Tag Archives: video blog

Chicken and Waffles Debate, Techie Style! (with bonus Peeps!)

Gentle Readers, lean in close, it’s confession time. The Practical Cook isn’t even going to pretend to go to the grocery store this week. Life and business have conspired to make eating on the road a necessity this week. It’s a holiday weekend for many, and I’m going to take a break as well.

Peep Show

Peep Show

However, in the spirit of rebirth and renewal, I’m leaving you with two videos. I am going to try to get back in the habit of video blogging. First up, my day job sometimes crosses over  into my hobby. Watch as technology and waffles clash forks in this hotly contentious chicken and waffles episode of my video podcast, EngineersUnplugged.com

Second, an oldie but goodie, for all you Peep haters out there:

Enjoy your weekend! Questions or comments, drop them in the comments section or on Twitter!

Send your syrup, hot sauce, and fancy fork work 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, Peeps Revised!

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Bacon Quest: Bacon Bacon Truck in San Francisco Reviewed! (with video)

Gentle Readers, it has been too long since The Practical Cook broke out the video review. Fear not, she is reunited with her camera and on the road. Better still, she is stalking that crowd favorite, bacon.

I learned about the famed Bacon Bacon SF food truck a few months ago, when I was, well, talking about bacon at a Tweetup. You would be shocked how often that happens to me. They have everything from your standard bacon grilled cheese to bacon popcorn and chocolate bacon.

The Menu at the Bacon Bacon SF Food Truck

The Menu at the Bacon Bacon SF Food Truck

Accompanied by fellow bacon fan, whom I shall call Semper Fried, we decided to try as much as we could across the menu, for science of course. In our meager defense, we walked to and from the truck, and that was some reasonable distance.

Pork Belly Taco and Pork Belly Fries: Delicious in a box

Pork Belly Taco and Pork Belly Fries: Delicious in a box

I had the Bahn Mi and Chocolate Bacon, he went for the Pork Belly taco and Pork Belly fries (they made me think of Southern BBQ, a win). The bacon was exceptional. I am in the process of determining where it came from. My sandwich was good, the pork meatballs were nice, but I’ve had better pork belly. The money is really on the bacon here, it is outstanding, thick without being jerkylike, not overly hammy or salty, very balanced with a pronounced bacon flavor.

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi with Bacon!

Pork Meatball Bahn Mi with Bacon!

Would I go back? Absolutely, if only to buy more chocolate bacon. Yeah, it’s good, don’t try to kid yourself about that. Go early, the line forms fast. I think I’m going to try the vegetarian option next time, with bacon.

Chocolate, Meet Bacon.

Chocolate, Meet Bacon. ❤

Will you go out of your way to eat bacon? Tell me your story or issue a bacon challenge in the comment box below!

The Bacon Bacon Food Truck in San Francisco! Hunt it down today!

The Bacon Bacon Food Truck in San Francisco! Hunt it down today!

Food truck recommendations, kudos, and culinary challenges can be sent 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!)

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Coming up Friday, Roasted Spring Vegetables Recipe.

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Weekly Menus: Week of 4/8/2012 (with Bonus Video)

Gentle Readers, for those who celebrate, Happy Easter. For those who don’t, I hope you’re sleeping in. The Practical Cooks Junior have determined that we will be up at the crack of dawn, though I suspect they are in it for the hot cross buns. But I digress.

Festive cupcakes! Bunnies in outfits for the win!

Festive cupcakes! Bunnies in outfits for the win!

The Juniors have also greatly influenced this week’s menu. I’m encouraging them to own their culinary destiny. Here we go.

Two Egg Artists, Two Vastly Different Visions

Two Egg Artists, Two Vastly Different Visions

Menus for this week:

Weekly Menus: 4/8/2012

Weekly Menus: 4/8/2012

The Four-Square Grocery Shopping List:

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/8/2012

Four-Square Grocery Shopping List: 4/8/2012

Which translates into:

Sunday: Leftovers
Ham ham ham. It multiplies in the fridge.

Monday: Nachos
Still working through the pile of black beans. Add some sweet potatoes and cheese, and you’ve got nachos for the dinner guests we’re inviting over. (Including a small one with a love of spice.)

Tuesday: Salad Bar
Planning on using whatever is in the fridge atop greens. Necessary after Meatapalooza.

Wednesday: Salad and Pasta Bar (or Beans)
This will either be a salad and pasta tossed with ham and green peas in a creamy sauce or beans with ham. Catching a theme here?

Thursday: Lasagna or Ham Loaf
I’m hoping for lasagna, not going to lie.

Friday: Dine Out!
We’re changing up this week, dining out a different day.

Saturday: Breakfast for Dinner
Could be grits, could be biscuits and gravy. We shall see.

How do you use up ham? Post a comment below.

Peeps: Not Safe at Any Speed

Peeps: Not Safe at Any Speed

And now, my thoughts on Peeps, the Easter candy that looks back at you. Roll the tape:

Send your challenges, ideas, and actual food questions 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!)

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Up next, Three New Chocolate Things Reviewed. Again, because someone has to.

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Bacon Brackets, Round 2 Results: Gourmet Grocery Store (with video)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook has exciting results to share. This week’s Bacon Brackets involve the first of a series of upsets. And really, aren’t we in it for the Cinderella story? In searching for the best tasting bacon, Improv Cook and I just assumed, right or wrong, that the gourmet shops would have something up their porcine sleeves.

Let’s roll the game day footage:

We were wrong. Here are the contenders:

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store

And here are the stunning results of the Gourmet Grocery Store Bacon Brackets:

1. 365 brand. $4.99/12oz Some shrinkage during cooking, low salt, crisp chewy, meaty but more like beef than pork. 4th place “not good” (Yeah, we said it.)

365 Bacon is not delicious

365 Bacon is not delicious

2. Wellshire market style. $7.99/16oz This bacon had moderate salt, some chew, some bacon flavor, okay texture, good on a biscuit. 3rd place with texture caveat  (as in if you have texture issues with thicker bacon at all, don’t buy this one)

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

Wellshire Farm bought in bulk

3. Pederson apple smoked. $7.99/16oz This bacon was noticeably sweeter, had a slight chew, some smoke, good for salad or bitter greens, 2nd place, best to cook with this one instead of eating straight up

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

Pederson Apple Smoked bought in bulk

4. Applegate Sunday bacon. $4.99/8oz This bacon suffered shrinkage, but was bacony with moderate to high salt. However, it was not crispy, so we award it a  reticent 1st place.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

Reluctantly, we've crowned Applegate Sunday Bacon as the winner this time.

The big shock: the gourmet grocery store bacons got their porcine behinds handed to them by the plain old grocery store bacons. We tasted these back to back, and though I hope our finalist judges aren’t reading this, we agreed we wouldn’t go out of our way to eat any of these “gourmet” bacon contenders.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Beauty in bacon can be deceiving.

Up next week, Round 3, Local Bacon! I’ll let you gather your local bacon and test along. Do you have a favorite so far? Post a comment, even just to cheer us on or provide exercise tips. 🙂

Got bacon? Send your challenges, ideas, and vegetarian recipe requests 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!)

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On Sunday, we’ll have Weekly Menus, Plus Another Bonus Recipe!

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Taste Test Challenge: Peanut M&M’s vs Pretzel M&M’s (with video)

Gentle Readers, how many varieties of M&M’s could there be? The Practical Cook just learned there are white chocolate ones, too. However, one must draw the line somewhere, lest the colorful candy shell envelop a Brussels sprout next. I digress. A Gentle Reader challenged me to taste the Pretzel M&M’s, and I accepted.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

Pretzel M&M's, because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

After all, who doesn’t love a crunchy, salty, sweet snack? Silence, just as I thought. Let’s roll the tape, shall we?

So the results are in, The Practical Cook still votes squarely in the traditional Peanut M&M camp. In fact, I had some plain M&M’s in trail mix the other day and was reminded how satisfying they were. Basically, it’s been a chocolate sort of month. To be fair, The Practical Cooks Junior prefer all new types of M&M over the old, while The Practical Cook’s Dad (a veteran taster), sides with me. There is apparently an age line drawn in the candy-coated debate.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

Not sure I want my candy talking to me.

So what’s your stand? Plain, Peanut, Pretzel, Peanut Butter? Vote for your favorite M&M by posting a comment. Make your voice heard! Let us caucus over candy, if for not other reason than to give me the opportunity to use that verb. I can hear you out there.

Serious questions, knock knock jokes, and chocolate challenges can be emailed 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!)

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Coming up Friday, I’m eating veggies all week to prepare for Bacon Brackets, Round 2: Gourmet Grocery Store Edition!

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Valentine’s Day Smackdown: Peanut vs Peanut Butter M&M’s (with video)

Gentle Readers, never let it be said that The Practical Cook avoids controversy. Currently there is one brewing in the field of hard-shelled candies, better known as M&M’s. These days, you can get them filled with anything, not just plain or peanut. And, I hope you’re seated, there are those among us who prefer the upstart flavors.

Snacktime Smackdown: Peanut M&M's vs Peanut Butter M&M's

Snacktime Smackdown: Peanut M&M's vs Peanut Butter M&M's

Today’s challenge is a head to head competition: Peanut M&M’s vs Peanut Butter M&M’s. I am not going to lie, I love Peanut M&M’s with a deep and abiding passion. But two people (looking at you Cpt Cranky and Miss Clairol), who love peanut butter like I love peanut butter, claimed the new kid on the block was king. Well, those are fighting words. Or at least snacking ones.

Which M&M won my heart? (Hint: Crunchy is better.)

Which M&M won my heart? (Hint: Crunchy is better.)

Survey says, watch the video:

In the end, I still prefer the Peanut M&M by quite a large margin. However, tasters who dislike chunks in their food preferred the Peanut Butter M&M’s. If you like chunky peanut butter, stick with the original. But mint, pretzel, etc? I’m not even trying those without just cause. Sorry.

Peanut Butter Wars: Crunchy vs Smooth

Peanut Butter Wars: Crunchy vs Smooth

What’s your preference, Plain, Peanut, or Peanut Butter M&M’s? Don’t try to say you don’t like M&M’s, because I will faint dead away. Post a comment below, the world awaits your pronouncement.

Do you have a challenge, food question, or blog idea? Email me at 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!)

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Up next, 3 Things I Love (in the Kitchen).

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Turkey Talk: Restaurant Review of Bosphorus in Cary, NC (with video)

Gentle Readers, when fellow adventurous eaters say “get in the back of the car, we’re leaving,” The Practical Cook hops in without question. Though I would like to tell you this was the getaway vehicle (a la Jack Bauer):

This was not the getaway car, though it should have been.

This was not the getaway car, though it should have been.

It was not. However, the destination, Bosphorus in Cary, NC, is worth the trip, no matter your means of transport. So delicious, I had a moment at the table in regards to the eggplant. Apologies to dining companions Buttercup and Waldorf for bearing witness, but as the tape indicates, I’m lucky I got any food at all. Let’s investigate, shall we?

And here’s what we ordered, in translation:

The Bread: It just came to the table, unbidden, but you do want to try some with the mildly spicy dipping oil. Take that Dr. Atkins.

Turkish bread with peppery oil dip. Do not cut carbs on this one.

Turkish bread with peppery oil dip. Do not cut carbs on this one.

Bosphorus Meze Platter: The Sampler Platter, not to be missed. Everything was good, the  baba ghanoush was not to be missed. I do heart eggplant, but this was perfectly balanced, smoky without being bitter or overly chunky.

The Meze Platter at Bosphorus

The Meze Platter at Bosphorus

Cigar Bourek (Sigara Boregi): These are the taquitos or mozzarella sticks of Turkey, apparently. Deep-fried phyllo dough stuffed with feta, served with marinara. I liked these, but wanted a slightly more pronounced feta taste. The Juniors will love them, I might save my fried quota for the next item.

Turkish Deep Fried! Because that is what I do. (Cigar Bourek, phyllo wrapped feta.)

Turkish Deep Fried! Because that is what I do. (Cigar Bourek, phyllo wrapped feta.)

Fried Eggplant & Green Pepper (Patlican Kizartmasi): And then I had a moment at the table. This was the first dish I tried, ordered because of my love of the eggplant, and I was not disappointed. It was warm and crispy, yet smooth with the yogurt. It was a veritable vegetarian party in my mouth. Hunt this dish down and eat it. Try to avoid sharing.

Turkish Fried Eggplant at Bosphorus: I must have dimmed the lights for this photo so I could be alone with it.

Turkish Fried Eggplant at Bosphorus: I must have dimmed the lights for this photo so I could be alone with it.

Lahmacun: Ground beef with spices atop a thin dough. This isn’t crisp like a pizza, more like a really good tortilla or roti. And these things rock. I almost didn’t get to eat one, because I was too busy communing with the eggplant/photographing for this review, that’s how good they are.

Lahmacun (or Turkish Beef Pizza) at Bosphorus in Cary, NC

Lahmacun (or Turkish Beef Pizza) at Bosphorus in Cary, NC

Ali Nazik: Beef and lamb kofta-style kebab over a bread salad. OMG. I would order this for the bread salad alone, drenched in tomato sauce on one side, and yogurt on the other. With my texture issues, this isn’t one I would’ve ordered on my own, but was one of my favorite items. Take the leap of faith, order this, then tell me what you think.

Ali Nazik with Bread Salad: Try this!

Ali Nazik with Bread Salad: Try this! It tastes like delicious.

Bosphorus is family-friendly, delicious, and not hard to find, even by Cary standards (I find the place unnavigable, forgive me). The wait staff was amazing, the food arrived almost before we ordered it, and I left just wanting to eat more. Put it on your short list to try. Thank me later by sending me a picture of your dinner.

Have you tried Turkish food? Post your thoughts in the comments section, or Tweet at me. I’m standing by, waiting for your call.

Got ideas for the blog? Want to challenge The Practical Cook? Email 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 to stay current on all of The Practical Cook news!)

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Tomorrow, Hoppin’ John, Simplified.

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The Great Sweetner Race: Honey vs. Molasses (with video!)

Gentle Readers, The Practical Cook adores a challenge, particularly if it is one involving a photo finish. Shout out to @bkeepsushonest for this wonderful question: Which is faster, honey or molasses? Full confession, I have a deep and abiding love for molasses, complete with memories of my Grandpa B making it from scratch. The smell of cooking cane, the bees and other stinging insects, not as pleasant, the end result, outrageously good.

Honey vs. Molasses

Honey vs. Molasses

But I digress, let’s find out if molasses is as slow as it’s made out to be. Roll the tape:

As you can see, even at room temperature, sourcing locally, molasses turned out to be the faster, runnier opponent. This was not a fixed race, but I do have a love-hate relationship with honey. I need to try more kinds, but I generally don’t love the taste.

I like honey in the following ways:

1. In desserts. Honey cake, sopapillas, baklava. Yes and yes.

The Practical Cook's Mom's Honeybun Cake

The Practical Cook's Mom's Honeybun Cake

2. In salad dressing. It makes for a lovely honey mustard and tempers a vinaigrette like a dream.

Chicken Jolt Salad with Espresso Cheese, Apples, and Dijon-Sherry Vinaigrette

Chicken Jolt Salad with Espresso Cheese, Apples, and Dijon-Sherry Vinaigrette

3. On a peanut butter banana sandwich. This was as Elvis, RIP, intended. A tip from Dr. Particular: mix the honey and peanut butter BEFORE you apply to the sammie. You can thank me later.

Look at the sheen on that peanut butter! (I think we're alone now . . .)

Look at the sheen on that peanut butter! (I think we're alone now . . .)

If you’ve never sourced local molasses, do it. It is insanely good, and not the same as the commercial product, which I still like. But it the equivalent of aged, expensive balsamic in its smooth character and complexity. I would drink it if permitted.

Ahem, as I was saying, I like molasses in the following ways:

1. On cornbread.With or without butter.

Corn Muffin soaked in molasses.

Corn Muffin soaked in molasses.

2. On pancakes. If you have never tried this, run, don’t walk. Buckwheat and whole grain pancakes are best. It’s pass out good.

Whole Wheat Waffles Transformed into Pancakes!

Whole Wheat Waffles Transformed into Pancakes!

3. On a spoon. It’s for the iron, purely medicinal. Don’t judge.

The Practical Cook Loves Molasses

The Practical Cook Loves Molasses

4. In gingerbread. It’s part of why I love gingerbread, the interplay of sweet and heat.

Lemon Curd on Gingerbread

Lemon Curd on Gingerbread

5. Asian-type sauces. This includes a balancing element for stir-fry, or as an excellent substitute for tamarind in Indian dishes.

Whisk the sauce ingredients until the sugar is dissolved completely.

Whisk the sauce ingredients until the sugar is dissolved completely.

Which do you prefer, molasses or honey? Post a comment below, I can hear you hosting your own Pinewood Derby of Sweeteners out there.

Send molasses, challenges, and deep thoughts 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!)

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Up next, One Ingredient, Three Ways: Walnuts Edition.

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On the Road to One Pull-Up: The First Challenge (with video, of course)

Gentle Readers, as you know, The Practical Cook adores a challenge. This is not 100% food-related, though I would argue that a strong bicep is most necessary in wielding a heavy pan or for rolling out dough. Throughout this year, I’ll be keeping you updated on my quest to do one pull-up. Yes, I’ve not forgotten my resolutions.

Perhaps this can count as two resolutions, because I have certainly never arm-wrestled someone on camera before. (Here’s the original list of my New Year’s Resolutions.)

How did it turn out? Let’s roll the tape:

Lessons learned here, my pull-up training routine needs some improvement. Feel free to submit suggestions. Also, don’t arm-wrestle your barista. They are probably stronger than you, and could cut you off from your supply. Special thanks to MasseuseontheLoose for the excellent video work, and to The Dealer for agreeing to this challenge. I’m coming for a rematch in the spring.

How are your resolutions coming along? Resolve to comment on this blog more, starting today! Post one below now, or Tweet!

Send your arm wrestling tips, blog ideas, and cooking questions 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!)

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Tomorrow, it’s time for Kitchen Tool Talk: An Ode to My Cast Iron Skillet.

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Restaurant Review: Beaufort Grocery, a Gem on the North Carolina Coastline (with video)

Sometimes, Gentle Readers, you can teach an old dog a new trick. Just when The Practical Cook thought her love of pimento cheese could NOT be any greater, along comes a new twist, in the form of being topped by pickled Granny Smith apples and red onions.  Welcome to the Beaufort Grocery Company in Beaufort, NC (not SC). I almost wept into the canapes it was so delicious.

Beaufort Grocery Pimento Cheese Plate with Marinated Granny Smith Apples and Onions and Spicy Candied Pecans

Beaufort Grocery Pimento Cheese Plate with Pickled Granny Smith Apples and Onions and Spicy Candied Pecans

Let’s roll the tape, shall we?

A note about the plate above. In the video I call it walnut brittle, as that is what the menu said, but further munching and crunching determined that it was pecan, and for more like a candied, spiced number than a brittle. It was delish, regardless.

Hello my precious new favorite pimento cheese.

Hello my precious new favorite pimento cheese.

Back to lunch, we had the appetizer, followed by a Blackened Grouper sandwich with feta, mango salsa, and greens. I tried to order the sweet potato chips, because that is what I do, but they were out.

The catch of the day: Blackened Grouper on Foccacia with mango salsa, feta, and greens.

The catch of the day: Blackened Grouper on Foccacia with mango salsa, feta, and greens.

To make up for it, they gave me some Texas caviar, and I fell in love. Seriously, I’ve been working to perfect it. They have a cookbook, and I’m strongly considering it for the caviar alone. I really heart black-eyed peas, and this was outstanding.

The Beaufort Grocery Sammie Menu: I love the names!

The Beaufort Grocery Sammie Menu: I love the names!

I was dining with Complicated Vegetarian, and her veggie wrap was good, but not off the charts. We’ve brunched at Beaufort Grocery before, and there were more veggie-friendly options then. We finished strong with pecan pie. It was deep, sweet, and almost overwhelming. I liked it a lot, but probably liked the spicy candied pecans a little more. The depth of pie meant not quite as many salty pecans to balance the sweet. However, I did lick the plate, I’m not going to lie.

This is one deep-dish pecan pie.

This is one deep-dish pecan pie.

If you go for brunch, just start ordering things, and don’t look up until you’re done. There is nothing bad on the brunch menu. For someone like me, who is allergic to shellfish and can get pretty tired of the “fried seafood joints,” Beaufort Grocery is like a siren song. Special thanks to my MIL by Choice (we are related not by blood, but by her being awesome) and my SIL for the recommendation and accommodations!

The Beaufort Grocery is worth the drive and the wait!

The Beaufort Grocery is worth the drive and the wait!

Do you have a favorite restaurant on the NC coast? Post a comment here, or Tweet!

Send restaurant recommendations, deep thoughts, and blog challenges 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!)

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Tomorrow, it’s time for Weekly Menus again!

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