Well first of all, this has been quite a Monday! It started off pretty quiet, but before we knew it there were huge trucks arriving next door and loud engines starting up and oh my - trees were being felled! Like - really tall evergreen trees, literally right outside our family room windows! Then next thing we knew, the doorbell was ringing and packages were arriving and Nana stopped by and snow started falling - and this was all before noontime!
If ever there was a week for "bustle," this is it ~ I love it!
It was also a busy morning in our kitchen as we set about making our Solstice Tree treats. Now, before I launch into the how-to's I'd like to mention that last week at our Nature Club meeting my friend Ketylina demonstrated a similar suet making project. I paid rapt attention and brought home the recipe as well as some ideas for making more projects at home.
So here are the ingredients laid out by my stovetop. (And I apologize for the poor lighting in the next several photos - my kitchen is not very bright, unfortunately.)
In front is the package of beef suet* I bought at the market yesterday, and just behind, from left to right, we have: mixed bird seed, rolled oats, dried cranberries, currants, chunky peanut butter, hulled sunflower seeds, cornmeal, walnuts, hazelnuts and dried pineapple rings (the pineapple is actually for something else, lol).
(Notes: The recipe I followed came from this site, thanks again to Ketylina. *If you don't see suet at the meat counter, ask your butcher; he or she may be able to package some up for you. Alternatively, you can use lard in place of the suet.)
I first chopped the suet into small chunks and set them in a heavy saucepan over medium heat:
(Kind of gross, yes, but I tried not to think too much about it, lol.)
While the suet was melting (or rendering), I divided the "mix-ins" into one cup measurements (easier for small - and impatient - hands to deal with):
Here's how the suet looked once it was finished rendering (and lingering chunks were strained out with a sieve):
One pound of suet yielded about 2 cups liquid. Next, the boys had fun adding in all the mix-ins as I stirred the mixture with a strong wooden spoon ...
I poured the concoction into a glass measuring cup for easier handling ...
... and on the island I had some molds prepared:
Gingerbread men, donut rings ...
(Bookworm took a break from his work to gather pinecones for us from the yard.)
After filling the available molds we still had more left, so I pulled out some heart shaped ramekins and a Tupperware container to catch the remaining mixture:
(Note: I placed lengths of twine in the molds before pouring in the suet mix. Theoretically, this will make it possible to hang the shapes in the tree tomorrow.)
And here's our spread!
Into the freezer it all went ...
Tomorrow, on the first day of Winter, we'll take the frozen treats and decorate our Solstice Tree (along with a few other goodies we'll prepare in the morning). I think the birds and squirrels will be especially grateful considering they made themselves pretty scarce during all the loud tree work today!
One more picture before I go ...
Just in case the snow is gone by tomorrow, here's our Tree as it looked at 3 p.m. today. It sure looks and feels like Winter right about now!
And speaking of Winter, tomorrow brings not only December's Full "Cold" Moon - but a total lunar eclipse as well! (Details can be found here.) I may be up early enough to catch the tail end of it, but the trick will be remembering to look, lol!
Have a great night, everyone! See you sometime tomorrow. :)