Wednesday, December 8, 2010


*i'm a little late with my thanksgiving post, due to getting very sick just after my lovely break! i'm feeling better, finally on the mend.

Thanksgiving. It's my favorite time of year. I love autumn - the light, the leaves changing, the hearty soups. I've spent the past 4 thanksgivings with friends, in a magical place called Onemo. It is a place that heals me and fills my soul; that gives me strength and reminds me what is truly important and what makes me feel most alive: time spent connecting with a group of amazing friends. I am so grateful to know and love so many unique, beautiful and FUN people. We're a pretty kickass bunch, if I do say so myself...:)

The memories created during these times together are so precious to me. I love to photograph the stunning landscape: its organic textures and scenes leave imprints in my mind that i revisit throughout the year. Thank you to my dear friends for hosting this event every year - it means the world.


Monday, November 15, 2010


Each time it comes around, I'm struck by its beauty:
Warm golden light. The sweet smell of crunchy leaves.
Snap in the air. Fireplace flames that leap and spark.
A fresh start. An old memory.
I want it to last forever.

Soon, the snow will fall softly.

Monday, November 8, 2010

right under my nose.

Recently, I visited my mom in Maryland. She's lived in the same house for 13 years, which is located about 20 minutes from Frederick. I kept hearing about what a cute town Frederick had become. My memories of the place were from high school, and I hadn't given it much thought since then. Well, on this visit, I was looking for a place to go to take photos. The weather was gorgeous and I felt restless to explore (a wanderlust that I am quite accustomed to).  I couldn't live without my long, meandering drives through the countryside; my spontaneous road trips that lead my curious mind on unplanned adventures. My eye constantly scans for treasures: an old, dilapidated building, whispering its secrets to me...or a stunning landscape, that leaves me with wonder and gratitude.

On this day, Frederick became my destination, and I fell in love...such charm & rich history! I'll be back, Frederick, to explore your nooks & crannies. Here's a sampling from the day, an ode to all things vintage:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

the winning pie recipe!

Mmmm, Pear-Cranberry Pie with a Gingersnap Crumble topping. That's the one!

So, I've had a few requests for the winning pie recipe that I used at the Charlottesville Pie Fest. It's actually a pie that I found in the Sweet Melissa Baking Book. When I moved to Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, in 2005, there was an adorable bakery on the charming Court St., called Sweet Melissa Patisserie. I would go there and sit for hours: reading, studying, having tea. I fell in love with that quaint patisserie, and owner Melissa Murphy put out a lovely baking cookbook in 2008. I highly recommend it to all bakers.

I love to bake pies, and this recipe stood out immediately. It's very rare to come across a pear pie; most people I know have never experienced such a delight. I made it for Thanksgiving and it was an immediate hit, drawing rave reviews. It's also beautiful - the bright red cranberries folded into the spiced pears are like Christmas lights, sparkling in every slice. It doesn't get much more festive.

Enjoy! (Use your favorite pie crust recipe)

I'd love to hear about your baking experiences and some of your favorite recipes. Also, any questions you may have.


  1. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  3. 1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  4. 12 Gingersnaps, crushed (see Note) 
  5. 1/8 teaspoon ginger
  6. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  7. 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  1. 2 pounds ripe Anjou pears (about 5)—peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  2. 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  3. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  5. 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  6. 3/4 cup sugar
  7. 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the Pie Dough to a 12-inch round and fit it into a 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim the overhang to 1 inch, fold it under and crimp decoratively. Brush the rim with the egg wash and refrigerate the pieshell until chilled.
  2. MAKE THE TOPPING In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.
  3. MAKE THE FILLING Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, toss the pears with the cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, toss the sugar with the cornstarch, then stir the sugar into the fruit.
  4. Pour the fruit into the chilled pie shell. Pour the gingersnap crumbs onto the pie, carefully spreading them to the edge to cover the filling completely. Set the pie on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake on the bottom rack of the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling; cover the pie loosely with foil if the top is browning too quickly. Let cool before slicing.


If you aren't planning on making gingersnaps from scratch, you can use 4 ounces of spicy store-bought cookies instead. (Gallo Girl note: I used store bought gingersnaps, crushed them in a ziploc with a mallet, they worked beautifully.)

first-place winner!

2 pie photos taken at the Cville Pie Fest by Cindy Maisannes

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

my pie takes the cake!!

My first blog post! woohoo! Very exciting! I decided not to spend any more time agonizing over which template to use or whether Wordpress or Blogger is right for my needs. I just need to start bloggin! I can tweak things later. I look forward to heaping my ample portion of OPINIONATED prose out into the blogosphere. Many thanks to my awesome friend Tippy for her encouragement. Thank you, Tippy!

And so for the first post - a subject that everyone loves...pie! I am thrilled to report that I was the winner at the 2010 Charlottesville Pie Fest that took place on Oct 3. What a fabulous surprise it was. I had found out about it through one of my long, meandering food blog searches. It sounded like so much fun and for as long as I've been baking (since I was 5, haha), I had never entered a contest before. I knew just the pie to make: my Pear-Cranberry with Gingersnap Crumble Topping (sound the trumpets!). This pie is unusual, it is beautiful, it is simply divine. I was up late, baking this baby, the night before the Pie Fest. I could hear its juices bubbling up in the oven: a comforting sound that told me that my pie was alive, percolating with juicy goodness, and filling my kitchen with heady scents of holidays. It came out of the oven - the crust was a lovely brown and that pile of gingersnap crumble could barely contain the glistening fruit trying to escape from underneath.
I went to bed happy and hopeful!

Pie Fest day was glorious: billowy clouds and autumn light that danced off my green Jetta as I sped the drive from Richmond to Cville. I dropped off my pie at 11 am and returned at 3pm for the announcement of the winners. There were three pies that made it into the final round of judging - the first to be announced was ME! I do admit, I had nervous flutters of excitement as we all waited for the best in show to be named. My name wasn't called for 3rd or 2nd place, and it dawned on me that I was about to win! It was a sweet moment when they called my name as "best pie", haha, and I walked onstage to accept my prize. I know I was grinning like a loon! My pie won "best in show" and "best fruit pie".  Several people came up to me afterwards and told me it was the best pie they had ever eaten. As any baker will tell you, that means a lot, and is truly gratifying to hear. What a happy day! I love a total surprise like that. And to think, I almost didn't go...

So much of why I love to bake is quite simple: making people happy.

The Winning Pie.

A few more photos from the day:

dropping off the pie at the beautiful church...

the lovely shenandoah valley