Everything in my brain, extreme edition

I just cut my hair with cuticle scissors: extreme. I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m only ever brave enough to wear my hair short when I feel slim. My hair is still down to my waist.

My first real love used to call me “slim” as a nickname. We met at fat camp. He died recently of a heart attack while out for a run with his dog. He was in his mid-40s. This is why I don’t exercise.

Before this pandemic, Phil was evaluated to be put on the heart-transplant list. He tested positive for a genetic mutation. In April the kids were scheduled for genetic tests, but now we’re shut-ins who go nowhere. No mammograms, no orthodontist, no tests, no results.

I rarely ate breakfast, and lunch wasn’t always a given. Pre-covid, I could wait until 1:30pm before a growl hit the scene. I’d suck up an Americano on my commute, occasionally supplement with a cup of black coffee, and that would be the whole of it. If I got hungry, I’d hit up Chop’t for an overpriced Cobb salad with Mama Lil’s Peppers (my fave). I’d be good until dinner, when we’d meet as a family, sharing one meal a day.

Time is marked in meals now. Everything is about what we’re eating next, what we need to use before it goes bad. I should post the kitchen inventory I created, listing every last thing I have in our pantry. It’s exhaustive. So many options that I shut down and opt for All-bran Buds.

Last night’s dinner was a taste-test between Krusteaz Belgium Waffle Mix and my homemade (non-yeasted) waffles, where the key ingredient was cornstarch for a crisp exterior and silky chewy center. My go-to recipe is overnight yeasted waffles, for their flavor and texture, but the “breakfast for dinner” begging didn’t start until 3pm. So, cornstarch waffles were the go. They were also the winner by far.

Abigail used my fancy powder sugar shaker, and the lid came undone, powder sugar mountain on her plate. I do not regret a single kitchen gadget. All of them are deeply loved by me. In particular, I’m very fond of our butter crock, even though I no longer consume butter. I love the suggestion of the life lived in a home with a butter crock. It’s a hint of a life where strawberry rhubarb pies are left to cool on sills.

Now that I’m trying to lower my LDL cholesterol numbers, I no longer do bacon or saturated fat–an enormous dietary change. Now I eat sticky rice and air-fried potatoes and frozen mangoes. Pineapple, even. My kids keep asking, “Is today your cheat day?” I no longer need cheat days because there’s no strict protocol requiring relief.

Eating only when I’m hungry takes practice. Stopping once my body has enough food is harder. Killing off the multitasking and eating mindfully without any distractions is a kill-joy. No eating on the sofa kills me. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. In lieu of snacks, I’ve been drawing, as evidenced by the featured image of this post.

I’m focusing on eating 40 grams of fiber each day because soluble fiber sops up LDL cholesterol. Because I don’t want to be eating all the time, I try to focus on high-fiber foods. You know, like waffles?

Without a deep-dive history, in terms of Phil’s heart health, I’ll say just this: he is on a low-sodium diet. I’m not. I married a man who is my opposite in nearly every way: extreme. I wear my hair curly: extreme. I did the keto diet once upon a time: extreme. You remove carbs, you add fat. Now that I’m reducing my saturated fat, I lean into fruit. It feels extreme. Mangoes every single night. Oatmeal. Bananas. It’s heavenly. And I gained no weight when making the switch, which was shocking.

But. But then the pandemic. Now, waffles and brownies and chocolate chip cookies. All hell has broken loose. I’m up four pounds since March 1. I haven’t been focused on maintaining my weight. I haven’t much cared. Instead of focusing on what cholesterol-lowering concoctions I can bake, I’m searching my cookbooks for “ripe banana” recipes.

Today, I’m considering hooking my fancy digital wireless scale up with an app that will announce to the world my weight each morning, for accountability. Extreme.

I’ll post my kitchen inventory in the comments because, extreme.

Watercolor by Stephanie Klein


  1. Author

    In my pantry right now, not including spices:

    Black instant tapioca pearls for boba
    Matcha powder
    Organic Ashwa Gandha Root Powder
    Gluten-free vegan egg replacer
    Wheat Bran
    Oat Flour
    Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
    Semolina Flour
    Coconut Flour
    Glutinous Rice Flour
    Super fine Almond Flour, from blanched whole almonds
    Psyllium Husk Powder
    Guar Gum
    Agar Agar
    Xanthan Gum
    Chia Seeds
    Ground Flaxseed
    Flax seed meal
    Swerve Granulated
    Swerve Confectioners
    Swerve Brown Sugar
    Sugar-free erythritol rainbow sprinkles
    Sukrin Gold
    Pork rind breadcrumbs
    Nutritional Yeast
    Crisco Butter flavor

    Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
    2 Sherry Vinegars
    Red Wine Vinegar Granache Grapes
    Banyuls 5 yr. wine vinegar
    Champagne Vinegar
    Aged white wine vinegar
    25 yr. aged Balsamic

    Chili Olive Oil
    Olio Santo Olive Oil
    Toasted Sesame Oil
    Grapeseed Oil
    Vegetable Oil
    Canola Oil

    Siracha Mayo
    Yuzu Ponzu
    Coconut Aminos
    Low Sodium Soy Sauce
    Thin Soy Sauce
    Cooking Sake
    Rice Vinegar
    No Sodium – No sugar Rice Vinegar
    Chinkiang Vinegar
    Red Boat Fish Sauce
    Teriyaki Marinade
    Dried Shaved Bonito
    Chili Garlic Sauce
    Hot Chinese Mustard

    Rao’s Artichoke Sauce
    Rao’s Roasted Eggplant Sauce
    Rao’s Marinara
    Tomato Paste
    San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes
    Crushed Tomatoes
    White Clam Sauce Cento
    Tabasco Sauce
    Sugar Free Honey Mustard Marinade
    Frank’s Red Hot
    Chipotles in Adobo

    Angel hair
    Arborio Rice
    Sticky short-grain brown rice
    Sticky short-grain white rice
    Basmati rice
    Jasmine rice
    Cous Cous

    Unbleached APF 11.7% protein
    Bread Flour
    Cake Flour
    Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
    Golden Corn Flour
    Dehydrated Corn – pulverized into powder
    Baking Soda
    Baking Powder
    Corn Starch
    Organic Cane Sugar
    Caster Sugar
    Light Brown Sugar
    Light Muscovado Sugar
    Decorative Sparkling Sugar
    Superfine Sugar
    Glucose Syrup
    Molasses Unsulphered
    Wildflower Blossom Honey
    Maple Syrup
    Rose Water
    Light Corn Syrup
    Dark Corn Syrup
    Lyle’s Golden Syrup (Cane Sugar Syrup)
    Powdered Fat-Free Milk
    Buttermilk Powder
    Meringue Powder
    Quick 1-min oats
    Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
    Krusteaz Belgian Waffle Mix
    Knox Unflavored Gelatine
    Saf-instant Instant Yeast
    Diastatic Malted Barley Flour
    Betty Crocker Super Moist Yellow Cake
    Sweetened Condensed Milk (2)
    Libby’s Pumpkin Puree
    Marshmallow Fluff
    Rainbow Sprinkles
    Chocolate Sprinkles
    16 Gel Food Colors
    Food writing pens primary colors
    Food writing pens neon
    Small pearl Tapioca
    Large Pearl Tapioca
    Instant Espresso powder
    French Vanilla Jell-O Pudding
    Vanilla Jell-O Pudding
    3x Sugar-free Raspberry Jell-O
    Citrus Pectin

    Lavender Extract Paste
    Vanilla Bean Paste
    Vanilla Beans Whole
    Vanilla Extract
    2x Lemon extract
    Fiori di Sicilia
    Organic Almond extract
    Organi Hazelnut Extract
    Maple Flavor
    Pumplin pie spice extract
    Rum Extract
    Orange blossom extract
    Banana Extract
    2x Rose Extract
    Bergamot Extract
    Lavender Extract
    Passionfruit Extract
    Jasmine Extract

    Black Onyx Cocoa powder
    Cocoa Powder Ghirardelli
    Guittard Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bars
    Dark melting wafers
    3x Ghirardelli White Chocolate Baking Bars (cocoa butter in ingredients)
    Semi-sweet premium baking bar
    Butterscotch morsels
    Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels
    M&Ms Hot Cocoa flavor
    Hershey’s S’mores mix
    Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips
    Hershey’s Sea Salt Caramel Chips
    Mini m&m’s
    Mini semi-sweet chips 2x

  2. In my world, I haven’t gained the Freshman 15 – I’ve gained the COVID 19. My eating habits haven’t changed much, but drinking a bottle of champagne each day we don’t get the virus seems to be affecting my waistline. However, I’m not willing to give it up! Celebrate each moment.

  3. Wow! Now we must have a picture of this fabulous pantry, how do you have room for all this?

    I came here after reading about a kid named Linus on NYT (Parents Undone by Remote Learning) and it reminded me of your dog, and you. So delighted to see you are still writing your blog.

    Now off to catch up on your life….

    a faithful, yet intermittent, reader

  4. This was so much fun to read. And I now know why the shelves in all the food stores are empty; because it’s all in your pantry!!!

  5. Love your artwork. I just started my quarantine-learning-watercolor phase. It’s harder than I thought! Also splurged on a new quarantine kitchen gadget, because why not? A Breville Smoke Infusion Gun = Smoked Popcorn. :-) Just sayin’.

  6. Thanks for sharing! I’m a long time fan and I was just thinking about you because I picked up Straight up for the nth time!
    You rock!

  7. Ciao Steph I am reading your book… fantastic it’s like reading about me although I am 54 yerars old. I’ll start following your blog! Stay safe and keep going.

    Greetings from Rome, the city not your mother in law.

  8. Just catching up – I am so sorry for your loss. Was this the boyfriend from the Moose book? How terrible!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.