Lövgren/Lefgren Little Reunion, our last day at Rödjenäs

At the big reunion one week ago on June 2, 65 members of the Lövgren family had convened to meet the Lefgrens in Kvillsfors. Aron, Lilly and Jack had left on the midnight train for Stockholm and Daryl and I were alone in the big house at Rödjenäs. We had invited Jan, Per and Dick and their families to join us. Later we would invite Sven and his daughter, Victoria and their families to join us as well. It was a large group to try to cook for in our rented Swedish kitchen.

In exchange for the wonderful Swedish food we had been feted with in Kvillsfors, we wanted to create a uniquely American experience. Hotdogs and hamburgers are not unheard of in Sweden, and in fact, Bodil had entertained us with those grilled meats at their lake house the previous Wednesday. So we came up with the idea of fish tacos.

In shopping for the ingredients, we found fish taco seasoning and taco shells in the grocery store in nearby Nassjö. We loved this grocery store as it had supplied all we could desire for keeping our kitchen stocked for the four weeks. They didn’t have much fresh fish, so we opted for frozen whitefish, unidentified variety. We also bought a large amount of shrimp. There were canned guacamole and refried beans. There was no cilantro to be found, but plenty of dill, so we substituted that—Swedish/Mexican. And then we had our boxed wines and some bottles of beer.

Ten people were at the inside table: from the left, Sven, Per, Karolina, Lena, Bodil and Britt-Marie remain at the table after fish tacos, chocolates and good Swedish whiskey. Karolina said she went to the buffet for fish tacos three times.

Ten people were at the inside table: from the left, Sven, Per, Karolina, Lena, Bodil and Britt-Marie remain at the table after fish tacos, chocolates and good Swedish whiskey. Karolina said she went to the buffet for fish tacos three times.

Early in the day, I heard Daryl out in the kitchen getting everything ready. He did almost all the preparation and cooking. He heated up some sausages for people who might not like fish tacos. I arranged the buffet and made a huge bowl of slaw. Everyone arrived at once. I don’t think we’ve ever entertained that many people, even at home in Montana. The table in the kitchen was set to accommodate ten, but there were 15 or 16 people there. Fortunately, the sun came out to replace the morning rain, so we wiped off the chairs and table on the lovely back deck to accommodate the rest. I hosted indoors and Daryl outside.

We began with me showing how to make a sample taco then turned everyone loose. People seemed to really enjoy the tacos. Karolina said that she went back to the buffet three times. Dick said that he didn’t eat fish, so I had teased him that he could make a sausage taco. Daryl said that Dick arrived at the table outside with a taco shell with the ends of a sausage sticking out both sides, really hilarious.

The third cousin we hadn’t met before today, Klas, and Bodil show Daryl a group of old pictures Klas presented to us.

The third cousin we hadn’t met before today, Klas, and Bodil show Daryl a group of old pictures Klas presented to us.

One of the guests was Klas Lövgren. He had not been at the Kvillsfors reunion because he had been attending a yearly reunion of a group of Chinese children, one of whom he and his wife had adopted. So he came to this little reunion and brought a box of chocolates and an album of old pictures of their grandmother Elsa’s 90th birthday party. He presented this album to Daryl and me. It later turned out to be an indispensable resource for the Hallquist/Lefgren family tree. We were able to find pictures of almost every one of the Lövgrens descended from Hjalmar and Elsa.

Other guests brought gifts as well. Lena brought a bottle of elderberry flower lemonade along with the recipe. Victoria brought some wood inlay coasters shaped like fruit made in the nearby town of Nassjö and a bag of special Swedish liquorish candies.

A special Swedish whiskey, Mackmyra First Edition, brought to the party by Dick. He treated us to an after dinner whiskey.

A special Swedish whiskey, Mackmyra First Edition, brought to the party by Dick and Britt. Dick treated us to an after dinner whiskey.

After dinner were Klas’ chocolates and shots of a wonderful Swedish whiskey brought by Dick and Britt. I think it’s the only contemporary Swedish whiskey, called Mackmyra. The one they brought was called “The First Edition” and was a wonderful single malt. We continued to talk and get to know the Lövgrens. Since this was the third or fourth time of meeting most of them, we were getting very comfortable spending time together. The experience of multiple meetings was very rewarding.

The next day as I went over to the big house to say goodbye to our hosts, Leni and Ivar Berg, Leni asked me if we had had enough tableware in our kitchen for our large group of guests. Amazingly, we had plenty. Rödjenäs had a generously well stocked kitchen and we had just proven it. What a wonderful place! I imagine all the large Swedish extended families who probably stay here winter and summer.