Category Archives: Lassen’s History

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The First Ten Years — Expansion!

Open to Growth

I’m not sure what Oda had in mind for the future of her business when she opened that first little Health Food Store in 1971, but I do know that she always wanted to keep learning and growing. She continued to expand product offerings and to serve her community. She was fulfilling her mission — to provide her community with healthy, quality products, and to teach them about natural remedies. The store had outgrown that first location within a few years, and so Oda moved across the street to a larger store. The business flourished at that location as well.

In 1980, Oda and Hilmar decided that they were ready to expand the business further. The original store was doing well, and they felt that the next door community of Oxnard had a need for a Health Food Store. There were many customers who made the drive to Camarillo, and so they felt there was an untapped market there. They looked at many locations and found one that was suitable.

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I believe that I painted that “Opening Soon” sign that hangs in the window!

One factor that helped them in their decision to open another store was that their son, Peter, was to graduate from college in December of 1980. He was anxious to contribute to the family business, and was looking forward to a new challenge. They knew that he and his wife (that’s me!) would help them open and run this new store. Their daughter, Doris, was already working in the original store in Camarillo, and along with the other employees, Oda and Hilmar felt that they had enough help that they could put some energy into this new project.

The shopping center looked very different in 1980 than it does now, but the core of the business is the same: Friendly, knowledgeable staff; healthy, quality products; beautiful organic produce. As an English Major and teacher, the business of Health Food was new to me, but healthy eating was not. I grew up in a home that emphasized nutrition — we didn’t have much fast or junk food at our house! So I found it exciting and new to learn so much in such a short period of time. While Hilmar and Peter worked on the logistics of getting the equipment, refrigeration, and shelving set up, Oda taught me the day-to-day operations and customer service, as well as product knowledge. It was a whirlwind few months until our opening day, in March 1981.

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This photo was taken in September 1981 — six months after the Oxnard store opened.

The Oxnard store was not an instant success. There were many days when we only sold for a few hundred dollars. We started each day with the shelves completely faced — all of the product brought to the front of the shelf — and I remember how thrilling it was to walk through the store at the end of each day and see what people had bought. It was especially exciting when we would hear a shopping cart pulled out of the row of carts, since that probably indicated that someone was going to buy more than just what they could carry in their hands. When we took a day off, Oda or Doris would come cover for us in Oxnard.

We finally sold enough to warrant hiring our first employee, Rosie. That brought with it a whole new set of responsibilities and a very steep leadership learning curve. I think we were learning as much as she was!

Throughout it all, Oda was a steady and reassuring guide. When it came to the business she  was clear-eyed and focused. She was rarely ruffled. She knew what she stood for, and her decisions reflected her vision. In the more than 37 years since we opened that second store, and the other stores after that, her influence has never left us. Passion. Commitment. Respect. It’s in everything we do. We are always striving to provide The Best of Everything Good!

Love,

Lassen’s

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Danish Creamed Cabbage

The first time I had Oda’s Danish creamed cabbage was at Christmas time. After a fancy Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas Day offered a more laid-back menu — Danish Frikadeller (meatballs) and creamed cabbage.

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Cabbage is one of those nutritional unsung heroes — full of dietary fiber, vitamin C, K, and B6. It’s also a great source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and folate, to name a few. It’s versatile and delicious, too! The Danes use cabbage in many recipes, and this side dish is one of my favorites.

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Danish Creamed Cabbage

Serves about 8

You’ll Need:

  • 1 head green cabbage (about 3 lbs)
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 6 TBSP flour
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Reserved cabbage water, about 1/2 cup
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cinnamon sugar or nutmeg or cardamom

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Instructions:

  • Wash cabbage head, cut in quarters, removing stalk
  • Cook in covered saucepan with 1″  salted water until tender
  • Drain, reserving water, then press out moisture ( I use a wooden spoon)
  • Chop and squeeze out more moisture
  • Make white sauce:
    • Melt butter, add flour and whisk
    • Add milk a little at a time and whisk until smooth
    • Add reserved cabbage water a little at at time until sauce is the right consistency, stirring constantly. You’ll want to keep it a little on the thicker side, since the cabbage will give up some moisture
    • Season with salt and pepper to taste
  • Add cabbage to white sauce, stir to combine
  • Serve with cinnamon sugar to top ( the traditional Danish way) or salt and pepper. I’ve also seen some people sprinkle nutmeg or cardamom on top.

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Enjoy!

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Love,

Lassen’s

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Happy 100th Birthday to Our Founder, Oda Lassen!

Celebrating a Life Well Lived

Monday, August 20, 2018, is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of our Founder, Oda Lassen. Although we lost her in 2013 (at the age of 94 1/2), her spirit and spunk have stayed with us.

I wrote a few weeks ago about how at the age of nearly 53, she bravely opened the first Lassen’s in 1971 (you can read that post here) and this week I just want to celebrate the person that she was.

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Oda was unafraid to say what she thought. I don’t know if it was the fact that English was not her native language that made her so blunt, but she would just tell you what she thought. When some of our boys were teenagers with long hair, she complained to me about it. I told her it was just hair and not a big deal, and she replied, “But it looks so awful!”

Oda was very willing, and often anxious, to pass on her wisdom, regularly with humor. She had heard someone say that the only reason you should raise your voice at home is if the house was on fire. One day she came into my house and caught me yelling at — well, who knows what. She just said, “Where’s the fire?” That made me laugh, and, as you can tell, I don’t even remember what all the yelling was about.

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Lassen’s first logo — very proud of the Viking heritage!

Oda had a quick wit. During a Sunday dinner she scolded one of her grandchildren for being so sassy. He replied, “Well, I can’t help it since I got it from you!” She shot right back, “You couldn’t have gotten it from me because I’ve still got it!” She was well into her 90s and hadn’t skipped a beat.

Oda was very smart. She loved learning everything that she could about Natural Foods and Supplements. She was constantly reading and studying so that she could help her customers in the store. She also loved to read magazines that carried stories about people and products, and in the 1990s was even featured in one of the bargain magazines with an article about how Green Magma had helped her arthritis. That laminated article was on the wall of the store for a long time! She was very proud of that!

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Oda also had quite a head for math, and could keep track of every expense and sale. She watched the books very closely, and didn’t make risky moves in the business. This vigilance carried into her personal finances — If we went to a store together and she paid for both of our items, you can bet she would make sure that she was repaid in a timely manner, and to the penny!

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Lassen’s sponsored the Miss Camarillo Pageant in the late 70s, and this was their portrait for the program. Looking dapper!

Oda put her familiy first. She had a large family — seven children — and a large extended family but everyone knew that she loved them. Most of all, her husband Hilmar knew it. One day I was at her house in the morning when she left for work at the store. After a few minutes she came rushing back into the house with an explanatory, “I forgot to kiss my husband goodbye!”

There was no greater Bedstemor — Danish Grandmother — than Oda. Sometimes, when my kids were little, she would call me and tell me I needed a break. She would drive to our house, pick up the children, and take them for a walk or to the park while I had some time to myself. She was also a great Svigermor — Danish Mother-in-law. One of her daughters-in-law tells about how Oda would show up at their front door with a broom, mop, and bucket and announce that she was going to mop their floor. She’d sweep and mop, then be on her way.

After she and Hilmar downsized from their home, they came to live in a granny flat next to our house. Our children grew up with Bedstemor and Bedstefar just a few steps away, and that enriched their lives every single day. I would often go see what she and my children were up to, and they were making cookies together or watching Shirley Temple or Disney movies, or just sitting on the couch, Oda patting their little legs, listening to music. When the grandchildren were babies, she was in heaven. She would swoop up a screaming baby, hold him close, and dance and sing  until he calmed down. Her trick was to sing louder than the baby was crying. She had a special “dep-a-dep” song that all of the Lassen children, grandchildren, and most of the great-grandchildren can still sing.

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Oda with her first employee, Jennie.

Oda was blessed with beautiful olive skin (not a standard pale Dane!) and a thick, full, head of hair. I liked to tell her that she had enough hair for three people, and several of her children — including all of her sons — inherited that thick hair. So lucky!

There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss Oda. She was a woman of incredible integrity and perseverance, even in the face of real hardship. Honest, hard-working, and loyal, all of us in her personal and business family knew that we could count on her, no matter what. There are so many things that we have been able to accomplish and experience because she paved the way. It is our quest to honor the legacy she left for us. It’s what give us our values: Passion, Commitment, and Respect.

Happy birthday, Oda!

Love,

All of your family and team at Lassen’s

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

Oda Saw She Could Help Solve that Problem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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This article in the local paper appeared a few years later, when there were more supplements on the shelves! Oda’s friend Gerda is on the far right of this photo — even her friends helped when they were in town!

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

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

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

Love,

Lassen’s

 

Dessert

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

A Delicious, Rich, Summery Treat

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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
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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
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Dissove the gelatin and the sugar over low heat, stirring constantly
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Add vanilla, buttermilk, and orange juice and stir to blend
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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
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Pour into a bowl to chill
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It looks like ice cream, but it’s a totally different experience! You’ll love it!

Try this amazing dessert!

Love,

Lassen’s

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Danish

A Danish Taste of Summer! Jordbær Grød

The Fields are Bursting with Berries!

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

You’ll Need:

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

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Instructions:

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

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

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

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Enjoy this wonderful, summery dessert!

Love,

Lassen’s

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The Lassens Immigrate to America — A Leap into the Unknown

The End of the War

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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This is a postcard that Hilmar sent to his father. It was given back to him after his father died.

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

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

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

Love,

Lassen’s

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

Danish Cucumber Salad

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

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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!

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Oda’s Danish Cucumber Salad

Serves 4

You’ll Need:

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

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Instructions:

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

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  • 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.

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This salad will last several days in the refrigerator. 

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

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Love,

Lassen’s

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Blast From the Past–Bakersfield!

It’s Been Almost 10 Years!

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In honor of the 42nd Anniversary of the opening of the first Lassen’s, I thought I’d take you back almost 10 years to when we opened the Bakersfield store!  

It was 2003

And this was an ambitious project.  At approx. 17,000 square feet, this would be our largest store, and still is.

 

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It takes a lot of imagination to envision a big, messy space as a warm and inviting store, but the Lassens think big!  There had been a lot of demolition of old stuff and a lot of clean-up when this picture was taken.

From inking the lease deal to opening a store takes many months, and the Bakersfield store was no exception.  

 

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We involved lots of people to get this store opened, including a couple of sons. 

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I asked them recently why they looked so grumpy in these pictures, and they replied,
“Because we were grumpy!  It was like 120 degrees in that place!”  Sorry guys!
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The original Mr. Lassen, Hilmar, was always up for a project.  In fact, projects were what kept him from getting grumpy!  He was still smiling through the heat!  He was 89 years old, but could still outwork 2 or 3 guys!

Grand Opening, October 2003

It seemed like all of the Bakersfield big-wigs attended our Grand Opening.  People kept saying, “Thank you so much for opening in our town!”  It was a wonderful reception.

 

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The mayor came, and was very gracious as he met Hilmar and Oda. 

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We were really happy with our first Bakersfield staff.  This photo doesn’t show the whole first crew, but today there are still a few who have worked for us for the full ten years! 

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Oda and Hilmar tried out the new Deli–our first full-service Deli! 

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Our supplement selection is extensive.  Oda was pleased to see that wall of vitamins and minerals and other nutritional supplements!  Today, we are able to purchase lots of locally grown produce and other items from farmers and producers in the Bakersfield area.  We bring those beautiful products to our stores, too.  There’s no picture of it, but we do all of our bulk packaging in our Bakersfield store as well.

Time to Cut the Ribbon!

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Thank you Bakersfield, for welcoming us so warmly!  It’s been a terrific decade, caring about your health!
 
Don’t forget to come into Lassen’s this Saturday, July 20th, and enjoy our Anniversary Celebration!  There are lots of samples and raffle prizes and demos and sales and to enjoy!  Click here to see the Anniversary flier!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
 
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Lassen’s 42nd Anniversary!

Let’s Celebrate with a Recipe Straight from Oda and Hilmar!

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These are no ordinary pancakes–they are Danish Pancakes from the recipe file of Oda and Hilmar Lassen!  They look like crepes, but since they came from Denmark, they have their own Danish, Natural Food twist!

 

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Like most pancakes, the ingredient list is pretty simple.  And like most of their recipes, you’ll need to go by the feel of things as much as by amounts!  I’ll give amounts here, but pay attention to the descriptions of what the batter should feel like.  This recipe is for 2-3 people.

You’ll Need:

  • 3 organic, free-range eggs.  Hilmar taught me to do one egg per person, plus one more egg.  I found that when I had a bunch of teenaged boys to feed, I needed much more than that–2 eggs per person!
  • 1 TBSP organic honey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup organic whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup organic unbleached white flour
  • 2/3 cup organic milk (I used 2%)
  • 2/3 cup water

Eggs, Honey, Salt

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Beat the eggs and then add the honey and salt and mix.
 
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Don’t be too concerned if the honey doesn’t blend into the eggs much.  When you add the rest of the ingredients it will get blended in just fine.

Flours

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Add the flour a spoonful at a time until the dough is very thick and you think you can’t blend any more flour in.  Depending on how big your eggs are, you many have to add a little more or a bit less flour than what is stated on the ingredient list.

Milk and Water

Add about 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 cup of water.  Blend until smooth.  Add more milk and water until you have a very thin batter.  

Prepare the Pan

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The Danish way is lots of butter, but you can spray the pan with non-stick spray, if you’d like.  Heat the pan until quite hot.  The butter should brown.

Start to cook!

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Pour the batter in a thin stream onto the hot pan.  Tilt the pan at the same time to keep the batter thin on the pan.

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Gently swirl the pan around to coat the pan with a thin sheet of batter.  Let the pancake cook until the batter is dry-looking and the edges are lightly browned.

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Flip the pancake over and cook on the other side until slightly browned.  Place on a warm plate and cover with a lid while you make the rest of the pancakes.

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Top with jam–I chose strawberry here–and whipped cream, if desired!  Roll the pancakes  and then enjoy!

 

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Some in the family have Americanized these pancakes and eat them with maple syrup, but the true Danish way is with jam.

Open Wide!

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Yum!  These amounts made 8 large pancakes.

Bonus Recipe!

I found this idea for strawberry jam on Pinterest and decided to give it a try, since I’d like to reduce the amount of sugar I eat!

 

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Put 2 cups of organic strawberries in a blender.

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Add 2 TBSP organic chia seeds and 2 TBSP organic honey (to taste).

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Blend!  If you’d like some chunks of strawberries, add them after blending.

 

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Pour into clean containers, cover, and refrigerate overnight.  The chia seeds will thicken the berries and there is no need for pectin or lots of sugar.  This jam was delicious on the Danish Pancakes!  I had them for breakfast this morning!
 
Enjoy these easy but elegant pancakes for breakfast, a brunch, or even as a dessert!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
 
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Team Member Spotlight — Bakersfield

Meet Jay!

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Now here’s a friendly face!  This is Jay, the Manager of our Bakersfield store.
 
Jay has worked for Lassen’s for 15 years.  He started in Thousand Oaks, and eight years ago became the manager in Bakersfield.  He happily “lives the lifestyle,” which means that he not only really believes in natural foods and healthy living, he lives it.  He also has a wonderful life philosophy of, “It’s okay.”  Jay will make the best of any situation and will help to work things out for others.
 
Jay said that the favorite part of his job is the interaction he has with the public, especially as he gets to help to educate people about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.   He likes to discuss ideas and to exchange ideas and knowledge.  He said that “this isn’t a frivolous atmosphere as a job–everyone can contribute to the community in a positive way.”
 
George Harrison is Jay’s hero because he used to media and his influence as a celebrity to educate people to the power of inner love and peace.  He was gentle and believed in self-harmony.

 

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When I asked Jay about some of his favorite products he immediately said the Bionature Organic Strained Tomatoes from Italy.  He says that they are the beginning of many great meals at his house!  He says it’s a really clean product (organic, and no chemicals or preservatives) and is very versatile.   

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Jay also loves the Barely Buzzed Beehive Welsh Cheddar Cheese.  It is covered with a coffee and lavendar rind.  Jay likes it on crackers.  Sounds delicious!

He loves to stir the Sun Warrior Ormus Super Greens into juice, too.  It’s a convenient way to get those nutrient-packed greens each day!
 
If Jay could wish for anything, he would like to eliminate violence from our society, as well as the casual attitude that we often see about it.  Wouldn’t that make our world a better place?

 

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So stop into our Bakersfield store and ask Jay for other recommendations!  He is happy to help!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s