Sunday, November 16, 2014

This is simply for the birds!

I’m having a much appreciated day off. It’s just this side of bitter cold outside, and that often turns my mind to the birds and the bees and what I can do to help them out through the winter.

Let me back up a bit. All year long, I save for the birds. If I have something suet-ish that is starting to get stale, I tuck it away in the freezer, anticipating winter and its lack of available bird food resources. Because I’m over 50 in people years, I try to remember to label everything - because if I sleep, I will forget. When I’m ready to cook up a batch of suet, I know it will help me remember that what I’m looking at in the freezer really is saved for the birds.

Now, on to suet making. It's been a long while since I made suet and I don't have a saved recipe, so I turned to that handy dandy what-would-I-do-without-it internet and did a quick search for some suet recipes. Every one I read was different, so I decided just to wing it. Kinda appropriate, since this is for the birds, eh? Heh, heh.

I won’t know for a while whether I have enough of the binding ingredient, lard or peanut butter, but if it is an utter failure, I have chickens. They will be very happy chickens.

Here we go!

Gather your ingredients. Much like some of the soups I make, this could just as well be called refrigerator suet. I used the freezer ingredients I had set aside but then I just starting shopping for anything that I thought the birds might like. This batch I used: peanut butter, lard, graham crackers, cranberries, prunes, chicken scratch, cornmeal, oatmeal, and tortilla chips. 
Did I say popcorn? No. Remember my forgetfulness? Guess I'll use that in the next batch . . . if I don't forget!

Time to assemble. Start melting the oil-based ingredients. I added the peanut butter and lard and some Crisco to the pan on a very low heat. 

I actually had some real-live lard saved some from a roast I had made several weeks earlier. It was excessively fatty so I started removing the fat to throw away but decided “Hey! I can use that for something!” Today it got used. Woo hoo! I love it when a plan falls into place. Yes, it’s the little things…

After that, it’s just a matter of throwing everything in there, stir it up, and press it into a parchment-lined pan.

I pressed everything down really hard with the back of my spoon and then got the brilliant idea that I should press one pan into the other. I got another piece of parchment and put on top of one pan, then squnched one pan on top of the other, pressing down on all sides. That helped a lot, but I still went over it again with my hands, especially on the corners. I figure they will be vulnerable to crumbling.

And that’s it! Now to let it sit and dry for several hours, then cut to fit the suet hanger and I’ll be making some birds happy in no time! 

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