Tuesday, October 15, 2019

BBQ Chickpea-Quinoa Bowls

When someone declares that cookie recipes are her pride and joy, I’m going to pay attention. I didn’t realize the food blog Two Peas and Their Pod has 200 recipes for cookies on it. But, I did know the blog author Maria Lichty also has a new cookbook, and I received a review copy. Of course, there is a chapter just for cookies. There’s a lot of other great food too, and I got distracted with the mix of vegetarian and omnivore dishes on my way to the cookies. The book and the blog are about a couple that loves to cook for their little boys, extended family, neighbors, and friends. The recipes they share are tested, family favorites. And, they really do love cooking and bringing people together around good food. Right away, I found some of my favorite flavors in the book. The Sweet Potato and Kale Hash, Raspberry-Lemon Scones, and Green “Hulk” Smoothies stood out in the Breakfast chapter. The hearty soups like Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Chowder and Mushroom-Farro Soup had me looking forward to cooler days. I’m marking the page for the Kale and Wild Rice Salad with Maple Mustard Vinaigrette for a Thanksgiving menu contender, and I can’t wait to try the Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Zucchini Noodles right away. Now, about that cookie chapter: there are Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, Mega Monster Cookies, Lemon-Almond Cookies with Lemon Glaze and more. The one that called out to me, though, was the Toasted Coconut White Chocolate and Macadamia Cookies. I’ve never added coconut to white chocolate-macadamia cookies or thought to toast it first. That’s a must-try. Before I could pre-heat the oven for those, I first set about making the BBQ Chickpea-Quinoa Bowls. 

I had local corn and tomatoes from my CSA, and the timing was right for this dish. To begin, the canned chickpeas were rinsed and drained before being mixed with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. The seasoned chickpeas were baked for about 30 minutes until crispy. After roasting, they were tossed with some barbecue sauce. Meanwhile, I charred the corn a bit on a grill pan and chopped the tomatoes, cabbage, avocado, and lettuce. The dressing for the bowls was a spicy ranch that I took in a vegan direction by using cashew yogurt. The yogurt was mixed with lemon juice, minced jalapeno, minced garlic, chopped garlic chives, and salt and pepper. Cooked quinoa was placed in bowls and topped with the fresh vegetables, the barbecued chickpeas, and drizzled with the dressing. 

I love crispy, roasted chickpeas almost as much as I love popcorn, and the addition of barbecue sauce was a delicious idea. The flavors were a great match for the corn, tomatoes, and avocado. This could become a weekly lunch meal for me. But, now I’m thinking I haven’t been baking enough cookies lately.

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Monday, September 30, 2019

Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread and Grilled Squash

It’s possible that I’ve never met a flatbread recipe I didn’t want to make. They’re too fun to ignore. Whether it’s tortillas, roti, yeasted flatbread or not, forming the breads and cooking them on a hot griddle never fails to make me happy. Today’s flatbread is from Rachel Ama's Vegan Eats: Tasty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day of which I received a review copy. Made with coconut yogurt and turmeric, I couldn’t resist this one. At first, it reminded me of the Zanzibari Sesame Bread I made from The Food of Oman book. That flatbread was made with coconut milk, but it was yeasted. Here, it’s a quicker dough leavened with baking powder. But, before I tell you more about it, there’s a lot of other stuff in this new book I want to mention too. Right away, I tried the Spiced Chickpea Waffles. I had seen a version of falafel waffles in The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook last year and now had to try them. The version in this book is vegan and a bit lighter, and I liked the idea of topping them with olives and tomatoes. I served them first with a cucumber, olive, and tomato salad on top. Then, with extras that were stored in the freezer, I served them with sauteed sweet potato greens, slow-roasted tomatoes, fried eggs, and a pesto-yogurt sauce. I also tried the Miso-Glazed Aubergines which resulted in tender, sticky, spicy, delicious eggplant pieces. The book is full of flavorful, plant-based dishes with some English, Caribbean, and African influences. There are dishes for every meal and desserts and drinks as well. The Caribbean Jackfruit Fritters bring ocean flavor with nori flakes rather than fish. And, the Crispy Jerk Barbecue Tacos are made with oyster mushrooms. There are also pastas, curries, stews, and sweet treats like the Griddled Cinnamon Pineapples with Salted Caramel. For the dish shown here today, I mixed and matched. I took some of the elements of the Griddled Courgette and Pepper Salad with Rocket and Pine Nuts and put them on the Coconut Turmeric Flatbreads with Basil Cashew Spread. 

So, let’s start with the flatbread. Unsweetened coconut milk yogurt, self-rising flour, ground turmeric, baking powder, salt, and chopped garlic chives were mixed in a bowl. The dough was then kneaded until smooth and divided into pieces. I went for smaller breads, and divided my dough into six pieces rather than four as instructed. Each piece was flattened into a round with a rolling pin and then cooked on a hot griddle until puffed and browned. The Basil Cashew Spread was made with soaked, raw cashews. The drained cashews were placed in a blender with water, garlic, lemon juice, basil leaves, and salt and pepper. The mix was pureed until smooth. I grilled some sliced yellow squash and sweet peppers. Each flatbread was topped with a schmear of basil cashew spread, some grilled vegetables, and a few arugula leaves. 

The coconut milk yogurt made the flatbreads incredibly tender. They were easy to pick up and fold around the toppings. And, the pretty yellow tint from the turmeric was nice to see. They would be delicious with all sorts of toppings or fillings. I’ve been enjoying lots of vegan eats from this book, and there’s more I still want to try.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream and Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream with Granola

I love eating ice cream any time of year, but during a particularly hot summer like the one we’re having, it becomes necessary as a food source. And, yes, I could enjoy a meal of just ice cream. I received a review copy of Jude's: A celebration of ice cream in 100 recipes just in time for the hottest part of summer and got to enjoy reading about frozen treats and tasting some of them. I loved learning how this ice cream company began. The current owners are brothers, and their father began the business in 2002 in their barn in Hampshire, England. The business is named after their mother. From the beginning, the focus was on achieving the best flavor by using the best ingredients including milk from a nearby farm. Soon, their ice creams were chosen by chefs for restaurant menus, and they were sold across the UK in supermarkets. There are classic and intriguing flavors, dairy-free options, and frozen desserts, toppings, and cocktails. Some flavors that caught my eye include the Honey Fig and Thyme Ice Cream, Matcha Ice Cream and Black Sesame Brittle, and the Beetroot and Ginger Ice Cream. When I first flipped through the pages, I was sure my first stop in the book would be the Summer Peach Sorbet, but then I read a suggestion about topping scoops with their granola and became fixated on that instead. For more elaborate desserts, there are two roulades. One is the Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Roulade, and the other is the Vanilla Arctic Roll with Apricot Creme Fraiche Ice Cream. You’ll also find tarts, cakes, and brownies to go with ice cream and even Mini Caramel and Guinness Floats. But, I kept thinking about that granola. It’s made with buckwheat kernals, sesame and pumpkin seeds, and coconut. I thought it would be a good, crunchy counterpoint to the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream. Then, I couldn’t resist making the Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream too since it’s so easy. 

I started by making the granola, and the recipe is similar to my usual granola. This one is made with coconut oil and honey, and in addition to oats there are buckwheat kernals. Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and unsweetened coconut were also added along with salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. After baking until golden and crunchy and then cooling, dried cherries and raisins were to be added. I left them out to keep the mixture completely crunchy. And, I now intend to always add buckwheat kernals to any granola I make. For the Vegan Coconut Ice Cream, a little coconut milk was mixed with cornstarch to form a paste. Then, coconut milk was heated with coconut cream and maple syrup. The cornstarch paste and salt were added, and the mixture was stirred until thickened. It was then cooled and refrigerated overnight before being churned in an ice cream maker. I added a small splash of rum just before churning to prevent the ice cream from freezing too solidly. The Vegan Banana and Nut Butter Ice Cream was a quick puree of frozen bananas, peanut butter, almond milk, and confectioners’ sugar. The mixture was transferred to a container to freeze, and needs to be left at room temperature for 15 minutes or so to soften a bit before scooping. 

I served a scoop of each ice cream in a dish with dried banana chips on the banana ice cream, and granola on the coconut ice cream. Now that I’m writing about them, I’m craving them both again. I have my ice cream machine’s canister in the freezer as I type and am about to leave to gather ingredients. I can’t go much longer with no ice cream in the house. 

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from Jude’s Ice Cream and Desserts. 

This vegan ice cream is so easy to create at home. It’s unexpectedly creamy, with a fresh coconut flavour that makes your mind instantly wander to tropical islands. We’ve used cornflour for extra smoothness and love serving it with toasted coconut flakes, which give nutty taste and texture, but if that’s not your thing, simply serve it straight up. 


1 x 400g (14oz) can coconut milk 
1 tablespoon cornflour 
300ml (1/2 pint) coconut cream 
175g (6oz) agave syrup (or honey, for a non-vegan option) 
1/4 teaspoon fine salt  
Handful of coconut flakes, toasted, to serve (optional) 

Combine 1 tablespoon of the coconut milk with the cornflour to make a paste. Gradually add a further 2 tablespoons of the coconut milk, stirring constantly. Pour the remaining coconut milk into a saucepan over a low heat with the coconut cream and agave syrup. Bring slowly to a simmer, then stir in the cornflour paste and salt. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, then remove from the heat. Cover the pan, cool and chill in the refrigerator overnight, or if you don’t have time, for at least 2 hours. 

Pour into an ice-cream machine and churn to a soft set following the manufacturer’s instructions, or until the blade stops. Spoon the soft ice cream into an airtight, freezer-proof container and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight, until firm. Remove from the freezer and allow the ice cream to soften for 5–10 minutes before scooping. Serve with toasted coconut flakes, if using.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019


As a long-time fan of Martha Stewart, when she raves about a cookbook I pay attention. I noticed on Instagram that she had mentioned Baking at République: Masterful Techniques and Recipes by Margarita Manzke a couple of times. Specifically, she mentioned baking the brioche from this book and how delicious it is. Naturally, upon receiving a review copy of the book, I had to try the brioche. There are chapters devoted to some of the basic recipes that are used for several types of baked goods. Brioche is the first, and after the master recipe for brioche dough, there are several examples of how to use it including Brioche Fruit Tarts, Brioche Bread Pudding, Cardamom Sticky Buns, and more. Other chapters offer master recipes for Pain au Lait, Croissants, Kouign Amanns, Pate Sucree, Pate Brisee, and Pate a Choux. And, there are delightfully decadent recipes for using all of those types of dough. Following those chapters are ones for Muffins and Scones, Cookies and Bars, Cakes, Custards Puddings and Cream, and Basic Components. The Chocolate-Hazelnut Paris-Brest, Creme Brulee Cheesecake Tarts, and Mini-Chocolate Bundt Cakes all nearly distracted me from my intent to make the brioche first. But, I stayed on track. Now, in the days prior to tackling the brioche recipe, my trusty stand mixer of about 18 years had started acting a little funny. It didn’t seem to like operating at the lowest speed, but it was working at all the higher speeds. I was sure I could get through the dough making for this recipe by avoiding the lowest speed and working with the weirdness. Onward I went with letting a pound of butter warm a bit out of the refrigerator, cracking nine eggs, and getting the milk and locally-milled flour ready to go. And, the mixing got off to an ok start, but as soon as the dough became a bit heavy with the flour my mixer just stopped working at any speed. I was completely offended. How could it do this to me after all these years? How did it know I had all these ingredients ready to be used for a big batch of sticky, messy dough that really, really would be best made with a mixer? I didn’t seriously consider throwing out all the butter and eggs for even a moment. Instead, I started devising a plan for mixing all that butter in by hand without getting the butter too warm from my hands. Did I mention this was a big batch of sticky, messy dough? My kneading method involved using a bench scraper in one hand while turning and kneading with the other hand. After a few turns, I scooped it all into a bowl and refrigerated it for a bit before repeating. I wasn’t at all sure that this would turn into any kind of edible bread, but I was going to bake whatever became of it. 

It wasn’t particularly helpful to be reminded by others that we didn’t always have mixers. There must have been a time when this dough was made by hand. After everything was mixed, more or less, the dough was left to rise for 30 minutes before being turned and left for another 30 minutes. After the second rise, it was refrigerated overnight. I really believe the slow, cold rise overnight saved the dough. It was a smoother, lovelier dough the next day. To make the loaves, the dough was divided into four pieces, two dough balls were placed in each of two loaf pans, and they were left to rise again for about an hour and a half. After being brushed with an egg wash, the loaves were baked until deeply browned. 

Amazingly, the result was outstanding. Tender, buttery loaves were delicious sliced and served with blueberry jam. I also made very thick-cut French toast inspired by the book. I still have the second loaf in the freezer awaiting an occasion for a savory French toast with slow-roasted tomatoes. My old mixer and I have since parted ways after learning that a repair was unlikely, and a newer model has taken its place in the kitchen. I have lots of recipes to try with it!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Sopes con Pescado Adobado

Can we talk salsa? I practically need to count it as one of my food groups. I definitely can’t live without it, and I have several favorites. A new one just joined that list thanks to the book My Mexico City Kitchen: Recipes and Convictions: A Cookbook by Gabriela Camara of which I received a review copy. The book is about so much more than salsa or any other particular dish. The recipes and tips combine to explain Camara’s style of cooking, with the freshest and best-produced ingredients, inspired by Mexican traditional cuisine. The menus at her Mexico City and San Francisco restaurants vary due to availability of locally-grown and sustainably-produced ingredients in each location. In Mexico City, she offers a Tuna Tostada when sustainable tuna is available. But, in San Francisco, a locally-farmed trout is a better choice, and that’s what she uses there. She also explains her choice of cheeses. In Mexico, she’s able to source traditional cheeses that are made with high-quality milk from pastured cows. Those cheeses aren’t available in the US, and our Mexican-style cheeses tend to be from larger companies making compromises on the milk used. She recommends choosing similar cheeses that aren’t Mexican but are well-made rather than being strictly traditional. The recipes will mostly seem familiar, but upon closer inspection, Camara’s personal touch is revealed. The chapters include basics, breakfast, first courses, main dishes, desserts, and drinks. The simplest dishes are taken to new levels when each ingredient is carefully considered. For instance, the Tacos de Huevo are made with fresh-made corn tortillas, a soft-boiled egg, beans, rice, and a homemade salsa or two. And, the photos convey the deliciousness. Seafood figures heavily in the recipes, which I loved seeing, and its use in the soups got my full attention. There’s a spicy crab soup, a shrimp broth made with adobo sauce and whole shrimp and served with lots of garnishes, and an herb and chile inflected soup with fish meatballs. There’s even a Chiles en Nogada made with seafood as the filling rather than pork. The Mexican-style clams, mussels in chipotle sauce, and the signature red and green grilled red snapper all delighted me, but there are plenty of meat options as well. Those include chicken and pork stews; cochinita pibil; an al pastor approach that would work well for pork, chicken, or vegetables; and an actual meat meatball recipe in salsa de chile morita. Speaking of salsa, the one that got added to my favorites list is the Adobo de Chiles Rojos made with dried chiles, fresh tomatoes, onion, lots of garlic, and some citrus. It’s added to cooked fish and reduced before the mixture is spooned into masa sopes. And then I started adding it to just about everything else I cooked. 

I love playing with masa, and I’ve made lots of shapes from masa dough like tlacoyos, gorditas, and various tortillas. So, I was excited to try the sopes which were similar in shape to gorditas. Masa harina was mixed with water to form the simple dough that was divided into ping pong ball size pieces before being shaped into rounds with a cupped top. The sopes were then fried in oil and left to drain. The salsa was made by reconstituting dried ancho, guajillo, and pasilla chiles. The softened chiles along with chiles de arbol, chopped fresh tomato, onion, lots of garlic, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, achiote seeds, cumin, oregano, and salt were pureed in the blender. There’s a surprising amount of salt in this salsa at one and a half tablespoons, but this is the correct amount. The sopes are not seasoned at all. They are simple masa vehicles for all the flavor of the filling. So, the aggressive seasoning of the salsa is balanced. For this version of sopes, a firm-fleshed fish was to be cut into small cubes and cooked in oil. I used halibut. After the fish was cooked, the salsa was added and reduced a bit. The fish and sauce mixture was spooned into the sopes and topped with a crumbly, salty cheese and purslane leaves. Queso fresco would ordinarily be used, but ricotta salata is also suggested depending on what you can get that is better quality. I used a locally-made goat feta. 

Little, crispy masa cakes will be addictive with just about any filing, but this adobo-sauced fish version was a big winner. I use a lot of purslane while I can get it at a local farm stand in the summer. So, I was thrilled to see it as a suggested topping. Cilantro or finely chopped lettuce would work well too. For the salsa, I’ll be doubling the recipe from now on and stocking my freezer with it. It was great in tacos, for dipping chips and vegetables, and especially on huevos rancheros. Next, a soup and a couple of the desserts are on my to-try list.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Tiny Baked Potatoes with Spiced Chickpeas

I feel like I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: It’s always worthwhile to read a cookbook all the way to the end. I tend to find fascinating tidbits in those last pages. When the final chapter is about sauces or toppings or stocks, there’s always something interesting there that makes me like the book even more than I already did from reading the main sections. That just happened once again with The Way to Eat Now: Modern Vegetarian Food by Alice Hart of which I received a review copy. This new book is a paperback release of what was titled Good Veg as a hardcover in 2016, and it’s full of great ideas for vegetarian dishes for any time of day. Along with the recipes and photos, there are also added ideas and variations sprinkled throughout the chapter introductions and recipe head notes. For example, something I can’t wait to try isn’t written as a recipe but was just mentioned in the Mornings chapter intro. It’s a suggestion to make savory French toast by adding garlic or paprika to the custard and serving it with roasted tomatoes or wilted spinach and goat cheese. Some of the dishes include dairy or eggs, and some are vegan, and substitutions are offered. There’s also acknowledgement of time and cost, and when a step may take too long or an ingredient might be too pricey other options are suggested. Several dishes have southeast Asian influences, and vegetarian “fish” sauce is listed among the ingredients. You’ll find the recipe for the sauce in that last chapter I was praising, and I was delighted to see it’s not too time-consuming to make. You’ll also find a recipe for Vegetarian Nuoc Cham, Pickled Sour Cherries, Sweet Pepper and Chile Jam, and a Thai-Style Roasted Chile Paste. That last one sent me backwards in the book to revisit the recipe for Brown Rice Bibimbap Bowls with Smoky Peppers where it’s used, and that made me happy to have read all the way to the end. Back at the front of the book, I got a bit distracted by the Chia Jams. I’d seen this method before of using chia seeds to thicken a jam rather than adding as much sugar as usual. When I saw it here, I finally gave it a try and loved chia-thickened peach jam with a little honey. I also tried the Shaved Beets with Sprouts, Kefir and Dukkah but made a couple of changes by using vegan yogurt for the dressing rather than kefir and mixing the beets with arugula instead of sprouts. I have the page marked for the Chubby Polenta Fries with Almond Za’atar Salt, and I know I’ll love the Roasted Pineapple, Coconut and Makrut Lime Sorbet. But, I want to tell you all about the Tiny Baked Potatoes with Spiced Chickpeas. 

New potatoes are available from our local farms right now, but they’ll be gone for the season soon. They were simply roasted whole with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. At the same time, canned chickpeas that had been rinsed, drained, and left on a towel to dry were roasted with cumin, nigella, hot smoked paprika, and salt. I love crispy, roasted chickpeas, but there was a twist here in that before they were done lemon zest was added for the last 10 minutes or so. It smelled amazing and added great flavor. A little honey was to be added with the lemon zest, but I skipped it. A sauce was made with sour cream and finely chopped green onion. When the potatoes were cooked through and tender and then allowed to cool a bit, I cut each in half. Each half was topped with some sauce, crispy chickpeas, more finely chopped green onion, and more nigella seeds. 

These little potatoes would be great for a party. They’re just the right size to pick up with your fingers. The sauce works perfectly to keep the chickpeas in place on top of each potato, and the spices on the chickpeas give each bite a nice boost. There’s so much variety and so many ideas in this book, I suspect I’ll be spending a lot of time with it in the kitchen.

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Thursday, July 11, 2019

Meatless Meatballs with Quick Tomato Sauce on Zucchini Noodles

That famous line from Michael Pollan, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants” is as simple as nutrition and sustainability advice gets. And now, there’s a new cookbook to help put that advice into practice, and I recently received a review copy. Mostly Plants: 101 Delicious Flexitarian Recipes from the Pollan Family is the second book created by Michael Pollan’s three sisters and his mother, and it includes each of their styles of cooking. That means, some dishes are vegetarian or vegan, and some include meat but with a focus on the vegetables. He described the book as not “dourly anti-meat; rather it is ecstatically pro-plant.” There’s a nice introduction to each member of the family and her preferred way of eating before getting into the recipes that cover dishes from Meze and Salads to Burgers, Vegetable Mains, Seafood, Meat, Sides, and Sweets. Along the way, there are tips for making vegetarian recipes vegan, ideas for replacing meat with a vegetarian protein, and Food for Thought with nutrition information. Overall, these recipes feel like comfort food made fresher. The Mediterranean Crunch Salad has bright bell peppers, cucumbers, tomato, and herbs piled on endive and topped with crumbled feta and crispy, baked chickpeas. The soups all look so good, and I can’t wait to try the Udon Noodle Soup with Miso-Glazed Vegetables and Chicken. In the burgers chapter, you’ll mostly find veggie burgers, but there is a chicken and a tuna option. Among the vegetable mains, there are some pasta dishes that caught my eye like the Penne with Roasted Vegetables and Mozzarella and the Vegan Lentil and Roasted Tomato Pasta. I tried the Golden Roasted Quinoa and fell for the lovely texture. I have the page marked so I can soon try the Salmon Farro Bowl full of crunchy vegetables and Vietnamese flavors. And, the Pina Colada Crumble with pineapple, banana, and coconut is tempting me for dessert. As I was mulling over those pasta options, a few pages later I came upon the Meatless Meatballs with Quick Tomato Sauce and decided to serve them on zucchini noodles to make it very pro-plant. 

To begin the meatballs, Puy lentils were cooked with a bay leaf until tender. At the same time, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic were sauteed, tomato paste was added along with chopped mushrooms, and the mixture was cooked through. The vegetable mixture, the lentils, and rinsed and drained canned chickpeas along with oats, parsley, basil, and salt and pepper were pulsed in the food processor. That mixture was transferred to a mixing bowl, and beaten eggs and wheat germ were added. Bread crumbs and grated parmesan were supposed to be used, but I opted for some wheat germ instead. The meatballs were formed and placed on a baking sheet. I had drizzled the baking sheet with olive oil and I rolled each meatless ball through the oil to coat all sides before placing it on the sheet. The meatless balls baked for about 30 minutes while I spiralized some zucchini. The sauce was a quick simmer of canned crushed tomatoes, garlic, and red pepper flakes. I did serve the meatless balls with a little shredded parmesan and lots of basil. 

This wasn’t my first attempt at meatless meatballs. Previous recipes have also involved mushrooms and lentils and usually some nuts. This was my favorite of any I’ve tried. The consistency was perfect. Past efforts ended in meatless balls that fell apart when served or didn’t maintain their shape while baking. These performed perfectly and had great flavor. There are a lot of great-looking ideas in this book, and it’s going to be easy to keep eating mostly plants.

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