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

I enjoyed another birthday last week, and even though there was no big party due to COVID restrictions, my friends did not let me down. Jeannie and Greg Malik delivered a “birthday party package” that included Jeannie’s wonderful Carrot Cake, party napkins, candle numbers 5 and 8 (not 8 and 5!!), sparkling wine, a bouquet of beautiful red roses, and chocolates. Son Dave delivered a luscious homemade lemon tart that he and his wife, Shannon, had baked. Diane and Mike Schneider delivered a potted plant full of bright yellow blossoms, and the Mattson family sent me a wonderful bouquet of fresh flowers. Good things!

All deliveries were made safely according to COVID guidelines. Gifts, cards, and emails were all gratefully accepted and appreciated. The only thing missing was the ability to give everyone a great big hug. Somehow, the human touch was missing, and I hope we will be able to do that again sometime soon.

According to the Atascadero Historical Society Newsletter, the Colony Museum has been getting a “refresh” since it was closed to visitors. The board has been painting, setting up a Collections Archive Room, and building storage shelves. It’s a work in progress.

Even though the Museum is officially closed, Jim Blaes, Chief Archivist of the Museum, is still actively responding to information and photo requests from the community. Request often come from new owners of a Colony Home who are looking for information about their home. In many cases, the Museum has historical photographs or other information about the home. The Museum also has most of the original Colony land sales contracts for the property that was sold during the early founding of the Colony of Atascadero.

Getting through this together, Atascadero

For more information regarding the Museum and membership in the Historical Society, visit the Atascadero Historical Society website or call the Colony House Museum at (805)466-8341.

Looking for a unique Valentine this year? Well, just in time for Feb. 14 (this Sunday), the Charles Paddock Zoo is offering a way to show your true affection with Adopt-A-Cockroach! According to Deputy City Manager Terrie Banish and Zoo Director Alan Baker, you can give that special someone in your life who is either very hard to shop for, or who might just be the perfect person to receive, their very own cockroach!

Through Monday, Feb. 15, you can adopt a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach from the Zoo as a new and fun way to express your love, or perhaps lack thereof! The cockroaches stay at the Zoo, in case you were wondering!

For only $5, you receive an official Certificate of Adoption that includes your Valentine’s name to give on Valentine’s Day.

For this unique Valentine gift, visit the Zoo’s website. The Zoo has lots of social distancing space available since it is primarily outdoors.

Here’s a quick and easy to prepare treat for the special Valentines in your life.

Chocolate Tacos

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large eggs
2 cups milk
1/3 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (10 ounce) package dark chocolate chips
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 cup fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced
8 ounces white chocolate finely chopped

Directions:
Heat griddle over medium-low heat. While griddle heats, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and whisk it
with the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Chill for up to an hour. Melt remaining tablespoon butter on the heated griddle, making sure it doesn’t brown. When the butter has melted, ladle batter on griddle like you would for pancakes. Use about 1/3 cup batter for each taco. Cook about 2 minutes, flipping taco when bubbles form. Cook 2 minutes on second side. Remove to cooling rack. When cool, taco shells between the cups of an upside-down muffin tin to form a taco shape. Let sit for 10 minutes. Place chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, stopping after 30 seconds to stir. After 1 minute, check to see if the chips are thoroughly melted. Let chocolate cool while you fill tacos. Place one scoop of ice cream in each cooled taco shell. Add strawberries and drizzle with melted chocolate. Top with chopped white chocolate.

Serves 6 to 8.

Enjoy! Happy Valentine’s Day!

Cheers!