Saturday, July 26, 2014 - 80°F

Chicago Stories Header
Swedes in Chicago Banner

The Swedes in Chicago

At the turn of the twentieth century, Chicago had the second largest Swedish population of any city in the world; only Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, had more.

The Swedes gave us the log cabin, built Wrigley Field, and founded the Walgreen's drugstore chain.

After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, so many of the city's carpenters were Swedish that for a long time it was said that "the Swedes built Chicago." They came here with little more than hope and determination. They retained the spirit of their homeland, and yet formed the backbone of the city. As they prospered, so did Chicago.

The Swedes have kept the neighborhood of Andersonville alive with Swedish food, drink and history. Along Clark Street, just north of Foster (5200 North), the entire community welcomes Swedish Americans and celebrates all of the Swedish holidays. Merchants and residents turn out for the very traditional Midsummer, Lucia and Christmas celebrations. But, tourists visit the area continually to sample Swedish food, buy gifts, and visit the Swedish American Museum Center.

The Chicago Swedish Experience from A to Z
Here's a wealth-may we say a veritable smorgasbord? - of Swedish arts and cultural resources, much of it right here in our backyard, and/or available right here on the Internet, with some fun facts thrown in along the way!

A is for Ann Sather, Chicago's Swedish Diner
Ann Sather launched her first legendary Chicago restaurant on Belmont in 1945. Today, Tom Tunney continues Ann Sather's Swedish-American traditions at five locations.

B is for Bishop Hill State Historic Site
165 miles from downtown Chicago, this site commemorates the Swedish
communal settlement with five museums.

C is for Conference
The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies (SASS), will hold its annual conference, April 26-29, at the Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago.

D is for Delicious
That describes a visit to Swedish Bakery, 5348 N. Clark. They also have an online store, so what are you waiting for?

E is for Erickson's Delicatessen & Fish Market
At 5250 N. Clark, owner Ann-Mari Nilsson sells anything you'd want for an old-fashioned smorgasbord. That may include pickled herring, Viking mustard, or King Oscar fishballs. 773/561-5634.

F is for Fox Valley Swedish Children's Chorus
Join Illinois's Largest Swedish Children's Chorus for children age 5 - 14.
Learn Swedish songs and dances and have fun!

G is for Gösta Werner
The Sjösala Vals exhibit at Swedish American Museum Center (June 14-August 26) features Gösta Werner's lithographs, inspired by Evert Taube's songs and poetry, and offers a profile of one of Sweden's most beloved cultural figures.

H is for Holgersson
In the famous Swedish book, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, it is mischievous Nils Holgersson who flies on the back of a wild goose. In 1909, author Selma Lagerlöf became the first woman to receive the Nobel prize for literature.

I is for Immigrants
Here's the story of Swedish emigration to the United States.

J is for Just Look at All These Holdings!
Libris Websearch is the collective name for several bibliographic services offered on the Internet. The most important is the Libris database, with more than three million titles representing the holdings of about 180 Swedish libraries.

K is for Kebnekaise
At 2,111 m., that's the highest mountain in Sweden.

L is for Lutefisk, or maybe for Lingonberries
Visit any Swedish eatery, and you decide!

M is for Mamma Mia
Coming in May to Chicago's Cadillac Palace Theatre is "Mamma Mia," a musical by former ABBA members Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus. The show features 25 classic ABBA songs. For tickets, call 312/977-1710.

N is for Nordic Folk Dancers
Like dancers in Sweden, this Norwood Park group performs the gammil dance, a traditional Swedish wedding celebration, and is expert in the hambo, the national dance of Sweden. For more info, call 773/769-3946.

O is for the Oils, Watercolors, and Other Paintings
From March 15 to June 3, the Scandinavian Masters exhibit at Swedish American Museum Center features paintings in oil, watercolor, gouache and ceramic.

P is for Prize, Nobel Prize
Did you know that this year there are activities celebrating the 100th year of the Nobel Prize?

Q is for Queen of Sweden
The present King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, born in 1946, was thirty when he married Silvia Sommerlath from Germany. (Their oldest child, Victoria, is the next in line to be Sweden's monarch. But this may not happen soon. Sweden's last king lived to be 91, and the king before him 92. What's in those meatballs?!?)

R is for Radio from Sweden
Sveriges Radio (SR) is a public service broadcaster, transmitting for 120,000 hours a year.

S is for Swedish American Museum Center
The 24,000 square foot Center at 5211 N. Clark houses a museum with permanent exhibits, galleries for temporary shows, a museum store, Swedish library, and meeting and workshop areas.

T is for Tre Kronor
This outstanding Scandinavian restaurant at 3258 W. Foster is considered by many to be the city's best. The trolls on the walls will look over your shoulder as you partake of their specialties.

U is for U Knew That the Strongest Girl in the World is Swedish, Didn't You? Fictional character Pippi Longstocking once wrestled with the strongest man in the world at a circus. Astrid Lindgren's Pippi books have been translated into 76 languages and are truly a world-wide phenomenon.

V is for Virtual Sweden
This is Sweden's official website for information about Sweden to the outside world.

W is for Wikström's Deli
After over 38 years in the business and over 23 years in Andersonville, Wikström's at 5247 N. Clark is known to not only the Scandinavian Community, but a definite cross population of customers. Bill Cosby loved their Swedish pancakes and Liza Minnelli loved their meatballs.

X is for X-Plosion!
Did you know that the fortune that made the Nobel prizes possible was the result of Alfred Nobel's best-known invention, dynamite (1866)? It still comes in handy today!

Y is for Young Sweden
This site is aimed specifically at young people interested in learning about Sweden.

Z is for Zipper
It was a Swede who perfected the design of the everyday zip fastener. You also have Swedish inventors to thank for the refrigerator, the pace-maker, and the computer mouse!

Ann Sather's Recipes
And how Swede it is! The friendly folks at Ann Sather's restaurant have generously offered to share a few of their best-loved recipes, from their Ann Sather's Restaurant 50th Anniversary Cookbook:

Cinnamon Rolls
1 1/4 oz. envelope active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. warm water (110* F)
1 c. milk, scalded, cooled
1/4 c. butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
2-1/2 to 3 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 T. cinnamon, ground
Powdered-Sugar Glaze, if desired (see recipe below)

In a large bowl, stir the yeast and 1 teaspoon of sugar into the warm water and let it stand for 5 minutes to soften. Stir in milk, melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar, salt and 1 cup of flour. Beat all of this with a spoon or an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually stir in 1-1/2 cups of flour, keeping the dough smooth. If the dough is still moist, stir in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time to make a soft dough. Cover with a dry cloth and let it rise in a warm place until it is doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Divide the raised dough in half. On a lightly oiled board, roll out (with a lightly floured rolling pin) and stretch 1 piece of dough to make a 12" by 8" rectangle. Spread 2 tablespoons of the soft butter over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Beginning on the long side roll up tightly, jelly-roll fashion. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cut the dough into 2-inch slices. Place on floured and greased baking sheets. Let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 350* F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Take the cinnamon rolls on the baking sheets out of the oven and place them to cool on a wire rack. Top the rolls with Powdered Sugar Glaze immediately, if desired, and cool or serve warm, as you like.

Makes 18 rolls.
(It's really much easier to buy these at any Ann Sather's restaurant)

Powdered Sugar Glaze

1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/4 c. margarine, melted
1 tsp. Vanilla

Place all the ingredients into a small bowl and beat until creamy smooth. Glaze the cinnamon rolls immediately after taking them out of the oven. Allow the cinnamon rolls to cool on a wire rack. Serve the cinnamon rolls while still warm or cooled, as you like.

Makes enough to glaze 18 cinnamon rolls.

Swedish Meatballs
2-1/2 lbs. ground chuck
1-1/2 c. (8 slices) white bread, dampened with water
3 eggs
1/2 c. onion, grated
1/4 tsp. nutmeg, ground
1/2 tsp. allspice, ground
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 T. beef stock
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl except for the meat. Add the meat and mix well. Roll the mixture into 1" meatballs and bake them uncovered in a lightly greased pan at 300* F for 45 minutes. Serve the hot meatballs with brown gravy.

Makes 25 meatballs

Swedish Pancakes
4 eggs
1-1/3 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. sugar
1/4 c. non-fat dry milk
2 c. cold water
dash of salt
oil or butter

Sift the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Blend the sifted dry ingredients into the beaten eggs and 2 cups of cold water. Heat a large skillet on high heat until a drop of water "dances" before it evaporates. Coat the skillet with some oil or butter and pour one generous ladle of batter (1/2 c.) onto the skillet for each pancake. Flip each pancake when the top bubble and the bottom is brown. Serve immediately with delicious lingonberry jam.

Makes 12 large Swedish pancakes

Swedish Rice Pudding
2/3 c. cooked rice
3 T. butter
5 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
2-3 T. sugar
1/3 c. raisins
2-3 eggs, separated
1/2 T. butter
2 T. breadcrumbs

Put the cooked rice into a saucepan. Divide the butter into small portions and stir it into the rice with a fork. Cover the saucepan and leave it in a hot oven at 400* F for about 15 minutes, stirring it often with a fork. Put the rice into a mixing bowl and mix in more cold butter, salt, sugar and raisins. After the rice mixture has cooled, stir in well-beaten yolks and milk. Pour it all into a (2 quart) baking dish that has been buttered, then dusted with breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered in a moderate oven at 385* F for 40-50 minutes. Take the baking dish of rice pudding out of the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack. Sprinkle the top with cinnamon, if you like, and serve the rice pudding still warm with lingonberry jam.

Makes 12 servings

Swedish Glogg
1 gallon Mogen David Concord grape wine
2 c. dark brandy
1 c. dark rum
3/4 c. sugar
1 pkg. Glogg spices
1/2 c. pure grain alcohol

Put the Glogg spices in a small saucepan. Cover the spices with water and simmer until soft. Combine the wine, the brandy and the rum in a large pot and bring it to a simmer. DO NO BOIL. Add the Glogg spices to the large pot. Put the sugar in a heavy pan. Stir it on a low flame until it turns to a liquid. It will be brown in color. Stir it constantly or it will burn. DO NOT LEAVE IT. Slowly stir the carmelized sugar into the large pot with the wine, rum, brandy and spices. When ready to serve, pour the pure grain alcohol on top of the Glogg in the pot and light it with a match. It will burn off, go out, and be ready to serve.

Makes 20-24 servings

Many thanks to Ann Sather's Restaurants for providing these recipes!

Your $40 Gift Membership will include:

  • A one-year subscription to the Guide.
  • The WTTW11 Card – your ticket to a variety of members only discounts.
  • The great feeling of a gift that keeps giving.
  • Much more!

Learn more about membership!

Explore Stories