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.
4 lbs fresh strawberries
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup cornstarch
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
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
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Salad, Side Dish, Appetizer, Sandwich Topping — You Will Love this Simple and Easy Recipe!
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!
Oda’s Danish Cucumber Salad
1 organic English Cucumber, or 4 Persian Cucumbers (please see *note for special instructions if only regular cucumbers are available)
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
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
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.
This salad will last several days in the refrigerator.
Enjoy this taste of Denmark, straight from the Lassen home!
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.
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.
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!
Have you wanted to take the plunge from conventional deodorants but every time you try you just stink yourself out?EO Products, a wonderful organic & natural company, has dedicated their 2017 to helping everyone willing to take the challenge! Not only have they provided enlightening information like, “…there can be a transition period (up to 30 days) where body odor can actually increase…? but they have even perfected the list of must-have’s as you begin your transition.
EO Certified Organic Deodorant Spray
EO Natural Deodorant Wipes
EO Bubble Bath
EO Salt Soak
EO Ageless Moroccan Lava Clay
Those last three – the ones that have nothing to do with armpits, are to help you relax. Detoxing is stressful, especially if you don’t know how your experience will be. However, that added stress can create more body odor, which will turn in to a stinky cycle of stressing about body odor, creating more body odor, creating more stress. So pick up some bath salts and relax a little!
Committing to a detox might sound scary, but hey, at least it’s not a juice cleanse and you get to eat still! When you start your detox adventure, make sure you drink LOTS of water. And although you are eating, here are some foods to stay away from that can increase your body odor:
Cruciferous Vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, etc)
It’s fun to celebrate holidays! This recipe is easy, low-carb, and frankly… delicious! We hope you enjoy this little St. Patty’s recipe special, even though it really can be made anytime your heart is craving corned beef or want an simple and easy recipe.
If you avoid grains but still get a hankering for cookies, then get ready for your life to change. With no added sugar they’re pretty guiltless, too!
We took some liberties with adding peanut butter and chocolate to these cookies, but the banana and coconut base cookie can be used with whatever you dream up. Share whatever delicious varieties you come up with by tagging #lassens on social media and commenting on this post!
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and gather your ingredients.
Mash the two bananas with a fork, then mix in the shredded coconut.
Grease a cupcake pan (the pan helps the cookies hold shape) with coconut oil. Bake for 25 minutes.
After cooling for about 5 minutes, apply a dollop of peanut butter to the top of each cookie. Place in the freezer. While the cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate.
Dip the bottom of each cookie in chocolate and place on a piece of parchment paper. If desired, drizzle any leftover chocolate over the top of the cookies. Once the chocolate has solidified these cookies are ready to eat!
The cookies last in a sealed container for a few days... if they make it that long.
Something tasty, high in protein, and still seasonal is a nice break from all the treats that come around this season! Instead of feeling chained to bringing a cookies platter to your work potluck, surprise everyone with this delicious pumpkin hummus!
The seasonings are so easy to play around with too, which is nice if you want to spice things up a bit! See what I did there 😉
We hope you enjoy this lovely and INSANELY easy dish!
One of my very best friends, Melissa, introduced me to these meatballs. Since I don’t eat grains I decided to change them up a little bit, and I was really pleased with how they turned out — even though they didn’t have oats!
We are big on making freezer meals, but did learn that these don’t seem to hold together week after being made up then frozen again. If you find a way to make them stick, post-freezer, please let me know! Otherwise, you’ve been warned 😉
These meatballs can be used several ways, but regardless they’re tasty! You can make mini meatballs and they are a great appetizer served on a toothpick. Or you can make them full size and they can be served over a variety of starches or grains.
Let’s be real here, we all love an easy salad. I think that’s the purpose of salad, right?
This Gala Apple & Kale Salad is super fresh, crisp and has a nice crunch. It’ll also pair great with just about any entree. If you want to pack a little protein, you can even add some shredded chicken and make this salad your lunch!
The Gala apples are gorgeous and so delicious! I love the crispy snap of Galas, and the taste has just enough tart and just enough sweet. A friend of mine recently used Gala apples, sliced thin, in a turkey sandwich! Great idea!
Yesterday I took advantage of the proliferation (and great price!) of Gala apples, and made some apple crisp for my family. This is one of the simplest fruit desserts possible, and you can use all kinds of fruits to make a crisp!
Gala Apple Crisp
5 organic Gala, or other crisp apples (you could also use pears–especially the firmer Asian varieties, cherries, berries, or any combination of fruits desired.)
1/4 cup organic maple syrup
1/2 cup organic rolled old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup organic unbleached white or whole wheat flour
1/3 cup organic brown sugar
2 TBSP chia seeds
3/4 tsp organic cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3 TBSP organic butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Wash, peel (if desired) and slice the apples into a 8- or 9-inch baking dish
Pour the maple syrup over the apples, and stir to coat.
Mix the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chia seeds until well blended.
Add the softened butter and blend with the back of a large spoon.
Blend until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs
Pour the oat mixture over the top of the apples
Spread the topping evenly over the apples.
Bake 35 minutes, or until the topping is browned and the apples are tender when pricked with a fork.
Remove from the oven, and serve warm. I poured a little half-and-half over my warm apple crisp!
I’d love to hear your favorite ways to use apples!
Make a comment with your ideas for cooking or baking with apples!