I tend to think mixing my culinary hobby with my day-job is like bringing up politics on a first date, but it is hard to resist sharing a project that is the perfect blend of craft and career. Ten months ago, I was assigned the charge of engaging 50,000 local college students with each other and the community. Connecting seven institutions of higher learning, each with diverse histories and dynamic presence, was not an easy endeavor until some colleagues identified the common trend between them. That trend was biscuits – particularly our local favorite, Biscuitville – and it’s a timeless trend. Who doesn’t have an early twenties story that brings them back to Biscuitville? Sunday morning recaps of weekend mayhem or embarrassing pajama run-ins with professors after all-nighters. Students migrate from all directions to get an education in Greensboro and they make memories when they share our traditions.
Since then, I’ve been working with the ‘friendly folks’ at Biscuitville drafting, dreaming and deliberating over a week’s worth of activities for students. They range from academic to athletic but all center around the common ingredients of flour, shortening and buttermilk.
I was lucky enough to serve as a judge of the Brand Your Biscuit product development challenge for students. Alongside the experts, including product developers, marketing experts and store managers, we tasted more than 15 student recipes. They ranged from a “not your ordinary” Bennett Belle biscuit, a Buffalo Chicken biscuit designed by two Armenian Greensboro College students and a different take on the s’more by Steven Speilburgs at Elon University. Undoubtably, GTCC’s culinary school is a contender and UNCG, A&T and Guilford College students have constructed and deconstructed breakfast with icing, grits and Texas Pete. With 70 applicants to 7 finalists, I tasted far too many biscuits than any food writer would ever dream of. The biscuits were as innovative as our students and the folks at Biscuitville are as friendly as they say. The stakes are high and I can’t divulge the winner, but you’ll be tasting a scratch-made and student-inspired biscuit soon enough in a Biscuitville near you.
Biscuits and college students aren’t unique to Greensboro but combined with community, collaboration and creativity, it’s a place for students to thrive and make home.
Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, who wrote not far from my upbringing, once said ”A part of the placidity of the South comes from the sense of well-being that follows the heart-and body-warming consumption of breads fresh from the oven.” And while I grew up so close to Cross Creek, I tasted my first Biscuitville biscuit and found home while studying at Elon.
In honor of this week’s Greensboro Collegiate Biscuitville Bowl, I prepared my own scratch-made biscuits, using local Old Mill of Guilford Southern Style Biscuit Mix and paired them with a sweet fresh strawberry compound butter. Strawberries are in season early and in plenty at the Greensboro Curb Market. I used Sawyer Farm strawberries and Homeland Creamery butter. Compound butters can be altered to your liking so feel free to experiment with herbs, spices and flavorings such as reduced balsamic vinegar, black pepper, basil or mint. They pair beautifully with a homemade or Biscuitville biscuit!
Thyme, Lavender and Fresh Strawberry Compound Butter
- 2 pints fresh Sawyer Farm strawberries, chopped
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon dried lavender (available at Savory Spice Shop in Friendly Center)
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
- 1 cup Homeland Creamery butter, at room temperature
Cut fresh strawberries into small pieces. In a small pan, add strawberries, honey, lemon juice and lavender. Simmer on medium heat until thick and jam-like. Allow to cool and mix in thyme. In a stand-up mixer, whip strawberry mixture and butter until smooth and combined.
Serve with a Biscuitville Biscuit or a homemade Guilford Mill Southern Biscuit.