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Gretchen’s Cookbook - Swedish Julbord


God Jul! Celebrate Christmas with Swedish Style Christmas Smorgasbord

It was our Swedish nanny Isabell's first Christmas ever away from her family. And her best friend Caroline was living with a Jewish family in New Jersey. No hall-decking for Caroline at all. That settled it really. My heart went out to her. It was my duty as a host-mom to make it a Very Swedish Christmas.

There's lots of things that make it “really Christmas.” Family. The ornaments on the tree – the one we got in New Hampshire, the one I made in elementary school, the bells from Grandma Green, the angels from Grandma Shanklin. The songs, the pageantry. And the food. The deck was stacked against us as far as family traditions went, but I figured we could hit a home run on the food – if it smelled like Christmas and it tasted like Christmas, we'd be on our way.

My own heritage is Pennsylvania Dutch, not much help there. So we pored over recipe books, searched the Internet. We tried a recipe for pepparkakor I found in one of my cookbooks. Isabell pronounced them “bleah!” She wore out a phone card getting recipes from her mom.

We invited our family for Christmas Eve dinner before church. Caroline arrived on the train the day before and the three of us were up to our elbows in flour...

For Santa Lucia's Day

Part of the run-up to Christmas includes celebrating Santa Lucia's Day. Avoid actual candles in the hair unless you have better balance than I do. But enjoy some of these with a cup of coffee:

For Christmas Eve dinner, a Swedish Smorgasbord (Julbord):

There's a reason why a Smorgasbord in America is a restaurant with an impossibly long buffet where you're encouraged to pile your plate higher than is healthy and then go back for seconds. Have a wide variety of things – some will be hits, some will be misses, but everyone will go home sated.

God Jul!


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