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!