We all have special dishes we associate with special people ..family, relatives, friends. Here's grandma's specialty.
I never got to know my “farmor”, my paternal grandmother. She died of cancer much too young (she was 53), when I was only a baby. But I have heard plenty of stories about her, and not one of them bad. She seems to have been one of those people everybody loved and wanted to be around. Grandmother Greta was born in Källa on the northern tip of Öland in 1916, the next to eldest of four children. After having finished school, she moved to Borgholm, the main town on the island, where she worked as a waitress. She met my grandfather Harry Stenskär, a taxi driver, in Borgholm and married him. They had only one child, my father, who was born when Greta was 18. Grandmother Greta and my father were very close, more like friends than parent and child, my father used to say. They sang together and my father’s talent for the arts is clearly inherited from her. Grandmother Greta was social and outgoing, liked to be around people and was the perfect hostess. For special occasions and parties, she’d write poems, and she loved to draw. She had impeccable taste, and always dressed well. When my mother was introduced, grandmother Greta instantly took to her, and vice versa. They had an exceptional relationship, and one solid proof of that was that grandmother Greta passed on to my mother, an outsider since she was not born on Öland, her recipe for kroppkakor, made of course in the Öland tradition. Though I never got to taste Grandmother Greta’s kroppkakor, I have eaten my fair share of my mother’s and since my father praised them, I have reason to believe they are just as good as Grandmother Greta’s. The recipe was, as most family recipes, never written down. It was passed down lovingly from one set of hands to the next. I haven’t eaten kroppkakor in years, it’s not something you whip up when you have a couple of minutes to spare, but the very thought of them brings back memories of my childhood and visits to Öland. A few years ago, I brought my young son to Öland and we were fortunate to meet with relatives there, whom I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. And then the other day, when I was clearing out the bookshelves, a photo of my grandmother, petite and stylish, posing with a book, fell out and I decided it was time to learn to make kroppkakor. I asked my mother to see if she could somehow put the family recipe on paper and send it to me. And now I pass it on to you. This is a recipe only for two, so you have to add on if you are planning to make this typical Öland dish for a larger group. Enjoy!
Kroppkakor for two
100 g bacon, diced
½ yellow onion
10 whole allspice berries, coarsely crushed

Potato mixture
5 medium-sized potatoes
2 medium-sized boiled potatoes
4 oz flour
1 teaspoon salt

Dice the bacon and finely chop the onion. Grind the peppercorn with mortar and pestle. Mix bacon, onion, and all spice in a bowl. Let sit in the fridge overnight.

Peel and grind the raw potatoes. Put the ground potatoes in a towel and squeeze (hard) out the liquid in a bowl so that you get a quite dry “dough”. Preserve the starch, which gathers in the bottom of the bowl, and pour out the rest of the liquid. Mix the ground potatoes with the starch. Now grind the boiled potatoes. Mix all the potatoes with flour and salt. With the potato mixture form buns (about 2.3 – 2.7 inches in diameter), put one Tablespoon of the filling in the center and close. Cook the kroppkakor and simmer slowly for about one hour. Serve with lingonberry or a little melted butter and cream. Left over kroppkakor taste great when fried.
Eva Stenskär