Monday, November 17, 2014

The Forest Feast with The Novel Bakers

The Novel Bakers present
The Forest Feast: Simple Vegetarian Recipes from My Cabin in the Woods
by Erin Gleeson

Now and then, a cookbook will cast a spell, enticing me to clear my schedule and cook every single recipe. The Forest Feast is that kind of book. It's absolutely gorgeous, a fusion of handwritten notes, watercolor illustrations, photography, and memorable food. The recipes were easy to prepare, delightful to read, and peppered with hints. You won't find any lofty, intimidating techniques, nor will you need to buy unusual ingredients or equipment. Everything I cooked was delicious.

The author, Erin Gleeson, is a self-taught cook, photographer, and artist. She and her husband moved from New York to California in 2011, and they were a bit dubious about the geographic change.
"I stumbled upon an ad for a cabin in the woods just outside of town with a separate building I could use as a studio. The view from the cabin is stunning, but I think what really sold me was the light. There is this glow about the place--a soft golden light that is warm and welcoming, almost magical. It's only miles from the coast, and dramatic banks of fog regularly roll in to create a soft-box in the sky, idea for photographing outside."

A dream of every food and lifestyle blogger is to have a light-drenched place of one's own. After setting up in the cabin, she began writing a blog--The Forest Feast--as a way to showcase her work to San Francisco cookbook and magazine editors.

"With nothing to lose," she wrote, "I let myself create imagery without boundaries, which led to incorporating handwriting and watercolor illustrations into my photography, which I'd never done before."
From her little forest, her blog became a cookbook that inspired people around the world.

 "I am drawn to color and shape," Erin Gleeson writes, "so often my dishes will start with that in mind. We could have mashed potatoes,  or we could have purple mashed potatoes. Adding color makes it just a little more fun!"

As I leafed through the book, color drew me to a persimmon-pomegranate salad.

Persimmon Salad
                                       Serves 4

8 fuyus persimmons, seeded and cut into chunks
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 red onion, diced
3 scallions, chopped
seeds from 1 pomegranate

Toss with the juice of 1/2 orange 1 lime, and 1 T. olive oil.
Salt to taste. I added ground pepper and Tabasco (if you're born in Louisiana, it's a law that Tabasco must be used in all savory dishes).

from The Forest Feast by Erin Gleeson

I own several vegetarian cookbooks, but their strictness and hard-to-find ingredients made me lose interest. A Forest Feast isn't demanding, finicky, or limiting in any way.

"Although I grew up vegetarian and cook primarily that way," Erin explains, "I like the idea that these dishes could easily be served as sided with a non-vegetarian entree."
She succeeded beautifully.  

Below, you can see how the recipes combine Erin's art, penmanship, photography,
and culinary magic. 

"You won't need to make a long shopping list for most of the recipes," Erin writes. "Plus, I use many of the same ingredients repeatedly. Items I like to keep stocked in my kitchen include onions, garlic, garlic powder, Parmesan, puff pastry, Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts, dried fruit, and fresh herbs."

I will share more recipes from A Forest Feast this Wednesday and Thursday/Foodie Friday.

Visit the Novel Bakers for enchanted excursions into the forest:

Shared at Metamorphosis Monday,   Inspire me Tuesday, Wow Us Wednesdays,  and Home Sweet Home

Note: The Forest Feast is a book from my personal collection. This is not a compensated review--just playtime with the Novel Bakers and joyful sharing of a great cookbook.

Pin It

Social Bookmarking


  1. Thanks for the background on how the book came to be and how Erin found the little cabin in the woods. Your persimmon salad turned out beautifully, Michael Lee. What a lovely, colorful dish it is. I love that Erin uses readily available and not too many ingredients. I'm ready for some of that salad for breakfast, in your pretty Fall setting!

  2. Oh your salad is a feast for the eyes... so beautiful and fresh with the pomegranate and cilantro and that gorgeous light dancing over it! Believe it or not, I have never had a persimmon but this colorful salad caught my eye in the cookbook. I love your mossy carpet and fern frond embellishments too. Thanks for the delicious start to my day, I always enjoy feasting with you ;)

  3. This looks like a book you could curl up with for hours Michael Lee, her illustrative style and her photos are addicting~I have bought persimmons to paint and to photograph but have never eaten them because I didn't really know what to do with them...this salad looks so bright and festive! I appreciated your comments about the recipes being simple to prepare without complicated ingredients, so many vegetarian recipes are off putting I agree~ Thanks for creating another special week with the Novel Bakers, it's like a holiday gift :)

  4. so beautiful, fall is my favorite season so i am naturally wowed by everything of this seasons bounty... i adore your salad, so much so that i made it too and i am serving it again for our book club this week, I CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF IT! of course no hot sauce, omg you southerners! its all about the sweetness girl and you have to light in on fire?!

    your pics are marvelous, such intrigue to pull us in and be mesmerized by these delectable fruits... i love your close ups, both you and mary did such a bang up job i feeling rather sheepish this time :-(

    can't wait to see how else you doctor up the forest, hot sauce, bacon, whats next! and of course the irony of bacon was not lost on me since this is a vegetarian cookbook ;-)

  5. Lovely! Can’t wait for the updated crust recipe.

  6. I'm ordering this book! Love the look of this salad, though I've not eaten persimmons. Looking forward to more of what the Novel Bakers will share this week.

  7. Beautiful table...beautiful dish. So creative!

  8. Will feature this tonight at Home Sweet Home!