Category: food

Mexican Street Corn

My family goes crazy for Mexican Street Corn. It is served all over the Southwest, usually as a full cob of corn with a skewer tucked into one end. This makes it easier to eat while walking around. We will order it off the cob to ensure that every bit of flavor is devoured. We want each bite to have that tang of cotija cheese and sweetness of the corn. We love the acidity that the lime juice adds and that final hit of heat from the chile powder.

How do all those flavors come together? Well, the corn is grilled and then basted with a mixture of mayo and sour cream, while it is still hot and quickly rolled in copious amounts of cotija cheese. A quick squeeze of lime and sprinkle of chile powder and it is ready!

Is your mouth watering yet? In California, you can get this wonderful treat all year long, but it really is best in summer when corn is at its sweetest. I wanted to find a way to have that flavor on my dinner table all the time, without relying on fresh corn. Popcorn! Let’s put all those flavors together and encrust a piece of halibut. Yeah!  I love the crunch that comes with the popcorn and the subtle flavors of fresh halibut and its light taste with a bit of brininess.

See the notes below on how to get the flavor into popcorn if you aren’t interested in fish.

Mexican Street Corn
Print Recipe
Servings
4 6-oz pieces
Servings
4 6-oz pieces
Mexican Street Corn
Print Recipe
Servings
4 6-oz pieces
Servings
4 6-oz pieces
Ingredients
Servings: 6-oz pieces
Instructions
  1. Whisk together mayonnaise, sour cream, and 2/3 cup cotija cheese.
  2. Add chile powder, lime zest, coriander.
  3. Taste and add salt & pepper if needed, or additional chile powder.
  4. Slather mixture all over halibut. Coat halibut in fresh popped popcorn and sprinkle with remaining cotija cheese.
  5. Bake at 450° for 10-20 minutes. It depends on size of fish. A good rule is 10 minutes per inch of thickness.
  6. Fish is done if it flakes when a fork is twisted in it. Serve with lime wedges and a dollop of remaining sauce on side.
Recipe Notes

So if you don't want fish but would love this flavor on popcorn, mix all the ingredients together. You can leave thick or thin out, slightly, with beer.

Toss while popcorn is HOT and enjoy!

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Try Something New! DIY Protein Powder

Well, here we are a few days after New Year’s and, so far so good. I’ve been able to stay on track and feel great. One of the things I’ve been doing is having a homemade protein powder on the counter, at the ready. This makes it so easy to grab something healthy when cravings strike.  I also use it for a quick breakfast.

There are literally thousands of ready-made protein powders on the market so why do I feel compelled to make my own? I have never been able to find one that doesn’t taste, I’ll say it, GROSS, to me. I have very sensitive taste buds. That means that in some powders I will taste every vitamin. In others, I can taste the chemicals. Or worse, in the “natural” ones that it tastes like I’m drinking grass. The others I’ve tried and liked are not natural and so sweetened that I know they aren’t healthy.

So, I started my research and came up with my own recipe. It gave me a starting flavor I like and flexibility of adding chocolate, vanilla, berry, and others. This base is so great because you can get creative.  How about making the chocolate powder version and adding peanut butter and banana? I love to add frozen cherries to the vanilla and to the chocolate. Truly the possibilities are endless.

Enjoy and be sure to let me know what you try!

 

DIY Protein Powder

1/2 cup protein source like dry milk, whey, whole nuts, seeds or hemp hearts, choose one or mix it all up.                                                                                                                                                               1/2 cup rolled oats.                                                                                                                                        Optional-add fiber  – 1/3 cup of chia seeds, ground flax seed, wheat germ or hemp hearts.                   Add some Flavor:                                                                                                                                       2 T. cocoa powder or                                                                                                                                       1/4 of a vanilla bean, scraped or                                                                                                                  1 T. espresso powder or                                                                                                                             2 T. ground, freeze-dried berries

Grind your desired ingredients, in a food processor, until it is a fine powder. I make several different flavors at one time. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator.

To make the smoothie, add 2 T. powder, 1 cup milk (regular, seed, nut or coconut), and 1/2 frozen banana. You can use other frozen fruit, but I start with bananas because of the thickness they give.

This morning I had chocolate powder and added 1 T. PB Fit powder. I used unsweetened vanilla coconut milk. YUM!!!

Mark’s Cookies from Spain!

This summer I had the greatest trip to Spain with my husband. I’ve written about many parts of the trip and shared many recipes. However, it has taken me months to duplicate a most important recipe. Double Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Principal hotel. You have to understand my husband is not much of a sweet eater and chocolate would never be his first choice. So, when he asked the maître d’ if he could have some cookies to take on the airplane home, I almost fell over.

When we did finally arrive at home I made it my quest to duplicate the recipe. I wrote to the chef. I explained how my husband coveted his cookies and asked if he would share the recipe with me. While I waited for his response I played around with some other recipes. I found a few online and even tried a couple of Dorie Greenspan’s. Each time he tried them and each time the verdict was, “Not the same.”.

I was delighted when I got an email from the chef with his recipe, but it was just chocolate chip cookies.  I wrote back and explained it was the dark chocolate chip cookies and he replied right away with the adjustments to make the recipe into the dark cookies. I will say that there were still adjustments to be made. For example, Celsius to Fahrenheit conversion wasn’t an exact science, nor were weight measurements versus cup and tablespoon measurements. So again, I made many versions and they were “Not the same”.

One more try and I got it. Let me tell you that my husband really likes a crunchy cookie and it was hard to get that right without having either burnt or just dry cookies.  Remember every oven is different and every taste too.  Adjust for your oven and preference.

I hope you enjoy these as much as my husband did.  Please put your comments.  I love to hear from you.  Happy Holidays!

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
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Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies with White Chocolate Chips
Print Recipe
Servings
3 dozen
Servings
3 dozen
Ingredients
Servings: dozen
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
  3. In an electric mixer, with paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars.
  4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
  5. Beat until well mixed.
  6. Gradually add flour and mix util "dry".
  7. Stir in dark chocolate.
  8. Fold in white and semi-sweet chocolate chips.
  9. Scoop onto ungreased baking sheet. Leave them kind of roundish for best texture.
  10. Bake at 350° for 13-16 minutes.
Recipe Notes

 

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DONUTS!!!!

Every year at Hanukkah we eat an abundance of fried foods.  We say we do this to commemorate the miracle of the oil.  Hmmm… I think it is a just a great excuse to eat all the yummy fried foods we try so hard to avoid throughout the year. I mean who wouldn’t want to eat fried latkes, fried doughnuts and anything else fried?

Having said that, the jelly donuts we usually get at our local shop are a little too big, too oily and too filled with artificial jelly. So, this year I am making a version of my own. My recipe will be based on an Italian donut called Zeppole. Since they are more donut hole sized, it’s easier to say yes to the kids and to my waistline.  Because we are making them at home, I can fill them with not only, better quality jam or jelly (think Bonne Marman), but I can also fill them with anything I want, like Nutella.  I can also dip them in chocolate or sprinkle them with sugar and/or cinnamon. They are super easy too!

The trick to making sure they are not doughy on the inside or overdone on the outside is your oil temperature.  You can use a candy thermometer for a little insurance. You want to keep the oil at 375°.  Be sure to check the temperature especially between batches and keep your batches small. After making these, I honestly recommend a deep fryer that you can set the temperature. It can be difficult to manage the temperature as you are trying to scoop dough and then fry, too. Sprinkle them with sugar or cinnamon when they first come out of the oil.  This way it sticks to the donuts.

I use a pastry bag to fill the donuts. The easiest way to do this is, once they are cool enough to handle, make an X in the top that goes almost all the way through. Then use a plain tip and pastry bag to squeeze in your desired filling, just don’t go crazy.

They look so pretty stacked on a festive plate and sprinkled with a fine dusting of powdered sugar.

Happy Hanukkah!

Zeppole
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Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Zeppole
Print Recipe
Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Servings
3 3 donuts per person
Ingredients
Servings: 3 donuts per person
Instructions
  1. In a heavy saucepan combine the sugar, butter, salt and water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Take pan off heat and gradually stir in flour.
  3. Put pan over a low heat and stir until it forms a ball. This really varies in time, but typically about 3 minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to a medium bowl and then using a hand mixer, beat in eggs one at a time. Be sure to completely incorporate each egg, before adding the next.
  5. Beat until batter it is thick and smooth.
  6. At this point you can fry immediately or cover and refrigerate, overnight.
  7. Pour enough oil into a large pan, I used a dutch oven, to give you a depth of about 2 inches. This is a lot of oil. You can save the oil for another cooking purpose. I'm going to use mine to fry latkes.
  8. Bring oil to a temp of 375°, using a candy or fry thermometer. It is REALLY important to maintain the 375° temperature. Your donuts will be brown on the outside and doughy on the inside if not.
  9. I use a small ice cream scoop but you can use tablespooons to form balls and then drop carefully into oil.
  10. Using a "spider" strainer, turn them once or twice so they cook evenly. They should cook in about 5 minutes.
  11. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with powdered sugar or a cinnamon/sugar mix, while they are still hot. This will make the sugar stick.
  12. You can serve as is or you serve with dipping sauces like chocolate or caramel.
  13. If you want to fill them, make an X with a small knife that goes almost all the way through. Using a round tip and pastry bag, slightly fill each donut, once they are cool. I used Nutella and strawberry jam.
Recipe Notes

 

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Holiday Menu Planning and Hanukkah

This is such a great time of year.  Most of us are in full blown holiday mode, however you celebrate. I love to entertain as much as possible and some years that is more than others.  This year I am hosting two family Hanukkahs and hope to have lots of nights with friends just hanging out.

So my menu planning and baking has begun. First up, Hanukkah; In addition to traditional latkes, I know for sure I am trying a latke recipe I found on The Nosher for “everything” latkes. They sound incredible. I’m sure I’ll make brisket and some sort alternative for those that don’t eat red meat.

You have to have lots of sweets. After all we are celebrating the sweetness of victory and the miracle of the oil. This year, I am making an Orange Olive Oil cake that has been in my repertoire for a while but has never made it to my Hanukkah table. It’s actually the perfect Hanukkah cake.  It is made with olive oil and the better the quality the more olive oil taste you will get.  I love using a “New” olive oil. It like the Beaujolais Nouveau of olive oil.  It has a sweet taste at the front and a peppery finish. It works so well in this cake.

I’ll keep you posted as I my menu expands. I’d love to hear from you about what you’re serving!

On a side note, I was really struggling what to get for all the people that help take care of my home and life. You know the gal that keeps my eyebrows looking good and the gardener that keeps my house looking beautiful.  I always give a gift card but try to find something personal too.  This year I am trying a recipe for homemade, stamped peppermints.  Here’s the link Homemade Stamped Peppermints but I will let you know how mine come out.

I hope you all have a great holiday season!

 
Orange Olive Oil Cake
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Orange Olive Oil Cake
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Oil a 9" springform pan
  3. In a medium bowl combine almond meal, flour and baking powder.
  4. In another bowl, with an electric mixer, beat eggs until frothy.
  5. Slowly add the sugar and beat until light and thickened.
  6. Slowly add flour mixture, then zest, juice and olive oil, until just combined. Do not overwork.
  7. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake 50-60 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.
  8. Garnish with orange slices, mint leaves and a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a dollop of whipped cream.
Recipe Notes

 

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Fall Comfort and Friends

In L.A. Halloween is the earliest we start to see Fall. For me it is also when I start looking to gather my family and friends together. There is no better way to get people together than a warm cup of soup and a comfort sandwich. So when the kids start collecting candy, I start making soups.

A soup and sandwich combo is perfect because it gives me an excuse to get up from the table and not be the only one in the kitchen. I love the idea of inviting everyone into the kitchen to ladle up a bowl of warm tomato soup and help themselves to my Panini bar, to make their own sandwich.

I found and interesting tomato soup mash up with French Onion Soup. It sounded great but had a lot of steps. Unless, it’s a holiday that is not how I want to spend my time in the Fall. I took the lead from Poole’s Diner in North Carolina and made it my own. The best is caramelized onions and the sweetness they add.

In addition to putting out a beautiful selection of meats, cheeses, breads and toppings, for the Panini bar, I also make these Grilled Cheese Roll-ups. They’re super easy and the kids love to be able to grab them and run out the door to Trick or Treat. Don’t tell the kids but I actually put a little bit of Dijon on the bread before it cooks.

I hope you all have a fabulous Fall season and a scary Halloween.

Roasted Tomato / French Onion Soup
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Servings
6 bowls
Servings
6 bowls
Roasted Tomato / French Onion Soup
Print Recipe
Servings
6 bowls
Servings
6 bowls
Ingredients
Servings: bowls
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 425°
  2. Toss together tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 20 - 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and add to soup pot with chicken stock, bay leaves and butter.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
  6. While soup is cooking: Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy skillet, over medium heat.
  7. Add onions and 2 tsp. salt. Turn heat to high and stir for 1 minute to coat onions evenly with salt and oil.
  8. Reduce heat to medium/low and cover pan. Cook covered for 20 minutes.
  9. Uncover and continue to stir and cook until onions are thick and a deep brown color. Set aside.
  10. Remove bay leaves. Use immersion blender and blend to desired consistency. I like mine a little rustic.
  11. Add the caramelized onions and stir to incorporate and heat onions, if they've cooled. At this point you can add cream, if using.
  12. Stack 2 baguette slices in each bowl, with 1 T. of cheese between each layer and on top.
  13. Ladle the hot soup around the bread.
  14. Place bowls under the broiler and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and browned. This is easier if you put the bowls on a sheet pan.
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Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
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Servings
6 sandwiches
Servings
6 sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
Print Recipe
Servings
6 sandwiches
Servings
6 sandwiches
Ingredients
Servings: sandwiches
Instructions
  1. Use a rolling pin, to roll slices of bread to 1/4" thickness.
  2. Spread each slice with a tiny bit of Dijon mustard, optional.
  3. Place 1 lice of cheese on each bread and roll tightly.
  4. Melt 2 T. of butter in a large fry pan over high heat.
  5. Add roll-up to pan and cook until all sides are golden brown and cheese is melted. You may have to do a few at a time and add more butter if needed.
  6. Serve immediately
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Caffeine to Go – Cappuccino Muffins!

There is a coffee store every 500 yards, on every block. The coffee shelf at your local grocery store has become the coffee aisle and the fact that bakers have been putting coffee in their chocolate recipes for years, is finally out of the darkness. I wanted to find the perfect recipe to encapsulate all I love about coffee and baking, but wasn’t overtly chocolate. Cappuccino Muffins!

I first tried Cappuccino Muffins when my second daughter was in pre-school. One of the Moms brought them in for the Mom’s whose kids were going through transition. At that point in pre-school you start the day with your child and then go sit outside for a while to make sure they can hack it without you. I have to admit, my girls were always independent enough that I could have dropped them off their very first day and they would have been fine. Other Moms didn’t have it so easy and we could hear their kid wailing, waiting for them to come back in. So those perfect muffins, flavored with espresso, and studded with chocolate chips were just what we all needed to settle our nerves and spark conversation.

I had been given the recipe but have searched high and low for my copy and couldn’t find it. Let the recipe testing begin! It was a truly fun day and I might have a mild case of the jitters, from all the caffeine, but I think I came up with just the right flavor and an added perk of espresso cream cheese schmear. I ran out of my instant espresso powder and my local grocer didn’t have it. They did have Starbuck’s Via Instant Coffee in Italian Roast. That worked just fine.

These are great to make ahead and keep on the counter for about a week. You can also make them and freeze them. I would wrap them individually and grab them on the way out the door. By the time you get to work they will have defrosted and be ready to eat. Even better, you can toast them, from frozen, and use a little of the schmear.

Cappuccino Muffins with Espresso Scmear
Print Recipe
Servings
12 muffins
Servings
12 muffins
Cappuccino Muffins with Espresso Scmear
Print Recipe
Servings
12 muffins
Servings
12 muffins
Ingredients
Espresso Schmear
Servings: muffins
Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together milk and coffee until coffee dissolves.
  3. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients until just blended.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Fill paper lined muffin tins 2/3 full.
  7. Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes. Just until tester comes out clean.
  8. Cool for 5 minutes in pan then on rack.
  9. Serve with schmear.
Espresso Schmear
  1. In a small bowl beat together all schmear ingredients until well blended. Refrigerate until served.
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It about Storage!

I thought I’d circle back about my food waste post, earlier this week and storage.

The leading culprit of food waste is proper storage and the biggest areas of waste are seafood (50%) and produce (48%). Neither of those really surprised me but I would have put produce first in my house.

So here are a couple of notes on proper storage.:

Herbs– Store your  like fresh flowers, in a glass of water. I find that some do better in the refrigerator and    some are better on the counter. You have to experiment.

Flour – Unless you are baking often, store your flour in the freezer. This surprised me. This is because all grains, especially whole-grains, have some natural oils in them. Oils go rancid. Freezing or even storing in the refrigerator prevents this. If you do store this way make sure it is in an airtight container and that you let what you use come back to room temperature.

Cheese – I always knew I didn’t like plastic storage but now I know why. Plastic holds in moisture and as a result can promote mold. For items like cheese, use wax paper. I love the wax sandwich bags my mom used to use for lunches. For Bread, use a good old-fashioned paper bag, on the counter.

Oils – Most oils go bad after 2-3 months, once they are opened. Be sure to keep them in a dark environment. Sesame oil can be stored in the refrigerator.

Nuts – You can, and should, keep your fresh nuts in the freezer. Depending on the nut, they will keep in freezer 2-9 months versus 1-3, just on counter or in your pantry.

There are also simple ways to revive some foods that may just need a little help taking that last step, before the trash or compost heap.

Wilted Vegetables and Lettuce, simply give them a quick soak (5-10 minutes) in ice water.

Stale Bread, toast it and enjoy or season and toast then run through a food processor for great bread crumbs.

If you accidentally over salt something, add an acid like lemon or vinegar. If you are making soup or sauce, throw a raw potato in to absorb the extra salt.

Even overcooked veggies can be pureed and made into a soup or added to a sauce.

Buy and use the ugly fruits and vegetables. They, too, often end up in the trash of the grocery store.

For additional information go to savethefood.com.

 

My Refrigerator Wasteland

My refrigerator, after the Jewish Holidays, could be a case study for food waste programs everywhere! It happens every holiday. My family makes requests of what foods they would like, I make them and we end up with a refrigerator full of leftovers. Even this year when I tried so hard to avoid the excess, I am still have a fridge full. There’s even half an egg salad sandwich (on rye) in there.

Recently, the Save the Food campaign has really ramped up and it seems that I see the commercial every 20 minutes. This year it really got me thinking and I am going to share some recipes that I‘ll be using to re-use and repurpose some of my leftovers.

I was astonished to learn that 40% of all food in the United States is never eaten; but 1 out of 8 Americans struggle to put enough food on their table. This has inspired me to offer myself (and my fridge) as an example. Here are a few recipes I am using this week for my leftovers. The steak and kugels will definitely get eaten on their own. But there’s milk in there that was 2% instead of 1% and my picky kid wouldn’t drink it. If you can catch milk and that first tart smell, it makes great pancakes or biscuits. Then the blueberries and lemon will make a great syrup or jam. Finally, I’m going to make a carrot/potato soup and garnish with chives that I have crisped up in a little oil. Enjoy!

Leftover Carrot/Potato Soup
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Leftover Carrot/Potato Soup
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a soup pot, sauce the onions and garlic in the butter, until translucent.
  2. Add the chicken broth, carrots, potatoes, bay leaf and seasonings. Cook until carrots and potatoes are tender enough to puree. If you are using leftovers you may not have to cook too long. If not, cook 25-30 minutes.
  3. Discard the bay, then puree soup. I like an immersion blender. You can also do it in batches in a food processor, just do a little bit a time. You can puree until smooth, but I like a little of texture.
  4. In a separate saute pan heat 2 T. oil and saute chives until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Use to garnish soup.
  5. Adjust salt & pepper to taste and serve soup with five garnish.
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Sour Milk Pancakes
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Sour Milk Pancakes
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl wish together all dry ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, eggs and oil.
  3. Make a well in center of dry ingredients and stir in milk mixture until batter is smooth.
  4. Heat a large pan or griddle and grease.
  5. Ladle 1/4 cup of batter, onto pan, for each pancake.
  6. Once bubbles form and appear to be drying, flip pancakes and cook for another minute or two. Repeat until batter is finished.
  7. Brush with melted butter and serve with Blueberry Lemon syrup or your favorite toppings.
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Blueberry Lemon Syrup
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Servings
2 cups
Servings
2 cups
Blueberry Lemon Syrup
Print Recipe
Servings
2 cups
Servings
2 cups
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan bring the berries and water to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour berries, into a bowl, through a sieve. be sure to press down on the fruit to extract every bit of juice. Hopefully you have 3 cups of liquid. If not, add water to bring to measure.
  3. Return to saucepan and add sugar, salt, lemon peel and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  4. You can use a candy thermometer and boil until reaches 225° or reduce heat and simmer until syrup has reduced until thick enough to coat back of spoon.
  5. Remove from heat and discard lemon peel.
  6. Whisk in butter and vanilla.
  7. Allow to cool. Store in airtight jar in fridge, for up to 6 months.
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