Category Archives: Budget Friendly

Colcannon: You had me at potatoes.

Somewhere in my patchwork ancestry there lives a little Irish. How much? I don’t really know. Probably a little slice. It’s enough to give me pale, tan-resistant skin, an affinity for the smell of rain, a tiny hint of red in my hair, and an undying love for potatoes. I don’t know very much about the cuisine of Ireland. I am sure it involves more than potatoes. Yes? Maybe one day I’ll visit and find out first-hand. In the meantime, I’ll stick with potatoes. One of the Irish dishes I’ve always enjoyed is colcannon. It’s easy to make, comforting and delicious, as potatoes almost always are.

This version has more greens than your garden-variety colcannon, which added some great texture and flavor (and a few more vitamins!). The thing about greens is they cook down so much you can eat a lot of them and not really notice, especially in a wonderful conglomeration like this. This is the third recipe I’ve made out of my new cookbook, The Book of Greens, and it’s my favorite one yet. Lest you think this book is all about healthy rabbit food and vegetarian recipes, feast your eyes on the yummy shot of my skillet full of butter, bacon and sopressata. Oh yeah, baby. Life is all about balance.

Colcannon
(from The Book of Greens, by Jenn Louis)

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
4 oz. sopressata or bacon, coarsely chopped into 1/4 inch pieces (I used a little of both)
8 oz. green or Savoy cabbage (I used 1/2 small head of green cabbage)
8 oz. Russian kale without stems, cut into 1/4 inch ribbons (I used one big bunch. You could also use other varieties of kale or chard)
1 cup milk
A few gratings of nutmeg
Salt & pepper
1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes (how much is this? I used 5 medium-ish potatoes. When in doubt, I always throw in another one, but that’s just me)

Preheat the broiler.

In a large skillet or sauce pan, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion and sopressata and/or bacon and stir to combine.

Adding this mixture to just about anything is pretty much guaranteed to make it delicious.

Add the cabbage and kale and cook until both are tender, 6-8 minutes. Add the milk and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the greens are soft but not browned, about 15 minutes.

While the greens are cooking, peel the potatoes and cut into cubes. Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add cold water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and place in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the kale and cabbage mixture and gently mix on low speed until the potatoes are mashed and evenly mixed with the greens (you could also use an old-fashioned potato masher for this instead of a mixer if you are so inclined). Season with salt and pepper.

Spread the mixture in a baking dish and place under the broiler until lightly browned on top, about 5 minutes. Remove from broiler and serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a side dish. Double recipe if eating as a main dish. <<< My plan for next time.

Colcannon and pork loin. Truthfully, I could lose the pig and double the colcannon. So good.

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Green Shakshuka

The monkeys and I have spent the winter mostly hibernating, eating comfort food and getting fat. But Spring is finally here! That means farmer’s market is revving up to full swing and new things are popping up every week that make me want to experiment in the kitchen.

In one of those perfect timing situations, the lovely Jenn Louis, a chef here in Portland, is releasing her new cookbook this month (in stores April 11th, woohoo!), aptly titled The Book of Greens! I was lucky enough to be eating at her restaurant, Ray, on the day the author copies landed  and bought the very first copy. Booyah!

The cool thing about this book is it gives you plenty of recipes for the “normal” greens you might be used to eating but also for lots of things that maybe you haven’t heard of or have never tried or didn’t know you could eat. I always get a few mystery items in my CSA boxes and this is going to be a huge help when figuring out what to do with them. This cookbook highlight greens I didn’t know existed and it goes way beyond salads.

This is the second recipe I’ve made out of this book and both have been delicious. I love my eggs and who knew there was a way of making them that I’ve never tried? Normally shakshuka is made with a red, tomato-based sauce but I’ve never seen a green version. Think salsa verde on steroids, with the eggs gently cooked right in the sauce. I love the zing of the tomatillos, balanced with a little spice and a lot of greens. You can eat this with challah toast, or do as I did, and serve it over rice for dinner. I also ate the leftovers over hash browns (don’t judge, you know how I feel about potatoes). This was so tasty.

Green Shakshuka!

Green Shakshuka
(a.k.a. Malabar Spinach Shakshuka, from The Book of Greens, by Jenn Louis)

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and halved
4 oz. malabar spinach (I used regular spinach, or you could also sub chard)
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 jalapeno, stemmed & cut into thirds (remove seeds and membranes if you want it less spicy)
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion (I used half since I have an onion hater in the house)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground caraway
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
Sea salt
4 eggs
2 oz. sheep’s milk feta

Challah toast, rice or potatoes for serving

Combine tomatillos, spinach, cilantro, and jalapeno in a food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and process again until the ingredients are well mixed but not fully pureed. The texture of the ingredients should be fine, not chunky. Set aside.

Green things getting ready to get chopped up. Don’t worry, I squished them all down in there.

Over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil in a 10 inch skillet. Add the onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway, and turmeric and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. If the garlic begins to brown, decrease the heat.

Add the tomatillo mixture, season lightly with salt, and bring the sauce to a light simmer. Cook slowly until the sauce thickens, 8-10 minutes. Crack the eggs atop the spinach-tomatillo mixture, turn the heat to low, and cover the pan to allow the eggs to cook gently and steam. Cook the eggs until the whites all set, 4-5 minutes.

Spoon into individual bowls with the eggs on top, and garlic with the cilantro springs and feta. Serve immediately with challah toast, rice or potatoes (or for a low carb option, just eat it with a spoon)!

Serves 2.

 

 

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Maple Squashiness

For someone who has always hated squash, the weirdest thing has happened to me. The last year or two a strange evolution has occurred and all the sudden, I’m a huge fall and winter squash fan. And it’s all because of this simple recipe. While there are lots of ways to cook it, this is what I find myself doing time after time. These sticky, sweet, buttery, yummy wedges just keep me coming back for more.

Sometimes I add a few dried cranberries or nuts, or a crumble of goat cheese, but more often than not, it’s just this. Real maple syrup. Real butter. Sea salt. Cracked pepper. You can’t go wrong.

One note: wrestling these things into submission is sometimes a bit of a chore, depending on the particular squash you are using. This recipe will work on pretty much any hard-shelled winter squash, from acorn to butternut. I personally love having the extra caramelization on all the edges, so I go through the trouble of cutting it into wedges. But if you don’t want to mess with it, or if it’s just too hard to cut up, cut that sucker in half, scoop out the seeds and just put the ingredients in the cavity of each half. Cut it into wedges after you cook it. You may need to cook it a bit longer since it’s a larger chunk, but it will still turn out lovely.

Maple Squashiness. Simple. Delicious.

Maple Squashiness. Simple. Delicious.

Maple Squash

1 acorn squash (or any type of hard-shelled winter squash)
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. real maple syrup
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

Optional – dried cranberries or cherries, chopped almonds or walnuts, goat cheese

Preheat oven to 400˚.

Cut squash in half. Remove seeds (you can discard these or clean them and bake them for a snack). If you want to, cut further into smaller wedges. Scatter little pieces of butter all over, drizzle with maple syrup, sprinkle with sea salt & pepper.

All ready to go in the oven.

All ready to go in the oven.

Bake for 30-40 minutes (adjust cooking time for bigger or smaller squash) or until fork tender. If using nuts/dried fruit/cheese, sprinkle on squash 5-10 minutes before you take it out. Serve hot.

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CSA Week 18: Baby Beets and Greens with Creamy Polenta

Last week I picked up my last CSA box of the season. I will miss them! The best (and sometimes the most challenging) thing about these weekly farm boxes has been getting some unusual things that I would not normally buy. Like these baby beets with their greens. Baby beets? Greens? What the heck do I do with those? Luckily my farmer is great at offering suggestions for some of the more seldom seen ingredients. She suggested I cook them more like hardy greens such as rainbow chard, which is exactly what I did. I sliced the little beets, chopped the greens and stems and gave them a nice sauté in a bit of butter and olive oil. If you can’t find baby beets, you can use the regular ones. Try to find them with some fresh looking greens, chop them up and sauté along with the beets. Or if you’re not a beet fan, substitute some rainbow chard instead.

One of the things I love best with greens is polenta. It soaks up all the nice juices and adds a richness that balances the greens so nicely. I topped mine with some feta and olives and a few shakes of date balsamic. This stuff is wonderful. If you can’t find date balsamic (I bought mine at ilovedatelady.com), just use any balsamic glaze instead. The little touch of sweetness at the end is just lovely.

Creamy Polenta with Baby Beets & Greens

Creamy Polenta with Baby Beets & Greens

Baby Beets and Greens with Creamy Polenta

One bunch baby beets with greens
3 tbsp. butter, divided
1 tsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup castelvetrano olives (green Italian olives)
Feta cheese
Balsamic glaze

In a medium saucepan, heat three cups of water with a pinch of salt to a boil. Add the polenta and stir. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until liquid is absorbed and polenta is tender. Stir in 2 tbsp. butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix until butter is melted and polenta is creamy.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat. Melt one tbsp. of butter with the teaspoon of olive oil. Chop beets and their greens and add to the skillet. Sauté, stirring occasionally until beets are tender, about 5-7 minutes. If you like them a little softer, let them go a couple more minutes.

Start with a scoop of creamy polenta. Top with beets and greens, olives and a few crumbles of feta. Drizzle with balsamic and finish with a bit of sea salt if desired.

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Pear and Poppy Seed Bread

As you can see I’ve lost track of what CSA week I’m on. I’m still getting boxes and barely keeping up with using it all (but doing pretty well!). Overall I’ve been really happy with the box contents, especially the recent addition of melon, pears and apples! The only problem with pears is they ripen quickly after they are picked so we had a few heading over the hill before we had a chance to eat them. To solve that problem, I made a triple batch of this bread, which I turned into two loaves and a dozen muffins. Although I liked the loaves, the muffins went like hotcakes so I will probably make more of those next time. Hotcakes? Hmmm… yes.

Pear and Poppy Seed Bread

Pear and Poppy Seed Bread

Pear and Poppy Seed Bread
(slightly adapted from Cooking Light)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped peeled ripe pear
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in pear; make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk and next 5 ingredients (buttermilk through egg) in a bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Spoon batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack.

For muffins, spray a muffin pan and bake 20 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack or serve warm.

Breakfast of champions.

Breakfast of champions.

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CSA Week 7: Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

I am rolling in squash. Last week was pattypan and zucchini, this week LOTS of zucchini. I made two batches of zucchini bread and didn’t even scratch the surface. Luckily I like zucchini. The pattypans, eh, not as much. They have a bit of a spongy texture I don’t really love. But I took care of that problem with this recipe.

Week 7’s CSA box included, as previously mentioned, MANY zucchini (7 or 8 large ones), a huge bunch of beets, lettuce, parsley, Thai eggplants, five cucumbers, new potatoes, sweet corn, and green beans. And I still have quite a bit left from last week. Obviously I have my work cut out for me this week. I don’t think I’m even going to bother buying meat.

Then today, I came across inspiration in the form of a recipe from Cooking Light. I did not follow their recipe, but the basic flavors sounded great so I threw this together based on what I had in my kitchen. The wonderful thing about this recipe is that you blend up the squash. Since for me (and I think for many people), the texture is what I don’t like sometimes (especially with some varieties), blending it into a soup was the perfect solution. The sweet corn was the leading flavor and honestly, if I didn’t know the squash was in there, I would not have guessed. Blending it gave the soup a lovely silky texture without the squashy taste. Since I have so much zucchini on hand, I diced one up and added it just a few minutes before serving to add a little crunch. If you don’t like the texture of the zucchini, add it earlier and blend it up with the others or just leave it out.

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

Sweet Corn and Summer Squash Soup

2-3 pattypan squash, diced
1 zucchini
1 small onion
4 ears of corn (or you can use 2 cups frozen corn kernels)
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tsp. chives, chopped
2 cups chicken or veggie broth
2-3 cups milk
Salt & pepper
Cheddar cheese (optional for garnish)

Heat up a soup pan over medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil. Add onions and squash. Sauté for a few minutes until tender. Add half the corn. Cook a minute more. Add 2 cups of milk. With a stick blender (or in a regular blender), blend until smooth. Add the rest of the corn, thyme, broth and zucchini. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let soup simmer a few minutes until zucchini is tender and soup is hot. Add extra milk if you want it a little thinner in consistency. Serve immediately. Top with cheese if desired.

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CSA Week 6: Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

My farm box this week included lettuce, green beans, Japanese eggplant, cucumbers, pattypan squash, new potatoes, sweet peppers, blueberries, broccoli, beets and basil. I don’t even want to think about all the stuff still left from last week. You can bet on one thing though. There’s still some kale.

Out of all the kale recipes I have tried over the last couple of months – and there’s quite a few – this is actually my favorite way to make it. Which is a little odd considering that instead of hiding it, blending it, or otherwise disguising it, it is actually the star of this dish. I use a tiny bit of olive oil, but not much, making this more like a dry sauté. You get a little char on the edges and the texture, instead of wilted and limp, is almost a little crispy. When the yolky egg breaks and blends with it, well, it’s just pretty darn good. I make this a couple of times a week (not always for breakfast), sometimes tossing in a few mushrooms or other veggies, and sometimes just by itself.

I have the hardest time cooking sunny side up eggs, and I think it all comes down to being impatient, a quality that is especially present when I’m hungry. The key (I do learn eventually) is to turn down the heat and allow them to cook slowly. This way the bottoms don’t burn or overcook before the tops get done. It will also keep your veggies from burning or needing to be stirred as well. If you are having trouble getting those tops to set, or if it’s just taking too dang long, simply stick a lid on it for a minute or two and you’ll be good to go.

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale and Eggs Breakfast Skillet

Kale & Egg Breakfast Skillet

2 cups kale, coarsely chopped
4-5 button mushrooms
4 eggs
Olive oil
1 small clove garlic
Salt & pepper

Heat skillet over medium heat. Drizzle with just a bit of olive oil (1-2 teaspoons). Add kale, mushrooms and garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes, until veggies are tender. Turn down heat to low. Make little wells in the vegetables. Break eggs into wells. Cook on low for about 4-5 minutes or until tops of eggs are set. You can cover if you want them to cook a little faster, but resist the temptation to turn up the heat, you’ll just overcook the bottoms of the eggs and veggies. Take it slow you’ll be happy you did.

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CSA Week 2: Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

I have been told that summer is not the time for soup. I say phooey on that. Anytime is the time for soup, and summer is the perfect time for light, zingy soup made with the freshest veggies. This take on broccoli soup was satisfying but not heavy and a great way to use up a bunch of produce. It also freezes quite nicely if you don’t feel like eating it all at once.

I had the broccoli already, but from my CSA box, I added the spring onions and parsley. The goat cheese also came from farmer’s market, from one of my very favorite stands, Briar Rose Creamery, manned (womanned?) by the beautiful Jenny (a.k.a. goat cheese gal). She reeled me in with her amazing goat cheese chocolate truffles (I know, they sound weird but think chocolate cheesecake rolled up in a little ball), but I keep coming back for the cheese. You could use any cheese you like in the soup, but the tangy goat cheese offers a really nice balance with the earthy broccoli and herbs.

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Soup

1 head broccoli, including stems, chopped
2 spring onions, white and green parts (about 1 cup chopped – sub other onions if you don’t have spring onions)
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
3-4 oz. goat cheese
Salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan or soup pot, saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil for 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add broccoli and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook about 10 minutes until broccoli is tender. Add parsley and cream and cook 1 more minute. Puree with a stick blender (or a regular blender) until there are no big chunks. I made mine pretty smooth, but if you like it chunky, that’s your call. Add salt & pepper and goat cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and incorporated into the soup. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and serve hot.

Starts with the good stuff. Broccoli and Spring Onions

Starts with the good stuff. Broccoli and Spring Onions

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Yellow Chicken Curry with Chickpeas

I love curry in just about every incarnation I’ve had the pleasure to experience it. Thai, Indian, spicy, mild, you name it, I will probably eat it. Curry doesn’t have to be spicy or taste any certain way. Curry is not even a spice unto itself. It can be any mixture of spices, sometimes just a few, or up to 20! This curry recipe came from Jamie Oliver, one of my favorite celebrity chefs. This is an Indian version that has perhaps been slightly Americanized. There are no unusual ingredients, and the preparation is not complicated. It’s packed full of flavor without being spicy. If you like more heat, use a bit more chile, or a spicier curry powder. For less heat, use less chile or leave it out. I found to be mild as prepared here.

If you don’t like dealing with whole pieces of chicken in sauce, you can substitute boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces. But using the whole pieces not only makes for a pretty presentation, but also makes this very quick to throw together and easy on the budget too! Since the meat is braised in the sauce, it’s quite tender and comes off the bone easily with a fork.

Pukka Yellow Curry

Yellow Chicken Curry with Chickpeas

Yellow Chicken Curry with Chickpeas
(slightly adapted from jamieoliver.com)

2 onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 yellow pepper
1 cup fresh green beans
1 tsp. chicken base or bouillon
1-2 fresh red chiles
½ a bunch of fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons curry powder (any kind)
8 chicken drumsticks or thighs
olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 cup basmati rice
1 lemon
Plain yogurt for garnish, if desired

Peel the onions, garlic and ginger and deseed the peppers. Put 1 onion, yellow pepper, the garlic and ginger into a food processor. Add the bouillon and add the chili (deseed it first, if you prefer a milder curry), the cilantro stalks, honey and spices, then blitz to a paste.

Place a large casserole pan on a medium-high heat and fry the chicken (pull the skin off first, if you prefer) with a splash of oil for 10 minutes, or until golden, turning occasionally with tongs. Remove the chicken to a plate, leaving the pan on the heat. Roughly chop the remaining onion and add to the pan to cook for a few minutes, then tip in the paste and let it cook down for around 5 minutes. Pour in two cups of boiling water. Drain the chickpeas and add along with the tomato paste and a pinch of salt and pepper, then stir well. Return the chicken to the pan, add the green beans, pop the lid on, reduce the heat and simmer gently for around 45 minutes, or until the sauce darkens and thickens.

While the chicken cooks, boil a pot of water, as if you were making pasta. Add rice. Boil for 8 minutes. Drain. Put the lid back on and let sit until you are ready to serve. This helps give you that wonderful texture you see in Indian restaurants where the grains of rice are separate instead of sticking together.

Serve the curry with a few dollops of yogurt (if using) and a scattering of cilantro leaves, with lemon wedges for squeezing over and the fluffy rice on the side.

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Honey-Lime Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tacos

Sweet potatoes. Eh. Never been a huge fan. At Thanksgiving I place that nasty marshmallow covered pan far away from me. But I’m definitely making progress on learning to like them. The trick for me? Cook them savory, not sweet. And cook them in a way that they get a little crispy. A bit of texture goes a long way with me. Baby food sweet potato mush does not appeal. Give me some crunch!

This recipe went down as a big check in my sweet potato “like” column. The beans and other veggies add texture, the spices add some savory to balance the sweet and roasting the potatoes added some crispy edges and nice chewy texture. It all added up to an out of the ordinary, and very delicious taco!

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
(From Cooking Classy)

1 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled if desired and diced into 1/2-inch cubes
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/8 – 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5) oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed and drained
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Corn or flour tortillas
Taco toppings of your choice, such as romaine lettuce or purple cabbage, cotija or feta cheese, lime wedges, diced avocados, fresh salsa or pico de gallo and hot sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil then place sweet potatoes on foil. Drizzle with 3 Tbsp olive oil and toss to evenly coat. Sprinkle evenly with cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste then toss to evenly coat. Bake in preheated oven 15 – 20 minutes until tender, removing from oven and tossing once halfway through baking.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and saute until caramelized (golden brown on edges and tender), about 5 – 6 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. Reduce heat to medium-low, add in drained black beans, corn, honey and lime juice. Heat until warmed through. Toss in roasted sweet potatoes and cilantro. Serve in warm tortillas with desired toppings.

 

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