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To Catch A Sheep

We’re back from Scotland, my friends!  My quest to pet a baby sheep has come to an end.

This is the story of that quest.

I should preface this by saying that when I was little, I wanted a pet sheep.  Unfortunately, my parents are psychologists from Queens.  Their life plan did not include owning a farm animal.  So they took me to a petting zoo instead.

I probably would have had a nice time, too, if I had understood how petting zoos worked.

But I didn’t.  This became apparent at the end of petting hours, when I pointed to the healthiest-looking sheep and said “I’LL TAKE IT.”  My parents looked around like “UM, WHAT?” and that’s when everybody started panicking, including the sheep.

This is me, circa 1982, conducting a thorough visual inspection.

Not long after that, my parents brought home a labrador retriever.

I waited for it to settle in and start making sheep noises.  When it didn’t, I marched into my parents’ room and said “AHEM.  THIS SHEEP IS BROKEN.”  And that’s when they realized I had psychological issues and also that the dog was wearing two wool sweaters and hyperventilating.

I’m telling you this so you understand how excited I was, thirty years later, to be in Scotland.  There were sheep everywhere. 

Really, everywhere.

Unfortunately, they were ninja sheep.  Extremely agile.

We had to stalk them.

Scott was terrible at it.  For example, here he is “hiding behind a sign” (his words):

I mean, really? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the sheep could obviously see him.  And I mean that literally because Scott is a rocket scientist.  (Allegedly.)

The only thing we had working in our favor was that sheep are dumb.  Really, really dumb.

And so one day, on the Isle of Arran, I went for the gold.

And I won.  I pet a sheep.  It lasted for half a second but here it is:

It was glorious.  It was also documented by U.S. Customs & Border Protection.

When I handed the form to the customs agent, he said “thanks” and waved me on.

This was troubling on several levels.  I checked the first box on a technicality, but other people could be checking it because they rolled around in a field and immediately boarded an airplane with a carry-on full of dirt.

Also–just so you know–customs doesn’t care if you get licked by a foreign cow on your way to the airport.  Because that happened, by the way.

But I digress.  Cows are for another time.  Today we celebrate sheep.

In honor of the occasion, I made a vegetable sheep.

He’s made of cauliflower, a potato, four green onions, black beans and toothpicks (which I sometimes cut up into littler toothpicks).  His ears are made out of cut cauliflower stalks, but you can also use two little garlic cloves.  To do the legs, I just ran a toothpick through the length of a trimmed scallion (the white part, with the roots removed), up into the cauliflower.

And then I sat down to a chilly cup of raspberry pistachio cream.  Which I made without an ice cream maker, y’all.  You do not need an ice cream maker to make this dessert.

Turns out homemade ice cream made with condensed milk is fabulous.

I started by looking at a few recipes for strawberry Eton mess.  I threw some Greek yogurt into condensed milk, added some cream, and pureed some frozen raspberries.  I pulled out some honeyed nuts.

It was creamy–not too sweet and not too tangy.  And the recipe’s flexible.  I only threw in nectarines because they’re my favorite fruit.  You could use peaches, drained canned fruit, frozen berries–whatever.  The hard meringues give the end result an invisible lift, since meringues are just egg whites, sugar and air.  I’ll make this again for company because it’s just so creamy and delicious I can’t stand it.

Frozen Raspberry & Pistachio Cream {Download & Print Recipe}

Inspired by recipes for Eton mess ice cream


2 ripe nectarines

1 12-oz. bag of frozen raspberries, thawed

1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

2 c. heavy cream

2 c. plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla

2 c. crumbled meringues (if you can find these in the store or at a bakery, great.  (If not, follow the first steps for hard meringue in this recipe.  Make the meringues 3 hours before starting the ice cream).

1/2 c. to 1 c. roasted and salted pistachios, hulled

1 to 2 tbsp. honey


Thaw the raspberries. Peel the nectarines and cut them into small pieces, about 1/4″- 1/2″ chunks.

Puree most of the raspberries (reserve 10 or so) in a blender or food processor with 2 tbsp. of the condensed milk.

Put the rest of the condensed milk, cream, yogurt and vanilla in a mixer bowl.  Beat on high for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, chop the pistachios to your liking and toss with the honey.

Using a spoon or whisk, stir the nectarines, meringue, and about 1/3 of the raspberry puree into the mixer bowl.  Stir in the pistachios.

Spoon the mixture into a freezer-proof container.  Add dollops of the remaining puree.  Using a butter knife, swirl the puree through the mixture.  Top with the reserved raspberries.  Cover and freeze until it’s solid.  (I put mine in a thin layer, so it only took about an hour.)

Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving so that it melts enough for you to be able to spoon it into serving dishes.


Our little gremlin is back!

And she’s not alone.  We’re taking care of my parents’ dog, Maggie, for a little while.

They’re best friends.

They do everything together.  They even help each other eat sticks.

. . . at least until Thunder decides she’d rather not share.

Ah, it’s good to be home!

41 Comments Post a comment
  1. winsomebulldog #

    So glad you guys are home safe and sound. I’m sure Thunder’s happy, too. The vegetable sheep is possibly even more adorable that an actual baby sheep. I squeed when I saw it. 🙂 LOL @ Scott trying to “hide” behind the sign. Sounds like something my hubby would try. Maybe it’s a kind of side-effect of the super intelligent? My hubby never had the chance to finish his engineering degree at Purdue, but he’s literally a genius. (He has the test scores to prove it.) What he doesn’t have, however, is more than the barest hint of common sense. LOTS, of stories to prove that. 😀

    June 9, 2012
    • Sometimes it seems like common sense is completely divorced from other kinds of smarts. Sometimes I’m about to do some really complicated move or something and Scott’s like “OR, you could just lift the top one out first,” and I’m like “holy CRAP I would never have thought of that!” And it goes both ways. He does the same sort of thing. I take this as a sign that our brains are SO highly developed (heh heh) that we can’t be bothered with really BASIC stuff. 🙂 Rrrrright.
      ps- I know some people who went to Purdue and they’re so wonderful! I think very highly of that school–they seem to churn out some good eggs.

      June 12, 2012
  2. juanitascocina #

    Ohhhh…you’ve been missed!

    I want a goat, by the way. Not a sheep.

    I live out in the country in the middle of nowhere in Texas, but I do have a little neighborhood. One day, I was coming home from work and I turned into my neighborhood, and there were two goats standing there wearing dog collars. Yes, that’s right, dog collars.

    So, I rolled down my window and held out my hand and they came running over. And I was all, “Hey goats!” And then they took off running down the highway almost getting run over by lots of cars going 70 mph.

    So, I did the only thing I could and I called the Sheriffs department about someone’s lost goats. And I was all, “You’d think if they put a collar on them, they’d be better pet owners.”

    I followed the goats back and forth all over the highway until the Sheriff came. He thought I was crazy for following them, but I couldn’t have goat blood on my hands. I don’t know if he ever found their homes.

    Also, I love this ice cream.

    June 9, 2012
    • That is the kind of COMMITTMENT I’m TALKING ABOUT. You saved some goat’s lives, woman. That’s, like, two million karma points, right?

      The reason it took so long to touch a sheep in Scotland was that I knew they scared easily and would do stuff like your goats did. I didn’t want to make them stampede or whatever. So if I started running after them and they ran into the road, we’d abort the mission. We aborted the mission so many freaking times. We even turned to renting BIKES.

      Your story reminds me that there is a woman who lives 10 blocks from me who found a goat in her house a few weeks ago. They had the back door open and it just ran the hell in there. She locked it in the bathroom and called animal control, and they came and got it. She said it was clearly domesticated, because I guess before she locked it in the bathroom, it wanted to hang out. Or something. My facts are sketchy.


      June 12, 2012
  3. Welcome back! Sounds like U.S. Customs is right on top of things. When I hear about an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Alabama, I’ll know who’s to blame. ; )

    Also love the potato/cauliflower sheep.

    I wised up to petting zoos after several goats kept wanting to eat my yummy dresses. It was a prelude to experiences with men later in life, so maybe it was a good training ground?

    June 9, 2012
    • PREACH IT, sister. You know one thing I didn’t like about New York? Too many dirty banker goats trying to eat my dresses. BLEH.

      June 12, 2012
  4. This is the hardest I’ve laughed since starting to study for the bar exam last month. The awesomeness of sheep is nearly endless.

    June 9, 2012
    • I just sent you a long, unsolicited email about the bar exam, Courtney. Forgive me.

      June 12, 2012
  5. Your veggie sheep is cute beyond words, do you have any other veggie farm animals up your sleeve? I’d love to serve up a tray of veggie-sheep and dip at my next party, not to be confused with sheep dip 😉

    June 9, 2012
    • Sue, I have been mulling this over for the past two days! I have one other one– but it’s big. It’s making a penguin out of eggplant. I saw it on a billboard in Edinburgh. If I don’t make it within a week, I’ll send you the somewhat grainy picture I took on my iphone at the time. You could probably make a pig out of radishes, because as long as you poked two holes in a round nose, it’d be pretty recognizable as a pig, right? I’ll keep thinking on it. Fun fun.

      June 12, 2012
  6. Welcome back! Your veggie sheep is SOOOO cute — you are SOOOO clever! Now you need to go to Egypt so you can come back and make a veggie camel to wow us with. Or a veggie donkey.

    I can’t wait to make this yummy ice cream. One question, though: wherever did you find a 396 oz. can of condensed milk? I hope it’s not Trader Joe’s, ’cause we don’t have one of those. 😉

    June 9, 2012
    • Ah Jennifer, I messed up. It was a 14-oz can of condensed milk, which is 396 grams. I’ve changed that in the recipe now. Sorry for the confusion, and thank you for pointing that out.

      We don’t have a Trader Joe’s either and I wish we did because I had their iced gingerbread men at Christmas time and they were AMAZING.

      Someday I will go to Egypt or a country that has camels, and I will plot the veggie approach. I think there are some donkeys around here. . .

      June 12, 2012
  7. Glad that you made it back from the wilds of Scotland- and that you got to pet a sheep!
    That ice cream looks awesome. I must try it.

    Thought of you today as I opened the last jar of jam from last season’s preserving marathon. 🙂

    June 9, 2012
    • Hellooo my dear friend! I’ve been meaning to email you. Meeting you and Carol Anne was one of the most wonderful parts of the trip. EVEN BETTER than petting a sheep. And I know you know how much the sheep meant to me. 🙂

      By the way, we went to the store you mentioned–the discounted one that had everything? We got the randomest things there: footie pajamas. One tiger and one dinosaur. They are hilarious and they were super cheap. They took up half Scott’s suitcase because the tiger has a tail and the dinosaur has felt scales on the back. But they are so worth it!

      xo Katherine

      June 12, 2012
      • Ah yes, the wonders of Primark! Full of things you had no idea that you were missing, like dragon footie pjs. 🙂

        June 13, 2012
  8. Amy #

    Welcome home 🙂 I’M SO GLAD YOU GOT TO PET A SHEEP!!! I’m also incredibly jealous…and a little upset that the sheep package you were supposed to send me hasn’t arrived in the mail yet. I’m going to assume that it’s because the shipping services in Scotland are a bit on the slow side. Also, that veggie sheep is so freaking cute!

    I don’t have an ice cream maker either, and this recipe sounds amazing. I’m totally making it this summer. Yum!

    June 9, 2012
  9. I missed you SOOOOO much.

    When you and Scott come to visit, I will take you to my best pal’s farm ( I’ve blogged about Heatherjay and Rupert AND THE MANY SHEEP THEY LIVE WITH. This seems a good place to take you and Scott, as it appears that you know nothing about getting close to sheep. For example, chasing them seems ill-advised. Sheep, like me, don’t like being approached at speed. At Ironwood, you will get to touch sheep. You could even sleep with them if you want to. And they are fenced in. So they’ve got no where to go. (The fields are large, but you appear to be in shape.) Also, 2.0 and I are thinking about going to visit Ironwood next week. Because they’ve got LOADS OF LAMBS. And lambs like to jump and flip in the air. They are money.

    Please don’t go on anymore trips. It makes me uncomfortable and bored.

    June 9, 2012
  10. OK, so here’s the deal. You play with dead bugs. You want a chicken. You stalk sheep over an entire country. You get licked by things. Why don’t you live in the country, woman? You need a farm. Tell that rocket scientist to figure out how to make rockets in BFE, you need livestock.

    June 9, 2012
  11. claireelizabethscott #

    This post made my day — I’m from Scotland, now living in London, and have always had a desire to have my own flock of sheep. FYI, London is not a good place to live if you like seeing sheep on a day-to-day basis. I’m quite obsessed, and thankfully my family and friends understand that it’s entirely innocent. Sheep are awesome. I’m glad you visited Arran — it’s such a beautiful island 🙂 On one of my childhood visits, we had to keep the dog on the lead the whole time because the sheep just wander around — I was particularly terrified that some evil farmer would shoot him for trying to make friends with them all :s

    June 10, 2012
  12. Ha! – You really went for it and love the veggie sheep too! Great Photos:) Happy Sunday!

    June 10, 2012
  13. You clearly have too much time on your hands if you are reduced to constructing vegetable sheep (but at least the animal rights people won’t come after you). I haven’t made condensed milk ice cream since the summer we made it at camp with condensed milk and soda pop: your version looks much better.

    June 10, 2012
  14. I love the photo of you making a break for it & the photo of you petting the sheep! Your face practically screams “OMG, I’M PETTING A SHEEP!!!!! FOR SERIOUS!!!! A REAL, SHEEP-Y SHEEP!!!!”

    June 10, 2012
  15. a #

    I can’t believe you actually had to run a sheep down. I thought they just stood around looking stupid all day. Glad you enjoyed your trip…

    June 10, 2012
  16. Anna #

    That veggie sheep makes me extremely happy!

    June 10, 2012
  17. Glad to have you back. Congrats on tackling the ovine prize. And y’gotta love the Devil Dog Stink Eye.

    June 10, 2012
  18. Sarah #

    I grew up on a sheep farm. Seriously. Most people who leave the farm don’t have any overly sentimental feelings about the extremely hard work it is and don’t get misty-eyed thinking about the livestock they used to own. Those people are not me. I loved the farm. We had some cattle and pigs too. But honestly the cattle were too clumsy and the pigs were too smart and independent. I spent most of my time and energy on the sheep. I still miss it.

    Anyway, I am so very, very glad you are back. And that the trip was a roaring success.

    June 11, 2012
  19. that’s the happiest sheep-petting face the world has ever seen. congratulations on your success, constructing a vegetable sheep fit for a wallace and gromit episode, and glad you’re back!

    June 11, 2012
  20. Love it! The veggie sheep too!

    June 11, 2012
  21. I love sheep with tails!

    June 11, 2012
  22. That story was hilarious and awesome, and I’m glad to hear you finally fulfilled your dream of petting a sheep. Also, am totally going to try that ice cream recipe – my little brother adores ice cream. His favourite is cookies n cream, so maybe I could make it with crushed Oreos in it or something.

    June 11, 2012
  23. Um, 396 ounces of sweetened condensed milk? I’ve never made anything like this but that seems like a lot . . . Probably there is something I’m missing. i’m what they call “culinaryily challenged.” I LOVE your blog by the way. You kind of make me want to cook. 🙂

    June 12, 2012
    • Ah, thank you Joslyne! I meant to write 396 GRAMS, or 14 oz. Whoooops. Thank you for pointing that out–I’ll go change it above!

      June 12, 2012
  24. Stalking sheep. Nice.

    June 13, 2012
  25. I am a city person but once lived for a month with five sheep and numerous goats, and I can assure you a good sheep is on par with the loyalest of dogs. More than once, I had one frolic over to me and gently butt me in the thigh until I agreed to rub his ears.

    I have loved everything you’ve ever written, but this post is tops.

    June 13, 2012
  26. We moved to England less than a year ago, and I have to say– the ubiquity of sheep is one of our favorite things about life in England. You must lure them with dandelions, by the way! We have actually had sheep chase us after we did that, they want them so bad.

    June 18, 2012
  27. OK your expression when you managed to grab that poor unsuspecting sheep is priceless – I snorted soda down my nose LOL

    June 18, 2012
  28. I had no idea how much you wanted to pet a foreign sheep, and that picture is priceless!!! I also love your veggie sheep. Too. Much. Cute.

    June 19, 2012
  29. I googled “touch a sheep in scotland” and found your article. It was hilarious; thanks for the post!

    April 25, 2015

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