Child-friendly activity for an unexpected day at home.
Photo by Shirley Ruhe.
Run out of ideas about what to do on that next snow day, teacher work day or other unscheduled day home from school? You can do it all in one by making homemade suet cakes for the backyard birds. At this time of year when food is difficult to find for birds, your children will get a sense of satisfaction from feeding their backyard friends.
Children all seem to love to cook. Suet cakes don't involve a hot oven, don't have to rise and allow the kids to get hands-on messy. The recipe is flexible and allows for your own creativity. And it provides a public service to the grateful birds in your backyard or public space nearby. The only downside is the children can't (or probably shouldn't) taste the batter or lick the bowl.
Recipe for suet cakes: (use your creativity)
2 cups lard or Crisco or shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 cups oats
1/4 cup raisins, currants and or dried cranberries or blueberries
1/4 cup birdseed, sunflower seeds, peanuts or other seeds
1/4 tsp. red pepper (if you wish to discourage squirrels)
empty tuna cans or empty former suet packages
Mix all ingredients together with large wooden spoon or tiny hands. Fill tuna or plastic suet containers and put in fridge several hours to harden. After nap time, remove suet from container and put in suet holder or tie with string around both sides of the square and hang from a tree limb. Or just put on the ground. The birds will find it.
Then look out the window make a game out of which birds come first, how many birds eat the suet, how fast it disappears and watch the squirrels spit out the suet when they discover it has their least favorite red pepper ingredient.