Living off campus has its positives and negatives. For some, their own kitchen is a perk to off-campus life. Ilian DeCorte ’15 has lived off campus for two years and has done some experimenting with food. I sat down and chatted with him about just that.
CS: How often do you cook at home?
ID: Probably about five times a week. Sometimes I eat leftovers and rarely at Café Mac at this point. I’m trying to protect my body from that place.
CS: Do you plan your meals or is it more of a spontaneous thing?
ID: Basically I see what’s in the house for ingredients. I’ll either make something out of that or do a Google search. For example, one time I had pasta, avocados, tomatoes, pesto and some jalapenos in the house and I made an avocado sauce for the pasta. Another thing that I do a lot is see what my housemate Henry has and we can collaborate on a meal. We do our shopping separately, but we still rely on each other and share so we can make meals together. Henry’s culinary taste and skills have expanded greatly in the last couple years through these collaborative meals.
CS: Tell me about some of the dishes you make?
ID: I make different stir-fry, egg-based dishes (omelettes, frittatas), chilis, soups and stews in the winter. I also prepare meat and mashed potatoes, pasta, nachos. Pretty standard stuff, nothing too crazy.
CS: Is there anything you are known for cooking?
ID: THE GREEN SOUP.
CS: Tell me the story behind the Green Soup
ID: So take the green vegetables you have: zucchinis, collards, green beans, green onions, leeks (to name a few). It basically all ends up in a massive pot. I then use an immersion blender on what is in the pot. The final touches are a cracked egg and evaporated milk to add some base to it. I freeze most of it and it keeps really nicely in the winter. Fernanda Canessa ’15 loves it! I also make a chickpea burger. It’s loaded with chickpeas and actually a lot of quinoa to keep it together. I add garlic, onion and parsley and curry powder for flavor. Add an egg in the mixture/food processor to make it stick. It’s really yummy with some sliced beets on top as well.
CS: Where do you get all those vegetables from?
ID: I get veggies from three places. At Trader Joes I usually get spinach or mixed greens, green peppers (red peppers are expensive), potatoes, asparagus or broccoli, onions and garlic. I volunteer at an urban farm on the Midtown Greenway and I usually get collard greens, jalapenos, tomatoes and arugula from there. They give you whatever is popping out. In my home garden I grow carrots, beets, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumber and cayenne peppers.
CS: How did you get your start in gardening?
ID: I wanted to stay for graduation last year and had a week to kill when graduating seniors were busy. I was living at my house off campus with nothing to do, so I planted some veggies. I had already learned how to garden at home. My friends, shoutout to Grady Olson ’16 and Emily Muscat ’16, took care of the garden over the summer while I was away.
CS: Obligatory food and drink question. Where’s your favorite place to eat off campus?
ID: Probably the Blue Door. Not exactly in line with my vegetable preaching self, but sweet-chili tots definitely have potatoes in them so there you go.
Green Soup Recipe
2 large yellow onions
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic
3-4 zucchini (cubed)
1 large bunch collard greens
1 bag spinach
2 cups green beans
2 large carrots
1 carton vegetable stock
1 can evaporated milk
parsley, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, paprika, 2-4 bay leaves, mint.
2-3 tbsp soy sauce (if needed)
First, cook onions and leek on low heat in the melted butter and olive oil for as long as you are willing to wait. (at least one hour). Raise heat to medium and add garlic and cook for a couple more minutes. Then throw in your cubed zucchini (add as much as you have) and chopped carrots. (HINT: if you have large, older zucchini, peal them because they have tough skin.) Add the rest of your vegetables, bay leaves, and vegetable stock.
Next, add in the parsley and other seasonings. Cook until everything is soft, the longer the better. Use an immersion blender to bring the whole soup to a silky texture.
Add an egg and stir quickly, don’t let it cook into chunks. Add in your can of evaporated milk to make it creamy, and then a couple tablespoons of soy sauce if you want a bit more depth. Finally, garnish the soup with mint if you desire a summery freshness.