Personal Spaces, Creative Intentions

As our stay at home orders have restricted and refined our movements within the spaces we dwell, I wonder what areas of your home you have found yourself curating and dancing in most often?  

Some of my friends have tackled home projects, I have seen photos of updated living spaces with fresh paint. Others have taken to their closets and garages, purging and donating items that no longer serve them.  Many of my community members have been communing in their backyards, building garden space for food and flowers to flourish. My mentor currently spends her days outdoors, wielding a chainsaw clearing her property of dead brush, creating space for new growth to appear on her land. 

What personal spaces have you been infusing with creative intentions? 

My own personal practice has been dancing deeply in the swelling heart of my home, the kitchen. Engrossed in ritual of nourishing the body, I find immense satisfaction in being able to scrounge my pantry to create something spontaneous, impromptu and delicious. 

Slicing, dicing, draining, boiling, sautéing, broiling, serving, crunching, chewing, licking, tasting, cleaning, washing, stacking, drying.  

Ah, the kitchen dance! 

I stand in my ability to navigate this space without recipes – just my intuition and creativity guiding the process.  Majority of my friends know that when we gather to share a meal and they ask me for a recipe for a something that I served up, I shrug my shoulders and count off the ingredients I used, but never produce any helpful guidelines to recreate said dish! Since lockdown, the challenge to utilize my pantry and fridge items for extended periods of time has ignited my culinary creativity AND I began to take notes and catalog my cuisine so that I can actually share it in a more meaningful way with you all. 

Last week I surprised myself with a vegan potato salad. 

I am OVER mayonnaise. I know Pittsburgh… I am sorry. But this condiment has fallen off my list for a while now (with the exception of accompanying my frites from Point Brugge). I guess growing up with ‘cold salads’ smothered in creamy dressing at every family function  finally took the toll on my palate. So, I have been reinventing some of the classic foods that I grew up with, attempting to infuse the dishes with more veggies and different flavors. 

I hope you enjoy this simple ode to my families Eastern European potato salad, sans mayo. 

Potato & Pesto Spring Salad

Serves 8-10 as a side dish 


2 cups asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pieces – blanched / steamed 

1 15 oz can artichoke hearts in water (for east coasters) – sliced / West Coaters – do it up fresh like you know how – 2 cups sliced 

1 cup olives (I used a mix of Kalmata, Chalkidikis and Castelvetrano) 

1.5 lbs of potatoes – washed and cut into quarters and boiled until tender (here I used a mix of red, gold and baby potatoes …I literally used up whatever I had left in the house). 

1/2 cup chopped parsley 

3 tbs of extra-virgin olive oil 

Pinch of Sea Salt & freshly ground Pepper 

Vegan Pesto 

  • Prepare ingredients- asparagus, artichoke hearts, olives, potatoes – as listed and place in a large mixing bowl. Toss ingredients in 3 tbs of olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, then dress in pesto -to your liking (I am a saucy girl, so I go heavy here) – just be sure to coat the ingredients! Finish the dish with fresh chopped parsley.

Vegan Pesto: 

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil

1/2 cup walnuts or pine nuts – toasted 

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pinch sea salt and freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional add-in to create a more creamy texture) 

  • Place the basil, toasted walnuts or pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse to combine, until the mixture is coarsely ground.
  • With the motor on, drizzle in the olive oil in a thin stream. Add the sea salt, pepper, lemon, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning to taste. This will keep well in the fridge, in a tightly sealed container, for a few days; top the pesto with a layer of olive oil to decrease any browning.