Erin Gleeson lives an idyllic life in a lush forest on the west coast of America. Not only does she make vegetarian food look sensationally appealing, she’s the ultimate triple threat food blogger: an inspiring cook, professional photographer and watercolour artist all in one. Erin’s modern bohemian style makes her healthy, seasonal recipes irresistible.
The premise of her blog is simple: it’s all about making magical meals from a weekly box of fresh local farm produce. It’s the random nature of these deliveries that drive her to come up with unusual combinations. “It’s fun to experiment, and it’s a way to really be creative with seasonal ingredients,” she tells us.
Your blog has such a happy feel to it. Is it your goal to cheer people on to eat well?
Yes, to encourage people to come together around food, and I hope to inspire that experience to be healthy, colourful and fun!
Who taught you to cook with such pleasure?
My family. Growing up we were in the kitchen a lot, surrounded by great cooks, especially my mum and grandmother, and we were always encouraged to be creative. I grew up on an apple orchard in Sonoma County, California, and we were always trying to make new recipes with apples! I also lived in New York for years before moving back to California with my husband, so I think cooking for friends and hosting New York dinner parties was great practice, too.
How do you make entertaining fun and healthy?
I think it’s fair to say I’m known for my appetisers. I love a good cocktail party! One that always gets wiped out quickly is the guacamole devilled eggs (below).
That’s one of your recipes in your new book, The Forest Feast (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, US $35) isn’t it? It’s one of my favourite recipes.
Your book is stunning, such a creative labour of love. The book is unique because all the recipes are displayed visually. There’s minimal text and the recipe steps are shown using photos of the ingredients, my handwriting and little watercolour illustrations I’ve done. Scattered throughout are also pictures of dinner parties on our deck and of our cabin in the woods, which inspired the whole book.
We love your wild combinations: blood orange and cabbage; strawberry and cucumber; persimmon and squash; edamame hummus…
So who are the foodies that inspire and excite you?
What Katie Ate (read our Blog Appetit feature here) for her photography and antique props, Manger for the idyllic French farmhouse surroundings, and Cannelle et Vanille for her use of colour and pattern in her styling.
As for cookbooks, I love Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for his simple recipe ideas. And I think the photography is totally stunning in the cookbook Noma: Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine by Rene Redzepi, with photos by Ditte Isager.
If you indulge in something simple and comforting, it would be... A deli sandwich. I get one every year on my birthday as a treat. I go for a chewy sourdough roll with lots of mayonnaise, pickles, cheese and salami. Yes, I eat a bit of meat once in a while, even though the book is vegetarian. I also love Rice Krispy Treats. So much so that we had a huge, tiered Rice Krispy Treat as our wedding cake!
And what are you looking forward to this year?
Sharing my book with people and a new baby! We are expecting our first in August.
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Kitchen Farmacy Editor Kris Franken