back roads and mason jars

live country. eat plants. be happy.



Just Another Sunday in the South

A Tractor’s View of a Job Well Done – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne

Sundays in the South are made for relaxing and spending time with family.  We spend a lot of our Sundays, especially holidays, having dinner with my grandparents on their farm, Stillmeadow Farm.  Stillmeadow Farm is a small, hobby farm established in 1981 and tucked down a back road.  It’s a haven for all animals from the hunting dogs that lost their way and became family pets to the deer that spend all fall seeking sanctuary from the hunters while roaming the woods.


Heather Smiles for the Camera – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne

Every visit to the farm begins by waving at the dairy goats, Claudette, Claude and Heather, as you drive by the red barn and as you turn the corner of the circle driveway, you’re bound to see a cat or two lounging in the sunshine on a wooden bench in the grass.  We’ll then make our way to the back porch by walking around the chickens as they wander the yard collecting bugs and the rooster proudly crows announcing our arrival to his humans.


Star and Sadie Sunbathing in the Herb Garden – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne


Before we get to speak to the humans of the house, we have to play fetch with Star, a loyal German Shepard, while Sadie, a mischievous Alaskan Malamute, plots to steal your attention since she is not a fan of physical activity except when it involves making snow angels.





Sister, Sister? – Photo Courtesy of Marge Swayne

Once we finally make an appearance in the house, Kiki, the oldest and fearless leader of the house cats, greets us at the door while begging you pet her.  Over the years, Sophie, a gray version of Kiki, has gained enough confidence to allow us to pet her as she inquires about dinner from the cook, my grandmother.  Sophie and her two other siblings, Lily and Luna, were rescues that were abandoned in my grandparent’s drive way years ago so there’s been a bit of learning curve earning their trust.  After pulling Grandpa away from a NASCAR race or the grill on the deck, we sit down, say grace and enjoy a dinner made with love.

Field Roast Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf

For this particular Sunday, I enjoyed a new vegan meat alternative that I have not tried before along side fresh vegetables from my grandparent’s garden.  It was a Field Roast Smoked Tomato Quarter Loaf.  The instructions warned against cooking this product in the oven so I prepared it by sauteing thin slices in a little bit of coconut oil on the stove top.  After they were done cooking for about 8 minutes total, I laid the slices on a few paper towels to absorb some of the excess oil.  Although I don’t rely on these meat alternatives like I did when I went vegetarian, I do enjoy them from time to time or on special occasions.



I thought this product was very flavorful with not as much tomato flavor as I was anticipating.  I ate a few bites alone, but enjoyed it much more in a freshly baked roll.  I re-purposed the leftovers in a sandwich as well.  The texture is very similar to other Field Roast products since they mostly all start with the same main ingredient – vital wheat gluten.  Vital wheat gluten is a the powdered form of the gluten (protein) found in wheat.  It’s a popular ingredient across the board in a lot of vegetarian or vegan meat alternatives.  Unfortunately, if you suffer from gluten sensitivity or allergy, this is an ingredient you need to avoid in your meat alternatives so make sure to check the labels!

Omnivore Rating: 6/10     ~     Vegan Wannabe Rating: 7/10

Bye y’all!

“Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animals!”

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching Christmas movies.  Every year as a child, it was tradition to have a Christmas movie night.  I was thankful that I always got two nights – one christmas-vacation-quotes-hd7nua7twith my Grammy and one with my Mom.  After working in the kitchen with Grammy all morning, we would arrange gift baskets for friends filled with Christmas sweets and canned goods straight from the garden.  Then we would make air popped popcorn with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and watch classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and The Walton’s  The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.  My Mom and I would have movie and wrapping parties.  We would wrap all the presents at one time while laughing to some of our favorites like Home Alone and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

This year, we are celebrating our first year moving back to our small hometown in our tiny cabin.  Our tree is smaller this year as we focus more on getting back to basics, but our movie night is still in full effect.  My husband, furbaby and I will be having some delicious vegan snacks during our Christmas movie marathon!


Earth Balance Aged White Cheddar Puffs

I have always been a fan of Wise Cheese Doodles and they were one of my favorite snacks.  This is very reminiscent of that crunch with a lighter cheese flavor without the crazy orange fingers.  I have purchased these several times over the past year and really don’t see me stopping!  They are clearly labeled with some of my family’s requirements like non-gmo and vegan too.

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 9/10 | Omnivore Rating: 8/10


Earth Balance Aged White Cheddar Popcorn

watermark-popcornI have been looking at store after store for this product, but I haven’t had any luck at the usual spots like Whole Foods and Kroger in my surrounding area.  I did find and order them from though!  This website has been a life line for me when I can’t find a specific product anywhere.  Like the puffs, the package clearly shows the vegan label as well at the non-gmo which is very important to my family especially when purchasing corn products.  The cheese flavor is the same as the puffs and just as addicting!  It’s the perfect replacement for my childhood favorite.

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 10/10 | Omnivore Rating: 9/10


Trader Joe’s Caramel Popcorn

caramel-popcorn-watermarkTrader Joe’s has done it again.  I love the fact that so many of their products that traditionally have animal products are made vegan on purpose and labeled as such at an affordable price.  This is the perfect sweet accompaniment to the other savory options we had available.  Plus it doesn’t get stuck in your teeth!

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 9/10 | Omnivore Rating: 7/10

Merry Christmas y’all!

thirsty thursday: holiday edition

watermark-review-coverThis time of year, I look forward to all the indulgent seasonal drinks from eggnog to mulled cider and many more.  I was so excited to find so many vegan eggnog options this year since it is one of my favorite holiday choices.  Whether you like your eggnog topped with some whipped coconut milk or spiked with a shot of Jack, these are sure to make your holidays bright!

Silk Nog Original (Soymilk)

This was very reminiscent of how I remember eggnog tasting last season.  It was a little bit thinner than the traditional eggnog, but most non-dairy milks are thinner and I have been using non-dairy milk exclusively for so long that I don’t really remember what cow milk tastes like anymore (and why should I?!).  The seasoning level is perfect, but you could shave a little extra nutmeg or cinnamon on top when served for an extra kick (or a shot of Jack Daniels for an even bigger kick!).  This version has 80 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar and 3 grams of protein per 1/2 cup.watermark-eggnog

Rating: 9/10

So Delicious Holiday Nog (Coconut Milk)

This was the perfect replica of the traditional eggnog in my opinion.  What was lacking in the soymilk version in terms of a thicker texture was met here in the coconut version.  I didn’t make any changes to this one at all!  It’s sure to satisfy your holiday cravings!  Like most coconut milk versions, the calories are a little higher at 90 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 15 grams of sugar and 0 grams of protein per 1/2 cup.


Rating: 10/10

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Peppermint Almond Beverage

This is the holiday version of the fall pumpkin spice beverage which I wasn’t crazy about, but I am always willing to try products at Trader Joe’s!  Let me preface this review by letting you know that I am not a huge chocolate fan.  I tried this product cold and it had the same watery flavor and texture as the fall counterpart.  I much prefer the texture that is present in the eggnog options.  I do think it would be better heated up and topped with some Trader Joe’s vegan marshmallows or coconut whipped topping (as shown).  Then it would be the perfect accompaniment for sitting by a fire watching the snow fall.  For the calories, this is the best options with 110 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 17 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein per 1 cup.


Rating: 5/10

Bye y’all!


my first turkey-less thanksgiving

As suspected, I have survived my first Thanksgiving without turkey!  I am very thankful that I have an understanding family that supported my decision to not eat turkey this year and I know there are lots of people that don’t have that support.  Every family member at my table even tried a bite of my vegan turkey-less roast!

I chose to bring the Gardein Stuffed Turk’y to my Thanksgiving feast.  I have never had a Gardein product that I didn’t love.  To prepare for the feast, I precooked my gardein-watermarkGardein Stuffed Turk’y at home and threw it in the oven once I was at my grandparent’s house to keep warm.  The single portion was plenty for one person especially since the sides have always been center stage on my Thanksgiving plate.  I really enjoyed this product, but it is a little different than eating the traditional roasted turkey since it is breaded.  With the stuffing on the inside of the turk’y, I felt like I had too much stuffing since there was obviously some chestnut stuffing on my plate – it’s my favorite part!  I would prefer a simple turkey replacement without stuffing, but most all of the vegan turkey options are stuffed in a similar fashion.  I would absolutely purchase this product again and I am looking forward to trying the rest of the vegan turkey-less options available.

Wannabe Vegan Rating: 8/10     |    Omnivore Rating: 7/10

Bye y’all!

a vegan breakfast

One of my favorite breakfast items is quiche especially one with broccoli and cheese.  Yum!  Since I eliminated eggs from my diet sometime in the summer, I have missed this weekend treat more than I realized.  Thankfully Follow Your Heart understood my dilemma and actually created VEGAN EGGS!  I received a sample of this new product at a vegetarian festival, but I have seen them available in a few grocery stores like Wegman’s, Kroger and Whole Foods as well as online at Vegan Essentials or Amazon.  Since I didn’t have enough vegan eggs to make a quiche, I chose to keep it simple with this vegan breakfast.

So before I review the vegan egg, let’s compare to the traditional counterpart.  As you can see below, Follow Your Heart has created a healthier alternative that is 100% cruelty free.  Now keep in mind that this is not an egg replacer for baking – it is made to replace actual eggs.

Egg Vegan Egg
Calories 78 40
Fat 5 g 1.5 g
Cholesterol 187 mg 0 mg
Total Carbs .6 g 4 g
Fiber 0 g 4 g
Sugar .6 g 0 g
Protein 6 g 1 g


To make vegan scrambled eggs, simply add 1/2 a cup of ice cold water to 2 tablespoons of the eggs-watermarkvegan egg and whisk thoroughly.  The instructions stated that you could make fluffier eggs by mixing in a blender, but I just opted for a whisk this time.  I was very skeptical of this vegan egg concept but I tried to remain optimistic as I started scrambling.  The vegan egg took longer to cook than the traditional egg and I was a little unsure of when they were actually fully cooked.  The eggs were strangely realistic and definitely tasted like eggs.  As they cooled, they did harden into one large scrambled egg so eat it up fast!  I will be purchasing these again and making a quiche very soon!

Wannabe Vegan: 8/10  |  Omnivore: 7/10

bacon-watermarkBreakfast wouldn’t be complete without bacon!  I have tried 2 other vegan bacon alternatives and haven’t been blown away yet.  You can’t really replicate bacon – can you?  I heard positive reviews on Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon so we decided to give it a try.  This product also wasn’t frozen like the other products I’ve tried.  My house quickly filled with the aroma of bacon as soon as the bacon hit the pan.  The bacon didn’t get crispy like some other products I have tried and I’m on the crunchy bacon team.  That was the first strike.  Strike two was that the product seemed to be extra greasy unnecessarily.  Strike three was the taste.  It was far from bacon.  We were not too impressed with the texture or flavor.  Below is a comparison to traditional bacon.

Bacon Benevolent Bacon
Calories 90 90
Fat 6.6 g 3.5 g
Cholesterol 18 mg 0 mg
Total Carbs .1 g 6 g
Fiber 0 g 1 g
Sugar 0 g 1 g
Protein 6 g 10 g

Wannabe Vegan: 2/10  |  Omnivore: 2/10

Bye y’all!

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