Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TWD: Pear Crisp

I got a new camera!!! I'm so excited, but still learning how to use it... Bear with me...

I come from a family of photographers - my great-grandfather was a very well-known one in the '20s, '30s and '40s, and pretty much any historical photos of the Asheville area were taken by him. He had a studio called Plateau Studio, which his son, my grandfather took over when he passed away at a relatively early age.

Under my grandfather's ownership, it evolved into a camera store called Ball Photo which is still around today, though my grandfather (Papa) has been gone for over 8 years. I grew up in his store. I worked there every summer and winter vacation from the time I was 12. Before that, when I would visit, Papa would lift me up onto the showcases where I would sit and chat with his customers whom he introduced me to as Sarah Lydia Ball Photo Easterling. For a long time I believed Ball Photo was actually part of my name.

I fell in love with photography at an early age, and I used to do a lot of it. I was a bit of a snob about it - I wouldn't touch a camera unless it was fully manual, and I did all of my own darkroom work. It was such fun. Eventually, I gave in to having a camera the could be fully manual or automatic, and how I loved that camera. It was a Canon Elan 2E and it went everywhere with me.

Then the summer before my senior year of college, my grandfather passed away. He had come to Syracuse, NY - where I was in college - to see me in a play. He was 80 years old, still worked 7 days a week, drove too fast, flew alone. Nothing could stop him. Or so we thought. The flight from Asheville to Syracuse caused an aneurysm to rupture in his brain, and several hours after his plane landed, he was in the ICU. About a month later he was gone. He never saw my play. The first opening night of mine he ever missed in my 10+ years of acting up to that point.

After he passed away, I didn't work in Ball Photo again, and I started using a point and shoot. It wasn't until I started this blog that I started to get excited about photography again. I'm a bit rusty, but it feels good to be getting back into it.

All of this has nothing to do with a pear crisp. I bought my camera at Ball Photo yesterday, and it is still hard after 8 years to walk in there and not see Papa peering over his desk. I was raised by a single mom and spent more time with my grandfather than my dad growing up. I still can't drive up the street our family home was on, I can't think about him without crying. I'm crying as I write this. I'm incredibly fortunate to have had someone like him in my life, even though he left sooner than I would have liked. I wish he could have met my kids, I wish I could have shared all of my treats with him, I wish he could have seen that play, and the ones that followed. He would have been so happy that I moved back to Asheville...

Anyway, Papa really loved apple pie with vanilla ice cream, but I think this pear crisp is something he would have loved too. I left out the sugar in the filling, used palm sugar instead of refined sugar, and added some fresh nutmeg to the topping, and it was delicious. My son had 3 helpings of it while it was still warm from the oven! If that isn't high praise for a dish, I don't know what is.

This recipe was chosen by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef, though the recipe won't be on her blog until next Tuesday. We're allowed to bake out of order this month do to Thanksgiving. So, thanks to Em for a really tasty pick!


  1. It was very lovely reading about your family and your memories of your Grandfather. I don't know anyone who wouldn't want a scoop from that pretty dish of that wonderful looking crisp! How fun to have a new camera to play with...especially since you are so knowledgeable about cameras and photography!

  2. I so enjoyed your story about your grandfather. It is hard to loose a loved one. Your crisp looks delicious. Also,I really love the baking dish.

  3. Oh, Sarah, what a sweet and loving tribute to your Papa - I feel like I know him, and a little bit more about you, too! How lucky you are to have those memories, and you have the photography to link yourself to him (and his father too!) We gave my daughter an enlarger for her 16th birthday and she outfitted a darkroom in the basement with vintage cabinets from a previous kitchen of our, scrap countertops, and a donated kitchen sink. I want to learn how to use it - before she takes it to Buffalo with her - so that I can print some of the (millions of) film photos that I've shot over the years.

    Your pear crisp looks fab; we loved the cran-apple version too. The molasses crystals worked really well with the spices.

  4. What a wonderful post. I'm glad you are getting back into photography. Your crisp looks wonderful. I'm looking forward to making this recipe.

  5. That was such a nice but sad story. It made me start to think about my grandfather who I miss terribly. Sometimes, I wish he could have met my husband and kids too. Just remember they are still with you in spirit.

    The pear crisp sounds wonderful! A nice change from the traditional apple.

  6. What a lovely post. Your crisp looks perfect! I always thought your pictures were beautiful. :)

  7. What a sweet and thoughtful post! Your pear crisp looks wonderful. Hope you enjoy the new camera!

  8. What a sweet post about your grandfather - those memories are priceless. Congratulations on the new camera and on getting back into photography thanks to blogging. Your photos are always gorgeous :)

    Nice job on the crisp! I like the idea of pears in a crisp but I don't think I've ever tried it. I made the molasses cookies this week, which were also delicious!

  9. How lucky you are to have such wonderful memories of your grandfather. On a happier note, your crisp looks divine. Can't wait to try that!

  10. Sarah, this post about your grandfather brought tears to my eyes as I read it. What a wonderful and loving tribute.
    Your pear crisp looks lovely. Enjoy your new camera. I can't wait to see what lovely photos you create with it.

  11. Those of us who had grandfathers for a while are very, very fortunate. And I am glad you had yours for a long while. I know how you feel about missing him. I miss mine terribly even after 28 years. Thanks for the story.

    Your pear crisp looks wonderful. I cannot wait to make this one and now may use pear rather than apple.

  12. What a wonderful post and tribute to your Grandfather. He sounds like an amazing man who contributed so much to an amazing woman! Good luck with the new camera! Your crisp looks delicious.

  13. Great post! Congrats on the new camera. I can't wait to make the crisp. It sounds so delicious and easy.

  14. what a beautiful story about your grandfather and good for you for getting back into photography even though it is a little painful. I made the crisp this afternoon and I thought it was delicious- so did my 20 month old daughter!


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