Although he was born in America, my husband’s heritage is Swedish. He spent five years in Sweden during his teenage and young adult years and speaks the language fluently. Swedish is a beautiful language and when our babies were small and would get fussy, John would softly speak Swedish to them. They would stop their fussing, relax against John’s chest and listen quietly to the sound of the soothing language in their ears.
Through the years of our marriage I have added a few things here and there, mostly Christmas decorations, which symbolize Sweden. This year, as part of my Christmas present to my husband, I made a traditional Swedish Christmas Eve dinner. We had Swedish Meatballs (of course), Swedish-style ham, Swedish Red Cabbage and Apples, Beetroot Salad, Shrimp (to replace the typical fish dishes often served), young red mashed potatoes (with skins left on), four types of Swedish cheeses, rye bread and knäckebröd (very crispy rounds of rye bread), and various Swedish desserts (thank you IKEA – I ran out of time and you saved the day on the desserts). I even served the stock from the cooked ham in which bits of bread are dunked before eating. There are a number of other foods which belong to a traditional Swedish julbord, but hey, I am only one person and only had one day in which to prepare everything.
John was so excited about the meal; it brought back many fond memories for him. My children were all here, too, for the meal and loved learning more about their own food cultural heritage.
The following recipe is for Swedish Red Cabbage and Apples. It is a sweet and sour type of dish with spices of cloves and allspice. It is served warm and is one of those earthy dishes that calls you back for seconds.
Swedish Red Cabbage and Apples
- 1/4 cup butter
- 4 green apples, peeled and chopped
- 1 large onion, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced
- 2 pounds red cabbage, shredded (weight is approximate)
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/3 cup apple juice
- 2 tablespoons lingonberry jam or current jam
Melt butter in a heavy, large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add apples and onion and saute until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add in cabbage and stir frequently for about 8 minutes.
Stir in sugar, vinegar, salt, cloves, and allspice. Cover and cook until cabbage is crisp-tender about 10 minutes more.
Uncover and add apple juice and lingonberry jam. Bring back to a slow simmer and cook 5 minutes more. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Recipe adapted from Food.com