Experience Swedish foods in Oakland

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 12:32 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - You can find plenty of great Swedish food options on the store shelves at Nelson’s Food Pride. It’s a store that has deep roots in the community.

“I am a third generation owner,” Julie Johnson said. “My family started this store in 1910.” It turns out, this store started about a half a block away. “My grandfather and my dad were in business together,” Johnson said. “Then in 1960, my dad built Nelson’s Jack and Jill, which is the existing big part of the store. Then I purchased the store in 1989 when he retired, and in 1998 I added on half of the store again.”

The store is unique in many ways. “Mostly what we showcase is our Swedish heritage and our Swedish foods,” Johnson said. “We send them via the internet. At Christmas time, we make 100 pounds of potato sausage. Everyday, I make 26 loaves of Swedish rye bread. I make ostkaka. So, we specialize a lot in home cooked foods.”

What is ostkaka? “Ost is ‘cheese’, and kaka is ‘cake’,” Johnson said. “So it’s ‘cheese cake’. You curd your milk and add eggs, sugar, cream, and bake it so its like a custard. Then you eat lingonberries on it, or cloudberries on it, or even strawberries.”

There are many other Swedish-influenced foods on the shelves. “We have Lutefisk, we have Bondost, we have Swedish potato sausage, meatballs, ham balls, ostkaka, and we even we carry Lefse for the Norwegians,” Johnson said. “That would be a potato-like tortilla. It is more Norwegian than Swedish, but I do carry it for the Norwegians. We have hard tack bread. We’ve got Christmas soda. We have Swedish peas, brown beans, and we smoke home-cured bacon. That, along with yellow pea soup, is an excellent combination.”

There are many gift ideas on the store shelves, too. Julie says she has great memories of Swedish foods served at home. “I love to cook, and so, I cook Swedish,” Johnson said. “I cook brown beans, Swedish meatballs, ostkaka. Not to brag, but you just don’t “make” ostkaka, it’s a knack.”

Johnson seems to have the knack for cooking, and keeping a small grocery store alive. “Oakland is very fortunate,” Johnson said. “We have a pharmacy, we have a hardware store, a lumber business, our grocery store, and a flower shop. We’ve got to keep our young people here and keep them supporting the town.”

When you visit the grocery store, Johnson encourages you to go and visit the Swedish Heritage Center in town. “It’s a beautiful facility,” Johnson said. “We are constantly trying to get grants. We did a renovation of the basement. We just got done putting in new windows, and we got an air-conditioner for the basement, so we are completely air-conditioned. One of our goals at the heritage center is we would love to have someone get married there.”

Maybe after the “future” wedding, the reception could be supplied by the great offerings at Nelson’s Food Pride.

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