Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rainy day project: Homemade bird suet cakes!

Remember this morning when I said I would tell all about the runny peanut butter in my next post? Well, here goes. A while back Jp bought some peanut butter at the grocery story becuase it was on the list, and strangely enough he's better at sticking to the list than I am...

"Oooh those look yummy.... honey why don't we try those this time? You know we need snack-y food, if we don't by it here than we are just going to spend more to buy it next time... Ah man, you suck." 

So, he got the peanut butter on the list and brought it home and put it in the cupboard. The next day when I came home from work he had this look on his face of complete disappointment like his mother had just then called and told him Santa Claus is in fact the Easter Bunny's not so nice Uncle Fred, it's been a ruse all along... I asked him what was wrong and he told me there was something wrong with his new peanut butter.

Hmmm... that's strange I don't remember our tub of peanut butter looking like soup in the past?
Um, that's because it didn't.
What is that thick, clear, watery film on the top?
Looks like peanut oil. 
Yuck is right. 

So we were planning on throwing it away... eventually... once we got around to cleaning out the fridge...  Then, when I mentioned it to my mother, she gave me this wonderful idea about using it for making home made bird suet. So I went over to her house this morning and we went to work, after a couple of tries we came up with this:

Home made bird seed suet cakes!

What you'll need for this recipe:
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup crisco
1 1/2 cups corn meal
1 1/2 cups bird seed
1 cup instant oats
saran wrap
4 small fun shaped cups (I found these at the dollar general for three for a buck!!) or a suet cage sized container. 
Makes four small suet cakes or two suet caged size cakes

Okay, so pretend that's saran wrap instead of tin foil and add corn meal to the picture.
First heat the peanut butter and crisco over medium heat until smooth
Add the corn meal and mix well
Now, the fun part! Add a total of 1 1/2 cups of what ever bird seed you'd like, or get really creative and make your own using raisins, nuts, bread crumbs, and seeds. 

Looks good enough to eat!
Now that can sit for a minute to cool. 
While it's cooling go ahead and line your little bowls with Saran wrap. Make sure you use enough to wrap them in later so it should hang a couple of inches over the edge of the bowls. 
Now take your string and cut three pieces for each bowl. You will want to knot and braid them together up to half way, then knot the braid off, and add double knots to the edges of the three tails (those will help to anchor the string so it doesn't slip out). 

The first set is just the strings, the second set is tied at the bottom end, the third set is braided halfway down and then tied off and the fourth set has the end tails each double knotted as well. Get it?

Now you want to fill each saran lined cup half way with the bird seed mixture, then press the string into the cups like so...

Then fill up to the top with the mixture and set the cups in the freezer to solidify for about 45 minutes to an hour.
They should be nice and solid by the time you pull them out. The suet cakes should pop right out of our handy molds. 
Then you can wrap them up in the left over saran over the edges and store them in your freezer until they are ready to be hung up!
If you get some red or green saran wrap secured with a festive sticker on the bottom these will be perfect for Christmas! 

These will keep in the freezer for up to 6 weeks, but I promise they wont last that long! Not only do the birds love them, but I already have mine set aside for friends and family!


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