John Butz

Last weekend we celebrated two birthdays in our family, and things felt almost normal again. On Saturday, we ventured to Morro Bay with the “birthday people,” our daughter-in-law, Michele and our son Doug, and my husband, John, and ate lunch at Dorn’s. It seemed like everyone else in the county was out and about that day, just enjoying a sense of “freedom.”

We killed some time after lunch so that the rest of the family could prepare for a surprise 60th birthday party at the San Miguel home of Doug and Michele. Their kids really pulled it off and are to be congratulated for their organizational skills.

They had planned for an outdoor event, and the weather cooperated that day. Approximately 40 friends and family members gathered to wish Michele a Happy Birthday.

On Sunday, our friends Carol and Paul Porter planned a surprise birthday luncheon for John. Diane and Mike Schneider and Joella, and Bill Dace joined in the celebration. Paul had stoked up the grill and produced some wonderful pork ribs, while others added to a great meal. Mike likes to cook and had baked a delicious gluten-free pineapple upside-down cake decorated with lots of candles for the “birthday boy.” We all agreed that it was a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon with good friends!


I just attended a Zoom meeting of our Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County chapter and was thrilled with the statistics reported for our philanthropic program, Operation School Bell (OSB). Despite the pandemic, we still managed to provide new, school-appropriate clothing to over 1600 students in need, in grades K through 12 in San Luis Obispo County. Students are referred to OSB through school personnel. We partner with Old Navy in San Luis Obispo and Kohl’s in Paso Robles to provide a shopping experience with one of our volunteers for the referred students with their parent or family representative.

Funding for our philanthropic programs is raised through a variety of chapter events, the chapter’s Thrift Store, as well as through the generosity of private contributors, service organizations, and grants. Donations are fully tax-deductible.

Visit our Thrift Store at 667 A Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, which is a key source of funding for Operation School Bell. For more information about the chapter and how to become a member, our philanthropic programs, and how to make a donation, visit our website at or call (805)782-0824.

Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County is a 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization. It is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff.     

With Mother’s Day approaching on May 9, here’s a recipe to serve on that special day.

Lemon-Pistachio Tart

Crust for a 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out dough to 12-inch round. Transfer to the 9-inch-diameter tart pan. Fold in overhang and press, forming a high-standing rim—Pierce all over with a fork. Cover and freeze for 20 minutes. Bake crust until deep golden, about 40 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

Ingredients for filling:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons water
½ cup unsalted shelled pistachios

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

Melt butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 1 cup sugar and next 5 ingredients. Cook until mixture thickens, whisking constantly, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and whisk 2 minutes longer. Pour hot filling into baked crust. Chill uncovered until filling is set, at least 2 hours, and up to 1 day. Line baking sheet with foil. Stir 2 tablespoons sugar and 4 teaspoons water in small saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until pale golden, 6 minutes. Add pistachios; stir to coat. Spread in a single layer on sheet. Cool. Coarsely chop. Sprinkle pistachios in a 2-inch border around the edge of the tart and serve. Serves 6.

Note: The tart and the candied pistachios can both be prepared one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate the tart; store the pistachios airtight at room temperature. Before serving, let tart stand at room temperature 20 minutes, then sprinkle edge with the pistachios.