Tag Archives: easy weeknight menus

Weekly Menus: Week of 10/6/2013, Travel Prep Edition

Gentle Readers, this week I must start with a mea culpa. I was traveling last week, and forgot what day it was until I was back, and thus missed the Wednesday publishing cycle. From the amount of mail I received on the topic (none), I can tell there was a public outcry. So I will publish said Smoothie article this week. Meanwhile, look what I got to eat last week:

Biscotti and Cookie Platter at Babbo in NYC. OMG good.

Biscotti and Cookie Platter at Babbo in NYC. OMG good.

Yes, it was that delicious. A tip for anyone who is in NYC and hasn’t been to Babbo. If you go when it opens, right at 5 pm, you can snag a seat at the bar and eat. Highly recommend the pasta tasting menu or just eating around the menu at your leisure. Don’t skip the Brussels sprouts and the biscotti.

The Beer Festival Tasting Glass. Durham, NC

The Beer Festival Tasting Glass. Durham, NC

But I digress. My real life is quite a bit less glamorous but equally delicious. This week I went to my first beer tasting. I learned that there are many horrific beers in the world that taste like fruits and lawn clippings. I also found quite a few local brews that were delightful, and an interesting Pecan number that I’ll need to investigate. Shockingly, my favorite part was the food, especially the pairings, such as provided by my friend Carrie from G2B Gastropub. The andouille sausage with a little mustard was ideal beer food.

The inimitable Chef Carrie from G2B Gastropub in Durham, NC!

The inimitable Chef Carrie from G2B Gastropub in Durham, NC!

Okay, enough, I actually do cook sometimes too. The tasting of all the pumpkin things continues. A full report is coming soon.

Pumpkin Cake Doughnut with Latte Glaze from Rise. Hellooooo nurse.

Pumpkin Cake Doughnut with Latte Glaze from Rise. Hellooooo nurse.

Fried Green Tomato with Pimento Cheese Biscuit from Rise in Durham, NC. Just because.

Fried Green Tomato with Pimento Cheese Biscuit from Rise in Durham, NC. Just because.

 

Here’s what’s happening on this week’s menus:

Weekly Menus: 10/6/2013

Weekly Menus: 10/6/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery list (a little lean as I use up what’s here and plan to shop more heavily next week before  I travel):

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/6/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 10/6/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Steak and potatoes
I’m feeling red meat today, and the weather is a little autumnal. Perhaps the potatoes will be sweet or an acorn squash instead. If you’re not tossing winter squash in your cart regularly, you’re missing out!

Monday: Veggie Chili
This keeps getting delayed in lieu of other fast meals that don’t generate leftovers, but I’m making it this time, even if I have to freeze it for later!

Tuesday: Omelets
These were such a huge hit the other night, complete with quick sauteed spinach and portobello mushrooms that we’re doing it again. TPCs Jr are huge mushroom fan, and we’re committed to trying all of the types. That’s our schtick.

Wednesday: Pizza!
We’ve got a social to attend, and well, we all love pizza. Honestly, I could eat it 3 times a day. In fact, I’ve had to add it to my things not to leave unattended in the house list, as I will eat cold pizza until I founder. It’s a different food group that hot pizza, and I actually prefer it.

Thursday: Salmon and Couscous
We have to get more healthy fat in our diets. Plus I need to try to stay smarter than my offspring. I plan to tell them this and serve myself the largest portion. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

Friday: Mexican!
Probably burritos or quesadillas to accommodate the braced on, but we may be able to pull off nachos. Yum!

Saturday: Dine out!
So many possibilities, we often lament we only have 3 stomachs between us.

What do you do to prepare for a trip? Buy easy prep food, eat down the supplies? Share your tips in the comments area  below!

Send your make-ahead food ideas, chocolate covered peanuts, and pumpkin-themed whatnot to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday, Smoothie Recipes and Tips (I Promise This Time)

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Weekly Menus: Week of 9/22/2013

Gentle Readers, I’ve decided that Fall makes me hungry. There’s no other explanation for the number of hours I’m currently spending dreaming about my next meal. For the sake of sparing my feelings, let’s pretend this is a seasonal affectation and not a constant state. As the weather cools, I think more about warm and hearty foods.

Veggie Chili Simmering

Veggie Chili Simmering

Also, larger portions at dinner mean warm lunches the next day. We are currently putting the Thermos Food Jars (I love them) through their paces. Here’s how, with this week’s weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 9/22/2013

Weekly Menus: 9/22/2013

And the Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/22/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/22/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Breakfast for Dinner
A perennial favorite, this is a good excuse to make pumpkin pancakes (a team favorite right now), biscuits, or even baked cheese grits. All great possibilities for batch cooking that’s eaten through the week.

Light golden-brown biscuits!

Light golden-brown biscuits!

Monday: Not Dogs and Fries
Simple and from the freezer, plus using up some of the cabbage I bought for Chicken Noodle Soup last week as slaw. This is the vegetarian junk food meal you don’t have to be guilty about.

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Hot Dog from The Pig with Ketchup, Mustard, and Relish

Tuesday: Veggie Chili or Lentil Chili
More stews and one-pot dishes! This will feature standard legumes or the fast cooking lentil. Great vegetarian choices to be paired with cornbread or my new favorite Cheese Sticks from Trader Joe’s (review coming). Great for the lunchbox the following day as well.

Wednesday: Tuna Melts
Because we’ve been eating so many hot lunches, the bread had to head to the freezer. It’s breaking out now as open-faced tuna melts. We discovered it’s the one way we all like tuna salad. Not overdressed, a little kick from hot sauce, and way pickley.

Can't decide between a tuna melt and a peanut butter? Choose both.

Can’t decide between a tuna melt and a peanut butter? Choose both.

Thursday: Gnocchi with Pink Sauce
A break from the standard pasta, we are all deeply in love with the creamy organic tomato sauce from Trader Joe’s right now. There is a story here, coming soon, of why I am redoubling my love for the store.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Extra Crispy Sage

Friday: Leftover Delight
We can only eat so much, I know that there will be food left, and there’s no better time to watch a movie and munch the best of the previous week than a Friday.

A lot of little leftovers can add up to a whole meal.

A lot of little leftovers can add up to a whole meal.

Saturday: Dine Out
So many options, plus outdoor eating with a fall chill!

Fall says latte to me--but never ever pumpkin ones.

Fall says latte to me–but never ever pumpkin ones.

What’s in your kitchen these days? I’m looking for good one-pot and stew ideas. I feel a slow-cooker edition coming on! Post your comments below, or send a Tweet my way.

Send bright ideas, rashers of bacon, and pumpkin cupcakes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: Soft Foods that Don’t Suck–Braces Edition

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Weekly Menus: Week of 9/15/2013 Edition

Gentle Readers, what a long strange week it has been. The Eldest PC now has braces and transformed into looking like a teenager, complete with the challenges inherent in feeding one whose mouth hurts. School is in full swing, and we soldier on, attempting to make all practices, rehearsals, and social outings. Sound familiar?

The Eldest transformed into a teenager overnight, complete with braces and a digital native's gift for the craycray-eyed "selfie."

The Eldest transformed into a teenager overnight, complete with braces and a digital native’s gift for the craycray-eyed “selfie.”

So this post will be short and to the point as we prepare to dash to yet another event. The challenge is making meals that the Eldest can eat successfully with potential for lunchbox appearances. All ideas welcome. Which means this week’s menus look like:

Weekly Menus: 9/15/2013

Weekly Menus: 9/15/2013

And the Foursquare Grocery Shopping List is:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/15/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 9/15/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
I have soup on the brain, and potentially a pot pie, so another rotisserie chicken for us!

Monday: Chicken Noodle Soup
Planning to make TPC’s Mom’s version, with cabbage, broad egg noodles, and carrots. Soft but flavorful!

The Practical Cook's Mom's Homemade Chicken Soup

The Practical Cook’s Mom’s Homemade Chicken Soup

Tuesday: Gnocchi
On the request list for a while, this will also be good with diced leftover rotisserie chicken tossed in a pink sauce with a few red pepper flakes. Overcooked broccoli on the side.

Wednesday: Mexican
Spinach quesadillas or potentially Flying Mayan burritos. We’ve been away from our friend the sweet potato too long.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Hello beautiful sweet potatoes.

Thursday: Indian!
Dal, rice, and palak paneer for the win!

Palak Paneer, Done Really Well by Saffron Chapel Hill

Palak Paneer, Done Really Well by Saffron Chapel Hill

Friday: Leftovers
If I make it through the week without a meltdown, I’ll virtually high-five everyone. Leftovers is my version of the kitchen victory lap.

Saturday: Dine Out!
So many places are opening in the area, including new food trucks, and it’s time to start eating!

What are your favorite easily chewable foods? Send ideas our way, post a comment or a Tweet!

Send good ideas, questions, and lucrative speaking offers to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up next on Wednesday: How to Doctor Store-Bought Food and Win!

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Weekly Menus: Week of 8/4/2013 (What Happened to Summer Edition)

Gentle Readers, could you please send out an APB for summer? August, really? Tomatoes are here, corn is here, and I’m eating anything that involves watermelon. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the subtle crunch that fresh corn and diced zucchini provide to any number of dishes. I was in a bit of a food rut, and I find myself newly inspired and ready to meet some old ingredient friends in the kitchen again.

The Tower of Tomatoes from Guglhupf!

The Tower of Tomatoes from Guglhupf!

First order of business, I’m going to the farmer’s market this week. Second order, we are eating fresh when possible again, because we have more exciting food travel on our horizons, including New Orleans. I haven’t been since before Katrina, so please send your suggestions and thoughts for must-eats!

My lunch almost every day last week. Summer craving: tomatoes and cheese!

My lunch almost every day last week. Summer craving: tomatoes and cheese!

Now, the Weekly Menus:

Weekly Menus: 8/4/2013

Weekly Menus: 8/4/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery List: 8/4/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List: 8/4/2013

Which all translates to:

Sunday: Dine Out!
First I must conclude some more field research. So far this week I’ve remembered I love chicken liver, met a vegetable mix at G2B in Durham that I want to make at home and possibly marry, and rekindled my dessert romance with sticky toffee pudding.

Grilled vegetable melange, I love you.

Grilled vegetable melange, I love you.

Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream from Piedmont Restaurant.

Sticky toffee pudding with salted caramel ice cream from Piedmont Restaurant.

 

Monday: Salad
If you need to ask why, see the above paragraph. I love salad though, with it’s infinite possibilities. This will be a clean out the crisper drawer variety.

Tuesday: Pasta Surprise
I see a primavera in my future. Fresh herbs, lemon, good romano. Yum.

Wednesday: Omelets
I miss omelet bar, so we shall eat it again. A dab of this and that, featuring whatever we have or buy at the Farmer’s Market. Plus some good bread.

Thursday: Sausage and Pierogie
A family favorite, I may try my hand at Savoy cabbage as well, another favorite from one of my favorite local chefs, Carrie at G2B.

Savoy cabbage with bacon and almonds from G2B.

Savoy cabbage with bacon and almonds from G2B.

Friday: Dine Out!
Travel calls again, and I can’t wait for this one. Beignets for dinner? I have no objection.

Saturday: Leftovers?
We will probably do more adventure eating, but I recommend Saturday as movie and leftovers night. We have found all sorts of ways to make finger food healthier and fun. Try savory popcorn mixes, small sandwiches, and cut veggies and fruit. Peanut butter and celery is a favorite here right now.

What’s on your table this week? Share your meal ideas and New Orleans secrets! Post a comment below or say hello on the Twitters.

Send extra weeks of summer, tomatoes, and good wishes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Up next (on Wednesday): An Ode to Eggs–One Ingredient Three Ways

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Weekly Menus, Al Fresco Edition: Week of 6/2/2013

Gentle Readers, summer is a great time to establish some goals. The Practical Cooks Junior have established theirs already, and they are as follows: eat outside as often as possible, take night walks no less than 2 times a week, swim daily, travel often. The Youngest is still convinced she can sell the team on Australia as the big vacation, but alas, that will have to wait.

Outdoor dining for the win!

Outdoor dining for the win!

The last week of school is a Herculean push of activities, many of them popsicle-based. Please note, I checked, and the “fruit-based” had more grams of sugar than the store-brand red/purple/orange pack. Read the labels, and when you can, make your own.

Al fresco requires gear: hat, sunglasses, bug spray, SPF.

Al fresco requires gear: hat, sunglasses, bug spray, SPF.

In the spirit of al fresco dining, with a side of last week of school, here are this week’s menus:

Weekly menus: 6/2/2013

Weekly menus: 6/2/2013

And the Four Square Grocery Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/2/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 6/2/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Italian!
Crostini and a light lemon sauce on pasta for the win! Carbs can be warm weather friendly, don’t fear them. It’s a great one-pot dish, ideal for transporting outside. If some falls on the ground, toss it to the birds. Goat cheese on crisps is the simplest appetizer in the world, and wow is it good. Damn you Whole Foods Cheesemongers–I’m a sucker for a sample.

Linguine with slightly creamy lemon sauce and asparagus. I wanted to swim in it.

Linguine with slightly creamy lemon sauce and asparagus. I wanted to swim in it.

Monday: Dine Out!
Lots of obligations this week. I’ll be doing some field research though, so stay tuned.

Tuesday: Salad
It’s hot, and I crave lettuce and watermelon. Sometimes at the same time. Tie it together with feta and a white balsamic, some basil in chiffonade form, and you’re in business.

Summer happiness = watermelon

Summer happiness = watermelon

Wednesday: Pasta with broccoli
A request from TPCs Jr, the key here is to put more broccoli than pasta.

Cheese Rainbow Pasta Toss, Unicorns Not Included

Cheese Rainbow Pasta Toss, Unicorns Not Included

Thursday: Burritos
Another request from my offspring. To dine outside, simply assemble inside, wrap in foil, and transport. Spicy food in hot weather is your friend.

Friday: Frozen Pizza
School is out, time to party! Oh wait, was that my out loud voice?

My other weakness, padron peppers. They are not spicy, just salty and delicious.

My other weakness, padron peppers. They are not spicy, just salty and delicious.

Saturday: Dine Out!
We’ll be visiting a new country, I don’t know which one yet. If you have ideas, let us know! Summer is a great time to try new things–without the time pressure, life gets simpler. And dining culturally is an easy way to keep the learning going without being so obvious. When your child names the food she’s eating in French, run with it.

I will admit, I’ve fallen off the CSA and Farmer’s Market bandwagon, strictly because of time. However, outdoor dining is inspiring me to rejoin the flock. Our meals are simple and portable, so fresh ingredients are a must. Help us out with our field research, challenge us to try your favorite ice cream. Post it in the comments box below! There’s plenty of room.

Clusterfluff is shorthand for ice cream peanut butter crack.

Clusterfluff is shorthand for ice cream peanut butter crack.

Send patio furniture, insect repellant, and actual feedback to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Up next on Wednesday, Obika Mozzarella Bar Reviewed!

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Weekly Menus: 5/19/2013

Gentle Readers, with spring comes renewal: new foods, new ideas, new quests. And I need your help. First, the hunt for perfect fried chicken continues. If you know of spots in Savannah, GA, or Charleston, SC, let me know. They are targets for the research mission.

Duck fat tater tots with Dragon Sauce, Korean Pork Belly Slider, Sweet Potato Fries, Pork Belly Tacos: Four-Square Win

Duck fat tater tots with Dragon Sauce, Korean Pork Belly Slider, Sweet Potato Fries, Pork Belly Tacos: Four-Square Win

Next, if you consider yourself a dollar store guru, I need some guidance. I’ve challenged a fellow food blogger (aka @VeggieMacabre) to a Dollar Store Dinner cookoff. If you’re familiar with Mutually Assured Destruction, the political theory that guided much of our nuclear policy in the 80s and 90s, you have a good grasp for where the challenge is headed. The rules are still fuzzy, but the basics are you have to produce a meal from dollar store finds, with allowances for spices and butter/oil you already have.

Pork Belly and Kale Biscuit from Rise in Durham: This is not a drill, you need to eat this soon.

Pork Belly and Kale Biscuit from Rise in Durham: This is not a drill, you need to eat this soon.

Things got problematic when we added the “you have to eat what I cook clause.” Game on. I need the best of the best here. And by the best, I mean I’ll be cooking a 3-course meal laced with Vienna sausages. All guidance and thoughts on dollar store shopping appreciated.

Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Toffee Paired with Red Wine at the Newly Opened Bar Lusconi in Durham. I had a moment.

Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Toffee Paired with Red Wine at the Newly Opened Bar Lusconi in Durham. I had a moment.

Yes, I did eat all of the things photographed above yesterday. In unrelated news, I’m going for a run shortly. But I digress. Another travel week, another round of TPCs Junior leading the charge. Thus the weekly menus are:

Weekly Menus: 5/19/2013

Weekly Menus: 5/19/2013

The Four-Square Shopping List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/19/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/19/2013

Which all means:

Sunday: Rotisserie Chicken
Easy and efficient. We’ll eat what we want, make stock from the bones, and use the rest in the salad and chicken pie later in the week.

Monday: Salad + Leftovers
The perfect medium to clean out the fridge. A bit of chicken and some fruit, done.

Tuesday: Mexican
Leaving TPCs Jr to test a new taco kit. Let’s see what the critics have to say.

Wednesday: Lasagna
Nothing says “easy weeknight” like a lasagna. That your mom makes. When you’re not there. Thanks TPC’s Mom!

Thursday: Chicken Pie
Just need the pie crust, some chicken, more vegetables, a bit of stock. With the right veggies, it’s a light springtime meal.

Friday: Grilled Cheese and Soup
We are on a quest to actually FINISH a loaf of bread in a week. We did last week, but only with concerted effort. Even with daily lunches, a little goes a long way. More on that later when I reveal my Depression Era Hamburger Steak Recipe.

Saturday: Dine Out!
This will be TPCs Jr’s choice–they’ve  been going fairly exotic, so we shall see.

Remember, all fried chicken and dollar store wisdom wanted. Shoot me an email, post a comment, Tweet #DollarStoreDinner my way.

Send duck fat tots, questions, or fried chicken locations to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday: Eating Las Vegas

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Weekly Menus: Week of 5/12/2013

Gentle Readers, sometimes one must say “uncle.” Last week, in the midst of an extremely busy period, I failed to post the blog as promised. I heard no roar and outcry, and instead opted to grab an extra hour of sleep, thus doubling my total. I wish that last were a math flub. Life is busy, incredibly so, and I’m always looking for another way to stretch time and do one more thing.

My favorite food critics: The Practical Cooks Junior

My favorite food critics: The Practical Cooks Junior

So apologies for anyone who was counting on the Chorizo Hash Recipe, it’s coming your way soon. Confession: I am human, extremely so, and trying to manage an awful lot while spending time with my kids and trying to stay healthy. Sometimes I succeed, other times I don’t.

Life on the road is challenging. Quick calories are often the only choice.

Life on the road is challenging. Quick calories are often the only choice.

However, as the Jrs and I celebrate Mother’s Day today, fresh off a week where TPC’s Mom (and TPC’s Dad, a hero in this story) watched the kids while I traveled, I am reminded of what actually matters. Thanks to all for making this journey count.

My not glamorous breakfast of choice.

My not glamorous breakfast of choice.

And now, courtesy of input from the team, the weekly menus:

Weekly Menus: 5/12/2013

Weekly Menus: 5/12/2013

The Four-Square Grocery List:

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/12/2013

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 5/12/2013

Which all translates into:

Sunday: Fish and Greens
At the suggestion of The Youngest TPC Jr, it will be salmon. Possibly with a citrus glaze, beside couscous and greens.

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Orange Salmon, Broiled Asparagus, Accidental Butternut Bulgar

Monday: Salad
Detox begins again. I actually ate a number of delightful kale salads in Las Vegas, much to the merriment of my burger eating compatriots.

Tuesday: Quinoa with Chickpeas
From The Eldest, no idea why this popped in her head, but let’s go with it.

Quinoa with Beets, Chickpeas, and Dill

Quinoa with Beets, Chickpeas, and Dill

Wednesday: Meat loaf and Mashed Potatoes
On occasion I like to be extremely traditional. Let’s see how the Jrs take to it.

Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
A family classic, we will be working on biscuits and grits again soon.

Fluffy little buttermilk biscuits!

Fluffy little buttermilk biscuits!

Friday: Vegetable delight
Fridge cleanup, and I’m thinking Mediterranean as the tying element.

Saturday: Dine Out!
Raleigh perhaps? Time to explore new ground!

Working on a series of food travel adventures. Post a comment below for areas you’d like to see covered! Nominate your town or a place you love to eat. I’m listening.

Send your lattes, questions, and good wishes to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today! Also, follow the food pictures on Instagram @amylewi.)

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Coming up Wednesday, this time I mean it, Chorizo Hash Recipe!

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