Saturday, April 27, 2024

REVIEW: Forage. Gather. Feast.: 100+ Recipes from West Coast Forests, Shores & Urban Spaces by Maria Finn


Celebrate the pleasure of the wilderness (or even your backyard) with this approachable forage-to-kitchen cookbook featuring 110 recipes using foragable foods—from seaweed love to mushroom lust and everything in between.

Identify foragable foods in your own backyard to create simple, rustic recipes from the bounty of the coast, forest, and urban spaces up and down the West Coast.

Featuring more than 100 recipes and chock-full of lush photography, this cookbook shows you what to do with the delicious foodstuffs you can dig, snip, or catch anywhere from Alaska to Northern California, then put it all together in homecooked meals best shared with friends and gorgeous sunset views or cooked in the wild over a campfire.

Format 304 pages, Paperback
Published April 9, 2024 by Sasquatch Books
ISBN 9781632174864 (ISBN10: 1632174863)

My Thoughts

This book is about making use of the wealth of edible ingredients that can be found in the wilds of the West Coast. At first glance, I can tell you that I love the cover! It's like a charcuterie board of foraged goodies! You can smell the earthiness of the foraged mushrooms and the saltiness of the oysters; taste the sweet citrusy bite of blood orange.

This book guides you into the woods and to the water's edge for an adventure with purpose. It helps you see delicacies hanging over the sidewalk or slipping through the cracks. Harvesting wild food is an unscripted experience that requires us to follow nature's rhythms of tides and seasons, rain and dry spells. If we do this, she gives us incredible, nutritious food for free.

The author suggests that foraging is a great stress-reliever from daily life and a great way to come to know yourself, and to share your newly-discovered self with others over the meals you craft from your wild findings.

Due to the nature of this book, it is inherently vegetarian and pescatarian. Proteins are sourced naturally, and recipes include nothing like chicken or beef or other farmed livestock.

There are three chapters:

  • The Coast with recipes like Fire-Roasted Butter Clams with Seafood Gremolata, Dungeness Crab Boil, and includes a DIY for how to make your own Sea Salt.
  • The Forest with recipes like Fire-Roasted Kabocha Squash with Chanterelles, Wild King Salmon Bellies with Roasted Morels and Peaches, and Pine Scones with Huckleberries.
  • The Edge and Urban Foraging includes recipes like White Bean Stew with Stinging Nettles and Oyster Mushrooms, Rose Hips and Apple Jam, and a DIY for Rose Petal Honey.

The cookbook's recipes use foraged ingredients like crabs, clams, oysters, various seaweeds, wild mushrooms, flowers, pinecones, berries, herbs, ferns and various greens. It provides instruction on how to catch crab, find bivalves, and harvest seaweed. There are a few Seasonal Menus at the end of the book to inspire you to host a seasonal party, or perhaps a Campfire Brunch with recipes like:

  • Elderflower French 75
  • Pine Scones with Huckleberries
  • Herby Mushroom Leek Toasts
  • Spruce Tip and Juniper Berry Sockeye Salmon Gravlax on bagels and cream cheese
  • Campfire Dashi-Poached Eggs with Vegetable Hash
  • Flaming Pine Needle Mussels
  • Bay Laurel Nut Hot Cocoa
  • Chilled Huckleberries with Campfire Caramel and Seaweed Salt

My final word:

I lived in the Pacific Northwest for several years in the '90s and consider it my second home. I fell in love with the area while living there with a military husband. This cookbook is reminiscent of the West Coast and the time I spent wandering the forests looking to identify edibles. I love the pictures. I love what this cookbook aspires to be. The thing that holds me back is the feeling that the recipes are somewhat unattainable. As the author says in her introduction...

The recipes are simple yet the ingredients a bit esoteric. Some you may be able to find seasonally at the farmer's market or grocery store, but the fun is in finding your own patches of rose hips and huckleberries.

It's not that the recipes are overly-complicated or filled with hard-to-find ingredients, but they feel like they are more well-suited for a gastronomist. A little amuse bouche that you find off-menu at a five-star restaurant. But I love the endeavor, and the heart and soul of this book, and I recommend it for the hard-core food crafters who are always looking for something new to try, or those who live in areas of the West Coast with lots of areas in which to forage. Beautiful photography and ambitious. 

Buy Now:

Find purchase options on Sasquatch Books

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a middle-aged blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

I received a copy of this book to review through Netgalley and Sasquatch Books in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not financially compensated in any way, and the opinions expressed are my own and based on my observations while reading this novel. 


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