looks intimidating because of the many steps, but the whole cake comes together rather quickly. The alcohol in the cake bakes out, but the whipped cream will maintain the alcohol content, so this cake is not for younger eaters.

(more…)

3 Comments

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch for @BevBirthdays

For a brief stint of diligence, I had a gratitude journal. Daily, I would jot down three elements of my life for which I was grateful. Unfortunately, I fell into a rather lazy rotation of bullet points: my apartment, heat, employment, a roof over my head, etc. Of all the things I recorded, I never once thought to write “I am grateful to have had birthday parties to celebrate my place in this world.” 

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch // www.WithTheGrains.com

I never thought to write down “birthday parties” in my gratitude journal because these were celebrations I had taken for granted. Of course I had birthday parties. I had a BIG family who relished my existence, and even when times were tight, we had the resources for my favorite flavors of cakes and thematic decor. My older sisters channeled their creativity to make thrilling scavenger hunts and party games that stick out in my memory to this day! It should have been obvious, but I discovered recently just how blessed I had been/am on the birthday front.

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

It was this article that set me straight (and probably made me all misty-eyed too). In it I learned about Megan Yunn, who founded Beverly’s Birthdays. In 2011, Megan was volunteering at a local after-school program and helping 12-year-old Beverly with her homework. Discovering that Beverly never had a birthday party nagged at Megan and then eventually inspired her to start the organization that now provides birthday celebrations for homeless kids in the Pittsburgh region. 

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

Imagine the effects of these parties! Reading through a few of the organization’s blog posts had me in tears. One child asked to keep a clean disposable birthday plate because he wanted to cherish the birthday party. He washed it and reused it. Another child just wanted her own bottled water- not even a fancy bottle of water, just one bottle. Another mother walked her three children to the party after a stressful day of doctor’s visits (to which she also walked) because she knew how important the celebration would be to her kids.  

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

All these stories reiterated how much I have taken for granted. Theme parties and baking are two of my biggest passions, so I was so long overdue to contribute. I finally signed up and baked these cupcakes for a zoo-themed party. I chose this party in particular because it took place in the very neighborhood where The Urban Farmer started his farm. The community has welcomed him with such open arms, this felt like the least I could do to give back.

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’m not sharing these cupcakes to toot my own horn. My hope is this story will inspire you to find a similar outlet for your passions, whatever they may be. There are countless organizations that rely heavily on the work of volunteers, so whether you love knitting, power tools or cupcake making, there is probably an outlet for you. Also, these stories are worth sharing because they not only inspire us to give but to be grateful. I can’t applaud the folks at Beverly’s Birthdays enough, and I look forward to future themed baking!

Quelcy Signature

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & Mint Buttercream Frosting

About This Recipe: These cupcakes may be green and feature traditional cookie flavors, but they are made from all natural and organic versions because playful party food can still have a wholesome spin to it. I used all-natural blue and yellow dyes (from India Tree) to create the green frosting. 

(more…)

2 Comments

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.

(more…)

5 Comments
Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: