Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Beer Braised Short Ribs over Pureed Cauliflower

A few months ago I  made braised short ribs on the stove and they came out delicious.  However, I’ve been dwelling on cooking them in my crockpot for a while now.  As there is nothing quite like loading the crockpot and then forgetting about it until dinner.  I use “forget” loosely here as I find that the smell becomes more prominent during the day and every time I walk by I take a tweak through the lid to see how everything is going.

Originally I was going to just used the braising gravy from the last time I made short ribs, as it was so good that I froze it.  But then I was looking around for crockpot recipes just to confirm cooking time and came across this recipe at It’s a Keeper. I made a few adjustments like cutting down the volume of onions, adding garlic and I used a Guiness Extra Stout as that was what I was able to find (I didn’t think the pumpkin lager would go well).  I have been bored of potatoes lately and we had already had rice, so I looked for alternatives – pureed cauliflower or pureed white beans.  Cauliflower was outvoted, and I’m very glad for this decision

Ingredients

2 small onions

3-4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs

4 garlic cloves

1 bottle beer (Guiness Extra Stout)

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp beef base granules

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cold water

1 head cauliflower

1 Tbsp cream cheese

Adobo and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Layer onions and short ribs in crockpot

2.  Season with Adobo and pepper

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3.  Whisk together beer, brown sugar, mustard, 2 cloves garlic crushed, tomato paste, thyme, beef base, flour and cold water in a bowl

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4.  Pour over short ribs and onions

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5.  Cook on low for 8-10 hours

6.  Clean and Cut cauliflower into small florets

7.  Boil in large stock pot for 6 minutes

9.  Blend in food processor or blender the cauliflower, cream cheese, 2 garlic cloves until smooth

10.  I kept the cauliflower in a warm oven with a pat of butter on it to keep until we were ready to serve

Results

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I served the short ribs over the cauliflower with an arugula salad with clementines and shaved parmesan, dressed with a simple vinagrette.  My oldest daughter devoured 3 short ribs and a helping of cauliflower.  While she said that the cauliflower was not her favorite preparation it was ok.  And at first she didn’t even notice it wasn’t potatoes.  My youngest disliked it from the moment she was told it was cauliflower.  She also devoured a short rib.  My cousin took leftovers for lunch and I can’t wait to heat up the leftovers for lunch.

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Potato Latkes

We are the proud beneficiary of all the potatoes and carrots from our friend’s CSA basket. Due to allergies she can’t eat them, and her husband is incredibly supportive and sacrifices with her. The downside though, is the week after Thanksgiving everyone is a little bit tired of the regular mashed, steamed or baked potatoes. After watching the potato pancakes made on chopped, I decided to try something new. The recipe at the Smitten Kitchen helped.

Ingredients

6 small potatoes (~1 1/3 pounds)

1 small onion

2 eggs

1/4 cup flour

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Peel potatoes and onions

2. Grate potatoes and onions (note – if I make these again, I’m going to pull out the food process and use the shredding attachment

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3. Wrap potatoes and onions in cheesecloth or lightweight clean dish towel

4. Wring out excess water

5. Meanwhile, whisk the 2 egss and mix in flour

6. Add in potato and onion mixture

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7. Form into patties (I experimented with different size spoons. The tablespoon worked better)

8. Saute in large saucepan over medium high heat until golden brown (the recipe said 1-2 minutes, but mine took 2-3 to crisp up)

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Results

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Obviously, I had to try them when they were finished. I adjusted the size of them after the first round and they turned out better. For dinner, I served them with kielbasa and then I had leftovers with a sunny side egg. I liked them and my oldest daughter said they were a hit (although she smothered them in hot sauce, as she does everything so I don’t know if that detracts from her opinion). My youngest disliked them, even covered in ketchup and my husband was indifferent. This might be designated as a brunch item for guests.

Cornish Hen Pot Pie

My husband asked my cousin to volunteer on election day and in exchange I promised I would cook whatever she wanted for dinner the night before and we would start the day (at 5am) with mimosas.  She requested baked cornish hens with my mother in laws biscuits.  This is just not something she gets everyday, cooking for just herself.  Although when we started talking about it, she realized that this would be the perfect size for one – you get two meals out of it and you get a little bit of everything – skin, breast meat and dark meat.  For those that don’t know, cornish hens are little chickens that weigh about 2-3 pounds. They are perfect for one or two people, but they are also quite good. I usually bake them whole, seasoned just like a chicken.  After agreeing to cook this meal, I realized I actually had something to do that night and my cousin and daughters would get to enjoy it all themselves.  Since I had cooked 4 cornish hens, expecting my kids to eat a lot, and then needing 1 1/2 for the adults, I ended up with quite a bit of leftovers.

My cousin inspired me further when she told me that she hadn’t ordered chicken pot pie in a restaurant the previous weekend because she was anticipating this meal.  It seemed like the perfect way to use my leftovers.  Especially since I also bought a 1 pint of buttermilk, as the smallest container they had, and needed to use that as well.

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2/3 cup buttermilk (regular milk is fine)
1 egg beaten
2 cups cooked cornish hen (or chicken), cut or pulled into pieces
2 carrots diced
2-3 potatoes
*for white bechemel sauce
2-3 tablespoons butter
2-3 tablespoons flour (equal amount as butter)
2-3 cups heated milk

Sharon’s Biscuit Directions
*courtesy of my mother in law

1. Mix flour, baking powder and salt
2. Cut in butter until crumbly
3. Stir in egg and buttermilk
4. Knead in floured surface 10-12 times, working flour into dough
5. Roll out dough

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Pot Pie Directions

1. Melt butter in medium saucepan
2. Whisk in flour
3. Heat milk and add to roux 1 cup at a time, whisking until smooth
4. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 10 mins (give your béchamel time to thicken)

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5. Meanwhile peel, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, and par-boil carrots and potatoes
6. Add poultry, potatoes, carrots, potatoes to béchamel
7. Add garlic, thyme, oregano to season
8. Pour filling into baking dish

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9. Lay biscuit dough on top

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10. Bake for 12-15 minutes until biscuit is golden brown
11. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes

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Results

I was mostly pleased with my results.  The biscuit topping was very good, and the filling was incredibly flavorful.  Unfortunately I was not very patient with my bechemel sauce and therefore it was a bit thin.  It didn’t impact the flavor or experience at all, and definitely didn’t impact my daughter’s desire to eat for leftovers over the next couple of days – afternoon snack, leftover dinner night, pre-hockey dinner – whenever she could get it.

Drunken Apples with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

I happened to have had 3 granny smith apples lying around, that hadn’t been eaten at their freshest point and were now just lingering in my kitchen. I knew by feel that they were still good enough to eat, and definitely good enough to use for baking. Even more inspiring was this bourbon baked apples recipe I saw. My baking and cooking (and drinking) of choice usually involves rum, so that made the most sense. Furthermore, it was the end of a long weekend and a relatively quiet Sunday. I invited my cousin over with enticements of drunken apples. When I showed her the recipe and told her that I was going to use rum, and that we needed to make some adjustments to account for 1/2 the apples, she was game for experimentation.

The first adjustment was easy. The recipe suggested 1/3 cup bourbon for 6 apples. It seemed obvious that this measurement wouldn’t change for 3. Next came the notion that “a serving” implied 1 entire apple. That seemed a little crazy so I suggested quartering the apples and spreading the crumble on top rather than stuffing each apple with a bit.

Ingredients

3 granny smith apples

2/3 cup oats

1/3 cup cinnamon sugar (the originally recipe calls for 2/3 cup brown sugar. I had this leftover from another recipe so used it and filled in with the brown sugar)

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter

1/2 cup apple juice (or cider)

1/3 cup rum

*skipped the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla due to the use of the cinnamon sugar

1 cup whipping cream

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

2-3 tablespoons sugar (this is variable. If you like a sweeter whipped cream, add more sugar)

Drunken Apples Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2. Peel and quarter apples (we had mixed reviews on the apple peel. My cousin and I suggest peeling the apples, while another indulgent participant loved the peel)

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3. Meanwhile, mix oats, sugar, flour, salt and butter together to make crumble

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4. Layer apples in baking dish

5. Pour apple juice and rum over apples

6. Sprinkle crumble over apples

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7. Bake apples in oven for 30-40 minutes, drizzling sauce over apples and crumble every 10 minutes, until apples are soft

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Cinnamon Whipped Cream Directions

1. Pour whipping cream, 2-3 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a cold bowl

2. Whip using beater until peaks form

Results

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This tasted really good. The apple juice and rum formed a caramel, which mixed perfectly with the crumble. It was pretty rich and relatively sloppy, enough so that I told my cousin that whoever took the prettier picture is what I would post online (after I had plated my pretty sloppy one). It’s possible that I was just being a piggy.  We are contemplating replacing our standard apple pie with this for holiday desert (in addition to my special pumpkin rum pie).

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Ropa Vieja

After about 6 months of being without TV I was sitting around watching the Food Network. My husband and I got caught up in Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. One of the featured recipes was for Cuban ropa vieja – translated to old clothes. It is a tomato, onions and peppers based slow cooked shredded beef recipe. It looked delicious. I was a little bored with what I had been cooking lately and bought a skirt steak for either carne Asada or ropa Vieja.

I found a lot of different recipes for crockpot ropa Vieja, with varying ingredients. I ended up gravitating to this one at Paleomg because I had all the ingredients in the house.

Ingredients

~2 lb skirt steak
1 red peppers cut into strips
1 medium onion sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
3 tbl capers
3-4 cloves garlic
Cumin, thyme, oregano and adobo to season

Directions

1. Slice peppers and onions and layer in bottom of crockpot
2. Season steak liberally on both sides
3. Lay steak on top of vegetables

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4. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and capers

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5. Cook on low for 8-9 hours
6. Use two forks to shred beef
7. Eat alone or serve over rice

Results

This was really good. My kids liked it, I liked it and my husband ate two plates of it without rice or anything other accoutrements. It was so good that I totally forgot to take a picture of it.

Baked Potato Soup

I love a good baked potato soup. I had never made it before although I figured it really couldn’t be that difficult. But the other night after dinner I had 3 little and 1 big leftover baked potatoes. We don’t eat a lot of hash browns or breakfast potatoes so I started dwelling on what I was going to do with them.

As a general rule, baked potato soup can’t be that hard to make. It has a cream and roux base and usually includes bacon and sometimes cheese. I skipped the bacon because I didn’t feel like dealing with an entire frozen packet. And once I skipped the bacon, I figured I would jut lighten it up a little with stock, adding cream at the end.

Ingredients
3 small and 1 large baked potatoes (you can really use whatever you have leftover, or bake a coupe extra)
Olive oil
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup milk or cream
Adobo, thyme, oregano to taste

Directions
1. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan
2. Dice onion and toss in pot
3. Cook onion for 2-3 minutes
4. Meanwhile, peel and cube potatoes
5. Toss potatoes into pot and stir
6. Slowly add vegetable stock
7. Use potato masher to mash potatoes a little bit
8. Add remaining stock and crushed garlic
9. Being to a boil and simmer 15 mins
10. Add in seasoning to taste
11. Add cream
12. Mix thoroughly and cook for additional 5-10 mins

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Results
This soup was very hearty and filling. It tasted like a baked potato soup should, without the weightiness of the cream based roux. I would definitely encourage everyone to use their extra potatoes like this.

Green Chile Salsa

It has come to that part of the year where you begin to wonder about when the first frost is gina to take out your tomato plants. For us that hasn’t quite happened. Our tomatoes plants are still flowering and ripening fruit. About 2 weeks we heard the temperature was going to drop significantly so I stripped most of the worthy size tomatoes off the plants, regardless of their ripeness. I’ve used this in the past successfully for salsa, so it seemed like a good idea. I added in some tomatillos and mixed peppers.

Ingredients

~4 cups tomatoes (I used whole green and yellow hartmann)
1 jalapeño
6 mixed Cubanelle peppers
6 tomatillos
1 medium onion
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 cilantro
Juice of 1-2 limes
Salt, pepper, cumin, oregano to taste

Directions
1. Wash tomatoes and remove any bad parts
2. Peel tomatillos and rinse off sticky residue
3. Peel garlic and onions, cut onion into quarters
4. Place vegetables in pans and drizzle with olive oil

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5. Roast vegetables at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes. You should start to see a char on the peppers. It is helpful to stir up tomatoes half way through cooking time.

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6. Blend the vegetables in batches, adding cilantro and lime juice
7. Bring salsa up to a boil a simmer for ~10 minutes
8. Add seasoning to taste
9. Put on water to boil for sterilizing jars and lids
10. Sterilize jars and lids for 5 mins
11. Remove jars and add salsa
12. Put jars back in hot water bath and boil for 25-30 mins
13. Remove from hot water bath and cool jars for 12 hrs before storing

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Results

This salsa has a lot of flavor but did was not spicy at all. The problem is it is difficult to know the spice level of the mixed peppers so I was a little cautious. Next time I might have to go to an international specialty grocery store. I can’t wait to break these open and use in my salsa.

Apple Brie Quesadilla and Broccoli Squash Soup

My family really likes broccoli, so I buy a lot of it and we eat a lot of it.  In recent years, I have gotten in the habit of keeping the stems and stalks and using them for soup.  It does require a little prep time to peel the stalks of the fibrous outer layer, however you end up with a better soup at the end.  If you choose not to peel it, you will need to strain it so you do not end up with strings of fiber in your soup.  The broccoli stalks last for a pretty long while in your vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.

It was a nice rainy day today and I had a little extra time so it seemed perfect to make up that pot of soup.  Besides tonight was leftover night anyway as we have lots of food in the refrigerator we need to eat.  It just makes sense to add something else.

Broccoli Squash Soup

Ingredients

5 broccoli stalks

1 14 oz package frozen butternut squash (this can be made with squash in any form – fresh, frozen cubes or variety)

1 small onion

3 garlic cloves

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

Adobo, tumeric, cumin to taste

Directions

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1.  Peel the broccoli stalks of the fibrous outer layer – The easiest way to do this is to start from the bottom up and cut off smaller stalks as you going, peeling each one individually

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2.  Cut the peeled stalks into roughly the same size chunks (you want it to cook evenly)

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3.  In medium pot, add broccoli, garlic cloves, onion (cut in into equal size parts – I had about 8), squash and vegetable stock

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4.  Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, until broccoli stalks are tender and squash has defrosted

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5.  Use blender to puree all the ingredients, return to pot

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6.  Season to taste with adobo, cumin, tumeric

Results

Broccoli squash soup is incredibly simple, delicious and versatile.  You can flavor it with any flavor combination from curry spices (as I have done) or Italian spices (oregano, basil, etc).  You can add cream, or roast the vegetables beforehand.  It is healthy and hearty.

Apple Brie Quesadilla

I stumbled across this in a food network recipe on 5 dinner meals in 45 minutes.  It sounded pretty interesting and I just happened to have some granny smith apples that I needed to eat.

Ingredients

1 tortilla

1/2 granny smith apple

4-5 slices brie

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon mustard

Directions

1.  Cut apple in halve and use mandolin to cut thin, even slices

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2.  Drizzle with olive oil and grill for 3-4 minutes in grill pan, over medium high heat, until marks appear

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3.  Layer tortilla with brie and grilled apples

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4.  Grill quesadilla in grill pan for additional 3-4 minutes on each side, until grill marks appear and cheese melts

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5.  Mix maple syrup and mustard together to drizzle over top

Results

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This meal was perfect.  It was the right size, and it balanced out the rainy weather perfectly.

Hartman Yellow Tomato Sauce

 

My husband is a big apocalypse believer and has been teaching himself all sorts of survival skills, including gardening, breadmaking, beer brewing, as well as many others.  He has been quite successful with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and scotch bonnet peppers.  On this particular day, we were suffering from an abundance of tomatoes so decided to can some sauce.  My husband decided he wanted to help, and in the process learn how to do this.

Ingredients

Several pounds of tomatoes (these are hartmen yellows)

Water

1 medium onion

3-4 cloves garlic

some fresh basil for flavor

Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Rinse tomatoes

2.  Cut tomatoes in half

3.  Cover tomatoes with water

 

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2.  Simmer on low for 1-2 hours until tomatoes break down

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3.  Strain tomato water and solids through sieve (mine dates to my grandmother and has a solid wooden pestle to push the tomatoes through)

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4.  Keep rotating pestle (or handle), periodically scraping the sides, until all that is left is skins

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5.  Bring tomato sauce to boil over medium heat

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6.  In a blender, combine onion and garlic

7.  Add onion and garlic to tomatoes and let cook down to the consistency you enjoy

Note:  If tomato sauce is slightly bitter, add a tablespoon of sugar.  Additionally, we added the basil a little early in the process.  I would recommend waiting until the last few minutes to toss that in.

8.  We sanitized our jars, added the tomato sauce, and boiled in a water bath for 55 minutes, per the Ball canning directions.

Results

We tasted it before we canned it and were pleased with the results.  We haven’t broken open up a jar of the previously canned sauce, but I’m sure it will be tasty.  We did have a few people solicit a jar of it.  Unfortunately, we haven’t had enough to share yet.

 

Baked Chili Rellenos

The last time I made green chili salsa for enchiladas, I had a lot of leftover sauce.  Instead of using it on another batch of enchiladas, I decided to branch out.  I came up with the idea to make chili rellenos with the green chili salsa.  Traditionally, it’s made with a red chili sauce, but the filling is pretty flexible.  My hunt for poblano peppers was a little difficult in my regular grocery store.  I picked up 10 on the smallish side.  I’m sure I would have gotten larger ones, and had a better selection at a Hispanic market or the International Food store, but that didn’t work into the schedule.

One of the first things I learned when looking for a recipe is that chili rellenos is usually battered and fried.  I apparently had selectively forgotten that.  After searching for baked variations, I most closely referenced this one.  I used ground turkey and queso blanco, but you can really fill these with anything you want.

Ingredients

10 medium poblano peppers

1 lb ground turkey

1 lb queso blanco

1 medium onion, chopped

2 1/2 – 3 cups green chili salsa

Adobo, cumin, oregano to taste

Directions

1.  Char chilis under broiler on each side until blistered (~approximately 5 mins per side)

2.  Remove charred chilis from pan and place in sealed plastic bag.  Let stand for 15 minutes.

3.  Remove skin from chilis. (I prepared the chilis the night before)

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4.  Remove the stems and as many of the seeds as you can.  Cut a slit about an 1 inch long so that you get to more of the seeds and stuff them.

5.  Prepare filling by browning turkey with chopped onion.  Season to taste.  Add about 1/2 – 1 cup of green chili salsa to the turkey

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6.  Shred queso blanco and use about 1/2 to stir into the meat mixture.

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7.  Spread 1 cup of green chili salsa on bottom of pan.  Stuff peppers and layer on top.

8.  Drizzle remaining green chili salsa on top of peppers, sprinkle with remaining cheese.

10.  Bake for 20-25 minutes on 375 until cheese is melted, sauce is bubbling and there are brown spots.

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Results

We really enjoyed this meal.  Next time, I think I would use a “mexican” blend cheese to add a little sharpness to the flavor.  But it is definitely an easy meal that allows me to substitute as I see fit.

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