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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Kheeray Ka Raita

Most of our Indian meals these days have been simplified down to Tofu Tikka Masala and Naan bread. If I want to cool it down a bit I usually add a little plain yogurt. Last Sunday we had a special item (see tomorrow's post) to go with our Indian food so I decided to do it up like I used to when I first started cooking Indian food. We had both chicken and tofu in our Tikka and I even made Chickpea Fritters which I will share tomorrow. 
I always enjoy having a nice cooling raita and this one from the Ajanta Cookbook is one of my favorites. This book has a lot of other wonderful Raitas (a banana one is a favorite as well) and Chutneys and when we have company I like to make several different kinds and serve them in these pretty little square canning jars. Since it was just the two of us I only made this cucumber one.
 If you think the rest of your meal may be exceptionally spicy you can eliminate the chili pepper from this recipe as I usually do. If you do not have a food processor you can also finely chop the cucumber, cilantro, and chili pepper. 

Kheeray Ka Raita
adapted from Ajanta Cookbook

2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cucumber seeded and diced
1/2 cup cilantro
1 green chili pepper chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground toasted cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika

In the bowl of a food processor add all ingredients and pulse for 10-15 seconds. Transfer to storage or serving bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. You may sprinkle a little additional paprika and cumin on top when serving. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A winning bag of dog food...

On Sunday in attempt to get me outdoors and out of the kitchen David suggested we take a hike "somewhere new". Those of you who know me well, know that I can never resist the suggestion of going somewhere new. We didn't want to travel too far, so we decided to head 20 miles down the road to Twin Bears Camp for a hike up Twin Bears Mountain. It was a beautiful sunny day and the temperatures were mild. As we arrived at twin bears camp it was a center of activity, families on snowshoes and snowmobiles buzzing around the lake. It seemed unusually busy, but with Brody attached to me on his lead our main concern was to negotiate him through all the activity without incident. It wasn't long before we got to the other side of the lake and were on our way up a little used trail to Twin Bear Mountain.

It was a beautiful hike, we spent most of the day appreciating the light streaming through the trees.

I forgot to bring dog treats, so the dog was totally not willing to participate in any cute dog pictures. He would sit looking sweetly into the sun, but as soon as David or I got the camera into position he would sink his head back into the snow.

The best we could get was this shot where we double teamed him with two cameras...

So now you know the secret, all those cute dog pictures always involve a treat in my hand. Our dog does nothing for free and has us trained very well!

The view from the top of Twin Bear Mountain was spectacular and there was lots of untouched snow for the dog to romp, dig, and chase snowballs in. 
As we headed back to the Twin Bears Camp we had Brody tied in as we weren't sure how much activity would be going on when we returned. The camp was pretty quiet, but we were still glad to have Brody clipped in as we found this waiting in camp...
Yes, that is what several hundred pounds (if not a thousand) of dog food looks like. Apparantly, Twin Bears Camp was the final mandatory rest stop for the Yukon Quest. As I write this post the racers have already left the bear camp and at this moments many are passing within a mile of our house on the trails we walk each and every day. The photo in the post heading home is part of that trail the mushers will take today. Literally, in a matter of minutes the winner of The Quest will be crossing the finish line and according to reports this guy is in the lead...
*Update: at 10:45 NPR announced that Sebastian Schnuelle was indeed the first to cross the finish line of the Yukon Quest. I told David on Sunday that he was going to win! I told him make sure you get a picture of that bag! lol 
The funny part is he was in around 3rd or 4th place at the time! What intuition!

Package #2

I know you all have been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to find out what is in box #2. Well, first I will say that there are about 100 or so other people that received a very similar box and here is what was in mine...
I had been following the Phat Fiber blog for a couple of months. I decided to put my pennies away to finally try and purchase one of their sampler boxes this month. Apparently the one last month sold out in 20 minutes. The Phat Fiber sampler box is a box full of items that would be near and dear to a fiber lover's heart. Each month has a different theme and this month was Romance and Chocolate. Each day the Phat Fiber blog highlighted stores, mostly on Etsy that were contributing to the sampler box. The boxes are also purchased at the Phat Fiber shop on Etsy as well. So, in January I signed up to find out when the "secret" time was that the boxes would be going on sale. A few days before I received the long awaited message, the boxes would go on sale at two times on February 16th, 9:27am and 9:27pm CST. For those of you who are not aware, I am in Alaska, so I would need to get up and on the computer by 6:15am if I wanted to get a box. Since I was determined, I did rise at the (actually before the) crack of dawn. Of course, I had never done this before, so I wasn't exactly sure how it would all work out. The boxes actually went up for sale two minutes early, but I was on it. I had been forewarned that there would be two boxes one for just yarn and another a fiber sampler. Well, when they came up one just said Phat Fiber Sampler and the other Just stitches. So, to make a long story short I had to read closely to make sure I was getting the right box and by the time I got my yarn only box into my shopping cart and finalized the transaction somebody else had already purchased them all. Literally, in two minutes all 60+ boxes were gone! What a bummer. So, I tried again at 6:27 p.m. and was not able to get a yarn box this time either, but managed to be quick enough to go back and grab a fiber box. These too sold out in less than two minutes. It is funny because I had thought at one point I would try and purchase both boxes. I didn't think it would be nearly so difficult. 
There were some really nice and generous samples included in the box. Above are three of my favorites. I love the Wooly Hands one especially, it reminds me of a peppermint stick. 

So, was it worth it? Well, I did get a whole ton business cards (below)and was able to learn about a lot of new shops. Although, I am pretty sure I discovered more just by reading the blog. There were a few coupons thrown in, but nothing really impressive. 
And I also received this very strange comic book, how odd...
My favorite thing in the whole box was this incredible generous sample of wool roving from Desert Garden Farms. It is really soft. The color name is tree frog which seems about perfect since I have recently taken up felting. I think this is destined to become what else but a little felted tree frog like this one from Wool Pets. Only mine will be green of course. It is funny that this became my favorite item as I originally wanted a yarn only box and would never have discovered this if I had order a yarn only box. 
I'm still trying to decide if I want to try and get a Celtic themed box in March. I think the hardest part about the box is that not everyone receives the same thing. For example some people just got little dried up samples of fudge like in my box, where other people received full size pieces such as this post. Some people also got wonderful samples of fabulous cashmere, you guessed it, none in my box. It is supposed to all even out in the end, but I can't help thinking that Phat Fiber does play favorites with regular customers and friends. Either that, or my box was at the very end of the line. The few items that were there were very nice and I look forward to ordering from some of the merchants. I think it is a good way for them to get the word out, especially when you can compare them. Although, I would say that unless I was a top quality producer I would not send my samples. Some of the items poor quality really showed when you could look at the items in this way. 
It  fun, and I may very well try again. I don't think I will be nearly as disappointed if I miss out next time. 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Package #1

One thing about receiving packages at home is our mailbox is not big enough to hold them so we have to go back to get them. For someone like me who absolutely loves to receive mail I can hardly take the suspense when there is a package slip and I know I can not get it until the post office opens the next day at 11 a.m.! Well, this is what happened Friday night. It usually says on the slip who the packages are from, but sometimes the sender really doesn't mean much, and it definitely doesn't help when one of the package slips goes missing somewhere between the mailbox and your house. Friday night David informed me that there had been two package slips, but could no longer find the second one. The one I had said Lote Tree which meant about as much to me as the one that was completely missing. There were a couple of things I was hoping for, but it seemed too soon for both of them. Well, apparently it was not too early because as soon as I saw that little red tag on my package I knew that it was the package I was hoping for. Eventually I figured out the second one, but we will save that for tomorrow. 
This package is from my friend Rebecca, I have mentioned her a few times on my blog and she has mentioned me a few times on hers. Through our mutual love of all things in a canning jar we have started up correspondence and agreed to swap a few winter items. 
Well, I must say that Rebecca has spoiled me once again. I don't even know where to start. I was really intrigued by her experience at The River Cottage. I checked out their website and all of their books and was really interested in their preserving handbook. Now, one of the things I love about living in Alaska is that we have a lot of great reference material on preserving the harvest. The problem is that a lot of the books are really overly complex and in the United States we get more wrapped up in sterilizing the jars than we do about the actual recipes. This book has everything in one place and all the recipes are very straightforward and not overly difficult. This isn't just jams and jellies, there are pickles, chutneys, relishes, cordials, liquors, sauces, ketchups, and vinegars. Many of them call for mustard powder so Rebecca included some in the package. Rebecca marked a few of her favorites for me including the candied orange sticks which she has posted about on her blog and also included in my surprise package. I love them and can't wait to try them with Meyer Lemon peel. I also want to make the Lemon Squash which is basically a simple lemon syrup that you can and then add to water (or vodka) later. The thing I love about this book is that it has all the basics, but also has some different ways of using ingredients I am sometimes challenged by like Rhubarb. I am determined to do something with that monstrosity that grows in our garden this year! 
Of course, there was some of that amazing Seville Orange Marmalade which was the whole reason for doing this swap in the first place.  It looks absolutely wonderful, I can't wait to open it up. I'm trying to think of a special occasion, maybe a leap year celebration so we can dig in soon! Tonight, I will be making Indian Food and Rebecca's Spiced Apple Chutney will be the star of the show! I will be posting a recipe I promised Rebecca as well in the next few days. Thanks again Rebecca for all the amazing goodies. 

Sneek Preview of tomorrow's post package #2:

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Parmesan Herb Biscuits

Who cares about these biscuits? Yes, Yes they were good and you should make them. Yes they were really easy to make. Maybe a little less herbs next time.

The really important news of the day is look....I have three columns. I finally figured out how to do it!! None of the standard blogger formats have three columns and I finally figured out how to edit my html to get them. I was scared to death, thought for sure I would delete my entire blog and then cry all during dinner as I mourned the loss of my blog. But no, I did it. No more three column envy, I have them! Is anyone else excited? Please don't ask me how I did it, I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it again! I can give you the biscuit recipe though...

Parmesan-Herb Biscuits
from Bon App├ętit
List of Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
6 Tbsp nonfat dry milk powder
¼ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried basil
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
¾ cup (or more) ice water


Preheat oven to 400° F.Whisk first 9 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Add butter and cut in with fingertips until very coarse meal forms. Gradually add ¾ cup ice water, tossing until moist clumps form and adding 1 or 2 tablespoons more water if needed to form a slightly sticky dough.
Gather dough into ball. Sprinkle work surface with flour. Using floured hands, press dough into 6-inch square. Cut dough into nine 2-inch square biscuits. Arrange biscuits with sides touching on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake biscuits until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Separate biscuits slightly and cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.Makes 9 biscuits.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


You may remember a while back when I posted about winning the Urban Italian Cookbook.
Can you believe it has taken me this long to finally make something from this cookbook? Yes, I finally made gnocchi. I have really wanted to make them for a long time, but I had always heard how difficult they were and I was scared I would screw them up. I figured I would end up with some hard lumpy little balls. Another worry is that I think I have only had gnocchi one other time in my life, so I wasn't really sure what they were supposed to be like. I started these early on Sunday, thinking this was going to be an all day process. I was shocked, not only were they fairly simple to make, they were so quick they could also easily be one of my new regular weeknight meals. What I liked about this recipe is that it was really simple and to the point. I have seen a lot of gnocchi recipes that require rolling them with a fork and that seemed so time consuming. 
This recipe makes a lot of gnocchi. I had gnocchi covering cookie sheets and wax paper covered countertops all over my kitchen. The amazing part is that they are so light and airy, we ate nearly all of them! Yes this entire recipe between the two of us and it wasn't that hard. I cooked the first batch and we were still hungry, so I cooked a second, and then a third...
I had hoped to freeze some for later, but I barely put away one serving in the freezer. 

from Urban Italian

4 large Idaho potatoes (about 2 pounds), scrubbed
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 425°.
Prick each potato several times with a fork; place them on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan large enough to hold them all in a single layer. Bake in the oven until the potatoes are tender enough to be easily pierced with a small knife, about 1 hour.
Remove the potatoes from the oven and let them cool just enough so that you can handle them, about 6 to 10 minutes. They should still be steaming when you cut them open. (If you let the potatoes get too cool, the proteins in the egg won’t bind with them, and your gnocchi will fall apart, or you’ll have to add too much flour and you’ll end up with chewy potato bullets.)
Cut each potato in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Discard the skins. Pass the potato flesh through a food mill or press through a ricer set over a medium bowl.
Using your hands, gently stir the beaten egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, olive oil, melted butter, salt, pepper, and 1 cup of the flour in with the potato. Stir only enough to combine: anything more will overwork the dough, and your gnocchi will come out tough (like the frozen-in-a-bag variety). Work the mixture into a smooth ball; if the doughseems a little too moist for this, add a touch of flour (the moisture level in every potato is different, so every batch of gnocchi will be a bit different too). The dough should feel soft and slightly tacky but not sticky—sort of warm and sexy.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly, cut the ball of dough into inch-thick slices, using a dough cutter if you’ve got one, or a regular butter knife if you don’t.
Roll each slice between your hands to form a ball.
Using the palms of your hands, roll each ball back and forth on your work surface until it extends into a long “snake,” 14 to 16 inches long and about 3/4 inch thick. (This isn’t a precise measurement. You can make your gnocchi whatever size you want—this is just how I like ’em.) Keep adding more flour to the work surface as you go to help as you roll the dough.
Cut each snake in half and roll it out again, thinner, to the same length. Sprinkle the rolled-out snakes with flour to keep them from sticking.
Cut each snake into gnocchi-sized pieces (I like mine to be about 1 inch long), and place the pieces on a lightly floured baking sheet. Cover this with a cloth or plastic wrap until you’re ready to cook the gnocchi, so they don’t dry out. Gnocchi are delicate little things; fresh ones should be cooked the day they are made, or at the very latest, the next day. Frozen and stored in an airtight container, they’ll keep for up to a month.

This step is just as important as the preparation: tender gnocchi require careful attention.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
Add the gnocchi all at once. Stir around once gently, so that the water is aerated and the dough doesn’t become glued together like one big gnoccho.
Let the gnocchi cook until they bob to the surface (about 1 to 2 minutes); wait 1 more minute and then, using a slotted spoon or spider, remove the gnocchi. (Don’t dump the gnocchi out into a colander the way you would spaghetti. All the gnocchi will crash onto each other and break.)

While the water is boiling for the gnocchi, heat the tomato sauce in a pan over medium heat and roughly chop the basil.
Remove the tomato sauce from the heat. Put the gnocchi right into the sauce when you remove them from the boiling water.
Toss the gnocchi in the sauce so every piece is thoroughly coated. Add the olive oil, butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and basil and mix well.
Serve as quickly as possible.

David enjoying a little bread with his gnocchi.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ok, so I was going to post something entirely different today, but then I read Rebecca's post about too many bananas and I couldn't help but think that somehow we live on the same cosmic plane. It was only a few days ago that I had the same banana problem and made these Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins. If I had only know I could have sent the recipe in a parcel I mailed just a few days ago. Unfortunately, I will not share the recipe here on my blog as yes, yes it is from that cookbook. You know the one that I won't share any recipes from because I am afraid if I posted every recipe I have made so far they would sue my butt.

Back to Rebecca...we originally met (via blog) last fall during the Jammin' Jelly Exchange. She sent me some lovely preserves which you can find on her blog and mine. Then as though it was fate, I was chosen to send to Rebecca for the Cookie Exchange. I had so much fun putting together her package. The only problem was her blog was private so I was never able to share all the links with the blogging community until.... Rebecca went live! Yes, her blog is now public and that means I get to add her to my blogroll and see each post as it is updated, so I know right away when she has made banana muffins. All of you in the Jammin' Jelly Exchange will be very jealous when you find out about the little winter preserve swap Rebecca and I just did on the side. I can't even believe my luck when she agreed to it. I'll give you a little hint... I was very jealous of this and this, so I proposed a swap for a little of this.

We have found through our correspondence that we have even more in common and now we both have banana trouble...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pretty Little Button

I stopped by Inua wool shop over Christmas to buy some yarn for David's hat that I was making him for Christmas. While I was there I was looking through the buttons and fell in love with these pretty little raspberry ones. The sales lady noticed me looking at them and told me she could not get them anymore as the lady who makes them had recently passed away. For weeks I couldn't stop thinking about this button.  When a neck gaiter that I knit was too small to fit over my head it became a felted purse. I knew where to find the perfect button to close it up!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The New Landscaper...

When I returned home from work tonight he was working on the rose bushes.

Then went on to take care of those sunflowers we never cut down last fall.

Finally, he suggested we do something about the birches behind the wood shed as well. 
His rate was cheap, so I didn't argue.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pulled-Pork Sandwiches with Cabbage, Capers, and Herb Slaw

Naturally, after having a pork roast you would have pulled pork sandwiches. I really liked the cole slaw topping and the overall flavor of the sandwich. I pretty much covered mine in slaw as I don't really like pork! David thought it needed some BBQ sauce and added it at the end. 

Pulled-Pork Sandwiches with Cabbage, Capers, and Herb Slaw
from Fine Cooking
1-1/2 Tbs. capers, preferably salt-packed
2 cups very thinly sliced green cabbage
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh oregano
1–2 tsp. finely chopped preserved red chiles, such as cherry peppers or Calabrian peppers, or substitute Asian chile sauce (optional)
2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
3-1/2 cups leftover shredded Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder
1 baguette
3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more to taste
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.

Rinse the capers well. If using salt-packed capers, soak them in warm water for at least 5 minutes. (They should taste capery rather than salty; if not, continue soaking for a little longer.) Drain the capers and, unless they’re very small, coarsely chop them. Combine the capers, cabbage, red onion, parsley, chives, oregano, and chiles (if using). Add the vinegar and 1/4 tsp. salt, toss well, and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Toss again and season to taste with more salt or chile.
Meanwhile, put the pork in a small baking dish. (If you have any juices left, scrape them into the dish, skimming and discarding as much of the congealed fat as possible.) Cover with foil and bake the pork until warmed through, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven, position a rack 6 inches from the broiler, and heat the broiler to high.

Cut the baguette crosswise into 4 equal portions (each 5 to 6 inches long) and then slice each piece horizontally so that it opens like a book. Just before serving, put the baguette pieces on a baking sheet, opening each as much as possible, and toast very lightly under the broiler, 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the pork into 4 equal portions and mound on the bottom half of each piece of baguette. Drizzle any pan juices over the pork and then pile on the cabbage slaw. Drizzle the olive oil over the slaw. If any vinegar has collected on the bottom of the slaw bowl, distribute it among the sandwiches, and serve.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Carrots, Onions, and Garlic

Yes, I can make pork roast. I didn't think it was possible for a person who didn't like pork to be successful at pork roast. A little help from Fine Cooking magazine and I was finally able to pull it off. I was just feeling so sad that the Suppa Club did not choose a pork recipe this time that I had to search out my own!

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Carrots, Onions, and Garlic
from Fine Cooking

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 6-3/4- to 7-lb. boneless pork shoulder roast
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
3 medium carrots, cut into sticks 1/2 inch wide and 2 to 2-1/2 inches long
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup dry white wine

Combine 2 Tbs. salt and 2 tsp. pepper in a small bowl and rub the mixture all over the pork. Put the pork, fat side up, in a large roasting pan (about 12x16x3 inches). Cover and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.

Remove the pork from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours before cooking.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Uncover the pork and roast until tender everywhere but the very center when pierced with a fork, 4 to 4-1/2 hours. Add the onion, carrots, garlic, wine, and 1 cup water to the roasting pan and continue to roast, stirring the vegetables occasionally, until the pork is completely tender, about 1 hour more.

Remove the roast from the oven and raise the oven temperature to 375°F. Using tongs, separate the pork into 8 to 10 large, rustic chunks and spread out on the pan. If most of the liquid has evaporated, add a splash more water to the pan to create a little more juice. (It shouldn’t be soupy.) Return the pork to the oven and continue to roast until nicely browned on the newly exposed surfaces, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, transfer the meat and vegetables to a serving platter, and tent loosely with foil. Let rest for 20 minutes. Skim the excess fat from the juices and serve the juices with the vegetables and meat.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Return of the Light...

As I was picking up around the living room yesterday, something seemed strange to me.  I was having that feeling like when an old friend comes to visit that you have not seen for a really long time. Even though you have known them forever it still feels a little awkward at first as though they are a stranger. Well, my old friend sunlight paid a visit yesterday. At first I stood there, it had been so long.  Then I realized my bookshelves really need to be dusted! Welcome back sunlight.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

When all else fails...

You can always post yet another picture of the dog wearing his orange booties!

Amerikansk Kyllinggryte med Salsa

Finally, the Suppa Club is back! This time my favorite Norwegian blogger (she is really from Minnesota, but see her blog for the story), Siri picked Chicken Salsa Chili as our selection. If you want to see her beautiful post you can check it out here. This is a recipe that will definitely be added to our regular round of quick-easy weeknight meals. I pretty much went straight by the recipe on this one, with the exception of the corn, I used frozen. Where does one find two ears of fresh corn in Fairbanks in February? One other small change, I could not find any oregano in the spice cabinet. I swear there was some in there. I used epazote instead which was a fine substitute. I know, how can one have epazote in their spice cabinet and not oregano? That is just how I am...

White Bean Chicken Chili

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound diced, cooked chicken meat
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (18.75 ounce) can tomatillos, drained and
1 (16 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (7 ounce) can diced green chiles
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (15 ounce) can white beans
2 ears fresh corn
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste
1 lime, sliced
1. Heat oil, and cook onion and garlic until soft.
2. Stir in broth, tomatillos, tomatoes, chilies, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Add corn, chicken, and beans; simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Serve with these toppings for people to choose from: limes, cilantro, cheese, avocado, sour cream, and tortilla chips.
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