Barbie Butz is an independent columnist for The Atascadero News and Paso Robles Press; you can email her at barbiewb@hotmail.com.

Don’t forget Zoo Boo this Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Charles Paddock Zoo. Dig out your Halloween costumes and bring the whole family to the not-too-scary and wild night at the Zoo. There will be carnival games, Halloween activities, and tricks and treats! The event will include a special show with the Zoo Veterinarian for a creepy delight.

Admission to Zoo Boo is $13 for non-members, $12 for members, and children 2 years and under are free. Zoo Boo hours are 5 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit VisitAtascadero.com or charlespaddockzoo.org. By phone-contact call 805-461-5080.

As we approach the end of the year, nonprofit organizations are planning their annual reports for the public. Our Assistance League of San Luis Obispo County recently presented our report, listing some of the following information, which makes me extremely proud.

We raised $585,691 in the fiscal year 2020-21 to return to the community.

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

A total of 1,636 students/children in need were clothed through Operation School Bell and the Collaboration program. Students were in Kindergarten through 12th grade, living and attending school in all ten school districts in SLO County.

Our member volunteers donated 20,783 service hours with an IRS value of $583,171, determined by the U.S. Department of labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
(We are an all-volunteer organization.)

Our Assistance League Thrift Store at 667 A Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, has completed its sixth year of operation. Staffed entirely by our member and community volunteers, it is the primary source of funding to support our chapter and its philanthropic programs.

The Thrift Store is normally closed on Mondays but will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 25 for our “Holiday Extravaganza.” Don’t miss it! For more information, visit alslocounty.org.

Cool-weather calls for warm food. Think soup, ragout, stew, chili, and the like.

This week’s recipe is a chicken cassoulet, a classic French dish consisting of white beans and various meats. It is covered and cooked slowly to allow flavors to “harmonize.”

Chicken Cassoulet

Ingredients:
4 slices bacon
¼ cup flour
Salt and black pepper
1¾ pounds bone-in chicken pieces
2 chicken sausages, cooked, cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ cups diced red and green bell peppers
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
2 cans (15 ounces each) cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp; drain and cut into 1-inch pieces. Mix flour with salt and pepper and dredge chicken; shake off excess. Brown in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; remove. Lightly brown sausages and remove. Add bell peppers, onion, garlic, and thyme to Dutch oven; cook and stir over medium heat 5 minutes or until softened, adding oil as needed to prevent sticking. Stir in wine, scraping browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in beans. Top with chicken, sausages, and bacon. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover; bake 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (165 degrees).

Enjoy the cool and maybe some rain!

Cheers!