“Well Begun is Half Done.”

While most of us undoubtedly know this quote from the movie, Mary Poppins, from what I’ve read it was quoted by Aristotle in his philosophical work, Politics, as a proverb during his time.  Can you say WOW?!  That makes it a true oldie but goodie!!  😊 

Have you ever thought about this phrase?  Contemplated its meaning?  I get it, it’s not exactly, “What is the meaning of life,” right?  😉  But there’s actually a lot of truth in the saying.  I view it as being similar to the Boy Scouts’ motto, “Be prepared.”  If I determine in advance what needs to be done and, before my feet hit the floor in the morning, make up my mind to carve out time to make those things happen, there will be more likelihood of my accomplishing more of what I would like to get finished.  That said, now that I’m (ahem) older, I rely heavily on lists and schedules to preplan and prepare. 

Just as easy examples, each year for Christmas my niece sends us a family calendar.  I absolutely love this gift every year for lots of reasons.  First and foremost, it always contains wonderful photographs of her family that I can see every day.  The other thing I do as soon as I sit down after opening the gift is mark the calendar.  I mark all birthdays; I mark the days our mortgage payment comes out of our account every two weeks (that way I never forget, in my monthly budgeting, bill paying, and bookkeeping to take that amount out of my books; I mark the days any monies are due in; I mark the first Monday of the month to sit down and pay all our accounts (we make certain to pay our savings first), and pay all our bills for the month.  The last thing I do before I go to bed is set up the coffee pot so I can just push the button first thing in the morning so that the coffee is brewed and ready to go by the time I finish unloading the dishwasher and putting away the dishes.  Then I sit down at my desk and, with coffee in hand, spend the next hour or so enjoying my Bible reading, devotional and prayer time.  It’s been a wonderful, positive, and uplifting way to start every day!  This preplanning and preparedness have also served us well when it comes to interruptions and emergencies.

It’s been a tough week and a half or so and, sadly, I haven’t been able to post.  Because I got laid up after an iron infusion, my menu plan got reused for a portion of the following week.  Other than that, we ate quickie meals that I had stashed in the freezer for times such as these, and we actually ordered in a couple nights when I just couldn’t stay upright long enough to cook or even reheat.  All my preplanning definitely helped us out while I was under the weather.  Thankfully, however, I’m back on my feet, energized, and ready to rock.  😊 

By the time hubby comes downstairs this morning, the menu plan will have been completed (usually this is a Saturday morning thing but, yesterday, we both had projects we needed to get finished up and we shifted the menu planning and shopping to this morning), the shopping list for the few items we need from our local grocery will be ready to go, I’ll have written this post, and I’ll be able to sit and relax over a second cup of coffee with my sweetheart.  Once he heads out the door, I’ll have time to schedule this post, get tonight’s dessert in the oven, and prep the potatoes and Brussels sprouts for tonight’s family dinner.  And then, well, it will be time for church.  We attend on-line for now due to COVID-19 and try to wait patiently for the day that we’ll be able to return to in-person attendance.  We definitely miss seeing our church family. 

On to this week’s menu plan and a recipe for my newest favorite spice blend – Ras el Hanout.  I make it in a large batch whenever I’m running low, and store it in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  We truly enjoy this blend of flavors on lots of different things but we LOVE it on chicken wings!  I never enjoyed eating wings because they were usually far too spicy for me.  This spice blend has just a bit of zip, and even I can appreciate some zippiness from time to time.

RAS EL HANOUT

In a glass jar, with a good, tight lid place all of the ingredients.  I use a pint jar which gives me plenty of room to shake the ingredients until they’re thoroughly mixed.

  • 6 teaspoons sea salt (I use Celtic sea salt)
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper (I use a rainbow pepper blend)
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon saffron (optional – this is a pricy ingredient and I frequently leave it out)

Place the lid on the jar and shake until the contents are well mixed.  Store in a dark place and use within six months so that it doesn’t lose its potency.

SEASONED CHICKEN WINGS

  • 3 pounds chicken wings
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Ras el Hanout seasoning blend
  • Gallon storage bag

Place the chicken wings into the plastic storage bag.  Sprinkle the seasoning blend over the chicken wings in the bag and drizzle the olive oil over all.  Seal the bag and smoosh (serious culinary term there) the contents around until all the wings are well coated.  I usually do this about 90 minutes before cooking the wings, and then turn and massage the bag every 20 minutes or so until I’m ready to pop them in the oven. 

Preheat your oven to 450ºF.  My sheet pan will hold three pounds of chicken wings.  Depending on the size of your wings and/or sheet pan, you may need two pans.  Line your pan(s) with parchment paper and place your wings on the pan leaving space so that they’ll get crispy rather than just steam.  Seriously … crispy chicken skin; am I right?!  Place your chicken in the oven and bake at 450ºF. for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken wings are done (at least 165ºF. internal temperature) and the skin is getting crispy.  I then turn my oven heat up to 500ºF. and let them go for another 10-12 minutes just to up the crispiness factor.  Remember when taking them out of the oven that there is some oil on the pan and it will likely be popping a bit.  DO NOT get too close to that pan.  You could also let them go longer at 450ºF. until the skin is crispy enough for your taste.  Please be certain to use a metal baking sheet as you’re dealing with high oven temperatures.

Ras el Hanout wings, caramelized zucchini and Basmati rice w/lemon & ground sumac

On to this week’s menu plan:

SATURDAYRAS EL HANOUT WINGS, CARAMELIZED ZUCCHINI AND BASMATI RICE W/LEMON & SUMAC
SUNDAYBAKED HAM, POTATOES AU GRATIN, ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS & PERFECT PEAR CAKE
MONDAYBUTTERNUT-APPLE SOUP, GREEN SALAD & HOMEMADE BISCUITS
TUESDAYSEARED HALIBUT TACOS W/SLAW & AVOCADO CREMA ON HOMEMADE SOFT WRAPS
WEDNESDAYBLACK BEAN BURGERS W/ROASTED OVEN POTATOES
THURSDAYLEMON-GARLIC MAHI MAHI AND SPAGHETTI SQUASH W/ROASTED TOMATOES & MOZARELLA
FRIDAYNO-COOK FRIDAY 😊

Have a wonderful, blessed week and remember:  preplan and be prepared!    

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”  1 Corinthians 2:9

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