Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dessert

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

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

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

expo+west, new+products, natural+foods+products, organic+is+non-gmo+and+more, chuao+chocolate

Catch the Excitement of Expo West!

It’s a Yearly Boost!

We just got back from the biggest trade show of the year, full of excitement for new products and ideas! Here are just a few of the exciting products that we were able to see and sample this year.

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

Coconut and lemon! Yum!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

These are going to be a fantastic snack to fit in my purse or bag — they’ll help me resist the sugar that is everywhere!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

Popcorn has become so much more than a movie snack!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

These are not your mother’s banana chips — The Thai Sweet Chile is delicious!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

I just loved this display of colorful pasta!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

I love how there are so many more healthy prepared meals available now!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

Watch for these — our buyer loves them!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

Chuao Chocolate now has this dark chocolate line — super beautiful as well as delicous!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

There were lots of new sodas and infused sparkling waters — again, how great to help us get away from the junk!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

Edemame puffs? Yes, please!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

I am so glad that there are convenient, appealing, and healthy baby foods available.

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

We’re aways on the lookout for great bread as well.

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

Want an easy way to grow your herbs? Watch for these Indoor Gardening Kits!

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

I love these, and I’m so glad that I can throw these into my backpack and I have a healthy meal whether I’m backpacking or at work.

Expo+West, new+products, natural+foods+trade+show

I love that there are so many more Organic products these days! We love supporting organic!

expo+west, new+products, natural+foods+products, organic+is+non-gmo+and+more

I was thrilled to see these signs as a reminder throughout the show. All too often people think that when we buy non-GMO we are supporting the best agricultural practices. But non-GMO is just one characteristic of Organic! Non-GMO could still be grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers, so when you have a choice, choose Organic!

Hopefully we’ll be able to get some of these great new prodcuts in soon!

Love,

Lassen’s

Oda+Lassen, Danish+Culture, Danish+Food

A Love of Good, Healthy Living Started in Denmark

Quality First!

If you have ever been to Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley (between Santa Barbara and Santa Maria), you’ve had a taste of Danish culture, and hopefully Danish food! Æbleskivers (round pancake balls, eaten with powdered sugar and jam), Pølser (sausages) and Kartofler (potatoes, usually boiled), and Smørrebrød (open faced sandwiches) are easily found in the Danish Village. Oda, our founder, grew up with these traditional Danish foods in Aalborg, Denmark.

When Hilmar (Oda’s husband) turned eighty, we gathered all the fixings for a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich Smörgåsbord. Oda and Hilmar were happy to pose for us — and he was wearing his Danish sweater! (I think Oda was making a joke!)

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This is not an advertisement for Solvang, but if you’ve eaten in a nice restaurant there, you may have tried the kinds of foods the Lassen children grew up with, even after they came to America.  Meats, carefully prepared, potatoes, and spectacular gravy were on the table regularly. For someone who grew up in a casserole kind of household, this was a revelation to me when I entered the Lassen family. (Don’t get me wrong; I had a very health-conscious upbringing. But seeing this traditional way of cooking very regularly was new.) I loved learning how to make many traditional Danish dishes, and our children grew up on many of them too. I have already shared a couple of Danish recipes here (click here for Oda’s Danish Dumpling recipe, and here for her Danish Red Cabbage side dish recipe.) Each month I will share another of Oda’s recipes on this blog, so keep coming back!

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Oda started to become a really terrific cook when she was a young woman in Denmark.  (And she had a way with hats, didn’t she?) One thing I noticed about her cooking was that she wasn’t interesting in experimenting. There was a way that things were supposed to taste and look, and the goal was to make a dish as delicious and beautiful as possible. Gravy, in particular, had to be exactly right — smooth, the right consistency, and without any specks or flecks of debris. I learned to strain the broth. And the first time I saw Hilmar (who was also a really good cook) add cream to gravy, I was stunned. No wonder their gravy was so delicious! Quality, quality, quality. 

It’s Not All About the Food, Though

Map+of+Denmark
Map from geology.com

As you can see from this map of Denmark, the sea is incredibly important in every aspect of Danish life. The Lassen family came from Aalborg, up near the north of Denmark, and the Danes love to sail in the fjord. Sailing, walking, and cycling were everyday activities. I love this photo of Oda (on the right) with some relatives on the sailboat Else when she was a teenager.  (And she now has a granddaughter named Else!)

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Family is terribly important to the Danes, and whenever we have traveled to Denmark, they roll out the red carpet for us. The photo below shows Oda (on the right) with her sister Irene. Her son Freddie (along with his wife Jette and their children and grandchildren) have become wonderful friends as well as relatives. 

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Christmas is a really important holiday to the Danes, and I will share some of the Lassen traditions in December. But as a teaser … think the Whos down in Whoville!

This year we continue to celebrate 100 years since Oda, our founder, was born. The culture in which she was raised is certainly part of that celebration. That culture helped to shape who she was — an amazing, brave, and strong woman who thrived through World War II in Europe, immigrated to America in the 1950s, and raised a family. And then she went on to start a little Health Food Store in 1971. That business  has now grown to one of the largest independent chains of Natural Food stores in California. Lassen’s insistence on high quality and care all started with Oda. Thank you!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

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Danish Red Cabbage — Rødkål

A Tradition!

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Whenever the Lassen family gets together for a traditional Danish meal, we love to include this taste of Denmark — Rødkål — Red Cabbage. It is delicious hot, warm, or cold, and makes a wonderful side dish. It’s sort of like the cranberry salad next to turkey on a Thanksgiving table, but much better (in my humble opinion!)

It’s easy to make and can be made ahead of time — even 4 or 5 days ahead. Oda, our founder, taught me how to make this easy and yummy Danish dish.  You’ll love it!

danish+recipes, danish+red+cabbage, rødkål, lassens+recipes, traditional+danish+recipes

Danish Red Cabbage 

You’ll need:

  • 1 head red cabbage (about 3 lbs)
  • 2 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup butter (you could use coconut oil, if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used natural cane sugar, but you could use agave syrup)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup lingonberry preserves

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Instructions:

  • Wash the cabbage head, and then cut into quarters and remove the core
  • Slice thin and then cut the slices into halves or thirds
  • Sprinkle with vinegar, set aside

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  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the sugar and salt
  • Add the cabbage/vinegar combination and cook 15 minutes, stirring regularly

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  • Add the lingonberry preserves and mix in well.
  • Turn to lowest heat and gently simmer uncovered for about 90 minutes, stirring occassionally and then more regularly as the moisture evaporates. (This step may take up to two hours, depending on the cabbage moisture content.)

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  • Watch carefully the last half hour to make sure it doesn’t stick.
  • When the moisture is cooked off, remove from the heat and serve or cool until ready to serve.

I love having this on hand for fancy dinners, but it’s delicious as a side with a sandwich as well!

love,

Lassen’s

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CV Sciences on the Cutting Edge

CBD from CV Sciences

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Image from pluscbdoil site

When I visited CV Sciences in San Diego, it was quickly apparent that there’s a lot I didn’t know about CBD (cannabidiol). I came back determined to learn more, and in a previous blog post I shared some of what I learned. But even though I didn’t know much about CBD when I got there, during my visit I became so impressed with what CV Sciences is doing in the field of CBD research and development.  I want to shine a light on their company.

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I met Stuart from CV Sciences at a seminar at Expo East, and he was very excited when I mentioned that I’d like to come see their operation.  Arrangments were made, and I went to San Diego to meet the CV Sciences team. Stuart met me at the door, and escorted me to the lab.

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The scientists at the lab showed me the strict procedures and testing that they practice as they take the raw CBD materials all the way to the final product ready to be bottled and put on the shelf. 

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CV Sciences complies with pharmaceutical standards, so everything is incredibly clean and controlled. Their scientists test at every step of the process. They test the raw materials coming in to make sure it is not only what is on the label, but that it is of the highest quality with no contaminants. 

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They also keep samples of every batch in case there needs to be further testing.

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It was great meeting Stuart and all the folks at CV Sciences! 

Love,

Lassen’s

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Growing Up to be Strong and Brave

Those Characteristics Appear Early!

As our founder, Oda Lassen, grew up in post-World War I Denmark, she was surrounded by loving family and friends. Her father was a seaman, and her mother was lovingly nurturing her three boys and three girls. Those years between the World Wars were years of growth and happy memories. Oda and her family lived in an apartment building with a courtyard in the back, and she remembered playing hour after hour with her siblings and friends. She told me about calling up to her mother that she was hungry, and her mother would toss down a sandwich wrapped in paper for the children to catch. She told her grandchildren this story as she made them sandwiches just like her mother had made for her.

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Oda’s brother Jens, her father Thomas, and Oda

Oda loved school. She learned easily, and particularly enjoyed math. We saw that quickness in her many years later as she could look at sales and quickly analyze the trends.  We also saw that in the fact that if we owed her money, she remembered what we owed to the penny! 

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Denmark is a very flat country, so cycling was — and still is — a very popular means of transportation. There were bicycles everywhere, and that caused Oda a bit of trouble that she had to deal with for the rest of her life. When she was a young elementary school child, she was about to cross a street close to her school when an older child on a bicycle knocked her over, hurting her knees. She had pain, swelling, and later arthritis, in those knees, until finally Oda had double-knee replacement at age 82. Even at her age she tackled the Physical Therapy with determination. Talk about brave!

When Oda finished compulsory school, she entered the workforce at a Textile Factory. She didn’t really talk much about this stage of her life, but she once told me how terrible the men were at the factory. She didn’t mind the work, but the workplace environment was difficult for a young women. I think after that experience she was determined to be respectful of everyone.  

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Oda and her family, along with the rest of Denmark, were able to enjoy this respite for a few more years, but by the time she was in her late teens, the rumblings of war were beginning to be heard once again. It was in this world that Oda really honed her strength and bravery, as a young wife and mother in a country occupied by Germany.

I have loved learning about Oda’s experiences, since they shaped her into who she was as a mother, friend, entrepreneur, and businesswoman. She laid the groundwork for the best of what Lassen’s strives to be each day, and into our future. We are grateful for her!

Love,

Lassen’s

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