We followed the recipe as prescribed by Chickens in the Road author Suzanne, found here. Her instructions were simple to follow and the recipe was very easy & easily adaptable to what you have on-hand. *grin* It took us about an hour, including prep time. I'm not sure there's much that can be done to shorten the process due to the fact that once you have rendered the lard & melted the peanut butter, it should probably cool down before adding any fruit.
Rendering the lard goes very quickly. And melting the peanut butter is also pretty fast. I used a whisk to mix the two together - plus the flour, sugar & cornmeal. I liked Suzanne's idea to use crunchy peanut butter but didn't have any on-hand yesterday. I'll have to remember that for next time.
During this time I chopped up a Fuji apple and about a dozen grapes. We also took a quick trip to the shed to get about a cup of bird seed. Adding this all in our blue plastic mixing bowl was a fantastic sensory opportunity for Jonah. He had great fun mixing the dry ingredients with his bare hands. He especially enjoyed watching as the seeds fell between his fingers.
We kept adding bread until we saw no more "wet" spots or standing liquid in the bowl. I'd guess that the recipe took a total of roughly ten pieces of bread. It's kinda hard to tell since my little helper used a "some for the birds; some for me" rationing algorithm.
Suzanne recommends refrigerating the suet overnight or storing it in the freezer for a few hours. I chose to place them in the freezer overnight. Just my choice, not sure why.
I chose a long thin knife to cut it into slices for our feeder. I could barely cut through the stuff, so I switched to a bigger, thicker blade as seen in the photo. This worked much better. Of course, the whole time I'm thinking: "Okay, maybe this is why Suzanne suggests refrigerating it rather than freezing it. My fault."
In the end, I realized the crumbly heaps probably didn't matter much since the suet feeder is comprised of cross-hatches. Indeed, it seemed to work just fine.
My recommendation - try it! It's a fun & simple recipe that will bring some goodwill to the feathered friends in your backyard.