Cookbooks/ Reviews

Cookbook Review: The Forest Feast

Take a great, big, deep breath. Hold it. Exhale.

Because guess what? We can relax. Not everyone who writes about damn good food is an elitest asshole. Nor are they pretentious or high and mighty. As much as I want to go for drinks with Alice Waters, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman and maybe even Gwenyth Paltrow (just to see what the fuss is all about), more than that I really want to spend a weekend with Erin Gleeson. And not even in a dirty way.

The Forest Feast Cookbook Review - She Eats

Her gorgeously illustrative cookbook, The Forest Feast, turned one this month. It’s hard to believe that I’ve spilled that many cups of tea on it. Countless hours have been wasted, err, reveled in as I’ve foraged through the pages. I haven’t shared it here before because I am an idiot. Clearly. But after seeing her update on Instagram I thought, “hot dang, you guys would like this”.

The Forest Feast is loaded with 100  “photographic recipe illustrations”. Real food recipes splashed with not just my tea but also Erin’s incredible art. Take a culinary school textbook and look the exact opposite way. There is no preaching. No rules. No cans and cannots (unless you count string around mason jars – get it?). No boring blocks of text that go on for pages and pages. No pretense. No elitism. No bullshit. Just really fucking good, salt of the Earth, delicious food. And whimsical art. And so many beautiful, practically edible pictures.

The Forest Feast Cookbook Review - She Eats

Erin’s beautiful handwriting is inscribed all over the New York Times Best Seller, encouraging us to do the same and showing us the life behind the food. A reminder we all need from time to time. In the middle of the week when it’s 6PM, there’s a questionable half an onion in the crisper and some dry leftover pasta in the cupboard it’s easy to say plug it, let’s order pizza. And I’m all for ordering pizza. Pizza! But when we’re busy and crazy and all over the dirty, messy place that is so often our lives, it’s important – and a god damn fine luxury – to remember that people make up the meal.

Not in a gross, cannibalistic Hannibal kind of way (which should be starting on NBC soon! Eek!) but in a pleasurable, life centered, mindful kind of way*.

It’s whimsical, it’s informative, it’s entertaining. And then when you finally bring yourself to put the book down and actually whip up a dish, it’s also delicious. It didn’t take  much convincing from the lady that creates my furniture to very quickly become addicted to the Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons on page 90. But I can’t even begin to start listing the dishes in her book that you should attempt. Just try all of them. Make it a project. A delicious, veggie filled, nutritious, amazing feeling, 100 day project. And then invite me over for dinner.

The Forest Feast Cookbook Review - She EatsThe Forest Feast Cookbook Review - She Eats

Though I’ll definitely be expecting to inhale the Leek Medallions, Honey Pepper Fresh Figs, Blackberry Negroni, Bay Potatoes, Cinnamon Cauliflower, Squash Blossom Pizza, Fried Banana Split, and one huge mother of a Beer Float.

You’ve been warned.

Erin’s funny. She cooks. She draws. She gets her fresh produce from a CSA. She has excellent taste in dresses… Girl friend’s got mad style.

Be inspired, get hungry, find her: The Forest Feast  |  Instagram  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Is it wrong Gwyneth got included in that lot of influential food thinkers? Who makes you want to eat books? Have you read The Forest Feast? Ever felt inspired to pick up and move to a cabin in the woods? What dishes do you love? What cookbooks make you happy?

*No humans were consumed in the writing of this blog post.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Abrams Books sent me a review copy at no cost. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions and information is entirely accurate and a reflection of my true experience and was not influenced, in any way, by the above mentioned products. Opinions and views are my own. Because that’s how I roll, yo. I’ve never been one to shut my mouth – I’m not going to start now.

  • Jayme Henderson
    April 23, 2015 at 10:22 PM

    So, I sadly STILL don’t own this cookbook, but I have heard so many great things about it! I have to get it, even if it is just for the beautiful illustrations or the blackberry Negroni. As far as wanting to up and move to a cabin in the woods, I am begging my aunt to let me crash in her cabin down in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. I’d set up camp for at least a month. I’m on the fence with the whole Gweneth thing. It’s cool that she is interested in food policy and the like, but she comes across as rather exclusive. I don’t know. Just don’t really read GOOP. Good for her for putting good things out there, though, I guess. I think Erin of the Forest Feast is wayyyy much cooler, talented, resourceful, creative, relate-able, inspiring, etc. 🙂 Go, Erin!

    Hey, question – do you have any good podcast recommendations?
    Jayme Henderson recently published…the apricot stinger cocktail | hello, springMy Profile

    • Kristy Gardner
      April 27, 2015 at 2:58 PM

      Oh Jayme. You would have a COW with the cocktails in this book. I thought of you with each and every single one of them. You should get a copy, go visit your Aunt and don’t leave until you try them all 😉

      Answer – sure do! Can you believe I wrote a blog post for this very answer? haha.. 7 Delicious Food Podcasts You Should Listen to:
      Kristy Gardner recently published…Cookbook Review: The Forest FeastMy Profile

  • Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets
    April 24, 2015 at 3:41 AM

    You just made me want to curl up with a cup of coffee (must feed the caffeine monster) and spend all weekend reading cookbooks, maybe by a fire because it’s damn cold here.

    Also, I need these polenta croutons.

    • Kristy Gardner
      April 27, 2015 at 2:59 PM

      Oh the caffeine monster. She rears her ugly head every morning. And sometimes in the afternoons too. But I don’t feed her past 1pm of I don’t sleep.
      Kristy Gardner recently published…Cookbook Review: The Forest FeastMy Profile

  • Becky
    April 24, 2015 at 5:37 AM

    I do sometimes entertain the thought of living in a cabin in the woods by a stream, but I’m too much of a city girl. I think I just need a shack to escape to on weekends.
    My favorite cookbooks aren’t the pretty ones – I’ve learned that often the pretty ones doesn’t always mean a good cookbook – rather, I prefer the ones that inspire me or teach me something. Among my favorites are Mollie Katzen’s and my collection of what I call ‘old church lady’ cookbooks – the ones churches and other groups (the Junior League) put together to raise money that are full of Mrs. So-and-So’s chicken surprise and other gems. One of my favorites to read is an old Virginia cookbook that features recipes from the Washington and Lee families, some of which were taken from recipes written in the Mrs. General’s handwriting. The copy I have belonged to a neighbor’s mother who made all sorts of notes in the margins – from disputing historical nuggets contained in the book to her notes on various recipes. It’s a gem.
    Becky recently published…Garlicky this.My Profile

    • Kristy Gardner
      April 27, 2015 at 3:01 PM

      hahaha – I tell John all the time I need a home in the city and a home in the country. He says I have expensive taste 😉

      I find your cookbook choices intriguing Becky! I always have a thing for beautiful photography but you’re absolutely right – maybe we should be looking more at the stories told in words on the page too. I studied cookbooks as cultural artifacts in a class I took in University and it was amazing what a cookbook can reveal about a person, time or place. I love it.
      Kristy Gardner recently published…Cookbook Review: The Forest FeastMy Profile

  • Jacqueline Gum
    April 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM

    This one sure looks like a keeper. And while I am often tempted to cruise the internet for something different to make, I still love the whole idea of scrawling notes in a cook book:) Polenta croutons? Gotta try em for sure!
    Jacqueline Gum recently published…Feigned Ignorance… Where’s The Justice?My Profile

    • Kristy Gardner
      April 27, 2015 at 3:08 PM

      I know right?? I love and regularly drool all over the internet but there’s something classic and fundamentally beautiful about food on paper. Or anything on paper. I love books.
      Kristy Gardner recently published…Cookbook Review: The Forest FeastMy Profile

  • janet @ the taste space
    April 24, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    When I think I have probably seen most veg cookbooks, here is one that I haven’t even heard of. I will see if I can track it down now. 🙂
    janet @ the taste space recently published…Vegan Bigos (Polish Sauerkraut Stew) + Great Vegan Protein Book GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  • Janice @Kitchen Heals Soul
    April 24, 2015 at 12:31 PM

    I have eyed that book at the bookstore. I want it!
    Which recipes from the book have you tried?
    Janice @Kitchen Heals Soul recently published…Maple syrup pieMy Profile

  • Laureen Fox
    April 24, 2015 at 12:54 PM

    Oh my goodness, I wasted a whole year of my life without this cookbook? Please tell me it’s in stock at the local book store. If it’s not, can I come look over your shoulder while you make the Cinnamon Cauliflower?
    Laureen Fox recently published…Live Below the Line Challenge: April 27 – May 1 2015My Profile

    • Kristy Gardner
      April 27, 2015 at 3:11 PM

      Exactly how I felt not telling you about it Laureen! I was all “wow, that was a year I didn’t share that with anyone! Bad Kristy!”

      I’m sure it’s in stock at your bookstore and if not, somewhere close. Next time you’re in town, I’m pretty sure Chapters on Granville and West Broad has it. Of course, you’re always welcome to come over and eat cinnamon cauliflower at mine 😉
      Kristy Gardner recently published…Cookbook Review: The Forest FeastMy Profile

  • Eva
    April 24, 2015 at 1:32 PM

    I just saw this book in Anthropologie today! I was so tempted to purchase it.
    Eva recently published…[Review] Sips and Steeps – Tea AveMy Profile

  • Shauna
    April 30, 2015 at 8:32 AM

    You have me totally convinced to run out and get this book. Beautiful photography and recipes that have me intrigued, for sure. Thanks for sharing!
    Shauna recently published…Yum Food & Fun for Kids Magazine FeatureMy Profile