All posts by admin

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health

Lassen’s Started with a Brave Woman and a Problem to be Solved

Oda Saw She Could Help Solve that Problem

When I came into the Lassen family and learned that Oda owned and ran a Health Food Store, I just sort of thought, “Oh, that’s cool.” It wasn’t until about ten years ago that it really hit me how astonishing that was.

Oda was born in August, 1918 — nearly one hundred years ago. That means that when the first Lassen’s store opened in 1971, she was almost 53 years old. Fifty-three. At a time when most are thinking about the end of their careers, she bravely began one. But she was driven to do so because she saw a problem and she knew she could help solve it.

As mentioned in previous posts about Oda (read about her childhood, growing up, love of good, healthy food, during World War II in Denmark, immigration to America, and settling into a new country) she felt very strongly that quality food was extremely important.  She had lived through food rationing as a young mother during the WW II in Denmark, and knew what it felt like to not be able eat or to feed her children healthy food.

When the Lassens arrived in America in early 1952, the industrial packaged food trend was really gaining steam. Oda was appalled. She was horrified with much of American food — low quality, pre-packaged, tasteless, full of refined sugar, salt, preservatives and artificial ingredients, and definitely lacking in nutrition. This did not seem like progress to her. She knew how vital quality food was to overall health — she’d lived without it during the war and knew how detrimental that could be! She knew that families needed acess to more healthy foods as well as information about natural solutions to health issues. 

So once her youngest children were in school and more independent, she decided that she could do something to solve that problem. She took a job at a local Health Food store, and devoured as much information as she could. She took advantage of every opportunity, even questioning the way the owner ran the business. She was disgusted with much of what he did, from his product mix (junk food right next to the supplements) to his habits (smoking fat cigars in the office.) When he let her go in favor of a younger woman, she decided that losing the job was a blessing — that she could do better. She wanted to help her community to be knowledgable about natural remedies and have access to healthy, nutritious foods .

The idea to open her own store began to grow and expand, and as she discussed it with Hilmar, he said he would help her do it. They found a little store to lease on Pickwick Drive in Camarillo, and got to work. They made plans and recieved permits, then built and set up everything. The shelves were cleaned and stocked. They opened the doors for business.

origin+story, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, the+Best+of+Everything+Good, We+care+about+your+health,

Forty-seven years ago this week, on July 6, 1971, Lassen’s Health Food Store held its Grand Opening. This ad ran in the local paper. People began to shop at the little store, and Oda gained more confidence. At first the divider between the selling area and the back room was close to the front of the store, but as her sales volume grew and as the product offerings expanded, that divider was moved back farther and farther. After a few years she moved across the street into a larger store, and that store has been expanded another time since then. 

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health

This was very much a family undertaking, as shown here with a teenaged Anna. All of the Lassen siblings spent plenty of time after school and during the summer dusting shelves, stocking product, bagging nuts and dried fruits, and helping customers. Hilmar did the produce run to LA and served as the handyman, while still maintaining his masonry business.  But Oda was the hub of the business, and her customers remained loyal to her well after her retirement. 

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health

It was a big step when Oda was able to hire her first employee, Jennie. She became a wonderful asset to the business, and almost part of the family. You can see that there is a lot more product on the shelves than in the previous photo!

Many people told Oda and Hilmar that the Health Food craze was just a fad, and would never last. But Oda knew that this wasn’t just a hippie thing — it was a basic, human, need to nurture bodies, strive to heal naturally, and to take care of the earth.

All along the way, Oda kept uppermost in her mind her purpose to provide families in the community with healthy,  nutritious, high quality foods and supplements. In those early days organic foods were difficult to find, but she sought them out wherever she could. And of course, the organic standards were not codified into law at that point, so she had to be extra vigilant in checking ingredients and manufacturing practices. 

Origin+story, Lassen's+history, lassens+history, Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassens+grand+opening, the+best+of+everything+good, we+care+about+your+health
This article in the local paper appeared a few years later, when there were more supplements on the shelves! Oda’s friend Gerda is on the far right of this photo — even her friends helped when they were in town!

There were plenty of discouraging times, but Oda continued to build on her foundation of caring about everyone who came into the store. She learned more as she attended seminars and read everything she could so that she could help them with their health concerns. 

Now, forty-seven years later, we at Lassen’s strive every day to build on Oda’s foundation of caring about our communities. Our dedicated buyers constantly search for the highest quality healthy, sustainable, and ethically produced items.  We feel grateful to have so many great producers, many who live and produce locally. Our knowledgeable staff is trained and anxious to help you find solutions to your health needs. Those are traditions that Oda started so many years ago — supporting both suppliers and the community. 

Thanks, Oda, again for setting us on this path!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

We Call it Dessert, and it’s Perfect for Summer!

A Delicious, Rich, Summery Treat

Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts, Kærnemælkfromage

I love to make this Danish dessert whenever we have guests come to dinner because it is different from anything they have ever had. We always make a game of having them guess the main ingredient, and they can never figure it out. It’s simple to make and so delightful — rich, and yet light.

So, drumroll…

The secret ingredient is buttermilk! Kærnmælk, in Danish.

So here is it is: kærnemælkfromage, Buttermilk Dessert

Kærnemælkfromage

You’ll need:

  • 1 TBSP unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sugar (depends on how sweet you like your desserts)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup cream, whipped until stiff

Instructions:

  • Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water in a 2-quart saucepan, and then put on the stove over low heat. 
  • Stir constantly until disolved (which will take less than a minute), then add the sugar and stir until dissolved
  • Remove from heat and add the vanilla, orange juice, and buttermilk; stir to blend well
  • Place the saucepan in the refrigerator to cool and gel
  • Check in about 30 minutes. When the mixture starts to firm, whip the cream
  • Pour the buttermilk mixture into the whipped cream, and blend with a wire whisk until smooth
  • Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until firm, about an hour
  • Serve with Danish Strawberry Pudding (Jordbær Grød — the recipe can be found here). It’s also wonderful with fresh berries
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
I like Great Lakes Kosher Gelatin (we carry this in our Supplement Department, so you should be able to find it there) or Knox, which is found in our Grocery department
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
Dissove the gelatin and the sugar over low heat, stirring constantly
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
Add vanilla, buttermilk, and orange juice and stir to blend
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
After the buttermilk mixture stiffens (it doesn’t have to be this stiff — it gelled really quickly this time!) whip the cream, pour the buttermilk mixture into the cream and blend  with a wire whisk until smooth
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
Pour into a bowl to chill
Danish+recipes, danish+dessert+recipes, buttermilk+desserts, summer+desserts, creamy+desserts
It looks like ice cream, but it’s a totally different experience! You’ll love it!

Try this amazing dessert!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local

Still Focused on Being the Best Tasting and Highest Quality Kombucha!

Where We Check Back in with Daina, Justin, and Vanessa

It’s hard to believe that it’s been three-and-one-half years since I last interviewed Daina at Health-Ade (read about my visit here) so recently a few of us headed to Torrance for an update. What we found was amazing! They have gone from a little three-person start-up in 2012 to a massive operation, but the spirit of small, hand-crafted quality still permeates everything in the building.

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local
image from health-ade.com

This time Vanessa showed us around. She, Daina, and Justin started brewing kombucha in a closet just a few years ago, and now they are a national company. They brew 120,000 bottles of kombucha every day! 

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local
Daina, Justin, and Vanessa in 2014

The forces that drove these three when they first started Health-Ade are the forces that still drive them today. They still brew in 2 & 1/2 gallon glass jars — 60,000 of them every week. No plastic! They still use the highest quality ingredients possible. Their ingredients are Organic! They filter their water. They source responsibly. The leftover tea bags, SCOBYs, and juice pulp are all composted. And so much more. 

You have to see it to appreciate the scale of this operation. There is fifty-thousand clean, organized square feet of activity that pumps out 320,000 cases of Kombucha per month — that’s just a bit of an expansion from the 35,000 cases per month they were producing in 2014! 

health+ade+kombucha, focus+on+local
image from health-ade.com

And each batch rests for 1-3 weeks while the kombucha develops just the right amount of bubbly probiotics that are so crucial for a healthy gut.

 image from health-ade.com

Thanks for hosting us, Vanessa — We love Health-Ade! It’s great to see how you’ve grown!

 image from health-ade.com 

Love,

Lassen’s

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Lassen+Construction

From Immigrants to Entreprenuers

When the Hilmar and Oda Lassen family immigrated from Denmark to California in the early 1950s, their first order of business was to find a way to earn a living. Hilmar and Oda had always been hard workers, and the trial of the German occupation of Denmark during World War II had strengthened their persistence in even the most challenging times. In preparing to immigrate, Hilmar learned the bricklaying trade  in Denmark before they set sail. When they got here, however,  he found that the American method of laying bricks was different than the Danish way. So the best job he could find was a bricklayer’s assistant. He took the job, learned the American method, and struggled to learn English. 

They settled in the San Fernando Valley, and the girls entered school. Hilmar and Oda took English lessons — he didn’t like to study, but she did. Oda told me that she would do Hilmar’s homework for him. She was very motivated to learn, probably because she was not out in the working world and wasn’t about to have the practice that he did. There were no dual language programs in the 50s, so Bee, Ida, and Doris had to just learn on their own. For the first six months they felt completely lost, and came home crying from school every day. But within a year they were pretty much fluent English speakers. 

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration
Hilmar Lassen and the five younger children. Left to right: Anna, Peter, Hilmar, Jimmy, John, and Doris. 1964

The years went by and Oda and Hilmar had three American-born children — Anna, Peter, and James (Jimmy). Hilmar earned his Contractor’s License and they became American citizens. Hilmar traveled all over Southern California, building everything from block walls to custom homes.

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Lassen+Construction

The Lassens began to live the American dream, even buying a house in San Fernando. In 1963, Hilmar decided to build a spec house in the little Ventura County community of Camarillo. It was mostly avocado and orange orchards then, and there was only one stop sign in town. One Sunday Hilmar brought the family to Camarillo to see the house, located behind the Catholic Church on Las Posas and Crestwood. They attended church in town, and liked the community so much that they decided to not sell the spec house, but instead to sell their house in the Valley. So in December 1964, the family moved into that house and began to sink their roots deep in Ventura County.

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Lassen+Construction
Hilmar was never afraid of heights, as shown here. He worked on 25-foot high scaffolding well into his 70s, even at age 76 when he built the fireplaces on our home

Hilmar stayed busy in the construction business. He became not just a bricklayer, but a craftsman — even an artist. When I first came into the family in the early 80s, we would often take Sunday drives and Hilmar would show us what he was building, and also point out other jobs he had done over the years. He built the first Taco Bell in Camarillo on Arneill Road, which is now Hector’s Fresh Mexican Food. He loved to tell how he built the fireplaces and other brick and stone work in Ronald Reagan’s house in Pacific Palisades. 

Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Origin+story, Danish+Immigration, Taco+Bell+Camarillo, Lassen+Construction
One of Hilmar Lassen’s Masonry jobs — the first Taco Bell in Camarillo

All the while, Oda was very busy holding down the fort at home with those seven children. She nurtured and taught them, and ran them to and from their activites. The Lassen siblings enjoyed their family life, learned, and grew. John enjoyed scouting, eventually earning the rank of Eagle. Peter especially loved the American pastime, baseball. The older ones left for college, married, and the grandchildren began to arrive. 

Lassens+origin+story, Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Peter+Lassen, Immigration+from+Denmark, Lassen+family
Peter in Little League — probably about 1967

Once all of the children were in school, Oda began to work outside the home. She had always been interested in the area of health, and one of her jobs was at a local Health Food Store. The job was short-lived however, as she was fired — mostly because, according to Oda — the owner wanted to hire a “younger, more attractive” woman. But even if Oda had not been let go, she was disgusted with the way the owner ran the business — selling healthy items right next to processed and definitely unhealthy foods, and smoking big cigars in his office. She was ready to strike out on her own.

Lassens+origin+story, Hilmar+Lassen, Oda+Lassen, Peter+Lassen, Immigration+from+Denmark, Lassen+family
Here’s the Lassen family in front of the home that Hilmar built. He is holding their first grandchild, Nancy, and all of their children are in the photo. Their son-in-law must have taken this picture! Left-right: Bee, Doris, Anna, Ida, Oda, Peter, Nancy, Hilmar, John, Jimmy. About 1965.

Next Month — Oda the Brave decides she can do a better job herself, and  leaps into another adventure!

Love, 

Lassen’s

A Danish Taste of Summer! Jordbær Grød

The Fields are Bursting with Berries!

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

This Danish Strawberry Porridge is one of the first Danish recipes that I tasted when I met the Lassen family. Simple and tasty, it takes advantage of the beautiful fresh berries we have in California. It makes a wonderful stand-alone dessert (served with cream or coconut cream), but can also be used as a topping for cheesecake or rice pudding.  

You’ll Need:

  • 4 lbs fresh strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Instructions:

  • Wash strawberries and remove stems, place in heavy pot
  • Pour sugar on top of the berries, stir, and place over low heat. Cover
  • Open up the vanilla bean lengthwise and open it up, then scrape the inside with a knife to remove the soft insides with the seeds. Add both the scrapings and the bean to the berries and sugar
  • As the berries heat up slowly, they will soften and release juice, so watch carefully so they don’t burn. (Some recipes add some water, but I generally don’t. Just keep the heat low until the berries are soft and juice has formed.)
  • Once the berries are soft, bring to a slow boil

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

  • Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch in the cold water, stirring carefully
  • While stirring the berries, pour the cornstarch water into the pot, and stir until thickened. This will happen quickly
  • Remove from heat and cool, then remove the vanilla bean
  • Serve warm or cold with cream or coconut cream

Danish+Strawberry+Pudding, danish+recipes, strawberry+recipes

Enjoy this wonderful, summery dessert!

Love,

Lassen’s

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

Amy’s — a Natural Foods Staple for 30 Years!

Amy’s is a California Original!

When we visited Northern Califoria this year, we were excited to tour Amy’s Kitchen in Petaluma. We were surprised and impressed with their hands-on approach. I expected floor to ceiling stainless steel machinery doing all the work, but what we saw was hundreds of dedicated workers hand making and packaging Amy’s products. 

More than 30 years ago, Rachel and Andy were expecting a baby, and there wasn’t anything in the store to satisfy the need for healthy, convenient, ready-made meals. With Rachel on bed rest, they realized that there were likely many others in the same boat. Once their baby was born, they started making their first recipe, Pot Pie, to sell locally. Their daughter Amy and Amy’s Kitchen were born in the same year!

They launched their company, thinking that they would just make those delicious Pot Pies, but requests for more variety started coming in. They started adding other products, from Pizza to Canned Soups. They heard about people with allergies, food sensitivities, and special diets, so Vegetarian, Vegan, and Gluten-Free offerings were created. Since Organic is also non-GMO, Amy’s is also committed to GMO-free ingredients.

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

Amy’s has always been passionate and committed to organically grown produce, even in the beginning when there was no Organic Certification. They work closely with their farmers to make sure they have the best ingredients possible.

And now, thirty years later, Amy’s is a household name. You can read more of Amy’s story by clicking  here.

When I had busy and active kids at home, we almost always had Amy’s Burritos in the refrigerator for a quick snack before gymnastics or soccer. The cheese enchiladas were also a favorite, and it’s fun to see my grandchildren enjoying the same products!

Amy's+kitchen, amys+kitchen

Amy’s has a desire to change the face of fast food, and in 2015 they opened Amy’s Drive Through in Rohnart Park. It’s a sustainability model, with solar panels and a living roof.

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

They have delicious burgers, fries, shakes, pizza, burritos, and much more. I hope they bring their Drive Thru to Southern California!

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics
yummmmm… Chili Fries!

I love visiting the producers of our amazing products! Thanks, Amy’s for hosting us!

Love,

Lassen’s

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

Amy's+Kitchen, Organic+Prepared+Foods, Healthy+Frozen+Foods, Non+GMO, Amy's+Organics

 

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark

The Lassens Immigrate to America — A Leap into the Unknown

The End of the War

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark

The end of World War II was a huge relief to the Lassens and to all of Denmark. They were able to relax a little and resume their lives. They had another little girl, Doris, and Hilmar started a business making, repairing, and selling canvas tarps. 

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark
When we visited last in 2000, This courtyard still looked pretty much the same as it did in the 1940s, as in this photo. Hilmar, with oldest daughter Birthe (“Bee”), is showing off his foot pedal (treadle) sewing machine!

Oda was always a people person. She made friends easily and nurtured those friendships. This is a photo with her friend Gerda soon after they met in the late 1940s. Gerda often talked about how they met and always praised Oda for how kind and helpful she always was to her and her children. After they both came to America, they would visit one another as often as possible, even though Gerda lived hundreds of miles away. They wrote letters and talked on the phone often.  Oda and Gerda remained friends until Gerda’s death in the early 2000s. 

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark

I never asked Oda about this photograph, but I love how she and the girls were all dressed up. Maybe they were going to church on a gloomy overcast day!

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark

In December of 1950, the Lassen’s welcomed their first son into the family, John. The family is still amazed that petite Oda was able to give birth to a 12-lb baby! To the annoyance of several members of the family, Oda said that he was her prettiest baby.

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark
I love everything about this photograph. The girls’matching dresses, their expressions — from pensive or shy to posing, Oda’s quiet confidence, and John’s little raised eyebrows.

Even though things were much better in Denmark than during the war years, there were still worries. Oda told me that one of the factors that they took into consideration when contemplating coming to America, was that the Soviet Union was so close to Denmark. She said that she felt real fear of a Soviet invasion. 

So when John was just a baby, they made the decision to immigrate to America. They found a sponsor — the father of a church friend — who was willing to vouch for the family. They started to sell most of their belongings and got ready to uproot everything that they had ever known. They thought it unlikely that they would ever see Denmark or their families again.

Doris was just five years old when they immigrated, but she remembers selling their furniture, toys, and dishes in order to have enough money to purchase passage on a ship. They travelled to Copenhagen to receive their passports and other documents, as well as to go through the screening and interviews needed.

When the photographer came to their apartment to take their passport photos, he also took a few extra pictures. John was just shy of a year old, and the photographer caught him taking his first steps!  Here is one of the entire family. From the left, Ida, Oda with John, Doris standing in front of Bee, and Hilmar.

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark

They packed all of their belongings into a trunk and two suitcases and had fifty dollars in cash. In December of 1951, they visited their families for the last time, waved goodbye, and boarded the ship Gripsholm, headed for New York.

Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen, Lassen's+Origin+story, Lassens+origin+story, immigration+from+Denmark
This is a postcard that Hilmar sent to his father. It was given back to him after his father died.

Hilmar always liked to say that he carried John across the Atlantic ocean. John, who had just begun to walk, did not like the moving deck of the ship and refused to be put on his feet.

There are many more stories of their travels as they made their way from Denmark to New York City, and then across America by bus to the west. Within a few months they were in California, where Hilmar got a job working as a bricklayer’s assistant. All along the way, they gathered their courage when times were tough, as they were for quite a few years. None of them really knew any English, and that alone was daunting. But they took lessons and practiced, and the older girls went to school and helped everyone learn.  

The Lassen family has a strong heritage of grit and drive, and nowhere can that been seen better than in their courage as they immigrated to a new country. We strive to have that grit and drive in our business, too, and to always remember our roots!

Love,

Lassen’s

danish+cucumber+salad, danish+cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad, easy+recipes, healthy+cucumber+recipes

Danish Cucumber Salad

Salad, Side Dish, Appetizer, Sandwich Topping — You Will Love this Simple and Easy Recipe!

danish+cucumber+salad, danish+cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad, easy+recipes, healthy+cucumber+recipes

If you have enjoyed a Danish Smörgåsbord (or Swedish, for that matter) you have probably noticed a multitude of small serving dishes with little pickles of all kinds, red cabbage (rødkål, see Oda’s recipe here), peas and carrots, cucumbers, pickled beets, and other items. These can be enjoyed as toppings for open-faced sandwiches (smørrebrød), or as a small side dish. The Danes use them as  Americans use cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. These tasty sides are not reserved for holidays, but are everyday kind of dishes. They add such a pop of color and taste to many meals, and I love them!

The Lassen family loves to have dinners together, and when we make the assignment list,  Cucumber Salad is nearly always included.  This is one of my favorite Danish recipes, and also one of the simplest. It adds a great flair and pop of flavor to basic meals and fancy ones alike. Oda, our founder, taught me how to make this salad, and when she and Hilmar downsized their living space, I inherited her Bosch Mixer with the slicing and grating attachments. I used it to slice the cucumbers for this post!

danish+cucumber+salad, danish+cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad, easy+recipes, healthy+cucumber+recipes

Oda’s Danish Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

You’ll Need:

  • 1 organic English Cucumber, or 4 Persian Cucumbers (please see *note for special instructions if only regular cucumbers are available)
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup unbleached sugar — you could also use agave syrup, or any other sweetener if desired
  • 3 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

danish+cucumber+salad, danish+cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad, easy+recipes, healthy+cucumber+recipes

Instructions:

  • Wash and dry the cucumbers. English and Persian cucumbers do not need to be peeled.
  • *Regular cucumbers have thicker skins. When that’s all that’s available, I partially peel the cucumbers so that a little bit of skin remains. This adds great color and a bit more crunch. If the regular cucumbers have tough seeds, I cut them in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
  • Slice the cucumbers very thinly. If you do not have a food processor or other tool, you can use the side of a box grater — there’s a handy slicer there.
  • Place the slices in a strainer over a bowl, and then sprinkle generously with salt.
  • Stir the cucumbers so that the salt is blended in.
  • Mix the sugar and vinegar in a small bowl, and stir to dissolve.
  • Let sit for about 15 minutes. You’ll see lots of juice under the strainer

danish+cucumber+salad, danish+cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad, easy+recipes, healthy+cucumber+recipes

  • With clean hands, squeeze as much moisture as possible out of the cucumbers.
  • Drain and wipe the bowl, then return the cucumbers
  • Pour the sugar and vinegar over the cucumbers, and stir to coat. 
  • Let the salad sit for another 10 minutes or so, mixing occassionally. 
  • Add pepper and salt to taste
  • Serve! We like to provide small dishes on the side of each plate for this salad, since there is a lot of juice.

danish+cucumber+salad, danish+cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad, easy+recipes, healthy+cucumber+recipes

This salad will last several days in the refrigerator. 

Enjoy this taste of Denmark, straight from the Lassen home!

danish+cucumber+salad, danish+cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad+recipe, cucumber+salad, easy+recipes, healthy+cucumber+recipes

Love,

Lassen’s

assens+motto, the+best+of+everything+good, earth+day

Lassen’s Loves to Celebrate Earth Day — It’s Part of Our DNA!

Thank Your Mother (Earth!)

Our motto at Lassen’s is The Best of Everything Good. And one way we live that motto is in the products that we bring into our communities. As we celebrate Earth Day this month, as well as during our Earth Day Events on April 20-21, here’s how we live The Best of Everything Good every day — not just on Earth Day — at Lassen’s.

lassens+motto, the+best+of+everything+good, earth+day

It goes without saying that we at Lassen’s love our earth. Nutritious, healthy food is something good, and it depends on healthy soil, water, and air. That’s one big reason why we are committed to 100% Organic Produce in our produce department. That’s the best.  When our crops are grown without toxic herbicides and pesticides in rich, healthy, organic soil, the whole ecosystem benefits. We’ve been singing the praises of organic food for a long time — almost 47 years! I wrote this post nearly four years ago about organic. Studies showing the benefits of eating organic are piling up! There is some skepticism about what organic means in the USA today, so I wrote a follow-up article clearing things up. Read it by clicking here.

Eating locally grown produce is another good thing! Lassen’s loves to search out and support our local organic farmers as well — that’s how we bring you the best of that good organic produce! Some of our farmers that we have featured here on the blog are Nojoqui Farms in Buellton, Green Gold Farms in San Luis Obispo, Rock Front Ranch east of Santa Maria, Chas Farms Blueberries in Oxnard, Forbidden Fruit Blueberries between Buellton and Lompoc, Las Palmalitas Avocados in Carpinteria, Ojai Olive Oil in Ojai, and many others. (Just search “Local” on the website and you’ll see what I mean!) As we support organic farming, the farmers are encouraged to continue organic farming and to even expand. More organic farming means better soil. This blog post outlines some ways that farming organically may be a way to save family farms and push back the tide of huge Agro-businesses sweeping the nation.

lassens+motto, the+best+of+everything+good, earth+day

 

We also support organic ranchers and egg producers. Burroughs Family Farm just north of Fresno produces Almonds, Beef, Cheese, Dairy, and Eggs, and Lassen’s carries most of their products. Healthy soil is their passion, and everything that they do in all of their endeavors contributes to that goal. To them it’s not enough to produce good productes. They want the best outcome for the environment as well. You have to try their delicious eggs! Diestel Family Farm raises organic Turkeys humanely with access to pasture and open air, and we are proud to carry their luncheon meats year-round, as well as their holiday turkeys. When you buy our Lassen’s brand honey (also produced in Ventura County!), we donate to Honey Love in LA, and Central Coast Beekeepers’ Alliance in the San Luis Obispo area. These organizations support beekeepers in the LA and Central Coast areas. Click here to learn more. Chino Valley Ranchers is another company that is passionate about humane and ethical treatment of their birds, and the quality of their eggs show that care. Smart Chicken is an amazing company that has developed best practices for healthier and tastier chicken, as well as humane animal treatment. There are many more ranchers, fishermen, and other producers that we love to support, and they have the same commitment that we at Lassen’s do — to take care of Mother Earth.  

Lassen’s is passionate about more than just healthy food. Beauty care products, supplements, herbs, and home care products can all be produced in sustainable and environmentally friendly ways. Lassen’s searches out these producers as well. The Seaweed Bath Company is one such company. They produce a really good, clean product, but they are the best at harvesting their seaweed in a manner that encourages continued growth and rejuvenation — thus caring about the health of our oceans. Essential Oils are a big part of many people’s lives, and Aura Cacia pays close attention to every step of their manufacturing process, from seed to bottle. 

Lassen’s believes in something else that is good — nourishing our bodies with great supplements. But what makes us carry the best is that we are committed to high quality herbs and supplements. That’s why you won’t see bargain brands on our shelves. We carry only those brands that test and verify the purity and strength of their products. That’s the best of everything good.  One such brand is Mega Food. They manufacture their supplements from whole foods, and when we visited a few months ago, we got to see — and photograph — their whole process. That’s real transparency — something definitely in the best category!

I could go on and on about our amazing producers and what we are doing at Lassen’s to go from good to best. Lassen’s buyers hold our standards high, and work hard to find the producers who are as passionate about those standards and about the environment as we are.

So Earth Day, to Lassen’s, is more than just a once-per-year homage to Mother Earth. It’s a deep commitment to sustainable and responsible environmental practices every day of the year. It’s bringing The Best of Everything Good to our communities. Yes, we love to throw a big celebration at our Events, but that commitment to our beautiful earth is who we are.

So come into Lassen’s and join in our quest to preserve and improve our environment! 

Love,

Lassen’s

the+seaweed+bath+company, bladderwrack+seaweed, dry+skin, irritated+skin, hydrating+bath+powders, bath+powder

The Seaweed Bath Company has Something Great for You!

One Day Adam Noticed…

Yup, it all started when Adam, the founder of the Seaweed Bath Company, noticed that his dry and irritable skin felt better the more he was in the ocean. He had tried a lot of products, but he didn’t like their harsh chemicals or side effects. He was living in Florida and that ocean water just seemed to help.

So he began researching what healing secrets the ocean might hold. His search led him to ocean-based therapies and found that some spas were using seaweed in their skin care. He discovered thallosotherapy — therapy using sea water and shore products for skin care. He learned that a particular kind of seaweed — bladderwrack — was particularly beneficial. He got a big bag or bladderwrack from a spa in Ireland, where it grows in the cool waters, and started experimenting. He developed some topical therapies with the seaweed, and found that soaking in a seaweed bath soothed any skin irritation, redness, or inflammation.

Bladderwrack grows in a harsh environment, so it develops a strong mineral and protective oil profile, including iodine. Adam learned that Bladderwrack grows in the waters off Portland, Maine, and the seaweed is the most nutrient dense in May and June.  He found a fisherman, Tom, who was harvesting the seaweed by hand for his own business. Adam started working with Tom, and their partnership was born.

the+seaweed+bath+company, bladderwrack+seaweed, dry+skin, irritated+skin, hydrating+bath+powders, bath+powder

Adam thought this could be helpful for other people, so he started passing out samples of his seaweed bath powders. People found it very soothing and healing, and kept asking where they could get more! So in late 2010 the Seaweed Bath Company was born. 

When the tide is low, the seaweed is harvested by hand. They cut it at an angle at the base so that the plants will regrow in a healthy manner. It will grow to full size within 36 months. Adam makes sure that they are harvesting in a responsible manner, preserving the coastal environment. They rotate their harvest area between Cape Elizabeth and Casco Bay.  They also do water and plant testing to make sure the seaweed is healthy and free of contaminants. 

After harvesting, the seaweed is dried in nearby Scarborough, Maine, to about a 10% water retention rate. Then the seaweed is milled or powdered, as well as prepared for extraction, since the Seaweed Bath Company’s products uses all three kinds of preparations. 

The first products that Adam, and his wife Allison, developed were the detox bath and the bath powders. Later, as people asked for other items, they added creams, washes, and hair care products. Their main focus is hydrating the skin and hair, since hydration is so healing. They add quality ingredients like Kukui oil, Argon oil, Vitamin E oil, chlorophyll, neem, spirulina, and others. Their products are gluten free, and you’ll notice the thick moisturizing viscosity of their creams and hair products. I love the hair condition to tame my mane!

 the+seaweed+bath+company, bladderwrack+seaweed, dry+skin, irritated+skin, hydrating+bath+powders, bath+powder

Lassen’s is proud to carry products from the Seaweed Bath Company, and you can find something that you’ll love for your skin and hair! Catch the 40% on the entire line during our April 2018 monthly deal! 

It never fails that nature provides amazing solutions when we go out there and search for them! And that’s just what Adam did. 

Love,

Lassen’s

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen

Happiness amidst Turmoil — Oda & Hilmar, Denmark, and World War II

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
Oda and Hilmar on his father’s sailboat

One of my favorite stories about Oda — our founder — was how she met her husband, Hilmar. In the early 1930s, she went to a dance in her hometown of Aalborg, Denmark. She was only fifteen, so when this 20-year-old older man showed interest in her, she knew he was too old and worldly for her. He had been sailing around the world in the Danish Merchant Marine since he was fourteen, and seemed overly confident and maybe even a little arrogant to her. He asked if he could walk her home, and she accepted. But she really didn’t want to encourage his attention, so she excused herself to go to the ladies’ home. Out of sight of Hilmar, she slipped out the back way and didn’t return. This lady always knew her mind and followed her instincts! 

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
Oda and Hilmar and friends (Hilmar is in white; Oda has a white collar)

Despite this brush-off, several years later Hilmar saw her again and the time was right. They started to see each other and their romance blossomed. Hilmar was an accomplished sailor, and had access to his father’s sailboat. Picnics, friends, and sailing often went together. 

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
Beautiful days on the Danish coast. Hilmar and Oda are in the center.

Oda and Hilmar were married on April 15, 1939 at the City Government Building and then her mother hosted a dinner for family members. They moved into a little apartment and started their happy life together. Their oldest daughter was born the next year. 

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
Oda and Hilmar on their wedding day, April 15, 1939

But it wasn’t much longer before war knocked on their door. Less than one year after their marriage, Germany invaded Denmark and the little country was occupied until the end of World War II in 1945. Denmark knew that they stood no chance against the much larger German army, so they agreed — under protest — to the occupation. Oda and Hilmar had a second daughter soon after. 

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
Oda with her first daughter, Birthe

But the Danes are an independent bunch, and they found ways to undermine the occupiers. An active Underground was established and Hilmar and many of his friends were part of that resistance. They received dropped shipments of arms from the Allies and hid them for the time when the Allies would arrive on Danish soil. The Danes could then join with the Allies against the Nazis.  The Danes supplied military intelligence to the British throughout the War. They also refused an attempt by Germany to isolate or round up the Jewish population, which meant that most Danish Jews were rescued and saved from the Holocaust.

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
Hilmar and Oda, with baby Ida and little Birthe

To hear Hilmar and Oda talk about those years was thrilling and frightening. During the War they owned a little neighborhood dairy shop, and Oda would slip Resistance pamphlets into the bags of their shoppers. Hilmar delivered purchases by bicycle, and after one frightening night of soldiers searching their apartment building, he took the guns that had been hidden there by bicycle to a more secure location.

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
It looks like Oda is having the children help her to shuck English peas, her favorite!

It was a difficult time of rationing and fear, but the Lassen family tried to enjoy their lives as much as possible. Children played in the courtyards of the apartments, and Oda did her best to nurture her family as well as she could. After the war she never took fresh fruits and vegetables for granted, and remembered that one year during the war she only had one orange. 

Oda+Lassen, Denmark+in+WW2, Hilmar+and+Oda+Lassen, Hilmar+Lassen
May 5, 1945 — the Danish Resistance in Aalborg, Denmark celebrate the capitulation of the German Army

On May 5, 1945, the German Army capitulated, and the occupation of Denmark was over. The Danish Resistance marched openly in the streets with their weapons. Hilmar is shown here proudly marching with his fellow members of the Resistance (in the center about five rows back.) 

The war years were challenging for the Lassen family and for all of Europe. But from that challenge they knew they could thrive in hard times, especially when they bravely worked hard together. Those qualities served them well as they faced new challenges for the next 67 years. 

Thanks for all you taught us, Oda and Hilmar!

Love,

Lassen’s

Oda’s Best Æbleskivers

Delicious Danish Pancake Balls — a Lassen Family Favorite!

I will never forget the first time I had Oda’s Æbleskivers. Warm, buttery, and just slightly crispy outside, they were a delight. Oda, our founder, was a wonderful cook, and was happy to share her recipe with me. I love making them for my family and friends, especially on a cozy Sunday morning. 

There are several tips to help assure that your æbleskivers will be as delicious as Oda’s. 

danish+recipes, danish+pancake+balls, traditional+danish+food, aebelskiver+recipe

First, get a really good pan. I have had several different kinds, but this one is my favorite. It is heavy and conducts the heat evenly. It has a flat bottom, which I think helps heat better. (I got my pans in Solvang.) I actually have three of these pans for when we have to feed a mob! The photo also shows a wooden skewer. I use these to turn the pancake balls. (That’s tip #2) The wooden skewer doesn’t scratch the pan. Oda used a small knitting needle, but I like the wood better. (Sorry, Oda!)

The most important tip is actually the hardest to describe. Many years ago I was listening to the Food News Hour on KNX 1070 News Radio (is that show still on?) and someone called in asking about trying and failing to make æbleskivers. The host got it completely wrong — she said the problem was the recipe. I found myself talking back to the radio, “It’s not the recipe, it’s the temperature!” Cooking æbleskivers is a little tricky. The pan needs to be hot enough to cook the outer edge firm enough to turn, but not so hot that the dough cooks before it can be turned into balls. 

Let’s give it a try! This recipe makes about 20-23 æbleskivers.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 4 TBSP melted butter
  • Butter for frying

Instructions:

  • Put the æbleskiver pan on the stove on medium heat
  • Mix the buttermilk and eggs together
  • Add the dry ingredients, then gently blend
  • Mix in the melted butter, and let rest while you prepare the pan

danish+recipes, danish+pancake+balls, traditional+danish+food, aebleskiver+recipe

  • Check the heat of the pan by shaking a few drops of water on the pan. If it sizzles, the pan is hot enough
  • Unwrap a cube of butter halfway, then hold the cube by the wrapped end 
  • Swirl the butter into each circle of the æbleskiver pan, coating each circle with a thin layer of butter. The butter should sizzle, but not smoke or burn. If it does, your pan is too hot. Take it off the heat and cool a bit
  • Spoon the dough into each circle, filling to the top

danish+recipes, danish+pancake+balls, traditional+danish+food, aebleskiver+recipe

  • Using the wooden skewer, rotate the ball so that each circle now has a raised lip on one side. If the lip just falls back into the circle, it needs to cook a little longer before trying to rotate. You may also need to turn the heat up just a little.

danish+recipes, danish+pancake+balls, traditional+danish+food, aebleskiver+recipe

  • Wait a couple of minutes and rotate again. You will repeat this step until balls are formed
  • Once the pancake balls are complete, turn several times to make sure each side is golden brown and just a little crispy
  • Poke the skewer into the center and then pull out to see if any uncooked dough sticks to the skewer. If so, continue turning and cooking until the center is completely cooked. Be careful to not let any sides burn
  • Keep warm in the oven while cooking the remaining dough
  • Serve with powdered sugar and jam

danish+recipes, danish+pancake+balls, traditional+danish+food, aebleskiver+recipe

Sometimes I have seen æbleskivers with chocolate or jam inside. That is how Josh, our grocery buyer, likes to make them for his boys! (Just put a few chocolate chips or a 1/2 tsp of jam in the center before rotating the first time.) But the traditional way to serve Danish pancake balls is with jam and powdered sugar. 

danish+recipes, danish+pancake+balls, traditional+danish+food, aebleskiver+recipe

Peter was pretty excited when he came home and I was turning the æbleskivers on the stove! 

These make a wonderful addition to a spring brunch. You’ll get a real tast of Denmark with these æbleskivers!

Love,

Lassen’s