1. Food

One of my favorite comfort foods is baked beans. I always thought this might be because I was raised in East Tennessee, close to the original home of the 100-year-old Bush canning company. However, it may also be because of my partially Swedish heritage. After all, it was Swedish immigrants in the 1890's who first brought brown beans to America and cultivated them here. And these special beans, tender when slow-cooked yet with a texture that can stand a lengthy warm soak in the crockpot without disintegrating, are quite possibly the best bean for use in baked bean dishes and soups – as most Swedish grandmothers who serve bruna bönor, baked brown beans, on their smorgasbord tables know already.

Jay Bush doesn't look or sound very Scandinavian in all of those great commercials of his. And the ingredient box on the Bush "original-style baked beans" can lists "prepared white beans" as the primary ingredient of their "secret recipe" rather than Swedish brown beans. Yet my bet is that Jay's grandmother, the originator of their classic recipe, might just have had a Swedish lady or two in her circle of friends.

If I ever get the chance to meet Jay Bush, I'll ask him. But in the meantime, I'm going to figure out a way to cross-examine Duke the Dog. If he answers in Swedish, my theory is confirmed!

Swedish brown bean image ©2008 Kari Diehl, licensed to About.com.

Comments

August 20, 2008 at 10:58 am
(1) Jenny L says:

Hi Kari!

I am moving to WA with my family and while searching for somewhere to buy pickled herring and lutfisk I found your blog. It’s really fascinating, most things are very common to me – or they aren’t swedish. It feels quite strange to read all about it like this in English. Feel free to ask if there’s anything you want to know that I might be able to help out with!
Great site!
Regards,
Jenny

August 21, 2008 at 1:16 pm
(2) scandinavianfood says:

Welcome, Jenny! Are you moving from Sweden? The Pacific Northwest has a historic and still vibrant Scandinavian-American community. If you start to feel homesick, you can find a wide selection of Scandinavian foods (in-store and by mail order) at Scandinavian Specialties in Seattle (which also boasts a great cafe), at Olsen’s Scandinavian Foods, and at Marina Market in Poulsbo. Marina Market offers frozen lutefisk “TV dinners” that I haven’t had the courage to try; they also sell frozen lingonberries. You can find dried stockfish at Olsen’s and make your own lutefisk (perhaps a better option than the frozen variety!).

August 23, 2008 at 9:59 am
(3) Judi Borg says:

We need a new stove. Do you know if a traditional krumbkake iron will heat correctly over the eye of a flat top stove? This will make the difference in whether I get the easier to clean flat top or an older style stove with the raised coils. Have you ever heated your iron on a flat top or know if anyone does. It will mean the Iron is farther away from the burner. Thanks!
Judi

August 23, 2008 at 11:27 am
(4) scandinavianfood says:

Hi, Judi! I am in the exact same situtation as you right now – only two of my burners work reliably, so a new stove is going to be my Christmas present this year.
Unfortunately, from what I’ve read, I doubt that a traditional krumkake baker would work on a flat-top stove since these stoves require direct contact with the bottom of the pan. I also have aebleskiver, plattar, and goro pans that I know won’t work on a flat-top because they have molded rather than flat bottoms (they now make these pans with flat bottoms to accomodate the new stoves, but I simply don’t want to make that kind of investment for the sake of a new flat-top stove).
So I’m going to have to buy the old coil-top variety (shoot!). We can go ask Jessica Harlan, About.com’s Guide to Cooking Equipment, to double-check. Like you, I was really longing for a flat-top stove!

August 24, 2008 at 8:56 am
(5) Deb says:

I’m half Swedish and never knew the brown bean came from Sweden! I live in the South now where, as you mentioned, beans of all kinds rule, and I’ll have a new reverence for the baked bean!

August 25, 2008 at 8:28 am
(6) Pam Gassman says:

Just a quick comment about Krumkake irons.
Last Christmas my folks in Minnesota sent me the most wonderful thing – an electric krumkake iron that cooks two cookies at once!
It’s so simple, no mess like the over the burner model I have- where we say that the first one goes to the “norse gods” because it came out a mess. Now my girls and I make these cookies just for fun – not just holidays. We even made a whole bunch for their school heritage festival. I love traditional made easy! Tak!

August 25, 2008 at 2:29 pm
(7) scandinavianfood says:

This is a great suggestion, Pam! You’re absolutely right about the mess oftened involved with the traditional iron (LOL at the “Norse Gods” comment!).

September 1, 2008 at 12:23 pm
(8) Judi Borg says:

Pam, thanks for the tip about the electric iron. What brand/model do you have?

November 8, 2012 at 7:42 pm
(9) vicky says:

I bought a drug store single burner plug-in to use for pans that do not work on my flat-top or that I might want to use outside the kitchen.They also sell a two burner as well.

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