Anyone that knows me professionally, knows that I love accounting and that I love working in the bookkeeping industry. But what they may not know is that recently I took up the art of making homemade jam. For a long time, I wanted to learn how to preserve foods with canning and the like. A few years ago, I saw an advertisement for a jam making class at Happy Girl Kitchen in Pacific Grove. Excitedly, I signed up for a class and the class I took went over basic canning methods and also was a hands-on workshop where we made apricot jam. After gaining confidence with the class, I purchased some basic canning supplies and good cookbooks and started making lots and lots of jam!
Since I live in Northern California, there is an abundance of fresh fruit available from friends, small local farms and local farmers’ markets. So I started experimenting with different flavors. I was having so much fun making jam! I made more jam than me or my family could ever eat, so I shared some of my homemade jam with friends and business associates.
This is where the story gets a bit interesting…Last year while at Xerocon Atlanta, I got into an animated conversation about jam making with Craig Walker, the CTO of Xero. Unknown to me until that conversation, Craig not only makes homemade jam but he even had competed in some jam competitions in the past. Before I knew it, Craig and I were asked if we would like to have a Jam-Off at the next Xerocon. We both said yes and the next thing I knew, we were having our Jam-Off at a dinner the night before Xerocon San Diego.
It was a bit challenging bringing jam for the Jam-Off. Craig must have had the same worries that I did. What if my luggage was lost? What if the jars of jam broke in transit? And I must say those jars of jam were quite heavy! My daughter, Bekah, grumbled a few times about having to carry them! But all my jars of jam made it safely to San Diego and the Jam-Off was on!
Both Craig and I brought two flavors of jam. There was a tasting set-up so that all the attendees at the dinner could taste our jams, but no one knew who made which jam. I brought my all time favorite jam, apricot, and also an olallieberry jam, which is a berry variety that is mostly just grown local to where I live. Craig brought blueberry and a blackberry-raspberry jam. The judges were Steve Vamos, CEO of Xero, and Tony Ward, Xero President of Americas. The two judges seemed to take their judging quite seriously.
The winner was announced…sadly I did not win, but Craig did with his blackberry-raspberry jam. But truthfully all of the jams tasted great! I really thought that the whole experience was quite fun!
The next day during his keynote address, Craig shared a little of the story of our Jam-Off and he also shared the picture below. He also continued the jam theme with his product demonstration using a demo company named Foxglove Jam Suppliers. This really made the product demonstration entertaining! I thought it was great to have Craig share his jam-making passion with the audience.
Throughout the next few days of the conference, several folks came up to me asking about my jam or sharing that the make jam (or jelly) too. So who knows, maybe there will be another Jam-Off at a future Xerocon? If so, I hope I get the chance to claim the championship!