Let's focus on the important stuff for the holidays

So here's the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. But here goes:

As we teeter on the edge of the holiday-season onslaught, let's try to keep things under control, shall we? By that I mean, we live in one of the most gorgeous, awe-inspiring corners of the country. How lucky can we get?

Recipes online

Find Jan's recipes for Foley Station Green-Olive Pesto and Mushroom Bisque with Leeks and Hazelnuts in our online Recipe Box, a searchable database of nearly 3,800 dishes at www.mailtribune.com/recipes.

And if you're even luckier, you're living around some mighty special folks. So at a time of year when the whole idea is to appreciate the ambiance of the season and to reconnect with people who bring meaning to our lives, let's focus on the important stuff.

As I already implied, I haven't earned the crown for queen of the Simple Life Club. My life's insane. But I do plan to make a list — a very short list — of whom I want to see in the next eight weeks and then plot some fun, little events for them.

With Thanksgiving on the horizon, it could be collecting a few friends for a wine-country tour over that long weekend. This wonderful paté is served in the Tyee Winery tasting room for its Thanksgiving weekend open house. To go with it, ladle a simple soup into a Thermos, grab some really great, local bread and cheese, then off you go. There's a warmhearted memory in the making.

If you're in great shape, then take your pals and the portable fare in the other direction: a peaceful hike along a nearby stream, or a little cross-country skiing up in the Cascades. Find out if there are some salmon still spawning in a stream near you, then take a group to go appreciate this miracle of nature.

At the most simple level of all, consider last-minute gatherings where the meal consists of make-ahead appetizers or soup. The examples I'm sharing today all can be made ahead while you're still thinking straight, then dipped into at a time when you aren't.

It's that simple, really.

Jan Roberts-Dominguez is a Corvallis food writer, artist and author of "Oregon Hazelnut Country, the Food, the Drink, the Spirit" and four other cookbooks. Readers can contact her by email at janrd@proaxis.com or obtain additional recipes and food tips on her blog at www.janrd.com.

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