A shepherd friend of mine has posted periodically the making of suet cakes for the wild birds. Because everything in the pet area of Tractor Supply and the local pet supply store have either gone through the roof in price or are not available, I ask her for her recipe. Of course it requires suet as a base, so I asked the beef guy at the Farmer’s Market if he had beef fat and he did, a 2 pound package, vacuum sealed. Not having ever rendered fat before, I googled it. It can be done on the stove, in the oven, or in the microwave. I chose the microwave. It only takes 3 to 4 minutes to melt down 2 cups worth in the microwave and two pounds was 5 rounds of cut up chunks, but oh, does it ever smell bad. Once melted, you strain off the liquid fat, discard the solid chunks, which the chickens ate like it was candy.
Once it is all melted and slightly cooled, you add peanut butter, cornmeal, oatmeal, and birdseed thoroughly stirred together. I don’t have but one metal baking pan with sides, so I have been saving the plastic squares that the commercial suet cakes come in for this project. There weren’t enough, but there was one foil cake square in the pantry.
Tomorrow after they are cooled and solid, I will cut the cake pan into 4 pieces and they will be wrapped and stacked in the refrigerator or freezer until they are needed for the wild birds that live here year round or migrate through spring and autumn.
I’m still trying to get rid of the odor though, the beeswax warmer is on, a beeswax candle is burning, the floor washed with a floor cleaner that actually smells better than the fat, though I normally don’t like it either. It may be time to simmer a pot of cinnamon, clove, and star anise.
I wonder how many times I can reuse the plastic forms? And next time it will be melted on the stove, the camp stove, outdoors.