Category Archives: Food & Recipies

Attack of the Ginger

When I say ginger, I mean ginger. Like the root. That you use to flavour food. Not some derogatory term for red haired individuals.

Photo by Crystl via Flickr Creative Commons License

I don’t often blog about my husband. Mostly, because I figure if he wants to share his life with the world wide interwebs, then he would start a blog himself. He tweets. That’s enough for him. (Though arguably one could say since I blog about both myself and our daughter that I do share his life with the world wide interwebs… but… you know.. we won’t go there.)

Anyway, today I am breaking my ‘don’t blog about the husband’ rule to tell you about how wonderful and annoying he is, all at the same time.

So you know how I have been sick. (If not, I have been, and I am eating veggies to combat it, its going well, see here.) My husband drives me kinda nuts, in that ‘aren’t you so sweet and caring way’ when I am sick. You see, he is the ‘fix it’ type. You know those people you go to, in order to whine and commiserate and generally get your complaints out, and then come right back at you with, ‘Well, why don’t you just do this….” You know, those helpful caring people that you love and all, but you just want to smack and say “Just let me complain!” (For the record, though I consider myself a great listener, I can also fall into this fix it trap. So pot. Kettle. Yes.)

Anyway. This trait becomes particularly apparent when I am sick. My husband is CONVINCED that there is an immediate cure for any every day aliment. Usually, this cure involved some type of natural health remedy. He will resort to medicine, but he goes the natural way first. So, when I tell him I am sick, his response inevitable is “What can I get you to help you feel better?”

Now, that sounds all nice and supportive and sweet and all. And it is. Except when I say, “Nothing…..” he just waits a couple hours and asks again.

And then the nagging starts.

“Did you take your vitamins today? Did you drink enough water? Maybe you should exercise.  Is there something at work that is making you sick?” (I work at a University, so my snarky response is “yes, they are called students”)

He is bound, bent and determined to find a cure. Even if he has to nag me back to health.

I should stop to tell you that some people would probably find this behaviour endearing… and I do. Except that I have this quirky little personality trait where I don’t like people trying to help me. I mean, help me by handing me $1 000 000, sure, I’ll take that. But reminding me 100 times to take my vitamins. UGH.

I also have a horrible rebellious streak where the more someone else wants me to do something the less I am willing to do it. Even if it is something I also want to do. Yeah. I am a pain to live with.

Oh yeah! The ginger! Sorry, I got carried away there.

This weekend, as a part of the “What can I buy to cure my wife” thing, he bought raw ginger.

Now we don’t cook with raw ginger. I like ginger cookies, ginger beef and ginger ale, but that is about it when it comes to other uses of ginger… I will pass. I won’t touch candied ginger or raw ginger or that pickled ginger they put on sushi with a ten foot pole.

So he buys the raw ginger and he makes me a drink. Because, well, apparently ginger is natures magical cure. Along with the probiotics and vitamin D he is making me take. (Don’t get me wrong, I think these things work, I just hate taking pills. And I don’t want to because the husband wants me to. Rebellion.) He takes the ginger and grates it and juices it and who knows what else and combines it with a bunch of other stuff; lemon, honey, other spices.

I was forced to drink it. Forced. And I am not sure I can ever drink anything with ginger again. If it was just a mild flavour of ginger with lemon and honey.. that would be one thing. But the husband works on the ‘more is better’ principle of home made cures… so it was the strongest ginger I have ever tasted. And it was horrible.

Sweet, in that he went to all that trouble to try and cure me, but really really horrible.

I don’t think I can drink ginger ale ever again. Beware of the ginger people. And the husbands.

(Thank you to my wonderful husband who let me publish this post poking fun at him. Honey, I love you.)

Challenge to myself

So, I keep getting sick. I have been sick on and off since before Christmas. I have had two stomach bugs, the flu, strep throat, laryngitis and a lingering cold. Essentially, my immune system sucks right now. Its probably a bunch of things- a toddler bring home constant germs, stress at work, stress with life, height of flu season ect. ect.

But I was thinking today that my diet is probably not helping. You see, I find in the winter I crave a lot of warm, hearty meals. Now these meals aren’t void of veggies- we eat a lot of onions, garlic, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, mushrooms ect. But raw veggies? Pretty much not in my diet at all right now. Except the occasional avocado I put in my sushi.

I have been pretty honest about my thoughts on food. I am a big fan of fresh, healthy, home made food. We buy organic when we can and try to cook at home. We don’t eat a lot of fast food. But I am overweight and have a serious addiction to things like muffins, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream ect. I eat them more then I would like to admit. I love to bake. I need to get better. I need to be a better example for my kid (who hates all veggies currently. But you know- she’s a toddler).

So anyway, back to my challenge. In the hopes of building up some immune defense and generally trying to replace the carb and sugar high indulgences- I am giving myself a challenge this week.

I am going to eat all of this in a week:

It is probably about 4 cups of fresh veggies. Celery, broccoli, zucchini and carrots. Why those veggies? Because that’s what I had in the fridge.

We have been getting deliveries every other week from Spud for a couple weeks now. They bring us all sorts of fresh fruit and veggies. This last week I thought I had changed my order to not getting carrots or celery… because I already had carrots and I am not a big celery fan… but I hadn’t saved my changes… So. Now we have a ton of carrots and celery to eat up. So I am going to eat it.

This will not be my only veggies this week. There will still be veggies in dinner and lunch- I have some squash, zucchini, lettuce, sweet potato, onions and carrots still to cook with. These will be my additional raw veggies.

I am going to make up a Tzatziki sauce to dip them in. Yum.

Anyone want to join me on a one week raw veggie binge?

Trying to eat out less

My husband and I love eating out. Before we had Audrey, much to the dismay of our bank account, we ate out often. Since Audrey we eat out far less and order in far less. I cook more; we eat better.

When we do eat out, my philosophy is to always try to have something I can’t make at home. I make, for example, pretty great pasta. So unless it is a top notch (read; really expensive) Italian restaurant, chances are I can make something reasonably close at home. So my favourite eating out/ordering in food are foods from other cultures then my own. Stuff that I could make, but I am not familiar with the ingredients or the techniques. Korean, Vietnamese, Indian, Chinese, Lebanese, Japanese.. these are some of my favourites. My husband prefers sometimes to check out the hot new ‘foodie’ type places and I like that too. But if you ask me what I want to eat out, 85% of the time I will say: “Sushi”.

I love me some sushi.

But let’s be honest, it’s expensive. And not easy to take a toddler to.

So I started to make sushi at home. My sushi is nothing like what you can get in a restaurant. I don’t use raw fish (although I know places to buy some) and I stick to really just one kind of roll.

Avocado, smoked salmon, wasabi mayo. See:

My version of 'sushi'

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it. And it’s not hard to make. The smoked salmon needs no work, just defrosting. All you do is cook up the rice, season with some rice vinegar and sugar and then roll up your rolls. Rolling them is not as difficult as you might think. My trick? I use a silicon spatula to spread the rice, rather then my fingers. That way, my hands don’t get covered in rice and the rice doesn’t seem to stick as much to the spatula. It actually spreads really nicely. Don’t tell any Japanese Sushi chefs, they probably wouldn’t condone this technique. As long as your don’t over fill them, rolling is easy. And putting a bit of water along the edge to seal the nori is the way to go. Then use a wet knife (slightly serrated works best for me) to cut.

It’s a dinner I can make in 30 minutes. Which on a weeknight is perfect. It’s healthy and fills my sushi craving, at least for a while.

You could totally mix it up by adding more veggies. Really thin slices of cucumber or carrot are good. You could buy some roe or raw fish from a Japanese specialty store. You could tempura batter and fry some shrimp or asparagus and then roll those. It’s up to you. I mostly stick to avocado and smoked salmon. Cause it’s good.

What is your favourite knock-off meal?

The problem with shopping lists

……is that I always forget something. Especially if it is the holidays.

Every holiday season, right before the big day(s) of cooking and merriment and the like, I go shopping to stock up and get everything* we need so we don’t have to go out again and we can just enjoy. My Dear Husband asks me about 25 times if there is anything I forgot. In a frustrated tone I say, “No, I am sure. We have everything we need.”

And every time I forget something.

This year, I forgot 3 things.

On Christmas eve around 4pm, as the meat for the Tourtiere was simmering away….

Have you ever had Tourtiere? It is the traditional Christmas eve meal in Quebec. Many Quebecois would have Tourtiere after midnight mass. It is a wonderful spiced meat pie of pork, beef and lamb with mashed potatoes. It is served best with red pepper jelly.

RED PEPPER JELLY! I totally forgot. Until, as I mentioned, about 4pm.

So off I went to the store to find it. I looked in the condiment aisle. Mint jelly, mint sauce, more mint jelly…. no red pepper jelly. What is wrong with this store? How could they not have red pepper jelly?

I tried to figure out where else it could be. After searching and searching I found it on top of the counter in the deli meat section. What a place to put it. Seriously! The only place you put your red pepper jelly is on top of a deli counter beside the cup sizes for potato salad!??

Anyway, I left victoriously. Now I was sure we had everything.

After we finished up our lovely Tourtiere (with pastry crust made by my mother in law which was fab!) and went off to bed without a care in the world.

At about 11:30am, as I was thinking through what I needed to do for my dinner of Cornish Game Hen, roasted veggies and dressing… I realized….. oh my gosh! We used the last of the potatoes in the Tourtiere. What is Christmas dinner without potatoes? I had half a sweet potato, but it just isn’t the same.

So off Dear Husband went, on Christmas day, to try and find potatoes. Safeway, Wallmart and Superstore were all closed. He drove around and around. Until he realized that there was a particular type of store that just might be open….. a little corner grocery store that sells Halal meat. Chances are if they sell Halal meat that the owners are probably Muslim and therefore might be open on Christmas. Brilliant.

Bingo. As he looked in the grocery section of the little store, “We are the Champions” by Queen was playing on the radio. And there, he saw, a little bag of Safeway brand baby potatoes. Jackpot. He left victorious.

Before DH headed home he asked me if we were missing anything else. I said, “No, I am sure we are fine.”

About 3 hours later, after everyone had had a nice Christmas nap, I said, “Oh my gosh, we have no firewood for the fire tonight!!!” I got quite the look for that one. And then, from the DH, “It’s not your fault, I should have remembered that too.”

We went without a fire.

But we had a lovely Christmas dinner: Cornish Game Hen, roasted veggies, dressing and a goblet of Mead. It was as if we were having an ancient dinner.

It was perfect.

So, what did you forget on your shopping list this holiday season? Did you track it down or do without? Please tell me it isn’t just my brain that doesn’t work!

The joy of farmers markets

I think this is my new favourite thing:

We got it at the new Calgary Kingsland Farmers Market. Um. Yum. The same place also had the most amazing green eggs that reminded us of the blue eggs we had on our honeymoon (apparently they are a similar but distantly related species… whatever, they taste good.) Oh, and we also got great french style cheese there and the Cornish game hen we (and by we I am mean, I am cooking it and the family is eating it) are cooking for Christmas dinner. We have been there a couple times since they opened and I am already in love.
Anyway, if you happen to be in Calgary, I highly recommend checking out this market.

The most versatile tool in my kitchen

Via Flickr by arifm

My cast iron pan is probably my most used kitchen tool. I love it. Like a lot.

Last night I made corn bread to go with our slower cooker ribs. Yum. And I, of course, used my cast iron pan. The corn bread came out perfect and crispy on the bottom. Double yum.

This morning I had cornbread with molasses! Best breakfast ever.

I use my cast iron pan to make my Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. The book suggests baking their bread on a pizza stone, but I find the cast iron pan works even better. Particularly because a) I don’t have a pizza stone and b) Cast iron pans are easy to take out of a hot oven and then slide the bread dough on to.

I love the smell of fresh baked bread.

Speaking of pizza, I also use my cast iron skillet for making deep dish pizza. Oh my gosh yum. Gets the crust nice and crispy.

Every other weekend or so I make pancakes. My husband really loves pancakes. Anything breakfast really, but pancakes is one of his favourites. Sometimes I put blueberries, or apple and spice or orange zest in my pancakes. But I always cook them in my cast iron pan.Then they get that really dark crispy look on them.

This pan is also great for browning meat (like lets say a pork tenderloin) and then sticking the whole thing right in the oven so it can finish cooking. Works really well for fish too.

It’s my favourite pan to use for caramelizing onions. Or sauteing mushrooms. Or sauteing asparagus.

I have made apple upside down cake in it. I have made crust-less quiche in it. And it makes just about the best darn grilled cheese sandwich one could ever want. Food almost never sticks to it. So it is easy to clean; it hardly ever needs scrubbing.

Essentially what I am saying, is that I couldn’t live without this pan.

What are your favourite tools in your kitchen and why?

Thank you New Canadians

I love supporting small, family run businesses. It makes me feel good to support them because I know the money is re-invested into their families, rather then going to thousands of nameless shareholders. And I have been thinking about them a lot lately. Because I have come to realize more and more, that those small family run businesses are often run by families whom are first generation Canadians.

Many of these entrepreneurs are highly educated professionals in their home countries. They get in to Canada partly because of those professional qualifications. And when they get here, they have to jump through so many hoops, they often find it near impossible to work in their field of expertise.

Which is so frustrating. I understand that we need to ensure that they have the same knowledge and skills as Canadian trained professionals. But there is very little support in place to help them jump through the hoops of Canadian accreditation. Not to mention get support them to find employment once they are accredited.

So many of them, being the amazingly bright people that they are, go into one of the hardest fields to make a living in- running their own business. Sometimes that is a taxi cab, sometimes a restaurant, sometimes a little corner grocery store or gas station. They run franchises. They run independent businesses. They do it all. Some of them go on to run big, successful, businesses that expand and grow. Some of them keep their businesses small.

They take all the intelligence and dedication and hardworking attitude and apply it to their businesses. Running your own business is hard. It is a 24/7 job.

And instead of being bitter about a country that doesn’t recognize their foreign education, they are some of the most warm, kinda, welcoming people. I love going into a little restaurant or grocery store run by new Canadians. Their customer services skills are wonderful. They make amazing food and provide too notch services. They do it with a smile and a hello. They do it all with pride. They know they are doing something important.

And more then just providing great restaurants, stores and services, I feel that these businesses contribute to the cultural fabric of our city. I love that within 5 minutes of our house there are small family run businesses run by Greek, Indian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Lebanese and Afghani families. All with their own stories to tell.

Next time you are in your favourite small, family run business, whether they are immigrants or not, I encourage you to thank them. And then ask them their story. And thank them again. Make no mistake- the Canadian economy runs on small businesses and New Canadians run some of the best.

Pear and Chorizo Stuffing Recipe

So, yesterday Ramble Ramble posted what looks like an amazing and very unique stuffing recipe. Go check it out… I can’t wait to try it!

Yum yum stuffing. I love it. It is by far my favourite part of any Turkey dinner. I was thinking about what I was going to post today for #NaBloPoMo and I thought, well, let’s do another recipe. So Ginger, I hope its okay that I am stealing your idea and posting my stuffing recipe.

So this is a pear and chorizo stuffing. Can you tell that I LOVE chorizo.. I put it in everything… soup, stuffing, on pizza…. love the stuff.

This recipe is adapted from the stuffing my Dad always makes. And his recipe has addapted over the years. It used to be a very traditional sausage stuffing. One year he put cranberries in it. I was about 12. The whole family went into revolt. Sweet in stuffing? Stuffing is supposed to be savory. And only savory. Poor Dad, just trying to mix it up. But, as our plates matured a little, he started putting pear in the stuffing. Yum yum. Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here is the (anti) recipe.

Take some onions, garlic, cut up pears and the Chorizo (I like to grill my first and then slice it) and put it in a big soup pot. Throw in some butter. Let is cook up until the onions are kinda brown and soft.

Take some really good crusty bread. I don’t use stale bread, I prefer ciabatta or a really grainy french loaf. Something with a lot of crust. Cut it up into chunks or just pull it apart into bite sized pieces.

Throw it on top of your pear/onion/garlic/chorizo mixture.

Put on some spices, you know, traditional stuffing ones. Sage, thyme, salt, pepper, whatever you like.

Then pour some chicken stock over, just enough to soften the bread and mix it all together.

Bake inside or outside of the bird for a good long while. Till it looks really good. (usually about 45 minutes if not in the bird, or however long you cook your turkey if it is in the bird).


Sweet Potato, Squash and Chorizo Soup Anti Recipe

So I don’t do recipes when I cook, usually. I do when I bake, cause otherwise I will mess up, particularly on the baking powder/baking soda front. (I always read that part of the recipe like 25 times to make sure I don’t mix them up. Anyways.)

But, I am not a big recipe person when I cook. It’s different.

I work on the pinch of this, pinch of that principle.

A couple weeks ago I had this squash sitting there and I needed something to do with it. Someone tweeted about soup and I thought SOUP! Yeah Soup! It was cold, dark and foggy, so I went with it.

I looked at about 5 different squash or sweet potato soup type recipes. Just to get the basic idea of proportions of ingredients and the best way to cook the squash. And then I improvised. Here is my Anti-Recipe Recipe.

Take a sweet potato and a squash (I have now used both butternut squash and that other kind that starts with a D and is longish and yellow with green stripes. Anyone know what it is called?). Cut them into half or quarters or whatever. Take any seeds out of the squash.

Now brush them both with a bit of olive oil and stick on a pan in a 350 degree oven for, I don’t know, a while. More then 25 minutes, less then 45? I wasn’t paying attention. But till they be nice and soft. Soft enough that you can mash them.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool.

Chop a smallish onion, a couple cloves of garlic and spicy chorizo sausage and a good lump of butter. Pretend you are Paula Deen. Throw that in a good heavy soup pot and put it on medium. Let it cook up and simmer and get all good smelling.

Then peel the skin off your cooked squash and sweet potato, put in a big bowl and mash it up good. Then toss it into the big soup pot with your onions, garlic and chrizo all cooked up and good smelling.

Add some kind of stock. I have used both veg stock and chicken stock, both work. How much? I don’t know, depends on how much squash and sweet potato you have and if you like your soup as thick as oatmeal or as thin is veggie juice. This recipe lends its self to more of a thick stew consistency, but it is up to you. Add and mix till it looks right.

Poor in a splash of milk or cream or nothing, it is up to you. This soup probably doesn’t need the creamyness, but I like it, so I add it. Stir it all together.

Let it bubble away for about 10-15 minutes. Or less if you are running short of time. Then taste and season with salt or pepper if need be.

Oh, one last piece of advice- Make a BIG pot. Trust me, you want leftovers for this one.


What are your favourite anti-recipe recipes?

Questions for the #NoNestle Boycotters

So this week is International No Nestle week as a part of the 30+ years of Nestle boycotting. Last night there was a #NoNestle twitter party, with lots and lots of tweets on the evilness oh Nestle. First off, brilliant move making NoNestle week during Halloween, brilliant.

I have been quietly paying attention to Nestle Boycott for probably the last year. Truth be told, most people don’t hear about until they have kids. Mostly, because some of the strongest boycotters are also breastfeeding advocates. As I said last night in a tweet, I am still very much on the fence. That’s right folks. This is a once in a blue moon situation where I don’t know exactly what my opinion is. Shocking. Usually I am just bubbling with opinions and on this one all I can muster is a: huh.

So I thought I would share some of my thoughts and then ask the boycotters some questions. (I hope some of them make there way over here, I will send out some tweets). Please don’t misinterpretation my pondering for arguments against the boycott– I really truly don’t know. But my ponderings do represent skepticism– which is something I hope to resolve. Through discussion I am hoping to figure out where I really stand on this issue.

First my thoughts:

There are a lot of companies out there that do bad bad things. Because it is in their economic interest and because governments are not strict enough. And many of those companies do even more bad things overseas because those governments are even less strict- caught between a rock and hard place of desperately needing investment and still wanting to protect their people (well, some governments anyway care about this…) So I really really don’t doubt Nestle is a bad bad company. As are others. I also don’t doubt that if you were to put all the companies on a scale from “good corporate citizens” to “bad bad corporate citizens”, Nestle would be hanging out with a large large handful of others in the bad bad category.

So I guess, what my real question is is why Nestle and not any (or all) of the other large large handful of companies? Pharmaceutical companies give out samples to doctors and market their drugs, resulting in more and more people being on prescriptions instead of focusing on a healthy lifestyle. It’s not just formula buying into our health care system. Coke and Pepsi sponsor schools and then fill vending machines and school cafeterias with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) rather then healthy drinks like water or milk. Not to mention Coke and Pepsi aggressively market in many developing countries, where people drink their products rather then water. Just about every maker of processed food puts too much salt and added sugar in their meals, including toddler meals. Chocolate and coffee are two industries where many many of the players are getting supply in ways that harm the people of those countries and the environment. (But there are good options for ‘direct trade’ (a step beyond fair trade) for both.) And I am sure Nestle isn’t the only company controlling water supply and degrading the environment. I live in a Oil town, enough said.

Which brings us to Question 1:

So why boycott Nestle and not all these other companies? Why not turn the Nestle boycott into a boycott against all the worst of the worst unethical companies? (Although with the challenge of all Nestle’s brands causes to even know what your buying, could you imagine multiplying that by 10 or 15 or 50 companies?)

The other thing I have been thinking about is the boycott in relation to breastfeeding support. While I know the boycott is about more then just formula- Nestle has no shortage of bad corporate behaviors- the boycotters themselves are largely breastfeeding advocates- at least the most vocal ones. So I think it is hard to claim that this isn’t about formula. I get the Nestle does not adhere to the WHO code for Breastmilk substitutes. I don’t think any of the formula companies do (correct me if I am wrong). There are parts of the code I am 100% behind- like not giving out samples at hospitals, doctors offices, ect. I am good with formula companies not sending me formula in the mail or sponsoring a big banner on the top of a breastfeeding information article on the web or having their own breastfeeding support hot-line.  Seriously, that is all just crazy and inappropriately aggressive marketing.   They shouldn’t be able to claim their product is as good or better then breast milk. It ain’t. I am all for truth in advertising. But it is the instore stuff that bothers me. Because I think it is insulting to women to think anyone is going to be rolling her cart down the grocery store, a happy breastfeeding Momma, see a can of formula on sale and think “well hell, it is on sale, I might as well give up this whole breastfeeding thing.” It is my opinion that any women who is swayed by a can of formula on sale is already lacking the support she needs to be successful at breastfeeding- the issue is that lack of support, not the sale on formula. So while I can get down with most of the code, I get bothered by the concept and implications of formula as a ‘controlled substance’ and the idea that women are just sheep to marketing. And I wonder if the effort spend on boycott is not better spend on breastfeeding support.

Then again, many of the strongest Nestle boycotters also put a ton of effort into advocating for better breastfeeding support, so why does it have to be one or the other? Many of them do both. Why not Boycott Nestle?

Question 2: Why shift the blame from lack of support for breastfeeding Moms (adequate maternity leave, access to lactation consultants, ect.) to a company that makes a product? Does the Nestle boycott not take our focus on what really needs to change? Their marketing wouldn’t be as successful if we cut the supply. Their methods work because so many women struggle to breastfeed and don’t have the support to make it work.

Lastly, if we are really honest with ourselves, acts of protests like boycotting are about more then just what we are boycotting against. They are part of a desire to connect and belong with a group of people united behind a cause. Boycotting Nestle says something about who you are and what you stand for. It is a personal statement as much as it is a political choice. And when it comes right down to it- I am not sure I fit in. Before I made my way online I thought I was pretty crunchy- I have discovered I am not in comparison to the people online. And while I have a lot of respect for a lot of the boycotter bloggers- I don’t fit into the club. Or do I? After reading this post over at Sorta Crunchy about why formula feeders should support the boycott, I don’t know. She has a point.

Question 3: Who is a Nestle boycott-er? What similarities unite those that boycott and what does it mean to say you are a Nestle boycott-er? What personal statement are you making?

Additional Reading: If you are on the fence to and want some more info before you jump into this conversation, here are some posts to check out.

Annie from Phd in Parenting. (Ton of stuff on her blog, just liked to the most recent.)

Baby Milk Action

I also tried to find some thing about the ‘other side’ to represent thoughts of someone who doesn’t boycott Nestle and why- I couldn’t find anything. But if anyone has a good link to suggest- let me know. I am all for a balanced approach and hearing out both sides.

*Edited* Oh ooo I found this one: The Mom Slant about the boycott in relation to Halloween. Thank goodness for twitter.

Okay- now I want to hear your thoughts.

*Edit #2* Annie from PhD in Parenting has written a post responding to my questions. (Thank you Annie!) Check it out here. I would love to hear everyone’s thoughts on it, as well as the questions I presented. If you are following the boycott, why? If not, why not?

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