Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Laduree Pink Wedding Cake ~ Hummingbird Miniatures

A Very Pink Wedding ~ Carolyn Brown

This gorgeous white 4-tiered Wedding Cake has delicate blossoms in shades of pink on top of each layer. Green leaves accent the blossoms. White string-work decorates the sides of each tier.

Floral white wedding cake with turned white faux-marble posts. Baby pink roses and buds accented with deep wine mini calla lilies and green leaves pin the fondant drape on each layer. The top tier is decorated with masses of the same flowers. The cake rests on a turned, silver-coloured cake stand. All flowers are individually made of cold porcelain.

This 3-tiered white wedding cake has cold porcelain baby pink peonies and fuchsia mini calla lilies accented with green leaves. A white, stylized Bride & Groom and tiny shells top this cake which also has decorative white string-work designs on the sides. Matching peonies and mini calla lilies make up the full bridal bouquet. The stems are wrapped with white silk ribbon fastened with tiny pearls. Height with topper is 2" and width is 1 3/8"

For more minis by Carolyn Brown of Maple Leaf Miniatures, visit:
Website: mapleleafminiatures.ca

Wedding Cake ~ Mini Era

For more minis by Annie of Mini Era, visit:

Monday, May 30, 2011

Budding blogger : Vardhini

Meet Vardhini from Vardhini's Kitchen in the Budding blogger series

She says -

Hi everybody .. This is Vardhini from VardhinisKitchen. I am a software engineer by profession and married to a wonderful person who has been supporting me and making my dreams come true. I have 2 kids who make my life even more worthwhile. Growing up I used to look at my mom in awe as she whipped up dishes in no time.

My culinary adventures started when I completed college and I used to prepare snacks every evening by following some book or the other. But still mom was the chef and she pampered us. Reality struck after I got married and came to US where I had to cook, which was when I realised the passion I had for cooking and food. After 10 years of cooking and trying out various cuisines, I now have my space where I will be sharing what I have learned. Hubby dear was the main inspiration for me to start the blog and what started out as a food diary for me has grown to be my passion.

I should say that I am overwhelmed by the way the blogging world has embraced me and by the responses I have received for the recipes posted. Thanks to all for encouraging me.

Being from Chennai, India I will be sharing a lot of southern dishes, but since I also love to experiment you will see dishes from various cuisines as well. I strongly believe that "anybody can cook" given the right tools and recipes and that is what my blog focuses on with step-by-step instructions along with pictures.

Thanks EC for introducing me in the "Budding Blogger" series.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Baked papdis

The first column of round papdis in the pic are made from wheat flour while rest are made from all purpose flour.


1 cup all purpose flour/maida
2 tbsp vanaspati/shortening
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp ajwain

Add salt and ajwain to the flour. Mix in the vanaspati to get crumbles. Add little water as required to get a stiff dough. Keep covered in a muslin cloth for 10 mins. Knead again and roll into thick roti by dusting a little with flour. Use a round cutter to cut small rounds. Repeat for rest of the dough. Prick each of the rounds well so that it doesnt puff up.

Preheat the oven to 180 deg. Place the rounds on the MW safe plate leaving some gap in between. Bake for approx 5-6 mins in Microwave and Grill combination mode at 600W. Check how long your microwave takes as baking for a longer time would burn the papdis.

The papdis can be had as it is and is also ideal for usage in chaats.

** You can make it more healthy by trying with wheat flour, but it would not be as crisp as all purpose flour ones.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Budding blogger : Kushi

Meet Kushi of A Girl's Diary in the budding blogger series

Hi, this is Khushi , the owner of the blog A Girl's Diary. Before 2009, kitchen was the last place on this Earth where I would step in. But everything changed with a touch of a magic wand, called Marriage. My journey began from that day to become a good cook.

I started learning how the spices blend with each other and do the wonder!! I started cooking for my husband which eventually turned into my passion and while going through several food blogs, I stumbled upon the idea of writing my own blog. I blog to share my happiness and creativity with others. Hope people will find these recipes useful and easy
to cook.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wedding Cake ~ Mitzi Bautista

Fore more minis by Mitzi Bautista, visit:
Blog: mitzisminiatures.blogspot.com

Bajra idli


3 cups broken bajra/pearl millet/kambu
1 cup blackgram dal (urad dal)
Salt to taste
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp oil

Soak the broken bajra in warm water for an hour. Soak the blackgram dal and fenugreek seeds seperately for 1/2 hour. Grind the dal first till smooth paste and then add the soaked bajra. Grind for a few minutes. Add salt and mix well. Ferment for 6-8 hours.

Grease idli plates with a few drops of oil and pour the batter in the plates. Steam for 10-12 minutes till fork comes out clean when pierced in the idlis.

Serve hot with chutney/sambar of your choice.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kuttu singhara thalipeeth


1/2 cup kuttu atta (buckwheat flour)
1/2 cup singhara atta (water chestnut flour)
1 boiled and mashed potato
1 onion chopped finely
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp green chilli paste
Finely chopped coriander leaves

Make a stiff dough of all the ingredients except oil. Grease a plastic sheet with little oil. Make medium sized balls of the dough. Flatten each ball over the plastic sheet with wet hands to get a thick roti. Cook this on a hot tava with little oil in the sides till brown spots appear on both sides.

Serve hot with sweetened curds.

* Kuttu and Singhara flours are used normally during fasting..In such a case, just skip the onions and go ahead.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pearl onion pulav

Inspired by Priya's version at Priya's Easy and Tasty recipes with some changes


1 cup uncooked rice
2 tsp oil
2 cloves
Piece of cinnamon
1 cup pearl onions peeled
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp pulav masala or garam masala
Salt to taste
2 tbsp beaten curd
finely chopped coriander leaves

Soak the rice for 1/2 hour. Heat oil, add cloves, cinnamon and bayleaf. After a minute add pearl onions and fry till it gets pinkish. Add the turmeric powder, red chilli powder, pulav masala, salt and mix well. Add the soaked rice and fry for a minute. Transfer to a vessel and add the curd and 1.5 -2  cups of water depending on the quality of the rice. Pressure cook till soft.

Seperate the grains using a fork and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with raita of your choice.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bread Gulab jamun


6 milk/sweet bread slices
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
Oil/Ghee to fry

Dip the bread slices in milk and squeeze it out completely. You can either cut out the corners of the bread or let it remain. Knead it into a dough and make balls of it. Add milk if required to make the dough. I opted for the less fat version by frying it in the paniyaram pan with few drops of oil. If you are not calorie conscious you can deep fry the balls in oil/ghee.

Heat the sugar and water to a sticky consistency. Add cardamom powder to the syrup and soak the bread balls in it for about 1/2 hr. Serve

* Since these gulab jamuns wont get bigger while frying like the normal gulab jamuns, you need to make a little bigger balls than usual.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Healthy Wild Rice Salad

Eating healthy does not always mean feeding on the same old-fashioned salad and boiled vegetables. In fact, I recently discovered a new card on the diet table - Wild Rice! For those who have never seen it, purple rice is one of the several varieties of colored rice. Anthocyanins are the color pigments that give many foods their deep rich red, blue, and purple colors. The risk of several chronic health conditions, including atherosclerosis, is also lowered by regular consumption of such foods. They have a slightly nutty flavor that might need some getting used-to, but their distinct color and nutritive content far outweigh this fact, making them a great addition to salad recipes. I added some cooked garbanzo beans, and some onions, walnuts and tomatoes to make this delicious Wild Rice Salad which could very well be served as a side dish.

Wild Rice Salad with Chickpeas

2 cups wild rice - cooked
1 cup garbanzo beans
2 tbsp red or white onions - chopped
3 green onions - sliced
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup firm tomatoes - chopped
2 green chillies - chopped
Salt and pepper - to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
fresh cilantro - to garnish

Heat half of the olive oil in a small skillet on medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and saute till mildly soft and brown in color. Next add the garbanzo beans and add about 2 tbsp water. Then add the cooked wild rice, salt, pepper and green chillies and let it cook for about 5-7 mins. Once done, let the rice cool to room temperature.

Whisk together the remaining olive oil and red wine vinegar to make the dressing.

In a large bowl, gently mix together the cooled cooked rice, green onions, chopped tomatoes, walnuts and the dressing. Garnish with some chopped cilantro, and serve the Wild Rice salad as a healthy and delicious side dish!

Related Recipes
Summer Salad with Poppyseed Dressing
Sprouted Beans & Lentil Salad
Vegetarian Mexican Salad

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Eggless Wheat almond cookies

Inspired from Priya's version at Priya's Easy n Tasty recipes


1 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Bit of salt
Chopped almonds
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
1/2 cup butter
Milk as required

Mix the flour, sugar, salt, almond pieces and cardamom powder well and add the butter and milk to get a dough. Make balls and flatten them slightly or use a cookie cutter of the desired shape. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and bake for around 18 minutes. Remember to leave out some space between the cookies before baking them. Allow it to cool for 5-10 minutes before storing in an air tight container.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wedding Cake ~ Bridget Aul

For more minis by Bridget Aul, visit:
Blog: tweetypetieproducts.blogspot.com
Flickr: flickr.com/photos/46339486@N02
Deviantart: birdielover.deviantart.com

Budding blogger: Lavanya

Meet Lavanya of My Recipe congeries in the Budding blogger series

She says-

I am Lavanya, a software engineer for profession. I love cooking right from my childhood. But never did any serious cooking till I got married. Luckily, my husband appreciates everything I cook. He is a big motivation for me to start blogging.

I try to cook different kinds of dishes every time. I have a toddler, who keeps me busy. But I never compensate cooking for any reason. That is how much I love cooking.

I came into this world of blogging about a month back and have few entries now. But I am sure, I will keep updating as and when I get time. I am totally addicted to blogging now . It motivates me to try many new dishes and my husband absolutely loves it :-) .

I was totally lost where to start introducing myself as a food blogger. Many thanks to EC for giving us this opportunity to introduce ourselves in her space. Please join my happiness through my blog and viit my space whenever you get a chance.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Remake Libby's Jingle & Win $10,000!

If you have a young kid in the house, I am sure you are used to singing rhymes and jingles.And if you love doing that, then here is your chance to get your creative juices flowing, remake an existing jingle, and win $10,000!! Yes, Libby's and Jewel have teamed up to discover a new Libby's jingle by declaring a one-of-its kind contest with a huge grand prize. It’s easy to enter and it can be a fun family activity!

Libby’s knows the importance of family meal time and encourages families to make it a point to get back to the table to spend quality time together. This spring, Libby’s Fruits and Vegetables, along with singer-songwriter Jewel, is also encouraging families to come together and show off their creativity by re-making the iconic Libby’s jingle.

To enter the contest go to the Libby’s Table Facebook page, click on the Jingle Contest tab and upload your video version of the jingle. You will have until May 13 to submit your entries, at which point Libby’s special guest judge, Jewel, will select five finalists to compete for America’s vote to win the $10,000 grand prize, $2,500 second place prize, and $1,000 third place prize.

Jewel, who is working on a new children’s album, starring in Bravo's new music competition series Platinum Hit, and preparing for a baby boy's also thrilled to be a part of this exciting contest, and will be recording her own version of the Libby’s jingle, which will debut in September. So if you love the concept of having dinner together with your family, and have a fun idea to sing and share the sentiment, you know what to do.

Visit Libby's on Twitter @LibbysTable, Hashtag #LibbysJingle and online at www.getbacktothetable.com for more details. Good Luck, and may the best jingle win!

Mysore masala dosa


Potato filling (as in masala dosa)
2 garlics peeled
1/2 tsp tamarind paste
Salt to taste
3-4 red chillies
1 small onion chopped

Grind the garlic pods, tamarind paste, salt, red chillies and onion to a paste with less water.

Heat tava and pour a ladle full of batter to make a dosa. Spread some red chutney over it and some oil in the sides.

Add some potato sabzi in the center.

When the bottom starts getting brown and crispy, fold the dosa without letting out the potato curry and serve hot with chutney/sambar of your choice.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Palak Laccha paratha


1 cup wheat flour
1 cup chopped spinach
Salt to taste

Put the chopped spinach in a vessel and heat it by covering it with a lid. In a few minutes, the spinach will get cooked and greener. Cool and grind it to a fine paste. Add salt to the wheat flour mix well and add the spinach paste to make a soft dough. Add water as required. Keep covered for 15 minutes. Knead again and make balls. Dust with flour and roll into a thick chapati. Spread some ghee and some flour over it and fold it like a handfan in pleats. Then roll it into a round and seal the edge by pressing it in the center.

Dust with flour and roll into thick parathas and cook on hot tava with oil/ghee till brown spots appear on both sides. Serve hot with some spicy sidedish.
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Friday, May 6, 2011

Carrot Cookies- Healthy & Tasty Treats

carrot cookies
With a toddler growing up in your house, you do end up baking cookies and treats a bit more often than you'd like, because no matter how healthy you'd try to feed them, sometimes, there is just no alternative to a cry for cookie:) luckily for moms like us, it is possible to introduce a healthier twist to your desserts too, just like these wholesome Carrot Cookies courtesy of Whole Foods. With amazingly nutritive ingredients like whole grain flour, oats, nuts, apples, carrot and banana, you will fell good about feeding them to your kids, and it would do no harm to sneak a couple bites for yourself too!

Carrot and Walnut Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies

1 cup raw unsalted walnuts
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 carrots, grated
1 apple, grated
1 very ripe banana, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup apple juice

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine walnuts, oats and raisins in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, baking powder, cinnamon and ginger.

Add carrots, apples, banana and apple juice and stir until combined. Drop by rounded tablespoons an inch apart on the prepared baking sheets, making about 24 cookies.

Press down on each cookie with the back of a fork to flatten them slightly. Bake until tops and bottoms are lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Rotate the baking tray by 180 degrees, midway, to ensure even heating.

You can store these cookies in an airtight jar for almost a week, and they'll stay nice and fresh. Its a great way to get some good vitamins and fiber into your toddler's body by means of fruits and flour. A guilt-free treat that is perfect for mommy and baby!

Related Recipes
Soft & Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Heart-Healthy Buckwheat Cookies
No-Bake Thumbprint Cookies

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why do YOU cook, Maria Speck?

Maria Speck

I met Maria Speck, the Grain Gourmet on Twitter where her recipe tweets piqued my curiosity. She grew up in both Germany and Greece and shares her recipes and mostly Mediterranean techniques for cooking with whole grains in ways you might not expect. In her beautiful new cookbook, Ancient Grains for Modern Meals, you'll find cakes from quinoa and smoked trout, an easy crust from cooked polenta, a hearty frittata with wild rice and wheat berry "fool" with figs. Her recipes will surely broaden your horizons as much as they tempt your tastebuds.

It all started with a small bag of wheat berries someone handed me at a cemetery in Greece during a ceremony to mark the recent death of my grandfather. I was six years old and hungry. While I scooped up the mixture of cinnamon and cumin-scented grains, chewing on their succulent starchy centers, interspersed with chunks of roasted walnuts and sugarcoated almonds-I became completely oblivious to the crushing sadness all around me, and blissfully dug in. This culinary memory made me into the person I am today, in so many ways.

Years later a simple wheat berry salad, served to me by a friend in Germany, brought the grains of my childhood back to my table. At the time, I worked as a news agency journalist, subsisting on coffee and frozen pizza. Rediscovering the delicious chew of wheat berries made me realize what I was missing. From then on, I lit my stove and my oven with a passion otherwise reserved for boyfriends.

A few years later whole grains once more changed the path of my life. When I moved to the US in 1993 as a journalism fellow at Stanford university, I couldn't find what the German half of me calls “real bread.” Most stores sold soft, cotton-candy like bread or pre-sliced toast. Even when labeled whole grain, little did these products resemble the deliciously chewy, aromatic, and dense loaves of dark wheat and rye breads I was raised on. Eventually, I took fate into my own hands: I ordered a beautiful wooden German countertop grain mill and started baking whole grain bread from freshly ground flour. Which ultimately lead to my current career. As more and more Americans started to get interested in whole grains, I realized how much I really knew about them. I am writer and a passionate whole grain lover-so why not combine the two, I thought? Instead of reporting on technology, society and health, all I have done since is writing about whole grains. And cooking and baking with them. Naturally.

Sprouted Horsegram pulav


1 cup sprouted horsegram
2 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
Piece of cinnamon
1 medium onion chopped lengthwise
2 small carrots chopped lengthwise
4-5 beans chopped
Few green peas
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala powder/ pulav masala
1 cup rice (soaked for 1/2 hr)
Few roasted cashews
Few raisins
Finely chopped coriander leaves

Heat oil, add cumin seeds, cloves, bayleaf and cinnamon. When the cumin seeds splutter, add the chopped onions and fry till pinkish. Add chopped carrots, beans, sprouted horsegram and peas and fry for a minute. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, garam masala powder and finally the soaked rice. Mix well. Add 2 cups of water (depending on the rice quality reduce if required) and pressure cook till soft.

Garnish with roasted cashews, raisins and finely chopped coriander leaves.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Brown sugar Sakkarai pongal


2 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup cooked greengram dal (moong dal)
1.5 - 2 cups of brown sugar (depending on personal tastes)
2 tbsp ghee
Roasted cashews
1/4 tsp cardamom powder

Heat the brown sugar with little water till it melts well and gets to a sticky consistency. Add the cooked rice and dal and mix well. Add ghee, cardamom powder and mix well. You can add more ghee as per taste.

Garnish with roasted cashews and raisins.
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Monday, May 2, 2011

Mexican Cheese Primer

Mexican cheese
Mexican cheese is readily available where I live, not expensive and yet I admit, I am often bewildered when I go to buy it. What's the difference between Cotija and Queso Anejo? Will Panela melt or crumble? If Quesadilla cheese is good for quesadillas, is Enchilado cheese for enchiladas? I have finally made sense of Mexican cheeses, thanks to lots of great information from the California Milk Advisory Board and some generous samples from Cacique, the largest Hispanic cheese brand in the US. Cacique has very detailed descriptions of all their cheeses as well as recipes when you're ready to dig in even further.

Don't be afraid to buy Mexican cheeses because you are not sure what to do with them. They are actually very easy to use and enjoy and often available in supermarkets. And they can be used in all kinds of dishes, not just traditional Mexican cuisine. Many are similar to cheeses you already know, like feta or mozzarella. It was the Spaniards who introduced cows and goats to Mexico as sources of meat and milk, so it's not surprising that Mexican cheeses bear a resemblance to European cheeses, especially ones from the Mediterranean countries including Spain, Italy and Greece.

When thinking about Mexican cheese, it's better to extend the category to Mexican dairy and divide everything into three categories, Fresh Cheeses, Aged Cheeses and Cream. I've listed the most popular and commonly available cheeses first.

Many fresh, or un-aged Mexican cheeses will soften but do not actually melt. Some of these cheese can be crumbled or fried. Of the fresh cheeses, only Queso Quesadilla and Oaxaca are melting cheeses.

Queso Fresco
This is the most commonly used Mexican cheese. Most similar to feta, it's mild, buttery and slightly salty, it softens, but it doesn't melt. It's typically used on salads and refried beans and it's perfect for enchiladas. You could easily use this cheese on any kind of salad, even Greek salad, in cheese spreads, blintzes, or in corn pudding.

Panela is a really fun cheese! It softens but does not melt and can be pan-fried like halloumi. Put it on salads, in potato casseroles, omelets and in sandwiches. You can also crumble it over spicy dishes. It is very mild in flavor.

Like a braided mozzarella or string cheese, it does melt and gets stringy when hot. Use it for stuffing, especially in chile rellenos but also on lasagna, pizza or nachos.

Queso Quesadilla
A buttery melting cheese for use in quesadillas, but also in any grilled cheese sandwich and has an almost nutty buttery flavor. It's similar to jack cheese.

The sweetest Mexican cheese, and very soft and grainy, like ricotta. Use it in desserts.

Mexican aged cheeses will last longer, and are all firm because more moisture has evaporated, but range from crumbly to very hard. Of the aged cheeses, Asadero, and Manchego are melting cheeses.

Cotija aka Queso Anejo
The most strongly flavored cheese, most similar to parmesan or romano cheese but quite as dry. A little packs a punch! This is the cheese to use with corn, roll the cooked cob in mayonnaise then coat it in crumbled cotija and sprinkle it with cayenne and drizzle it with lime. Use it in place of parmesan as a topping on pasta or in a Mexican style Caesar salad.

A buttery, mild melting cheese you can use in quesadillas, nachos or in grilled cheese sandwiches. It's very creamy and similar to fontina in flavor but like provolone in style, especially in the way you use it, sliced and draped over food to create a melted layer of cheese. You could use this on a cheeseburger or even melted in fondue.

In Spain Manchego is made with sheep's milk cheese, but the Mexican style of Manchego made in the US, is made from cow's milk and more similar in flavor to a mild cheddar with a nutty flavor. It melts extremely well. You could use it in grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta dishes, or in Mexican dishes like queso fundido or chile rellenos. It's also great on a cheeseburger or in macaroni and cheese.

It is coated in mild chile, giving it a distinctive color and flavor. There are two versions, Enchilado and Enchilado Anejo, an even more aged style. It is a crumbly cheese that does not melt. It is milder than cotija and can be used as a stuffing in enchiladas or chile rellenos.

There are creams from other Latin American countries but the Mexican style is generally most common. Try to find one without stabilizers if possible.

Crema aka Crema Mexicana
Think creme fraiche or thin sour cream, this rich yummy cream is thick but still liquid and not as firm as sour cream or American style yogurt. Drizzle it on spicy dishes, enchiladas, soups, chilaquiles. Crema can be used in cooking and on dishes as a finishing touch.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eggless Bakery butter biscuits


1 cup all purpose flour/maida
1/2 cup vanaspati/shortening
3/4 cup sugar powdered
Bit of vanilla essence

Sieve the sugar and flour together to remove any lumps. Add the essence and mix well. Add the vanaspati little by little and keep mixing till you get a dough. Make small balls of it and flatten them a bit.

Preheat oven to 180 deg. Arrange the flattened balls leaving some gap between each biscuit. Bake in convention mode for 8 mins. Cool for 10 minutes before storing in an air tight container.

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