Editor's note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Scene magazine's Holidays 2019 issue. Pick up a free copy at area hotels, visitor's centers, chambers of commerce or at the Record-Eagle building on Front Street. Click here to read GT Scene in its entirety online.


by Abra Berens

“Ruffage” is a return to real cooking, grounded in vegetables — the way we eat now. In this insightful and enchanting cookbook, new flavors, textures, techniques, and ways to enjoy all the vegetables you want to eat are revealed by chef and former farmer Abra Berens.

Beyond the recipes, you will find evocative storytelling to open each chapter and photography that conveys the seasons and the rugged beauty of Michigan farm country, plus mouth-watering recipes. Here Berens shares her philosophy of eating, connection to farming, and her personal journey into food.


by Joseph Heywood

From the author of the Woods Cop Mystery series comes a new collection of stories about life in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Heywood offers a detailed look into the world from which his best loved characters — like Grady Service, Limpy Allerdyce, and Luticious Treebone — came.

For Yoopers who are far and away (and for some who are not so far away), one thing is true: They all want to return above the bridge ASAP. Heywood’s collection of stories shares why.


by Peter Damm

Some writers look at life with their eyes, others with their heart. In this heartwarming collection of stories, Peter Damm does both. These are vignettes of growing up in small town rural Michigan, and a closely observed portrait of mid-century America. The tone is wry, generous, poignant and humorous, as Damm recalls the joys of fishing on a northern lake or feasting on blueberries in autumn.

These are not just pretty postcards; Damm’s family experienced difficulty, alcoholism and loss, and he writes with a survivor’s compassion. These are tales for all the senses, held in place by strands of memory alternately steel and gold.


by Patsy Stiles Burkhart and illustrated by Jim DeWildt

The joyous holiday season becomes even more magical as we say our “goodnights” with a very special someone — Santa, viewed through a unique lens to encourage every child to imagine a Santa Claus who reflects their own cultural perspective.


by Denise Brennan-Nelson and illustrated by Deborah Melmon

Everyone knows that when Christmas rolls around Santa employs a legion of helpers to ensure the season goes off without a hitch. But between the Santas on parade, the Santas at the malls, and the Santas ringing bells in front of busy department stores, one intrepid investigator wants to know who, exactly, is the real Santa? Armed with a notebook, a pencil and a barrage of questions, can this young detective get to the bottom of Santa’s secret? And, ultimately, does she want to?


by Gordon Berg and illustrated by Emilee Petersmark

Seven-year-old Harry loved his new tropical paradise. Miami had the puffiest clouds ever, an ocean air that spoke of life teeming beneath the waves and, best of all, a new puppy. This was way better than Detroit!

That is, until a deadly hurricane packing 150-mph winds crashed ashore. Almost everyone was asleep and caught off-guard. Then, in the light of dawn, when they thought the storm has passed, Harry and his new dog, Patches, find themselves in the middle of the monster again — and this time, they are alone.

“Harry and the Hurricane” is based on the true story of the author’s father as a young boy and The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926.


by Kath Usitalo

How did a sparsely populated landmass surrounded by Great Lakes and completely separated from the rest of the state become the Upper Peninsula of Michigan? What do Yoopers — those hardy souls who call the U.P. home — measure with a 30-foot tall thermometer at the end of winter? And should you put ketchup or gravy on a pasty? You’ll find the answers to these questions and many more in “Secret Upper Peninsula: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.”

You may know that the U.P. inspired Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha,” but what about works by Ernest Hemingway and Da Yoopers? Find out where a popular Chicago cartoonist summered in a cottage shaped like a giant pickle barrel, and where a ghost town comes alive once a year for a gathering of the descendants of copper mining families. Discover why believers say the mysterious Paulding Light is the lantern of a railroad man who perished on the tracks, or where to find the world’s longest porch and one of the least-visited National Parks.

Local author Kath Usitalo takes you deep into the densely forested peninsula that might seem like one big, isolated secret to an outsider. Delve into this insider’s guide to learn about the fascinating quirks and curiosities of the land of Gitche Gumee.

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