Barbie Butz is a freelance columnist for The and Paso Robles Press; you can e-mail her at [email protected]

I spent the morning at the Zuma meeting of our San Luis Obispo County chapter of the Assistance League. When everything was normal, we held monthly meetings on Mondays at our AL thrift store on a day when the store was closed. It worked fine. We pushed back the shelves, set up our stackable, malleable plastic chairs and got to work.

Then the pandemic came and we were forced to change. Fortunately, some of our members are very computer literate, and they have made it possible for us to move forward and scale up. In fact, our work in the community continues as if nothing has changed, well, maybe a little. Needless to say, our hardware store was initially closed, but was safely allowed to remain open while the district went through the various steps imposed by the state.

One thing we’ve all learned: We can be creative, make changes and continue our charitable programs. We stand strong when it comes to helping those in need in our county’s communities.

Our main charity was approved in 1995. Operation School Bell was created on the belief that students who come to school confident are more successful academically and socially. The goal of our program is to improve school attendance and participation by enabling students to attend school without feeling embarrassed or out of place because they are not wearing appropriate clothing. This program provides needy K-12 students in the SLO district with new, school-appropriate clothing. Students are referred to Operation School Bell by school staff.

Children in the Northern District should be dressed as Coles. In South County, they will shop at Old Navy as planned. Both stores are generous with their discounts and staff. Our volunteers help families through the screening process.

In 2020, a great video was created for our website and I encourage you to watch it to learn more about the San Luis Obispo County Assistance League. Visit Alslauntia, org. Also, check out our public service announcements when you watch television. The children you see will warm your heart.

The San Luis Obispo County Relief League is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization celebrating its 25th anniversary. We are an unpaid volunteer organization.

We invite you to visit our AL Thrift Store at 667 A Marsh Street, San Luis Obispo, which is a major fundraiser for our Operation School Bell charity.

I am proud to say that I have been a member of the Assistance League for 35 years – 10 years in Santa Barbara and 25 years here in Slough County. I am one of the founding members of our San Luis Obispo County Chapter and also served 5 years in the formation of the chapter chartered by the National Assistance League in 1996.

I think it’s even 40 years at one organization! Time flies when you’re having fun, working with great volunteers and helping your community.

If you would like to join us, please visit the website for more information.

Here is a quick and delicious recipe for your slow cooker. I brought it back this week and we loved it! I’ll give you my version.

Beef goulash stroganoff

Ingredients:
1 to 2 pounds braised beef
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup quartered mushrooms
1 cup thinly sliced white onion
1⁄2 cup sliced red pepper
1 or 2 teaspoons mustard
1 or 2 cloves garlic Dijon style, Stuffed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup beef broth (more for sauce if needed)
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour
Fresh onion clippings for garnish.

Directions:
Fry the meat in the hot oil until browned on all sides and place in the slow-cooker. Put the mushrooms, onions and red peppers in the slow cooker. Mix the mustard, garlic and pepper with a little stock and spread it over the meat. Pour the rest of the broth over everything. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours or 4-5 hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to the baking dish and cover to keep warm. To make the sauce, pour the liquid into a medium-sized skillet or saucepan. Whisk the flour with the crème fraîche and stir the mixture into the liquid in the pan. (Add beef broth to the sauce if necessary). Cook over medium heat until sauce thickens. Serve the meat with the sauce over the mashed potatoes and garnish with onions.

Enjoy your weekend.

On you.

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