Monday, November 14, 2016

The Forest Feast Gatherings with the Novel Bakers

I'm excited to join the Novel Bakers today and Wednesday for a delightful romp through The Forest Feast Gatherings by Erin Gleeson. If you aren't familiar with her recipes, you will be drawn to her simple, elegant style and equally simple (and delicious) recipes. 

You may remember the Bakers' reviews of Erin's first book, The Forest Feast, in November 2014. I was totally charmed. The book was a New York Times bestseller, and it was followed in winter 2016 with The Forest Feast for Kids. Gatherings is her latest, published September 2016, featuring 100 simple vegetarian recipes, along with a guide to simple, stress-free entertaining.
Erin Gleeson
Photo: Abrams Books

Erin's website also offers a darling boutique that features art, calendars, stationery, journals, meal planners, paper placemats, and more.
 Photo: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

 Photo: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

How to describe the Forest Feast series?
Start with 1 talented lady. Add 1 camera and a background in food photography. Fold in 1 California forest; throw in a clear, hearty appetite. Mix in a blog, original paintings, elbow grease, and creativity. You'll end up with these charming books.
 Photo: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

After moving to the West Coast, Erin started a blog, sharing original recipes and photography. Within a year, she'd become a sensation, landing a book contract with  Abrams. Gatherings offers menus, recipes, entertaining ideas and tips, DIY centerpieces, and so much more. Her cookbook style is unique and highly visual, with just the right amount of narration. And, she has a knack for simplifying a recipe--or a menu--so that you feel excited, not daunted.
  Photo: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

I love many things about Gatherings, but I was especially drawn to Erin's quiet, easy-going style. I found food and tablescapes that weren't fussy or overly styled. You won't see pretentious designs, nothing difficult or elaborate. Nothing expensive or overwrought. Instead, you'll find a brilliant mix of casual and rustic luxe. The overall effect is warm, comforting, and welcoming. She serves lip-smacking food on mismatched china plates. String lights criss-cross her deck. Little stations are set up for a buffet and a bar.  
  Photo: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

Decorative items come from nature: vines, ferns, moss, wood, twine, candles.  You needn't live in a forest to enjoy woodsy things. A casual-yet-glam centerpiece can be "foraged" in the produce department of a grocery store. Fruits, vegetables, herbs, and nuts can be quickly assembled into a centerpiece. 
 Photo: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

Handmade tags, wildflowers, and fruit adorn individual place settings.
 Photo Credit: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

Oranges and Mason jars become charming vases and straw holders.
Photo Credit: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

If you are a reluctant entertainer, Gatherings offers step-by-step directions for parties, eliminating much of the stress. Below, her serving pieces are a mix of copper, wood, and old silver. In the background, fairy lights twinkle.
 Photo: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

 Photo Credit: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

 Photo credit: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

 Photo credit: Erin Gleeson via The Forest Feast (website and blog)

 Photo via: Abrams Books
 Photo via: Abrams Books

 Photo: Abrams Books
 Photo: Abrams Books
Photo: Abrams Books

I couldn't wait to make my own Forest Feast.

With the no-fuss principles in mind, I decided against using a tablecloth (no ironing!). 

Nubby placemats added texture. Because my garden was nipped by a frost, I bought grocery store bouquets, 3 for $11. The flowers were tucked into Mason jars. I placed them down the center of the table, adding vines, persimmons, pomegranates, walnuts, pears, ferns, mini-pumpkins, leaves, and stray flowers. Gold-toned napkin rings and flatware gave a touch of rustic luxe.

I was aiming for a wild, lost in the forest vibe with the flowers, fruit, and nuts. The Mason jars would keep the centerpiece in check, giving it a country feel. But I needed some true wildness. Gladys, the cat, and I went foraging in the yard, returning with an overflowing basket of leaves and vines. That's another thing about simple decorating--finding natural materials can be great exercise, and connecting with nature is always a tonic for the soul.
I found quite a few recipes to try. For today, I put together a baby kale salad with pomegranate seeds, sliced pears, chopped walnuts, and shaved pecorino cheese. It's a super healthy salad. Poms and walnuts are popular for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Erin's recipes are alluring and easy: they don't call for a zillion ingredients. Even if you are down and out, tempted to order pizza, you can open the book and find something quick, nourishing, healthy, and tasty to make. You can fit the ingredients into a small shopping basket, too, so you aren't pushing a cart up and down aisles, hunting for weird things.
   

 
   

For the dressing, I chose a store-bought, organic pomegranate vinaigrette. 

I have been in cooking funk, but I was energized and excited by the recipes. That, to me, is the mark of a great food writer--the ability to reach through the page, gently take a reader's hand, and say, "You can do it. And I'll show you how."




For more recipes and ideas, please visit the darling Novel Bakers:
(I will update and direct links to the posts when they become available)

The Novel Bakers will return Wednesday, November 16, with more recipes and fun from A Forest Feast Gathering. 



 Resources:
The Forest Feast (website and blog)
Abrams Books


Shared at:
Metamorphosis Monday

17 comments:

  1. Michael Lee, I love your table with your foraged vines, fruit, pumpkins and flowers! Your mason jars with their bronze tops make the perfect vases for Forest Feast Gatherings. I'm swooning over your leafy salad servers for your baby kale salad with pears! I can't wait to see what you're feasting and gathering on Wednesday.♥

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  2. good morning, its so nice to be back again enjoying another novel baker feast of moments! i love seeing your pics, but i feel like such a slackerd when i see how talented everyone is sharing their magical moments!

    i adore your light fixture with the greens threaded over the table, your jars of color dancing off the pages and such pretty salad pieces. you know i love a heavily laden table, my kind of fun girl! and i so miss that i can't stroll my garden like you and gladys, i drove around the beach and flat out stole snippets from strangers, and let me tell this a cold dark beach where nothing grows in the wild wind and color is a VERY rare sight! i almost did an iceplant table, so off course i ADORE ALL YOUR COLOR!

    can't wait to see whats cooking on wed, thanks so much for playing and please pin like mad, you know i have bandwidth issues, i want to snitch all your color galore!

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  3. Michael Lee, I agree that this book is filled with inspiration and easy to make recipes that come together looking and tasting so special. Your yard foraging expedition was a wonderful idea and I love the way you gathered the pieces for your centerpiece. It would be so pleasant to sit at your table surrounded by the flowers and nuts and fruit and eat that delicious salad! Linda

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  4. Michael Lee, your table and salad look delicious! I think I need to put this cookbook on my wish list (unless you find the original one better, and I would love your input). When you were describing the Forest Feast series, I could have sworn you were writing your own bio! You are all that, truly. Thank you for sharing and being part of this series. Have a great week.
    Rita

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  5. This is so beautiful! I just love all the natural elements you included on the table! There's nothing prettier than the colors of nature.

    I'm definitely going to check out her website and books.

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  6. What a lovely post! Your table looks wonderful! Really liked seeing so many pictures of the book! Better than Amazon, for sure! Your centerpi ce looks fantastic!

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  7. You have captured the magic and feeling of the outdoor forest feast indoors Michael Lee! Your abundant table of freshness is irresistible, all the wonderful colors and textures and the promise of fresh food to fill the plates. This book looks like a treasure, you all have left me hungry for more!
    Jenna

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  9. Michael Lee, what a stunning foraged tablesetting...breathtaking. The kale salad is making me hungry

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  10. Michael Lee, in my morning fog, I thought I was at Mary's post when I commented. I've deleted and will start a new......... I was smitten with this book when the Novel Bakers first introduced us to it. You girls are AMAZING! Your natural centerpiece energizes me. I want to add some of these ideas to my Thanksgiving table, though it isn't long like yours. Love the light fixture and of course the view. You have the perfect dining spots both inside and out.
    Have a beautiful day! This post has certainly started my day with abundant beauty.

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  11. Love your Novel Bakers posts which are always delightful and inspiring.

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  12. what a gorgeous post! Talk about inspiration for the holidays ahead!

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  13. I'm in love with your mason jars filled with flowers and surrounded by elements of nature. I'm going to be with my mom and sister for Thanksgiving and my sis and I always hike in the nearby woods. I'm already conjuring up ideas for our table that we can gather while hiking, from your ideas. The salad looks mighty yummy and healthy, too.

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  14. Beautiful photos, colourful table, very smart, gorgeous persimmons and pomegranites,I would love to sit down at this table! Most inspirational....

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  15. Cute local florist. There are so many florists in the city, but in terms of quality of Flower Bouquets and creativity in arrangements I have yet to find another place that comes close.

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  16. What a gorgeous feast and table... I really love those vines above the table! Thank you so much!! So glad to see you're enjoying the book. Happy holidays! -Erin Gleeson

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  17. You must have found yourself having so much fun while you created your own back to nature tablescape. This would be such a fun concept for a country, lake, or mountain home...none of which I have, but I can always imagine to my heart's content! Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for inviting us for a peek. Cherry Kay

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