Meet the beautiful Abra Berens, chef, former farmer and author of her new book “Ruffage – A Practical Guide To Vegetables”. As a strong advocate of farm to table she believes our meals should change with the seasons and grown locally if possible. Her passion is to make simple, delicious meals that showcase the region where the vegetables are grown. She decided to come back to her hometown and join the team at Granor Farm in Three Oaks, MI, where she combines her love of farms and restaurants to create one-of-a-kind dinners on the farm celebrating the best of South West Michigan’s diverse agriculture.
1. What Inspired You To Write Your Book Ruffage?
I wanted to create a resource for readers who want to eat more vegetables. I started writing a food column for the Traverse City, Michigan paper to help answer the questions we were hearing every week at our farmers market stall— how do you cook a beet, what’s the best way to store lettuce, what the heck is kohlrabi? The book is an even deeper dive on those questions and hopefully with added inspiration on how to use them each day.
2. What Gets Your Creative Juices Flowing?
Walking through a market or grocery store with no agenda besides what looks good. Once I’ve settled on the primary ingredients, then the creativity of what to pair them with really gets going.
3. What Is The One Thing You Would Like For This Current Generation To Learn From Your Creativity With Food?
I think as a whole we have ceded some of our authority about food to outside sources— chefs, food companies and cooking competitions. I think that by reconnecting with your ability to make food gives one that power back. And when you’re not worried so much about the outcome— if it is chef-y enough— it can really be fun and empowering.
4. Favorite Recipe
I make the pickle liquid dressing and the bagna cauda from the Strong Pantry section all the time to dress up any selection of vegetables.
5. Current Mantra
“Don’t be nervous; just do it right.” This mantra started when I was super anxious about a menu at Granor Farm. I wasn’t sleeping, and I had trouble admitting that I wanted to change it. Then I got up at 2 am rewrote the menu and slept soundly and the event went great. I realized that so often I know if something isn’t right and instead of being nervous, I just fix it.