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Christmas traditions, particularly those involving food, often honor our ancestors. Throughout the Midwest where Swedish immigrants settled, the dishes placed on the julbord (Christmas table) tell stories about who we are, where we come from, and where we are heading. In exploring these holiday customs, Patrice Johnson begins with her own family's Christmas Eve gathering, w Christmas traditions, particularly those involving food, often honor our ancestors. Throughout the Midwest where Swedish immigrants settled, the dishes placed on the julbord (Christmas table) tell stories about who we are, where we come from, and where we are heading. In exploring these holiday customs, Patrice Johnson begins with her own family's Christmas Eve gathering, which involves a combination of culinary traditions: allspice-scented meatballs, Norwegian lefse served Swedish style (warm with butter), and the American interloper, macaroni and cheese. Just as she tracks down the meanings behind why her family celebrates as it does, she reaches into the lives and histories of other Swedish Americans with their own stories, their own versions of traditional recipes, their own joys of the season. The result is a fascinating exploration of the Swedish holiday calendar and its American translation. Featured dishes include yellow pea soup (artsoppa) and Swedish pancakes (Svenska plattar); assorted Swedish cookies like pepparkakor, rosettes, and meringues; meatballs with pickled cucumber; the julhog, a breakfast pyramid of bread, cheese, fruit, and cookies; and so much more. Come, raise a glass of punsch, hear tell of holidays past, snack on cardamom bread, and celebrate jul the midwestern way.


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Christmas traditions, particularly those involving food, often honor our ancestors. Throughout the Midwest where Swedish immigrants settled, the dishes placed on the julbord (Christmas table) tell stories about who we are, where we come from, and where we are heading. In exploring these holiday customs, Patrice Johnson begins with her own family's Christmas Eve gathering, w Christmas traditions, particularly those involving food, often honor our ancestors. Throughout the Midwest where Swedish immigrants settled, the dishes placed on the julbord (Christmas table) tell stories about who we are, where we come from, and where we are heading. In exploring these holiday customs, Patrice Johnson begins with her own family's Christmas Eve gathering, which involves a combination of culinary traditions: allspice-scented meatballs, Norwegian lefse served Swedish style (warm with butter), and the American interloper, macaroni and cheese. Just as she tracks down the meanings behind why her family celebrates as it does, she reaches into the lives and histories of other Swedish Americans with their own stories, their own versions of traditional recipes, their own joys of the season. The result is a fascinating exploration of the Swedish holiday calendar and its American translation. Featured dishes include yellow pea soup (artsoppa) and Swedish pancakes (Svenska plattar); assorted Swedish cookies like pepparkakor, rosettes, and meringues; meatballs with pickled cucumber; the julhog, a breakfast pyramid of bread, cheese, fruit, and cookies; and so much more. Come, raise a glass of punsch, hear tell of holidays past, snack on cardamom bread, and celebrate jul the midwestern way.

46 review for Jul: Swedish American Holiday Traditions

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sheri

    A gorgeous book filled with warm memories, Swedish traditions, and classic recipes.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    (Note: The cover design isn't showing up in Goodreads yet as I'm writing this, but it is a beautiful book.) I was lucky enough to read an advance e-copy of this book being published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, and man am I excited now to have the real thing in my hands come November. Patrice Johnson connects wonderful foods (who knew Swedish food could have so many spices?) with the hilarious and heartening stories of her childhood as a Swedish-American and a Minnesotan. There's s (Note: The cover design isn't showing up in Goodreads yet as I'm writing this, but it is a beautiful book.) I was lucky enough to read an advance e-copy of this book being published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, and man am I excited now to have the real thing in my hands come November. Patrice Johnson connects wonderful foods (who knew Swedish food could have so many spices?) with the hilarious and heartening stories of her childhood as a Swedish-American and a Minnesotan. There's such honesty to her writing, and it's the personal stories I like best. She also invited many other Swedish-Americans to share their stories (like former MN Governor Arne Carlson). There's a cultural anthropological quality to it (if I can say that about something so funny), and that is probably because Johnson has done much research into her topic as a scholar, writer, and cooking teacher. I've made two of the meatball recipes and a Swedish rice pudding, but as soon as I get my real book I will be cooking up a smorgasbord. Can't wait for Christmas 2017 and beyond. Also note: You don't have to be Swedish to love this book and cook the food. Take it from me--I'm a Norwegian usually more partial to the spicier food of my husband's family and other bold flavors. "Jul" certainly has them!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Penmouse

    Jul by Patrice M. Johnson is a truly lovely holiday cookbook which features Swedish recipes although some of the recipes cross through other Scandinavian countries. I found plenty of similar recipes often prepared by Norwegian cooks for example. (My husband comes from a Norwegian background so I've learned to cook Scandinavian recipes). I love my copy of Scandinavian Home Cooking which is a cookbook filled with simple Scandinavian-style recipes. I may have a copy of Scandinavian Recipes tucked a Jul by Patrice M. Johnson is a truly lovely holiday cookbook which features Swedish recipes although some of the recipes cross through other Scandinavian countries. I found plenty of similar recipes often prepared by Norwegian cooks for example. (My husband comes from a Norwegian background so I've learned to cook Scandinavian recipes). I love my copy of Scandinavian Home Cooking which is a cookbook filled with simple Scandinavian-style recipes. I may have a copy of Scandinavian Recipes tucked away in my bookshelf but I will have to look for it. Back to Jul: Jul features many holiday recipes and stories about how the food was prepared. The author writes about making lefse, various Christmas cookies, lutefisk and meatballs for the diners who did not want to eat lutefisk. You will find many color photos showing the recipes look. Some of the recipes you'll find include: Swedish Pancakes Lucia Buns Swedish Butter Cookies Ginger Pinchies Sandbaklesser Holiday Bread My Swedish Meatballs Potato Puree Quick-Pickled Cucumbers Herring Salad Aquavit-Cured Gravlax Swedish Sausage Glug Recommend. Review written after downloading a galley from Edelweiss.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cat

    I'm not Swedish, but have enjoyed their culture and traditions since discovering them a few years back (I even bought julbuk ornaments one year as gifts for friends and family!). I also remember how much my family enjoyed going to the Sweden House restaurant years ago; I wanted to see if any of the recipes for the foods were in this book. None that I could tell- it was pretty American! That out of the way, I look forward to trying some of these recipes this year. . Being a Germanic people, I not I'm not Swedish, but have enjoyed their culture and traditions since discovering them a few years back (I even bought julbuk ornaments one year as gifts for friends and family!). I also remember how much my family enjoyed going to the Sweden House restaurant years ago; I wanted to see if any of the recipes for the foods were in this book. None that I could tell- it was pretty American! That out of the way, I look forward to trying some of these recipes this year. . Being a Germanic people, I noticed some of their recipes from my own German family. But there were plenty I have never heard of lingonberries sound like something I need to look for...glug and gravlax both sound interesting and worth looking into! Mixed in with the recipes are wonderful reminiscences of friends and family! The book makes a good read if one wants to learn a bit about Swedish culture.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    Jul is filled with beautiful and simple photography, memories of family and traditions past...and of course recipes. I have been pretty excited to try a recipe out of this book and I picked St. Lucia Rolls (page 32) to be the first. A couple of recipe notes...my first proof took quite a bit longer than the recommended 45 minutes and it was not particularly cold (think more like 2 hours). I probably should have let the second proof go that long as well, but I had to call it short due to time const Jul is filled with beautiful and simple photography, memories of family and traditions past...and of course recipes. I have been pretty excited to try a recipe out of this book and I picked St. Lucia Rolls (page 32) to be the first. A couple of recipe notes...my first proof took quite a bit longer than the recommended 45 minutes and it was not particularly cold (think more like 2 hours). I probably should have let the second proof go that long as well, but I had to call it short due to time constraints. This shortened second proof may have lead to a less puffy final result, aka more dense. The rolls had a very distinct orange flavor which was enjoyable but drowned out the wonderfully aromatic cardamom. I would double, if not triple the cardamom in this recipe...of course I love cardamom. The s shaping was easy and aesthetically appealing with the two raisins in the curly q portion, but being a raisin lover I couldn’t help but want for more. Overall, the recipe was good but not great. I would try it again with the above mentioned alterations. Tried for Sunday dinner May 31st, 2020. I am hoping there are some even better recipes yet to come. I really like that there are often two or three family recipes for a single dish like the cookie Pepparkakor. Stay tuned for more...Afiyet olsun! Smakelijk!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tomekia

    Beautiful book, interesting stories, familiar places. My mother's ancestors came from Sweden in the 1860s. Growing up in Minnesota and North Dakota so many Scandinavian & German traditions are such a part of the Northern Midwest that I wasn't aware of where they came from (especially as the millennial child of a baby boomer), this book provides a lot of history about Swedish holiday traditions and nods at the traditions adopted from Norwegian friends and neighbors. I love the variety of recipes Beautiful book, interesting stories, familiar places. My mother's ancestors came from Sweden in the 1860s. Growing up in Minnesota and North Dakota so many Scandinavian & German traditions are such a part of the Northern Midwest that I wasn't aware of where they came from (especially as the millennial child of a baby boomer), this book provides a lot of history about Swedish holiday traditions and nods at the traditions adopted from Norwegian friends and neighbors. I love the variety of recipes such as 8+ versions of meatballs about 4 variations on the very traditional versions, a vegan recipe (because a family member became vegan,) a modernist version because as time marches on foods evolve (particularly in the "old country"). Great variety of old classic recipes with new versions that reflect how times and families have evolved. The authors acknowledgement and celebration of our evolving multicultural families impact on traditions was refreshing. I'm excited to try some of the traditional, modern, familiar and unfamiliar recipes as I establish new traditions within my own young multicultural family.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    Best first line "I hear the crackling of tiny meatballs frying in butter, and the house is filled with the familiar heady perfume of beef, pork, and allspice." God Jul

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trine

    If only I could have given six stars out of a possible five, I would have. Such wonderful stories along with the recipes. A real gem!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    Like a Midwest church basement cookbook for today and now.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  11. 5 out of 5

    Christine Remington

  12. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pam

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Ma Grape

  15. 5 out of 5

    Typhanie

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diana

  17. 5 out of 5

    Janet

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

  19. 5 out of 5

    Seazon

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  21. 4 out of 5

    June

  22. 4 out of 5

    Courtney Stoker

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shun-Sho

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karla

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hunter

  27. 4 out of 5

    Martha

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

  29. 5 out of 5

    Scot Pearson

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kait

  31. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  32. 4 out of 5

    Spotwin

  33. 5 out of 5

    Briel

  34. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

  35. 4 out of 5

    Diana Duncan

  36. 5 out of 5

    Julia

  37. 4 out of 5

    Brooklyn

  38. 4 out of 5

    Kristine Bolander

  39. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Huether

  40. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Ray

  41. 4 out of 5

    Robert

  42. 4 out of 5

    Donna

  43. 4 out of 5

    zeroizme

  44. 5 out of 5

    Bethany Raab

  45. 4 out of 5

    Towolawi Rashidat

  46. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

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