Tuesday Trivia

Sweden has the highest number of McDonald restaurants, per capita, in Europe.
A McDonald's combo meal that costs $6.00 in Chicago costs $9.95 in Sweden.

Did you know?


Cardamom Cake

Easter coming makes it official for me...

Spring is here!

Time to celebrate with another wonderful Swedish recipe.

Cardamom Cake

What is wonderful about this cake is that it is a heartier, not overly sweet cake. I highly recommend tracking down some pearl sugar. It can be found at IKEA and perhaps specialty shops. Regular sugar would probably make it in a pinch but then you would miss out on the incredibly satisfying crunch and texture the pearl sugar gives this cake.

Swedish Cardamom Cake
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 + 1/4 cup sugar
3 + 1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 + 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 + 1/4 cup milk
Garnish with Pearl sugar or coarsely chopped almonds (or be daring and go with both)

Grease a 10" round cake pan and preheat the oven to 350. Melt the butter and let it cook. Beat the eggs and sugar together until light yellow and very thick. Add all the additional ingredients until combined. Pour into the prepared pan and sprinkle the pearl sugar and/or almonds across the top. Bake for approximately 1 hour, test to make sure it is completely baked. Let cool completely before serving.

Enjoy a slice with a big cup of coffee and a friend or two.


Fika (prounced Fee-kah)is a Swedish custom. So important in Sweden that Fika is both a noun and a verb. A social "coffee break" where one stops with a friend or acquaintance for a cup of coffee or tea and a bit of a nibble. Coffeecake, cookies, cake, muffins or anything but mostly finger food to invite someone, anyone to join you in partaking, any time of the day. Feeds the body and the soul. 
Do you Fika?

recipe compliments of the blog


Påskkärringar or Häxor (Easter hags or witches)

You would think Easter would be celebrated similarly in Western countries?
I am sure you would find the churches observance of the crucifixtion and resurrection of our Lord very much the same in Christian churches throughout the world. Easter Witches? This was something I had never heard of before but is an interesting part of the Swedish celebration of the Easter season.

According to Swedish folklore and legend the Thursday before Easter all the evil witches fly to a place called Blåkulla where they meet and I guess have a good old time with the devil and then fly back home. Must be a left-over from the 1600's witch hunts. I have no idea how this turned into little kids dressing up like old hags or witches (pretty cute ones though) but go figure. They go door to door, sort of Halloween style but with cuter witches, and collect treats from the neighbors.
The Swedes also glue feathers to sticks on Easter. I won't even attempt to figure that one out.
Check out this blog with a great detailed explanation of the celebration of Easter in Sweden today.

Glad påsk – Happy Easter 


Where my story began - Chicago

I have been blogging for 9-10 months now. Researching Sweden and life as it was there when my grandparents emigrated in the early 1900's. So I have been waxing a bit nostalgic about the beauty of Sweden...and I will again. Sweden is a wonderful place. But Chicago?  My grandparents chose Chicago because of the wealth of opportunities available to them. Richard and Lydia made a great choice for their children and grandchildren also. The name "Chicago" brings Al Capone, gangsters, dirt, crowding and crime to many minds but some of that is the downside to all large cities in all countries. For you cousins who have never been here let me introduce you to this great city. The city I was born in.



First Day of Spring!

this post is from my  Norwegian Family Heritage Blog but since the subject would be pertinent to Sweden also I repeat it here.

Today is the first day of Spring!

 No one has any idea how happy that makes me. I am a gardener. Yes we grow some tomatoes, peppers, zucchini in the summer which I enjoy (both growing and eating!) but my true passion is HOSTAS. We are suburban people but I have an area out back, under a 200 year old burr oak tree devoted to perennials, mainly hostas. I have already been out there searching for those first few pips poking up from the dirt. I love the smell of spring rain and the smell of the damp earth getting ready to explode just to give me the inner joy that is Spring. But as usual I digress.

How do the Scandinavians stand the long dark winter? I always visited my grandmother in Norway in the late spring or summer. She lived in Skien and I just loved the way the sun didn't go down until maybe 10pm and was up again about 2am. And it never really went all the way down it just sort of dropped low on the horizon in the west and skimmed around to the east where it again rose. I always thought I could never stand a dark dark winter. I hate Chicago winters! The dark evenings do depress me some. How in the world do the Scandinavians stand their long dark winter?

Tromsø, Norway - mid-winter at high-noon!
photo from "My Little Norway"

"My Little Norway, discover the kingdom of the north" is a new favorite blog of mine. Telling how the Norwegians not only survive but actually enjoy their winters! This blog is going on my favorites list.

To take you directly to that post, click 

As always, attitude is everything.


Genealogy Day in Sweden - Three Swedish-American Sisters

Today, March 19, is Genealogy Day in Sweden.
Although the "roots" of our family tree are in Sweden, today I especially remember and honor three Swedish sisters, founders of our family's American "branches".

Lydia, Ruth and Anna @1914

Lydia, Ruth and Anna @1964

left to right (in both photos):
Lydia (Abrahamson) Kallman - emigrated 1909
Ruth (Abrahamson) Soderstrom - emigrated 1914
Anna (Abrahamson) Jacobson - emigrated 1913

Thank you Grandma, Aunt Anna and Aunt Ruth,


Friday's Faces from the Past - Karl Botvid Källman

This is my great uncle Karl Botvid Källman, my grandfathers brother. This photograph is especially precious because this is the ONLY photograph I have of my Swedish grandfathers family back in Sweden.  My grandfather never had a personal photo until he came to America.

Karl Botvid Källman  1883-1966  * 1

Why only one photo? They were poor and I mean poor. They were born and grew up in Grytgöl, Hällestad, Östergotland. The area was known for its iron ore mines since the 1600's. This branch of my Swedish family were not farmers but miners and factory workers for the Grytgöl Bruk. My great grandfather Karl Teodor Källman was a wire puller. The Källmans did not have a beautiful Stommen-Hid home as the Abrahamssons did, a home for descendants to take photos of and dream of the idyllic life of generations now gone. Unless of course I wanted to go and take pictures of the Grytgöl factory, which I have read still exists. The Källman family had no home, they lived at the factory and I have no desire to have a picture of that place. For these Swedish ancestors life was hard, brutal and short. My great grandmother Klara Sofia died of Tuberculosis. She was 44. My great uncle Håkon Patrik, grandpa's brother, also died of Tuberculosis. He was 28.

One good thing came of this harsh existence.  At the turn of the 20th century most of the good mid-western farmland which earlier Swedish immigrants longed for was gone. We were in the midst of an industrial revolution and cities now offered jobs perfect for those poor factory workers with industrial skills. Grandpa Richard was a blacksmith. He went first to the plow factories of the quad cities and then on to Chicago.

My grandfather Richard (Rikard) Kallman had five siblings. All of his siblings eventually emigrated to America. His two brothers returned. The oldest brother Patrik returned to die in Sweden of Tuberculosis. This brother, Botvid (above), for reasons unknown to me returned to Sweden, never to return to America. The siblings came to America one by one, working here in America to send money home for the next to emigrate. After the siblings had emigrated the sons of their deceased brother Håkon Patrik emigrated. The sons then worked in America and sent for their sister and their widowed mother, America held the only possible chance  to escape a life of grueling poverty. America was truly my Källman family's

The only Källman to remain in Sweden
my great uncle
b: 19 July 1883 Grytgöl, Hällestads, Östergötland, Sweden
d: 9 May 1966 Mjölby, Östergötland, Sweden

*1-photo from personal collection of Simon Arab, my second cousin once removed, the great grandson of Karl Botvid.


The little red buildings of Sweden

Cousin Sally Thomas exclaimed "I love so many red buildings" in a recent email.  It got me to wondering. It did seem like an inordinate amount of the Swedish homes, particularly in the country were red.  I was convinced this was more than coincidence. There must be an explanation, even a reason for all the little red farm homes. Besides the obvious, that red is a cheerful, even happy color.

Once again I consulted my good friend Google. I thought someone else might also be interested.

Sweden has its own special color! It's called "Falu red" (Falu rödfärg in Swedish). This color has widely been used in Sweden since the 1700's. In the Falun area of the region of Dalarna there are copper mines. The cast off refuse from the mining lay in piles of dust around the mines. Nothing would grow for miles around the opening of the mines but it was noticed that a piece of wood cast into this product didn't rot as quickly as other wood. The natural red pigment had properties which protected the wood from the elements, prolonging its life. The pigment, formerly a cheap unwanted byproduct, soon was used widely as the paint on the classic Swedish wooden houses of the farmers and poor laborers. By the end of the nineteenth century because of its low cost and use by the lower classes those who were or wished to appear more prosperous began to paint their homes white.

I just knew that with the Swedes it had to be a practical, economical choice.
And............ its pretty.

check out this wonderful post from one of my favorite blogs. The author explains it so much better than I.


Friday's Faces from the Past - Seth, Märta and Tyra Abrahamsson

1917 - Sweden - Seht, Tyra and Märta Abrahamsson
photograph courtesy  of cousin Ingemar Majholm

My Great Uncle Seth Abrahamsson b. 17 May1892 - d. 25 Sep 1964
My Great Aunt Tyra Abrahamsson (middle) b. 27 Aug 1901 - 1996
My Great Aunt Märta Abrahamsson b. 8 Jul 1899 - 19 Apr 1977

Thank you cousin Ingemar.