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!