Category Archives: foodies!

Puff, the magic…pastry

My go-to dessert for holiday parties this season has been a simple pear tart. Fresh sliced pears on a bed of puff pastry, brushed with butter and sprinkled with sugar before a little turn in the oven. (Please excuse the kitchen lighting; it was dark out. As usual.)

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Paired (peared? hah!) with my favorite bourbon caramel sauce, this is a heavenly dish. My favorite aunt sends me pears at Christmas, and many of them have gone the way of the tart. I”m saving some for cranberry pear bourbon jam, though.

I was reading blogs today, and saw Tango Mango’s decadent chocolate swirl buns, yeasty buns full of chopped chocolate. I was tempted, but feeling much too lazy to make a yeast dough and wait for it to rise. Luckily, I had one last puff pastry sheet in the freezer, so I did a mashup of her chocolate swirl buns and her pain au chocolat. (If you like to play with food, you really need to follow her blog.)

Here’s the result.

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Chocolate pinwheel puffs
Yield: 9 pretty puffs, and two not so pretty ones

Ingredients:
1 sheet puff pastry
1 cup mini chocolate chips
1 egg
sprinkle of sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Use a little non-stick spray in the bottom of a standard muffin tin to keep melted chocolate from sticking. (I didn’t, and only had a little sticking.)

Thaw puff pastry, and then use a rolling pin to roll out dough to about 12″ by 12″, not a lot thinner, mostly just to roll out the creases. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over the surface. I’m guessing on the amount, you could go way heavier if you want. Let your conscience be your guide. Mine looked like this. (sorry, more kitchen lighting)

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Roll the dough up into a tube. Scramble the egg to make an egg wash, and brush some on the edge to seal the roll. Slice the roll into 1 inch pieces. Place the pieces into the muffin pan. They look like they’re too small for the pan, but they’ll puff up. The two end pieces won’t be pretty; you can add additional chocolate chips to make up for it. Brush the pinwheels lightly with the egg wash, and sprinkle them with sugar if you’d like. I didn’t, but the sparkle and crunch would be a nice addition.

Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Eat the not quite so pretty end pieces first to hide the evidence.

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Enjoy your pinwheels while paging through Doomsday Knits. Oh, I think I forgot to tell you: Doomsday Knits is live!

Doomsday Knits

You can order your ebook for immediate delivery, or ebook and hard copy. Hard copies will ship in January. I’m looking forward to sniffing the ink in my printed version, but I’m enjoying my ebook NOW. My Thrumviator is in this book, and now that I’m back in Portland, I could really use one!

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Happy knitting, and happy munching!

Pinot and Piano…and stellar desserts

My home was filled with gorgeous music on Sunday evening. The sixth annual Pinot and Piano Fun-Raiser brought together three musicians, 16 guests, and wine and dessert. I don’t play my piano much these days, so it’s nice to hear it played by someone else. For this event, I’m in charge of the venue, a freshly tuned grand piano, and dessert.

We had two intermissions; the first one featured this simple dessert (regular wine glass shown for size reference):

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Mini blueberry cheesecake shooters. I adapted The Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters recipe, and topped it with my blueberry compote using this summer’s blueberries from my yard. These mini wine tasting glasses hold just enough, and look fabulous. Full recipe at the bottom of this post.

The second intermission featured a buffet of chocolate chip shortbread, brownies, fruit salad, and one other sensational dessert, a flourless chocolate cake with chocolate glaze.

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I wanted a gluten-free option on the menu, but this cake is so good that the GF status is just a bonus. This was easy, elegant, and delicious. I used a 9 inch cake pan, because I didn’t have a 7 inch tart pan. I reduced the baking time to 19 minutes (start checking at 15) to compensate for the wider, shallower pan. The recipe says it serves six, but it would easily serve 12 as a single dessert. We cut 20 slices, since it was part of a dessert buffet.

The music for piano solo and duet, and piano and flute, ranged from Bach to Handel to Grieg to Mendelssohn to the Beatles.

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A lovely evening among friends.

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Mother/Daughter duet. And since this is a knitting blog, I’ll note that designer Chrissy Gardiner is the daughter. She has many talents!

Blueberry Cheesecake Shooters
adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Cherry Cheesecake Shooters

Make the blueberry compote the night before, and refrigerate.

For the blueberry compote:
2.5 cups frozen blueberries, unthawed
1/3 C sugar
1/3 C water
1 T fresh squeezed lemon juice

Combine 1.5 C berries with the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until berries burst, about 10 minutes. Add remaining berries and lemon juice. Continue stirring; cook until compote thickens, about 8 minutes. Cool, then cover and refrigerate. Serve warm, room temperature, cold, whatever! You’ll have enough left over to top ice cream, or pancakes…

For the cheesecake (same day, or night before):
12 graham cracker rectangles
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 – 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (to taste)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor, or place them in a resealable plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin. Gradually add the melted butter and process or mix until crumbs begin to cling together. Spoon this “crust” into serving dishes: mini wine glasses, wine glasses, whatever you’d like.

Combine cream cheese,sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whip until fluffy. Place mixture into a resealable plastic bag, cut off a corner and pipe mixture over graham cracker crumbs.

Spoon blueberry compote over the cheesecake mixture. Top with sliced almonds just before serving. Enjoy!

Yield: 12 servings in mini wine glasses, fewer if you’re using larger dishes. I used Libbey’s mini wine tasting glasses. They’d also be cute in little half cup canning jars.

Sweet summer jam

Knit nite was fun! It was a time for this loosely knit (hah!) group to reconnect (two people didn’t even bring knitting) and celebrate summer. Cathy is participating in the Garland KAL; her color is KnittedWit’s Madge, which is a glorious shade of raspberry. We were both using our Bead Aids and mine had a little adventure under the deck. It was found; the deck is pretty high which means you can get under it. I wish I had taken a picture of Cathy’s Garland; it’s gorgeous. Hooray for non-traditional leaf colors!

Lorajean brought me a big bowl of plums.

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I used all the yellow and yellow/blush plums to make 10 jars of ginger plum jam. It looks like sunshine in a jar.

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It’s setting up nicely. I tasted it and the ginger/plum ratio is
perfect. I used 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger, 6 cups of cooked plums, 8 cups of sugar, and a pack of sure-jell. I bypassesd my traditional water bath canner, which is really too big for my electric burner, and tried something new. My 8 quart stockpot and this:

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Which is actually this:

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A silicone trivet that sits in the bottom of the pot to cushion the jars. I read about it here. I can only process 5 or 6 jars at a time, and I miss my jar rack/lifter, but the pot doesn’t wobble and the cooktop doesn’t get heat stained from the larger pot’s overhang. I do wish the pot were just a little deeper; it was pretty full in order to have an inch of water above the jars. But the resulting jam turned out fine.

I brought a blueberry pie to knit nite, but wanted to leave something home for DH and CollegeKiddo for dinner, so I made a caprese canellini pasta salad. This time I reduced the pasta to 8 ounces to have a more goodies to pasta ratio, and used the interesting tomato medley you see here.

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I love pasta salads in the summer. A little pasta, a lot of my favorite goodies, some balsamic or lemon dressing, and there’s dinner.

What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

Blues Roundup: music, skies, berries

Not much knitting here last weekend, but lots of music, and blueberries, too. The Waterfront Blues Festival ran from Thursday through Sunday, and the weather was perfect. Sunny and warm, but not hot. Portland knows how to throw a party! And it was for a good cause: The festival raised $1.3 million for the Oregon Food Bank, well in excess of their goal of $1 million, plus tons of canned food. (Admission most days is a suggested donation of $10 plus 2 cans of food.)

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The music was great all weekend. My favorites?

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Nikki HIll, a great big voice in a sassy package. Yes, those are sequined cowboys on her skirt, as well as sequined slide pumps on her feet.

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MarchFourth Marching Band, with stilt walker/dancer/acrobats! I think this is every band kid’s dream of a band afterlife. But even cooler and funkier.

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John Hiatt, an oldie but goodie. He’s written tons of stuff that others have sung, but I also like his own whiskey voice.

I don’t know that I’d classify all the music I heard as the blues, but the variety made the festival much more enjoyable. There was also a lot of zydeco music, which is always fun.

I missed Sunday, which featured Mavis Staples and Robert Plant. I was at the Oregon Zoo, enjoying the Go-Go’s and the B-52′s. Definitely a smaller venue than Waterfront Park, but still a sizeable crowd.

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Zoo concerts are great; you can picnic on the lawn before the show. Go with a group of friends, and it’s a potluck miracle. I made a blueberry cobbler, as requested.

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It’s great picnic fare, especially with a side of spray whipped cream. I’d prefer ice cream, but that doesn’t travel well.

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I’m coming to the end of my blueberry harvest. It’s my last chance to use my own berries for a blueberry cream pie in a gingersnap crust which requires fresh berries, so that was last night’s dessert.

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Lorajean saw my pie pic on Facebook, and then I saw her at Twisted when I was delivering patterns yesterday. She was hoping that the pie was for tonight’s knit nite, but sadly, no.

But I came home and did the last picking, and there are just enough berries to eke out one more pie. Let the rejoicing begin…

Desserts, tried and true

I hosted a going away party for our outgoing pastor last Monday. Who knew you could get 40 people in my house? There were six of us on the committee; we were each charged to supply a dessert and two bottles of wine. Being an overachiever, I made two desserts. The recipes have been here on the blog before, but I’m posting them again as things that are simple and that can go on a picnic or sit out on a buffet for a while and still look good! (This is not the time for homemade ice cream.) I like to experiment and try new things, but sometimes you need to go for the reliable old standards.

I baked a blueberry cobbler, which actually works well for a picnic dessert, too. Although I like it best with vanilla ice cream, a can of aerosol whipped cream will do in a pinch.

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These are not blueberries from my garden. Mine are close, but they’ll be ripe in the next week or two. Store bought was the next best thing.

This is my favorite cobbler recipe. It’s fabulous with fresh berries, but I also make it with frozen berries from my garden throughout the year. If you use frozen berries, it will take an extra 10 minutes or so to bake. (Shout out to my friend Vickie, who sent me this recipe in 1986, when we still wrote letters via snail mail. I had just moved away to New York. I showed her the letter last month, and it really startled her that I still have it. It’s on my fridge.):

Berry Cobbler

For the batter:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 TBSP butter (I admit that I misread her 4 as a 9, and have been using 8 TBSP, or 1/2 cup, of butter. Yum. 6 is a good compromise.)
3/4 cup sugar (I reduce to 2/3 cup)
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
3 cups berries

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt. Cream butter, sugar, vanilla; beat in egg until blended. Add flour mixure and milk–beat only until smooth. Spread in buttered 8 inch square baking dish; scatter berries on top.

TOPPING:
1/4 cup soft butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour

Combine topping ingredients and beat until smooth. Drop teaspoonsful of topping over berries. Bake @ 350 degrees for one hour–toothpick should come out without batter, and top is golden. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream, or both. Yields 9 servings, because I cut things in grid patterns. I can’t help myself.

I also made chocolate chip shortbread and cut it into 36 bite sized pieces. This is an old picture, so these are not the 36 squares!

shortbread

Chocolate Chip Shortbread

Ingredients
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 and 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips or butterscotch chips (I used mini chocolate, but I’ve also used butterscotch)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and salt, and then beat these with the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in chips. Press into an ungreased 9 inch square pan.

Bake 18-20 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool 20-30 minutes in pan on wire rack.

Score shortbread with sharp knife into desired size servings, but do not cut all the way through. Invert onto rack and cool completely. Break into pieces.

What are your go-to dessert recipes?

Obligatory knit content: Still knitting away on my Garland shawl. Repeat 12!

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Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet

My Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of the migration of yarnies to Columbus, Ohio today. They say they’re heading there for TNNA, The National Needlearts Association summer trade show. But I think they’re equally excited to be in close proximity to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I first encountered Jeni’s when I went to TNNA last year. I was hooked. I went to Jeni’s every day!

The kids gave me an ice cream maker last Christmas. Was it a gift for me, or a gift for them? Hmmm. I don’t use it a lot, but I love it when I do.

The first thing I made with it was Bourbon Vanilla ice cream, which was their ulterior motive for this gift. It turned out great; we put it in profiteroles.

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This outing, we made Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet using Jeni’s recipe. It tastes just like a ripe pear, even with riesling in it. Delicious. (And do you sense a theme?) This was my favorite flavor in Columbus.

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I used Anjou pears, and Brooks Winery‘s Tethys, a late harvest riesling. The wine was probably nicer than it needed to be, but drinking the rest of the bottle was great! (I did have help.) Here’s the recipe. (Thank you, Jeni, for allowing me to post this.)

Riesling-Poached Pear Sorbet
A surprisingly rich sorbet with the texture of a ripe pear; sweet Riesling notes shine on the finish.

This flavor works well even with underripe pears—you just have to poach them a bit longer. If your pears are superripe and juicy, you won’t need to poach them for more than a few moments.

Pairs well with: Cocoa Zin Ice Cream with palmiers and whipped cream.

Makes about 1 quart

6 medium Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, or Comice pears (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Riesling
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup

COOK
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking for 5 to 8 minutes, until the pears are soft. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

CHILL
Puree the pear mixture in 2 batches in a food processor until completely smooth. Force through a sieve.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

FREEZE
Pour the sorbet base into the frozen canister and spin just until the consistency of very softly whipped cream.
Pack the sorbet into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Excerpted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer (Artisan Books). Copyright 2011.

This is a fabulous book, full of innovative flavors. On to the next flavor! I’m missing TNNA, but my ice cream fix is here…

Shortcake, and yarn

I’m still between projects, trying to decide if I’m going to start something before the Garland KAL cast on Monday. I want to have the right needles free when it’s time to start!

The yarn is definitely ready. There was a drive-by yarning here Wednesday.

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My Peacock and Janet’s Moody Blues. And the beads I bought at Shipwreck?

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They look to be a perfect match. I have way more than enough. There are about 150 beads per strand, and I have 6 strands. I don’t know if you can tell, but the beads are clear, with a peacock lining.

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There is still time to join the KAL; we don’t cast on until Monday. The coupon code for the discount on the Garland Shawl pattern is GarlandKAL. Join us! And if you’re local in Portland, join us at Twisted this Monday evening from 5-7 for a cast on party.

What else is occupying my thoughts?

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Strawberry shortcake. (Please excuse the lighting; it was late at night.) Local strawberries are just coming into season, but I haven’t had any yet. I’ve been making do with California berries. Let’s just say I’m practicing for the real thing. Here’s my current shortcake recipe. They’re like my scones, only more butter, and no egg. Crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, especially when they’re still warm from the oven. They also reheat well in the toaster oven.

Strawberry Shortcake
serves 8

2 pounds fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar (or more, to taste)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or both

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, stir together the strawberries and 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and 3 T sugar. Cut the butter into pieces and then blend them into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Combine milk and vanilla and add to flour mixture; stir until just combined.

Using your hands, gently divide mixture into 8 equal size balls, and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 12 – 15 minutes at 425 degrees. Cool on a rack, just a bit. To serve, split a warm shortcake in two, and serve with ice cream, whipped cream, or both.

What’s your favorite summer dessert?

Sometimes, ya just gotta…

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We don’t have a big Easter celebration at our house, but I was going to a friend’s house this afternoon, and then we’re having a Game of Thrones watch party at our house this evening. What could be more appropriate than beheading…a Peep?

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My friend Carole and I put these together this afternoon, using these instructions and then just winging the rest. Cute, huh?

I also made lemon bars and chocolate chip shortbread, so it wasn’t all fun and games.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and happy spring to the rest of the northern hemisphere!

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And for those of you down under, it’s time to start knitting woolies. Everybody wins!

perfect bourbon vanilla ice cream

My (adult) kids gave me an Cuisinart ice cream maker for Christmas. Perhaps it was a self-serving gift, but I thought it was inspired. I’ve used it several times since then, in an effort to perfect a bourbon vanilla ice cream recipe. Here’s my version of perfect.

Perfect Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

6 egg yolks
1 pint heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 – 1/3 cup bourbon (taste it and see how boozy you want it)

Directions:
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat cream, milk, half and half, and sugar just to a boil.
Separate egg yolks to a large heat-proof bowl. Slowly add 2 cups of the hot cream mixture in a thin stream to the yolks while constantly whisking. (This tempering keeps the yolks from curdling when they meet up with the hot cream.) Whisk the tempered egg yolks back into the pan of remaining hot cream mixture, and simmer for two more minutes, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat.

Add vanilla, then bourbon, stirring constantly. Start with 1/4 cup bourbon, and add a little more until it tastes just the way you want it. I used just over 1/4 cup.

Cool over an ice bath, or in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours. Process in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. You may need to chill it further in the freezer after processing, as it can be quite soft, even after processing. Servings: 6 to 8 servings, or more, depending on how you use it.

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I used my first ice cream attempt for profiteroles, using this recipe for shells. I’d halve the recipe next time, and make them smaller/cuter and serve them in a trio, drizzled with chocolate truffle sauce.

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My second ice cream attempt had a firmer texture, but wasn’t sweet enough, and too bourbon-y. It’s still in the freezer. Third time’s a charm! I used it for ice cream sandwiches using those ubiquitous thin ginger cookies you see during the holiday season, and drizzled them with chocolate truffle sauce. They need to go back in the freezer to firm up after making them, so leave yourself a couple hours before serving.

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Oh, that chocolate truffle sauce? You’ll find the recipe here.

Back to my knitting!

Merry Christmas!

I finished my Silver and Gold KAL project. It wasn’t the lovely silvery yarn from Knitted Wit. I decided to knit another Hoppy Blonde Webfoot for a UO Duck fan, instead. Gold! And I finished a couple days go. It’s blocked and wrapped, and waiting to be gifted. No picture, though; it was dark when I wrapped.

I also gave my Madelinetosh Pashmina Filigree to a dear friend. Two knit gifts, and only one on deadline. Perfect.

filigree curiosity

If you participated in the KAL and would like to enter the drawing for a yarny prize, please contact me by Dec. 31 to let me know. I saw the pattern sales go out, but haven’t heard from you! It’s been a busy month, I know.

We started our Christmas Day with mimosas and Cinnamon Roll Waffles. After seeing this on the web, we had to try it. They were pretty tasty!

cinnamon roll waffles

Wishing you a peaceful day. How are you spending it? We’ll be having 14 at dinner tonight. Prime rib is in the oven and smells heavenly already…Mookie can’t wait!

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