Jacob and I left Ottawa on a cloudy Saturday morning, running late as usual but highly excited about our destination! After all, it’s not every day that you have the chance to visit a working dairy farm!
The road to the farm was breathtakingly beautiful. Still close to Ottawa, we had the impression of being in a different land. One where the animals were outside chilling on the grass, rabbits hanging around and people growing their own food – everything was as it was supposed to be.
We arrived in Kinburn at 11. As we were getting closer, a country-looking sign confirmed we were at the right place: Centuryholm Farm, The Eastman Family. Avaleigh Schouten (born Eastman) welcomed us at the car as soon as we parked, a small cat following her footsteps. Her grandfather then passed us on a big tractor, waving his hand as a welcome sign, a big smile illuminating his face. We felt good right away.
The first members of Avaleigh’s family to put their foot in Kinburn were from Omagh, from County Tyrone in Ireland in 1833. “They were given 100 acres of forest from the Crown, along with basic tools and a few animals to get them started,” explained Avaleigh. “The deal was that they had to clear the land and turn it into tillable, or farmable land that could grow a bountiful crop. On that same parcel of land today, our family grows corn, soybeans, hay and small grains (wheat, oats, barley).”
Her father, John Eastman, is the 6th generation to farm the land. As he explains, farming is a way of living and a seven days a week job. The work is extremely physically demanding. John went on to mention that the amount of bending and repetitive tasks a farmer has to do in his or her life will take a toll on you. Farming isn’t an easy job. Listening to John, it became clear you have to be dedicated and ready to give everything you have to be a farmer.
“You know, what always amazes me is driving from Toronto to Mississauga, for example, and seeing house after house, and you know that every one of these people living in these houses has to eat food, and most drink milk. As farmers, we bring this food to them, we deliver their milk and food,” added John. Now that is something to be proud of.
The Centuryholm Farm has 40 milking cows at all times and about 100 animals on the farm. Every two days, 2400 litters of milk is picked up from their farm.
Avaleigh’s family farm and the dairy industry in Canada operate under supply management, a system that makes it possible for every Canadian to have steady access to fresh, local, high-quality dairy products, poultry and eggs all year around. If you aren’t familiar with supply management, an easy way to see it is that it assures Canadians have access to local, safe and healthy food and that the farmer gets a fair return for his or her work. It keeps farmers farming, and it gives consumers the security of knowing that what they are eating is as fresh and local as possible.
After the visits, Avaleigh invited Jacob and I to have a slice of a wonderful milk cake with her grandparents Dalton and Betty Eastman and with her mother Jennifer.
We had a piece of this cake in her grandparents’ lovely kitchen on that cloudy Saturday afternoon. Avaleigh had baked the cake the same morning, just before welcoming us. Her mom then chose some fresh berries as garnish and topped it with some whipped cream. This dessert was delicious! The cake was moist and still slightly warm. The pudding on top was perfect and blended naturally with the cake.
Sitting in this warm kitchen and eating this delicious dessert, it struck me how lucky Avaleigh had been to grow up on a farm. That is when I realised that no rain or clouds could ever overcast the pride this family had in their hard work and in what they had accomplished, one generation after the other. Farming truly is a unique lifestyle. One of a kind.
You will need:
For the milk pudding:
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
*(For chocolate version, replace vanilla & cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cacao powder and 1/2 cup chopped milk chocolate pieces).
For the cake:
1 cup of flour
2/3 cup of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 teaspoons of vanilla
*(For chocolate version, replace vanilla with 2 Tbsp of cacao)
The milk pudding:
In a small bowl, put 1 tablespoon of milk (from the 1 1/2 cups of milk). Add the cornstarch and vanilla and whisk well.
In a saucepan, heat the remaining milk and sugar for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat.
Once the milk is hot (but not boiling), add the first mix (cornstarch, milk and vanilla) and beat until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
In a bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk, butter and vanilla.
Pour over the dry ingredients and stir just until moistened (don’t over work the dough).
Spread into a buttered baking dish. Gently pour warm milk mixture over cake batter without stirring.
Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Let the cake cool for 10 minutes to allow milk mixture to thicken. Serve warm, with fresh berries and your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream! Enjoy!
This is a condensed version of a blog post on Sugar Coated. Sugar Coated combines Lyne’s love for baking and cooking and Jacob’s long time passion for photography. Together, they test new recipes, adapt some and share those that the couple loves the most. You can find Jacob here.