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