#2 Plants Gathering

The    
breathtaking
    beauty of
dining in nature

Eva Kosmas Flores lives in a romantic, moody world surrounded by the majestic evergreen woods of Portland, Oregon and the bountiful blooms, greenery and vegetables that she grows in her garden. As the founder and owner of adventuresincooking.com, she shoots and styles beautiful food photographs, as well as develops her own, unique recipes. She opens up to us about her dreams, childhood memories, the beauty of dining in nature, and a very special jade plant_______.

‘I love ferns because they grow like crazy here in oregon and have the most beautiful shades of green_______.’

What does a Gathering mean to you?

“To me, the gathering means bringing good company and good food together. I love sharing food with people and watching their reactions as they truly enjoy and savour something special. Knowing that I am able to bring them joy in eating always makes me incredibly happy and fulfilled.”

When did your passion for cooking and inviting people, as well as your love for nature start?

“My parents owned a Greek deli for over 30 years here in Portland, Oregon. Both my parents are wonderful cooks and my mother used to make lunch and dinner from scratch for us every day. She would let me pull up a step-stool and help her stir the pot and add in spices when I was too young to reach the stove, so cooking has been a huge part of how I was raised. My parents also had a large vegetable garden and grew most of our own vegetables in the summer months; eating farm to table was very normal for us. I always loved helping out in the garden and was constantly amazed by everything that grew from there. I'm still amazed by the fact that you can put a little tiny seed into the ground and it can turn into a huge prolific plant that's heavy with fruit in only a couple of months.”

Can you describe to us what a perfect gathering looks like to you? What is the setting like, how do the guests feel, what do they see, smell, taste?

“For me, the perfect gathering is at dusk with either a mountain or a field or a river in view nearby. The guests can hear soft jazz music, perhaps French or Latin, they can smell the delicious food sitting before them and see a single long table, lined with ceramic dishes, vintage flatware, and lots of plants and flowers. They taste savoury and sweet things, since salty & sweet is my favourite flavour combination— I love to play with that when I cook.”

Plantcast

Lady Ferns, English Ivy, Apple Tree, Hostas, Viburnum.

What makes you wake up and get up in the morning?

“Sharing my work with friends and making connections with people. I've always been a very social person, and I've been able to make some really, really good friends through my work online and have been able to meet many of them in person, which has been amazing. You can never have too many friends, and I always look forward to seeing who engages with me from day to day.”

Who are your favourite Instagrammers and why do you love them?

“My favorite instagrammers are @Linda_Lomelino and @TopWithCinnamon. I love Linda because I am always inspired by the different ways she shoots and styles things. She uses different coloured backdrops and props and changes it up a lot, but there's still the same rustic, cozy feel that runs throughout all of the images. I love Izy's feed because of how beautiful she makes the food look, it's always so vibrant and crisp and fresh-looking. She also has the most amazing personality and the captions often makes me laugh.”

What does your average working day look like?

“Get up, check e-mails, check social media. Respond as needed. Water plants, feed dogs and cat and chickens. Cook and shoot. Check e-mails & social media, respond to more e-mails. Edit photos, write articles & blog posts. Plan workshops. More e-mailing. There's always lots of e-mailing off and on throughout the day.”

What do you grow in your garden? What thoughts do you have when you tend to it?

“I grow tomatoes, eggplants, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, corn, beans, peas, watermelon, heirloom melons, peppers, huckleberries, strawberries, currants, gooseberries, beets, radishes, carrots, celery, onions, shallots, roses, lilacs, cosmos, hydrangea, black-eyed susan, peonies, ferns, and lots of succulents and cacti.
When I tend to it, it's more of a Zen experience for me— I don't really think of anything at all. That's part of why I love gardening so much. My mind is always go go go throughout the day and I'm always thinking about a hundred things all at once. But when I'm out there in the yard, I am actually able to just clear my mind and enjoy the sun on my back and the feeling of the earth between my fingers.”

What are your favourite plants? And why?

“Ahh, this is such a difficult question! Well, I love tomatoes because of the variety of its fruits and the smell of its leaves. There's just something about that fresh musty smell that's intoxicating to me. I also love ferns because they grow like crazy here in Oregon and have the most beautiful shades of green. Lilacs are also wonderful, and jasmine, and gardenia… And I love creeping fig, it's the most gorgeous green vine with these stunning small leaves. I have one trellising up the wall in my kitchen— it looks amazing and makes me smile everyday.”

What inspires you?

“I draw inspiration from everything. The seasons, traveling, good meals at friends' houses, restaurant menus, cookbooks, art, just everything. It all inspires me to cook better.”

What are your dreams and hopes for the future?

“I hope to write another cookbook, one that is more plant-based, and I'd love to incorporate more gardening posts into my blog. Someday I would love to live out on a ranch near the Columbia River here in Oregon, have a lot of property for my garden and get a lot of animals.”

On your site you mentioned "Food can trigger excitement in the most reserved individual." Can you tell us more about this?

“It's funny, some people can be very shy, quiet and reserved. It can be hard to get them to come out of their shell and open up, but if you serve them something very special, something really, really tasty, you can see it lights up their whole face and then they want to engage with you. 'What did you put in this?' 'And how long did you cook it?' 'This is amazing!' 'This reminds me of a dish my Aunt used to make…' and so on. Good food really does break down walls.”

Tell us what makes Portland special. We hear about its beautiful woods, infinite greens, moody atmosphere. Can you tell us more about this?

“Oh goodness, the woods around Portland and throughout the state feel like something out of a fairy tale. My husband and I go foraging sometimes for mushrooms and truffles. The areas that have these are old growth Douglas Fir forests, and these are green all year round because they're evergreen trees that have needles and don't loose leaves. Then, the forest floor is nearly covered with ferns. They love the shade from the trees and the decomposing fir needles. So you're just standing in this practically neon green forest, surrounded by silence and peace and fresh air and gorgeous plants everywhere. It feels like a forest from a storybook.”

Any special memories in your life which involves plants?

“A little over a year ago I moved back home to Oregon after living in Los Angeles for 9 years. My husband and I had packed our cars to the brim with boxes. I wanted to take all my plants back with me but could only fit one. It was down to the kumquat shrub I had and adored, and a jade plant that I'd had for 12 years and was huge. I started it from a single leaf from my aunt's jade plant when I was about 15 years old, and now it’s this enormous thing. So, I chose the jade plant and used the seatbelt to help strap it into the front passenger seat of my car, and drove 16 hours with it next to me. Now it is in our living room here in Oregon. It's crazy that it made the journey with me from Oregon to California when I was 18, and then back from California to Oregon when I was 27. So much changed during that time: I fell in love, I went to college, I graduated, I got married, I found my passion for photography, I bought a home. And this amazing plant was with me all the while_______!”

Have a look at Eva’s kitchen while she’s cooking her lovely dinner -you can almost smell the mouth-watering aromas...

"Crispy greens and oranges with a glimpse of tasty oil in shimmering light."
Download all recipes here.

What inspires you?

“I draw inspiration from everything. The seasons, traveling, good meals at friends' houses, restaurant menus, cookbooks, art, just everything. It all inspires me to cook better.”

What are your dreams and hopes for the future?

“I hope to write another cookbook, one that is more plant-based, and I'd love to incorporate more gardening posts into my blog. Someday I would love to live out on a ranch near the Columbia River here in Oregon, have a lot of property for my garden and get a lot of animals.”

On your site you mentioned "Food can trigger excitement in the most reserved individual." Can you tell us more about this?

“It's funny, some people can be very shy, quiet and reserved. It can be hard to get them to come out of their shell and open up, but if you serve them something very special, something really, really tasty, you can see it lights up their whole face and then they want to engage with you. 'What did you put in this?' 'And how long did you cook it?' 'This is amazing!' 'This reminds me of a dish my Aunt used to make…' and so on. Good food really does break down walls.”

Tell us what makes Portland special. We hear about its beautiful woods, infinite greens, moody atmosphere. Can you tell us more about this?

“Oh goodness, the woods around Portland and throughout the state feel like something out of a fairy tale. My husband and I go foraging sometimes for mushrooms and truffles. The areas that have these are old growth Douglas Fir forests, and these are green all year round because they're evergreen trees that have needles and don't loose leaves. Then, the forest floor is nearly covered with ferns. They love the shade from the trees and the decomposing fir needles. So you're just standing in this practically neon green forest, surrounded by silence and peace and fresh air and gorgeous plants everywhere. It feels like a forest from a storybook.”

Any special memories in your life which involves plants?

“A little over a year ago I moved back home to Oregon after living in Los Angeles for 9 years. My husband and I had packed our cars to the brim with boxes. I wanted to take all my plants back with me but could only fit one. It was down to the kumquat shrub I had and adored, and a jade plant that I'd had for 12 years and was huge. I started it from a single leaf from my aunt's jade plant when I was about 15 years old, and now it’s this enormous thing. So, I chose the jade plant and used the seatbelt to help strap it into the front passenger seat of my car, and drove 16 hours with it next to me. Now it is in our living room here in Oregon. It's crazy that it made the journey with me from Oregon to California when I was 18, and then back from California to Oregon when I was 27. So much changed during that time: I fell in love, I went to college, I graduated, I got married, I found my passion for photography, I bought a home. And this amazing plant was with me all the while_______!”

A selection from Eva Kosmas Flores timeline, @evakosmasflores