Cooking like Grandma

Part of the reason why I love vintage recipes, especially handwritten ones, is that they’re not as rigid as the recipes in today’s cookbooks.  It’s a mixed blessing, since there have been times I’ve experimented with a handwritten recipe and had it turn out horribly.  (A few of my friends got to experience my rhubarb-custard pie last month that turn into a rhubarb quiche!)

As users of contemporary cookbooks, which over-explain every slice and dice, we don’t have a file of recipes in our heads.  For instance, I never saw my grandmother cook a pie using a recipe.  By the time I came around, she knew all the twists-and-turns of her recipe for pie crust.  A recipe would have held her back!

The same goes for making simple jellies and jams, so you can imagine how happy I was when I ran across David Lebovitz’s “recipe” for Cherry Jam.  My neighbor emailed me to let me know that she had some extra cherries from her tree — since they were pie cherries (sometimes called sour cherries), I knew immediately that I wanted to make some cherry jam.  I mixed these pie cherries with some Rainier cherries and I have to say, it’s some of the best cherry jam I’ve had!  I left about a quarter of the cherries whole, which Mr. Lebovitz recommends, and I have to say, they are my favorite part.  The jam was a perfect addition to my morning toast–tart, sweet, and tangy.  I didn’t have any kirsh and (in my gleeful haste to put my perfect jam into jars) I forgot to add the almond extract and the jam is still a winner!


  1. Reply
    Carbzilla July 20, 2010

    Yummy! Thought of you yesterday! My thrift store mom is in town, and we found lots of good old cookbooks (1950’s smaller pamphlet kind) at a thrift store in North Seattle. Email me if you want to know where – would hate to have someone beat you to them! Also good excuse to meet up!

  2. Reply
    Kate July 20, 2010

    This does sound yummy. So, Martha, what’s next? 🙂

  3. Reply
    Susan @ The Spice Garden July 20, 2010

    Hurray for canning! It’s so nice to see a recipe for cherry jam … I have just made blueberry jam and am still agog at how wonderful homemade jams and jellies are!If I can get my hands on some cherries, I may just whip up this jam too! Great post, Alison!

  4. Reply
    Tom July 25, 2010

    Looks delicious! Our cherry tree has almost no fruit this year, sadly. But the blackberries are just starting to ripen all over Seattle! We typically pick pounds and pounds, its our favorite jam. And pie. And ice cream topping. And smoothie berry.

    • Reply
      alison July 28, 2010

      @Tom: Kevin and I are looking to pick a bunch of blackberries to make some jam this year — know of any good spots in W. Seattle?

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