Good morning from Texas!

author Meredith Duke

Good morning! Molly asked me to sit in today as a guest blogger and I’m so thankful she did. I’ve been a Molly fan for years and have read just about every magazine and E-Book written by Molly Green.

This year I’ve been blessed to become a part of the Molly team as a writer for the “Gardening Made Easy…From the South” column. It’s been awesome writing about something I love. Of course, there’s always something to learn and there are as many ways to garden as there are gardeners. But, I’m so excited to be part of this amazing team.

You might be wondering who I am. For starters, my name is Meredith and I live in the heart of Texas, just northwest of Austin. I was born and raised in Austin and thought I’d never (ever) leave the city. But, in 1994 I married my college sweetheart, who happened to be a country boy and while we lived in the city for our first year of marriage (to finish college), we soon moved way out to the boonies. I absolutely loved it. Fast forward almost 20 years and we still live in the country in a small cabin on a hill. My husband, his brother and father built our little home. Over the years we’ve added with salvaged wood from new neighborhoods going in around us. It’s amazing what you can get just by asking.

At any rate, we’ve raised our children in the country and wouldn’t have it any other way. I started a blog several years ago and have recently changed and updated its look. We even went from a blog to a website, which is now called The San Gabriel River runs just south of us and is where my husband and his brother grew up fishing and running when they were in high school. A branch of it runs through our property which is where we train our labs for hunting and retrieving. It just seemed to be the right name.

On our website you can find all kinds of great information on gardening, homesteading and homeschooling. Some of my blog posts contain information on companion planting (with a detailed list of companion plants), 10 Frugal Steps to a Clean Oven, a whole series on processing a deer and making sausage, and even new ways to use fresh rosemary. There are quite a few recipes and homesteading advice and ideas throughout the website and blog. My hope is show my readers that there is more to homesteading than having livestock and owning land. Homesteading is a state of mind. Anyone can be a homesteader … even if you live in the city.

Thank you for letting me post this little blog this morning. I hope you have a blessed and glorious day! I look forward to future posts that include more ways to homestead where you are!

Meredith Duke is a homesteading, homeschooling mama on the outskirts of Austin, TX. She is married to her college sweetheart,  Johnny, and together they raise and homeschool their two children, James and Lauren. Life is never dull at San Gabriel Farm. There’s always something to do and there seems to be an adventure around every tree, just waiting to be discovered. You can read more about her and her family at She is also the author of Shining Through the Grief: Memoirs of Emma’s Mom as well as Bubba’s Beez Honey From the Hive Cookbook.


Be sure to keep up with Meredith’s articles on Gardening in the South in each issue of Molly Green Magazine! Get your membership HERE today and gain access to Dine on a Dime by Build a Menu  and much more!

Elk Meat: It’s what’s for dinner!

frugal homemaking

Guest post by: Midge

Although my “year of the carnivore” series is officially over, I came across a situation I just could not pass up sharing with you!

This week a friend of ours came home from a big hunting trip out west and brought back a cooler full of elk meat to share with our family. Now, as you may know, I’ve been cooking deer meat in a special venison chili  (and boy was it good!) but, elk meat, I have never attempted. In the spirit all things frugal, I certainly could not pass up the opportunity to learn. So, elk, it is.

In the process of finding out how to cook this new dish, I learned a few things. Did you know that elk meat has less fat than chicken, pork and beef? It’s true! I even read somewhere that it’s lower in fat than some seafood.  It has less cholesterol than bison, venison, or turkey! Who knew?

As a matter of fact, in most cases, at least in the recipes I came across, it was recommended that some fat be added to the dish in order to add moisture. The elk can be substituted for any red meat. You can use it in stir fry, grilling, roasting in an oven or the crockpot. You can even fry it up in a pan!

Evidently, elk makes a great burger when wrapped in bacon and grilled. If you decide to cook a roast, it’s as simple as adding plenty of moisture, like water with a few spices and slow cooking for a couple of hours.

I used the same kinds of special spices I keep in the pantry all the time to add to my roasts. Personally, I choose a sprinkling of garlic, a little fresh ground pepper, and maybe a touch of salt. Simple is good, and elk is a flavorful meat that does not require much dressing at all.

If you are keeping tabs, so far, I haven’t spent any extra money on this meal. (Now aren’t you proud?)

We are big fans of country fried steak (in olive or coconut oil) and all that is required to make that happen with elk, is the elk. The recipe I found is just like the country fried steak I always make. Cut it into strips, rinse and pat dry, then lay out flat. I like to season my flour (about 1-2 cups) with a bit of salt and pepper and then dredge the meat, coating it on each side. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil on medium to high in a cast iron skillet or a heavy pan and sear them on both sides. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to cook through for a few more minutes on each side. Once all the country fried elk steak has been cooked (and placed on a plate lined with paper towels or napkins to soak up extra oil) you can use the skillet leftovers to make a delicious country gravy.

roast elk

Being the busy mom that I am, during a busy week, like it is, I decided to go with an elk roast. I added an inch or 2 of water to the bottom of my roasting dish. I rinsed the meat and placed it in the pan and then added garlic powder, pepper, a pinch of salt and a just little bit of mixed dried Italian spices (just for fun) and covered it with foil. I placed it in the oven at 300 and roasted for an hour. I pulled it out and added carrots, onions, checked the water level and removed the foil to place it back in the oven for an additional 45 minutes to an hour.  You can slow cook the meat for longer, just be careful that it does not dry out.

The elk meat is naturally tender and flavorful and it’s now a favorite addition to our frugal family meal planning! Fortunately, there was about 45 pounds of elk meat in that cooler, so I’ll be trying some of those other recipes for cooking elk very soon.

How about you? Have you ever prepared elk meat? I’d love to hear about your favorite frugal recipes!

Sincerely, Midge 

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Oh Deer

Midge copyGuest blog by: Midge

Three more meats to go until my Year of the Carnivore blog series is complete!!  So far, I have accomplished 8 random meats plus today’s selection!  I never would have tried any of these meats if it had not been for writing guest posts for Molly Green on Econobusters.  Thanks Molly! :)



We are in the thick of hunting season in our area so I thought it would be appropriate to select deer for our meat series today!  Confession ~ I have never been hunting.  But, I am surrounded by a community and several family members who enjoy hunting both as a past time and as a way to provide for their families throughout the year.  In order to procure some deer meat, I just asked my next door neighbors if they had a little extra that I could use for the blog.  And… ta da… dinner is served!

Molly wrote about using deer meat or venison in a blog she posted last year about alternative Thanksgiving meals (CLICK HERE TO READ MORE!).  Some of the ideas were out of this world creative… like the turducken… WHA??!!??  But, the deer chili was what caught my eye.

For this blog, I decided to forgo a chance at making deer chili and instead stick close to my friend’s recipe advice.  The last time I tried this recipe was for some elk meat she had given me to try.  I was a bit nervous and am sure I messed up the recipe a bit because this time around I enjoyed the dish more.

IMG_7089Here is the basic recipe:

½ cup of butter (plus a bit more butter for the pan)

½ cup flour

Seasonings or salt/pepper to mix in with the flour (I use this spice: DEEP PIT SEASONING)

Small package of filleted deer meat (½ lb or so)

Rinse off the small portions of deer meat with water.  Then, dip them in a bowl with the ½ cup of butter which has been melted.  Put them immediately into the flour and spice mixture and cover them fully.  After that, place them into a frying pan which has about a tablespoon or more of butter already melted in it. Make sure to add a bit more butter if needed to protect the bottom of your pan.  You can grill them at medium or medium low on the stove top.   The meat will need to cook until it is no longer pink (similar to cooking ground beef) and the flour mixture will have turned a deep brown color.  We served our deer pieces with a side of corn and some garlic herb flatbread.


I have a two more meats already selected for my upcoming blog series… but I still need ONE MORE!!!  Do you have any suggestions?

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