Category Archives: focus on local

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Our Bulk Almonds are Local and Organic, too!

Brought to you by Yemetz Family Farms!

Lassen’s is committed to supporting organic and local farmers, and that applies to how we source our bulk items as well. A case in point is our bulk almonds, grown in the Central Valley of California.

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A few of weeks ago I visited George Yemetz at his almond grove just north of our Fresno store. It was easy to know when I was at his farm when I saw almond trees with green underbrush. Most of the almond groves have bare ground all around, indicating that toxic weed killers have been applied all around the base of the trees. But organic groves are easy to spot!

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Producers and manufacturers usually have amazing stories, and George sure does! His parents and grandparents fled Stalin’s Ukranian atrocities in the 1940’s, and settled in the Los Angeles area, where George was raised. Ukraine was known as the Bread Basket of Europe, so they were watching for agricultural opportunities. They had gardens in LA and around 1980 when the chance to buy farmland in the Fresno area appeared, they jumped at it. George learned all he could on his family farm, and in 1997 bought 12 acres of untilled land. He had a mentor that encouraged him to farm organically, so right from the start his almonds have been grown organically and sustainably. He has expanded his acreage by another 11 acres, and has his eyes open to further expansion in the future.

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Almond trees live about 25-30 years, but don’t produce for a few years after planting. George said it took five years before he was able to break even, and the 2008 recession was difficult. Add California’s long drought into the mix, and needless to say it’s been a challenging decade for farmers, including Yemetz Family Farm. But George has been able to keep his trees healthy through a strong soil ammedment program (using the manure from an organic chicken ranch nearby), and his own well water. The groves are mowed every three weeks which helps keep the soil around the trees healthy and cooled.

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If you’re wondering, yes, almonds and peaches are in the same family!

George grows two varieties of almonds — Carmel and Nonpareil. Nonpareil is the premier variety, but Carmel is harvested about a month later, making harvesting and processing more convenient. Both are wonderful almonds for all kinds of uses. Almonds are harvested by equipment that shakes the trees, then blowers and sweepers gather the almonds. They are processed by hulling and shelling, then these organic almonds are frozen to kill any moths or other pests. Yemetz almonds are never heated at all, so they are truly raw. 

In about 2007 there was a big almond processing operation that had an problem with salmonella, so laws and regulations were put in place that require pasteurization of all almonds. Most organics use steam pasteurization, but conventional operations use chemicals (!!) to pasturize their almonds. Ick! 

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George is a true believer that we have a choice  — we can pay a bit more now for healthier, organic food, or we can pay the doctor later when our health suffers. It’s certainly a belief that we at Lassen’s share. We are proud to count on such a strong commitment from our farmers and producers to help us bring your family the Best of Everything Good! 

Look for our beautiful bulk almonds and Lassen’s brand Almond Butter, brought straight to you from Yemetz Family Farm!

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.

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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! 

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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! 

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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

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.

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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!

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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.

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

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yummmmm… Chili Fries!

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

Love,

Lassen’s

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freezer+monkey, frozen+treats, focus+on+local, local+products, local+producers, women+owned+business

Focus on Local–Freezer Monkey Gourmet Frozen Treats

These Are Not Your Average Frozen Treats!  They are Gourmet!

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Meet Tiffany!

Tiffany grew up in Santa Barbara, and has always loved this area.  She went to art school in New York, but eventually ended up in San Francisco, where she found her true calling in culinary school.  She worked in restaurants for over 15 years as a pastry and dessert chef.  She got to develop recipes and see her creations bring joy to many patrons.
 
But life brought her back to Ventura County.  She decided that she wanted to branch out and do something on her own, so she took a 14-week course on how to start your own business through WEV–Women’s Economic Ventures.  (For more information on WEV, click here.)  She had to write a business plan, and thought that she might start her own bakery.  But those plans just didn’t seem right for her and her children.  In October 2011 a sweltering heat wave hit Thousand Oaks and she found herself making frozen treats for her kids.  They were a huge hit and the kids kept coming back for more.   It was a light-bulb moment.  She dug out her recipe collection, looking for sorbet and ice cream recipes.  Her business plan abruptly changed.  Soon she created several different flavors and launched the Blueberry Dessert Company.  Her son named the line of pops when he came in, asking for more of those “freezer monkeys!”

 

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Watch This!

Last week I got to follow Tiffany around as she made her Caramelized Pineapple Pops.  First, she caramelizes some sugar in a heavy pot.  (To learn how to do this yourself, see my post on candying pecans for a spinach/pear salad found here. )

 

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Tiffany poured the caramelized sugar over fresh pineapple pieces, 

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and then added a little red Hawaiian sea salt.

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Tiffany blended the pineapple, caramel and salt until pureed.  

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Once everything was pureed very fine, she strained the mixture to remove the tough solids. 

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After removing the foam (too much air for a pop!) Tiffany poured the strained puree into these amazing molds that she got from Brazil.

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The lid, with the sticks, went on last.  It clamped everything together.

 

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The mold was lowered into a container with propylene glycol, a food-grade liquid that has a very low freezing point.  The liquid was -15 degrees, and the pops were frozen in about 15 minutes!  (None of the propylene glycol gets into the pops–it just surrounds the mold.)

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Amazing!  The quick-freeze time reduces the opportunity for crystals to form in the treats, so the result is a smooth and creamy texture. 

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The treats were popped out of the molds, and they were ready for packaging.

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Tiffany stamps the date on every pop.  

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Lassen’s carries six Freezer Monkey flavors–all delicious!  Great for these hot days, but also for all throughout the year!  (No reason to stop eating frozen treats in California!)

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Next up for Tiffany?  Watch for her Bon-Bons, coming soon!  I tried the Vietnamese Coconut–it was amazing!

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There’s nothing like the fun of a frozen treat on a stick, and Tiffany’s Freezer Monkey Treats are more than just frozen colored sugar water!  They are made with real fruit and other natural ingredients!  You’ll love them! 

Love,
 
Lassen’s
focus+on+local, local+producers, ojai+olive+oil, olive+oil, healthy+fats, organic+olive+oil

Focus on Local–Ojai Olive Oil

Ojai Olive Oil

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I sure didn’t appreciate the beauty of the olive tree when I had one in the front yard of our first little house.  It was pretty, but I had no idea what was hiding in those little orbs.  The nutritional value of olive oil is vast.  From this website I learned that olive oil can improve the immune system and protect agains viruses.  Heart disease, cancer, strokes, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions can be beneficially affected by consuming olive oil.  (Very interesting information!)  Olives are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet — you can learn more at the balance me beautiful website — which is a super healthy way to eat!

 

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I recently spent an afternoon with Alice Asquith, who showed me around the Ojai Olive Oil company’s olive grove and pressing operation, and learned so much more about the amazing olive.  It was a gorgeous summer day in Ojai, and Alice was kind and gracious.  

A Little History…

Did you know that until the 1780s, there were no olive trees in California?  The Padres from Spain introduced the trees so that they could have their olive oil.  It took over 100 years before California farmers were interested in growing olives.  In fact, there are still not enough olive growers in America to supply America’s olive oil needs.  Only 20% of the olive oil Americans consume is produced in America, even though there are many climates that are suited to olive growing.  

 

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In 1982, Alice’s husband, Ronald, bought a ten acre orange grove as a retirement project.  They moved to Ojai from metropolitan Los Angeles, and eventually replanted the grove in olives.  In 1998 he bought 36 more acres, where they now have the center of their operation. This grove had been planted in 1880!  The original farmers made oil until 1910, but after that the trees just sat — for 78 years.  No oil was made from the olives–they just fell to the ground and rotted.  Ron began to give them lot of TLC, and after just three years, the trees began to produce beautifully.  In 2001 they made their first olive oil.    The entire grove is now certified organic. 

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They started selling their oil–in their signature blue bottles–at farmer’s markets.

Ron decided to plant other varieties, and now they have nine different olive varieties in the groves.  At first they blended all of the varieties into their blended oil, but now they make both pure and blended variety oils.  

 

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 Three years ago they started suppling their oil to a cosmetic maker, and they have lovely soaps and creams made from their oil.

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Ronald spent many hours studying and learning about olive growing, and he had some wonderful mentors to help him along his way.  The groves now have over 3000 trees, which are thriving, but Alice said that “the weather is the boss.”  From budding to harvest, the trees must be nurtured.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The olive trees blossom in late April or so, and it takes six months from blossom to first harvest.  The olives will stay green for as long as possible, and then they start to ripen in early October.  During the harvest time they have to constantly watch the olives to make sure they harvest at the right time.  They wait until most of the olives are ripe–have turned color–then they harvest, all by hand.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

It takes sixty pounds of olives to make one gallon of olive oil!  But if the weather has been very hot, the yield will be a little higher.  The olives are taken directly from the groves to be milled the day they are harvested. 

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First the olives are washed and the leaves blown off, and then the olives are crushed–chopped and pushed through a sieve. 

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You can see how the olives would be crushed as they moved down through this part of the machine and into the next step!  

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Once it moves into the drums, the olives are now the consistency of paste, and looks sort of like oatmeal.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The paste is stirred up slowly.  No heat or water is added.  It is protected from air to prevent oxidation.   

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The paste begins to separate, and then the centrifuge begins to spin to assist the separation by density and weight.  It takes 90 minutes from start to finish!  They can process up to 800 pounds of olives per hour.  The oil is strained and bottled.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has established standards for extra-virgin olive oil.  A sample of every batch of Ojai Olive Oil is sent to a lab for blind testing to make sure it meats the highest standards, and has less than 0.8% acidity.

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This Tuscan is one of the Ojai Olive Oil blends!

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

At the end of the process, there is a waste made of pulp, skins, and pits, shown above.  Ojai Olive Oil Company uses this to make compost.  

Some companies will add chemicals and apply heat to the waste so they can extract more of the oil.  However, these oils do not meet the “Extra-virgin” standards, and are often sold under the names, “Pure” or “Extra Light Tasting.”  These oils are about as far away from extra-virgin as can be.  (Do not be fooled by the “pure” label!)  And they do not have the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil.
 
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Ojai Olive Oil Company also gives free tours and tastings at their grove.  You can see the machines and taste the oils!  For times and more detailed information about their ranch and story, click here.

If you have a morning or afternoon to stroll through an olive grove and learn about olive oil–not to mention taste some delightful deliciousness–I recommend going to Ojai and take a tour.  But if you don’t have the time, remember that you can find this deliciousness at Lassen’s.  
 
Love, 
 
Lassen’s
gluten+free, gluten+free+baking+mix, baking+mix

Focus on Local–Arnel’s Gluten-Free Baking Mixes

Gluten Just Might Be Your Enemy

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This is Arnel, of Arnel’s Originals Gluten-Free Baking Mixes!  She was your average mom, but was concerned with some unexplained behavior and health issues with her two daughters.  They had nervous system issues–tantrums, anxiety, anger, stress, and skin issues–rashes, and eczema. She knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what it could possibly be, and didn’t know where to start.  After reading as much as she could find, she started to suspect food allergies.  So in 1996 she put her family on an elimination diet to see if they were sensitive to allergens.  (To see Arnel’s suggestions for going on an elimination diet, go to her website and find the Feb 2011 post.)  Sure enough, within a couple of weeks she learned that she and both of her daughters were highly sensitive to gluten–in fact, they have celiac disease, which is an auto-immune disease, not just an allergy. 
 
Arnel's+Gluten+Free
 
 
Of course this meant a big life-style change for Arnel’s family.  Everything with gluten had to be eliminated from the home and their diet.  Even a few crumbs can trigger a reaction.  You can imagine what that does to a little girl going to a sleep-over party!  In the early days there were very few gluten-free products on the market!
 
Eventually Arnel decided that she needed to take matters into her own hands, and started experimenting with gluten-free ingredients to make breads and cakes, cookies and pies for her family.
 
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 She had a wonderful mentor named Pippi, who helped her figure out what ingredients worked, and she fiddled with them until she got it just right.  She made her mixes for family and friends at first.  Then in 2009 she began selling her Gluten-Free Baking Mixes in Lassen’s, and today is in many markets.  At first she was blending her mixes by hand in her kitchen, but today the business has grown so much that she has a commercial factory that makes her mixes according to her recipe and specifications.

 

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With these four mixes–organic and certified gluten-free–you can make just about any baked good that you’d like!  Arnel has made the mixes without sweeteners, so you can add what you like–from regular sugar or honey to date sweetener!  You can make chocolate or white or spice cake from the Make-a-Cake Mix–just add what you like!  

 

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I got to bake with Arnel in both her home and at a commercial kitchen, where she bakes her bread for the Farmer’s Market.  In her home we made these yummy cookies!

 

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Moist and delicious!  Those of us who are not sensitive to gluten usually shun anything that is gluten-free, but these are cookies that I could eat every day!

 

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Using the Cake Mix, we also made a strawberry cake, split in half and topped with mashed fresh strawberries.  It was really good–my family ate it up!

 

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I met Arnel at the commercial kitchen to watch her bake some of her delicious buckwheat gluten-free bread.  

 

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Because gluten-free doesn’t have any, well, gluten, the texture of the bread dough was toothpaste-y, not at all like the bread dough I am used to seeing.  

 

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But I trusted that Arnel knew what she was doing (No kneading?  How could that be?) and the end result was a beautiful, golden brown loaf of deliciousness!

 

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Arnel even made me a delicious salmon-salad sandwich with the buckwheat bread.  The bread was everything a sandwich needed!  Light and toasty–just delicious!

 

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If you are sensitive to gluten, or suspect that you might be, try some of Arnel’s baking mixes!  You can have your cake and eat it too!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
cool+haus, cool+haus+ice+cream, ice+creamsandwiches, focus+on+local, local+producers

Focus on Local–Coolhaus Ice Cream Sandwiches–Yum!

This is Not Your Average Ice Cream Sandwich from a Truck!

 
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Yes.  I took a bite.  Oh. My.  It had fresh mint leaves!  No artificial flavoring here!

If you have that sweet summer memory of hearing the ice cream truck coming up your street like I do, you can imagine my excitement as I visited the Coolhaus store in Culver City!  I met Natasha and her business partner Freya at their store on Washington Blvd.

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Coolhaus+Ice+Cream+Sandwiches

 

Natasha and Freya started baking cookies and making ice cream in 2008.  The treats were such a hit with all of their friends that they decided to launch Coolhaus–an ice-cream sandwich business with an architectural twist!  They name their creations after architects that they admire (they were in the business before they became entrepreneurs) or architectural movements, such as the above nibbled Mintimalism.

 

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In 2009 they bought a broken-down postal van, filled it with ice cream sandwiches, had it towed to the Coachella Valley Music Festival, where they sold enough to really get started.  And they were off!  There were no gourmet food trucks in LA when they started, so they thought there was a potential market to be tapped.  They were right! 

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Coolhaus now has 5 trucks in LA, 2 in New York City, a cart in Central Park, and 3 more trucks in Texas (Dallas and Austin), as well as the store in Culver City.  They are opening another store in Pasedena soon.   

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In the store and from the trucks you can choose your flavors.  They have a fun system of magnets in the trucks with the flavors that are available each day. 

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Choose your cookies! and then…

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Choose your ice cream!  Yum!

 
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I was there a bit too early for a big serving of ice cream, but there were some awesome choices that I sampled.  The ice cream was delicious and inventive!

 
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Natasha and Freya pay attention to taste trends, and also are willing to stick their necks out on a new flavor. Bacon ice cream, anyone?
 
 
Coolhaus works to use organic ingredients as much as possible.  Their dairy is produced locally and is all natural–totally free of growth hormones (they are working on getting organic and non-GMO as soon as they can.)  
 
Their chocolate is fair-trade, and they are working toward organic ingredients for their cookies as well.  They also use as much local, seasonal, and fresh fruits and herbs as they can. 

 

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After a few years just selling from the truck and prepackaged in stores, they decided that they needed a location to showcase their brand.  They also had grown enough that they needed a central location for all of the organization that needed to be done.   Natasha said they were going for a “Cool Industrial Aesthetic” in their Culver City store, and I thought it was awesome.  She is so appreciative of Culver City and their neighborhood.  They have been very welcoming to the new store.   

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I just have to add more pictures of these beautiful cookies and this delicious ice cream! 

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The trucks mostly go to private events or to set areas for the day.  They’ve been at the Hollywood Bowl and lots of movie sets!  

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You don’t have to wait to hear the ice cream truck jingle to taste these treats!  Coolhaus sandwiches are found in freezer cases in 100 stores in 30 states!  Lassen’s is so happy that we feature them in ours.   

Come into Lassen’s where Coolhaus ice cream sandwiches are on special this month!
 
Love,
 

Lassen’s

moss+botanicals, essential+oils, focus+on+local, local+products, produced+in+Ojai, Ventura+County+products

Focus on Local–Moss Botanicals

Natural Aid for Our Well Being 

Last week I had a delightful time as I met Stacey Moss of Moss Botanicals.  She lives and works in Ojai.  Her company has seven aromatic blends, each available in a roll-on oil for the skin, and an aroma mist for diffusing into the air.  
 
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Stacey has always been interested in the field of healing, and has dabbled in herbology.  She took lots of classes in natural healing.  She has some Native American heritage (Lakota), and she has always been fascinated by their belief in natural remedies and cooperative society.  Stacey attended the College of Botanical Healing Arts in Santa Cruz, and is a registered Aromatherapist.  She also has a BA in Social and Behavioral Sciences.  

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Stacey loves plants and herbs, especially natives.  She started to blend her oils for her own personal needs, and soon was sharing them with family and friends.  They started to call her “Medicine Woman” because they could see the benefits of her botanical oil blends.  She launched Moss Botanicals in 2008 as a hobby, but within the last year has started to branch out more.  

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Educating people about the science and art of Aromatherapy is important to Stacey.  She wants to teach people that Aromatherapy is complementary to every kind of lifestyle.  Her blends have names that match what they support in our bodies and lives, but she said that people should see how each blend feels to them as they use them.  Her blends are Ceremony, Balance, Transform, Clear, Relax, Euphoric, and Let Go.

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Stacey’s blends are complementary to Hindu Yogic Chakras as well.  Stacey said they can help balance and harmonize the mental, emotional, physical and spiritual aspects of life.  

Stacey is very careful with the sources of her oils.  She makes sure that they are organic and chemical free, and they are blended in a base of pure jojoba oil.  There are no synthetics or preservatives.  Her blends are simple–from 3-5 oils–and are hand blended in small batches.  She would like to try her hand at distilling the oils herself, and is working on making that happen.  
 
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Stacey loves this field because there is always something new to learn.  The science and scientific evidence is growing each year, which is very exciting. 

Stacey said, “I want people to find these [aromatic blends] because of what they can do to help them.”
 
It was such a pleasure to meet Stacey and her daughter Clrallyn, who even drew a portrait of me as I talked with Stacey!  

 

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You can find Moss Botanicals in our Ventura store, and Stacey comes there regularly to introduce her botanical blends.  

 
Thank you Stacey, for a wonderful time!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s

Focus on Local–Highwood Eggs

Don’t they look like Easter?

 
Highwood+farms+eggs, highwood+Eggs
 

Lassen’s is so excited to feature a new local producer–we have just started carrying Highwood Farm’s beautiful blue and brown eggs in our Ventura and Thousand Oaks locations!

Highwood+Farms+Eggs, Highwood+Eggs

Last week we went to Somis to meet Devon and Patrick and tour their farm.  Despite my trepidation about being near chickens (my shins have scars from the vicious rooster pecks I got when I was a little girl!) I was ready to face my fears.  We learned so much about chickens and eggs, too!

Devon had 6 or 7 chickens when she was growning up in Santa Monica, and now she and Patrick have taken that childhood hobby into a budding business.  Patrick also grew up in the LA area, but visited relatives who farmed soybeans and corn in Minnesota and became interested in farming and in animals.

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The farm is 200 acres, and there are about 300 chickens, and growing.  They started about 2 years ago with a few chickens who roosted in their laundry room!

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These have got to be the nicest coops I’ve ever seen!
 
Now the chickens roam around all day long and then gather to their coops each night to roost.
 
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Highwood Farms has three varieties of chickens–two lay brown eggs ( Rhode Island Reds and Australorps) and one that lays blue eggs (Araucanas).  They scratch around, free-range, on fields of hay and grass.

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Here is a Rhode Island Red–isn’t her color gorgeous?

 lassensloves.com, Highwood+Farm+Eggs

Australorp Chicken–they are also sometimes white

Everything that the chickens eat is organic, and they are never confined in cages. Patrick moves the coops to a different part of the fields about once per month so that the chickens always have a good food source.
 
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Here is a Araucana chicken–she lays blue eggs
 
The chickens come into the coops to lay their eggs (although they do sometimes sneak into other places, like buckets or under bushes to lay, and Devon and Patrick have to go hunting!)
 
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These laying sections are on the sides of the coops
 
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Most of the laying is done by about 4:00 each day, and Patrick and Devon gather all of the eggs, mark them with the date and then refrigerate them.
  
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They make sure the chickens have water and extra feed, and clean the coops so there is a nice clean place for the chickens to lay their eggs.
 
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A rooster watches over the brood
 
Highwood Farms has a few roosters and are starting to hatch some of their own chickens.  They also grow some hay, wheat, and barley to use for feed for their own animals and also to sell to their neighbors and some to the feed store.  And speaking of their own animals…
 
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Here are some of the piglets that are at Highwood Farms.  They have had three litters of piglets in the last five months!
 
They also have a horse and two miniature donkeys, who were very friendly!
 
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The donkeys coming over for a look at us!
 
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Bethany, our Marketing Director enjoys petting the soft nuzzle of their horse!
 

We have noticed that these eggs are not only beautiful on the outside, but firm and full-colored on the inside (not that pale, drab yellow of commercially produced eggs), as well as delicious.  We have enjoyed them at home for about a week, and think you’ll love them too!

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Thanks, Patrick and Devon!  We had a great time!
And I got over my anxiety about chickens!  (but I didn’t approach the rooster, either!)
highland+farms+eggs, focus+on+local, local+eggs, free+range+chickens, free+range+eggs
Look for Highwood Farms in our Ventura and Thousand Oaks locations!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
lori's+original+lemonade, lavendar+lemonade, ojai+lemonade, focus+on+local, local+products

Focus on Local… Lori’s Original Lemonade and New Oak Ranch Lavender

Yes, there is a Lori!

 
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This is Lori, owner of Lori’s Original Lemonade.
 
It started with a lemon tree in the front yard 
and three kids who wanted to make some money.
So Lori made some lemonade and the kids set up a stand outside their home in Ojai to sell that lemonade.  
It was a big neighborhood hit! 

But then Lori had an idea…

…to spruce up that lemonade with some lavender.
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade
 
She got some lavender from a local farmer, brewed some lavender tea, and infused her lemonade with that delicious lavender flavor.
Soon people–including her three children–
were encouraging Lori to bottle her lemonade.  

Mom… you can do it!

So a year ago Lori took a deep breath and jumped into the business.  
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade
 
Recently Bethany (Marketing Director), Mykey (Art Director and Graphics Designer) and I met Lori at New Oak Ranch in Ojai, where Lori gets the lavender for her delicious lemonade. She told us her story and shared her excitement for her wonderful product.
Lori started by selling her lemonade in several Ojai shops, but then decided to expand.  
She had a goal to put her three kids through college.
 
She visited our buyer, Josh, at the Ventura store and was thrilled when he wanted much more than she expected him to order.  
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade
Lori uses Organic lemons for her lemonade, as well as Pure Cane Sugar–

No high fructose corn syrup!

Lassen’s is proud to have helped Lori as she was launching her business!  
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade 

New Oak Ranch

We also got to meet Bill, the owner of New Oak Ranch.  
Bill showed us the different kinds of lavender and taught us all about it.  
The culinary variety of lavendar is Provence, but Bill also grows the Grosso variety, 
which is used for oil.  
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade
 
It takes about 30 lbs of lavender buds (shown here) to make (through steam distilling) 
6 oz of oil!    
It is used in many kinds of bodycare products.
 
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This beautiful variety, Buena Vista, holds its color and is often used for decorating and in other items that need the color retained.
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade
 
Bill also showed us his greenhouse where he has propagated (by cuttings) a full crop of new lavender plants.  
The cuttings take about 8-10 weeks to be strong enough to be planted.  
Bill will soon plant a full field of these new plants.
 
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Bill also grows Olives, Ojai Pixie Tangerines, and Walnuts at his ranch.
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade
 
With her unique and delicious recipe, Lori is getting rave reviews for her lemonade.  
Mykey, Bethany and I decided that heating up the lemonade to soothe a sore throat just might make feeling a little under-the-weather not so terrible!
 
lassensloves.com, Lori's+Original+Lavender+Lemonade
 
Stop into Lassens and try LOL–Lori’s Original Lemonade!
Maybe her family motto will rub off on you too:
“Wish It, Dream It, Do It, and Anything is Possible!”
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
 
PS–and by the way, the drive through the Ojai Valley is spectacular!  Take Highway 150 through Ojai and beyond (keep following it and you’ll get to Santa Paula) for a beautiful drive!
 
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