Monthly Archives: November 2007

Goodies update with more to come before Christmas

Our rough estimate is we’ll hand craft ~45+ cases of jams & jellies this year… our biggest production season yet.

It’s been a lot of hard, fun work and we’ve had a great time with everyone who has helped us along the way by supplying Campbell-grown (non-chemically fertilized) fruit from their yards, elbow-grease and companionship in the making of Two Big Cats Goodies. If you or someone you know would like something we’ve made in our kitchen, just point us to them and we’ll take care of it.

To all of you, our thanks. (And now, on with the show.)

Oh, wait! Please point this website to your friends -> their friends so we can distribute all we’ve made… TBC Goodies need to find a home.

Ok, here’s the update on this season’s goodies so far:

  • 1 case of fig jam
  • 7 cases of peach jam
  • 2 cases of spiced peach jam
  • 2 cases of spiced pear jam
  • 2 cases of apple-pear chutney
  • 2 cases of plum conserve
  • 2 cases of applesauce
  • 4 cases of tart tangerine marmalade
  • 2 cases of tart orange marmalade
  • 1 case of blackberry jam
  • 1 gal of the best apple juice you’ve ever had. (thanks gala tree 🙂 we’re out – this is no longer available)
  • 9 cases of pomegranate jelly
  • 4 gallons of pomegranate juice should produce another 8 cases of jelly
  • 2 gallons of peaches should produce another 4-6 cases of peach jam

Did you say you want peach jam?

It’s a darn good thing, too, because Joanne made another 5 cases of it over the weekend:

Mr. Carrier’s Peach Jam, peaches courtesy of Mr. Carrier 🙂

Don’t know who Mr. Carrier is?

First, he’s Mimi’s dad. If I recall, he’s a retired rocket scientist or GE engineer or… shoot, what was it he did before he started making honey? Well, I’ll ask them (for the umpteenth time) and this time I promise I’ll write it down so I don’t forget.

Anyway, Mr. Carrier has owned and operated Carrier’s Bees since Lassie was a puppy. Seriously.

His website is at

(website by Dave West of West Pro, yet another former neighbor – hi dave and suzi!) .

If you’re too lazy to click the link button and visit his website, your loss because Carrier’s honey is wonderful.

Anyway, we’ve got another stack of cases of Peach Jam, so when you get it in your holiday pack and it says TBC “Carrier’s Peach Jam”, now you’ll know the rest of the story. (kudo’s to Paul Harvey 🙂

Jam Fest post below…

(<<<< photo from 2004)

It occurred to me after I posted the article below that I should indicate it’s Copyright © SVCN, LLC our local, “freebie” newspaper, the Campbell Reporter.

I’m a big fan of the Reporter – I read each issue (back-to-front) because it covers Campbell in a very personal manner. Lots of bits and pieces of local stuff – new businesses, school & community goings-on and even – as you can see, local neighborhood gatherings… things you’ll rarely if ever hear about in the “major media”, but are of interest and value to us who value Campbell.

Hope you enjoy the article and picture from that Jam-Fest a few years ago….

Jam-Fest 2004

November 24, 2004 Campbell, California Since 1999
Classifieds Advertising Archives Search About us

Photograph by Jacqueline Ramseyer
Scoop and Measure: During the jamming process mother and daughter (from left) Helen Wilbur and Gail Barbin measure out the sugar and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice to make their batches of jam. Once done the women even create their own customized labels, ‘Pleasure in a Jar.’

Let’s Jam: Neighbors gather for Carroll’s jam session
By Alicia Upano
Meet Joanne Carroll, Pomegranate Lady.

As she greets guests at her Walnut Drive home on a sunny October afternoon, Carroll lets her T-shirt announce what’s in store for those stepping inside, “We Be Jammin'”.

Since moving into her San Tomas home more than six years ago, Carroll has become a pro at making jams and jellies using fruit harvested from the orchard on her Campbell property. And while winter’s citrus and summer’s peaches and plums have made it into jam and jelly gift baskets, or those occasional pies, it’s fall’s pomegranate that warrants a party.

The guests settle into the Carroll’s backyard, enjoying the last of Indian Summer, as they wait for her to begin the jamming festivities. Snacking on tortilla chips and homemade guacamole and chatting with Joanne’s husband, Hal, the party-goers are surrounded by the 17 fruit trees that keep their cupboards stocked with jam and jelly throughout the year.

The pomegranate tree is nestled on the southwest corner of the property, and Hal admits he first thought it was merely a “bunch of sticks” when they moved in. Hal said it took them nine years to find their ideal home, as he recalls pulling up to the modest one-story home for the first time with the realtor

“We thought, ‘Why did you bring us here? It doesn’t look like much,'” Hal said. “We walked through the house and fell in love.”

The fruit trees that border the nearly 14,000-squarefoot lot keep the couple busy year-round making jam, jellies, pies and liqueurs. But since the Carrolls bought their home in late winter, discovering their orchard has been a month-by-month surprise.

That winter their lemon, orange and tangerine trees blossomed. As the weather became warmer, the fruit grew more bountiful. Then as the summer months arrived so did the apricots, cherries, peaches, apples, pears, plums and figs. Then, as summer gave way to fall, that “bunch of sticks” turned out to be a pomegranate tree, bearing fruit with red-speckled skin and more than 800 seeds of tart juice for the intrepid eater.

As they had with their other fruits, Joanne and Hal decided to try making pomegranate jelly. Since jellies are made using fruit juices, Hal searched the Internet for directions on how to extract juice from the labor intensive fruit.

After freezing the pomegranates, Hal removed each seed singularly–a time consuming task–before juicing the fruit.

Not only did that method produce only a half cup of juice after he extracted the seeds from 10 pomegranates, Hal’s hands were stained blue for two weeks. Promegranate juice turns from ruby red to bluish purple once the juice settles.

Looking for a better solution, the couple turned to their trusty citrus press. Using the stainless steel press with a heavy lever, they were able to get a half cup of juice from only two pomegranates. That first year, they made four cases of jelly. Each case holds 12 eight-ounce jars.

By March, pomegranate jelly recipients were begging for more.

“OK,” Joanne recalls telling them. “But you need to help.”

That was four years ago. Now, with Joanne’s help, guests gather at her home ready to make their own jelly that will last until the next fall party.

But for the nearly 15 neighbors and friends that gathered for the pomegranate jelly-making affair, the day of jamming is just another way for Hal and Joanne to bring the San Tomas neighborhood together.

Community Seeds

Although the pomegranate fruit is a new diversion for the Carrolls, it’s one of the oldest fruits known to man. A native of Persia, the fruit was brought to California by Spanish mission priests and has been noted by Homer, Shakespeare and Chaucer.

Historically, the pomegranate can be found throughout biblical texts, and in the Jewish faith is a symbol of fertility, bounty and eternal life. Mohammad, the founder of Islam believed the fruit destroyed envy and hatred. Later, the Italians considered it a royal fruit.

Some biblical researchers even speculate it was the pomegranate, or seeded apple, that was the true fruit that tempted Adam and Eve and lead to their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Similarly, in Greek mythology, when Persephone swore off food while captive in Hades, the goddess of spring and fruit could not resist the pomegranate. According to the myth, the goddess spit out all but six seeds, each seed symbolizing a month she would spend away from the harvest, creating the annual harvest cycle.

Today, the pomegranate has been dubbed the most labor intensive fruit because of its leather skin and numerous seeds. And while Joanne has recruited help in making the jelly, much of the heavy lifting is done beforehand.

“They do all the hard work, we just come in and do the easy stuff,” laughs Gail Barbin, an old neighbor of the Carroll’s, who returns for the jelly parties.

Before the party, Joanne and a few neighbors pick pomegranates and spend up to 20 hours juicing five gallons of pomegranate juice. Over the years, the Carrolls have “put dibs” on the neighborhood’s pomegranates. Neighbors Ellen Dorsa, Bruce Peat and Janet Rinck are among those who donate their pomegranates for jamming. Occasionally, the couple receives doorstep donations from strangers who don’t use their pomegranates but have heard of the Carrolls’ jamming parties.

Dorsa is grateful that Joanne fetches the pomegranates from her yard, because often, she leaves the fruit for the birds to eat. For Rinck, however, it became the beginning of a friendship.

Rinck had lived on White Oaks Road prior to moving to Walnut Drive and knew only a handful of neighbors. The first day she and her husband, Paul, moved into their new home, Joanne came walking up their driveway and introduced herself.

“Hi, I’m the pomegranate lady. I’m here to pick your pomegranates,” Joanne said.

“And we’ve been friends ever since,” Rinck said.

Jar Full

In Joanne’s blue-tiled kitchen, jammers gather at her kitchen island for jamming lessons. Joanne has invited both new neighbors and old ones, by e-mail and door-to-door knocking. Neighbors who have moved away, like the Ceran family, still come back to make jelly. Heather Ceran, a teenager, is the youngest of the crowd and can recount her best jamming parties. But her all-time favorite jelly is pomegranate jelly. While waiting her turn, Heather walks around the house with glittered eyes and a ruffled skirt, holding up her cell phone, searching for signal.

“Who’s going to be next to make jam?” bellows Joanne, looking out into her crowded kitchen. Barbin and her mother, Helen Wilbur, step up to the plate. Jamming is usually done in twos, with one person measuring and the other watching the stove. Each batch takes approximately a half hour, and the party usually manages eight batches an afternoon.

Joanne instructs the women to measure cups of pomegranate juice through a large strainer to catch the few seeds and meat left in the juice. The duo then adds sugar, butter, a hint of brown sugar, and pectin to thicken the jelly.

By the time the jelly is ready to go into the jars Joanne’s washed and prepared, she lets the crowd taste the jelly. Joanne scoops hot jelly out of the pot with a spoon, and announces, “Lollipop time!”

Heather wants to lick the spoon. “It’s good,” she said. “It’s like candy.”

Joanne scoops a large measuring cup into the mixture and funnels the jelly into eight ounce jars. She then places the jars in a canning steamer, which seals the lids to the jar and help preserve the jelly. Most jellies can remain unopened for as long as three years.

Under the canning steamer, Joanne’s eyeglasses fog and the women laugh. Rinck jests that the jamming party was a front to get her neighbors to come over for steam facials.

But mostly, guests exchange ideas on the best ways to eat pomegranate jelly. One woman said no other jelly goes better with peanut butter. Someone else likes it on ice cream, another uses the jelly in place of cranberry sauce on turkey sandwiches. Joanne likes it with lamb.

Beyond jelly, the Carrolls make pomegranate liqueur. Their neighbor, the Rincks, plan to make pomegranate beer with their fruits this year.

On this day like the ones before, jamming experience is both social and personal. Each person names their jars of jelly and Joanne prints out individual jar labels from her Sony Vaio laptop. The Carrolls name their jams and jellies Two Big Cats, after their two big cats, Pandora and Delilah. New neighbors, the Kims, have named their jam Nam Jam, after mother Nam Kim. The Cerans have dubbed their jelly Ceran Wrap, and now it’s mother-daughter duo Barbin and Wilbur’s turn to pick a name.

“Hmm,” Barbin murmurs. “How about ‘Pleasure in a Jar’?”

The group laughs. “That’s it!” her mother seconds.

A few local businesses we recommend

Carrier’s Bee Keeping Supplies –
Longtime local guy makes good (stuff). We love his honey and swipe his peaches whenever we can. Lots to learn about bees here, but perhaps more important, Mr. Carrier’s a great guy who keeps an important and healthy tradition alive.

Silkwood Glass –
Candace and Treg are talented and wonderful glass artisans who create incredibly beautiful pieces. They’re so good, in fact, that next year they’re exhibiting at the Steuben Gallery on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Did we mention they’re the nicest people on the planet? Yup, they are. They can be reached via their website or at 408.483.0173.

Ok, so lately we’ve been getting out of our rut and trying a few new restaurants. Of the (new to us) places we’ve visited, so far we recommend:

Cafe Artemis –
Turkish food, unbelievably good assorted appetizer tray. Everything else we’ve had there is wonderful, too! Do your best to get there early or you’ll likely have a wait. Their baklava is (of course) home made and wonderful!
(Pruneyard, by the back entrance of Barnes & Noble’s Starbuck)

Deezi Restaurant –
Persian food, wonderfully prepared and oversized servings (we always take 1/2 home). Make sure you try the drink called, Doogh… it’s a yoghurt / soda drink, incredibly middle eastern and something of an acquired taste… I like it, though every other guest I’ve talked into trying it nearly yaks… (hey, did I say that outloud?) We ordered take out one night recently and found the meal didn’t really survive the drive home in an encouraging condition… skip takeout, just go there and eat. Their baklava is wonderful!

Thai Pepper Cuisine (no web page)
(408) 369-9399
We feel like we’ve been living under a rock for God Knows How Long… can’t tell you how long these folks have been open, but their food and service are great. We’ve had a number of dishes over the past 3 weeks and I’ve gotta say their food tastes just as wonderful as it did when I lived in Thailand! The curries, ginger, rice and noodle dishes have all been wonderful and their service is great. Portions are big, did I mention that? Two meals from one serving with these folks. They’re located kitty-corner to the Pruneyard on Bascom.

It occurred to me the other day that our neighbors and friends have information / tips they want to share, too, so before the end of the year I’ll create a web-based “neighborhood place” where we can all list our favorites for one another. I’ll also include a book / cd / dvd / misc library so whoever wants to can upload their stuff for neighbors / friends to check out and use. I’ll post when that’s ready for general use.

that’s it for now, write when you get work.

Happy Thanksgiving to all

The past week’s been a pretty busy one around here.

I had some medical tests and though the results aren’t in, the doc says she thinks I’ll be ok. I asked her if I could get a second opinion, so she said she thought I was ugly, too.

Badda Bump 🙂

Anyway, no wood carving events for Joanne this past weekend so we put ourselves to work doing late Fall / early Winter clean up. Trimming trees, wisteria and rose bushes, clearing leaves, mowing lawns, re-stocking bird feeders, topping off the ponds, remaining weeding, etc.

Woo Hoo, and they said we don’t know how to have a good time.

Monday I took Pan to Dr. Ueno for her 2 month post-surgery exam and x-ray of her digestive system. She weighed in at almost 17 pounds and although that’s slightly underweight for her, she’s gaining weight from her pre-surgery status. He was bowled over by how well she’s recovered and is doing – excellent coat condition, great muscle tone and posture – all in all, she seems to have made a 100% recovery. I don’t know how she does it… but I’m very thankful that she does.

A couple of bits of neighborhood news, in case you haven’t heard:

  • looks like our college-gal is home for the holiday and doing very well – good to see you, sweetie!
  • looks like the last of this generation of major home remodels on the street is coming to completion – it’s looking nearly finished and they appeared to have something of a house warming the other night.
  • looks like the spec house on stevens is nearing completion, too.

Gosh, what’s it going to be like on Walnut without construction trucks / crews and their associated issues such as noise, debris and parking over driveway entrances?

Oh, I know – I bet it will be quiet. (what’s that like, anyway?)

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

CROSSLOOP – you want this stuff!


Recently I’ve become aware of free software that you might want to check out for your own use.

This software allows you to have or share remote access to your friends / family windows pc computers… like when they’re having a problem and you’re trying to walk them through it “blind” – they’re saying “ok, I’ve got the mouse here and xxx and…” and you’re trying to imagine what they’re doing. With this stuff, you just download this to your & their computer, decide who is going to be the host and who is the visitor, enter the “session ID #” it gives you, then press the “connect”… voila, you’re then connected to one another’s computers and resolution is on the way 🙂

Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy.

I’ve tested it this week for “works as advertised” functionality and find it’s even easier to use than they say on their web pages.

Download / install and use couldn’t be easier. Really.

And it’s free!

Way cool.

More pomegranate jelly in the pantry

In an effort to use all we’ve harvested this year, I made another 3 cases of pomegranate jelly this weekend. Don’t ask me how many pounds of sugar it took – you really don’t want to know.

But the two gallons of juice are now transformed to jelly and as always, you’re welcome to it… just give a call or drop a note.

thx for visiting, write when you get work and until next time, be well.