Turn your mardy-bums into lardy-bums!

I am becoming bird-obsessed.

I’ve noticed our regular visitors getting a little bit fractious in the extreme arctic conditions.  There have been minor skirmishes through to full-on dive-bomb explosions. Feathers have flown. The blackbirds have been downright peevish, at times sitting on the fat-balls to stop anyone else getting a look-in.  The goldfinches seem to have a ‘Pringles’ attitude to the niger seed: ‘you can’t stop, until you pop’.

So, to reassure them all that there is plenty of love to go around, we set to making some hand-crafted lardy seed-cakes, so that everyone can have their fill.

Since my obsession with birds started, I have added LARD to our weekly shop.  We were running short on butter yesterday (BUTTER CRISIS!  CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT BUTTER!  Brave trek through snow to shop.  Crisis averted).  But we do have a fridge full of LARD.

The slow melting of lard in a saucepan sparked an interesting discussion with my daughters about where lard comes from (home education!) and if this is what human fat looks like.I think our fat might be more jelly-like.  Like yellow jelly-bubbles. Ew.

So, back to the lard.

Making lard cakes is an excellent way to use up all those quarter packets of baking ingredients and cruddy jars of peanut butter and gummed-up tins of treacle lurking at the back of the cupboard.  As well as wild bird seed-mix, this morning’s recipe consisted of ground almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dried-up raisins, almond butter and molasses.  We’re going for maximum calories here.

These were all squidged together.  Take a moment to enjoy this.  Get your hands in and squeeze.

Our last batch of lardy cakes were rather rotund, and fell off the string because they were so weighty.  So this time, we experimented with slightly daintier cakes.  Because of the snowy theme this week, we plumped for Christmas cookie-cutter mouldy. Oh, and a bunny.  We seem to have a fairly macabre sense of humour in this household. And because we still had some mixture left over, we added a silicone ice-cube tray and a couple of plastic pots.  It is amazing how far one block of lard will stretch.

So we’re hoping that this offering will calm our obstreperous garden gang.  As one who also suffers from ‘hanger’ (the inability to think, talk or behave reasonably when hungry) I have every sympathy for them.  Gorge freely, my little puddings.  There is enough lard for everyone.

Three snow-days in a row has been rather lovely, from a family perspective.  Each morning, once we have made the decision that the weather is sufficiently dastardly to batten down the hatches, we have sat down to bacon-and-eggs or pancakes for breakfast, and it’s been, well, cosy. We’ve done a little bit of bird-watching and musing, and then have all sat round the table doing our homework.  It is true that we are easily distracted by flurries of snow, but we’ve set ourselves little goals before being allowed to go and have a play.  This runs its natural course when fingers and toes are numb and teeth frozen to gums.  Nothing that a hot chocolate can’t fix, and then back to work for a bit.

So whilst the country might be a little less productive, there is a collective benefit to just slowing down a little, watching the snow, playing, eating together, sharing odd thoughts (some odder than others), catching up with admin, catching snowflakes, following animal tracks, and soothing argumentative little birds.

NB: If the title of this post seems a little obscure, “mardy-bum” is my favourite term for when you feel a little out-of-sorts; grumpity; umpty.  There is a rather fantastic song of this title by Arctic Monkeys.  If you are in a bit of a mood, you only need to listen to the opening bars of this song, and the world is already a better place.

NB 2: Whilst lardy seedcake works on uppity birds, flapjack has a similar effect on humans.  See Orange, apricot and almond flapjack).

087 084 094

Above: mardy-bum (great tit), pudding-bag (long-tailed tit), and how fat? (robin).

17 Comments Add yours

  1. Laura says:

    I wonder if your lard is the same thing that we call suet here. It is the fat trimmings from beef. It is sold for feeding the birds. Years ago, the butcher would give you a chunk for free but now that bird feeding is so popular, they sell the suet 🙂

    1. Stevie says:

      Actually, suet is the hard fat that forms around the kidneys, usually beef. Lard is boiled down pig fat, not specifically from anywhere, I don’t think. Put you off yet?

      1. Ali says:

        Yum yum yum. Lucky birds! 🤢

  2. Ali says:

    I think it’s the melted fat from cooked meat, but no doubt there is someone who can help with clarifying! The stuff we call suet is also used in bird food, which I think is fat from an animal’s stomach (or something? Help?)

  3. shazza says:

    Aw lovely post. I made sure to go round filling my feeders today and wiping off the snow. I have a fat little robin visitor and saw two teaspoons yesterday. X

  4. shazza says:

    ☆ or pudding bags. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Oh, I love thoe names so much. So pleased you have some too they are adorable, aren’t they?

  5. shazza says:

    They are. Very cute and busy. X

  6. Anna says:

    Have always wondered what to do with the peanut butter that sticks to the side of the jar so thank you. Here blackbird are first without fail to the café every morning. Long-tailed tits deserve a pat on their beaks for their willingness to share a feeder companionably.

    1. Ali says:

      They take turns, don’t they? We have a flock of nine, and about four take a turn at the peanut feeder, whilst the others stay on the edges of the apple tree, they they rotate. They are the best birds ever. Did you know that if one breeding pair lose their brood they go and help another pair to raise theirs? And they all roost in a fluffy little row. I love them.

  7. I did enjoy this post, love the names you give the birds and your discussions with your youngsters. I roll out pastry trimmings with raisins and bird seed and sunflower hearts and the birds love it. 🙂

    1. Ali says:

      Ooh good idea for pastry trimmings! If niger seeds are Pringles, sunflower hearts are Doritos – they go made for them don’t they?

  8. Indira says:

    Very enjoyable write-up!
    Thanks for visiting my blogpost 🙂

  9. Stevie says:

    Where I grew up in Wiltshire, there was a delicacy called a lardy cake. It was a sweet dough, soaked in melted lard, and served hot (so the lard didn’t congeal!). It was one of those things, a bit like fried bread, that sometimes was scrumptious, but at others was, well, too lardy.

  10. Nicky says:

    Loved reading this, thank you. Very refreshing her hear some positives about this weather, we do all need to slow down and enjoy this time together before rushing back to “normal” 😊

    1. Ali says:

      Thank you, Nicky! 😘

  11. Island Time says:

    Lovely post, thank you. You’ve had a long, hard winter over there. I’m sure the birds are grateful for your loving care; and it’s true that snow days make for cozy family gatherings around the kitchen table; excellent home-schooling opportunities! Thanks again for sharing your experiences.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s