Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ordering in on a lazy night

Il Pollo Capriccioso

Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina

As much as I love to cook, every once in a while it feels like a ordering-in kind of a night. In those moments I truly appreciate living in NYC. In most cities you are, most commonly, limited to Pizza or Chinese food. I am so fortunate in that there really is no limit here in NYC.

One of our favorite go-to places is Max restaurant. I have heard that the restaurant itself is quite cute and quaint on the inside, but we haven't physically been there. Somehow we always end up ordering in. Last night we ordered the Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina and the Il Pollo Capriccioso. The homemade gnocchi is soft and fluffy and simply melts in your mouth. The tomato sauce is sweet and salty at the same time. The cheese that is melted all throughout the sauce makes it creamy and simply fantastic. You'll want to lick your plate!! The Il Pollo Capriccioso is a thinly pounded, breaded chicken cutlet. It is served with arugula and diced plum tomatoes and a lemon wedge. I just love this dish. The fresh, peppery arugula and the sweet tomatoes with the chicken are the perfect combination. I love combining fresh ingredients with cooked food. I feel that it gives the food a different dimension.

I can highly recommend these 2 dishes! If you want to visit the restaurant (or order in!) here is their information:

181 Duane St. (between Greenwich & Hudson St.)
New York, NY 10013

Happy eating!!


Refreshing Cucumber Lime Drink with Vodka or VeeV

With the summer heating up, and the big July 4th weekend quickly approaching, this is the perfect drink to cool you down! It's refreshing and delicious!! It's making me thirsty just looking at it!

Compliments of Kitty goes to Charlotte:

  • a pitcher
  • some limes - i'd say 2-3 sliced and put in the bottom of the pitcher
  • a few mint leaves
  • thick cucumber slices - or a handful of thinly sliced ones - i use about 6 or 7 slices
  • a little sugar - maybe a tablespoon or so, enough to get some juices from the above ingredients flowing
  • Vodka or VeeV - boy prefers ketel one, i prefer anything clear and in the freezer
  • soda water -optional

what you're gonna do, is put all of the ingredients except for the vodka and soda water in the pitcher, then take a wooden spoon and think of that pesky co-worker that annoys you, and start smashing.

really go for it! this is therapy people..get it all out!

once you have a good amount of juice in the bottom of the pitcher, add your vodka, stir, pour over ice with a splash of soda for a little fizz, and serve with a fresh cucumber or mint leaf and enjoy!

I encourage you to try VeeV, if you haven’t already. It is made from the Acai berry, which is stuffed with all kinds of antioxidants and yumminess. I think it adds a nice tropical touch to the drink and makes it extra refreshing.

Happy drinking!!


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Pat's vs. Geno's Cheese Steak Debate


My sandwich from Pat's

SB's sandwich from Pat's

So when SB and I were on our way from Philly back to the city, we decided to stop by Pat's for a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. Since we were already in the general area and I have never had an authentic Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, we thought the 40 minute detour was absolutely worth it. After discussing with our friends, who are Philly natives, it was decided that Pat's was "The Place" for me to have my first authentic sandwich. I couldn't wait! I had heard so much about this famous sandwich, and we were both starving!

When we got there, there was a huge line that wrapped around the place. So the expectations were definitely set high. I couldn't help but notice that right across the street was another Cheesesteak place: Geno's. (It may have to do with the fact that Geno's is bedazzled with about a million flashing neon lights, with all the colors of the rainbow. You couldn't miss it if you were blind! )The line however, at Geno's didn't seem as long as Pat's so I definitely thought that we were at the right place. You know what people say about restaurants, go where the lines are. SB has been going to Pat's for years and his excitement was palpable. He told me that there has been a rivalry between Pat's and Geno's for years. Over a sandwich - who would have thought! Each place has their loyal patrons and it is clear that the loyalties run deep.

As we were waiting in line I noticed a sign that explained the exact science of ordering your sandwich. (1) What kind of steak (2) "wit or wit-out" means with or with out onions (3) what kind of cheese (4) if you mess up - go back to the end of the line! When it is your turn you MUST be ready to order. I have to be honest - when I read the sign I started sweating a little from the pressure. The nervousness got to me as I looked behind me to see the line growing by the minute. I almost delegated the task to SB.

SB ordered his sandwich "wit" and Whiz and added some ketchup. I had mine "wit," American cheese and peppers. I thought it was pretty good but it wasn't AMAZING for me. I don't know what I was expecting, but I suppose after all the hype I was expecting to be knocked of my seat and that just didn't happen. I frankly thought the steak needed a little more salt. Maybe next time around I need to go with Cheese Whiz. SB loved his though. He finished his and half of mine! Hahaha! I don't know how he stays so in shape! LOL

As we were leaving Pat's, SB says to me "I think we need to get a sandwich from Geno's, too. I have never had it and we need a comparison. We can take it for the road." I literally burst out laughing! He is too funny! Well, we ended up getting another sandwich for "the road." Hahaha!

We ordered this one with the Whiz and onions as well. I think the main difference between the 2 places are that the steak that Geno's uses is cut slightly thicker and is piled neatly on top of each other like cold cuts vs. Pat's that's just thrown together and probably looks more like a traditional Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. I have to say, I liked Geno's a little better! It's salty, juicy, meaty and simply delicious! I just thought the meat was better seasoned. Although, in all fairness I have to add that it's not an exact comparison because the toppings were slightly different. Maybe Cheese Whiz is just the way to go! Maybe it has nothing to do with the meat! I mean if you're going to be bad - might as well be bad all the way! :) So if you guys ever go, go with the Whiz whether you get it at Geno's or Pat's!!! I'm no Cheesesteak virgin anymore!

It has definitely inspired me to come up with my version of the cheesesteak sandwich!

Happy eating!!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Circle of Life

SB and I just came back from a wake in Philly.

A very dear friend of mine lost her Dad on Father's Day. My heart is breaking for her.

It reiterated to me, lessons that we all probably have heard at one point or another. They never lose their significance and often we forget them: Life can be short. You never know what tomorrow may bring. All you have is today and this moment right now. Never go to bed mad at each other. Tell your loved ones that you love them - today.


Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Wings

I have to admit, I'm not a chicken wing lover. SB on the other hand is a HUGE lover of the chicken wing. It's probably fair to say that it is in his top 5 all time favorite things to eat. So needless to say I've made a wing or two.

I have a few different recipes up my sleeve, but the World Cup Wings are some of his favorite. I make them ALL the time for all kinds of sporting events that we host and they are always a big hit! What's great is that they are SO EASY to make!

All you need is:
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 2 cups Flour
  • Vegetable or Canola oil
  • May Ploy sweet chili sauce
Heat the vegetable/canola oil to about 375 degrees in a deep wide pot (If you have a deep fryer that's great but if you don't that's just fine. I actually don't have one - so it works just as well). While the oil is heating up you can prepare the wings. Blot the wings with papertowels - you don't want them to be too wet. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Put the flour in a large bowl and toss the seasoned wings in the flour. Shake the excess flour off before dropping the wings into the hot oil. Make sure you don't crowd the pot too much. You don't want to bring the oil temperature down too much. Fry for about 13-15 minutes (cooking time depends on the size of the wings. In my experience 15 minutes has pretty much work for me every time). Take the wings out and set them on papertowels to let some of the excess oil drain. Then toss the hot wings in the May Ploy sauce (right out of the bottle! May Ploy is a Thai sweet chili sauce and it is absolutely delicious.). And they are ready to be eaten! You can of course serve them with a side of Blue Cheese dressing or Ranch or eat them plain. From what I hear, equally tasty :).

Happy eating!!


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Chermoula Recipe

This Chermoula recipe was shared with me by my friend Sam. Since I had it last night with my chicken and loved it, I thought I'd also share it with you. I haven't actually tried this recipe myself yet but it looks quite promising! If anyone of you try it before I do - let me know how it goes!
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lightly packed parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
If I were to make this recipe I would pulse everything together with a food processor. I imagine a blender would work as well.

Happy eating!!


Cafe Mogador

Mixed Platter

Chicken Tagine

So last night I went out for dinner at Cafe Mogador with my friends Kenzie, Jackie, and Blake. Blake had his sister Brenda and brother-in-law Carrie in town from Wisconsin. It's always nice to meet family of friends. Although, I think I creeped out Brenda just a little. I kept starting at her and analyzing her face to find similarities between her and Blake. She must have thought me to be such a weirdo! LOL! I can't help it! Families are so fascinating to me.

Moving on to the restaurant experience. I think we all really enjoyed the food but we left with a bit of a sour taste in our mouth because the service was just beyond terrible. From losing our reservation, to waiting 50 minutes for our entrees and the waiter just checking on us once the entire time we were there, it was just a terrible experience from a service standpoint. To make women go hungry and make them wait so long for food is just a BAD idea! All you husbands and boyfriends know exactly what I'm talking about!

It really was such a pity that the service was so bad because the food was great. It was simple, well spiced and flavorful. As an appetizer we all shared the Mixed Platter: hummus, baba ghanoush, tabouleh, and Middle Eastern salad. It came with this fluffy, warm flatbread which was so comforting. I mean there hasn't been a carbohydrate I haven't liked!

As my entree I ordered the Chicken Tagine with chermoula and couscous. It was so delicious! I couldn't eat it fast enough. The chicken was so tender and soft and almost fell off the bone. It had that very slow cooked flavor to it. I opted to get it with the chermoula which is a wonderful mixture of herbs and spices. Scrumptious! I also ordered a Moroccan Iced Tea along with my meal. It sounded more exotic than it was. I found out that it was simply iced peppermint tea. Nothing extraordinary. I'd recommend getting the sparkling lemonade, which Kenzie got, and was so refreshing.

So in summary, if you don't care about service (or maybe we just got unlucky - always willing to give the benefit of doubt the first time around) then I can definitely recommend this place. It is also very reasonable priced.

Cafe Mogador
101 St. Marks Place
(between 1st Ave & Ave A)
New York, NY 10009

Happy eating!!


Vita Coco - Obsession #2

Hey guys!

Just wanted to share with you the coconut water I am positively obsessed with: Vita Coco! It is 100% pure coconut water. Besides the fact that it is delicious and refreshing it is also super healthy for you! It has less sugar and 15 times more potassium than any sports drink. It's also packed with vitamin C and all that other good stuff. SB and I buy cases of it and keep our fridge stocked with it. SB who used to be a Gatorade addict is now a Vita Coco convert. If SB can do it, so can you!

It's apparently also the choice of drink of the U.S. World Cup soccer team (according to Jozy Altidore)!

Happy drinking!!


P.S.: It's also great for hangovers ;)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Moroccan night out in NYC

I'm going out for Moroccan food with some of my good friends tonight. Can't wait! I love my friends and love Moroccan food. Friends and food - what could be better? Not much! But talk about a cuisine that knows how to use their spices!! We're going to a place called Cafe Mogador here in NYC. I'll report back and let you guys know how it goes!

Hopefully, it will not be a repeat of Ben Stiller's character's experience in "Along came Polly!" LOL

Happy eating to me :)! Talk to you later guys!


Vegetarian alternative for Herb Goodness

Hey guys, I’ve been asked to feature some vegetarian / vegan dishes on my blog. I will definitely do so in the future! In the meantime here are some vegetarian options to my Herb Goodness recipe:

Portobello mushroom option:

  • Brush big Portobello mushroom caps with extra virgin olive oil on both sides.
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Grill or saute both sides for about 4-5 minutes
  • Slice the mushrooms
  • Toss the sliced mushrooms in hot pasta of your choice with Herb Goodness
  • I would recommend a short pasta such as penne or maybe a bow tie pasta
  • Make sure that the pasta water is well seasoned with salt when cooking
  • I would also top the dish with some freshly grated parmesan before serving and you are good to go!!
Seitan option:
  • I love seitan! It is a great vegetarian alternative and you can find it at Whole Foods or other health food stores. (For those of you who don't know what seitan is: it's a wheat gluten and it is delish!!)
  • Slice the seitan in about 1 inch cubes and saute with some diced onions and a tablespoon of olive oil until golden brown.
  • Then toss in 2 tablespoons of Herb Goodness.
  • Add salt if needed.
  • Serve with either brown rice or roasted veggie couscous.
Roasted veggie couscous:
  • Cut eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini in 1 inch cubes.
  • Slice 1 medium size onion.
  • Toss all veggies in olive oil with 2 cloves of minced garlic and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place on cookie sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes at 425 degrees.
  • Flip veggies half way through.
  • Toss in couscous.
  • I recommend you get the 5 minute couscous at the store (bring water or chicken stock to a boil - add couscous - turn heat off - cover and let stand for 5 minutes! EASY!!)
Obviously, you can enjoy these dishes even if you are not a vegetarian. I bet you'll still like them!! Just because it's healthy that doesn't mean it has to be tasteless - quite the contrary!

Happy eating!!


Herb Goodness

A few nights ago SB came home from a dinner with a couple of leftover steaks. I happen to be a big fan of leftovers because it cuts the cooking time in at least a half but not necessarily the flavor!

The steaks SB brought home were rare. Here is what I did: I placed them on a cookie sheet, in the oven, with a dollop of butter on each steak, for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, flipped them 5 minutes into it (for a medium temperature). I let them rest for 10 minutes and then sliced them on a diagonal. (Remember the steaks he brought home were already precooked and preseasoned. If the steaks were raw I would have seasoned them first with salt and pepper then seared them in a very hot pan, preferably a cast iron skillet, for a couple of minutes on each side and then finished them in the oven in the above manner. Cooking time can vary depending on the thickness of the steak.) The butter definitely helps to add a little flavor but to kick it up a few notches I drizzled some of my Herb Goodness on top of the sliced steak.

Herb Goodness:

  • 1/2 cup of parsley
  • 1 bunch or 3/4 cup of chive
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
Put parsley, chive, garlic, salt in food processor. Turn the processor on and drizzle the olive oil in. Taste for flavor and you are done! How easy is that??!! Add it on the steak right before you serve it and you are golden!! It's so simple, so beautiful! I strongly believe that food does not have to be complicated in order to taste good.

You can add a variety of different herbs to this goodness to adjust it to your flavor palette to make it your own. Occasionally, I like to add some cilantro and jalapeno if I have it around, to put a little Latin spin on it. But by no means do I miss it if I omit it. Really, you can use any combination of herbs you like.

Being in the height of the grilling season you can use the Herb Goodness, as a marinade as well. All you have to do is add ¼ cup of lemon juice and the juice of half a lime. It is super delicious with pork tenderloin, chicken or shrimp. But don’t limit yourself to just meats! Brush it on the veggies of your choice and throw it on the grill – YUMMY!!!! Take ¼ cup of Herb Goodness add 2 tablespoon of lemon juice and use it as a salad dressing. Or throw it on pasta with some grilled chicken. DELISH!!!!

Once you taste this scrumptious Herb Goodness you will find a multitude of ways to use it.

Happy eating!!!


On a non-food related note....

Congratulations to team Korea and team USA to making it to round 16 in the World Cup! Amazing matches, keeping us on our toes - that's for sure (I've been a bundle of NERVES)! 2 down 1 more to go! Go Germany!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Easy, breezy dessert

I love dessert. I love it after a meal, I love it for breakfast, I love it as a midnight snack, and I admit, sometimes it even comes in handy as stress therapy (not that I've ever done that, ha ha!!). In my opinion there really is never a bad time for dessert. But I also love making it. The smell of baked goods is just so fantastic! It has a way of making its way into every nook and cranny of a house. It’s wonderful! It makes a house smell so homely, so welcoming. But sometimes I just don’t have the time or energy to bake from scratch. That however, doesn’t mean I want to sacrifice the taste of homemade dessert. Here’s a recipe for a quick dessert and you can take all the credit for it! In fact, I made it tonight and it was a hit. Make brownies out of a box and top it with this homemade frosting that I like to call: Mascarpone, Cream Cheese Decadence. And here’s the recipe:

  • ½ pound mascarpone cheese
  • ½ pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 ¼ pounds confectioners' sugar

Mix all ingredients together with a hand-mixer until everything is well incorporated. I recommend that the butter and cream cheese is room temperature, otherwise you will have a hard time mixing it. The mascarpone is generally softer and doesn’t have to be warmed to room temperature. I love the flavor of mascarpone. Mascarpone is an Italian cream cheese and you can generally find it in the specialty cheese aisle in your grocery store. If you can’t find it, feel free to substitute it with regular cream cheese. NONE OF THAT LOW FAT CREAM CHEESE STUFF! Yuck!!! Use the real stuff with all the fat! You only live once, enjoy it :)!! Also if you bake the brownies in cupcake molds it adds a cute little touch. It's a great recipe if you are cooking for your date for the first time and looking to impress!

What’s so great about this frosting is that you can use it for multiple desserts. It’s also great on cupcakes, carrot cake, coconut cake, red velvet cake, or serve it in a bowl to dip fruit in! You can really put it on anything your little heart desires. The sky is the limit!

Happy eating!!


P.S.: I misplaced my camera cable so pictures are to follow soon.


A new entry is coming soon. I have been so consumed with the World Cup lately that I just don't seem to be able to finish an entry!!

Go Korea! Go Germany! Go USA!!!!!!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

World Cup blues + Obsession #1

Currently I am suffering from the world cup blues. Most of you know that right now the biggest sporting event in the world is happening in South Africa. I have 3 teams I’m rooting for: South Korea (I was born there), Germany (I grew up there), and the USA (I live here). Well, South Korea lost yesterday, Germany just lost now and even though that doesn’t mean they won’t advance to the next round – I’m still not happy about 2 losses in a row!

But I know just the thing that will make me feel just a little better. It’s the Melona popsicle! Who cares that it’s 9:30 in the morning and I’m eating ice cream! I am positively obsessed with this popsicle. It is fruity, creamy, milky, sweet, refreshing – it’s just a burst of flavors. It’s the best popsicle you’ll ever have in your life! Just the thing to help me get over a little bump in the world cup road to victory! I already feel the positivity flowing through my veins again (I will need it for the US match, which is up next!). I should get an IV drip with this stuff in it!! If you’ve never had it before, you have to get your hands on one! I get it at the grocery store in Korea-town (32nd street and Broadway) here in NYC. If you live elsewhere in the country and have a little Korean store or Asian market near by, they might sell it there too.

Happy eating and GO USA!!!!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

My meatball sammy tonight :)

Toasted Kalmata Olive bread topped with my own marinara sauce, two meatballs, shaved parmesan and chive.

Meatball Galore!

I love meatballs. Who doesn’t? Well, I like them for a few different reasons: they are tasty, fun to eat, easy to make, and they stretch! What I mean by stretch is that I only have to do the work once and get multiple dinners out of it. You can double (or even triple) up the recipe, make a whole bunch of meatballs once, freeze them and have them for another time. How beautiful is that??

Now, before I go on and divulge my recipe, I have to say this: if you grew up in a large Italian family and your mom has a secret recipe that has been passed down to her by her mother, who received it from her mother before that, and who in turn got it from her mother (you catch my drift), and you only believe in the traditional Italian meatball, then WARNING! WARNING!: this recipe may not be for you. This is not a traditional meatball recipe.

I have had a many discussions with SB’s Italian friends and have come to find out that in some Italian families the making of “The Meatball” is like a religion. Who knew!

While I don’t mean to be sacrilegious to “The Meatball” :) here is my spin on it. I generally like different textures in my food, so I have added a few ingredients that will provide for a little bit of crunch while it still remains a light and fluffy meatball.

  • 1 small grated onion
  • 2 small (or 1 large) finely grated carrots
  • ½ cup finely chopped celery
  • ½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 garlic cloves, very finely minced (use your microplane if you have one. If you don’t it’s worth investing in one. I use mine ALL the time!)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 pounds of lean beef
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

Mix all the ingredients together with your hands and form little balls. The meat mixture may be a little wet but don’t be alarmed – that’s just how it should be. We don’t want a dry meatball. Yuck! Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

You can serve them with pasta and marinara sauce (my own marinara recipe to follow soon). Sprinkle some finely chopped chive on top and it will look like a gourmet meal! You can also serve them on a brioche roll with perhaps some garlic mayo. Or eat them like SB eats them and have them plain, as a snack!!

Happy eating!!


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What this blog is about and what you can expect:

You’ve guessed it. FOOD!

In my eyes, the beauty of food is multi-layered.

We largely live in a world where our varied differences and conflicts in areas such as religion, socio-economic backgrounds, race, politics (just to mention a few) are more prominently displayed than the things that connect us.

Food is something that connects us all, no matter what color, shape or religion we are, whether we prefer to sit on the right or the left side of the aisle. Food nourishes us, it comforts us, sometimes it even brings back memories. We love food, we savor it, often we like to share it with people we love, and at times we like to sneak an extra piece when no one is looking… Food brings people together and it makes us more similar than it makes us different.

In this blog I will share with you everything and anything relating to food in my life. You will find out about my food obsessions, food I loathe, restaurants I love and hate, recipes I make for dinner, meals SB (my boyfriend – he’s my guinea pig) loves, food that inspires me, food that reminds me of home, food I eat on vacation, dinner parties I host, my new creations and old family favorites, and every once in a while I might even tell you something about food that you’ve never known before.

I hope you will enjoy being a part of my journey as much as I do.

Happy reading and happy eating!

About me - continued...

I was born into a very simple family in rural Korea. Rural Korea 31 years ago was very different from the world I know today. Many of today’s conveniences were simply not available. Subsequently, I have watched my mom prepare any kind of food from very simple ingredients, from a young age. I would watch her boil and grind soy beans that somehow would miraculously turn into tofu only a few hours later. I would watch her mend to her vegetable gardens and see the zucchinis, eggplants etc. grow from a seed into a vegetable and end up as delicious, flavorful and fragrant stew in front of me. I would accompany my family on long walks into the woods were they would collect herbs and wild vegetables, while listening to my aunts talk about the latest gossip. I would watch them harvest pungent red chili peppers, dry them, and make them into an appetizing paste that would flavor so many of the wonderful signature dishes that I would grow accustomed to eating.

My mother being a single mother, out of necessity and her passion of food, opened a tiny, “whole in the wall” restaurant. She needed money and all she knew how to do was cook. I remember spending many days and nights of my early childhood in the restaurant watching my mother work over the stove. Food to us was not only for nutrition, it was a way of life.

These types of experiences from an early age awakened my curiosity and love for food. Perhaps because I witnessed how ingredients become to be and how different combinations of them become magical creations. It simply was fascinating.

This fascination did not stop when we moved to Germany. I reveled in the myriad of different foods that were available to me in Europe. I continued to watch my mother cook, asked questions about this or that ingredient. Asked her why she would cut an onion this or that way, why she used butter here but oil there. I would inquire about why she sometimes put sugar in savory dishes and salt in desserts. And as I grew older she would let me sauté the onions, cut the vegetables, stir the pots. Some of my fondest memories with my mother are making dumplings or noodles together from scratch. Little by little she would teach me different techniques and the art of cooking with the kind of passion that was inherently in our blood. This is how my culinary training became to be, in the culinary school of mom’s kitchen.

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