September 3, 2012

Just came back from a short but super fun camping trip with our family, and the Old Skool Cafe youth. We really, really like camping. I know it takes a lot of planning and more work to actuslly camp sometimes than to just stay at home, but it still seems totally worth it when you’re in the midst of Lake Shasta, at Oak Bottom Marina in Whiskeytown.
I’d be safe to say that most of the youth are inexperienced campers/outdoors people. But, they did adapt rather quickly, and most stayed up all night— unaware of the early morning campground risers who don’t care how late you stayed up… Anyways, we’ll plan some more at various other gorgeous camping areas around CA. Now, a shower.

August 2, 2012
We’ve been here for 2 years!

As of 230 pm yesterday (8/1/12), we’ve officially been San Francisco residents for two entire years.  So many great things have happened.  We came up here from San Diego to help open a restaurant, which is based on a non-profit organization called Old Skool Cafe.  In case you haven’t heard or if you don’t get the Cafe’s newsletters, the actual, thriving, competing in the SF food scene, fun and entertaining restaurant is open as of April! 

In the process of all the hard work and emotion that goes into opening a restaurant and operating a non-profit, we’ve been privileged to become parental figures to so many underprivileged teenagers and young adults alike.  We in turn learn lots from them.  They’ve embraced our family as their own.  We’ve learned about all walks of life, from different ethnicities and personalities.  We’ve worked alongside some very well known or up and coming chefs, caterers, business people, politicians, contractors, laborers, tradesmen, entrepreneurs, and various other types.  Two years is hard to explain in one letter or posting. 

But if I’m only allowed one word, I’d say: Fulfillingchallengingamazingtiringtryingdeliciouslyfunyetalsoemotionallydraining-butitisalwaysfuntoexperimentwithnewideasandrecipesanditisgreattoseethesekidssmile.

What does the next year or two hold for our family?  We’re working on some answers to that. 

More to come.  Stay in touch.

October 26, 2011
Get out of Hell, FREE! (read the fine print)

Lisa and I had a spectacular time the other night, taking BART to Oakland to watch the Foo Fighters.  I won free tickets from The Owl Mag, and it was only two days after we had attended the Treasure Island Music Festival (via free passes from the producers).  It has been a great season of concerts for us. 

I wanted to share an experience from the Oakland show.  When we finally made it around the bend from The A’s/Raiders Coliseum to the Warrior’s Arena, there was a group of Scream-vangelists™ (I coined it) right in front of where everyone was walking into the show.  They had bright yellow, embroidered jackets with various “Christian” sayings/terms all over them, and they were trying to “save” all of the “devil-worshippers” who were going to see the concert.

It was like a comic book spoof of some kind of B-rated hero assembly.  There were only four in the pack that I could see: The leader/main yeller, the cute girl holding the “get out of Hell free cards”, the quiet guy in the back not sure about this whole church thing but trying to impress the cute girl, and the meat head tall assistant pastor/worship leader holding the picket signs and helping “convert” the “lost”.  Now that you have a little visual on the people involved, I’ll share the small yet memorable experience.

We had just finished the last bites of our El Farolito burritos, so we were ridin’ high on the delicious cloud.  I was rubbing my tummy.  We were licking our fingers.  I had just thrown away our bag and was finishing the last sip of water to cleanse my palate.  We heard loud noises.  Yelling!  Arguing!  Scream-vangelists!™

They weren’t the “cool” kind of preachers, who just hand you a track, give a little explanation, and send you on your way.  These people were on a “mission”.  By the time I made it to them, a couple was screaming back at them, “we love you!  we love you!” over their retorts of fire and brimstone.  Upon our approach, the tall one handed me one of the cards.  It was like a voucher pass to get into a busy nightclub, but the letters in “Hell” were on “fire”.  (yikes!)

I gave it back to him, and said “No Thanks, I’m already going…” knowing well what I had started in his mind. 

It was like in all those movies where the record on the jukebox scrapes across the needle, and time stops, and all heads turn your way.  It really was.  He said, “wha? wait- where are you already going?”

I said, “why, Heaven, of course! I’m already going!” 

To which he replied, after he looked me up and down, “No. I don’t think so.”

I wasn’t wearing anything that would give him the impression that I would be going to Hell, so I just smiled, walked past them, turned back and Hissed at him as loud as I could.  He almost fell back as if an unholy tsunami had come upon him.  I walked into the concert and rocked.  I wonder if they “saved” anyone that night, or if their accurate judgments of everyone’s afterlife decisions led anyone to believe “the truth” about church and it’s goers.  I guess I won’t know, since they are going to Heaven, and I’m not.


October 11, 2011
Latest Updates on the fam coming soon(ish)!

To our readers, family, friends, and fans: Sorry sorry sorry- we know it has been achingly bad between this blog being updated, and our sort-of-monthly newsletters.  We have been soooooooo busy with life and work and life and life!  Quickly:

We’ve been married 11 years!

Rhythm learned how to ride a bike!

Eden received a Superstar award for highest math skills in her class! (that’s 2nd and 3rd grade, mind you)

Xander is Xander!

More to come in the Newsletter.  Bear with us for a moment or two…

September 8, 2011
Minor Accomplishments

[Rhythm Caught the Garter/accessory]

That’s a pic from last weekend’s family wedding in Santa Rosa/Windsor.  Someone should start a wedding biz- childcare area at weddings… *ahem* no reason why *cough*

Here’s another goodie:

[Eden was totally teaching us how to Dougie, teaching, teaching us how to Dougie.]

After that huge blur of a weekend with family in town, even better yet in our little house, we had to get back on track to get the kids ready for school.  Ah!  The dreaded early to bed and super early to rise days.  Parents, old or young in all your wisdom, answer me this: Why do children wake up SOOOOO early when they don’t have to, like on a Saturday- but cannot wake up on a school day, when they’ve had 10 hours of sleep?  Mystery of life.

Anyhow the point of this post is to say, my how life has changed.  What was once considered an accomplishment, is not happening anymore (music awards, college degrees, huge concert crowds, etc…) but now it’s “Wow!  I woke up 15 minutes ‘late’ (6:45 am) and still did everything on time with no hassles. (full nice breakfasts, lunches made, all kids nice and clean, some chores done, foamy milk in my coffee, out the door on time sorta, etc..) Great Job, kids!”  That’s now the goal.  We feel a sense of accomplishment when that kind of thing happens. 

All else in life is bonus, like this one:

[The kids’ faces tell you exactly how they are, all the time, in real life. Rhythm says, “it wasn’t me.” Xander says, “it was me!” Eden says, “It was them.” Totally exact.]

August 22, 2011

There is absolutely no doubt about it, this family loves Salsa.

dancin machines [Super Awesome]

Not so much the dance, but the condiment.  We make it at least once a week.  We experiment with different types of chiles, and add different ingredients.  No matter what you do, you can’t mess with tradition.  Sure, you can make something great out of new additions, or of course, by adding bacon, but that should be considered “lazy” or “cheating” b/c it usually makes everything wonderful.

meat [this little piggy went to the market, and then to my fridge]

But, really, you have to stick with something to relate to your own tastebuds, and those of others. 

     Cheffery sent an email before we left for San Diego, saying I should try to be in this competition called SF Food Wars with one of my Salsas.  I thought that would be fun, so I sent a quick recipe and left for a week.  By the time I returned, I found my recipe was chosen to be in the battle, and all the tickets were sold out!  Yikes, I better step it up. 

Harsh! [That’s harsh.]

Once I saw this was the real thing, I immediately thought of my favorite recipe, one that my grandmother had inadvertently taught me, just by me hanging out in her kitchen so many summers past.  She called it “Salsa Veraniega Sabrosa”, which translates to “Tasty, Summery Salsa”.  I love it so much.

I thought this would be a great opportunity to teach some of the young trainees at Old Skool Cafe how to make something spectacular.  So, after my test batch on Monday night, I decided I’d show a small handful of them the family recipe on Friday.  They ended up making a little more than 5 Quarts, all of which was used for the competition. We were able to put some in jars and sell a few to raise money to help with renovations for Old Skool Cafe!  

     It turns out, the people in attendance at the Food War liked the salsa.  We didn’t take into account the people who came back for third and fourth helpings of the goodness.  They didn’t leave much for the latecomers.  We ended up running out of salsa, so some people couldn’t taste it, therefore probably didn’t vote for us!  The good news: We did win an honorable mention award, in the Peoples’ Choice category- I was happy with that, since 1st place went to another grandmother’s recipe, also from down in Mexico.

 stereotypes  [stereotypes?]

     There are lots of great prizes and goodies we have been already using.  Lisa and I had tons of fun, but I don’t think we’d be able to handle a different kind of Food War- like 300 tastings of Macaroni and Cheese.  Maybe, but who has the time?  I say though, there is always time for gallons/liters of Salsa!


     Here’s some of the low down on the recipe, but of course there are a couple little things we can’t share since, well you know, we might compete against you someday…    

Do me a favor, don’t over-share this, or else I promise you’ll be haunted by the nagging of 1,000 Mexican Grandmothers, which may seem cool at first, but it just gets really loud.


     At the core, it is a broiled vegetable salsa.  Take 10-12 tomatillos, husks removed, your choice of 5-7 chiles (I prefer Serranos over Jalapeños for this one), a few Poblanos, depending on the size, 2-3 cloves of garlic, and a purple bell pepper- blacken all of those on a baking sheet under high heat for five minutes on each side.  While those are gettin craaaazy delicious in the oven, dice your favorite yellow onion and sauté it in a bit of light oil.  (most people prefer raw onions, but I HATE them, and the aftertaste won’t go away unless you soak or cook them…)

     When the stuff in the oven is done, put the Tomatillos in the blender or processor to cool a bit.  Take the stems and seeds out of, and skin off the Poblanos and Bell Pepper.  Take off the stems of the Serranos, and take out as many seeds as you wish, for whichever level of spice you love.  Add as much Cilantro as you prefer (I use 1/4 of a bunch, salt (about 4 T), lime, 2-3 t cumin, and 1/3 bunch fresh Mexican Oregano leaves. If you want more onion flavor, also add 1/4 of a RED onion to the mix.  Put your fully sweated yellow onions (makes it sound unappetizing, I know) on top of everything, blend until mostly smooth.  When done, add a couple kisses of Red Wine Vinegar on top, and fold it in there.  You just made 5 or 6 cups of green perfection.  You’re done.

     Try the salsa while it’s still warm, you’ll notice different, subtle, and lovely flavors than you will after you let it cool in the fridge overnight.  Stir it well before serving, and enjoy with loved ones- always a key ingredient when enjoying Estela’s cooking.  If you can’t find any loved ones, come over.

[The end]

July 6, 2011


One of the cool things we did for America’s 235th birthday was hanging out at the beach.  I guess there are several beaches in San Francisco.  This is not a surfing beach.  Aquatic Park in Ghirardelli Square.  It is definitely serene, and it wasn’t that crowded when we were there, as the fireworks didn’t start until 930pm.  We were lucky to be there on such a great day.  The kids even got to swim, collect baby jellyfish, and dig all the way to China.  Enjoy the photos.

June 13, 2011
Busy? What up with that?

wow. wow. wow.  Since the two eldest offspring have finished their first school year in the SF Unified School District, that means they are now officially enjoying their first summer break in SF as well. Makes sense, right?  Anyhow, much to my surprise the weather has been very summer-esque as of late.  Chongo

(Aside from the tornado force wind while I’m on a bike, what up with that? See video below, not related to the family, just funny.)

Anyways, they did enjoy a couple days of having fun at home with us, then they were wisked away to Summer Camp in Lake Tahoe for a few days with the R.O.C.K. after school program. 


We were sad, happy, scared, and proud all at once.  Of course Xander enjoyed being an only child for a while.  Grandma Laurie came up for the weekend to help, relax, and watch Eden’s dance recital.


Now starting today, all 3 kids are in VBS for the week, and an afternoon camp starts today as well with R.O.C.K. again.  Summer madness!


In work news: Old Skool Cafe was a competitor (against some very good restaraunts/caterers/chefs, mind you) in Sunday Streets’ Shrimp n Grits cooking challenge, and WE WON! People’s Choice award: tops in all 3 categories; Taste, Creativity, and Presentation.  Secret weapons- Smoked Gouda, Mimolette, Spanish Chorizo, and Cayenne/Garlic Shrimp.  (other secrets cannot be revealed…) 


The youth were so proud, it was worth all the efforts.  I have to go back to the kitchen and finish cleaning today.  Sigh.

Lisa and Laurie (grandma, mom) are going to go out to the city now.  It’s almost July already.  eek.

May 26, 2011

This video shows Rhythm accepting his “diploma” from his Kindergarten teacher.  That’s a Bug Scientist, mind you.  He was just a little excited.

May 16, 2011
Los Tres Maníacos

It’s time for a little update on the three very wild and very alive Kemble kids:

Eden is our little artiste, who has almost equal passion for making art, singing, dancing, reading and writing. She has turned into quite the performer as well, taking the lead female role in the opera her class wrote in conjunction with the San Francisco Opera program, choreographing a dance number to “Dynamite" with three friends to perform in her school’s talent show, and practicing for her upcoming ballet/tap recital on June 12 (stay tuned for upcoming footage!) Her latest love is letter writing, so drop her some snail mail and she is almost sure to reply.

Rhythm takes on his Tae Kwon Do “ninja classes” with all the energy his skinny little muscle-man body can muster. He’s also a fan of flipping and climbing on trees and jungle gyms when he isn’t practicing light-saber duels with Xander. He’s a whiz at math, and enjoys building an endlessly creative stream of lego creatures. In keeping with the hands-on theme, Rhy (pronounced “rye”) is the most promising chef in the family, who begs to cook with the Old Skool youth or our housemate ‘Cheffery’ whenever possible. Also a nature fan, Rhythm loves all the new creatures to be found in NorCal, and busied himself on our recent camping trip by collecting hundreds of banana slugs and even a salamander or two.

Xander fills his days demanding that mom roll the car windows down so he can “hi people” on the street—which basically amounts to him screaming ‘hi’ at anyone and everyone we drive by, hoping against hope that they will “hi [him] back.” (Oh curse the days when no one “hi’s” him… we are in for many tears!) He still loves playing “Fighting Bulls” with dad (a game he came up with in which they crawl around on the living room carpet charging and pretending to gore each other), and riding his new Radio Flyer scooter around the cul-de-sac. He still brags about his glow in the dark birthday party to people who ask his age and insists daily that we read him his favorite book, The Scrambled States of America (thanks Aunt Katrina!), from which he is actually learning to identify the different states.

It’s a wild wild world, and we love it.

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