To Warm Our Tummies [Roasted Pear and Apple Sauce with Whiskey and Brown Butter]

Our tummies have been craving warmth lately. Bowls of soup so scorching the billowing steam is almost opaque, cups of coffee that turn the tough skin of our fingers pink while cradling the mug from table to lips, spoon-hugging chili with a heavy-handed spatter of spice that causes the skin of my eyelids to sweat and this, pear and apple sauce. Right off the stove, foolishly, so it sears the skin of our throats as it goes down.  

This is the stuff of dreams. The type of treat you wait until no one is looking and lick the sides of the bowl. It has a texture similar to the Mott’s Applesauce of my childhood, but boasts a flavour far more mature. The fruit, roasted in a mixture of brown sugar and warm spices, develops a nutty caramelization around the edges that gives the sauce such a brilliant richness. Of course, the addition of fragrant brown butter and smooth, woodsy whiskey doesn’t hurt either. A hit of lemon balances everything out so it isn’t so rich you can only handle one bite. 

Using a mixture of pears and apples, especially the sad bruised ones you won’t eat, ensures a nice round flavor. I used gala, macintosh, and empire apples and d’anjou and bosc pears. Feel free to use whatever you have so long as it’s good and (borderline over) ripe. 

Roasted Pear and Apple Sauce with Whiskey and Brown Butter
makes about 5-6 cups

I like adding milk to my sauce because it makes it tastes richer and lingers a bit on the tongue. Feel free to use cider or water in it’s place if you’d like. 


3lbs mixed apples and pears, sliced in half + cored 

1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
1/8 tsp nutmeg

3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp Canadian whiskey
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch sea salt

1/3 cup 2% milk

To garnish
toasted pepitas
brown sugar
cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375. Place sliced + cored pears/apples on a high-sided baking sheet or roasting pan cut side up. Sprinkle with brown sugar and spices and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a knife goes easily through the center of the fruit. 

While the apples and pears roast, place the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Let cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until butter is brown and nutty. Pay close attention so it doesn’t burn. There should be golden flecks of milk solids - that’s where all the flavour lives! Once it’s golden brown and fragrant, pour in the whiskey, lemon juice and salt and swirl everything around a bit to combine. 

Place the roasted fruit (skins and all), the butter/whiskey mixture and the milk into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth (or less if you prefer it chunky). Serve with toasted pepitas and extra cinnamon/brown sugar if you’d like. 

 

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The Whole Truth [Whole Wheat Double-Chocolate Avocado Muffins]

imageYou may think to yourself, while sifting through these pages, that I probably fancy my health a whole lot and go to great lengths keeping my body filled with whole grains and healthy fats and proteins and vitamins and all those wonderful things. 


That’s half true. The whole truth is that when things appear moderately healthy around here, it’s more than likely because I haven’t been to the store for butter or all purpose flour or cream or oil and need to find a way to make-do with what I have in the house. I’m a bit of a sham, I’m sorry to say. Such was the case with these muffins. They are better-for-you because I’m lazy, a sort of counterproductive situation.

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Thankfully, in my sloth-like state, I managed to pump out a really tasty muffin that’s butter free and better for you than most muffins you can buy out and about. The cane sugar could definitely be replaced with agave or maple syrup if you want to try and make these even healthier. As they are, these make for a moist and chocolatey muffin that you can feel better about cramming in your gob as you run out the door or enjoy your evening cup of tea. 


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Whole Wheat Double-Chocolate Avocado Muffins

adapted from Call Me Cupcake
makes 12-15 muffins

The oats should be quick-cooking in these as they keep the mouthfeel more consistent with just a bit of chewiness. If you don’t have quick cooking oats, you can pulse whole oats in the blender/food processor a few times to break them down slightly. 

The chocolate square on top is optional, but it gives the muffin a sort of “icing” feel and the salt sticks really well to it. I would suggest if you want something a little more decadent. 


1 cup WW flour
1 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cane sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 large avocado
1 1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
2 eggs
1 cup 70% dark chocolate (chips or chopped)
1 tbsp grapefruit zest, optional
12 small squares of chocolate, to garnish (I used Green & Blacks because the squares are tiny)
sea salt, for garnish

Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, cocoa, baking soda + powder, salt and sugar. In the bowl of a blender, process the avocado, milk and yogurt until smooth and creamy. Pour into a small bowl and whisk in the eggs. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined (there should be no pockets of dry ingredients). Fold in the chocolate and grapefruit zest, if using. 

Fill a 12 muffin try with liners and fill each 3/4 way. Top each with a square of chocolate. Pop in the oven for 18-20 minutes, checking after 15 to make sure they aren’t burning. Sprinkle each muffin with a little salt when they are right out of the oven. Repeat with any remaining batter. 

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There I Stood [Rum-Spiked Caramel Apple Cobbler]

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So there I stood. Apples in one hand, looking slightly worse for wear, and a jar of rum-spiked salted caramel, previously used for candy apples, in the other. I knew the two would go together, having just used them in combination, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Something special and unexpected.  


Before I knew it, my knife was steadily gliding through the apples as I watched them mound in a heap beside me. I glanced over periodically at a recipe from Dara at Cookin’ Canuck as reference and tossed the apples into a sizzling, buttery pan with warm spices until golden and fragrant. The caramel glazed the bottom of a pie dish waiting to bubble up and snuggle sweetly into the buttery apples. This was going to be something. Hopefully something delicious, but one never can tell when the words baking and experiment meet.

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If you can imagine an apple cobbler, sweet and gooey and mounded with buttery biscuits then you’re almost touching on what we have here. But this, this was something else. The boozy caramel hugged tight to the apples and caramelized around the edges of the biscuits making this some sort of cobbler meets caramel apple hybrid dessert. And really, what could be better than that? Very few things, my friends. Very few things. 

As we inch closer to the Christmas holidays, I’m making notes of the sweets and savories that worked in my favor so I might share them with friends and family. This one is at the top of my list to make again and again. I hope you might invite it to your table, as well.

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Rum-Spiked Caramel Apple Cobbler
adapted from Cookin’ Canuck
serves 6-8

If there is a premade caramel you really like, you could use that in place of the homemade stuff but make sure it’s of good quality as it will make a big difference in the overall flavour of the cobbler.

2 tbsp butter
4-5 large gala apples, enough to fill your pie plate 3/4 full.
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup rum-spiked caramel, recipe to follow
buttery biscuit dough, recipe to follow

Preheat oven to 450.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and toss in the apples, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. Cook until apples are soft and starting to brown. 

Pour the caramel into a pie plate and arrange the apples evenly over the caramel. 

Flour your fingers and pinch off even pieces of the biscuit dough that are about 2 1/2” around. There should be about 6-7 biscuits. Place the biscuits over the apples. Pop in the oven (on a lined cookie sheet in case the caramel bubbles over) for 30 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. 

Scoop into bowls and top with ice cream or whipped cream! 

Rum-Spiked Caramel
adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
makes 1 large jar

*special equipment: a good kitchen or candy thermometer. 

Feel free to halve the recipe if you don’t want leftovers. 


1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
5 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pinches sea salt

Place all ingredients in a very tall pot (this caramel bubbles up a lot) over medium-high heat with the candy thermometer clipped to the pot. Don’t stray far, you should be mixing fairly frequently. Cook until caramel reaches 250, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly. 

Buttery Biscuit Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup cold buttermilk

Whisk together the flour, baking powder + soda, sugar and salt.  Use your fingers to mush the butter into the flour mixture until it has a coarse, mealy texture. Pour in the buttermilk and use a fork to pul together until a wet dough forms. Place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the apples.

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Tiny Rewards, Better Days [Cinnamon-Almond Butter Buns with Bittersweet Chocolate]

Some days require a pick me up and there’s no shame in allowing yourself a simple pleasure to help you navigate through the rest of your afternoon or evening with a smile on your face. Especially if that smile was brought on by the warm yeasty scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns. 

I made these a few weeks back on a particularly rough day. I spotted Oh, Lady Cakes' Small Batch Cinnamon Buns and felt that something like that would be the perfect reward for a day hard won. I switched them up a bit by using some organic almond butter I had laying around and tossing in some bittersweet chocolate. I'm a total lunatic for dark chocolate and almonds in any way/shape/form so this was a natural pairing for me and one I hadn't tried in a cinnamon bun before. They are decadent and barely sweet - just the way I like things. If you prefer sweeter sweets, add a bit more sugar or switch to sweeter chocolate. 

Cinnamon-Almond Butter Buns with Bittersweet Chocolate
adapted from Oh Lady Cakes
makes 10-12 servings

Dough
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 105-108˚F)
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 cups unbleached flour

Filling:
1/4 - 1/3 cup all-natural almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp room temperature butter
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

2 tbsp melted butter, for topping
2 tbsp coarse sugar (like turbinado)

For the dough:
Mix the yeast and warm water together in small bowl, stir gently once or twice, and let sit until frothy, 5-10 minutes. 

In another small bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar, stirring until sugar is melted. Add the milk and mix to combine. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and the milk/butter mixture. Using a fork, pull the flour, bit by bit, into the well while stirring. Once the dough comes together in a ball, start kneading it in the bowl to grab up all the rest of the flour. Dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5-6 minutes until smooth. Place in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled, 45mins -1 hour. 

Line countertop with parchment paper and dust with flour. Roll dough out into a 1/2” thick rectangle. 

For the filling:
Combine everything but the chocolate and stir to combine. Taste and add more cinnamon if you feel it’s necessary. It should taste sweet and equally of almonds and cinnamon. 

Spread mixture over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle chocolate over the filling. Starting at the short end, tightly roll the dough up. Cut into 10-12 equal rounds, place in a large, buttered/oiled baking dish (they should be touching each other). Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 375. 

Brush buns with melted butter and sprinkle the coarse sugar (optional). Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan.

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On The Hunt for Simplicity [Vegan Mexican Chocolate Sorbet]

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Most of the recipes on this here blog are come by organically. Whether it be a dish that tells a story of where I am at some point, a bundle of asparagus that moves me to do some research and make something new, or a particularly moving line in a book (My Berlin Kitchen, these days) that sends me reeling for the kitchen, apron barely tied before I start rummaging through cupboards and tossing things into a basket to be turned into dinner. 

But sometimes, when I’m too easily convinced that the couch is better than the grocery store, I go on the hunt. Looking for the perfect recipe, one that requires little more than what’s already housed in our kitchen. There are a few places I typically look, Food52 being one of my main one-stop-shops. They run the gamut of recipes, from 3 ingredient dishes, to full on dinner party menus that would stress even the greatest cooks. I tend towards the simpler, less involved varieties. Less is more in my life these days, and I’m sure you’ll agree that summer yearns for the simpler things. 

When I stumbled on the recipe for David Lebovitz's Chocolate Sorbet, I knew I'd hit the motherload. Six ingredients (plus a few extras I chose to add in), very little hands-on time, and the resulting sorbet is impossibly creamy (like real ice cream), dark and cocoa-y, and rich beyond any sorbet I’ve tried. I knew I’d met my match immediately. And off I went, boiling and whisking, churning and freezing. This may just be my new favourite summer fling. 

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Vegan Mexican Chocolate Sorbet
recipe adapted from David Lebovitz via Food52
makes 2 pints

I made two pints of this because…well… more is more sometimes? I knew it would disappear fast in our freezer and I wanted to be sure I actually got to eat some of it before it was gone. Feel free to halve it based on the initial recipe if you’d like. 

As I said, using the best cocoa, dark chocolate (with no milk ingredients if you’re concerned about it being vegan), spices and vanilla is important here. It will make all the difference. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can read David’s tips on how to churn by hand here

4 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (+/- depending on heat-tolerance)
1 1/2 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups roughly chopped high quality dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet)
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, add half of the water (2 1/4 cups), the sugar, spices and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, whisking often, and when it comes to a boil, let it bubble away for 45 seconds as you whisk constantly. 

Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and the rest of the water. Transfer to a blender and blend for 15 seconds on high (don’t skip this step! Something science-y happens and I won’t try to explain it, but it makes a big difference in the overall texture of the sorbet). Chill completely in the fridge. 

Pour into your prepared ice cream machine and freeze according to your machine’s manufacturer instructions (mine called for a 20-30 minute churn followed by a 6 hour stint in the freezer to firm it up). 

Serve with a few flecks of salt.

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Farmers Feast #2 [Cherry & Red Currant Curd Granola Parfaits]

 
It’s that time again….  Farmers Feast #2 is here! And it comes bearing brilliant red berries and crispy smoked bacon. That sounds good, right? I thought so, too.

When Tara dropped off the basket this week (I wasn’t able to make it to the market last Sunday because I was shoving my face full of oysters, fish burgers and Kichesippi beer at The Whalesbone 5th Annual Oysterfest – I know, it’s a rough life. I’m super hard done by.) I first laid eyes on the pint of impossibly plump, unblemished and heart-achingly deep plummy red cherries. I don’t know if I heard anything Tara said for the first 10 seconds as my brain slowed to a hazy berry-induced coma while I fully absorbed the excitement of it all. To their right, a pint of equally stunning Red Currants, as delicate and glossy as glass beads. I knew that despite my urge to start popping them in my mouth like M&Ms, I wanted to hold out and do something extra special.



Along with the berries came some bacon, naked oats and a red wheat flour blend, humongous fava beans pods (which, to be honest, I was a little terrified of at first), some rainbow Swiss chard, delicate sugared flower petals (that are so beautiful I’m almost scared to use them!), some incredibly pungent Belarus garlic, spotty, organic brown eggs and some life-changing amber maple syrup (that I’ve been sneaking regular swigs from). 

 Since we’re mere days away from celebrating Canada’s 145 birthday (she’s a lovely old broad, ain’t she?), I thought something Red and White might be suiting for the occasion. Fluffy white clouds of billowy whipped cream layered between tangy, succulent cherries, lusciously tart red currant curd, and a crisp, salty-sweet maple bacon granola. Are you still with me? Should I send help? Quick, get the nearest person to hurl a glass of ice water in your face! That’ll shake the bacon sweats right outta you!



Though I wasn’t able to use everything offered in the basket (I wasn’t sure if you’d welcome the idea of Fava beans in your parfaits), I came pretty darn close. The list of vendors who graciously provided the contents of the Farmers Feast this week are;

Roots & Shoots Farm – rainbow chard
Garland’s Sugar Shack – amber maple syrup
Castor River Farm – flour, quick oats and smoked bacon
Corinne Mooney’s Fleurs Combestiles – sugared flowers
Acorn Creek Garden Farm – Belarus Garlic
Warner’s Farm – currants and cherries
Waratah Downs Organic Farm – fava beans
Reinink Family Farms – Organic eggs

Cherry & Red Currant Curd Granola Parfaits 
serves 4

After making and tasting the final product, I’m not 100% sold on the addition of bacon. The bacon itself was un-frigging-believable in flavour, but it didn’t add much to the final product. Try as I may, sometimes things just seem better on paper. So I’ve made adjustments if you’d like to leave it out. 

That said, the Maple-Bacon Granola on it’s own is something you MUST try. I back it 100% and have been eating it with a spoon since yesterday morning. 

Red Currant Curd
adapted from La Twisted Chef 

2 cups fresh red currants (about 1 pint) rinsed
(save a few for garnish!)
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
pinch of salt

In a saucepot, add the currants (stems and all) and a splash of water. Cook until the berries have burst and released all their juices. Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently help smoosh them. 

Strain the juice into a bowl pressing on the pulp to make sure you’ve gotten all the juice. 

Stir half the currant juice (for a more tart curd, add about 3/4 of it), yolks and sugar together in the rinsed sauce pot and place over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add butter, 1 piece at a time, until incorporated. Scrap curd into a bowl and push a piece of plastic wrap right against the top of the curd (to prevent a skin forming). Refrigerate for at least an hour so it can set.


Maple-Bacon Granola
adapted from Married and Cooking

6 slices bacon (optional)

2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup bacon fat (or vegetable oil if you’re cutting out the bacon)

Preheat over to 350.

If using, place the bacon on a wire rack over a clean cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake until crisp (about 10-15 minutes). Pour the bacon fat into a small bowl and reserve. Let bacon cool and then crumble into small pieces. Maintain the oven temperature.

Mix the oats, cinnamon and pecans and pour onto a cookie sheet. Place in the oven, stirring every so often, until oats and nuts are lightly toasted and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and pour into a large bowl. Add the maple syrup, bacon fat (or oil), crumbled bacon and salt. Mix well and pour back onto cookie sheet. Bake for another 10-12 minutes or until oats have absorbed the oil/syrup and feel dry and crunchy to the touch. Let cool and pour into a jar.

 
For the Parfait:
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 pint cherries, pitted and rough chopped

Pour whipping cream and maple syrup into a bowl and, using electric mixer or stand mixer, whip until stiff peaks form.

In 4 serving glasses (alternatively, 2 tall glasses), spoon a layer of whipped cream, then a layer of curd, a sprinkle of cherries, another layer of whipped cream and a thick layer of granola. Do another layer of whipped cream and curd, and then top with cherries and granola. If you’ve reserved any currants, garnish with them.

Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set, and then dig right in there! 

 

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A Veggie Dilemma [Individual White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes with Rosewater Pastry]



As I was flying 40,000ft in the air over the British Columbia Rocky Mountains, something struck me (aside from the usual “I’m probably about to die. I better eat another crunchy Cheeto just in case!”)… 

I really need to eat some vegetables.

Yes, these are the thoughts that scatter throughout my mind when I’m not thinking about how the airplane is inevitably going to kill me (I get terribly psychotic on airplanes - the only cure is booze and candy… but isn’t that the cure for anything anytime?) 

The past week has been a never-ending feast of all things cream-sauced, butter-filled, sugar-crusted and hollandaised… my gut is feeling a little worse-for-wear to say the least. The very least. 

I returned home Saturday evening, tired, jet lagged and hungry, to a lively bundle of freshly cut, ruby red and green Rhubarb from my great friend Ashley’s Mom, Wendy. Keeping in mind my promise to eat more veggies and fruit this week, I got busy making some White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes. 

…..what?! Pie isn’t considered healthy? But it’s got fruit in it! Well jeez, guys. I can’t be held responsible for that! 

In all seriousness, these are not exactly healthy. But what they lack in nutrition, they make up for in utterly delightful flavour. The combination of the sweet, floral white peaches, tart rhubarb and gentle rose-water flavour is perhaps one of my new favourites. Just eat them in moderation (and don’t keep sneaking past your boyfriend to pick pieces of the dough off in the fridge and chew them as fast as you can so he doesn’t know… but he always knows).



Individual White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes with Rosewater Pastry
Pate brisee adapted from Martha Stewart

Note: White peaches, which have a lighter flesh colour and are slightly more floral in flavour than typical yellow peaches, are recommended but not mandatory in this recipe. 

Pate Brisee 
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp rosewater
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

In the bowl of a food processor (which you can chill for 30 minutes prior to dough making for optimal results), add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse for 5 seconds to blend.

Add the butter, rosewater and 2 tbsp of the ice water and pulse. Add more ice water, 1tbsp at a time while pulsing until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. When you pinch it, it should easily come together.



Pour out and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight (can be frozen and stored for 1 month).

Galette Filling
1lb (about 4 cups) trimmed rhubarb, sliced into 1” chunks
4 very ripe white peaches, pit removed, sliced thin
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp rosewater
1/4 cup cornstarch
coarse sugar for finishing

Toss all ingredient in a bowl.



Once dough has been chilled, divide into 8 equal sized portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece to a 7-inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rounds to 2 baking sheets. Add a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling into the center of the dough. Fold edges over the filling leaving an opening in the center. 

Once all the rounds are filled and folded, brush the dough with water and sprinkle with coarse (turbinado or sanding) sugar. Place the trays in the fridge while you pre-heat the oven t0 400 degrees. 



Bake for 25 minutes until crust is golden. Turn heat down to 375 and bake until fruit filling is bubbling and set.



Remove and let cool on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath (to catch all the saucy drips).

Serve on their own, with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.

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