Blog - biscuits and such
southern food blog
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Sol Food

When I was in 8th grade we received a letter in the mail from the Durham Public School System saying I’d been granted admission into the district’s art magnet school, Durham School of the Arts. I was furious. I hadn’t applied, it was my mother’s idea, and the idea of losing my friends and all the work I’d put into socializing myself the past three horrible middle school years was devastating. I tore the acceptance letter up and fumed. I had struggled to make friends when we’d moved from southern Florida back to Durham, and I couldn’t imagine starting over at a new school. Fortunately for me, the decision wasn’t mine to make and in August of 2000 I started high school at DSA.

That same year my younger brother, Reid, started 6th grade at DSA. It was over the next 7 years that he (both of us, really), fell in love with DSA, the culture, the teachers, our fellow students, and the community. It was also over these years that he formed close friendships with Ellen Duda, Dylan Hammond, and Eliza Bordley. And it was with these friends, many moons ago, that a plan was hatched to take a country wide tour in an old school bus.

Just a few weeks ago, almost twelve years after they all began their DSA journey, they started that bus tour. Their nonprofit organization, Sol Food, set off on a 6 month tour of the continental U.S. that will cover much of the states and many, many miles. They’re stopping in communities big and small throughout the country, creating square space gardens, working on farms, giving workshops, and exploring.

Their third stop was Baltimore. They came at the end of June and stayed for a whole week. The Museum hosted a few events in their honor (including a community day) and then they launched into a week of different projects. They build raised beds and decorated at the Jonestown community garden, Exeter Garden. They spent a day at Kayam Farm helping and learning and teaching. They went to the Catonsville 4th of July parade. They visited the Baltimore Free Farm and helped celebrate my birthday.

It probably goes without saying how amazing I think Sol Food is and how proud I am of their choice to do this service project. I’ve known all of them for a long time (Reid, obviously for all of his 24 years) and it makes me so happy that they’ve found a way to follow their dream and create something valuable. They’ve overcome odds, found funders, organized a massive service project and trip, and are still smiling as they do it. I strongly encourage you to check out their website, to follow their progress and if they’re coming to a town near you, check them out. You won’t regret it.

from left: ellen, dylan, eliza, reid


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I’m excited to introduce a new project- missELENAeous. For a while I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a place on the web to share things that don’t fit on biscuitsandsuch. I believe firmly that B&S is its most successful when it has focus and remains the niche southern food blog that it was intended to be. But there are so many other things, big and little, that I would like to share (without worrying about how it impacts my “brand”). So, if you’d like, head over there. I’ve done some posting there for the past few days so that it was populated before I shared it. One of the first posts is the story behind the name.

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Beer Sangria


This past weekend, in true Elena fashion, we celebrated my 26th birthday starting on the 4th. Growing up we would celebrate for months, traveling around from family vacation to family vacation. The latest I’ve ever started gearing up was Independence Day, the day when I tell myself the fireworks are really for me.

Our July 4th was wonderful. Sol Food was here (I’ll talk more about their visit in a post next week), and we were welcomed into the homes of four close friends. First we headed down to Catonsville, a neighborhood in Baltimore County that feels like small town America- especially on Independence Day, where our friends Jen and Bill live with their amazing and precocious daughter Finley. The parade in Catonsville is one of my favorites with floats including Baltimore’s best waitress (Miss Peggy) and marching bands galore. In the afternoon we headed to Overlea to watch the fireworks (and my favorite Will Smith movie) with our friends Jamie, Cheryl, Chris and (another) Jen. It was wonderful and when my head hit the mattress many dehydrated hours later I slept like a rock. Day drinking is taxing.

The next few days were full of being with my brother and the rest of Sol Food, eating a lot of ice cream, and trying to stay cool during the insane heat wave (my birthday has been record heat for the past three years). Then, on Saturday, we hosted a cookout for 45 or so friends, family, and new friends. It was amazing. Good friends came from far away (Julia came from Durham!), and we ate, drank, laughed, and gobbled down vodka soaked peaches. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

One thing I wanted when we decided to have this party was a signature cocktail. A few weeks ago I had a beer sangria at our favorite Bmore restaurant, Ale Wife. It was so delicious I knew we had to immediately try it at home. A combination of vodka infused peaches and a white beer, it was the perfect refreshing cocktail for a record heat day.

On Sunday we had a bloody-Mary fueled Durham-tastic brunch with Julia and two other DSA alums, Mattie and David. From the heartfelt cards and birthday toasts to the treat of watching friends from across our lifetimes bond over the littlest things (like an intensely long game of Cards Against Humanity) it was a magical birthday. Thanks, guys. You rock.

Beer Sangria
Inspired by Alewife Baltimore

Handle of vodka
5 peaches, ripe
White beer (such as Allagash White)

At least 24 hours before your party combine sliced peaches and vodka. When you’re ready to serve mix 1 oz vodka and 6-8 oz beer. Enjoy!

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