Homemade Suet Cakes

On Christmas Eve, my mom made a wonderful prime rib. When it came time to do the dishes, she decanted the drippings from the roasting pan into a mason jar to save for broth, of course, but she was left with a large amount of rendered beef fat. I mentioned that it might be good to have it for some purpose or another, and then Tom thought maybe he'd make plum pudding with it, so we brought it home. Today I took it out and made it into homemade suet cakes for the birds.

Suet cakes aren't expensive, but I thought it would be fun to try my own. I found this great tutorial at Instructables and loosely used their method.

First I melted the beef fat, which had hardened in the fridge, down to a liquid using low heat.

Man, this smelled good. Suddenly I had a dog in the kitchen, watching my every move, and drooling.

After the fat was completely melted, I took it off the heat and added a substantial amount of peanut butter. Then bird seed, until it was a very chunky mix of goodness.

There's a great store near me called East Bay Nature that sells bird seed by the pound, specifically mixed just for our area. I would have much rather used their seed, but since I already had to go to Safeway this morning, I just bought generic. Not the best quality, but will do in a pinch.

I poured it into a tupperware container and put it in the fridge to harden. It didn't take long. I cut it with a sharp knife and pried a chunk of it out - not easy. Very sticky. My peanut butter ratio must have been too high.

I slipped the little chunk into my suet feeder (reserving the remainder in the fridge) and hung it in a Chinese Pistache tree, next to the cute feeders Mom gave the kids for Christmas. This is very near the water feature and many birds hang out in this tree, after bathing. Plus, the house you see behind the fence belongs to our wonderful neighbors who have many feeders, too, so it's a popular area for birds.

We'll see who visits. I'm expecting chickadees and finches, mostly. We do get titmice and pygmy nuthatches at the bird feeders, and scrub jays of course, and probably a squirrel or two. I wonder if the sweet little black phoebe we've been seeing in the yard will partake?