Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
After working for several years as a food photographer in New York City, a couple years ago I moved to a cabin in the woods in Northern California (near San Francisco) where I started the food blog, and now cookbook, The Forest Feast.
Tell us a bit about the book?
The book is unique because the recipes are presented visually, without much text. It’s an art book/ cookbook blend. Each recipe is shown using 2 fullbleed photos: one of the ingredients and one of the final dish. My handwriting and some text is overlayed on the ingredient shot, like a diagram with arrows, showing you the steps to follow. My recipes are all very simple and inspired by whatever fresh, seasonal produce comes in my CSA farm box each week most have only 3 or 4 ingredients.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Our little cabin in the woods and living amongst all these redwood trees has really been the inspiration for this book! Plus, California offers some of the best produce yearround, so that is certainly part of it. My husband and I love entertaining, and many of these recipes were born at cocktail parties on our deck.
Which is your favourite project?
Good question! I really like the Watermelon Salad which is a big circular slab of watermelon, with a salad of mozzarella, nuts and herbs built on top of it. The presentation is unique and fun! I also often make the Guacamole Deviled Eggs when we are having people over they are also one of my favorite things to eat.
What is your craft space like?
I have a great little kitchen that looks out onto the forest. It is not fancy at all, but I love it. I do all of my shooting outdoors on our deck, or in the forest nearby. Then I take the photos back to my computer in my studio (a small separate building next to the cabin) where I edit and add my handwriting in Photoshop.
Have you always been creative?
I started taking watercolor painting classes when I was 5 years old and have always loved art. I was a Fine Arts major in College and then went on to get my Masters in photography when I lived in New York. I now teach photography at the college level as well.
When did you first start crafting?
I grew up in an apple orchard, so I have vivid memories of making everything imaginable with apples! Apple butter, apple sauce, apple pie, apple crisp, dried apples...the list goes on forever!
Who are your crafty heroes?
I love Mollie Katzen’s books. I recently got a first edition copy of The Moosewood Cookbook and was pouring over her use of handwriting and illustration. I also love Mark Bittman’s books for their simplicity and emphasis on fresh vegetables.
Where do you find inspiration?
When using local produce, I am very much inspired by and looking for color. I often choose vegetables or fruit with that in mind, thinking not only about what it will taste like, but about how it will photograph. I think colorful food is more fun to photograph, and to eat! I am also very much influenced by nature and the woods around me. I also often look at fashion and interior design blogs and magazines perhaps even more than food publications. I love getting ideas from colorful textile patterns and shapes.
What's next for you?
I plan to continue blogging at www.theforestfeast.com, and I am also working on a line of paper products that come out next year that will be sold alongside the book. We are working on calendars, journals, notepads and paper placemats with a similar woodsy aesthetic combining my watercolor and photography. And of course, I’d love to do another book!
Erin Gleeson made her dream a reality when she left New York City and moved into a tiny cabin in a California forest in order to be closer to nature. The natural beauty of her surroundings and the abundance of local produce serve as the inspiration for The Forest Feast, based on her popular blog. Most of the book’s 100 wholly vegetarian recipes call for only three or four ingredients and require very few steps, resulting in dishes that are fresh, wholesome, delicious, and stunning. Among the delightful recipes are eggplant tacos with brie and cilantro, rosemary shortbread, and blackberry negroni. Vibrant photographs, complemented by Erin’s own fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering, showcase the rustic simplicity of the dishes. Part cookbook, part art book, The Forest Feast will be as comfortable in the kitchen as on the coffee table.