‘The Forest Feast Road Trip’

Cookbook author Erin Gleeson left her kitchen in mid-2019 and began a series of road trips across California with her family over the next year and a half.

Gleeson — who lives in a cabin in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband and three children — stopped in Humboldt County for four days along the way.

“One big, three-week road trip took us 2,500 miles without leaving the state,” she said. “We went south first, down the 1 to Monterey, Big Sur, then Santa Barbara and LA, then east to Big Bear, and north on the 395 through the Eastern Sierras. From there we went to Tahoe, Lassen, Redding and then west to Eureka/Arcata before heading back down the 101.”

Pictured is the cover of Erin Gleeson’s fifth vegetarian artbook/cookbook, “The Forest Feast Road Trip,” which is set for release next month. The book includes the author’s adventures in Humboldt County. (Photo by Erin Gleeson)

Now, Gleeson is set to release a new cookbook based on that journey. “The Forest Feast Road Trip” — her fifth cookbook — will be out on March 22.

Gleeson, who grew up in Sonoma County, studied art in college in Santa Barbara and then moved to New York to pursue a career in photography.

“I ended up getting an MFA in photography and teaching it at a few colleges while freelancing as a food photographer shooting for various publications,” Gleeson said.

In 2011, her husband got a job in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the couple headed west, moving near the town of Woodside. That’s where she created a blog called “The Forest Feast,” and later wrote and illustrated her first vegetarian artbook/cookbook of the same name, which was published in 2014.

“I used (the blog) mostly as an online photography portfolio and was shooting simple recipes that I made myself using what came each week in our local farm box subscription,” Gleeson said. “I was hoping to get into shooting other people’s cookbooks, but after about a year, the blog gained traction and got picked up to become a cookbook. I think it gained attention early on because the aesthetic is quite different than other food blogs. I mix my own handwriting, watercolor illustration and photography to make recipe illustrations that are like diagrams.”

“The Forest Feast” — now a New York Times Best Seller — was followed by “The Forest Feast for Kids” (2016), “The Forest Feast Gatherings” (2016) and then “The Forest Feast Mediterranean” (2019), based on the family’s three-month trip through Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. (Each of her books by Ella also include photos taken and watercolor paintings done by Gleeson.)

“My first couple cookbooks are based on the idea of ​​cooking from a cabin in the woods, and I wanted to take that idea on the road,” Gleeson said of her last cookbook and this newest work.

“The Forest Feast Road Trip” was inspired by the farms the family visited during their California excursion, the dwellings where they stayed, the ingredients they saw growing along the way, friends they cooked with on their travels and restaurants they ate at on the road .

“Even though I grew up in California, I realized that there were so many new places that I’d never visited,” she said. “My husband is from New York, so we were both eager to explore this very diverse state.

“… We stayed at 10 different cabin-inspired homes around the state,” Gleeson said. “I cooked in each kitchen with local produce and photographed the whole experience.”

She added: “We stayed in a bohemian yurt with an outdoor kitchen on the prettiest urban farm in Los Angeles. We stayed in a craftsman cabin near Big Sur with an outdoor bathtub and a wood-fired sauna. We stayed in a mid-century home with a sunken living room in Sea Ranch perched above the ocean. We stayed in a cabin on a lavender farm in the Eastern Sierras.”

While in Humboldt County, Gleeson visited the Arcata Plaza farmers market, Samoa Drag Strip, Shrine Drive Thru Tree in Myers Flat, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Avenue of the Giants, as well as other locales. The family stayed at the Ranch House at the Humboldt Bay Social Club in Samoa.

While visiting Humboldt County during a California road trip, Erin Gleeson and her family stayed at the Ranch House at the Humboldt Bay Social Club in Samoa. Gleeson is pictured here in the kitchen there. (Photo by Erin Gleeson)

“We…loved the whole place so much,” Gleeson said. “Owners Amy and Jon have a stunning sense of design and community, and this is one of the places we will definitely return to. Cooking in the Ranch House kitchen — with goodies from the nearby farmers market — was such a treat.”

“The Forest Feast Road Trip” (Abrams, 256 pages) includes 100 vegetarian recipes, including Skillet Green Chile Polenta & Eggs, Floral Flatbread, Walnut Enchiladas, Eggplant Salad Sandwiches, Persimmon Smoothie Bowl, Sesame Potato Salad and more. Locally inspired recipes are Foggy Beet and Green Salad (using Cypress Grove’s Humboldt Fog), Lentil-Farro Salad and Rainbow Tahini Bowls.

For more information about Gleeson and her work and to pre-order “The Forest Feast Road Trip,” go to https://www.theforestfeast.com.

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