Monday, November 28, 2011

Butternut Squash-Coconut Oil Mini Loaves


I came across a jar of organic coconut oil at Trader Joe's and thought I'd give it a try. What I didn't realize was that I should have melted the oil to use it as I would any other oil. Instead I used it as a solid fat, more like a butter. It was no less tasty, but it was harder to manipulate. Next time.

First I halved, deseeded, and roasted a butternut squash. Then I created a squash puree to use in the breads.





1 ½ C organic brown sugar
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t ground nutmeg
½ t ground ginger
½ t ground cardamom

2 eggs
¼ t baking powder
1 2/3 C flour
1 t baking soda
½ C (melted) coconut oil
¾ t smoked sea salt
½ C organic yogurt
1 C butternut squash puree

Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Put in greased mini loaf pans or muffin tin. Bake at 325 degrees for 75-90 minutes - until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chocolate en Agua (Chocolate in Water)



Ingredients

  • bittersweet chocolate
  • water
  • sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • cinnamon sticks for serving


Procedure
Using a sharp knife, break up the chocolate into smaller pieces. In a saucepan, combine the chopped chocolate, water (or milk), sugar, and salt over medium-low flame. Heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and liquid is very hot, but not boiling, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and froth the chocolate milk with a molinillo. Divide the hot chocolate among mugs and serve with the cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Cordonices en Almendrado (Quails in Almond Sauce)

My marinated quail was such a hit last year for Thanksgiving that I decided to do it again. This year, to stick with the Californio theme, I served the birds with an Almendrado (almond sauce). I also used more of my chardonnay molasses. Delicious!


Ingredients

  • 4 crushed tepin chilis
  • 2 bottles of birch beer or root beer
  • 1/2 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 2 T fresh oregano
  • 2 T fresh thyme
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1/2 C chardonnay molasses
  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 2 T fresh, rough-chopped cilantro


Procedure
Whisk all marinade ingredients together and marinate quails for at least 6 hours. Grill over hot coals. Thanks to my grill-master husband for making this so easy.

Almendras Sopladas (Almond Puffs)

I wanted a simple treat to serve with a strong coffee for our Thanksgiving dessert. No pumpkin pie on our table today. Encarnacion included a recipe for Almendras Sopladas in her cookbook: "Finely chop a pound of almonds, then add them to egg whites and twelve ounces of powdered sugar, beat them to snowy peaks, then spread them on sheets of white paper and put them in the oven."

No more details than that. I figured my recipe for Italian amaretti were close enough, so I made those.

2 egg whites
1 C organic granulated sugar
2 C ground almonds

Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gradually beat in sugar, again, forming stiff peaks. Gently fold in ground almonds. Spoon mixture onto parchment paper and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Bake in a 375 degree oven till the cookies are firm and the tops cracked, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place baking pan on a rack to cool. When cool gently peel cookies from parchment.

Pancitos de Quinoa de Dylan (Dylan's Quinoa Rolls)


Dylan, my little bread monster, insisted that we have dinner rolls for our Thanksgiving lunch...and offered to make them. We opted for a red quinoa yeast roll. He did a great job! They were delicious.










Ingredients
  • 1 C cooked red quinoa (cooked with bay leaves and cinnamon sticks)
  • 2 C hot water
  • 3 tsp smoked salt
  • 2 T active dry yeast
  • 1/4 C chardonnay molasses
  • 1/4 C ginger syrup (or use honey)
  • 3 C white whole wheat flour
  • 3 C dark rye flour
  • butter

Procedure
Place the hot water in a large mixing bowl, sprinkling the yeast on top. Let bloom for five minutes. Add chardonnay molasses, ginger syrup (or honey), and salt. Add the cooked quinoa and flours. Blend until well combined. Knead for 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and soft. Oil the dough and the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot for 35-45 minutes. Once it has risen, punch it down again and shape handfuls of dough into balls. Place the balls in a buttered baking dish, cover, and let rise again - for 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425.

Bake the rolls for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven and rub the rolls with stick of butter. Pull apart and serve.

Ensalada de Pepinos (Cucumber Salad)


I made Encarnacion Pinedo's recipe for cucumber salad though I had no idea what malpica is...I'm not sure she even knew what it was! The ingredients sections reads: "an otherwise unidentified salad herb." Not too helpful, so I took some liberties and used a combination of fresh thyme, fresh oregano, and fresh mint.

sliced cucumbers
sliced tomatoes
chopped poblano chili
fresh herbs
smoked sea salt
freshly ground pepper
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

This was a nice, refreshing course between the main dish and the desserts.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Almendrado (Almond Sauce)

Encarnacion Pinedo includes a recipe for Almendrado, almond sauce, in her cookbook, suggesting it's a perfect complement to either roasted birds or meat. Sounded like a perfect accompaniment for my marinated, grilled quail. I made a few adjustments to include my prized chardonnay molasses, but, for the most part, I stayed true to her sauce.

caramelized onions and fennel
oregano
ground almonds
ground cloves
ground cinnamon
ground ginger
ground nutmeg
capers
red wine
chicken broth
balsamic vinegar
chardonnay molasses
raw turbinado sugar

Mix all of the ingredients in a large, flat-bottomed pan. Let the sauce thicken before serving with cooked poultry or meats. Can't wait to serve this tomorrow for our Thanksgiving feast!

Chardonnay Molasses

My reputation for adoring unique ingredients makes getting gifts for me a breeze. When my friends Brian, Pia, and Linnea attended the Best of the Blue event a couple of weeks ago, they came across three bottles of a chardonnay molasses. They weren't clear about what exactly that was - too many glasses of wine, probably - but they knew they wanted a bottle. And when they gave me a mason jar full, I knew I would incorporate it into our Thanksgiving feast.

I have no idea who made this. I know I won't likely be able to find this again any time soon. So, I'm going to relish creating some tasty dishes with it while I can.



Here are my generous friends who know me so well...

Thanks, guys, the flavor is amazing!

Albóndigas de Frailes (Friars' Meatball Soup)

After going to San Juan Bautista's Living History Day a couple of weeks ago, I came up with my own version of Albóndigas, meatball soup. Encarncion included several different recipes for meatball soups in her cookbook. I liked her recipe for Albóndigas de Frailes, Friars' Meatball Soup, though I did make a few changes.

For the meat, I think it's really important for the boys to understand that food doesn't just appear in the market wrapped in paper or plastic wrap, so I bartered a jar of my shallot-beer-cacao nib marmalade with "the best killer in our family" for some ground venison. The boys are excited to eat meat from an animal that their Uncle Brian killed, cleaned, and prepared. Me, too!

I started with a mirepoix (chopped mixture of celery, onion, carrots, and the pumpkin pieces from my pumpkin vase) plus chopped parsley, oregano, mint, cooking them till fork tender. Toss in 4 C thinly sliced kale.

Add stock to fill up the pot about 3/4 of the way. I used 8 C of chicken stock. Bring that to a boil.



In the meantime, make the meatballs. 1 C caramelized onions and fennel, 1 C ground almonds, 1 lb ground venison, 1 T ground cumin, 2 T chopped fresh cilantro, 1 T chopped fresh mint, 1 egg. Mix that all together and form teaspoon-sized meatballs.

Drop the meatballs into the boiling broth. And simmer for another 30 minutes or so, till the meatballs are cooked through. When I reheat this for serving tomorrow, I will stir in fresh mint, thyme, and oregano.

Ensalada de Remolacha (Beet Salad)

While I used some of the beet greens in my Thanksgiving centerpiece, I roasted two bunches of beets for my ensalada de remolacha. One thing I love about Encarnacion Pinedo's cookbook: very few measurements and bare bones descriptions of how to make the dishes.

I sliced off the greens and tips, washed the beets, dried them, sprinkled them with smoked sea salt, drizzled them in olive oil, and roasted them - covered with foil - in a 350 degree oven till you can pierce them with a fork. The cooking time depends on how big the beets are. These took about 75 minutes.


Once the beets cooled, I peeled them, sliced them into eighths and seasoned them, according to Encarnacion's instructions: sprinkle with salt, pepper, and cumin. Drizzle with olive oil some vinegar. She suggested sliced raw onions; I skipped those.

Pumpkin Vase

I saw a flower arrangement in a pumpkin at La Mirada this weekend and was thoroughly inspired to create a pumpkin vase of my own.


While we are not going to eat this, it will be on our Thanksgiving table tomorrow...and there are some connections between the centerpiece and our menu.



Autumn-hued dahlias, mustard and rust correopsis, beet greens from the beets I roasted for our beet salad and pieces of the pumpkin (lid) went into our first course. Love it!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings


When my boys are sick, I try make whatever they want for dinner. Tonight the request: chicken and dumplings. Well, I'd never made that, but that's never stopped me before. So here goes...I started with a hearty chicken stew, then steamed dumplings on top.

I lightly browned boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a splash of olive oil - just enough to cook the outside. Then I added 8 smashed cloves of garlic, 1 sliced leek, 2 sliced carrots, and 2 C of thinly sliced kale. I seasoned the pot with oregano, dill, and smoked sea salt. I covered all of that with 8 C of chicken broth, brought it to a boil, and simmered it for one hour. After that, I sliced up the chicken breasts, returned it to the broth, and thickened the broth with some cornstarch. In the meantime, I made the dumplings.

The dumplings...I blended 3 T butter, 1/4 cold milk, 1 egg, 1 T baking soda, 2 C white whole wheat flour, 1 T dill to make a sticky dough.

I scooped rounded tablespoons of the dough and dropped them into the boiling soup. I immediately covered the pot - to let the dumplings steam - and reduced the pot to a simmer. I simmered for 15 minutes, till the dumplings had plumped up and were cooked through. Success!

Secret Recipe Club (SRC) November Reveal II: Samayal Arai Cooking is Divine

If you've been following me for awhile, you'll know that I recently joined the Secret Recipe Club. In addition to the monthly blog explore-and-execute, I also signed on to be a volunteer cook in the event that someone can't complete their assignment; they don't want any bloggers left out. This month my name came up in the rotation to take on an orphan blog. And I was pleased to get acquainted with Jayasri Ravi's Samayal Arai Cooking is Divine blog. I actually wasn't able to find much information about the culinary genius behind that mostly Southeast Asian blog, but the recipes and photographs made me want to reach a fork - or spoon - into my screen.
 
Because I was stepping in less than a week before reveal day, I decided to peruse the blog immediately and look for some thing or some things I could make with what I already had on hand. I came up with two recipes and called it a perfect dinner for a chilly Autumn evening.


QUINOA DINNER ROLLS


The first recipe that caught my eye was for quinoa dinner rolls because I had a few cups of left over savory cinnamon quinoa pilaf from dinner last night. I was in a rush and didn't read the recipe carefully, accidently putting double the water in the bowl to bloom the yeast. Whoops. So I adapted by skipping the eggs and oil. Still, my rolls ended up delicious and pillowy soft. Success!

1 C cooked quinoa (I used a pilaf that had olive oil in it, so I didn't add any other oils)
2 C hot water
3 tsp smoked salt
2 T active dry yeast
1/2 C ginger syrup (or use honey)
4 C white whole wheat flour
2 C dark rye flour
butter

Place the hot water in a large mixing bowl, sprinkling the yeast on top. Let bloom for five minutes. Add ginger syrup (or honey) and salt. Add the cooked quinoa and flours. Blend until well combined. Knead for 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and soft. Lightly oil the dough and the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot for 35-45 minutes. Once it has risen, punch it down again and shape handfuls of dough into balls. Place the balls in a buttered baking dish, cover, and let rise again - for 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425.

Bake the rolls for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven and rub the rolls with stick of butter. Pull apart and serve.

SWEET POTATO SOUP


The second recipe that grabbed me was her Brazilian sweet potato soup. I already had half a dozen roasted sweet potatoes in my fridge. When I got home from work, I realized that I didn't have any tomatoes. Another goof. So I did without, but added carrots and squash to add some more flavor to the soup.

6 leftover roasted sweet potatoes, skinned and mashed
6 carrots, sliced
2 summer squash, sliced
1 T minced garlic
butter
5 C chicken broth
dried oregano
fresh cilantro
smoked sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Cook the carrots, garlic, and summer squash in a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil until fork tender. Add mashed sweet potatoes, oregano, and chicken broth. Stir till combined and heat to boiling. Add 2-3 T of cornstarch to 1/4 cold water. Add a ladel-full of the hot soup, to the cornstarch mixture, then add all of that to the boiling soup. Keep stirring as the soup begins to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Another success!

Well, that's all I have time to cook this month. But I will happily return and hope to make Pacchai Kolumbu, Puli Itta Keerai, and more.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Chocolate Chai Shortbreads


10 T butter
1/2 C packed organic brown sugar
2 T loose leaf chocolate chai tea
1 egg, beaten
2 C white whole wheat flour
raw turbinado sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in tea leaves until well combined. Beat in the egg, then carefully fold in the flour.

Roll the dough intoa long cylinders. I opted to do two smaller cylinders. Flatten the cylinder into a rectangular shape or keep in a cylinder, pressing raw turbinado sugar or unsweetened cocoa powder into the sides. Put the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour, until the dough is firm enough to slice.

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough cylinder widthwise into 1/4" slices and place, slightly apart, on the baking sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes until slightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Prickly Pear-Cranberry Sauce

Riley has really embraced adding unique flavors to our Thanksgiving feast. Case in point: his recipe for a prickly pear-cranberry sauce.

We started with whole prickly pears and made prickly pear juice, substituting that for the water in our usual cranberry sauce recipe. To make the juice, peel the fruit, dice, and add to a pot with one inch of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, push the pulp through a strainer and reserve the liquid.


1 C organic granulated sugar
1 C prickly pear juice (or water)
4 C (1 12-oz package) fresh or frozen cranberries
orange zest, optional

Wash and pick over cranberries. In a saucepan bring to a boil prickly pear juice and sugar, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add cranberries, return to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes or until cranberries burst.

At this point you can add all number of optional ingredients. We typically mix in a few strips of orange zest. You can also add a cup of raisins or currants. You can add up to a pint of fresh or frozen blueberries for added sweetness. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice can be added too.

Remove from heat. Cool completely at room temperature and then chill in refrigerator. Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

Photobucket

Handmade Corn Tortillas

Riley wanted to make corn tortillas - "just like we did at the Cooper-Molera Adobe on our field trip!" - for our Californio Thanksgiving Feast. That meant two things: we needed a tortilla press and I needed a recipe. Check. But I wanted to do a test run before Thursday's lunch. Check. These were delicious...and will be perfect for Thanksgiving.
 
2 cups masa harina
1 1/2 to 2 cups water
1 T olive oil

Start by putting 2 cups of masa flour in a large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups of very warm water and a splash of oil to the masa flour (according to the directions on the package, some brands may call for different amounts of water). Mix in and let sit for 5 minutes or so. Begin working the masa with your hands to make the dough. Knead the dough for several minutes. If at any point through the tortilla making process the dough seems too dry or too wet, add a little more water or masa to the dough.

 
Take a piece of the masa dough and shape it into a ball the size of a plum, or slightly large golf ball.

Take two pieces of wax paper or plastic from a plastic bag and cut them to the shape of the surface of the tortilla press. Open the tortilla press and lay one piece of wax paper on the press. Place the masa ball in the center. Place another piece of wax paper over the masa ball. Gently close the press and press down, until the dough has spread to a diameter of 4-6 inches.



Heat a griddle or a large skillet on high heat. Working one at a time, hold a tortilla in your hand, carefully removing the wax paper on each side. Allow the tortilla to rest half on your hand, and half hanging down, and gently lay the tortilla down on to the skillet. Start working on pressing the next tortilla. Cook the tortilla on the hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The tortilla should be lightly toasted and little air pockets forming.


Serve immediately. For our afternoon snack, we topped the tortilla with feta cheese crumbles and some homemade salsa!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Spicy Mini Pumpkin-Chocolate Loaves

When Jake told me that he was getting up before five to drive two hours to get on a boat to go crabbing, my first thought was "yum, crab!" My second thought was: "oh, I really don't want to get up and make breakfast before five in the morning." So, last night I baked a batch of mini pumpkin loaves for him to take on the road. Truth be told, when he got up this morning, I did, too. But at least it was because I wanted to get up, not because I had to get up.


I love this recipe because all it takes is one bowl, a few stirs, and that's it.

3 C white whole wheat flour
1-1/2 C firmly packed organic brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 t nutmeg
1 t cloves
1 t cardamom
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 C pumpkin puree
1/2 C organic plain yogurt
1/4 C canola oil
1/4 C ginger syrup
2 T unsulphered molasses
6 large eggs
1 C sliced almonds
1/4 C cacao nibs
1/2 C dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients. Pour into prepared loaf pans or muffin tins. Bake for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean. Cool for 10 minues, then invert onto a rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Baked Panko-Crusted Chicken

While I have one child who, literally, jumps up and down for joy when he sees brussel sprouts on the stalk at Trader Joe's - yes, I do get lots of odd looks for that one - I also have a child who laments that we don't have chicken strips like other kids. Fine. I decided to give oven-baked panko crusted chicken a try. It was easy, tasty, and stopped the whining. And I served them with brussel sprouts to make the other kid happy. Perfect.


chicken breast pieces
eggs, beaten
panko bread crumbs
smoked sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Mix the last three ingredients in a bowl. Dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg and press them into the panko crust mixture. Place them in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turn over, and return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes.

A Thanksgiving Feast With Recipes from the Californio Period

When I chaperoned Riley's field trip to the Cooper Molera Adobe and the Custom House last week, we ground corn, learned to embroider, branded leather and so much more. I also picked up a cookbook with Mexican recipes from nineteenth-century California, the Californio period. I figured I could support his study of California history by creating our Thanksgiving feast around foods that would have been eaten during that time. What fun!


Riley has been busy embroidering our placecards, but, somehow, I thought I had more time to prepare. With Thanksgiving a week from tomorrow - yikes! - I hammered out our menu. Look for photos and recipes next week.

Albóndigas de Frailes Friars’ Meatball Soup
Pancitos de Quinoa Quinoa Dinner Rolls

Codornices en Almendrado con Puntas de Esáprragos
Quail in Almond Sauce with Asparagus Tips
Pescado Relleno y Empapelado Stuffed Fish Wrapped in Paper
Alcachofas Artichokes
Arroz guisado a la Española Stewed Spanish Rice
Tres Ensaladas: de lechuga, de pepinos, y de remolacha
Lettuce, Cucumber, and Beet Salads

Almendras Sopladas Almond Puffs
Café y Chocolate en agua Coffee and Chocolate in Water

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sweet Potato Soup

On this dark Autumn night, I decided to whip up a warm soup for dinner. The leftover roasted sweet potatoes in the fridge were the perfect base. While the soup cooked, I baked a batch of quinoa dinner rolls to go with it.


Ingredients

  • 6 leftover roasted sweet potatoes, skinned and mashed
  • 6 carrots, sliced
  • 2 summer squash, sliced
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • butter
  • 5 C chicken broth
  • dried oregano
  • fresh cilantro
  • smoked sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper


Procedure
Cook the carrots, garlic, and summer squash in a pat of butter and a splash of olive oil until fork tender. Add mashed sweet potatoes, oregano, and chicken broth. Stir till combined and heat to boiling. Add 2-3 T of cornstarch to 1/4 cold water. Add a ladel-full of the hot soup, to the cornstarch mixture, then add all of that to the boiling soup. Keep stirring as the soup begins to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Quinoa Dinner Rolls


I had some leftover savory cinnamon quinoa pilaf from dinner last night and found a recipe for quinoa dinner rolls. Sounded like the perfect accompaniment to a steaming bowl of sweet potato soup. And it was! Delicious and pillowy soft.
 
1 C cooked quinoa (I used a pilaf that had olive oil in it, so I didn't add any other oils)
2 C hot water
3 tsp smoked salt
2 T active dry yeast
1/2 C ginger syrup (or use honey)
4 C white whole wheat flour
2 C dark rye flour
butter


Place the hot water in a large mixing bowl, sprinkling the yeast on top. Let bloom for five minutes. Add ginger syrup (or honey) and salt. Add the cooked quinoa and flours. Blend until well combined. Knead for 3-5 minutes until it is smooth and soft. Oil the dough and the bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot for 35-45 minutes. Once it has risen, punch it down again and shape handfuls of dough into balls. Place the balls in a buttered baking dish, cover, and let rise again - for 10-15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425.

Bake the rolls for 15 minutes at 425. Reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the baking pan from the oven and rub the rolls with stick of butter. Pull apart and serve.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Savory Cinnamon Quinoa Pilaf



1 t olive oil
1/4 C diced carrots
1/4 C diced baby zucchini
1 C quinoa
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
1 pinch paprika

In a large pan over medium high heat, sauté vegetables just until tender. Add quinoa and sauté for 1 or 2 minutes, until lightly golden. Stir in broth, and bring to a boil. Add spices and reduce heat. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30-45 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove cinnamon sticks and bay leaf before serving. Add a splash of olive oil and season with smoked sea salt.

Dylan's Cooking Homework, Part II


Tonight's the night when Dylan, for his week's homework, played chef and made dinner for the family. "Bell Pepper Pork Chops" is what Dylan is calling this recipe. Last night he selected a recipe from one of my a cookbooks and we adapted, based on what we had in the cupboard.

butter
olive oil
minced garlic
sliced fennel
pork chops
sliced crimini mushrooms
dried oregano
dried dill
clementine juice
splash of red wine
tomato paste
smoked sea salt
sliced bell peppers

Melt a pat of butter with a splash of olive oil. Quickly sear the pork chops on both sides.


Remove from the pan. Sauté garlic, fennel, and mushrooms until softened.


Season with oregano, dill, and smoked sea salt. Make a sauce with tomato paste, fresh-squeezed juice from two clementines*, a splash of red wine, and more olive oil.

*Dylan took "fresh squeezed" to a new level. I turned my back for half a second, after telling Dylan to add the juice, and this is that I saw when I came back to the pan...


Place the pork chops back in the pan. Cover with the sauce. Top with sliced bell peppers.


Simmer till cooked through.



Not only did he finish his week's homework on Tuesday, that's a first, but he made a delicious dinner. I might actually get some kitchen reprieve in the future.

So proud of my lil' cooker!

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