Ah, winter in central Texas. A harsh season, where the weather-folk talk about temperatures plummeting into the 50s. OK, maybe I shouldn’t get too smug. We do have our share of ice storms and the occasional pipe-bursting hard freeze. Point is, while winter here is nowhere as harsh as in many parts of the country, the birds still need a hand from time to time.
We had a pretty good year, weather-wise, and there is more seed available than during the past two years of drought, but my birder friend thought a bit of suet would not go amiss. I trust her, she’s the one that can sit in my backyard and name every one by their songs even when they are deep in the cover of a hackberry tree. She groks birds.
I trust her recipe, too. There are a ton of suet recipes on the Internet, but she promised me that this one would be alright even if it got warm out. Its supposed to be in the low 80s tomorrow… I will let you know! Seriously, if this is kept in the shade it may slump a bit but it won’t drip on your shrubs.
It is very easy and it makes a lot, so I recommend making a batch with kids or friends and sharing it. What a nice gift it might be to get a suet feeder, a “starter” block and the recipe!
No need to refrigerate although you certainly can. You can use butter tubs or most any sort of reusable plastic containers. Or, you could form it in a 9×13 sheet pan and cut it into cubes, anything that will fit in a suet feeder is fine. Birds are not picky about aesthetics. We made:
Cen-Tex No-Mess Suet
1 pound (a 16 oz jar) crunchy peanut butter (no salt, please)
1 pound rendered lard
Melt both together in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Do not let burn. When completely melted, remove from heat and stir in:
1 cup black oil sunflower seeds
1 cup millet
2 cups quick cook oats
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup flour (to bind)
1/3 cup sugar
Stir to combine. It should be fairly stiff, add more seed if needed. Spoon into containers, cool, and put out for the birds.
Easy enough and the birds will thank you! It costs a bit more than tuppence a bag, but it lasts and you may get visitors you aren’t expecting. Hang it where the squirrels can’t get it! The sparrows should leave it alone but the cardinals, wrens, and other birds might surprise you! Let me know… and if you’re not sure what you’re seeing, take a picture and show us. Also, Cornell University has a wonderful “urban bird” resource that might be of interest. Very nice folks!
Now that we’ve fed our birds, we deserve a treat too! I love this cookie recipe. You certainly don’t need to be gluten intolerant to enjoy it. I can eat pretty much anything, but some of my friends are living gluten-free and these lacy chewy Florentines make me happy, both to share and to munch.They will keep well for up to a week (ha!) in an airtight container, but be sure to put layers of parchment, waxed paper, or plastic wrap between the layers to they don’t stick to each other.
Preheat oven to 350F and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup almond flour (freshly ground if possible)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg slightly. Add all the other ingredients and mix well.
Drop by scant (really) teaspoons onto parchment paper (and leave plenty of room between – they spread like crazy!).
Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Do NOT let brown. Let them cool on the cookie sheets for 2 minutes before removing to cooling racks. When completely cool, store them in an air-tight container. Makes about three dozen.
Stay warm, well, and safe, and enjoy the season where ever you are.