The Table: CALGARY, CANADA – aka Cowtown

Calgary has evolved from an agricultural-based economy to a modern city with high-rise buildings.
Calgary has evolved from an agricultural-based economy to a modern city with high-rise buildings.
Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and third largest in Canada.
Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and third largest in Canada.

Not too far across the Canadian border in the province of Alberta is the city of Calgary. It is located about 50 miles east of the base of the Canadian Rockies where the Bow and Elbow Rivers flow through the area. This area is mostly made-up of foot hills and prairies. Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and third largest in Canada.

Calgary was named for the “Isle of Mull” in Scotland. It seems to have been named by Vikings who came to the area.

A Mr. John Glenn was the first documented European to settle there in 1873. By 1875, it was developed into a fort for the North-West Mounted Police (Royal Canadian Mounted Police). The original name was that of Fort Brisebois, in 1876 it was renamed Fort Calgary. The area was originally inhabited by the pre-Clovis people who were a part of the Blackfoot Confederacy.

In 1876, 14 buildings were destroyed in a fire. No one was killed or injured – but building codes were put in place. Large buildings built in the downtown must be made with Paskapoo sandstone. Sandstone is much more difficult to burn.


With the coming of the railroad, Calgary started to develop as a major commercial and agricultural center. A significant discovery of oil in Leduc, Canada in 1946 transformed Calgary from an agricultural community into the oil and gas capital of Canada -- creating an oil boom and all that comes with it. The low-rise downtown buildings became mixed with new taller buildings.

In July of each year the Calgary Stampede is held for ten days attended by over one-million visitors. Considered “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” -- it features one of the world’s largest rodeos. Along with a parade, a midway, stage shows, concerts, chuckwagon races and agricultural competitions.

A party atmosphere takes place throughout the city with wearing of cowboy garb, pancake breakfasts, barbecues and painting of storefronts in cowboy themes. The informal name of Calgary is “Cowtown.”

Recently animal rights groups have been seeking to ban rodeos. So, the Calgary Stampede has been under increasing international criticism about certain events.

The Stampede dates back to 1886 when the first fair was held. In 1919, promotor, Guy Weadick organized the event to honor returning World War I veterans.

Calgary was once regarded as lackluster, but has become an exciting place to live and visit. Food of the area has developed -- especially the fair foods and deep-fried foods such as deep-fried bubble gum and deep-fried butter as well as many other deep-fried items. Just to mention a few of the unusual food finds are bacon wrapped corn-on-the-cob, hot beef sundaes and a Scorpion Pizza topped with edible bugs. Several years ago, a 777-pound hamburger with toppings was made at the fair, along with a 125-pound hot dog in a roll. In 2016 a Teriyaki Chicken Pierogi was added to the menu.

The Calgary area is also known for Crispy Ginger Beef. Several different restaurants claim ownership to originating this dish. But, it is attributed to Chef George Wang of the Silver Inn in the mid-1970s.


1 lb. flank or sirloin steak – cut in to narrow strips

¾ cup cornstarch

½ cup water

2 eggs

1 carrot, - julienned

3 green onions, chopped

¼ cup fresh ginger – minced

5 cloves of garlic, minced

vegetable oil

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

4 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

½ cup sugar

red pepper flakes to taste

In a large bowl put cornstarch & gradually add water while whisking. Beat eggs into mixture – toss in beef strips and stir to coat. Pour 1” of oil into wok until it is very hot – but not smoking. Add a quarter of the meat at a time, separate with a fork and cook, stirring frequently until crispy. Remove & drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining coated meat. Drain meat & side aside. Stir-fry briefly in wok the vegetables – carrots, onions, ginger and garlic together. To make sauce combine remaining ingredients & add to vegetables. Bring to a boil – add in cooked meat. Heat thoroughly& serve immediately. Great with a rice dish as a side.


½ cup light brown sugar

1½ tsp. ground cinnamon

1½ cups cold butter (cut into tablespoon-size pieces)

1½ cups all-purpose flour (divided)

1 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 cup buttermilk

2 eggs

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

1 qt. oil or more if needed


¼ cup powdered sugar or so

Whisk brown sugar & 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon in a shallow bowl. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper single layer butter pieces. Freeze until hard – 8 hours to overnight. Combine 1 cup flour, baking powder & salt together in a bowl. In another bowl mix buttermilk, eggs & sugar. Combine flour mixture in to buttermilk mixture & beat until smooth. Gradually add remaining flour in until desired batter consistency desired. Heat oil in pan to 375-degrees. Poke a toothpick into the center of each piece of frozen butter . . . dip in to batter to coat completely. Work in batches, carefully dropping into hot oil. Turn occasionally until golden brown & puffs up (2 minutes). Transfer to drain on paper towel lined plate. Dust with powdered sugar.


8 ears of fresh corn – unhusked

8 pieces of bacon strips

2 Tbsp. chili powder – optional

Cajun seasonings - optional

salt & pepper to taste

aluminum foil

You can either keep the corn cob whole or cut in half. Wrap bacon around outside of corn cob. Sprinkle with desired seasonings. Wrap each piece securely in foil, twisting ends to make handles for turning. To grill – use high-heat for 10 minutes on each side. Lower heat and grill for additional 40 to 45 minutes - so that the corn & bacon are cooked.


Let me hear from you: Search YouTube for Look Who’s Cooking as well as for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.”