the-cooking-ladiesTHE COOKING LADIES by Lamont Mackay and Phyllis Hinz

We first met Rob Engman and Karla Dudley when they produced RVTV. Our involvement was the cooking segment on the show. These days, they own Sawdust City Brewery in Gravenhurst, Ontario. The craft brewery is difficult to miss because the largest, most photographed, yellow Muskoka chair in the district sits in the parking lot just outside the entrance. Inside, you can bend an elbow along a 24-foot bar milled from a 100-year-old naturally felled pine tree.

While we were visiting our friends in Gravenhurst, Ontario, we dropped by The Muskoka Discovery Centre to see antique wooden boats bobbing in the water inside the museum. The Woody is featured on the label of Sawdust City’s mahogany-hued Ol’Woody Alt a German amber.

Gravenhurst is famous as the birth-place of Doctor Norman Bethune, a surgeon and humanitarian, and an advocate of socialized medicine in Canada. Bethune died performing surgery on the battlefield in China during the second Sino Japanese War. At the Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site we joined people from the Republic of China as they honoured their cultural icon.

Cottages, lakes, outdoor fun, boats, and Bethune’s birthplace have always lured us and other visitors to this town at the gateway to the Muskoka district of Ontario. Sawdust City Brewery is a new refreshing reason to keep returning.

Beer is a good marinade and tenderizer. It provides flavour contrast in rich cheese dishes and soups. In this recipe, beer adds another dimension to the flavour of the gravy. Our slow cooker method provides time to pour a cold beer into a chilled pilsner glass and forget about cooking.


(Makes 3 to 4 servings)


  • SLOW COOKER PORK2 pounds (1 kg) boneless pork shoulder roast
  • 1 cup (250 ml) Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA (or other beer)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) brown sugar
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) yellow mustard
  • 2 tbsps (30 ml) orange marmalade
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) ginger powder
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsps (30 ml) cornstarch
  • 3 tbsps (45 ml) water


  1. If there are strings on the pork roast, leave them on.
  2. In a bowl, combine the beer, brown sugar, mustard, orange marmalade, ginger powder, and black pepper. Mix well.
  3. Place the pork in a slow cooker set to low. Pour the beer mixture over the pork.
  4. Cover and slow cook for 6 to 8 hours.
  5. Remove the roast to a platter. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  6. Pour the remaining liquid from the cooker into a bowl and using a spoon remove and discard the layer of fat that forms at the top. Pour the liquid through a sieve into a saucepan on the stovetop.
  7. Cook to boiling point over medium heat.
  8. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until the texture is smooth.
  9. Slowly stir the cornstarch mixture into the hot liquid. Cook and stir until the gravy thickens.
  10. Serve the beer gravy with sliced pork or, because the meat is so tender, pour the gravy over the unsliced roast and with a knife and fork break the roast into portions.

Please visit The Cooking Ladies’ website at or email them at

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