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A Feast for the Eyes

Sorting through the collections of artist turned cookbook author Erin Gleeson.


Erin Gleeson, at home

(1 of 15)

“This was originally a watercolor painting on paper that I had turned into fabric. Now it’s displayed on a pillow in my son Ezra’s room.”

(2 of 15)

“Lately I’ve been making clothes and furniture with my art printed on them. This dress is patterned after the end pages of my book, made through a site called Print All Over Me.”

(3 of 15)

“I’m a scotch drinker. This vintage scotch dispenser is nonfunctioning, but it looks great on the bar cart.”

(4 of 15)

“I traveled through the Gujarat region in India, an area known for its textiles. Each town specializes in a different kind of beautiful tapestry, whether hand dyed or covered in beads and mirrors.”

(5 of 15)

“I started taking watercolor classes when I was five years old. Pelikan’s paint blocks have the best texture and most vibrant colors. I always use up the orange, red, and yellow the quickest.”

(6 of 15)

“My husband’s parents gave me this original first edition of The Moosewood Cookbook. Mollie Katzen incorporates hand-drawn illustrations and handwriting in her recipes, like I do.”

(7 of 15)

“My mom bought this tray in the ’60s on a trip to Florence. Between my first two cookbooks, I’ve acquired more than 100 dishes. I get a lot of them at the Woodside Church rummage sale, a great source for inexpensive antiques.”

(8 of 15)

“I helped the photographer Charles Traub with an archiving project when I was in grad school, and he gave me this print as a thank-you.”

(9 of 15)

“My parents have been collecting these blue mason jars since the ’70s and gave them to me a few years ago to use in my photo shoots.”

(10 of 15)

“This shell necklace was left behind by a previous tenant in my very first New York apartment, draped over a carved wooden statue of a woman. When we all moved out, I snagged her necklace.”

(11 of 15)

“I’ve recently gotten into shibori dying, making all kinds of pillows and curtains. I’m slowly turning my lawn blue.”

(12 of 15)

”My favorite plate is from a small Jewish museum that was built inside a woman’s house in Granada, Spain. It’s hand painted with a pomegranate.”

(13 of 15)

“I’m obsessed with fruit trees in general—probably the result of growing up on an apple orchard. We have a little Meyer lemon tree and a clementine tree that I often use in photo shoots.”

(14 of 15)

“My uncle, Rick Stich, is a professional painter and has always been an inspiration. He gave us this painting for our wedding. The beach pictured is in Santa Barbara, where I went to school for undergrad. It’s my favorite place on earth.”

(15 of 15)

Erin Gleeson grew up on a Sebastopol apple farm, sandwiched between a goat ranch and a hippie commune. So it was an apt return to her scrappy roots when, after nine years of living in New York and photographing for the New York Times and the James Beard Foundation, she decamped with her fiancé to a forested Woodside home in 2011. “Moving from urban Brooklyn to this rural little cabin was so bizarre,” she recalls. “But this place has shaped my work in a totally new way.”

Adrift in her newfound idyll, Gleeson signed up for a CSA box and started experimenting in the kitchen. She launched a blog, The Forest Feast, to chronicle her culinary whims through photos, illustrations, and handwritten text. “I try to make really simple, tasty food that looks pretty on a plate,” she says. “People tell me that I make them look good at cocktail parties.” A majority of her dishes require fewer than five ingredients.

In 2014, Gleeson’s blog turned book, The Forest Feast, became a New York Times bestseller, lending the cabin dweller unexpected notoriety. This month she’s releasing The Forest Feast for Kids, a colorful guide to cooking with fruits and vegetables, and in September, she’ll follow up with The Forest Feast Gatherings. We visited the tastemaker at home, where she shared her stash of antique dishware, art, and rummage sale finds.


Originally published in the February issue of San Francisco

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