IN MY KITCHEN: AUGUST 2014

Once more I join the virtual party started by Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, sharing with you what is going on in our kitchen these days.

In our kitchen… A special gift.

SourCherries

Sour cherries from a friend’s backyard.  We went there, climbed on ladders, and came home with a nice load of freshly picked fruit.  We will share a recipe for what we did with them soon. Local food at its best!

In our kitchen…

cheese

A cute ceramic cheese platter with little chalkboards to write the names of the cheeses being served…   It was on sale at ideeli.com…  On a side note, ideeli.com is a place that offers special 24-hour sales of all sorts of unique items, from clothing to shoes.  I love their customer service, if something doesn’t fit right,  returning items is absolutely hassle-free.  Aren’t these shoes something?   Ok, forgive me for stepping out of the kitchen…

Now, back to cooking….

hamburgerpan

A special pan to bake hamburger buns, sold by King Arthur Flour.  I am not too wild about kitchen gadgets with limited purposes, but this thing is amazing.  Very high quality, sturdy, makes the size of buns I like, not gigantic, with a nice shape.  And, you can use it for many other items, like single quiche-type concoctions, pies.

 In our kitchen…

gadgets

Three items from the bargain bin at Bed Bath and Beyond…  I’ve been flirting with this large scoop for a long time, but bravely resisted until they were on sale. I used to have a silicone whisk multi-colored, but it broke last year. It was nice to replace it, even if this red one is a tad too discreet for my taste.   😉

 

In our kitchen…

IcecreamKeeper

A special container for ice cream.  It seems small, but it holds the exact amount of ice cream or sorbets we make in our Cuisinart. The shape is perfect to scoop out a ball of sweet frozen deliciousness such as this apricot-passion fruit sorbet made by my beloved husband. Available at amazon.com (the ice cream container, not the husband).

 

In our kitchen…

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A box to store brown sugar. I love it!  Finally a decent way to deal with brown sugar, keeping it loose, and making it easy to scoop out the amount you need.

In our kitchen….

CoconutOil

I suppose coconut oil is a very trendy ingredient, as I see it in recipes everywhere. I decided to get a bottle and was surprised by how much I like it. Very delicate flavor.

In our kitchen….

SunbeamPaprika

The morning sun shinning through the window, surprised me with a very nice effect on a bottle of paprika left on the counter top.  It was a wonderful sight to start the day…

In our kitchen….

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Snacks, a winner and a loser. The winner?  Crunchy Coated Black Edamame.  Hard to stop nibbling on those, they are spicy, salty, we love this stuff!   The loser?  Hummus crisps.  The concept seemed brilliant.  Eating those feels like punishment.  No one deserves it. Sawdust compressed into rounds would likely taste better.

 

In our kitchen…

SpinachBreading

A new take on breading for pork or chicken cutlets…  too simple to actually compose a blog about it, I  added to the food processor a little panko, a little Parmigiano cheese, and… ready for this?  Fresh spinach!  Used that to coat pork chops.  The inspiration came from Giada de Laurentiis, she used it to make baked chicken nuggets for a kids’ friendly meal.  I love the way this turned out, and intend to use it often. Plus, it’s a great way to deal with a little spinach leftover in the bag. Just a handful is all you need.

 

As usual, I close this IMK series with a message from our faithful furry friends…

 

Chief thinks Mom’s cooking is the best in the world!  Nothing like a little leftover couscous to spice up a bowl of dog food, and start my day right.

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Although it does make me a little sleepy….

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As the weather warms up, Buck is the only one of our four-legged friends who can keep up with our running and long walks. That dog is resilient, to say the least.  In one of these walks, we reached a farm where Buck made a new friend.  A big friend, curious, and surprisingly gentle.

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Oscar is not interested in long walks or getting up close and personal with bovine creatures. He thinks a much better activity is snoozing close to Mom while she exercises, then jump up at the end to give her a hug. Still a little groggy, but happy to comply.

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They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  I wonder how many words a video is worth?  I’ve got two to share with you today. If you want to see how excited Buck gets by the perspective of going for a walk, click here.

And, you can also see him  showing off his abilities as he learns a new trick.  (You may have to increase the volume a little for this one). Not bad for a rescued dog who was abused for 5 long  years, don’t you think?

compositeWell, friends… it’s time to say goodbye.  
It’s been so hot outside, what we really love the most is just chillin’ out with mom.
See you next time!

 

If you want to see kitchens from other food bloggers, or add your own post to this great virtual party, visit Celia’s site by clicking here.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Jerusalem: Pasta with Yogurt, Peas, and Chile

TWO YEARS AGO: Edamame Hummus in Cucumber Bites

THREE YEARS AGO:  Headed to Brazil!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Twice-Baked Goat Cheese Souffle

FIVE YEARS AGO: Golly Moses: She’s  a Muffin!

A BEWITCHING ANNOUNCEMENT: TIGHTEN YOUR SEAT BELTS!

This blog has witnessed quite a few “small revolutions” in our lives. In 2010 we moved briefly from Oklahoma to California, and cooked for almost a full year in a nano-kitchen where there was no real stove, no real oven, no real kitchen sink. No dishwasher either, by the way. Last year, as we joined Kansas State University, we went  through a phase of alternating weeks camping in an almost empty home in OK and living in the new place in KS. I am not quite sure how, but I managed to keep the blog going through it all.   It so happens that we are about to face a new revolution: the renovation of our kitchen!   Tomorrow at 8am plastic sheets will enclose the space, cabinets will be removed, floors ripped off. In other words, “all hell will break loose”.

Our main goal is to make the place lighter.  Everything in the kitchen is dark right now. Appliances are black, granite counter tops are black. Cabinets are dark, the floor is dark. But we also want to modernize the appliances. Keep in mind that we nicknamed our range “Poltergeist”.  It gives you an idea of its performance. The fridge makes no ice, but plenty of noises. The dishwasher needs human help to get dishes clean, and whoever designed its racks was a geometry-challenged sadist. So the three appliances are going to be replaced.  Wait until you see the range we ordered!  It will be a gas range, it will be gorgeous, and it will have a real hood on top of it.  Can you imagine the huge smile I have as I type this?  I bet you can… 😉  It won’t arrive for a few weeks still, and because the floor won’t be installed until October, we’ll probably not have the kitchen fully functional until then.

Every weekend I’ve been writing  posts so that the blog can sail as smoothly as possible through the rough waters ahead.  But I thought you should all be aware of the excitement behind the curtains…  Here are a few shots of the “before”.  I can hardly wait to show you the “after”, a couple of months from now.

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stoveareaPoltergeist plus his partners in crime: the black fridge, the black microwave with a pseudo-hood underneath that pays lip service to fumes.

countertopphoto(6)The black granite will stay all around the kitchen, except the center island.  We’ve got a different plan for that area…

floorThe floor is a bit too rustic for our  taste.  It seems always dirty, and it adds to the overall darkness of the kitchen.  Hardwood floor in our future!

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Stay tuned for updates as the weeks move along… and keep your fingers crossed for us!  😉

Photo of our kitchen, 12 hours after publication of this post: they do work pretty fast!

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IN MY KITCHEN, JULY 2013

It is time to have some virtual fun again, joining my dear Australian friend Celia in her series “In My Kitchen“.  Every month she publishes a post showing what is going on in her place, and many food bloggers do the same.  I wish I could play more often, but better sometimes than never, right?  So, let me invite you for a little peek into our home…

In our kitchen…
glasses1A collection of glass containers of several sizes and shapes, to bring some sense of peace and beauty to our pantry…

Here they are, fulfilling their purpose…
glassesfullpantry1pantry2

In our kitchen….
AndorinhaA bottle of Portuguese olive oil I am very fond of… must be my background? Vovó Florinda (my late Grandma) would be happy to see it, I am sure.   It is fruity, with a very intense flavor. I use it sparingly, and savor each drop.  Excellent on thick slices of juicy tomatoes.

In our kitchen…
SaffronTeaTwo delicious teas I recently found.  Have I mentioned I am crazy for saffron? The saffron flavor is not too strong, just right.  Not sure which one is my favorite, sometimes I am happy, sometimes more mellow…

In our kitchen…
tequilaBottle2A very special bottle of tequila (Anejo). Phil is turning into a serious tequila connoisseur, so I decided to give him a product recommended by the one and only Marcela Valladolid.  According to him (and a few guests who tried shots) it is very smooth and complex.

In our kitchen…
mustardA special mustard I found at a farmer’s market in town, cilantro-jalapeno flavored. Sounded too good to resist… 😉

In our kitchen…
photo(20)The most beautiful fresh dill I’ve ever had! A gift from a colleague at KSU, he harvested it just half an hour earlier.  Per his advice, the best way to preserve it is not by drying, but freezing.  So now I am a proud owner of frozen dill, ready to use.
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In our kitchen….
IMG_2126Buck, hoping that the Law of Gravity will act on slices of sourdough bread a little too far from his paws.

And finally, in our kitchen….  (click to enlarge)

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That’s all for now, folks!   😉

If you have a blog and want to participate of the IMK series, write a post and link to Celia’s blog. Easy as pie!

ONE YEAR AGO:  Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

TWO YEARS AGO: Ina Garten’s Banana Bran Muffins

THREE YEARS AGO: Beer Bread with Roasted Barley

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tomato Confit with Arugula and Zucchini

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS FOUR!

cake2
June 16th, 2013

My beloved blog turns 4  years old today! To celebrate, I assembled all the cake suggestions my readers offered two years ago, assigned numbers to each of them, and drew the winner cake. Celia’s suggestion was the lucky one, so I gathered all ingredients, took a deep breath and made her White Chocolate Bundt Cake to celebrate the occasion…

She wrote a great post about this cake, one that made the process almost pain-free to a person who hyperventilates with just a glimpse of a Bundt pan. Those crevices are evil. To make matters worse, the cake included that dreadful step of creaming sugar with butter.  But, a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do. I did not run away from it, kicking and screaming. Sometimes it is good to resist a first impulse.

WHITE CHOCOLATE BUNDT CAKE
(from Celia’s  blog, Fig Jam and Lime Cordial)

for the cake:
450g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
250g unsalted butter, softened
440g white sugar
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
5 large (59g) eggs, at room temperature
115g white chocolate, melted and still warm
250g thick Greek yoghurt
115g  white chocolate chunks or chips

for the topping (optional):
115g (4oz) white chocolate
65ml (¼ cup) heavy cream
115g (4oz) milk chocolate

Heat oven to 350F.   Spray a 12 cup bundt pan with oil.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Slowly beat in the melted white chocolate. Scrape down the bowl.

Add the flour mixture to the butter in thirds, alternating with the Greek yoghurt. Beat for 45 seconds after each addition. You want to end with flour rather than yoghurt (improves the final texture of the batter). Place the batter in the pan in three layers, separating each layer with the white chocolate chips.

Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, but start checking after 45 minutes.   The top will be brown and a sharp thin knife inserted in the center will come out with a few crumbs on it. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then gently loosen around the edges before inverting onto a wire rack to allow the cake to finish cooling at room temperature.

Topping:  In a glass or ceramic bowl, heat the white chocolate with the cream until just melted. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then drizzle over the cake.  In a separate bowl, heat the milk chocolate in the microwave until just melted. Stir until smooth.  Drizzle over the cake.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Things went extremely well with this cake from making the batter to inverting the pan to reveal a perfect cake in all its gorgeous glory!
I was already thrilled because contrary to 99.5% of the cake recipes I’ve tried, this one actually produced enough batter to fill the pan to proper capacity.  Every other recipe leaves me wondering if my kitchen has some type of black hole that sucks cake batters and takes them to another dimension.  Now, this is a nice looking Bundt pan, ready to be baked.

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I baked the cake, allowed it to cool for 15 minutes in the pan, chronometer in hand, heart pounding fast. And voilá, when I inverted the pan, this is the vision I was rewarded with:

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Is this a thing of complete beauty or what?  I BAKED THAT!  I know, I know, unreal…   I did several victory laps around the kitchen island, then a few around the house. Oscar followed me, wagging his tail, Buck got scared and ran away to hide.  Chief?  He slept through the whole celebration, but I won’t take that personally. A 14-year old dog earned his right to sleep through anything!

Time to ice the cake. That’s when the road got a little bumpy.  I should have read Celia’s post more carefully. She added a note to say that the white chocolate ganache is usually too liquid, so she prefers to simply melt the pure white chocolate to drizzle on top.  Well, my ganache was so liquid it disappeared into the cake.  I also did not do a very good job with the dark chocolate drizzle, so in the end I covered the whole cake with powdered sugar on top of the drizzle for cosmetic reasons.  Over-kill? Maybe.  I do agree with Celia, though. This cake is so amazing, a simple dusting with powdered sugar is more than enough.  We took a platter to the department and everyone loved it!

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One thousand four-hundred and sixty-one days blogging.  Food blogging brings many wonderful things with it. First, the virtual connections made with readers and other bloggers. Too special for words.  Second, it provides a journal of our adventures: travels for work and/or pleasure,  a sabbatical with its nano-kitchen challenge, the move of our home and lab to Kansas.  Third, it is a valuable database of recipes we tried and enjoyed. I normally don’t blog on a recipe that didn’t work, unless I feel it’s worth re-visiting it.  Sometimes I like to pick a recipe at random from the index, and read about what was going on with us at the time. Were we in Los Angeles when I baked that? Was that post written during a dreadful ice storm in Oklahoma?  Was Pits, our beautiful dalmatian still hanging around in our kitchen, stealing butter and T-bone steaks from the countertop? Has it really been four years?  😉

A very wise and dear mentor, Leon Rosenberg once told me: “Memory fails. Keep a diary.  You will be glad you did”.  I am sure glad I started this site, the closest thing to a diary I can keep up with…

To my readers, followers, fellow food bloggers, friends in real and virtual life, thanks for stopping by and warming up this place with your presence!
Now, I invite you to join me as I start the fifth year of Bewitching Kitchen!

ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three!

TWO YEARS AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns two!

THREE YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

FAREWELL TO A BEWITCHING KITCHEN…

kitchenDrum roll, please…..

WE SOLD OUR HOME IN OKLAHOMA! 

365 days after we bought our home in Kansas it finally happened:  we sold our house in Oklahoma! Can you imagine the odds on that? 365 exact days!  😉  During the past year we made ten trips back and forth – a total of 6,200 miles – most of them with three dogs tagging along.  But, now it’s a page turned in our lives.  Not without some drama, though.   As my friend Marcia pointed out,  “Drama follows you, Sally.”  Oh, well.  Next life I’ll try for a spot in Hollywood. If you are interested to know more, read on…   but beware, no recipes in this post.

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We scheduled the closing of the sale for 4pm on Friday, May 31st.  Still, lots of things were left to do to completely empty and clean the house for its new owners, so we drove to Norman a couple of days beforehand. That Wednesday, May 29, both Kansas and Oklahoma were under a full-blown tornado watch for most of the afternoon and evening. We hit the road around 1pm, driving with one eye on the highway and another on Intellicast radar.   We made it home with 8 minutes to spare before the storm hit.  Driving through Moore was a sobering experience that recalled May 1999.   The area of destruction is narrow, but it is complete.  Imagine a gigantic lawnmower passing through and turning homes and trees into small sticks and dirt. Unless you see it you can’t comprehend the violence of a tornado of that magnitude.

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We were excited to arrive home, not only because we made it before the t-storm, but because we wanted to see the new roof installed last week. Our house suffered hail damage from one of the many storms earlier this year, so we had to take care of that and replace the roof before selling the property. What we did not expect was to arrive in our master bathroom to find broken, exploded glass everywhere!

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The roofers had broken the skylight, never said a word about it to their boss, and simply left.  Drama? You think?  😉  A few phone calls were exchanged, four guys came up and cleaned the mess next morning.

Next day (Thursday) we worked hard, making three piles in the garage: one to donate, one to dispose, and one to move back to Kansas with us.  A trip to Habitat for Humanity for the first pile, and a trip to the “Transfer Station” for the second.   Have you ever visited a Transfer Station?  It’s what we call “the dump”. Basically, one stop before a landfill.  A place where folks dump trash, it’s moved around into HUGE piles by a skillful worker driving a front-end loader, and it’s then dispensed into gigantic trucks that do the final trip to the landfill.  If you have a pickup truck and a utility bill to prove local residency you can dump your trash. They weigh the truck when you arrive, then weigh it again when you leave. You pay per pound of trash left behind.  Clever, don’t you think? I know it is not a food blog-worthy subject, but the truth is, it’s a part of life we tend to forget. We live in a “pseud0-clean,”  protected environment, in which the meat comes nicely packaged so you don’t think about the animal behind it.  We also don’t think about the trash we produce once the garbage leaves our front door.  Well, it’s not pretty, it’s nasty,  and a lot of people work very, very hard to deal with it.   I made a little video for those interested.

You can watch it here.

It is only 35 seconds long, and only in the end can you see the worker dumping a load in the truck for final transportation to a landfill. The truck parks on a lower level, so all you can see is its open top slightly above ground on the side of the transfer station. Fortunately for you, smells don’t travel with the images. 😉

Phil and I were anxiously waiting for the Thursday tornadoes to pass. We stayed inside our  garage, tornado shelter open, pickup truck filled with the last load of stuff to dispose. Since we had no TV in the house, we turned the pickup radio and listened closely to it.   Another little video for you here, those from the area will recognize the voice of  Gary England, the meteorologist who doesn’t “believe” in global warming.  Yeah, right.

So the Thursday tornadoes came and went, touching down 5 miles or so away from us.  We quickly drove to the dump. Quickly? We wished.  Unfortunately, you can’t turn on the truck radio without the headlights too, and they unexpectedly drained the battery, leaving us with a big problem: a truck full of trash, a dead  battery, and no way get out of the garage.  Drama?  You think? A frantic phone call to our dear (and tremendously helpful) neighbors ensued, followed by a quick jump of the battery, and off we went, arriving at the dump shortly before it closed for the day.  End of drama?  Not quite.  Right when I was  standing next to the 15ft-high pile of trash in that wonderful location, a strong gust of twisting wind (back-end of the tornado storm) hit the place, and literally sprayed me with… how should I put it?  Hummmm…. let’s go for “dump juice”. The most disgusting episode of my existence.

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That, my friends, was drama.   Irony of ironies, Phil was spared of the filthy encounter, at the time he was standing up in the pickup truck bed.  Yes, he laughed.  But he stopped quickly because the blood in his veins kind of froze a little when our eyes met.  Arriving home, I took three showers. In a row.

Friday, the big day arrived.  We worked every single minute of the day, Phil trimmed trees, I cleaned the house, we did everything  to make the place as welcoming as possible.  The truck was full to capacity, ready to be covered with a heavy tarp as storms were predicted (AGAIN!)  for the end of the afternoon.

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That afternoon the deal  was signed, sealed, delivered!  We went to our neighbor’s home and sat  watching TV  waiting for a safe time to go out for a celebration dinner.  We chose a restaurant about 2 miles from home, a traditional spot in Norman called “Legends,” which brought fond memories of our time in town.   As we left our neighbor’s home we noticed that new storms were forming southeast of us, but they seemed harmless.  Well, harmless they were not.   The storms intensified as we happily chatted and enjoyed dinner.  By the time the sirens sounded and we frantically paid the bill, Norman was in the center of a huge tornado storm.  We decided to drive home because it was just 2 miles, but those miles seemed like 20.  The rain was falling in all possible directions, as if a circular shower was turned on in full blast by perverse powers.  It would be impossible to see a tornado approaching, impossible to judge the direction it would be coming from.  Drama? You bet! 😉

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But, it all ended on a happy note.  Above is the last photo taken close to our former home.  The new owners had already moved in, so we had to be discreet. We hope they will be as happy as we were living in that wonderful home, and enjoy everything it has to offer, particularly the original Bewitching Kitchen.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen. June 2012

TWO YEARS AGO: Goodbye L.A.

THREE YEARS AGO: 7-6-5 Pork Tenderloin

2012 IN REVIEW

WordPress just released a summary of activity for the Bewitching Kitchen in 2012, and I decided to share it with my readers…  😉

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 240,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS THREE!

It’s hard to believe it’s been 3 years since I wrote my first post, unsure of where it would take me.  Since then, I’ve published 447 articles, and went from having a couple hundred page views per month to over 20 thousand!

If my life was a smooth, uneventful ride,  I would bake a cake for the occasion. A cake chosen from the several options suggested last year in the comments,  fingers crossed that it would be as gorgeous as this baby:

Instead of uneventful, our life seems to follow the script of North by Northwest. 😉 All kitchen stuff is now divided between two homes, we are surrounded by boxes, and constrained by deadlines. No cake this year, I’m afraid.  Instead, I celebrate by bringing you the first giveaway in the Bewitching Kitchen!

Leave a comment on this post from now until the end of June, and on July 1st I will draw the name of the lucky winner.  The prize?

A copy of   “The Brazilian Kitchen“,  a book I recently fell in love with and wrote a post about.  Everyone is welcome, from all over the planet, as long as the mail service can reach you!  😉

To all my readers, subscribers, followers, friends (in real life and those special friendships formed through the blogosphere) thank you for your support! And a special thank you to Fer, from Chucrute com Salsicha, who (maybe without ever being aware of it), was my main source of inspiration to become a food blogger.

I close this post sharing two photos from our new home: the view from our kitchen window, and a spot at the corner of our backyard.  Just a teaser,  we are not moved in yet, but sort of camped there for a couple of days last week. The two of us, a bed, a kitchen table. and the amazing performance of fireflies outside the window during the night…

ONE YEAR AGO:  The Bewitching Kitchen turns two!

TWO YEARS AGO:  Bewitching Birthday!

THREE YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!

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