Barbie Butz e1607969318124
Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at

The Atascadero Chamber’s Annual Gala and Awards Dinner was held last Saturday, and of course, it was nothing like any of those events we’ve attended in the past. But, then, nothing is like it was in the past. We were not at the beautiful Lake Pavilion, we were not seated at beautifully decorated tables visiting with our friends, and we were not looking at the silent auction items and trying to out-bid our buddies!

When it came to announcing the Awards for Citizen of the Year, Business of the Year, Entrepreneur of the Year, and Community Organization of the Year, it too had to be virtual, just like the auction and everything else. We did pick up our dinners at either Guest House Grill or Don Q here in Atascadero.

However, since the Citizen of the Year, Brenda May, is active with our Atascadero Performing Arts Center Committee and Quota of Atascadero, a group of us also involved in the organizations, gathered at the home of JoeAnn and Larry Bruzzo, along with Brenda and her husband Dave, and celebrated “live” with food and drink, while we watched the virtual presentation on Bruzzo’s big-screen TV.

It was different, but Jason Cross, interim CEO and President of the Chamber, and Vicki Lee, Vice President of Operations, along with Terrie Banish and other Board members, are to be commended for their efforts and hard work in pulling off the event! Congratulations to everyone involved.

Watch the paper for other reports about the evening.

Canzona Women’s Ensemble, like so many of our nonprofits, is looking for the support of the SLO County community to help them carry out their mission of celebrating women’s choral repertoire and educating and mentoring younger women about the art of female choral ensemble singing. To maintain their high level of artistic integrity, they rely on individual donations and grants.

Visit to learn how you can make a contribution to this 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Or call (805)242-6065 for more information.

With warmer days sneaking upon us, I’ve been thinking “ice cream.” I found this recipe in a fun little cookbook titled Jeans and Jewels, Casual to Casually Elegant Recipes for Busy Cooks by Sharon Filuk and Ellen L.R. Weimer.

I remember my mother making a dessert similar to this in the 50s. This recipe sounds simple and refreshing. 

Ice Cream Crunch

¼ cup melted margarine
¾ cup brown sugar
1½ cup walnuts, chopped
3 cups fine graham cracker or vanilla wafer crumbs
1½ cups flaked coconut
½ gallon French vanilla ice cream softened
2 10-ounce packages frozen sliced strawberries, thawed

Combine margarine, sugar, nuts, crumbs, and coconut and stir to mix. Spread 2/3 of the mixture in a 9×13-inch baking dish and pat to form a firm crust. Smooth ice cream over top of the mix. Spread strawberries and juice over ice cream. Cover with remaining nut mixture. Freeze until ready to serve—yield: 10 to 12 servings.

Note: You can vary the ice cream flavor and topping to suit your special tastes.

Here’s another simple yet refreshing recipe for summer-like days.

Glazed Grapes

2 pounds seedless green grapes, washed, stems removed
2 cups sour cream
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons chocolate curls (optional)

Combine sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add fruit and mix until grapes are well coated. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or preferably overnight. To serve, spoon into clear glass dishes. Decorate with chocolate curls and accompany with sugar cookies—yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Stay cool. Enjoy the weekend.