What’s Cooking, Neighbor?
When Katherine Tallmadge returns home from work at night she heads for the freezer – her treasure chest of well-balanced homemade meals. Soups and stews, even desserts, are stacked in various size plastic tubs, on standby for a quick solo meal or three-course dinner for guests.
“I’m a big believer in batches,” says Tallmadge, an internationally recognized speaker, author and weight loss/nutrition counselor, who lives on a quiet dead end lane in the East Village. “I encourage people to cook. And knowing something is there in the freezer, just ready to heat up when you get home, is the best way to avoid pigging-out on fast food on the way home.”
Although her kitchen is small, there is ample space for quantity cooking. With a nod to her mother’s Scandinavian heritage, the narrow living and dining space is filled with vintage Swedish furniture. It’s cozy by the fireplace. “For entertaining, there is no comparison between the relaxed feel of a home over a restaurant,” she says.
Using fresh seasonal ingredients from farmers markets she prepares, for example, a big pot of cauliflower vichyssoise or sweet potato black bean chili every weekend, keeping in mind the essentials of flavor, color and texture. You won’t find high-fat dairy products in her recipes. “I don’t believe in being a fanatic. But people can get cream and butter-rich foods anywhere,” she insists. Her favorite plan-ahead dessert is a delicious and easy to make apple crisp with nuts, dried fruit and ginger.
It’s no revelation, but she will tell you that her nutritional counseling expertise is in demand, because “people in Washington are uptight and have a lot of stomach problems.” With high-stress jobs, they are too busy to take care of themselves and suffer from “pattern disorganized eating.” The answer: regularly scheduled food shopping trips and meal times – and, of course, batch cooking.
For weight loss, Tallmadge also advocates freezing one-serving plastic tubs of home cooked meals for portion control. At work, you avoid being “a vending machine victim.” Nothing lasts forever. She writes the date and contents on the top of every container. “You’ll always know what’s inside and how fresh or ancient it is.” More healthy recipes can be found at KatherineTallmadge.com.
Tallmadge’s current favorite restaurants, both in Georgetown: La Chaumiere for the fish soup and Tackle Box for the fish tacos.
APPLE CRISP WITH NUTS, DRIED FRUITS AND GINGER Ingredients: For the filling: 1/2 cup pure maple syrup 1/4 cup raisins 1/4 cup dried cranberries 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice 1 tablespoon minced candied ginger 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 3 pounds crisp, tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced For the topping: 1-1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts 1/2 cup brown sugar 1/3 cup whole wheat flour 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/3 cup walnut, or any nut oil
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare filling: In a large bowl, mix the maple syrup, dried fruit, lemon juice, ginger and flour. Add the apples and mix well. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Prepare topping: Mix the oats, nuts, brown sugar, whole wheat flour and cinnamon. Add the oil and mix until the topping is moist. Pour over the filling in the baking dish. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the apples are tender and the crumble is golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes until serving.
What’s Cooking, Neighbor? visits with wine, food and entertaining professionals, who call the Georgetown area home. Georgetowner dining columnist Walter Nicholls is the food critic for Arlington Magazine, a former staff writer for The Washington Post Food section