Peppered

That’s it. Doing the vegan thing. I declared with great conviction not so long ago.

It was far easier than I thought it would be, especially with all of the fabulous cookbooks available. Deliciously Ella, Oh-She-Glows, The Kind Diet and Fuss-free Vegan are my favourites so far. In addition to myriad vegetable and grain dishes, I’ve learned how to make plant-based mozzarella, parmesan, brownies, crackers, mayo and a whole lot more.

It definitely helps that I like to cook and couldn’t wait to try new recipes. When I saw one for jalapeno poppers with vegan mozzarella and rice-paper bacon, I dove right in. They were terrifically yummy, but in my haste, I neglected one tiny little detail: food-preparation gloves.

Now, I’d chopped the occasional hot pepper for batches of chili on numerous occasions, but what I hadn’t done was split and scrape the seeds out of a whole baking sheet full of jalapeno peppers all at once. Those of you who’ve experienced “pepper hands” can guess what came next. For those who haven’t, here is my cautionary tale…

At first, there was some minor tingling as I worked away – not dissimilar to the mild sting of lemon or lime juice on slightly chapped skin. I rinsed my hands regularly and kept going, popping the poppers into the oven to bake. As they bubbled and browned most beautifully, the sting started to increase. I washed my hands thoroughly again and looked up ways to alleviate the pain. The two recommendations? Wash your hands with soap and water and/or soak in milk.

The first provided relief for about twenty seconds only. And the sting was growing worse. If you’ve ever burnt your finger on a hot pan or cookie sheet, imagine that seared-flesh feeling on the full length of every single finger and both thumbs. That’s what a major case of “pepper hands” feels like!

So, with a woebegone vegan apology to dairy cows everywhere, I poured a generous bowlful and submerged my fiery fingers, fully expecting the sting to subside in a few minutes. In the lovely cool of the milk bath, the sting disappeared. I figured all was well, and removed my hands. The pain returned, increasing to something pretty much akin to excruciating. I poured a fresh bowl of milk and continued the process until eight hours and three litres later, during which time, I momentarily contemplated a trip to the ER.

I felt equally guilty for both wasting the milk and for my gratitude that others in the house hadn’t yet joined me in my no-holds-barred plant-based diet, else there would’ve been no milk on hand…or rather, hands.