Adapted from Joie de Vivre by Robert Arbor and Katherine Whiteside
This is a happy book by a Frenchman who owns a few darling cafés, Le Gamin, in New York City. In it he describes Simple French Style for Everyday Living. It's wonderful to dream about this idyllic way to live. If you're reading this post, you obviously like - or love - to cook, so you've probably incorporated at least some of his ideas into your life already. If you get this book, and I encourage you to do so, you will find a few more.
Now that spring has finally sprung, and the sky is clear, and the air is fresh (even in NYC), and the trees are blooming at last, we don't have long to wait for bursting-with-flavor fresh summer fruits and vegetables to be available at farm stands everywhere.
This is a lovely simple recipe to have up your sleeve as strawberries and raspberries and blueberries appear, glistening temptingly in their little baskets. This jam is not preserved in airtight jars with wax seals. It's completely fresh, and you only make enough to last about a week because it keeps well in the refrigerator for that long. (And this is a perfect time to use the French jelly jars that we all have in our cupboards with those red plastic tops that sit in the drawer because we use the jars for drinking.) It is delicious on toasted French bread that has been buttered as lightly or liberally as your taste and waist allow. The crunch and the butter and the sweet fruit is a delirious combination that you should enjoy while you can. Then next winter you will dream about it longingly again and making it will become a summer tradition.
Strawberries, raspberries or blueberries*
Aproximately 1 to 2 cups sugar, depending on how much fruit you use
If the strawberries are large, cut them into four pieces; if small, cut into two pieces. The blueberries and raspberries do not need to be cut. Put the fruit in a bowl and toss with sugar until all the fruit is coated with sugar. Put the fruit in a saucepan. Add water to halfway up the fruit in the pan. Bring to a boil uncovered. Lower heat to a simmer immediately, stirring occasionally.
When the fruit has turned liquid, taste and add more sugar if it's not sweet enough. Once the extra sugar melts into the fruit, the jam is ready. It still looks runny but will firm up enough after it has been refrigerated.
*My favorite store-bought jam is a Swedish preserve, Queens Blend by Hafi, which I get at Ikea. It's made from red raspberries (remember, there are black raspberries) and wild blueberries and is as delicious a combination as I can imagine. So mix the fruits mentioned above at your whim.