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Food Blogger Erin Gleeson Shares Her Secrets For Turning Meals Into Works Of Art

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Erin Gleeson

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Food blogger Erin Gleeson creates stunning, nature-inspired tableaux that look good enough to eat.

By Abbe Wright

Three years ago, photographer Erin Gleeson and her husband traded cramped New York City living for a cabin about an hour south of San Francisco, nestled in a thicket of redwoods. She began looking for local gigs, but found that potential clients were asking for a California vibe (natural light, rustic styling), not the sleek, spare look of her previous images.

To build a portfolio, Gleeson, 34, launched the food blog the Forest Feast, inventing recipes on the fly with whatever seasonal produce arrived in her weekly CSA (community-supported agriculture) delivery and using her property's lush locales as a backdrop to photograph them. "I have come up with some pretty weird combinations!" Gleeson admits. "Persimmons and cilantro, roasted sunchokes with apples. I'm drawn to color, so I reach for the most vibrant thing in the box and then figure out what other shades and flavors complement it."

Gleeson arranges her simple creations -- strawberry-cucumber salad or figs with goat cheese and mint -- on vintage plates, and then wanders outside until she finds the ideal surface to show them off. "I look for tree stumps, fallen leaves and mossy patches, which turn emerald green after it rains," she says. Then she heads to her home studio to blog, including step-by-step photos of the recipe, fanciful hand lettering, and her own watercolors of the ingredients.

She hopes her charming collage-like posts -- now available in an enticing cookbook, The Forest Feast -- will inspire more off-the-cuff seasonal cooking. "First I want to draw people in because the recipe looks gorgeous," she says, "then have them realize they can pull it off with just a handful of fresh ingredients!"

Flip through the slideshow below for some of Gleeson's most inspiring creations.

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