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In the JOK Kitchen with The Forest Feast


The Forest Feast is a new vegetarian cookbook written by Erin Gleeson from her cabin in the woods.  After years of city living, she and her (Rabbi) husband moved to California and chose to live in a cabin in the woods.  Erin is incredibly talented and enjoys the beauty of her outdoor surroundings.  The cookbook is filled with vibrant photos of her food in the gorgeous setting of her home.  She shares bonus pictures of her surroundings to make us all jealous and she even includes fanciful watercolor illustrations and hand lettering.  Her recipes are simple, all vegetarian and pleasing to all your senses. To purchase The Forest Feast click here.

You grew up vegetarian, did you ever go through a rebellious meat phase? 

About 4 years ago I decided to start eating meat, so I am actually not vegetarian anymore! I was working with all these amazing chefs in New York, photographing their beautiful food and just decided that I wanted to be able to try it sometimes when offered. My reason for remaining vegetarian all those years had much to do with issues surrounding sustainability. I felt like if I could eat meat sparingly and try to source it in a way that was responsible, I’d be okay with it. So that’s what I do now. I eat very little meat at home, and usually order vegetarian when out, but I like to have the option to try something if the opportunity arises.

Does your husband also eat mostly vegetarian?

We eat mostly vegetarian at home, but occasionally branch out. Since I didn’t grow up with it, my cooking knowledge of meat is limited, so Jonathan is the one who usually prepares meat if we have it­ he’s a great cook. If we cook meat, it’s usually during the summer for a BBQ or for a special holiday meal.

Now that you are settled in your little cabin, what do you miss about New York?

Walking everywhere! And friends and family. And bagels. Jonathan is from New York and most of his family is still there, so luckily we have many opportunities to go back.

What do you love best about your new home?

The outdoor space. The California weather is mild enough most of the year that we can spend a lot of time outdoors, which I love.

You share a lot about your early experiences as an artist, but what about food and cooking, What is your earliest memory of cooking?

I grew up in an apple orchard and I have vivid memories of cooking everything imaginable with apples each Fall. My grandmas and aunts would come visit and we’d set up an apple coring station in the kitchen, clamped to a table. We’d make apple pies, crisps, breads, butters, leathers­ you name it, we made it!

What is your favorite food?


Which recipe would you recommend to someone trying to eat more vegetarian meals?

I’d recommend the Polenta Stuffed Portobellos. They are filling, “meaty” and pair well with a lot of sides.


Polenta Stuffed Portobellos

Polenta Stuffed Portobellos

Which recipe would be the most kid friendly?

I have fond memories of camping at the beach as a kid and eating Dipped Strawberries (in the sweets section of the book). You simply prepare a bowl of Greek Yogurt (or in my 1980s case, sour cream) and a bowl of brown sugar. Dip fresh strawberries first in the yogurt, then in the sugar, then eat immediately. It’s a fun interactive sweet treat.

You share a lot of salads, which I love, especially as the weather begins to heat up, which is the best Summertime salad?

I’d suggest the Nectarine Tomato Salad. It’s savory and sweet, and does well when made ahead for a crowd. Plus, it feels just a little different, and if you can get juicy ripe fruit from the farmers market, it’s so delicious.


Get the The Forest Feast.