Grandma Helen Peterson Swanson’s Swedish Meatballs

It is said that my great grandmother Esther’s mother Helen Peterson Swanson owned the floral shop on Nicollet Ave. (way back when) next to Dayton’s dry goods store in Minneapolis, MN. Helen provided floral arrangements for all of the major events and weddings for the founding families in Minneapolis such as the Pillsbury’s and the Washburn’s; through these interactions, they became great friends. Helen was invited to several family meals at the Pillsbury residence, and it has been said that Helen brought Swedish Meatballs for them one evening – though her cook had been the one to prepare the recipe (she was apparently from Sweden). The Pillsbury’s loved the meal so much that they asked for the recipe. Helen’s cook (unknown?) gave the recipe to Mrs. Pillsbury’s maid and that dish became part of their family traditional meals. Perhaps this could all be family folklore; but it is also very plausible for something like this to have happened in that era. To this day, my family makes this recipe every year for our Christmas dinner. It is a real treat, rich in flavor and makes you feel as though you have gained 1,000 pounds of sheer happiness.

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