Part of my Vegan MoFo 2013 is doing blog entries dedicated to each year I've been vegan.
One day in February of 2012, I was at work, around midmorning, probably sipping a coffee as I do at all times. I heard the back door open and in walked one of my co-workers with what appeared to be a susuwatari on a leash. I remember saying "who's this?!" Resistance was futile. And that is how Pepper walked into my life. 
PicturePep & I on the day we met.
The co-worker had recently moved into a new apartment which was pet-friendly, and had immediately signed up as a foster with Copper's Dream, an organization that travels to far-flung corners of rural California to save dogs from local kill shelters and find adoptive families for them in the Bay Area. Pepper, who was then called "Maybelle" (bleah), was three days away from euthanasia in the Central Valley SPCA in Fresno when Copper's Dream got her. She'd recently had puppies despite only being a year old and was very well house-trained. I couldn't believe nobody had come to the shelter in Fresno to claim or adopt her. 

PictureSenior Portrait
I hemmed and hawed for two weeks while falling deeper and deeper in love with her every day at work. I finally worked up the nerve to ask my landlady, and the next day I took Maybelle, already re-named Pepper, home with me. Pepper got her name because she is the embodiment of the word 'pep.' She's also black like pepper, and while she was overcoming the kennel cough she'd picked up in Fresno, she'd have occasional sneezing fits. It just made sense. 

A 10 lb. schnoxie is the only black pepper I can handle in my life. I'm not a huge fan (not any type of fan, honestly) of the spice that comes from peppercorns. Any other color of pepper, however, load me up! In addition to my FAVORITE type of Pepper, here are some of the trusty hot sauces I always rely on in my kitchen!

Melinda's XXXtra Hot

Melinda and I go way back, all the way to Philly. I remember when I first went vegan, making spicy tofu triangles with nothing but fried tofu and a buttload of Melinda's. Melinda's is still my trusty stand-by (I've got an extra bottle in my desk drawer at work) and it's rare I eat mac and cheese or hashbrowns without a few dashes. Its heat is offset by a tart fruitiness. The texture is slightly chunky with lots of habañero seeds. 

Pain is Good

This bottle is what I refer to as 'the big guns.' This one rarely leaves my kitchen shelf because it is so. hot. Which only endears itself to me all the more. I simply can't and won't throw it out. All I can bear to use is a few drops (seriously) in a big vat of beans. There are two other varieties of this and all the labels feature various dudes making these faces. That is the face you will make too if you eat too much of this.

Secret Aardvark

This is my first bottle of Secret Aardvark! It seems to be the Official Hot Sauce of Portland Vegans, and I enjoyed it during my last trip, so I grabbed a bottle from Food Fight! before my flight home. It's a nice alternative to when I'm not in the mood for Melinda's- it's also a habanero-based hot sauce, but it's more of a smoky heat than a fruity one. I also like the texture on this one better- much closer to ketchup than Melinda's.

Sol Food House-Made Hot Sauce

This remarkable hot sauce comes from Sol Food, a nearby Puerto Rican restaurant with a delightfully passive-aggressive letter concerning their garishly tropical color scheme in the display box where most restaurants put a menu. This hot sauce, homemade and stored in recycled soda bottles, somehow manages to strike the perfect resonant balance between garlic, vinegar, and chili pepper. I think it might be made using black magic, you guys. I first discovered it while snacking on Sol Food's delicious tostones con mojo (that's double-fried green plantain with garlic sauce, no big deal but it's AMAZING AND LIFE-AFFIRMING). Now I eat this hot sauce on pretty much anything. It's like the culinary equivalent of a black cardigan: it just goes with EVERYTHING. 
There you have it. These peppers all find a welcoming home on my food and in my belly. As for Pepper, she got a welcoming home in my heart! I like to joke that she was saved from a fate worse than death: life in Fresno. Yes, I'm a snob. But a snob with a cute dog. So there.


09/22/2013 1:29pm

Love this girl. LOVE.


09/23/2013 12:17am

Oh Peplette!!! I love sweet little Peps. I didn't know Pepper had a little naked pig belly - so does Stevie Wonder! I love it so much. Sweet Peps.

09/25/2013 9:35am

Pep Pep loves you ladies!

11/06/2013 6:07am

I'm so jealous of your Secret Aardvark! I've heard nothing but good things about it - it's really high n my shopping list for my next trip Stateside

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