Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peach Cobbler

For those of you that know me well you know that I am a foodie at heart. I may not be the most adventurous of cooks, but I love connecting the food our family eats with the great memories of collecting it.

With that said, perhaps one of my favorite dishes is my down home recipe for the simple but tasty peach cobbler. Although the recipe itself is wonderful it is the memories of travelling to Goldendale, Washington year after year in the fall to visit my good friend and fellow foodie Paulette Holbrook.

Each year is a bit different as I always seem to drag a new partner in crime with me to experience Paulette's great hospitality, but then again each year is the same as we generally visit the local winery and pick-up our peaches from Gunkel's Peach Orchard located just across the river from Bigg's Junction on I-84.

Our visits generally include a few farm chores ranging from shearing sheep to picking plums as well as an exquisitely prepared lunch made primarily from ingredients picked directly from Paulette's wonderful gardens and served on her family's homemade craftsman style bread. A treat by itself.

So today it is with great fondness I am thinking of my wonderful friend and fellow leader in the sheep industry as I use my frozen peaches to make one my favorite recipes--peach cobbler.

Peach Cobbler
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk ( I have substituted cream to make it richer)
3 cups peeled and sliced peaches with their juices (I use frozen peaches this time of year)

1. Preheat oven to 350*F
2. Put the butter in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish and put the dish in the preheating oven. While the butter is melting, mix up the batter by combining the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and milk.
3. When the butter is completely melted, remove the pan and pour the batter in to the melted butter. Then carefully spoon the peaches and juice evenly over the batter. Return dish to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
4. As the cobbler cooks, the batter will rise up and around the peaches.

I found this recipe on the web at the first year I brought peaches back from Goldendale and I have used it ever since. I generally serve it warm with a couple scoops of vanilla ice cream.

In addition to making it for my family, I also often times measure out the dry ingredients into a ziplock baggie and give with a package of home frozen peaches to friends to make an easy dessert for their family. Either way it is tremendous way for me to enjoy my wonderful visits to see a great friend and share the bounty of the harvest with all.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dyeing to Knit Something

As a busy mom of two elementary school girls I am always looking for projects that become a family activity. With that said, they need to be affordable, fun, and easy to do in a relatively short period of time. One of my favorites is using Kool- Aid as a quick, easy and safe method of dyeing wool and yarn. Thus a project was born on a blustery spring day last year using some of our medium weight 2-ply yarn skeins, a little bit of vinegar, and a selection of Kool-Aid. Fortunately for you, the teacher in me feels the need to share this project in hopes that it inspires others to jump in and have fun with fiber.

This is the perfect project for the experienced fiber artist looking to add something fun and exciting to their knitting repertoire or the beginner looking to try their hand at a sampling of what fiber arts has to offer. Either way this kid friendly multi-faceted project offers a wide variety of options to fill everyone's senses.

I started with one of our naturally white 100% wool 2-ply skeins we had processed from our sheep at Fantasy Fibers in Canby, Oregon. This inexpensive medium weight yarn works perfectly for this project soaking up the dye easily to become a brightly colored canvas to knit a warm stocking cap, pair of socks, or toasty scarf.

To finish this project you will need one to two skeins of yarn (depending upon your final project), white vinegar, 8-10 packets of each color of Kool-Aid ( I used three colors/flavors for the yarn in the photos), a few work towels, three plastic bottles with spouts or paint brushes, plastic wrap, a microwavable bowl, tap water, and possibly a pair of tongs to handle the hot yarn after setting the dye. Depending upon the surface you choose to work on you may also want to include a tarp, adhesive tape, recycled newspapers and/or a few garbage sacks to protect the area. You will also need a place to dry your skein of yarn.
Once you have all of your material close at hand, you can start the fun process of dyeing your own yarn and later knitting it into your favorite project. Please keep in mind the possibilities are endless with this project and you can use your imagination to create color combinations to suit your taste.
Directions to create a tie-dyed effect to your yarn using Kool-Aid.

1. Mix Kool-Aid with tap water to desired color brightness and place in plastic bottles or bowls (one color/bottle or bowl). Add 1/4 cup - 1/2 cup vinegar (I generally eyeball this part of the project and drop in a few glugs from the bottle) to the mixture depending upon the size of the bottle. Set bottles/bowls of Kool-Aid dye aside to prepare the yarn for dye.

2. Set-up your work area on a flat surface. (Reminder: this surface may get wet or be splashed with excess dye that could stain so make sure to use precautions.) I generally tape down a couple of large plastic garbage sacks, followed by newspaper and two or three layers of retired bath towels.

3. Next you will gently lay out your skein of yarn on the towels. You will then tear off approx. two foot long pieces of plastic wrap and lay it under the yarn in lengthwise sections (hot dog style). Once you have your yarn and plastic wrap in place you are ready to start dyeing.

4. Use your own personal style to squirt or paint the dyes onto the yarn until you achieve your desired look. Some may prefer to use a variegated color pattern staying within a color family, such as going from lighter to darker purple, while others may choose to use complimenting contrast colors to create a vibrant show. Still others may choose to use their favorite school colors to embellish their yarn.

5. You will then wrap the plastic wrap snugly around your newly dyed wet yarn. Gently place your plastic wrapped yarn into a covered microwaveable safe bowl and place in the microwave. Microwave your yarn for 10 to 12 minutes. Leave the bowl full of hot yarn in the microwave to cool down for several minutes.

6. When you do remove the yarn from the microwave be extremely careful as there may be hot steam still trapped inside the bowl and the yarn will continue to be very hot for awhile. Remove the yarn from the bowl and lay it out on a layer of towels or hang it on a hanger to dry. I generally check on the drying skein periodically and gently rearrange to rotate the wet and dry areas to dry faster.

7. Depending upon the warmth of the room it will take one to two days for the skein to dry to the point of being able to start your final knitting project.
Solid colors are much simpler to achieve. Basically you can add your desired color of Kool-Aid to tap water in a saucepan on the stove top. Add in appropriate amounts of vinegar and bring your mixture to a boil on the stove. Place your skein into the boiling water, gently stirring it around in the mixture and let bubble for a few minutes or until the water is void of color. Then follow the earlier instructions for drying.

There are several interesting and educational sites on the web to learn more about this process. Many include different Kool-Aid recipes to achieve desired colors and have different plays on the process and color combinations. Check out Kool-Aid Dyeing Wool on google and go on a fun adventure that is sure to keep you occupied for awhile.

We do have a few more of these wonderful skeins available here at the farm for $12/each. I can generally arrange delivery throughout Central Oregon or I can ship directly to you via USPS with the buyer paying shipping costs.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

With snow forecast to arrive at any minute and the threat of below zero temperatures on tap for later this week, my mind is turning to the comforts of home. There is nothing better than returning from chores, opening the front door and being greeted by the wonderful aroma of dinner in the oven and a warm fire. With that said, I have decided to use Wednesday to start a new thread...What's for dinner Wednesdays. What's for dinner Wednesdays will feature some of my favorite lamb recipes and hopefully give readers a little bit of inspiration to try new recipes featuring lamb. So What's for your dinner tonight?

When one is talking comfort food, it doesn't get much better than a good old-fashioned shepherd's pie. Who can argue with the savory flavors of a rich and meaty casserole combined with the smooth and hearty texture of fluffy mashed potatoes?

Growing up in a genetic line of cooks who thinks a measuring cup is merely a suggestion, I took it upon myself to put my own spin on this casserole. Feel free to do the same and make this wonderful dish your own. It is quick, easy and simple to make.


1 pound ground lamb
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
1 t. minced garlic
1-2 cups of chopped mixed vegetables (frozen carrots, corn green beans and peas)
4-6 medium/large potatoes
1-2 cans of tomato soup
Handful of Brown Sugar
1-2 T. of Worcestershire Sauce
Butter/Sour Cream/Milk for mashed potatoes


1. Brown lamb burger with chopped onions, peppers, and garlic. Drain excess juices at the end of the process.

2. In a casserole dish, place browned burger, onions, peppers, and garlic. Add in frozen veggies (feel free to add or delete to suit your taste). Stir in tomato soup to desired consistency. Add brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Salt and Pepper to taste.

3. While the lamburger is browning, boil water and cook potatoes to desired consistency for thick mashed potatoes. Mash potatoes, adding butter, sour cream and milk to suit your tastes. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Once you have assembled meat, soup and seasonings in the casserole dish, top the mixture with about 1-1 1/2 inches of mashed potatoes.

5. Cover dish with lid or tin foil and place in oven to cook at 350* F. Cook for approximately 45 minutes-1 hour removing the lid part way through the process to let the potatoes brown. Basically all ingredients are cooked in the casserole so the baking process is just to achieve the desired warmth and consistency preferred by the cook.

Serve this dish with steamed cauliflower topped with shredded cheddar cheese and a cut-up mango or other fruit and a glass of cold milk. Mmmm.....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Lambing Season 2011

The barn towels are washed,lambing supplies are put away for another year and the 2011lambing season has come to a close. With a rainbow assortment of lambs in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors on the ground, our natural colored shepherd's Christmas is now in the record book and our focus is turning to raising out the multitude of new faces around the barn.

As we take time to reflect on this lambing season and compare it to past ones, one thing is abundantly clear, it was definitely a year of changes and advancement for Kristie Sheep Farm. From welcomed visitors to advances in technology, change has definitely been on the agenda.

The first order of change was to mix up our breeding season to have a handful of ewes lamb in January with the remainder of the flock in February. With that said, a new batch of Lincolns, commonly referred to around here as our little hippies arrived right on cue during a warm spell in the middle of January. They could be seen sunbathing on a daily basis and just as the sunlight spurs on the flowers of the spring it seemed to help this group of babies blossom into a beautiful and uniform set of lambs.

February arrived and although there was a time we thought we were going to have to wait forever for the burgeoning group of mommas to pop, once they started it didn't take long for the storm to pass and leave in its wake a bouncy group of new babies.

After a long debate between family members and a great deal of lobbying on my part, we made a major decision and after 30+ years of hiking to the barn to check ewes in the middle of the night we chose to invest in a lambing camera. As the night supervisor, not only did this great little invention save me time and effort, but it also enabled me to keep an eye on the ewes without being invasive. It wasn't long before the lamb channel became a hit with the family and even gave us an added bonus of being able to watch the new babies play in the barn. The only drawback appeared to be when we had a ewe go into labor during the Superbowl. Needless to say I went back to checking on the ewe the good old-fashioned way...via foot power.

The final technological advance came in the form of a used 4-wheeler my husband and father bought and fixed up. It combined with the little utility trailer mom bought for the lawn mower a few years back have been a blessing as old man winter has flexed his muscles over the past week or so forcing us to change up some of our feeding patterns.

Although the new technology was a welcomed advance, it was perhaps a dose of good old-fashioned elbow grease that quite possibly helped me out the most in the end as my mother-in-law graciously agreed to spend a week with us helping out with the household chores. It was so nice to come in from chores in the barn to find my girls excitedly entertaining their grandmother with the stories of their day and a warm dinner on the table.

My dad, who has always been the barn supervisor has embraced the changes and been so supportive through this lambing season, as has my mom. As usual we have taken on our roles and somehow survived another year!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Skirting Fleeces

Finally the weather has warmed up outside. It was nearly 90 degrees the past few days. It has given me the opportunity to start skirting the fleeces. Although time consuming I enjoy looking at the individual fleeces. In the barn I only have a couple seconds to glance at each fleece while preparing for the next sheep, but on the skirting table I can spend time with each one.

I have about 7 or 8 of the 30 or so fleeces already skirted. There have been a several pleasant surprises among the bunch. So far I am really excited about the over all quality of the fleeces. I think our fiber enthusiasts will be pleased.

The skirting process for us consists of laying the fleece (sheep side up) on a large screened table. Once on the table I pull out any glaring vegetative matter and soiled areas as well as large changes in fleece grade. This usually consists of going around table and taking off the outside portion of the fleece. I try to leave only the good stuff. If it is borderline then I generally put it into an "ends" sack and use it or sell it at a discount. Once I am finished cleaning the fleece then I roll it up into a ball with the outer side of the fleece to the inside. I generally take a gallon size sample for the sample boxes and weigh the finished fleece.

It has been a family affair as my mom is the general recording secretary noting the fleece qualities and characteristics and my father is the generally the mechanical expert and general supervisor:)
Below are a sampling of the fleeces I have skirted so far.

Raven's fleece was really nice this year. It is a great variegated gray color. It is a very eye appealing and elastic fleece.

This is Moo's first fleece. It is a gorgeous dark brown and white spotted fleece with grey pimming in the white areas. It has a gorgeous crimp and it is wonderfully soft!

We had two white medium fleeces and boy are they both gorgeous! This is from Bobbie, one of our favorites from 2008. I have been spinning some of her 2008 fleece and I am having a lot of fun with it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Yarn & More Yarn

It is interesting how something simple like raising sheep can develop into such a multi-faceted hobby. Up until a couple of years ago we had a local wool pool where we sold our wool in bulk with other producers from around the region. By blindly following the KISS principle we took our meager returns and some years barely earned enough to pay the shearer.

Today we ship handspinning fleeces coast-to-coast. However we never developed a specialty market for the blackface wool from the wetherdams. When the wool pool ceased to exist a couple of years ago and the blackface wool started piling up in the barn, we decided to act before we were buried in wool. Last fall we took matters into our own hands and skirted some of our fleeces to send to the processor.

We recently received the yarn and it is beautiful!!!
After having all of the natural colored sheep, I am like a kid in a candy store with the dyes. So it didn't take long for me to grab a jar of dye, heat up a pot of water, and drop in a few skeins of yarn. I ended up with a very unique variegated color pattern which I quickly decided to knit into my favorite beanie hat pattern while travelling over spring break. The variegated color combined well with the natural textural variations to create a very homey hat that received rave reviews from many at a fiber festival last weekend. In fact we sold several skeins of yarn that day.
For more information about purchasing a few skeins of yarn for your next project or if you have an idea to share feel free to email me at
Kristie Sheep Farm
Home of great Lincolns, Montadales, Romeldales & NCWGA Registered Sheep
Prineville, Oregon

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dyeing Wool with Easter Egg Dye

With homework for my college class behind me(yah!) I decided to relax and have fun this afternoon. Hannah and I decided to use Easter Egg dye to color some of the Lincoln wool given to me by Penny Dodds. The ultimate goal is to create an Easter basket filled with brightly colored felted eggs.

I use the Easter Egg dye regularly at grade school workshops as it is relatively inexpensive (4/$1 after Easter), safe and it works well in warm water. However I rarely get a chance to play with it at home on my own time. It was very fun... I feel five again.
The process is exetremely simple.
1. Pour warm/hot water in a disposable container.
2. Add a couple of teaspoons of white vinigar to the water.
3. Add 2-4 color tablets (use the same color together) to the warm water.
4. Place clean dry wool in the container for a few minutes to soak up the dye.
5. Remove from dye and place in a safe area to dry.

Today I used the basic food colors to stretch out my dye and make the colors more vivid. It was a blast!!! The Lincoln wool took the Easter Egg dye exetremely well!
If you have questions, ideas for a project, or would just like to comment, please feel free to email me at
Kris Jones
Kristie Lincolns, Montadales, Romeldales, and NCWGA registered Natural Colored Sheep
Prineville, Oregon