A husband and wife leave New York to travel West, and settle down in a little cabin in the woods. Could there be anything more idyllic? This is the real life story behind Erin Gleeson’s inspiring food blog and new cookbook, the Forest Feast. Each week, Erin creates simple yet delicious meals inspired by the seasonal ingredients in her CSA box. “My background is in art and I don’t have any formal culinary training, so my recipes are all quite easy and have few ingredients,” she says. “Colorful fruits and vegetables are always the starting point for me – color makes eating more fun!” Her love of color is evident in her unique visual style; Erin has worked as a food photographer on both coasts, so it’s not surprising that her cookbook is full of beautiful imagery. But what makes her book so refreshing, and easy to cook from, is the way she illustrates each recipe. “It’s a visual cookbook,” she says, “and I strive to create dishes that are easy enough to make after a long day at work, yet impressive enough for a party.” With the success of the Forest Feast, I’d say that all the clean living and fresh air are serving Erin well. And while you may not be able to ditch your digs for a cabin in the woods, you can live vicariously through Erin by stocking your pantry with some of her forest favorites. Here’s what she always has on hand:
1. Challah bread — Whenever I’m working from home on Fridays I try to make Challah bread for Friday night dinner (which is big in our house). So I also keep stocked up on yeast, flour and honey for the recipe. Bread is really not hard– it just takes time waiting between steps.
2. Big River Coffee — My entire extended family is addicted to their dark french roast. My dad has been shipping it to all of us for years. The little roastery is in my parent’s town and they have become friends with the owners.
3. Organic Half-n-Half — It’s a splurge, but makes coffee so much better!
4. Sunflower Seeds — I buy them in bulk and almost always have a jar of them on the counter. They are cheap and tasty! They’re great thrown on top of salads or roasted vegetables before serving for a bit of salty crunch.
5. Homemade Pesto — I almost always have a jar on hand to spice up a meal last minute. It’s great on broccoli.
6. Cilantro — We also get fresh cilantro nearly weekly in the CSA box which I love putting on everything, especially on bowls of cottage cheese and roasted vegetables for lunch. In the summer I opt for basil instead.
7. Maldon Salt — I’m a bit of a salt fanatic and this kind makes everything taste better.
8. Alvarado Street California Bread — For morning toast. I really love toast! This is the healthy kind of bread my mom always bought.
9. Eggs — I keep hard boiled eggs in the fridge and often eat them for lunch, halved and sprinkled with olive oil, garlic powder, fresh cilantro, Maldon salt & pepper.