Smoked Salmon Spread for Bagles

The other day I texted my Cousin Dan about coming over for brunch. Selfishly I needed some help shooting a 7 Million Jigawatts video for the Allen Park Library and I knew he would help… especially if I offer some dinner aka married people food.


I needed to make something that would be good but also I could serve quickly. So I decided on a Lox spread with bagels. I bought the everything bagels from the local market bakery. My husband is gluten free, so we also have some Udi bagels for his enjoyment.

Sliced a couple large tomatoes, rinsed some frisee (lettuce green) and sliced some red onions. I put that on a platter in the fridge and ignored it until later.

For the Lox spread, a slice of smoked salmon, this time I used a chunk of cold smoked. One package of cream cheese (room temperature) plus another cup of yogurt (I have homemade which I’ll talk about in anothe article. I bunch of chives, a scallion and a scoop of capers finely chopped. Mustard, salt, pepper to taste.

Funny, I didn’t take a photo of it… I’ll work on that part of this process.

Lissy’s Lox Spread on Bagel recipe
  • 1 8oz piece smoked salmon. (Use more or less to your liking)
  • 1 16oz package cream cheese
  • 1 8oz plain greek style yogurt
  • 1 bunch chives (2 tablespoons diced small)
  • 4 scallions (more or less depending on your onion tollerance)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Bagels, tomatoes, lettuce, onion for sandwich assembly

Make sure there aren’t bones in the piece of fish and tear it into small pieces, mix with other ingredients in bowl and chill for a couple hours. Spread on toasted everything bagels and serve with toppings of your choice like tomatoes, onions, lettuce.



Taco Tuesday is Everyday: Three Pepper Ground Pork Tacos

In our house or van, it seems like tacos are the go to food. You can shove anything in one of those shells and it tastes great, is handy to eat and usually assembles quickly. (That is if you take out the time it takes to creat the actual ingredients.)

tacos and black beans

Pictured here are my ground pork tacos with frisee lettuce, avacado, chipotle salsa, sour cream and a side of black beans. I beleive we even had fresh cilantro to sprinkle on top at the end.

I told Rocco and Cousin Dan that I would start putting some of my recipes, tips and tricks out here for them. You benefit too. Be warned though, I’m a total pinch of this, dab of that, type of cook and I really just know how it should taste & test along the way so it ends up being “good” to the palate. I’m certainly no chef, but I’ve had a long line of women (and men) that are great in the kitchen and really know there way around making food taste great.

Five Generations of Crawford Women


Here’s an overview of the ingredients and cooking process. If you want to make my homemade black beans (also pictured in the red pot), I’ll put a separate recipe out for that later on.

Ingredients you’ll need for my Three Pepper Ground Pork Taco recipe:

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 small can green chilis
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 1 bundle cilantro chopped
  • 1 shallot diced
  • one small onion diced
  • 1 scoop of chopped garlic
  • dried chipolte peppers, I grind mine fresh for a better flavor
  • one avacado sliced for serving
  • frisee or other lettuce
  • salsa, I’ve used my home canned chipolte salsa
  • sour cream to finish
  • if you don’t make homemade tortillas, storebought will have to do

How to make my Three Pepper Ground Pork Tacos:

After you prep your vegetables, brown them in oil starting with the onion/shallot, then add the pepper, add the garlic last and make it brief in the pan before you add the pork. I usually push the veggies out while I start the pork browning with some fresh oil (same pan). Once the pork is mostly browned I reintroduce the cooked veggies and add the cilantro, some of the ground chipolte peppers… wait min and then taste. If it’s not spicey enough add more chipolte. You can also add black pepper and salt to taste.

Remember though, you can’t take it away once it’s in there and it’s too hot.

Once you’re done with the meat… heat up some tortillas. I use a griddle, but my Mom used to warm them in the microwave, so you do you… just heat them up so the get flexible. (Oh yeah, and Jake, he likes them crispy so he fries them longer on the griddle. To each his own.)

Anyway, I hope you make these and they taste good to you too. Leave me a photo in the comments or find me on social media and tell me how you did.



Essential Pantry for an RV or a Bachelor Pad

So recently, we’ve acquired a Mercedes Sprinter Van. The initial plan was to use it for touring with my Fairy Godmother of Music gigs this summer to libraries around our state. Then, the Pandemic hit and all my performances moved virtual zoom, YouTube and Facebook Live events. I’m very fortunate to have such great partners in the librarians.

So, we still had this great van. It happens to have all the amenities of a posh tiny house on wheels… I joke it’s nicer than the house we live in now. It has a small bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower, a three burner stove, fridge with a separate freezer, microwave/convection oven, sink, queen bed, three captians chairs that rotate, tons of storage, a closet, a tv, a dvd player, navigation, rear cameras, eternal power, external hot/cold water, 25 gallons fresh water tanks, generator, air conditioning, heat, hot water heater… I’m sure I’m forgetting some whiz bang up contraption part cause it’s that amazing! Oh yeah, and solar power. Basically this is a great way to see the state of Michigan and be safe during the pandemic, the rest of the country and even beyond when the borders open up again.

As a part of getting this tiny home, we needed to set it up for living out of… You know, bedding, pillows, sheets, dishes, cookwear, drink ware, and a few other things that I didn’t think about the first two times we took her out. Like one trip we didn’t have chairs to sit in, another I needed a small cocktail table to set our snacks and drinks on by the fire, then we needed a poker stick to tend the fire, a camp table, some cd’s and dvd’s to listen to… Once I thought about cooking (even if it’s over a fire pit) we needed other tools, spices, fats like butter, and ingredients, dry goods, canned goods, sauces like ketchup and mustard. And moving on to beverages, drinks both alchoholic and virgin, water still and sparkling. I know, I this may sound fancy. But I’m not backpacking in somewhere for an overnight with this van. I need to be able to pull up, get dress, play a gig and eat a meal after the show. It has to be functioning as a business center because I need to mentor my students, record my music, edit my web sites, manage my social media and do everything else an entrepreneur on the road does.

So, how the bachelor part comes into this story is through my bass player, Rocco (featured in several of my YouTube videos). He’s a young man with an interest in taking good care of himself and enjoys a good cuisine. So since the Pandemic has limited our in person performance work, I’ve been helping him channel his creativity into cooking by teaching him inexpensive recipies and some homesteading techniques that help make food last longer and go farther.

With the onset of all the other life changes we’ve experinced over the past several years, I feel like this Pandemic has really set me on point with my people, my purpose and what I’m spending my time doing. We are very blessed to have the support network and talents that have taken us around the world and then some. I’m glad I get to share my passions with you in this medium and keep the tradition of my Permanent Workation lifestyle alive. I really do work to live and I’m focused on living life like it is a vacation every day.

So, as I pursue the love of food, music and travel and share with you the concoctions I create, the adventures we take and the sounds all around us… I hope you’ll join me.

First thing though is to figure out what we’ll need in our pantry for the most basic and frugel cook.

Must have spices

Must have pantry spices:

  • Salts (a sea salt and/or finer granulated non-iodized salt)
  • Pepper  (to grind fresh)
  • Granulated garlic (not powdered)
    • Fresh garlic is also a great option
  • Cumin  (ground & whole seeds)
  • Hungarian paprika (not smoked or spanish, but those are nice too)
  • Cayenne (hot, a little goes a long way)
  • Dried whole chili’s they store indefinitely…
    • Ancho (great for chili and beans)
    • Guajjillo (great for salsas)
    • Poblano (great for tacos & stuffing if you buy them fresh)
    • Chipotle (smoky & great for chicken and pork)
    • Blended Chili Powder  (I prefer a Mexican Chili Powder if buying a preground blend) 
  • Dried onions
  • Herbs de Provence (Great on chicken, fish, veggies, popcorn)
  • Oregano (Mexican and Italian, they aren’t really the same, but interchangeable enough in a starter pantry)
  • Coriander (ground)
  • Cardamom pods
  • Mustard seeds (brown, white or blend)
  • Red chili flakes
  • Whole Dried Bay leaves 
  • Basil, chives, cilantro, parsley really this should only be fresh as dried it has no flavor
  • Vinegar (two kinds apple cider & rice wine,  a balsamic if you want a good salad dressing option)
  • Cooking fats: Butter, (can be frozen to store longer), Olive Oil (for salad dressing), Canola or Safflower Oil (higher flash point oil for frying crisp or sautéing.)
  • Flour – All purpose
  • Sugar – pick your favorite style, some are way more intense on the sweet scale than others.
  • Bakings Soda & Baking Powder (they are two key ingredients to pancakes, breads and cakes)
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • vanilla (I buy Mexican)

I know that I’ve missed many things and there’s great debate about what really you need in your pantry. This is just a nice place to start and reflects alot of what I put in the van. (Besides many of our items are gluten free… including the flour and steel cut oatmeal we like to eat.)


Bits of Berlin

15 years ago, we first visitied Berlin. Before we were engaged, before we were married, before cruise ships swept us away to sea. It was like a new universe and only the third time I ever visited a country outside of the United States.

Being musically obsessed and a Detroiter, I wanted to seak out every open mic and dive bar in the city. Odd, with all the construction and improvements from WWII, we had no problems finding an abundance of both. On our way to one open jam in the Hackersmarkt neighborhood, we had some tapas at a tiny place called Yo Soy! The bartender told us fabulous stories of his father living on the former East Side, being arrested in the night by the KGB, the wall coming down and how much work was ahead of them (even in the early 2000’s) to create a unified, updated and modern Berlin. We stayed and talked to Tom for way too long and missed the jam.

When we walked into the Blue Note (yes, there’s one in Berlin too), the band was already wrapping up. I overheard the piano player working out the melody to Stardust… He was great, but didn’t quite know the tune. So, I bravely walked up beside him and started singing it in his ear. He turned & the trumpet player next to him said, “This big voice comes from this tiny girl?” And, a 15 year long distance friendship began.

Melissa Behring Lionel Haas Live Jazz Jam Berlin Germany

Lionel Haas, was that keyboard player. We went to ACCUD Jazz Cafe after that to play music with the Africans. After that, we met up at a few other clubs around Berlin where each time I sat in and sang a variety of jazzy numbers that both Lionel and I were familiar with.

Melissa Behring Lionel Haas Berlin Jazz Jam Top Hat

Fast forward to 2019, and I find yet another opportunity to visit Berlin. I called up Lionel and low and behold, of course he had a gig I could sit in on at a club called the Top Hat next to the Zoo train stop. Ironically, it was right under the train tracks. It was like we no time passed, except we were both older and a bit more musically mature.

We played a few songs together and are excited to work on some new material together in 2020. I’ll be back in Germany in April and hope Hamburg will hold as much excitement as it did for us in 2016 and back in 2004 too.


You never know where you are going to make friends and sometimes there will be miles and years between your in person connections, but being open and keeping in touch on the internet sure does help.