Today we'd like to introduce you to a new member of The Kitchn's full-time editorial staff: Hali Ramdene. Hali comes to us from Better Homes and Gardens, where she was an associate food editor. We're thrilled to have Hali joining us; she'll be uniting our recipe and cooking content under one integrated food department. She's just one of several new faces to come on our team page; we have quite a lot of new things cooking here at The Kitchn!
Today, get to know Hali a little better — we asked her to share a little more about herself, including her greatest kitchen disaster, and what she'd cook for dinner if she only had 20 minutes.
1. You studied gastronomy at Boston University. What does it mean to study gastronomy?
GREAT question and one I get asked pretty often. The simple definition of gastronomy is the study of the food and culture, but that removes all the nuance from the discipline. It's using food as the lens for understanding everything from the humanities to science. That interdisciplinary approach to food is crucial because it acknowledges that food exists in our lives as multiple things at once: It's a basic human need and right, but also a vehicle for expression, politics, identity, and pleasure.
I split my focus between policy and communication, studying everything from urban farming and food sovereignty to the evolution of food styling in media. I want to be right at the intersection of these things, where food is neither precious nor trivial, and studying gastronomy really bolstered my ability to find that place.
2. You only have 20 minutes to cook dinner. What do you make?
Probably a frittata. Maybe it's left over from my vegetarian days — which came to an end once I began dreaming of chicken wings — but if I have a carton of eggs in the fridge, I feel absolutely confident about feeding myself (and whomever else is around) something really delicious. Usually there's some wilting kale hiding in the fridge, the end bits of cheese, and just enough marinara to warm up and spoon over top. I can't tell you the number of times I've made this for myself or others and sat down truly delighted to be eating just that.
Whipping up dinner out of what appears to be nothing is so empowering. I want my food to make me feel good in numerous ways, and pulling off dinner when there's nothing around does that.
And if I don't make a frittata, it's toast. Me and toast are real tight.
3. You're moving from Des Moines, Iowa, back home to Albany, New York. What Midwestern food or ingredient are you going to miss the most?
Des Moines has a fantastic farmers market; it gives any other farmers market a run for its money. When I first moved to Iowa three years ago, you'd hear people talking about the black gold — about the soil in Iowa and how nearly anything could grow in it. Going to that farmers market and seeing the lush, bountiful stalls was proof of that over and over again. I don't know if I will miss one particular food, but I'll miss the farmers market.
Okay, and corndogs. I'll miss the Iowa State Fair and corndogs.
4. Biggest kitchen disaster to date?
Putting way too much hot soup in a blender to purée. The pressure built, the lid skyrocketed off, and there was neon orange butternut squash soup lurking in the corners of my kitchen for about a month. I invested in an immersion blender and haven't looked back since!
5. Who do you love cooking for the most and why?
My brothers, probably because they are just hungry people and anything I make— and I mean anything — is so good to them. Even if it's Annie's mac and cheese with broccoli or whatever — they get this look after the first bite like I've used some wizardry to put it together. It's pretty hilarious. The downside of this is I get the same reaction from a two-day bolognese lasagne with béchamel and homemade pasta.
6. What are you looking forward to doing as the new Food Editor for The Kitchn?
Getting to know the The Kitchn readership. The community is so curious and lively and I'm looking forward to joining the conversation that happens here. I want to share stories that help solve problems like what to make for dinner tonight, but also help you figure out your signature dish, or what Ina means when she says "good" olive oil. It harks back to gastronomy in a way: Food is complex and we are complex individuals. It's only natural that the food we make and share in our homes would be multifaceted.
I'm looking forward to exploring every facet of that with our readers, feeding our curiosities, and making something absolutely delicious along the way.