Friends and Family

Music, Stories, Pictures, and Stuff!

October 8, 2017
by NcStevenB

Maiden Voyage

We wisely decided to go a very short distance and for just one night. Oak Hollow Campground fit the bill; less than 10 miles away. I went over to the storage unit, swapped the Prius for Silver Boy (SB). That’s Cata’s name for him. Who am I to argue? Driving SB is getting easier and easier, though the crashing dishes is disconcerting.

Once home I hooked up the electric. We only have 15 amps to outside. With only the air and the fridge turned on it kept blowing the circuit. So that is a quick lesson. Switching the fridge to propane solved that problem. Next, all of the things we had ordered were thrown into the RV. The guitar, mandolin, dobro, instrument holder, and a music stand were loaded into one of the exterior compartments; we are musicians after all.

When Cata got home from work, the electricity was disconnected. Before we drove off, Cata put two pillows in around the dishes in the cupboards that were crashing. That solved the noise. We drove off to the campground, less than 15 minutes.

Okay, so if you want to watch cable TV, supplied by the campground, then you need to bring a cable to connect to the service. Backing into the space wasn’t too hard. We have to be careful of the slides and awning, make sure they aren’t being blocked by trees. We located the sewer and the power. Where was the water? And how do you connect to it? Asking the neighbor helped with all of that. As soon as we had the power connected, Cata did the auto-leveling and then the slides. Then she turned on the air and switched the fridge to electric.

We spent the first couple of hours putting the things we’d purchase in the right places. We also lined the shelves with liner that keeps things from moving. This proved to solve the noise problem just as effectively as the pillows when we left the campground the next morning.

Another thing you need if you want to watch TV is batteries for the remote. We spent time making music instead. Playing music was cramped. Rotating the passenger seat was impossible. Where was the lever? So we shared a narrow couch. Still it was fun to play.

So you aren’t held in suspense….. What? You aren’t in suspense? Anyway, there is no lever. You just have to push the seat all the way forward and then rotate it. We found that out the next morning.

Our first meal in the RV was quiche, spinach/mushroom/sausage or red pepper/sausage. This was followed by some homemade mocha frozen yogurt. Well no, it wasn’t.   I’d made it that afternoon to celebrate our first night, but forgot and left it in the fridge at home. This might be a good way to go. Make the food at home and then just zap it in the microwave. It will certainly work for weekends.

The bed was a little cramped on my side. That will take some getting used to. When I first lay on it the sound of plastic crunched below me. Cata hadn’t made it yet. We had to remove the plastic. We will also get some new sheets, better than the ones we brought. The toilet is fairly cramped. It is good that we aren’t big people.

When we tried to flush the system, get rid of the black water, nothing happened? How can that be? The lever was pulled and re-pulled. The valves were opened, closed, and then reopened. Nothing. Could the brand new hose be clogged? You know, there is an inside, red cap in that hose. If you don’t remove it, nothing is going through. I didn’t even see it. Once that was taken out, we flushed that black and grey water tanks a few times.

The little things we learned too numerous to list, too tedious to detail. But even the one day away from the home was very relaxing, such a great break from the demands of day to day. Our short distance run may as well have been a trip to the mountains or to the beach. We will surely come back to Oak Hollow Campground.

April 10, 2017
by NcStevenB

Sweet and Salty Pecans

These are wonderful.  And if you want a little fire, just add the cayenne.  A great snacking alternative to potato chips.  A batch will last me a couple of weeks.

Sweet and Salty Pecans

Serves 20
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
Total time 1 hour, 10 minutes
Meal type Snack
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
By author Steven Burns


  • 6 cups Pecans (Whole or halves work best)
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1 tablespoon Water
  • 3/4 cups Brown Sugar
  • 3 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne ground pepper (Optional; use if you want to add some bite to the recipe)


Step 1
Preheat oven to 275
Step 2
In a small bowl, throughly combine the brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne (optional)
Step 3
In a large bowl, whisk together the water and egg white until very foamy.
Step 4
Add pecans to foamy egg whites and stir until pecans are thoroughly coated.
Step 5
Add contents of small bowl to large. Combine until pecans are thoroughly coated.
Step 6
Dump pecans onto baking sheet. Bake for 1 hour, turning pecans every 15 to 20 minutes
Step 7
Remove from oven, cool, and place extra into containers. Enjoy!

March 1, 2017
by NcStevenB

Easy White Chili

My daughter, Brandon, asked for this recipe. I used to make it all the time when they were growing up. Decided it would be easiest to add it here, where anyone can get at it. It is very easy and tasty. As they say at the restaurants, “Enjoy!”

White Chili

Serves 8 - 16
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 3 hours
Total time 3 hours, 30 minutes
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
Occasion Casual Party
Region Mexican
By author Steven Burns
Very easy recipe. Used to make this all the time to feed our family of five. It is a good alternative to standard chili. I always made it in the crockpot. Suspect I'd make it in a pressure cooker now and cut the cooking time to 45 - 60 minutes depending on whether I soaked the beans or not.


  • 16oz Navy Beans (Soaked overnight to soften)
  • 2lb Chicken (Deboned and Copped - Any part of the chicken will do)
  • 1 lrg can Chicken Stock
  • 2 - 4 cups Water (Depends on how thick you want your chili)
  • 2 - 4 cubes Chicken Bouillon (One for each cup of water)
  • 2 - 3 Jalapeno Peppers (Deveined, seeds removed. Chopped)
  • 3 - 5 tablespoons Cumin
  • 3 - 4 Onions (Chopped)


Step 1
Combine all ingredients into a very large soup pot or a crockpot
Step 2
Cook on low heat, at a very slow boil for 2 to 3 hours until beans are very soft. Stir occasionally. Or cook for 8 hours on low in a crockpot.


February 13, 2017
by NcStevenB

Swedish Meatballs

As with most of my recipes, this is made to be simple.  Despite that, it does take a little prep time.  I prefer to get two pieces of meat from the store and turn them into ground meat using the food processor.  That way I can control the fat content.  This works well with the Dukan Diet.  But it is equally good without the diet.

Swedish Meatballs

Serves 8
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
By author Steven Burns
While a pressure cooker is used here, it could just as easily be prepared in a conventional large stew pot, even in a slow cooker.


  • 1 Large Onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Yogurt (plain and non-fat)
  • 1lb Ground Pork
  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 1/2 cup Egg beaters (2 eggs can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon Splenda Brown (1 tsp sugar can be substituted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Allspice - ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg - ground
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 cup Oat Bran
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 can Beef Broth (16 oz)
  • 1/4 cup Sour Cream - low fat


Step 1
Dice onion - saute in pressure cooker until turning translucent ( use a bit of oil)
Step 2
Combine onions and all ingredients except beef broth, yogurt, and sour cream in large mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Step 3
Pour broth and yogurt into the pressure cooker. Whisk to mix. Set pressure cooker to sauté to start warming the broth (shortens overall cooking time)
Step 4
Form meat mixture into large, one - two inch meatballs, placing them in the broth.
Step 5
Seal pressure cooker and set to cook on high pressure for 12 minutes
Step 6
Use quick release method when the pressure cooker is done.
Step 7
Serve with a dollop of sour cream on each meatball.

February 4, 2017
by NcStevenB

Chicken Drumsticks or Wings

This is an easy recipe, though it takes a bit of work.   You make the sauce, assemble it in a pressure cooker, reduce the sauce, and then broil.  The sauce could be anything that you like.  This one works well for us.

Chicken Drumstick & Wings

Serves 4 - 8
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Serve Hot
By author Steven Burns
I've used a pressure cooker as the meat is always tender. The sauce can be varied a gazillion ways for different flavors.


  • 2lb Chicken (Wings or Drumsticks)
  • 1/3 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Splenda Brown
  • 1 teaspoon Red Pepper (flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Smoked Paprika


Step 1
Whisk together all of the ingredients except the chicken in a bowl
Step 2
Place all the chicken into a pressure cooker.
Step 3
Pour sauce over the chicken. Close and lock the lid.
Pressure Cooking
Step 4
Set the pressure cooker to cook for 20 minutes at high pressure. Walk away and relax.
Post Pressure Cooker
Step 5
Aluminum foil a baking sheet and spray with cooking oil (Pam)
Step 6
Remove the chicken from the pressure cooker and place on baking sheet
Step 7
Reduce the sauce in the pressure cooker using the sautee setting until the sauce is moderately sick.
Step 8
Coat the chicken with half of the sauce and put it into to Broil for 4 to 8 minutes until browned the way you want.
Step 9
Turn the chicken over, coat the other side with the remainder of the sauce. Broil for 4 to 8 minutes.

February 4, 2017
by NcStevenB

Cappuccino or Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

It’s easy to use and is part of the Dukan Diet. Cata and I eat it any time we want a snack or dessert, though it is best coming right out of the ice cream maker. We use a small cuisinart ice-cream maker. A word of warning, you can really only make one batch each day as the ice-cream maker freezer element has to refreeze after each use.

Chocolate or Cappuccino Frozen Yogurt

Serves 3
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Freezable
Region American
By author Steven Burns
Use a small cuisinart ice cream maker. This is perfect for the Dukan Diet; you can lose weight eating it.


  • 3 teaspoons Cocoa (omit if making cappuccino frozen yogurt)
  • 2 tablespoons Splenda Brown
  • 1/3 cup Non-Fat Plain Yogurt
  • 1 can Evaporated Skim Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Instand Decaf Coffee (omit if making chocolate frozen yogurt)


Step 1
If making cappuccino frozen yogurt, add of quarter cup of evaporated milk and coffee in container and microwave until hot and instant coffee dissolves.
Step 2
Combine all ingredients in a medium, freezable container and blend.
Step 3
Place container in a freezer and chill until almost frozen (1 to 2 hours)
Step 4
Assemble ice cream maker, pour in the mixture from the freezer, run ice cream maker from 20 to 25 minutes.
Step 5
Transfer frozen yogurt from ice-cream maker into a plastic container and place in freezer

June 14, 2015
by NcStevenB
1 Comment

Viruses, People, Earth, and God

My mind wanders in church this morning.

Proportions, just how big are we? How do we compare to something tiny, maybe a virus? They’re pretty small. We must be huge compared to it. Still, it has to be a proportion that is recognizable. I’ll have to look up some numbers on the internet.

Okay, so volumes:

  • Virus – .000000000000047 cubic centimeters
  • person – 66400.00 cubic centimeters

My god, we’re huge. We are 140,000,000,000,000,000 times the volume of a virus. That is 140 million billion times the size. No wonder I don’t care about an individual virus.

Proportions, just how small are we? Naturally, if my mind is heading one way, it has to turn and go the other. How do we compare to the earth? I mean, when I’m driving along for an hour I cover an immense amount of distance, but very tiny compared to the earth as a whole.

Again, volumes:

  • Person – 0.0664 cubic meters
  • Earth – 1,097,509,500,000,000,000,000 cubic meters

My god, we are infinitesimal. The earth is 16,713,115,900,000,000,000,000 times bigger than us. I mean, really!!!? If the earth is alive, it hardly could know that one of us exists.

Now let’s see. At these sizes my math gets a little off. But that means that the earth is 11,937,940 times bigger than us compared to viruses. What? Yep, 12 million times bigger than we are to viruses. So putting the impossible into perspective, the earth noticing us would be like us noticing something that is a 12 millionth of the size of a virus. And we already determined that we are huge compared to a virus. This would be more like us being vast!

And here is where it all leads to.  The earth is not noticeable on the scale the galaxy. The sun might not even be noticeable. We are too tiny to consider.

Back to church. How does this apply? A few interesting things come to me.  I do not claim any one of them to be true.

  1. God is a human construct, has to be relatively local to even be aware of us. Maybe God is a new being that exist purely as our collective conscious?
  2. God is too small to have created the universe. If he created everything in the universe, then we would be way too small to be of any notice at all.
  3. God is far more alien than we know if it is able to care about anything on the vastly different scales of the universe as compared to humans.

A final thought (unlikely), aren’t you glad you don’t have crazy ideas like this?

April 2, 2015
by NcStevenB
1 Comment

Cleaning that One Disgusting Place in the Kitchen

Okay, our house is very clean. Catalina is a demon about that. I will clean something spotless, only to have Catalina tsk at me about how dirty things are. “Don’t you look?” It can be frustrating living with a cleaning demon.

But there is one particular place in our house that gets cleaned very rarely, is really dirty, and is used very regularly. What do you guess it is? You got it: the microwave. I mean, that thing is a pit. My bet is that yours is similar. Let’s see: flecks of spaghetti sauce (wait that might be splatters of warmed up Mexican), some extremely crispy rice (no not rice krispies), and what’s that brown stuff over in the corner. But if you try to clean it nothing happens except for disintegrating the sponge you are using. Let’s try steel wool. Hmmm… all the disgusting flecks remain but the steel wool is destroyed. Hopeless! So it goes months without being cleaned.

And this is the way that it’s been all my adult life, until today. Today I cleaned it in about 5 minutes with minimal effort, back to looking like new. How? I steam cleaned it. So I poured two cups of water into an open plastic Ziploc container. Then I zapped it in the microwave in thirty-second bursts so that the water boiled each time, maybe 4 or 5 boils. Then it just sat there for about 5 minutes. Took a sponge and wiped it down. Piece of pie, easy as cake…. No, I didn’t heat those in the microwave.

How can it have taken me more than 30 years to think of this? Duh!

February 11, 2015
by NcStevenB

She Dances with the Moon

She Dances with the Moon – February 5, 2014


Writing this song has been a real experience. Most of the time we write about ourselves, whether we want to or not. But this song came from the memory of a Maxfield Parrish poster that a friend of mine had. The memory is greatly edited as I can’t find what I recall anywhere.  This image is only mildly similar to what I remember, but will suffice.

Writing the lyric required delving into the world of the dyad in the poster. So many questions. Is she a fairy or is she a god? When does her world exist? Who’s in her world? There are three verses. All those questions are answered. The lyrics are included for your enjoyment.

She Dances with the Moon
Steven Burns – February 5, 2015

Amidst a wash of stars
She dances with the moon
Each twist, each turn
To sounds unheard
Guide her in all that’s true

Her life wanders
A moon-lit path between the trees
None can follow
Her way

Behind a misted vail,
She speaks a silent song
Her steps vanish before they fall
Lost to the morning sun


On wings that can’t be seen
She floats into the air
Smiles at the world made of her dreams
Dreams filled with not a care